Raw Guys by Emmie

Emmie vs. Manhattan

You know what age I was at my dumbest and most awkward? Around fifteen. Maybe sixteen. Obsessed with wanting my hair to look like Martin Gore from Depeche Mode, and loading on more eyeliner than even Boy George would tolerate, my most creative feat was stacking Aqua Net, Extra Super Hold cans around the perimeter of my room. (Ozone layer, I am sorry.) My most productive moment was figuring out that the cloves in the spice cabinet could actually not be smoked. Or maybe they could but definitely not in the notebook paper I was using to roll them in.

I was brilliant like that.

So now I am a seasoned human being, looking at teenagers of today and cannot believe the amazing things they do. Overall, I’d say they’re much better at being in this world than I was. I am a huge fan of a teenager called Emmie. She was super special to me as a sweet infant, chubby-cheeked toddler, big kid, tween and now teen. Emmie is my niece.

Anson photographing Roan, Emmie + Boone at Wildwood

Without describing the multitude of ways this girl is on an elevated creative plane, I’m just going to share a book she gave to her cousins, Smitty + Shep for Christmas. Shep + Smith have been obsessed with “Raw Guys” since Halloween. It started with a Grim Reaper figure in our neighbor’s yard. They would go visit him every morning and yell “Rah!!” at him. Because obviously that’s the language the Grim Reaper would speak. The term “Raw Guy” evolved to describe every spooky figure, including zombies, skeletons and decapitated heads hanging from tree branches down our festive Halloween block. Instead of being frightened by these figures, the boys loved with a capital L-O-V-E-D them. They would beg to go see the Raw Guys. And then Halloween ended and there were no more.

Until…

A book was given to them by cousin Emmie. It looks like this:

"Raw Guys"

Raw Guy Bunny

Raw Guy Fawn

Raw Guy Ducklings

Raw Guy Raccoon (my favorite)

Raw Guy Hedgehog

Raw Guy Lamb

While I’ve done my best to photograph the pages, it doesn’t quite do the book justice. Each animal has been modified by Emmie with googly eyes, and fitted with painted-on extra jagged teeth, colorful Raw Guy approved colors in the fur, and trickles of blood here and there.

Smitty + Sheppy love their Raw Guy book. They love to make their scariest Raw Guy sounds, and pretend they are scared with big “Oh-No!” screams and giggles that build and build as the pages turn.

Beyond the obvious genius of creating this book for my boys, I am just amazed that a sixteen-year-old girl can even be bothered to hook her little cousins up with something so personal and sweet. Emmie rocks my world.

What’s more, Emmie has created a tumblr that is simple and brilliant. It is called “Just Some Doors”. With the tag line, “Really, that’s all it is.”

And really, that’s all it is. Emmie has photographed doors around Brooklyn and somehow it is compelling and beautiful enough to make me keep going back to see what she has seen. The way she has seen it. You should see it. Check it out here. (www.justsomedoors.tumblr.com)

So many things I love about this girl. But mostly it is this old and wise way she has of living in her own skin, proudly being exactly who she is. I’m not going to say it’s all rainbows and sunshine but the truth is, Emmie thrives in the rain. She is the kind of creature who can see all the beauty between the drops, and then translate that for the rest of us to see. At only sixteen, this girl is beautiful and smart, kind with a wicked sarcastic sense, and gifted beyond what’s fair.

Falling Dominoes

I’m guessing you’re exhausted.

After these holidays, most of us are reaching for that extra cuppa, or maybe just breathing a little deeper, trying to revive after all the excitement and fun of the holidays. If you’re like me, you’ve finished load 2,345,949 of laundry because everything in your home has been thrown up on. Several times. By several different people.

Welcome, 2013!

Approximately infinity popsicles were eaten in the past 2 days

So that’s how my family spent the break. Shepz began the throwing up festivities on the day after Christmas. I knew that obviously Smitty would follow suit, because they practically lick each others faces for twelve hours out of the day. Sure enough, at midnight the unmistakable sound of our child losing his everything woke Anson and me up.

