An Open Letter to Lana Del Rey

Dear Lana,

Can I call you that? I mean, I know it's not your real name because Lana Del Rey is more sexy and marketable than the name your were born with. But can I still refer to you as Lana for the sake of this letter? 

I'm not a big fan of yours simply because, well, it's rare in my motherhood gig to devote tons of time to being a fan of hardly anyone outside of my family and friends. But I know some of your more popular songs and one kept repeating in my head today. It was the one about 'will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful." 

It's a fair question to ask. And I've realized it's easy for you to answer that question in your song while you actually ARE still young and beautiful. I guess I wanted to write this letter to let you know the age it all goes away. It's 38. 

38 is the age! Weird, right? If I had to guess I may have picked late 40's or early 50's, Nope. It's right now. At 38. I genuinely wonder if and how a not young and not beautiful woman could be loved. And why that is. 

The truth is I like myself so much better and find I'm not nearly as naive, absent minded, and selfish as I was when I was young and beautiful. I watch one of you in spin class and wonder if she wins on looks alone under all circumstances. Like even if she's an idiot, is it cute because her outsides are voluptuous, firm, and her skin is smooth and tight? Does she win even if she's a liar and murders kittens and hates children? Under what circumstances would the young and beautiful be less loved if given the option against the older and less beautiful despite the knowledge, strengths, and character if lined up on a chart? My bets would be the lesser impressive chart would still win because it comes in a package that's more enjoyable on the eyes. 

After all, this is why people have successful jobs in advertising and marketing fields, right?  Because appealing looks always win. We are buying tap water in a pretty bottle because it has the word SMART on it in a cool font. For real- we do this. It's so DUMB. 

I am embarrassed of the things I said and the way I acted when I was young while also considering myself  beautiful. I knew so much less about the world, other people, myself, compassion, and wisdom. I was full of (at times) empty confidence that people believed! Now,  I fear, I am turning invisible just as I've started to learn valuable and useful things. But to gain access to stand successfully on an ideal platform I'd have to lose 20 pounds, whiten my teeth, fix my boobs, and seriously consult with a fashion and make-up consultant. Is my cause worth it?    

"Fighting aging is like the War on Drugs. It's expensive, does more harm than good, and has been proven to never end." - Amy Poehler

So, Lana. You're probably working with a much different budget than the rest of us along with your access to experts to help you maintain your beauty and youth long past your late 30's. And we hope he still loves you no matter what. But more importantly, I hope you love yourself more than ever when you are 38. It's harder than I imagined. 

"Stop whining about getting old. It's a privilege. A lot of people who are dead wish they were still alive." - Amy Poehler


tiny bubbles

Today I got some rare 1 on 1 time with one of my kids. I planned ahead and brought a basketball because the universe spread clouds all over the sky, giving us a nice day for once. You can't have anything nice in Arizona. So! While I fished out the basketball I noticed a lonesome party favor of bubbles in the car door. I grabbed those, too, and we ventured over to a couple of concrete squares to play our own version of two square.

Rules changed often, score was forgotten, smiles were wide, and laughter was easy. This little hour was one of my favorites of the day. Week? Possibly. Especially because this is the child that connects most easily with my husband. They are best friends. And that happens in families, some personalities click more easily. I've accepted this and try to sneak in special time with this child intentionally to close the gap between us. Sometimes it feels like we are on opposite sides of The Grand Canyon. Today it didn't.

Today, I accidentally impressed by being 'so good' at 2 square. My tricks were smooth. Until I caught the ball with the tip of my finger. And it hurt. A lot. I didn't cry, but I wanted to. I wanted to swear it hurt so bad. But I also didn't want to ruin the moment.

We sat on the bench together, me hating that I was ruining our magical time together by being a complete wuss with a jammed finger. SO LAME. Then I caught a glimpse of the bubbles. I just started to send them into the air, uncertain of what the response would be. At what age do they decide bubbles are only for babies?

"Mom, I love the way these bubbles look. They are especially pretty because you are blowing them."



In 2008 I read a comment thread on a popular blog related to things that gave people the creeps. My favorite answer was from some guy named Matt. His reply was one word: terracotta. Naturally, a few dozen questions popped into my head and I had to have those answers. After brief research on his then-published blog I tossed my questions into his inbox all those years ago. He replied. Here is the Q/A.

From: 9/25/08

LF - Hey Matt- thanks for letting me interview you about the important 
topic of terracotta. And a whole bunch of random things, too. Because 
one day when I grow up (er, I mean my kids) I might actually be a 
reporter. If I feel like it. People just need to hear answers to the 
questions in my head. Okay here goes. Have some fun along with me- 
fully aware it's going to be posted on my blog. Which essentially gets 
posted on CNN every week and sometimes the New York Times, naturally. 
MP - My pleasure, Liz. Pleased (and guardedly flattered) to be of 
help. Can I just say that I feel completely weird being interviewed 
like this, for what was basically a single word comment on a blog, but 
that said, I can’t help but dive in and give my all. The question is, 
can you handle it? The answer is probably “yes”, which kind of 
deflates the question, but there you go.

LF - Okay so first memory of encounter with terracotta?
MP – Difficult to say. My parents had a nice garden, with fruit trees, 
and a small patio area with a couple of pots - possibly terracotta. I 
don’t remember being rubbed against them. My earliest memory was 
jumping from a stile and landing in a nettle patch, but the terracotta 
had nothing to do with that.

LF - Tell us specifically what it is you hate about it- help us feel the hate.
MP - Just the texture of it. I don’t like the way fingernails or dry 
skin drag against it. Like flaking fingernails on a used blackboard. A 
hangnail dragged across brickwork or a nylon sheet. Teeth chewing on 
foil. A knitting needle held close to the eye. A spider scuttling 
across the bedclothes. Hate is such a strong word, though. More like 
“don’t like much”. 

LF - Why do you think you hate it?
MP – One connection I can think of goes back to Xmas 1978. My sister 
got the double LP of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The 
Worlds. It’s fantastic rock opera album with ominous narration, some 
wonderful songs, and very creepy bits. I still have that copy in my 
collection. At the beginning the first Martian cylinder, lying in its 
crater, is slowly unscrewing. The sound it makes sounded like a 
terracotta pot being dragged slowly across concrete, in fact according 
to this page (http://www.war-ofthe-worlds.co.uk/music_mars_2.htm) 
ceramics were involved. 

