It Isn’t Easier

Dear Brady,

It hasn’t gotten easier. Despite the cards, the well-wishes, the hugs and phone calls from caring friends, today wasn’t easier than last year. I’m pretty certain your birthday is worse than the anniversary of your death. Probably because there’s more history, more memories associated with this day. Or maybe it’s because the memories connected to your death were chopped up into a bunch of days. So while the day you died sucked worse than anything ever, there’s also the day of the viewing and the day of the funeral and a few months later, the day we lay your ashes to rest.

So happy birthday, I guess. I mean, do birthdays even matter when you’re in heaven? They still matter to the living, even if the person we’re acknowledging isn’t here anymore. I doubt this day will ever be just any other day, no matter how many years pass. Unfortunately, it won’t ever be an entirely happy day, either. Not anymore.

We didn’t plan to do anything to outwardly acknowledge you today. I took the day off work because I knew I wouldn’t be worth a damn at the office, and then found out your sister had the day off school as well. Maybe it was divine intervention? We ended up having a girls’ day instead of me sitting at home alone feeling sorry for myself. And for a few hours, we were distracted, and it was fun, which is how it should be for the living. Although I ended up splurging and buying her practically everything she asked for, which I don’t normally do. I’ve decided to chalk it up to a subconscious need to give gifts to someone on this day, like I did for thirteen years of my life.

She’s mad at you, you know. Your sister. You left her to figure out this growing up business on her own, when she’s always had you to carve the path for her. All she ever had to do was follow in your footsteps, something she was content to do. Until you were gone. She isn’t a trailblazer. It’s difficult for her to try new things. She wants to keep hiding in your shadow but she can’t, and I think, nineteen months later, she’s starting to realize that.

Last year she practically threw a party on your birthday; this year she doesn’t even want to acknowledge it’s happening. She told me recently she didn’t want to talk about you anymore. Although the other night over dinner she regaled your father and I with gruesome, scary stories she said she learned from you. And when I dropped her off after shopping and told her I was going to head over to visit you for a few minutes, she told me to tell you hi. So I guess she’s not too mad.

(By the way, Hi. I actually forgot to say it while I was visiting you because this group of people showed up who appeared to be scoping out gravesites and I felt really awkward sitting there bawling like a, well, grieving mother, so I took off. Which I know is silly—it’s a cemetery, right? I mean, outside of the shower and my car, it’s really the perfect place to cry.)

And now we’re entering a new stage of grieving—and I’m scared all over again. My own grief I can handle. Your dad’s, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles; our friends. But watching my baby girl suffer and not having a clue how to make her feel better is the second worse kind of pain a parent can experience.

The first, of course, is losing you in the first place.

Back to School Blues…Not This Time

My daughter has started seventh grade. For those who haven’t been reading my blog posts for the past year and a half, that’s the grade my son was in when he ended his life.

He was also thirteen; an October baby, so we didn’t start him in kindergarten until he was five turning six. My daughter, on the other end of the spectrum, is a summer baby, so she’s twelve, won’t be thirteen until a couple weeks after she’s finished seventh grade.

Which means I get to stress out and worry she’ll do the same thing for two years, not one.

I mean, I know I shouldn’t be worried. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: She is not him. Whereas his glass was perpetually half empty and steadily leaking, hers is overflowing. Whereas he was almost constantly miserable with life, she embraces life, loves to be happy.

She’s not him.

Of course, as I’m the mother of a deceased child; forced to figure out how to raise the other one despite the dredges of grief that permeate our lives, I can tell myself that all day long (and I do), but it doesn’t really matter. I will still worry. I mean, it’s a mother’s nature to worry even without such a tragedy smacking me upside the head.