Trying REALLY hard to play with zero energy

Trying REALLY hard to do homework, with zero energy

A few things about toddlers throwing up:

First off, it’s one of the rare things they do that no matter what, it’s not cute. It’s sad. Shep was absolutely horrified the first time he threw up. This is the twins’ first experience in that genre of being ill. So he was just totally surprised at the whole of it. Smith watched Shep a few times and would sort of laugh, then mimic in a way that felt more mocking than sympathetic, then got bored with it. Until it was his turn. At that point, he shared the horror that Shep had felt, probably to a greater extent. Turns out that Smitty is a heaver. From the moment he began until the moment I could get him back in bed, there was about three hours of sad sad sad heaving in about ten minute cycles. Poor kid. I ended up sitting with him on the couch, holding his head to my chest with one hand, with my other hand on a plastic bowl, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on a loop because if I tried to stop he made the sign language symbol for “more” frantically. This lasted, as I mentioned, for around three hours. At one point I reminded myself that what was happening was actually one of the more delicious times a mother can have with her child. Not the vomiting part, but having her baby (ok, toddler) snuggled up on her like a little ball, with his hands wandering up and down her arm. The weight of a sleeping baby is exactly Heaven on a mother’s body. It feels warm and just perfectly heavy enough. I decided I could sit here with Smitty for hours and be happy. Even if it was occasionally broken up with the violent heaving.

Post-Christmas tree, Post-Christmas Smitty

Smith, doing his best to stay awake

I did begin to despair because there was nothing I could do to help him. I wanted to keep him upright, hoping that would be a small assist. I wanted him to be comfortable so we cuddled under the weight of our coziest blanket. I wanted him to know I wasn’t leaving so I kept singing, even after his breath slowed down to a rhythm that suggested he was asleep. But that’s all I could do. Smitty couldn’t keep down even a drop of water so when he begged for water I had to distract him. Not that easy at 2:30 in the morning.

Smitty, Bear, Shep

When I finally got him to bed, I collapsed in my bed and then realized that I was next. I was going down. There was no doubt that it was my turn and I spent the next three hours going from my bed to the bathroom with my own horrible episode of this illness. When the sun came up and Anson woke up I told him about the night, that I was sick as well, and then Roan tore out of his room, racing to the bathroom…and…well you can probably guess the rest.

He was in rough shape.

A precious few moments when things felt ok

Smith + Shep

For those of you keeping track, that is four out of five Nelson Calls taken out by a stomach bug in less than twenty-four hours. Ridiculous. Anson was the last man standing and had the weight of many sick and needy people on his shoulders for that day. I disappeared downstairs for a good chunk of the day, just hoping that all was well. A few times I would resurface and do what I could, but honestly, I just wasn’t able to do much. Roan and I cuddled together in his bed for a while and I slept while he texted with his cousins in Utah. When I finally was able to get my feet under me I bathed the twins and put them down to bed. When I came back upstairs to recap the day with Anson, I knew there was trouble. Roan was asleep on the couch and Anson was just staring at the ceiling, clutching his stomach and looked the color of grey that isn’t pretty.

I grabbed Roan, locked the front door, shut the house down and wished Anson good luck with the next twelve hours. We all knew what was coming. That is the earliest the house has ever closed down for the day. Roan and I went to bed at 8:00. Anson was up all night, throwing up all night.

The miracle we all needed happened – everyone slept in. By our house standards that means anything past 7:00 AM. Nobody woke up before 8:00. I felt well enough to take on the sick kiddo-s, and told Anson to stay in bed. Other than a night-time relapse by Smitty, we were all on the mend by nightfall that evening.

New Year's Eve. After 24 hours of feeling healthy we three stayed up to welcome 2013

As Anson and I finished tucking all the boys into their beds and headed upstairs a weird almost euphoric feeling hit me. We talked about the past 48 hours like a war, one we had come back from as victors. It was overwhelmingly strong, this feeling that we had gotten through something together. I realized I had been on constant alert, trying to figure out who needed me the most, without a break for the last two days. And that we were all ok, almost back to normal, was such a giant relief, it felt like a gift.