LF - Is it anything made of the material, or just the pots?
MP - The material itself, in its rough unfinished form. I like the 
color of it, and the rustic feel it gives. I like varnished tiles made 
of it. 

LF - So in AZ there are stores on the side of the road (no joke) of 
people selling all sorts of variation of this stuff. If one of your 
friends blindfolded you as a joke and left you inside, what level of 
heebie jeebies would it create (1-10, 10 is shiver & shake).
MP - Blindfolded and not touching anything, I would be fine. Not 
blindfolded and not touching anything, fine. If they held me down and 
forced me to drag my fingernails or my teeth over it, then it would be 
a 5. But then I would have to bury them in the desert for their 
transgression. It’s not so terrifying an ordeal really. I am a 
supporter of Arizona cottage industries. I could live with terracotta. 
I have learned to live with terracotta. I have published a book called 
‘Learning To Live With Terracotta’. That last one was a lie. 

LF - What did you think when you read my post about you hating 
terracotta? I personally loved the party bit, how did that whole 
imaginary scene go over with you?
MP – I felt a bit strange, and surprised that such a small thing could 
spark someone’s imagination. Butterfly effect, I guess. The wonders of 
the web!
The party scenarios would be amusing, I think. The terracotta thing 
isn’t really debilitating, so I would probably fetch the ice, and then 
later slip something into the guy’s drink and film the results. 

LF - Do you say "cheers" instead of goodbye?
MP - I often say “Cheers”, as well as “Cheerio”. Also, “Goodbye”, 
“Bye”, “B’bye”, and “TTFN”. I also say “Same to you”, “that’s what 
your Mum said”, and “Up yer arse” depending on the situation and dress 

 LF - Have you ever watched The Changing of The Guard in London? Or do 
you think that's lame?
MP - I have seen the Changing Of The Guard, a long time ago on a 
childhood trip to London. I was more excited about seeing the Natural 
History Museum with its dinosaurs and the Science Museum, though. And 
the Planetarium. The display of royal pageantry was great to see, but 
now as a republican (in the UK sense – look it up) it’s a nice display 
for the tourists which hides in plain sight a side of the UK I’m not 
keen on.  

 LF - What are your top 5 (or 10) favorite bands of all time.
MP – Erm, in no order… New Order, Talking Heads, Underworld, Pet Shop 
Boys, Orbital, The Human League, Pulp, The Cars, Front 242, The Who, 
The Future Sound Of London, Big Audio Dynamite, Hawkwind, The Frogs. 
Take your pick. 

LF - What is your least favorite British band and / or song of all 
time. (Can I guess? Is it Queen?)
MP – One that always makes me grimace is ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis. The 
band were big with pub-and-football types, and this song especially 
was hollered drunkenly at the drop of a hat, because it sounds like it 
has some deep meaning, which it doesn’t. When it gets played now, I'm 
very aware of who is enjoying it, and those of us that don't bond over 
it. Queen occupy that kind of niche that the Beatles are in. They just 
existed, and I think it’s a bit strange to say “I’m a Queen fan”. 
They’re in the national consciousness, everyone knows their songs, 
likes some of them, but only in the background. I heard a joke about 
how if you leave a cassette* in a car long enough, it will always 
metamorphasize into Queen’s Greatest Hits.
* that dates me. 

LF - What do you think is strange about Americans?
MP – Too much to list. The USA is an amazing country. People sometimes 
comment on how many/few Americans have passports. But with a country 
so vast and stunningly varied, one can understand why many don’t. You 
guys swapped the red and blue meanings for conservative and democrat, 
which is totally confusing. In the UK, a ‘True Blue’ area is usually 
wealthy and traditional, and guess which way they vote? At the same 
time this huge variation means areas can be so different that two 
lifestyles in the same country can be completely alien. But then the 
idea comes along that one lifestyle is the “real” America, and then 
you’ve got trouble, division and conflict. There, that’s all the 
problems solved. Don’t thank me. It’s sad how the USA was founded on 
freedom of religion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean freedom _from_ 
religion. A strange twist. As the Euston Manifesto says, America has a 
“vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of 
millions”. I agree. 

 LF - What do you miss most about England [besides Nobbs]?
MP – This is a tricky one. By Nobbs, so you mean David Nobbs, one of 
the greatest comedy writers ever? Or Hobnobs, one of the greatest 
chocolate biscuits ever? Both of those I miss a lot. If you mean 
penises (or nobs), there’s no shortage over here, not that I crave 
them. I obviously miss my friends very much, and I hope they’ll come 
and visit me soon. I’ve been rotten at staying in contact, so I hope 
they remember who I am. I miss my old dog. I miss level-headed 
newsreaders, interviewers who ask proper questions, Radio 4, satire, 
shitty weather, public transport. I miss the marginalization of 
religious emphasis in state affairs. I miss scowling waitresses, bad 
drivers, small cars, narrow streets. I miss politeness and rudeness. 

LF - Who was your childhood hero?
MP – Douglas Adams

LF - What was your favorite American Sitcom (if any) while growing up?
MP – I liked ‘Cheers’ at lot, and ‘Moonlighting’ before it went all 
shit with the love story and writers’ strike and all (although that’s 
not really a sitcom). ‘The Munsters’ was shown in the UK, and ‘Taxi’ 
was a hit with my family. 

LF - Best British movie in your opinion and why.
MP – Brazil. Funny, terrifying, prescient, and for once the theatrical 
version had the downbeat ending. So many characters, great actors, 
great effects, design, music. 

LF - And British Show.
MP – TV show? Here’s a few in genres. News – Newsnight. Music – Later 
with Jools Holland, Top Of The Pops. Comedy – Father Ted, Black Books, 
The Young Ones, The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge. David Attenborough. 
Armando Iannucci. Jeremy Paxman, Stephen Fry, I’m getting carried away 

LF - What were people like where you lived that like The Cure? I am 
curious if it was a strictly gothic crowd or a mix of that plus normal 
people or simply everyone.
MP – In my home town (Bedford, Bedfordshire) there were state schools, 
and private schools. I went to a state school. The Cure seemed to be 
more popular in the private schools, for some reason. Cure fans 
weren’t always full-blown Goths, more like trendy kids with spiky 
(yes, sometimes dyed black) hair, or floppy collapsed quiffs. The real 
Goths liked Sisters Of Mercy (Temple of Love is a great tune), Fields 
of the Nephilim ("The Neff") and so on. 