So far I’m good today, though. I dropped her off a short while ago, and I’m sitting on my back porch, drinking my coffee, feeling that eternal guilt because I didn’t stop by to visit my son’s grave after leaving the school. But the thing is, I wasn’t crying. I didn’t feel sad. In fact, I was excited for my daughter to go back to school. Yesterday she was chatting on the phone with one of her school chums and I could hear the excitement in her voice. She couldn’t wait to hang out with her buds again.

And I didn’t want to ruin my own tentative happiness by deliberately seeking out the reminder of my devastating loss.

So I came home. And now I’m hanging out with the dog, going to add some words to my latest work-in-progress. And later this afternoon, I’ll go pick up the kid, listen to her stories about school, about her friends, about the plans and goals for this upcoming year. I’m going to focus on the living, on the child who’s still here.

And breathe a very large sigh of relief that her glass is still far more than half full.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014


Tami Lund is an author, an award winner, a wine drinker, and a grieving mother. Blogging helps with the grieving process, so thanks for reading.

Living With Grief

It’s Sunday morning. I’m stretched out on the couch wearing comfy pajamas, a super soft fleece blanket draped over my legs. It’s dark outside, a rainy, overcast day. There’s no one else awake at the moment. I’m trying to write a book, but every time I glance up from the laptop, my gaze focuses on a family pic, one that includes my son.

It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve felt the waves of grief crashing over me. Admittedly, it’s been nice. Grieving is exhausting and if I’m really being honest here, I’m kind of sick of doing it. I’m not foolish; I know it will never go away, but I do welcome that time when it doesn’t encompass my life, when it isn’t a major player in every moment of every day. That will happen at some point, won’t it?

It’s coming again, though. I can feel it. That lurch in my chest on Saturday as I dusted the mantel, over which a gorgeous black and white pic of my two children hangs. I think they were five and two or maybe six and three in that picture. Her arms are thrown around his shoulders and they’re both smiling, so obviously happy. Like at that moment, they knew they had their whole lives ahead of them–together–and in general, it was gonna be positive. It’s amazing how swiftly such an outlook can change, isn’t it?

My daughter is starting to talk about her brother with more frequency lately. I know this is good, because I know she’s still grieving too, and she’s struggling to figure out how to get on in this world in a capacity she never, ever expected: as an only child. I know she’d sure as hell rather not have that status. Besides wanting her brother back, she doesn’t like having all the attention focused on her, plus I know she feels this new sense of obligation to be “good” for the sake of her parents’ sanity. So not fair to her. To any of us.

But it’s hard, so very hard. I’m not there yet; I can’t talk about the good times, the memories. I can’t look at the pictures for more than a moment.

Two of my nieces spent the night this weekend, and I pulled out his bike so they could all go bike riding. Just cleaning it up; greasing the chain, putting air in the tires, wiping off the dusty seat was hard, because it makes me remember. His birthday, when we gave him that bike. His surprise and elation; it hadn’t been what he was expecting, but he’d been thrilled. We’d nailed the birthday gift that year.

And now we have an extra bike taking up space on the back porch.

Even though one of my nieces is the tallest and therefore would have been most comfortable on his bike, my daughter claimed it as her own. She does that; what’s his is now hers, and she’s not really interested in sharing. I get it, although I’m not like that. I’ve been more inclined to throw things away—because what the hell am I going to do with them?—whereas she collects mementos, physical reminders of the memories. I don’t begrudge her this, nor was I about to suggest she let the taller girl ride his bike. Those seats adjust, and mine worked just as well for my niece.

And then they were off, riding up and down the street, armed with sweatshirts to protect them against the slight nip in the spring air. Enjoying themselves, the comradery. Life. The way kids should.


Tami Lund Headshot 2014


Tami Lund writes books, drinks wine, wins awards, writes blogs, and occasionally sends cool newsletters. Signup here:

Easter Dresses, Baskets, Eggs, and Memories

Another Easter mass under my belt. Another round of tears, another giant wad of used tissues stuffed into my purse (I should probably clean those out). Another what? Fifty or so more to go, if I’m lucky? Oh the irony in that statement.