Having a sick child, or having sick children, is one of the most stressful things a person can go through. This episode was trivial, I know. No one was ever really in danger, we all knew it would pass. But the vulnerability of being so invested, so tightly wound up with a person’s well-being is brought to light when that person is suffering. But it also shines a light on how a partner eases the burden. It made me so grateful that I am with a person who is equally invested, who is ready to dig in as deep as possible to keep them safe and well.

Roan: January 1, 2013

Being sick as a family, going down one-by-one like dominoes? Not the family vacation I would have planned. But Roan remembering his mama sleeping next to him while we got well, Smitty and Shep possibly being able to recall the comfort they found being close to their Dad and Mom when they needed us, and me always remembering how my husband shines at the times I need him to? These are the bricks of our family, our home.

Happy Birthday, RoRo

Roan, Nine Years Old.

Yesterday was Roan’s birthday. This boy turned nine right in front of my eyes, the same way he turned eight and seven and three and one. He did it in such a way that made me swoon with love, and clamor, just a little bit, for him to not do this all so quickly. I look at Roan and I can see a ghost in limbo. The spirit of a full-grown man, and the innocence of a brand new squishy-faced baby. He exists right in the middle of these two spaces, and as children do if we let them, he teaches me about who I am and what I value.

Smitty, Fork, Cake.

Claiming that he didn’t want a party this year, Roan was sent off to see The Hobbit on Saturday with his cousin and Auntie while Anson and I scrambled to bake a cake, get snacks and decorate. His besties were invited over for a sneak-attack surprise party and seriously? This is my new favorite way to throw a soiree. Secret in its nature, you really just can’t do anything much to prepare, it’s all done in the crunch. That is so up my alley.

Shepz, Knife, Cake.

When Roan arrived on the scene and had the unveiling of the party upon him, his first reaction was sort of terror. Like he just couldn’t arrive at the thing that made sense what with everyone yelling at him, and balloons and streamers all around. When it finally made sense, his comment was, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that at all.” And I was crying, because I was laughing that hard at my boy who was killing me with his cuteness.

Cake in Hair

Also, cake in hair

Yesterday was the actual day, and we decided to keep Ro out of school, pack some snacks and get to 34th Street, where Santaland lives at Macy’s. Smitty + Shep officially had their minds blown. The robotic animals, the trains that circle endless Christmas trees, the lights and the elves ushering us here and there were completely next level for them. Roan reveled in showing them how we visit Santa, how we trust him enough to sit on his lap (which actually none of them would.) Later on in the day Roan and I snuck of to get pedicures, and when we got home, there was more cake.

And then there was a cake fight.

And then there was just your basic rub-cake-in-your-own-hair shenanigans.

So, this is my life. Danger + excitement at every turn.

There is nothing funny about this mess.

Or, maybe there is.

My Roan continues to make me be that mom. The one that when you compliment him I can’t really say “thank you” because all I can do is agree. His magic has nothing to do with his parents. He has developed into his own guy, one that I am wildly fond of spending time with. I watch him with his brothers, how he is patient with them and wants to teach them. I watch how he measures the climate of his friend’s lives, and tries to keep balance with them. I watch Roan with his eccentric taste and highly developed sense of style and just wonder how I got to be this lucky, to be the one who gets to guide him for a few more years.

All eyes look to Ro for approval

Approve, he does.

Smitty, Shepz + Ro

Happy Birthday Roan. You make me so happy, every single day.

Something Good

I want to share the newsletter from Twiniversity, a nationwide community based here in NYC made up of (surprise!) families with twins. Or triplets. Or even more-lets. Natalie Diaz runs this show, and she is easily one of the most powerful and huge-hearted women I have ever met.

Nat became aware of a Brooklyn family who had recently moved to Connecticut, and subsequently lost their young son in the shootings last Friday. His twin sister survived. For those (like me) who cannot take one more sad story, this is born from sadness but more than that – shows that for every one violent act, there are thousands of people ready to counter it with love. That’s something to get us through the day, yeh?