LF - Also, are you a fan? If so- top 5 favorite songs please.
MP – No, I’m not. I did like that one song ‘In Between Days’ though. 
‘The Walk’ was OK. ‘Lovecats’ annoyed the shit out of me, and 
‘Lullaby’ was tedious. Sorry. 

LF - Man, this interview is really going to be boring if you hate 
music. Sure hope you are into music. At least a little. And not Queen. 
MP – No problem, I love music. Although I can feel my tastes 
calcifying with age. 

LF - Favorite band in the early 90s?
MP - New Order 

LF - Favorite band today?
MP – Wow, tough one. Not necessarily my favorite bands, but currently 
in my car’s creaking CD player are Ladytron, Nick Cave, The Burning Of 
If I set my iPod to Shuffle Songs, the first 5 bands that come up are 
as follows (honest): Spiritualized, The Primitives, Depeche Mode, 
Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Richard Hawley. That was pretty 
representative, so here’s the next five, to show I’m not ashamed: 
Hawkwind, New Order, David Bowie, Howard Jones, OMD.
And just for luck, the next five: Boards of Canada, Jane’s Addiction, 
Kraftwerk, Schmoof, William Orbit. Take yer pick. 

 LF - First concert
MP – I’ve never been a big concert-goer, which is something I truly 
regret, and which I am working on changing. It’s Nick Cave in San 
Diego next week. My first concert was 1990, Inspiral Carpets, Brixton 

 LF - What would your reaction be if I mailed you a wild, rare, million 
dollar plant (what? they totally exist.) nestled inside of a 
terracotta pot? Would you transfer it into something else and risk its 
death or try to overcome The Terracotta?
MP – I would be cool with transferring it to another pot. Or I would 
leave it. I would just have to be careful. Like I said, this thing 
isn’t debilitating. Please go ahead with the sending, thanks. 

 LF - Do people really eat beans for breakfast often in England?
MP - Yes they do, as part of the de-licious, nu-tricious (said in Slim 
Pickens accent) Full English Breakfast, which in my favorite 
heart-stopping incarnation consists of bacon (juicy UK style), 
sausage, toast, fried eggs, baked beans in tomato sauce, and thick 
chips. All with lots of ketchup and HP sauce. But it’s up to you – add 
black pudding, fried bread, white pudding (Scottish or Irish), fried 
tomatoes, fried mushrooms, whatever you like. Don’t listen to people 
who claim there’s a “real” Full English Breakfast, or to people who 
claim there’s a “real” England or a “real” America. Sorry, carping on 

 LF - Someone tried to run me over when I was visiting London. When my 
husband tried to fight him, he (the other guy) kept saying in his 
British accent "I am going to eff you in the ass". (although he didn't 
say 'eff' he said the real F). Is this a normal expression of anger(?)?
MP – No it’s not, but the sort of person who gets angry and violent 
when they are called out for attempted murder are not really a good 
barometer of language trends. 

LF - If you could tell my readers the best places to visit in the UK 
where would you suggest they visit?
MP – I wish I was more qualified to answer this. I have friends who 
enjoy hiking and walking – they could probably tell you more.
* London obviously. Do all the tourist stuff, it’s great. But also try 
to find the smaller stuff – there’s so much going on, and so much to 
see. I regret not doing more when I was there.
* The Peak District
* The Lake District
* The north-east coast.
* The south-west coast. The small fishing/tourist seaside towns are beautiful.
* Avoid Peterborough. Seriously. 

 LF - Link me to your favorite blog post of your own.
MP – In the absence of a better idea, this one: 
Other than that, have look around. The old theatre stuff is quite fun, 
as I blogged the run of a show. The site’s in a bit of a state after a 
problematic upgrade, so just have a wander. 

LF - What are you top 5 favorite blogs to read?
MP - I read a lot, and my favorites change from day to day, but here 
are some that I grab as soon as they’re up.
Both Bars On – music and gig reviews from author and lecturer, UCL’s 
Dr James Kneale (http://books.google.com/books?id=KaFmL7zMcDgC) 
(cheers James, say Hi to Shiv)
Lifehacker – they go off-topic a lot, but I like the stuff they post. 
Aspirational geekiness.
Vespastics – Just started up again after a hiatus, but some great 
scooter run photos up there already. Cheers, Zom-B.
Flesh Is Grass – excellent political and local stuff.
The Achewood webcomic has a blog for each of the main characters.
Of course, Sarah Brown’s Que Sera Sera is always great, but she’s been 
a bit me me me recently. Anyone would think she’d written a book and 
it was a top seller in more than one Amazon category or something. 

 LF - Favorite concert ever- who/ where?
MP – Jarvis Cocker, London Astoria, February 2007. The man’s a star. 

LF - What did you think of the movie 28 Days Later?
MP – The first half was great, deserted London, sudden shocks, David 
Schneider as a vivisectionist (something I can now cross off the 
wishlist). The second half was a disappointment. It suddenly reduced 
the scale of the film. Christopher Eccleston was great, of course, in 
his saliva spraying madness, but I wanted to see the whole country in 
decay, not just one small group. I like seeing large-scale shots of 
devastation and chaos. 

LF - What was Manchester scene like in the 90s when you were in school there?
MP - Ha, well, you’re asking the wrong person really. I got into 
college there, and arrived in September 1990. I wasn’t really equipped 
to cope with studying and looking after myself. Planning my time, 
getting up, all that stuff. I wasn’t ready. Add to that the fact that 
it was a huge buzzing place that everyone was talking about, and I 
think I got out of my depth. That’s not to say that I partied all the 
time. In fact, when I failed my exams and left after the second year, 
it was just because I didn’t study. I don’t have much in the way of 
happy memories from that time. A shame. 

 LF - I saw on your blog you are into theatre. Favorite show and why.
MP – My favorite show was The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, in which I 
played the eponymous lead. Great play, great director. Hi Mike!

LF - There is really a place called TOOTING on London? Is this funny 
to anyone else besides me? Sorry, I joke about tooting with my 1 and 4 
year old every single day. We need to know more about this place. We 
hope people there appreciate how awesome it is to be there.
MP – Some people do. It’s a really mixed place, with lovely small 
terraced houses, some kept nicely, some not. “Partially gentrified 
multi-ethnic” is how it’s been described. It was made famous in the 
1970’s by the (pretty bad in retrospect) ‘Citizen Smith’, a TV sitcom 
about a hapless Che Guevara-t-shirt-wearing Marxist revolutionary 
wannabe and his group, the Tooting Popular Front. The intro had him 
walking past Tooting Broadway tube station, then stopping, raising his 
fist and yelling, “Power to the people!”. Probably on YouTube 
somewhere. He lived with a right-wing security guard, with hilarious 
results. Tooting Bec Common is a lovely park, with the huge (cold) Lido.
Visit Tooting! Less snobby and expensive than Balham to the north, 
less of a total shithole than Mitcham to the south! 

