seeing red

When I see him like this, I see the same strong will that was with him when he was just a one pound micro preemie fighting to live.

I see focus.

I see strength.

I see a determined thoughtfulness that astonishes me as I see this amazing boy child of mine becoming a young man.

A young man who has just earned a red belt.

And a brand new dobok…not a moment too soon because he was outgrowing the old one.

honor rolls, awards, celebrations and other end of year shenanigans

Because moving and unpacking and all the fun and games and all the snafus that go with that can’t possibly be enough going on here under the new Big Top we have…

Relax, it’s not like we have a graduation to celebrate going on. Still there is a lot going on that is the very last week of 7th grade and it seems none of it really involves much formal learning. It’s okay. It’s the last week of school y’all and for that students, parents and educators are celebrating.

So here we are, Jodie and I, taking a break from unpacking and online summer classes and nightshift nurse life work prep, lined up with all the rest of family and friends waiting to attend the 7th and 8th grade end of year honor roll and awards assembly at Daniel’s school. I make good use of my wait time scrolling through my Instagram feed. In the background I am aware of the first world problems that is one 8th grade mom VERY upset because her precious snowflake is missing Perfect Attendance award pins from 4th, 5th and 6th grades and she knows that they have not been lost or misplaced, her son never received them and he is going to need them by TOMORROW because it is 8th grade graduation and these pins must be firmly affixed to his graduation gown as he walks across the stage. By now everyone in the school office is aware of this problem and just how serious it is as the office secretary tries to explain there is little she can do to fix this even if the mom has all of her child’s 4th, 5th and 6th grade report cards to prove he had perfect attendance.

The waiting is that tedious that most of us are caught up in the drama-trauma happening…will this mother’s precious snowflake receive his perfect attendance pins that will carry him on to the promise of many future successes in high school, college and beyond; or will there be heartbreak followed by a downward spiral into abject failure if those three pins aren’t affixed to his 8th grade graduation gown because this is the ONLY time that he will ever graduate from 8th grade.

Jodie might have audibly sighed and rolled her eyes.

I definitely snickered.

I blame my dear friend Kerri because this popped up in my Instagram feed.

For every kid who is not gonna get an end of year certificate for “Best” anything… For every parent who is getting to the end of the school year with barely one tiny thread of sanity left… For every teacher who got hit with extra credit requests from students who did no work and yelled at by Tiger Mamas… For every admin trying to get grades posted, custodian trying to get the building clean and PTA President trying to get the final budget done…
Good Job! *High Five* from this little squirrel. I don’t know why, but that’s just funny.

It’s totally Kerri’s fault. But yes, high five and hats off especially to the wonderful, hardworking teachers, administrators and support staff at my son’s school who must survive all the shenanigans that the final days of school bring especially from the parents of all of the precious snowflakes. I just can’t imagine but then again here I am waiting to attend the end of year awards’ assembly where my own favorite son will be recognized for all of his hard work this year, his 7th grade year.

Honor roll, it’s always a big deal; but even more so when you literally begin life weighing but one pound with less than 10% chance of survival it is a HUGE, big, fat, hairy deal of which your family makes no apology for celebrating every time. So proud of this favorite son of mine.

Apologies to first world problems 8th grade mom for perhaps judging you a little bit more than you deserved. Even more apologies in advance to all at son’s school for next year’s 8th grade graduation because another milestone seemingly impossible and unattainable those first weeks of life soon realized.

Yeah, I’m likely to be insufferable next year.

Forgive me.

Instead join me and celebrate this amazing, mighty human I call son.



outshines the morning sun

In a few days I will FINALLY be the mother of only one teenager! Words can’t describe the flood of relief that comes with that statement. Of course having four adult children trying to do adulting kinds of things brings a whole new set of worries because I’ve been there and yes, done that…and that…and that…and that too.The attempt to restrain myself sometimes is so damn hard. I hope these grown children of mine will come to realize this. I’m sure that they will. I did.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying this young teenaged son of mine. When he smiles at me and talks to me I indeed do come undone. Look at him, my son!

That hair though!

Okay, not everything can be perfect at this age.

Still there are moments where I find my heart so full when he is sharing with me his thoughts, feelings and observations.

My son!