I can’t believe it. We did it. We raised OVER $5,000 in less then 11 hours. We will have a tree and plaque in New York City’s Central Park to honor Noah Pozner, the twin boy who lost his life in the Newtown shootings.

We are still collecting funds. Future money (above the $5,000) will go directly into a trust that the family has set up for his surviving siblings, including his twin sister Arielle. If you would like to donate you can visit http://fundly.com/honor-noah-pozner

We are so pleased that Twiniversity could organize this. Now, there will be a tree in an iconic New York City landmark (where the family is from), visited by millions upon millions of people a year, in honor of this young soul. The shade that the tree provides will comfort many. I hope this thought brings peace to the family in a small way. The Central Park Conservancy has also agreed to allow us to choose a tree in the area where the Manhattan Twins Club has their annual picnic. This will give our local club a chance to watch it grow and be enjoyed by hundreds of sets of twins each year.

I also have some unexpected, but very welcome news. Jay Stallard, brother of Jodi Call (twin mom and blogger of Pistols and Popcorn: http://www.pistolsandpopcorn.com), has agreed to MATCH our tree fund. Jay thought it was important that another tree grow along side the one we are dedicating, so they can grow together.

Jay, our ENTIRE community thanks you. This is an outstanding gesture and our community is overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness.

We hope this news has brought a tiny glimmer of light to this very dark time. Thank you so much for your donations and support.

My sincere regards,
Natalie Diaz
Founder of Twiniversity and Mom to Anna and Johnny 8 years old.

Obviously a big thank you to Jay. He’s a person I have identified as a brother since early High School, as he spent a good amount at my home, sometimes living with us, sometimes just torturing me. But his generosity and kindness have floored me on this day. And that’s the kind of thing that I really, really needed to have happen at this time. I needed – and am guessing all of us need – something good.

Getting Loud

There’s a difference between being loud, and being noisy.

Without exception, I believe that everyone was hit, like a punch to the stomach, with the news on Friday. It is the kind of story that is too monstrous and dark to actually take in all at once. For a person to wage such violence on others is frightening. The truth that he waged it on children is even more black.

And so, after we hear this kind of story, and let it become part of the truth of our day, what then?

Most of us need to talk about it. After we have convinced our bodies to please breathe again, after we learn that this type of event is real, permanent, and unchangeable. We need to connect with our friends, and combine our outrage and sadness. We need to know that we are going to find a way to change the world, to save the world. We need to imagine that there is a cohesive universal thought happening that is preceding this change, one that locks down a much safer world for our children.

And then, the exclamation points, avatars, bar graphs and You Tube links start cascading in. As most of us log on to our Facebook or Twitter feed to get a sense of how our friends are feeling, the conversations change from expressing sadness and vulnerability to politicking and screaming at each other. It’s never helpful.

Have you, or anyone you know, ever changed their stance on a very hot-button issue because they saw a bar graph?

Have you, or anyone you know, ever clicked on a You Tube link posted on your timeline by someone who is being borderline crazy in their stance on a hot-button issue?

Have you, or anyone you know, ever read the entire comment from someone yelling at you when it is paragraph after paragraph of statistics?

There is a difference between being loud, and being noisy.

I am all for getting loud. There are things that we need to change. They’ll change when we get a collective, strong sound going, something loud, that is informed, measured, articulate and reasonable. I will absolutely be part of that change. What I will not do is be noisy. I will not add to the noise by being hateful towards those whose ideas are different than mine. I will not add to the noise by pretending I have answers when in fact I am in the infancy of searching for them. I will listen to anyone who speaks with sanity, and I will stop listening when the tone becomes antagonistic.

I will not click on your You Tube link because there is a yin for every yang in that medium and it ends up being all noise.

Peace.

I grew up in a house full of guns. I have been attacked by a person who was mentally ill. From my experiences, one was scary, while the other was not. However, had I grown up in a house full of guns with a person who was mentally ill, my experience would likely be different. This doesn’t mean that I am informed on what policies would serve mankind best going forward. But it does influence the way that I live my life, and how I build my home.

What I will protect.