LF - Thoughts on San Diego so far?
MP - Warm, dry, good food, good dog beach. Still collating. 

LF - Biggest regret / disappointment album purchased? (mine = Sublime)
MP – You mean which album do I regret buying the most? Good one. 
Recently, Spiritualized, Songs in A&E. Ever? Dunno. 

LF - Favorite Wonder Stuff album?
MP - I was never really a Stuffies fan, but I like ‘Eight-Legged 
Groove Machine’ the best – great fun, simple songs. They got all 
showbiz and circussy after that. Plaid suits and violins, yeuchhh. For 
a while, Miles Hunt was his own Cockney Rhyming Slang, until James 
Blunt came along. That said, ‘On The Ropes’ from ‘Construction for the 
Modern Idiot’ is one of my favorite songs ever. 

LF - If you could pull together your ideal concert summer series who 
would you put in the line-up (old and current bands alike).
MP - Wow, blimey, that’s gonna take some work. Can I get back to you 
on that? Perhaps a gathering of all the old political dub-rock 
festival groups from the early 80’s. Or perhaps not.

Thanks Matt- you were a good sport and hilarious!


right here


10, 7 and 5. That's how old they are now. It crept up on me and I can't say when it happened, but I'm really enjoying motherhood more than I ever have before. I know them each so well and find humor in our daily interactions because of who they are and the things they say and do. We share humor in different ways as each of their personalities shine from within. These kids crack me up and amaze me every single day.

No one else sees them like their father and I see them. No one else smiles at their successes like we do. Because no one else has been there for the tears, their fears, their tantrums, their diaper blow-outs like we have. No one else has loved them so closely through thick and thin. 10 hour layovers. Longs nights with high fevers. Grumpy days and weeks while they have each worked through the process (and still do) of learning to use their words to express their emotions. We are their biggest fans.

The early years were different. Sheer mental exhaustion and illness almost took me from them forever. This Mother's Day I reflected on how lucky I am to be here with them. To see them through those harder years and to enjoy a little landing pad we call space and time: the now. It, too, will change quickly and new challenges will be folded in along with new joys.

How great it is to be with them in present tense with all of our collective rights and wrongs and jokes and farts. Every bit of laughter leaks out a little louder and every hug I hold a little longer.

One will finally admit when an assignment is overwhelming. And I get to guide and lead, then step away and watch it through completion.

Another will push and pull the Mommy role in public with a brief head on my shoulder or a holding of my hand while I stand near, patient and ready for the independence or comfort needed on that one's own timetable.

And one will clutch tightly, letting go with wobbly social skills and a scowl at my correcting. Only to watch from a distance my effort taking shape and the training wheels of motherhood slowly falling off as they each learn and grow near me.

They are each showing me who they are and I am slowing down and listening a little better with each passing year. I'm so glad to be here for it all. Appreciating the right here, the right now.


So long, Redwood, and thanks for all the fish.

Dear New Family,

I wish I could convey to you all the goodbyes in my heart so you could know of this sacred space you've come to purchase. I know it probably doesn't feel that way to you, not yet anyway. But know that we have been praying for you to find this home. Even my little children took to their knees with us to ask Him to help the right family find our home. Sure, the double mortgage we were swinging with 2 homes wasn't a blast, but it was most important to me that the right family move into the home we were letting go of.

The last time I walked through to leave the keys on the counter for you, I flashed through so many special moments that took place within the walls of that space. We grew a lot as individuals at Redwood Place; and as a family unit. My oldest was an overwhelming and angry preschooler who had trouble just standing in a line for a short amount of time when we moved in. He made the most progress of all of us in the years we lived there. Miracles occurred you wouldn't believe in regard to the talented therapists that were part of our lives. In that home they taught all of us how to understand this boy that was such a complex mystery to us. He's 10, now, and an untrained eye would never know he has healed so much from the harsh affects of High Functioning Autism.

My middle guy was barely walking and loved to hang from the hem of my shorts as I stood cooking dinner in that gorgeous kitchen. I can still see his bright blue saucers for eyes looking up at me and giving the baby sign for milk. Sorry the cabinet stoppers are missing, it was his favorite thing to pick them off and eat them. If he wasn't hanging from my shorts, I knew it was time to fish a rubber stopper from his mouth. This week he just wrapped up a strong baseball season as a tough 7 year old.

This was the home we brought a brand new baby girl to when she was born. We all gathered in the kitchen to watch her sleep in her car seat on the table that first day home. She learned to walk on those smooth tiled floors with her little toes slightly pointed in. Always smiling, always happy and social. Now 5, she skips and runs and rides a two-wheeler without training wheels.

The hardest part of leaving is the great neighbors we will miss. I wish I could tell you about every family and the kindness we received getting to know many of them. I wish I could show you the miracles of my health and Mike's health that occurred within the walls of Redwood Place and the support system we had living among us. I wish I had a window that allowed you to look into my heart and see what I feel when I think of your new home and the lovely people around you. It's a special place that was tough to leave. But my mother heart knew it was time and He guided us to a new place we're learning to make our own with new memories and new friends.

I know you'll take good care of what was our first home because I have no doubt it's where He wanted you to be at this time in your life. For reasons you may not know or see until many years later.  

All our love,

Former Redwood Placers


Today I got to teach Sunday School to the 15 year old boys and girls at church. We talked about times we knew The Lord's hand was in our lives despite hardship. I am grateful for two reminders in my life when I knew that to be true. One was a near accident with a car when I was running in Brooklyn many years ago. I felt arms holding me back keeping me from stepping into a speeding car. Yet no one was behind me or anywhere near in proximity. I was protected in that moment in ways that may not make complete sense to me until I am on the other side of the veil.

Another time was Mike's fluke visit to the ER for a sore neck that ended up being the way he learned of his brain tumor(s). The Lord guided him there in ways we may not fully understand until the other side of the veil. But I have no doubt He had a hand in both guiding Mike to health experts whom could find it and also comforting our family with peace during such scary weeks and months.

Much like Henry B. Eyring says in his talk linked below, these experiences are not just for us. They are for us to share with others so our testimonies can grow and teach. He kept a journal so his posterity could learn from them as well.