Pride is not the word I’m looking for.

Confession: I was listening to the Hamilton soundtrack before I sat down to write this.

Lately I am more than aware of the man this son of mine is becoming. I literally have never, ever known someone who is so kind and so fair to all. When he was but a one pound baby fighting as only micro preemies fight, I was aware how strong his heart was thenas I am always cognizant of with every mighty, tiny baby I care for. But lately I am all the more aware of just how mighty his heart is.


He makes me want to try harder to be a better person…a person like him, my son. How lucky I am to bask in his warm presence that, yes, outshines the morning sun. Added bonus, he calls me mom.

That hair though!

the emotions of donating, tossing and keeping

Spring has sprung and currently under The Big Top there is Spring cleaning going on. Living with a circus act that borders on potentially the next episode of Hoarders, one can imagine how much exhausting fun that can be.

Let me tell you.

But with a list of stuff to address room by room by room on a list firmly affixed to The Big Top fridge…where EVERYONE can see it, things are slowly getting done…slowly because this circus act is a bunch of pack rats. Imagine the pain and suffering that is involved in sorting through ephemera that is old boxes that once housed cell phones from years ago, extension cords, mugs and wine glasses galore from art, wine and food festivals of days gone by, stacks of video tapes and games with nary a VCR or compatible gaming console anywhere…and on and on and on…

And a room with a toy chest and shelves that house all the treasures belonging to who was once a little boy…treasures long forgotten and ignored…until we spend a weekend beginning to sort through. We’re going to empty the toy chest sorting it all into piles I gently suggest…things that are broken…things we don’t ever play with ever anymore…things we want to save.

What about all the Hot Wheels and the Lego sets andI can see all the stress and emotions as he begins to question.

Right now we’re just going to go through the toy chest in your closet. The toy chest you haven’t opened in three years I bet.

With relief, he laughs, More like four years.

He knows.

A few hours later, we are surrounded by a large pile to toss, a smaller pile to donate, an even smaller pile to keep and an empty toy chest save for a few scraps of crumpled paper on the bottom.

Oh hey! that’s my name!


What about all these Hot Wheels?, he points out the plastic bins stuffed full of, I imagine, all the Hot Wheels cars known to man that are stacked on the closet floor.

I think we’ve done enough today.

Well…except for this.

Fourteen years later, a shoe box full of NICU memories finally on display. Just in time, you know to thoroughly mortify the teenager who was once the micropreemie.

A toy box emptied. A shoe box emptied. You can’t imagine how much was accomplished in spite of a boy’s room still full of so much growing up.

Spring cleaning, exhausting y’all! Emotionally exhausting y’all.

as always, sticking together

Almost fourteen years ago, I managed to capture an amazing shot of the men in my life and what proved to be one of my most favorite photos of them.

A photo of the hand of our son, Daniel Quinn, scarcely 30 weeks adjusted age and just 2 pounds and the newest member of the Kilo Club, as he tried to grasp the index finger of his father’s hand.

One year later, as we celebrated Daniel’s first birthday and the finalization of our adoption, it served to remind us just how small he really was and how far he had come then.

A year after that, it would receive a special photo journalism award in a local photography show as it astounded the judges with one who truly was Fearfully and Wonderfully Made…it also irritated a local photo journalist that an amateur photographer would receive such an award…over her entry.

Today that photo is properly framed and hanging amongst so many other treasured photographs of our circus act here under The Big Top.

But today, inspired by the works of Red Methot’s Les Prèmas, I tortured my men with a photo shoot…as a mamarazzi will do.

Fourteen years later we prepare to celebrate tomorrow, as we do every year, because every birthday of a 1 pound baby boy born 4 months too soon is something one must always celebrate. We celebrate our preemie, Notre Préma, as parents should. Tomorrow this most extraordinary and most favorite son shall be FOURTEEN YEARS OLD which absolutely deserves all the shouty caps and everything else that we could possibly offer him. Oh, and I should add that we couldn’t possibly be more proud and happy that we get to call him our most favorite son…as we do every day. On the cusp of completing his fourteenth year, he is suddenly aware of the fact that he is our only son…but yes, absolutely, our most favorite son…something that we all celebrate here under The Big Top.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Robert Fulghum