For now, I recognize that my most potent power resides in how I keep my home. My power is held in my ability to protect my boys in their home. While the rest of the world is unpredictable, and I cannot control what they hear or what they are exposed to, I will prepare them by building their strengths. But home will be a place where the news does not exist. For now, while they are children, I will protect them from the events in this world, and this will be their bubble. It is where I have the power to keep things quiet. Make no mistake, this home is loud (just ask our neighbors). But the noise will be locked out. That is my power.

Strong.

But as they get older I will need to expand my reach, and the news on Friday made me wake up to that truth. I need to get loud in my efforts to make the world at least a little safer for my three sons. My task now is finding the way to do that. Separating what is loud and what is noise will be my approach. I would love to hear what yours will be.

Hiho Batik

On the weekends I try to get away with just Roan. I try to find something to do with him that’s fun. We both love movies, so we go often. We both love getting pedicures so we go often. And lucky me, Roan is a kid that loves to try new things. So when a reader named Robyn (who lives near me and has twins), got in touch to tell me about her shop I knew it had to be on the books for my boy and me.

Hiho Batik.

Hiho Batik is a shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn owned by Robyn and Julia. Now – I had never heard of “Batik” but everyone I’ve talked to about this place has, so maybe you too already know about it. If not – simply put, it’s decorating cloth, and in this case t-shirts, with wax and dye. (They also have hoodies, bags, long sleeves etc. available.) This was so completely up mine and Roan’s alley. Not so much because we’d be good at it, but because we do love to customize our little hearts out, in everything we do.

Bow + Arrow. Classic.

Roan and I invited our friends Lola and Javier to join us. This place is just awesome. The walls are lined with these cute T-shirts. I will happily admit that I’m a sucker for T’s. It’s basically my uniform. T-shirt, jeans. Original, no? But these are actually original. All one-of-a-kind. And the toys they sell there are carefully curated – none of them mass-produced. I had to spring for a bow and arrow set for the boys, because well…I mean. How could I not?

From this picture, I learned that I stick out my tongue when drawing. Good to know.

Ok – so the process. It’s superfun and even if you’re an artistic flub like me, you will not feel dumb. It’s easy and kind of mistake-proof because there’s not a definite defined look, really. I went for a star because it’s one of the three things I can draw. Roan went abstract, Lola went with a message and Jav went with a skull. After drawing the design and tracing it on the shirt, we line it in hot wax at a space-age underlit hot wax bar. Then comes the color – I sort of couldn’t stop myself. I kept mixing and adding until I was gently reminded by my son that sometimes we have to edit ourselves. He hears that on Project Runway a lot. He was not wrong.

Sketching a design. Never mind that this is the one I claim I drew.

Lola gets her hot wax on. Roan is impressed.

Roan gets his hot wax on. Javier is impressed.

Finally we choose what color we want our T-shirt to be dyed, then we say goodbye. The Hiho Batik elves work their magic and finish up the process over the next few days, and voilà! A T-shirt that is all my own. The results are great which is a testament to the ease of this process. Also, as a bonus the T comes to you super soft because it’s been washed seven-thousand times. Maybe less. But soft!

Using the dye, carefully.

Our four shirts, before being dyed.

All said, I am a huge fan of Hiho Batik. This was one of the funnest things Roan and I have done together. There’s a lot of interaction and conversation that can take place during the process. As much as we love doing things together, it is kind of rare to find something that we can collaborate on, or that keeps our conversation going. This did both for us. I have a feeling an adult group – birthday party, first date, team building – whatever – would be awesome here. So gold stars all around, and if you’re a Brooklynite or are in the area, go there with my full-on, highest, most emphatic recommendation.

[Update: Robyn from Hiho Batik has offered a discount to readers of Pistols + Popcorn. Through the rest of 2012, mention Pistols + Popcorn, and get 10% off.]

Roan's on the left, mine on the right.