I challenged the youth today to keep a journal for 2 weeks on how The Lord's hand is in their lives daily and I welcome you to do the same.

Watch or read his talk here:




When we lived in New York I used to take the Long Island Railroad to work every day. I knew the destination I wanted to travel as it was clearly communicated by the Railroad company. I followed their posted times so I could get on the train I wanted and get to the location I planned. If I was running late, the train would not wait. If I was in need of a different route, the train would not stop there. If I was unhappy with my experience riding the train, there are people available to contact and a process available for me to administer my complaint.

A woman was in the paper today for being excommunicated from the religion I am also a member of. The notion of a train came to mind for some reason when I thought about my deeply personal decision to join this organized religion. You either get on and follow its destination or get off. When I was interviewed by the assigned person and discussed my desire to be baptized all those years ago, I agreed I would not actively take part in any movement that operated against the church and its teachings. A church I fully believe (which may sound silly to some) is run by inspiration from God. He's the conductor. His train's moving forward with or without me. I may not always understand the path, but I know what I agreed to when I got on and it's a privileged to be on this journey. Not an obligation. We believe our destination is eternal life with God in heaven. With our families. We also believe we are perfect in the afterlife (which is important to note considering the kids are home all summer fighting with each other). That being said, I can't imagine anything more awesome than being with my family forever. That's a pretty rad final destination I don't want to derail. 

There are some people who may only hear of this gospel I dearly love from the perspective of an excommunicated, disgruntled woman. Having lived in a place where few know about us, this hurts my soul. These headlines may be someone's first exposure to something so much bigger and more important than one lady's unsettling feelings about a religion she chose to be part of.

Organized religion isn't perfect. The people who run it and follow it are not perfect. But it's an option and it comes with guidelines you agree to when you become part of it. It is run by God. And He is perfect. 


Autism Advice

Since my oldest was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism 4 years ago, I have welcomed the opportunities of talking to other mothers who are facing a similar start to their journey. It's always important to me to be honest and not sugar-coat my story. I put this here in case it helps even just one family along their way.

1) Find the subject matter expert with credentials in what your instinct is telling you might be different about your child. I spent many years in and out of early intervention appointments, doctors, and therapist offices trying to figure out if we were dealing with Autism or not. It is critical to find someone who has spent a lot of time researching, diagnosing, and working with children whom have the 'difference' you suspect.  I had a child psychiatrist tell me nothing was wrong and to buy the book Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. She was not a specialist in Autism. That was valuable time he should have been getting speech and learning at a young age how to engage with others before bad habits were developed. 

I found my expert by attending an advocacy group in my town comprised of moms who have kids with Autism. They were the best source of direction.

2) Get over the fear of a "label".  My son has struggles no matter what we do or don't call them. Finding out what it's called was the key to unlocking a treatment plan and path for support to help him learn the way he needed to learn. Without a  'label' the medical industry may not cover costs and at school it was the only way he was going to be able to join the mainstreaming program and aids that helped guide him. Without the label, he would not have had the tools available in the community or in school to develop and grow as quickly as he has. Pretending it's not there won't make it go away. Especially if it's a challenge the child will need to learn to manage and work with their whole life.

3) It's not your fault. You have done nothing wrong. It's okay that you aren't a Developmental Pediatrician, Speech Pathologist, Physical Therapist, Neurologist, Neuropsychologist, Behaviorist, and Occupational Therapist. (These are all the specialists many children on The Spectrum work with.) It would be great to put life on hold, go get those degrees, then come back and be everything you wish you were right now so there wasn't such a steep learning curve. Be kind to yourself. You're enough! You'll learn quickly and these people will become part of your village raising him.

4) Grief is often part of the process of finding out about a child being different. Many moms I've been in touch with have experienced going through all the stages of grief. It's normal. I slipped into a clinical depression and needed help. It's okay to need medical help while you cope and adjust. It's a lot to process and adjust to.I was so overwhelmed, sad, and worried about his future it felt like the plans we had in store for him came undone like a rope being unraveled. It would have been so beneficial if I had worked with a therapist. Not everyone will struggle like I did, but if someone does please know it's okay to find yourself professional support.

5) It's okay if a therapist is a bad fit. I've had to break up with therapists (PT, OT, Speech) for various reasons. It's so hard, but important to remember your new mission on your resume is to be your child's best advocate. So if personalities aren't clicking with the therapist and the child, their feelings about changing isn't the priority. If the therapist isn't quite getting how the disability impacts the child or you're not seeing progress with your child, look for another therapist. The best way to phrase it is 'we're just going to try another approach'. Often you can try another available therapist at the same clinic or ask other moms about their contacts.

6) Your husband is going to be coping with this at a different pace. This is normal. I think we've all seen the high divorce rate (80%) for parents impacted by having a child on The Spectrum. It's a lot of added stress to a family. Men and women cope with things differently. Counseling could be helpful for some families. Make time for regular date nights!

7) Finding your advocate voice can be intimidating, but is crucial. Especially when trying to work with schools and the IEP process. Using a local parent support network is highly recommended. Learning your child's rights is important (see IDEA Law and read FAPE). If necessary, ask your child's doctor (the subject matter expert) for referrals for advocates you can hire or even attorneys who specialize in advocating for kids with special needs. 

8) Siblings are part of this, too. In my case, I have 2 younger children who had had to do a lot of waiting and watching. While they are learning patience and the beauty of helping another, they also need to get the 1 on 1 attention when possible. When old enough, find simple ways to explain how the other child is different and share some of the goals he or she is working on. My middle child was really hurt that HE didn't get to have his own Miss Meagan for OT, but once he understood why she came and what they were working on teaching my other son, he understood. 

9) Have an 'elevator speech' prepared to explain your child's struggles and the best way to help him or her. For swim team or a substitute teacher at church, I have learned a quick overview is helpful to give that person a heads up that things operate a little differently and a little more patience and guidance is required. It's always met with a smile and I check in to make sure behaviors aren't too out of control (unexpected change can be really stressful for my son). 

 10) Be sure to take a break. You need to secure your mental health so your canteen doesn't get empty. Know what helps you relax a bit and step away from the demands to take a breather. Some love the movies others a social night out with fun friends. People will offer to help you- this is how they can. Let them put the kids to bed so you can get a break. 


