Snow day for five

We ordered up a little snow for the five to enjoy.  It started early,  while I sat scrutinizing my peacock painting at Cheers. First, it looked pretty sparse, just a few flakes wafting through the air before settling and melting. But then, they came faster and began to stick. Suddenly, there was a blanket of white.  Traffic slowed, as caution and chaos battled along the roads.
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And when they called closure for school, we decided to explore the few open spaces that remain in the community. We were first to the hill, with our makeshift sleds in hand.  Why can we never find the real sleds when needed?
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Ri wanted no part of the snow or cold, while JD insisted winter was his favorite season.  But when his wet canvas sneakers began to freeze, he was more than happy to escort baby sister home.

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We gave it a good half hour and left the hill when too many would be sledders joined us on the slope.
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The parting of the sea

I remember it clearly: Mel handed my mom a box on Christmas morning. Tav and she were “making rounds” to their list of must appear on holidays folk. Mom opened her box with a mixture of trepidation and excitement – the kind that comes from not knowing what natural reaction will read on her face as she discovered her carefully selected gift chosen by her son’s wife.  And as she pulled out a variety of baby things,  her eyebrow raised in perplexity. She read the accompanying note as Mel swelled with happiness next to her.

I guessed, easily, from the unfolding events that the couple was expecting – my brother’s first child, though he’d been a father in so many ways for years.  I think I left the room, then, settling in to watch television while my parents processed the news. Tav came in shortly thereafter,  “Mel and I are having a baby,” he said.  “Congratulations, ” I replied. And an odd, uncomfortable vibe filled the room.  Then, after less than half hour’s tolerance, they left for other visits.

I don’t know how to describe my feelings about it all.  There’s been this pervasive distancing between my closest brother and I for the last five years.  I’m almost certain it started when his first marriage dissolved at what I believe to be an onset of unspoken mental illness in his ex. 

He pulled away from me even as I rekindled my relationship with hubs – maybe to allow this new man space in my life, or maybe to sort out where his own life was going. 

And somewhere in our separate quests to find love, we seemed to let go of that bond that held us close regardless of physical distance.

I suppose I can point toward a closet of secrets that has been steadily filling as we’ve grown older. No shady, sordid truths within the confines, but rather, a build up of omissions about life events that family – especially siblings – would share.  We stopped confiding, stopped dreaming together of what we most hoped for in life.  And what has remained is superficial conversation.

It’s been over a year since that Christmas.

We never spoke of what happened to the child they’d created together.  One minute I’m calling Mel for permission to get baby a Tigger play suit (in honor of Tav), and the next Mom is saying the ultrasound came with unexpected news.  I know my brother grieved, but I was never made privy to his now very private adult life.

Near Thanksgiving I got a text. It simply said, “It’s a boy.”  But he’d never said prior that they were again expecting. News was sparse, and I wasn’t welcomed into the months of anticipation – of dreaming possibilities – that Mel so readily shared with her family and friends.  

There’s been this she can’t hold water cast I’ve been dealt. And the privacy veil about my brother’s whole life has grown thick. Don’t post… don’t mention… don’t speak…  Essentially, don’t feel like this is your happiness to share.

That’s one handsome hubs

Yes, he’s mine.
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Boys, boys, boys!

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w IMG0036For days, the boys had been plotting a photo session. They’d picked out and pressed coordinating shirts and jeans. They’d debated the use of hats and who would wear what color. And they’d requested my assistance in selecting a location.

Feeling a bit under the weather – which had become all to common this December – I finally agreed to their shoot. We bundled up, fighting the deceptively cold air that contradicted the reported temperatures.

The boys shed their coats and stood awkwardly next to each other waiting for direction. And it took a bit of coaxing to get each into positions that looked comfortable. It took longer, still, to persuade them to “think warm” and relax tensed faces.

There were only a few shots of each of my guys, but I think their personalities are really featured. JD looks apprehensive – as though uncertain of his purpose in posing and unfamiliar with the camera. It’s no wonder, as I rarely get to capture him in pictures. Rico looks like he’s working on his “smooth operator” status. And Ya? Well, he’s showing his usual defiant, “I don’t want to be here” look.

Yes, these are my three gents.

Christmas 2014

This was one I’d like to be done with. The concerns about Santa – would he come, was behavior suitable, does he have what I really want (but didn’t tell a soul about)? – were looming. I have it from good authority that only those who truly believe in the magic of St. Nick receive. Those who have doubt are met without, thus confirming suspicions that he might not be.

The boys tried to eliminate all surprise, snooping through closets and trunks for gift previews. Their actions made hubs and I question the way we do Christmas.

We shared a meager gift exchange. Most received necessities: clothes and shoes. Some received creative gifts, though JD was hardly impressed by his graphic model maker. Ri and Ya seemed to be satisfied with their musical presents. In fact, Ri sampled her drums right after hubs put the set together (and risked rousing the entire household of siblings pretending unsuccessfully to be asleep).

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It took some coaxing to get Ri to tear open her other gift – a terribly chatty Firby that doesn’t like to sleep. Ya immediately dropped his pick in his guitar and spent several complaining minutes shaking it out. Uncle Art tuned it later, and then (after a lengthy sick nap), my boy became a strummer.
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Rico was most obviously disappointed, and spent the day sulking. There was little appeasement for his sour mood. Chi flaunted new boots to Oma’s house, where mom’n’dad served a feast of favorites. I think, though,Chi’s day peaked when each of us opened her carefully selected gifts she’d bought with her own money. She thought about each personality she shopped for and selected well.

It might’ve been nice to extend our gifting, as the unwrapping was akin to a Gone In Sixty Seconds heist. Nevertheless, our Christmas was spent together and both love and illness abounded.


We’re early. Too early.

In the room marked Salon One, we find an empty space next to a pillar. Chi looks around at all the girls. Many are flipping long, touseled locks about their shoulders. Hairspray clouds encircle heads while stylists stand ready with curling, crimping, and flattening irons. Girls blink as false eyelashes are glued to already made up faces. Power dust billows. One child complains quietly, unsure of the addition. “Go big or go home,” a mother snaps.

Another girl practices her walk along the patterned carpet. Mom stands, hand on hips, a few feet away. “No. When you hit the end, pose like this.” The child huffs, starts over.

Several print starlets waltz into the room, instantly drawing looks of admiration, and of disdain. They seem oblivious to the recognition, searching out friends they see at events and shoots they’re often booked together for. These have become their confidants of childhood in the midst of their jobs as young models.  In rare breaks between hair and makeup,  they find corners away from adults and whisper privately,  play hand games, and fiddle with electronic diversion.

Most of these child models ignore the fuss created around them. Moms grow frustrated,  cutting their eyes at other’s children and pushing their own forward for touch ups. In the stylists’ chairs, tots rock, fidget, and kick with unspent energy.

As the lineups begin, one or two littles begin to pout, boredom and exhaust evident.  One clings to her mom, rubbing her freshly teased hair with abandon against her parent’s arm. Another whimpers about a bathroom emergency.

Some moms snap photos with their cells, others use SLR cameras.. Those with instant connection to WiFi update their models’ fan pages. The live and times of these little stars is important news.

And here we sit, holding up a pillar and watching in awe. People pass by constantly, not even a wayward glance or hello. I check the time -mere minutes elsewhere a posing from the last look – and Chi sits close beside me, wringing her hands. “Should I get dressed, or something?” She asks as I toy with her baby for yet again. She is nervous, and, I sense, feeling as much out of place as I do. And we wait. Wait for acknowledgement, wait for a cue, wait to feel a sense of belonging that doesn’t seem forthcoming.

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