Secrets About Being a Mother

Smitty, Me, Sheppy, Roan, Green Balloon

Maybe you are a dude, a dad. Or possibly a lady wondering if this mothering thing is up your alley. Perhaps you are a mother, trying to figure out if your normal is actually normal, or if you should start pretending a little harder. I’m writing for you, all of you. But be warned: I’m on day eight of an eleven day stretch of single-parenting this ship. Not only that, but two yes two of my three man-children are down with fevers. I’m Xena Warrior Princessing this family currently and am under a little distress.

What better time to break down what it is to be a mother? The stuff you don’t know. Start here:

  • Mothers are kind of mean. Mostly to ourselves.

Not including those jealous meanies in the playground who suck their teeth at how we encourage our little ones to successfully climb up the slide because really we are much too smart to even think we can win that battle of “stairs only” when obviously the slide is meant to be climbed, not including those meanies – we beat ourselves up in the most cutting of ways.

I’ve yet to meet a mother who does not mentally inventory her failures at the end of the day. We all process them differently. Sometimes it shows up as frustration towards the child, sometimes it comes out as anger towards a spouse, and sometimes it just manifests with a huffy breath and backwards fall onto a couch. But we all feel the potency of each disagreement, each mishandled and overreacted bump with our children x1000 at the end of the day. I usually am able to desperately reach for a few wins – maybe I made Smitty laugh more than usual, or maybe Sheppy shared with a stranger. Maybe Roan offered up a sliver of his day that was important to him. Those are wins. I try to bump out all the rain of messy things with those. But as a mother, we hold the responsibility of all wrong things on our shoulders. We teeter between feeling absolutely overwhelmed and wondering if we’re not quite grateful enough for what we have.

This is why we need time alone. Holding the weight of two or three or four or five people’s bad experiences on our shoulders gets heavy. And yeh, we signed up for this. And no, there’s not a lot you can do to help. Just recognize it, appreciate it, and give us a massage gift certificate. That’ll do.

A mother would consider her child eating raspberries in this fashion both gifted, and talented.

  • Mothers are ready to fix it.

Once a child is introduced into a persons life, the world becomes crazy large. Nothing is actually about the mom anymore. Sounds really gross and scary but it’s actually beautiful. A primal switch is flipped, and the center of the universe is no longer the same. Relationships are redefined and love becomes a huge tangible thing, and not an abstract weird smokey ghost.

Part of our power comes from knowing that we have this magical reserve. For instance, I do know that even if I am tired (I am), even if I am grumpy (I am), even if I’ve not had a break from my kids in eight days (I haven’t), I would be happy to have the chance to help anyone I love. And guess what? Mothers love a lot of people.

Ok, even I think I’m getting a little glittery here – what with the love and magic and whatever. And it’s not all sunshine and flower garlands. But the truth is I think my ability to actually love changed once I became a mom. It probably has something to do with that whole “I’m not the center of my world” thing. Getting out of the middle puts me in orbit with everyone else. It’s easier to connect there. There are an infinite amount of ways to get into that orbit, probably. But for me it took the massive change of having a child.

Obviously a version of the gifted and talented school of berry-eating.

  • Moms can smell their children’s fevers.

I’m not actually sure about this one. But I think it’s true for me. There’s probably a smart-guy science-y explanation for this but I can actually smell a change in my children before they get sick. Or right when they do. Pretty cool party trick, right? With Roan, I can actually feel it in his hands – when I hold his hand it feels different, and then BLAMM-O! Two hours later a fever breaks onto the scene.

You don’t have to believe me but it’s true.

And lest I make all the people who are not mothers mad by this post on magical motherhood, let me say that I think the mothering kind of love comes from a certain place in our heart. It’s quite close to the place where we love our animals, and almost shares a chamber with the place where we love the rest of our family. It also harbors a mean and malicious protective sniper that sometimes makes us behave in pretty crazy ways. All of us. Sometimes. And I’m sorry for that. On behalf of mothers everywhere, I’m sorry for when we believe you want to see another picture, watch another video, or hear another story about our precious. I’m also sorry for when we feel entitled to expect you to put our children’s needs/wants/desires in a place of special importance when actually, they are not your priority.

Mothers can be overbearing beasts, it’s true.