In Jello

(photo from 6/9/2013)

Reflecting on last year it seemed we were frozen in time while Mike's life became overrun by medical urgency. Starting in January, he had a major brain procedure every 3 months. Surgery, then a bigger surgery, then radiation for a month. He claims the radiation was the worst. How could you possible choose a worst of three horribles? It would be like insisting a head on collision would be worse in one brand of car over another. It's three versions of bad! We'll just have to take his word for it.........I guess.

I can't speak for him on how the whole thing shakes out with hindsight. For me, I can best explain it this way: It was like we were stuck inside a mountain of jello. The world around us kept moving and we could see it clearly, but were not part of it. We were separate from it, suspended in another dimension where things moved more slowly. If at all. The outside world was nothing I could relate to. The constant press of concern and worry about my husband's brain expanded into every space available within my head. Conversations left me feeling bored, confused, frustrated, or downright mad that another topic would dare try to enter. That space was already burning and full of dread.

Who cares if your garden isn't growing. His head was cut open!

Don't they see we're suspended in jello?!

No. People don't see it. They don't know. Unless they've been stuck in it, too.


Back in my working days there was a woman who worked on my floor who never smiled. People in the building had a nickname for her, but I won't repeat it because this is a family site. Let's just say it rhymed with stitch. Any smile or hello was rudely ignored.

When I was stuck in jello, I was a total stitch. I couldn't find my friendly. I lost my social skills for a while. I couldn't fake it. And I now understand that sometimes when people can't smile back, they might be in the middle of something really heavy. They just might need some space and understanding. Or a plate of cookies left on their desk with a nice note. I wish I did that for the work stitch. Lots of people did that for us and it was the only thing that felt good: food. Words didn't matter so much.

I'm not in the jello anymore and it's refreshing to be part of both complex and mundane conversations. Regular life with uncomplicated words and the absence of constant fear. I hope I don't forget when I see someone else in jello. Instead of being offended, I hope I remember to feed them.



I've been visiting a dentist quite regularly most of my life. I would guess at least twice a year, which makes it about 72 times.  I will be the first to admit I am not a dental hygienist. However, I am pretty familiar with the procedures that typically occur (and in which order) when getting my teeth cleaned.

This week I went to our local dentist late in the afternoon. She had another 'dentist' filling in for her. Also an assistant I never saw before. I would put money on it that they were either robbing the joint and trying to cover as workers or the doctor asked her neighbors last minute to fill in for her that day.

These two random ladies had no idea what they were doing.

The suction tube kept falling apart and was about 4 sized too big for my mouth.

Um, I think this is the Dyson vacuum cleaner tube, why don't you try for this little one by the tray of mini stabber tools?

That lady was all thumbs and would have been better off loading the get-a-way vehicle with machines and office furniture. It's not often I am embarrassed for other people, but for her I was blushing. Hey, I get it we all have out weaknesses, but sucking water from a widely opened mouth with a straw that's 4 inches thick? It's not putting a camel through the eye of a needle, my friend.

The "dentist" did the same type of internal tooth exam my daughter does (she's 4 btw) when she plays doctor and wants to see if my throat is red. Next came the gritty fluoride without water, mind you. Because who doesn't love frothy sand collecting in your mouth the taste of fruit punch and rock salt? I was dry heaving and gargling somehow at the same time. I started pointing to the water tube and sat up to take control of the situation my DAMN self when the useless suction tube lady clumsily dropped the tool.

Finally I was flossed. Last step in the process: floss. Now call me crazy, but the 71 other times I have been to the dentist never have I gurgled grit nor had it flossed between my teeth at the end of the cleaning. For a moment I wondered if I had just wandered into a dental school where they practice on you the way they do for hair stylist schools. Maybe I would only be charged a nominal fee because (chances are high) it was done wrong.

The good news is I felt less horrible about my dragon breath from my Indian food lunch. Come to think of it, maybe that threw them both off and caused distraction......



Dear Dad,

I think about you every day. Sometimes it makes me smile to think of something funny you said. When I called you at the hospital you had no idea who was calling your room, but you still answered the phone, "Tony's Pizzeria!" I laughed so hard I almost forgot you had terminal cancer.

I love speaking to your mother. She has a cheerfulness about her that even the sadness and loneliness your death left behind cannot destroy. Sylvia has this gift as well. She misses you dearly. She said you were the energy of the house and enjoyed your daily talks with her. Do you hear her when she tells me these things?

Sometimes it makes me sad to think of you. Your breath was so labored and your mind began to operate differently. I wonder where you are now. I wish I could see where you are. I wish I knew more definitively what's next once we leave earth. Mike eases my concern for you when he reminds me you are no longer in pain- I believe that for sure.

There is a veil of knowledge and understanding between us now that would probably be too complex for the living to comprehend. It would also not allow us the agency to decide and learn the way we ought to. Your death has caused me to reflect on this often and remember how little the material things of life matter. And how silly all of us must look spending our time and money and dumb things.

I review what I believe about death and the next life constantly in my mind and try to visualize it, but pictures come up empty. While my faith is present, my understanding could be sharpened. I suppose this should inspire me to dig around in my scriptures more.

Some say angels are on earth with us, are you one of them? If so, when are you near? Is it only when I think of you? Is it when I forget you? Is it when I talk about you to another?  Are you with your dad? I wonder what it was like for you to be near him again. Will you be the first one I see when I go?

If you are here and can see us, do you see the good moments and bad? Do you see when I cry? When someone is cruel to me? Did you see that magical that little 5 year old moment of childhood when my dear boy saw his carved pumpkin light up in the dark? It was a moment that gave me the biggest smile of the day, were you there? I was wishing then you could see it with me.

I miss you being there. I wish I had not taken it for granted.


Cycle of Life

On the cover of The Chicago Sun-Times today I can find headlines about the Chicago Marathon, Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade changing, Malala, Gun rights, The Cubs, GOP and Dems. It's in the Obits section I scan the towns to look for my father's name. Steven. I never knew if his official spelling was Stephen or Steven. Now I know.

None of the news for today really seems to matter. He doesn't get to read it. He is gone.

Someone who created me is gone, now. Despite not knowing him well, it still hurts. Staring in the face of the cycle of life feels pretty heavy at times.

I feel sad for the way the end of his life happened with poor health, cancer, and pain. I feel sad for what I never had with him - a strong relationship- and the hope of trying to catch up on any small portion of lost time coming to a close.

During the sacrament hymn at church today Mike grasped my hand and pointed to the words we were singing with the congregation:
Lord, we come before thee now; At thy feet we humbly bow.
Do not thou our suit disdain; Shall we seek thee, Lord, in vain?

Send some message from thy word; That may joy and peace afford.
Comfort those who weep and mourn; Let the time of love return.

Grant we all may seek and find; Thee, our gracious God, and kind.
Heal the sick; the captive free. Let us all rejoice in thee.

"Lord, We Come Before Thee Now"
by William Hammond, 1719-1783


Normally the children seated between us to prevent fighting, but Mike rearranged the kids so he was sitting next to me.

"Liz, this song reminded me of your dad. Your dad got to meet The Savior. Isn't that amazing?" Mike leaned in and whispered in my ear.

We locked eyes for several moments and smiled, thinking of the joy of such an incredible moment. Imagining my father comforted by The Savior took my breath away. None of us on earth are perfect, Christ has made up the difference for each of us. I have known that much of my life, but today I felt the power of what that means for my father right now. And it consumed me with peace.

I didn't get to learn a lot from my father directly and I resented that when I was young. But today I realized that my experience being his daughter gave me the opportunity to learn the beauty and peace that comes with forgiveness. Although I had limited communication with him, I know I had the opportunity to feel unconditional love for him and from him. Wow, I have to tell you that is like no other gift.

They say time is different in heaven- years on earth might be like the blink of an eye in heaven.

See you soon, dad! Can you pull some strings so I can meet John Candy when I get there?


Dear Dad

Dear Dad,
Just this morning you left peacefully in your sleep. I felt a rush of numbness when I read the news from Amy, then talked Lisa and cried. She made me feel better like only a big sister can. I am grateful for the on-line communication we had and phone conversations in recent months. I wrote a letter 6 days ago I never posted........


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dear Dad,

I never stopped wondering about you growing up. I tried to imagine what it would be like to see you every day. I imagined the sports we would play together and created an image in my mind that has never left me. I daydreamed of this image often when bored at school or alone in my room wishing you were the one sitting in the living room. I always felt a part of me was missing; distant and incomplete. You were that part of me. Unknown. Unreachable.

I remembered that image I created as a girl last night clear as day. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remember it and I want to paint it for you with my words.

We are standing in a field on a slightly breezy day. We are playing catch, but I cannot see the type of ball we are using. Is it a baseball? Football? Tennis ball? There are no other items around us or in our hands and the kind of ball doesn’t matter. It’s just me and you and we are smiling. There is a soft golden glow and there are tall stalks of yellow grass waving in the soft wind around us. I am very young, maybe 5 years old, and I am wearing an old fashioned dress that also flies gently in the breeze along with my hair. I see no trees around and we are both so happy and carefree. You are also young maybe in your 20s with a genuine smile.  It’s such a safe place; happy and endless in time.

When I went to see you for the first time that my memory can recall, I was 17. You told me you always loved me and missed me terribly. I believed you. I felt it when you said it. You told me a song always made you think of us by Eric Clapton called ‘Tears in Heaven’.  You wondered if we would know you if we saw you in heaven. 
With your health declining and the end of your time on earth approaching faster than any of us would like, I just know it’s going to be like my image when I see you next. We will get to make up for lost time. Time will be endless and we will be smiling. And playing catch, apparently.


Dear Dad: Vol. 3

Dear Dad,

Today all the kids went with Mike and I to the hospital for his radiation treatment. His tumors are on his optic nerve, so the treatment is 5 minutes long. It's week two and he is starting to feel more sick, tired, and dizzy. We can't begin to imagine what your radiation feels like with 4 tumors in your brain and the others in your body that require radiation. I wish I was nearby so I could bring you some lemon candies and sit with you to visit. I wonder if your food has been tasting funny, too. Mike has been reporting this week that everything tastes like soap or metal. He tries to chew strong flavored gum to get rid of the taste. A nutritionist met with him today briefly and gave him a list of flavors that might be okay. They are: mint, citrus flavors, strong marinades like Italian seasoning for chicken, fresh veggies are some of them. Milkshakes have been tasting great to him, too.

Tonight we had chicken in the crock pot with an Italian dressing packet, cream cheese, and cream of chicken soup. Mike said it was the best meal he's tasted in 2 weeks. This is from a man who is a big food snob (I say this lovingly) who is truly mourning the loss of his ability to taste the way one would mourn the loss of a loved one. I told him to buck up because my dad's got 5 times the problems being radiated. I didn't tell him that really, but I thought it would crack you up to type it.

The kids are so happy to get hot chocolate from some fancy machine while they wait for their dad. There is a big fish tank I remind them 40 trillion times to not tap on. There was another kid there today who played with an old community toy shopping cart. When he pushed it around the lobby it made a squeaking sound as bad as stabbing forks in my ears and twisting them. Luckily my three kids distracted him by filling 62 million cups of water at the cooler.

In the evening it was a balmy 90 degrees out, so Evan and I played baseball in a grassy field by my house. I thought of you and how proud you would be of each of your grandkids for various reasons. For Evan it would be his toughness with sports and natural ability to throw like The Incredible Hulk. He has your deep voice and your bright blue eyes. His father is his very best friend and favorite person in the world. He is a master pro at building things (Legos or puzzles or wooden train tracks). He has this natural ability to sense if someone is not feeling well and would be the first to hug a stranger having a bad day. He's also one to turn on a dime if things don't go his way and was the only one to cry when the pet hamster with giant testicles died. He is truly one of those Big Teddy Bear types.

Tell Grandma hello for us. I will call this week to speak with you both.



Dear Dad: vol. 2

Hey Dad,
My heart is so heavy for the horrible news of your health. I wish I could fix it. I wish it wasn't so. But for some reason my wishes this year seem to be broken and none of them are coming true! I was glad to hear your humor intact when we talked. I will do my best to write some funny stories while I continue to pray for your health and comfort.


Growing up I took dance. I wasn't bad, but I was also not one of the best. I loved performing and am very outgoing like you are. The start of 4th grade at a new school was rough, as for any kid at a new school, but I was eager to show off my skills at the talent show! I decided on my own to lip sync and dance to a song. It was the 80's and MTV was brand new; I couldn't get enough of it! I was able to tape record one of my favorite songs off a college radio station (a perk of having a big sister: introduced to college radio early). I practiced my moves in the mirror in private for weeks. I just knew it would be the best part of the whole talent show.

The morning of I rummaged through my mom's make-up drawer. No one else was home, so I was on my own. I had no idea how to put any of the stuff on, but figured I had watched my mom do it enough at dance performances it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. On went the bright red lipstick. Smears of electric blue eye shadow covered my lids all the way up to my brows. Rose colored blush was dusted heavily on my cheeks. Oh how I wish I could remember what I wore that day.