And while having a child can sometimes put things in perspective, if you’re a big jerk before you have a kid chances are you’ll be a big jerk after you have a kid right? But I have seen people change into who they really probably were their whole lives – just through the magic of  becoming a mother.

Ok ok ok – or becoming a father. Everything I wrote is for you too, ok?

  • Mothers really want everyone to be happy.

See above.

Sing Along With Smitty + Shepz

Anson has gone to sunny posh LA for work and I’m here in NYC with the rain/snow and the wind. I’m feeling a bit slighted in the shakedown of roles we play right now.  Anyway, it pretty much sucks while he’s gone, because he’s sort of the good time in this house. Make no mistake, everything would burn to ash and scatter into the wind if I left for ten days. But without the good-time dude here, there are definitely less smiles. Also more post-kids-gone-to-bed Gossip Girl viewings but let’s not admit too much, huh? So I present you with a clip from his last day in town: a morning where clothing was optional, coffee was flowing, an Aerobed was the toy-du-jour, and the Smitty + Shep show was on full blast. (Never you mind about the messy house. Just ignore that part.) Clearly, Dora the Explorer is on heavy rotation here, as well as Scooby Doo, and Batman punctuates damn near everything.

Being Married to My Husband Is….

Roan + Anson

There are a lot of things I’m lucky to have. Like a parent-teacher conference where I get to hear that Roan has been shining his Roan light bright and warm for others to bask in. He’s a good kid, that dude. Maybe his innate zen goodness has something to do with me and (more likely) maybe it has nothing to do with me. But I’m the one who gets to hear about it, so I soak it up. I’m really grateful for the kid he is.

I’m thankful for the way Smitty was shouting, “Hello, Bwook-Ah-Lee-iinnn” (Brooklyn) from the swings yesterday or how Sheppy tackled Smith with hugs and kisses today to help erase his tantruming brother’s tears. I get to watch my children have these moments, not all of them sweetness and rainbows but these moments – that show me who they are. And lucky me, all signs point to them being pretty decent humans. I’m grateful I get to be around for those moments.

Anson + Shep

Not to diminish my love for these three sons, but my highest point of gratitude is pointed in the direction of the guy I married. That guy. I’m just lucky that he’s stuck around as long as he has, because truthfully I’m not sure many people would find being married to me all that amusing. To wit: Anson was lucky enough to be on the end of this winning statement over the weekend, from your humble author:

I wish I was married to someone…more like…ME! I wish I could be married to myself!

Awesome, right? You’re probably now thinking about how if only you could be married to a woman who wanted to be married to herself all else would melt away like so much butter on pancakes. I know. I’m awesome.

And let me be clear when I admit that I’m ridiculous. Just so we’re clear.

Sheppard, Smith + Anson

Sheppard, Smith + Anson

You see, I was “sleeping in”. Which basically means that I stay in bed for about an extra 1/2 hour to 45 minutes while Anson takes the boy-army upstairs and starts the day. It’s a weekend tradition, one I feel like I earn by being Captain Amazing during the weekday mornings. Seriously. You should see what I can do in a 20 minute school-morning crunch even before coffee cup number one. Captain. Freaking. Amazing.

So it goes – I lay around in bed and hear screaming, giggling, wrestling, and singing going on above me. Usually I try to go back to sleep but this weekend I wanted to join in. I wanted to go up stairs and sit on the couch and watch the crazy boy show unfold in front of my sleepy eyes. But as soon as I arrived on the scene, all the voices started at once. “I want!” “Can we…?” “Up please!” “Mamamamamamamama….mom….Balla balla balla MOM!”

And I’m back at work, really. This is what I do and not what I wanted at all. Anson quickly disappeared, chagrined by the bacon, pancake and orange juice bomb that had gone off in the kitchen and furiously started cleaning. All the boys started climbing on me and nobody had offered her majesty a coffee yet.

This was not what I came up here for. I wanted to watch them like they were a TV show, not be part of the action. Couldn’t that just be what happened?? Why oh why were all these boys expecting me to act like their mother when I just wanted to be more like…a guest?

I stomped into the kitchen and gruffly informed Anson that I did not want to be in charge right now thank you, and that I am having one particular wish right now, that is, to be married to myself. Because myself would have had the boys fed, dressed, probably on their way out the door to the park and definitely not naked with pancakes stuck literally to both their face and buttock cheeks.

Anson + Smith. And some yogurt drink.

I reiterated that I’d like very much to have myself as a wife. Because then I could kick back and let myself do all the work because myself is the one who pretty much does it all.

Although. If I spoke to myself like that, myself would tell myself to go do something with myself that’s probably not at all possible. But Anson just sort of listened, handed me a cup of coffee, and backed slowly out of the kitchen. Smart dude.

After the circus left the house for the park, I wound down a bit and considered the morning. Then some things occurred to me. Anson works all week, then on the weekends glues himself to his kids and furiously tries to do small kind things for me. If I (seriously, accidentally) topple a full coffee cup on the floor, he pushes me out of the way to clean it. If I’m seeming overwhelmed he swoops in and tries to help. If a headache is hinted at, his hands find their way to my neck not to throttle me for being so grumpy but to tease the pain out of my shoulders. He doesn’t fire back at my nonsense, and usually lets me cross all sorts of stupid lines before he retreats and gives me the space I need to consider how I’m using my words.

In the quiet of a mostly destroyed house smelling of bacon and pancakes, I realized that there are probably some awesome things about being married to me. But there are some other things that most people would probably not be able to bear, yet Anson does. He continues to show up every day, 100% for his kids, and even more importantly, works really hard to let me know he’d rather be nowhere else. He works really hard to let me know he’d rather be with no one else. And he works really hard to not laugh at me when I proclaim ridiculous things about the joys of being married to myself.

For the record, I would probably not even make it to a second date with myself so there’s that.

Roan tracing Anson's face on the window

This year, all my gratitude for all the goodness in my life goes to Anson Call. This man I married twelve years ago and stays with me every day. He’s a better person than I deserve to have, and exactly as good of a person as my sons deserve to call Dad. I’m so so so thankful that he’s with me.

Photographing Strangers: Ok or Not?

Photographing strangers and posting the pictures to a public forum is creepy. Even if the picture is beautifully framed, wonderfully lit, and visually stimulating, unless the person has agreed to be photographed you’re crossing a line. Instagram has made this type of photography wildly popular and more accepted than ever. Many of my closest friends and relatives do this. Subway pictures of strangers, people waiting for a train, people crossing a street, eating food – I get it. The landscape of NYC littered with its citizens makes for compelling photographs. This is the sum + substance of why people watching here is so satisfying. But I don’t agree with the notion that just because it’s possible and popular, it’s ok to voyeuristically post pictures of strangers.

If I caught a stranger taking a picture of me, for whatever noble and artistic reason, it would bug me. Particularly if they were being sneaky about it. More so if they were taking a picture of any of my children. Honestly, that would freak me out. It’s just invasive, and that is the truth.

I think there are some exceptions. Vague pictures, not specifically showing faces but instead more of a landscape. Performers, who presumably are putting themselves out into the world to be watched. Maybe even police officers or other public figures on duty. Anyone who is not having a private moment. But the rest of us are just going from A to B, without trying to be on the stage of social media, maybe not feeling our best or looking our best or maybe we’re going through something or possibly feeling vulnerable or wearing something we thought looked great but actually looks awful.

But we have not agreed to be part of your artistic expression. By being in public, is it just implied that we consent? I don’t think so.

I’m seriously kind of shocked by how many people take and publicly post pictures of others. When did this become ok? How does it seem like a valid form of art? And if they have to do it covertly, doesn’t that just sort of negate any argument that it’s fine? In my experience, anything a person has to hide is usually kind of on dodgy ground.

I’d love to hear how others feel about this – particularly people who do it. Truthfully, I’ve done it before. I’ve seen a funny situation, photographed it, then posted it. But after seeing it done more and more, with people dancing a little too close to the line of invasive disregard, I’ve had to put the kibosh on my own involvement. It could be that I’m being ridiculous, though. What do you think?