I headed to school early and stopped by my friend Danielle's house so we could walk together. I think she was going to do sign language to a song or something really nerdy. Her mom had a red letter 'E' in the window which meant she was always home if someone had an emergency and needed a place to go. I wished my mom was home and had an 'E' in our window cos she was a cool mom. Danielle's mom was mean. None of the kids in the neighborhood liked her. It seemed a waste for a kid to get their mom to be home if she wasn't a nice one.

That morning her mom answered the door with a wrinkled nose and asked about my make-up. I had already forgotten about it on my face. She was a good 15 houses away from mine and I was thinking of my dance routine in my head the whole time.

"Does your mom know you have that make-up on?" her mom scowled.

"Oh, there's a talent show today," I offered as we turned our backs to her and walked to school. Danielle didn't say anything about the make-up, so I only assumed she wished she could have some on, too.

We arrived in the music room and the sweet music teacher was setting up chairs and told us we could practice on the carpet in the front of the room. I plugged in my boom box and arranged the tape so it was at the start of the song. Danielle watched wishing all the while her mom let her take dance, too, and wondered how amazing it must be to be me. I had no fear of performing and could not wait to have an audience later in the morning.

I took my position in the center of the carpeted space; Danielle agreed to push play. The song sprang into the air and that feeling of big kid life energized me the way it did when I watched MTV. I was no longer a 4th grader in my mind in that moment, I was a music video SUPERSTAR! All of my dreams would be coming true that day dancing and singing to a peppy tune.

"Stop the tape! STOP THE TAPE!" the music teacher ran from the back of the room to the front. It had not even gotten to the chorus yet, my favorite part.

Confused, we watched the teacher and waited for an explanation.

"Is she singing about a gun?" the music teacher huffed and puffed with stress in her voice and I stood dumbfounded.

As a kid you don't always listen closely to what the lyrics actually are or even what they mean. Sometimes as a kid you just love the beat or in my case the funny video that's so outrageous and quirky you love it the way some people might find Chihuahua's adorable (they really are not, btw). I was sternly told I could NOT play that song and right there all my 4th grade dreams were crushed.

Here's a clip of the song. The title is Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" by Julie Brown. Any kid from the 80's that had MTV will know this song (maybe?). It wasn't as popular as I imagined, turns out, once I took it to school.

I wanted to stab out my eyes with forks when it was Danielle's turn in the talent show with the friggin sign language. BOOOOOOOORIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING. That dumb E in her window and now her spot in the talent show. Oh, I was mad and envious and bummed all rolled into one really bad 4th grade day.

The best part about this memory is that no one but Danielle, her mom, and the music teacher knew I planned to perform that day. So I spent the rest of the day with all that make-up on. I am positive I had long forgotten it was on my face. The image of my little self working on a math worksheet at my desk, rubbing blue eye shadow across my face, had to be incredibly hilarious-slash-confusing to my teacher and the other kids. Just spent the day walking around with whore-ish make-up on like it was no big thing.


Dear Dad: Vol. 1

Dear Dad,

I know we didn't get to hang out a whole lot the past 36 years I have been around, so I thought I would start a regular installment of letters to catch you up!

My first letter just had to be about my sister, Lisa. Oh man she has been such a great sister. When my mom was a single mom adjusting to caring for us she really stepped up and filled the gaps of caring for me instinctively. I wish you could have seen it, you would have been so proud of her!

She read me books at a time I was so little I only knew how to drool and eat. My boys have to be PAID to do this for my little girl. And even then they usually refuse. She corrected my language, taught me to coordinate clothing (I didn't pick up on that one too well), and even broke up with my very first boyfriend for me because I was too worried about hurting his feelings (our voices sound very much alike on the phone).

Once we had a not-so-good neighbor who lived in the apartment above ours. She stole things from the grocery store and gave them to us. We didn't know the lip gloss and Smurf coloring books were stolen, but once Lisa found out she felt really bad about it. Mom was at work and Lisa had no choice but to take me with her in the covert return-hot-items operation. We wore sunglasses and walked casually around the make-up department and dropped the merchandise between shelves of Wet N' Wild nail polish and lip stick products.

She is so brave! I watched her fall in love with dance and perform on a stage for years. I wished I could remember routines and do as well as her. It was definitely a talent she enjoyed a lot and even got to be a Pom Pom girl in Junior High. She ruled her advance dance class and rocked at teaching kids at a dance studio when she was in High School.

I was first chair in flute when I learned how to play in 6th grade because she offered to spend time teaching me how to play the week before school started! I had such an advantage over all those other suckers. For the first time I felt so happy at being the best at something.

She always knew how to put on make-up and wear fashionable clothing; she hung out with all the cool kids. She always had a boyfriend and they were always the cutest boys in her grade. She listened to college radio before it was even called 'alternative' and encouraged me always to follow what I liked, not what the crowd was doing. I wasn't a dancer, but a runner (I am not coordinated at all!) and she told me to keep doing it because it was important to be part of something active. She always had good advice, trained me to use good come-backs if someone was mean, and made it clear if I was embarrassing (social norms are important).

She always got A's, rarely anything less. School was a happy place for her to be and she learns quickly and easily. She has amazing organizational skills and a sharp memory. I am opposite of her that way, I admire that about her. When we watched reruns of I Love Lucy we always laughed that I was Lucy; she was Ethel figuring things out and fixing problems. I always could make her laugh, though, and that was my favorite part of being her little sister.

She is more sensitive and delicate. I am a bull in a china shop. She is an amazing mother who had been given a heavy load. I have always admired her way of working hard to press for the unique things Lindsey has needed over the years.

She played Monopoly with me all the time (probably more than she wanted to) and let me hang out in her room while she listened to her latest music obsession (examples: The Monkees, Michael Jackson, WHAM!/ George Michael, Mariah Carey, Pearl Jam). When I was too young to drive, she let me hang out with her and her friends because she knew getting out of the house was important.

While growing up she always kept an eye out for me to protect or help me like a parent. No one asked her to, she just did. I hope my boys can be like that for each other and their little sister.

I watched her my whole life to figure things out big and small. She was and still is a great big sister.  I am so glad I got to look up to her all my life. She made my world less stressful as I grew.

We always wondered about you, together, and would look for your name in the yellow pages at the library for years. I am glad we are corresponding and hope this letter makes you smile.

There was an error in this gadget