Now I’m home, changed from the pretty dress into my fave comfy pants, and I’ve made myself a mimosa, which I’m sipping while I wait for the family to converge for Easter dinner. Yeah, we’re hosting this year.


There’s a ham in the smoker, and the husband made a carrot cake from scratch that I’m probably a tad too excited to try. Carrot CakeHe’s making a salad as I type, and we’ll also have Brussels sprouts, deviled eggs, and plenty of booze. Lent is officially over, after all.

I think I’ve earned this mimosa. It’s the second Easter for which we only had to fill one basket, hide eggs for one kid. Not that my son would have been into egg hunts this year anyway. He would have been 14, and I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of its-not-cool-anymore cutoff before that point. We’ll see, I guess. My daughter is 11, and while she seemed to enjoy the holiday tradition, I’m pretty sure she’s at that denial stage I call I-don’t-want-to-give-up-childhood. I suspect by next Easter, she will have moved into I-don’t-want-to-be-a-kid-anymore.

Not that it will stop me. I’ll still make her a basket, although it will be nice not to stress over getting those plastic eggs hidden before she wakes but not so early that the wildlife get to them first. That’s assuming, of course, the weather cooperates enough to hide them outside. I live in Michigan, after all; it’s a crap shoot each and every year.

Death affects the lives of the living in so many ways we cannot possibly anticipate. And when it’s a premature death—say a 13 year old—it’s so hard, because damn it, this was not part of the plan. This isn’t how life is supposed to play out. I’m not supposed to become frustrated until I’m reduced to tears during every single holiday.

Last year, I took everything as it came; I had no real expectations, other than the understanding that I would be devastatingly sad, would undoubtedly cry. But otherwise, I was laid back, enjoyed what I had: my beautiful daughter, my husband, my dog, my family and friends.

Now it’s year two, and it’s a new season, new ballgame. We’ve already been through this once, so now I have … expectations. I want my daughter’s Easter basket to be awesome; I want her to be surprised by the colored eggs hidden in the yard. I want us to dress up in cute dresses and take a family pic because it’s so rare we actually do so. Plus, maybe if we take enough of these pictures, I’ll get used to seeing only one kid.

And naturally, with expectations come frustration and potential heartbreak. The husband who didn’t want to help stuff plastic eggs (“Isn’t she too old for this?”); the kid who didn’t even want to go to church, let alone actually wear a dress. And then take a picture with mom? Are you kidding? My husband spent half the mass whispering to her about why taking a picture in our Sunday best was so important to me, and in the end, I told her I already had a Facebook post prepared (“Reagan only wears dresses for weddings, funerals, and Easter mass. And she wonders why I want to take a pic?”), and that was what convinced her to laugh and throw her arm around my shoulder so we could capture such a precious moment forever.

IMG_7196So here we are. I got the picture. This mimosa is damn good. And we’re figuring it all out, one holiday at a time…

Happy Easter, for those who celebrate. And happy life, everyone.


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“Oh My God, The Tree Just Fell Over”

It wasn’t the dog.

When our Christmas tree crashed to the floor in the living room only minutes after we’d finished decorating it, for a brief moment in time, it felt like my entire world was crashing down around me.


The day had been hard enough. First, there were the tears when my daughter asked, “Why does church make you said, Mom?” To which I replied, “Because when I’m there, all I hear is, ‘sacrifice your only begotten son.’”

Then we headed out to the tree farm, a different one from where we usually went, and this time, we tagged along with my brother and his family. It was just different enough to be fun, tainted by only a shadow of sadness.

Until we got home. Until I began carrying boxes upstairs from the basement. Until I opened that first one, and staring up at me was a homemade decoration, naturally, from my son. And so I cried as I sifted through the ornaments and decorations and prepared to dress the tree.

I tucked away the stocking, the Christmas memories booklet he’d made for me when he was five, and the mat for Santa’s cookies, which says, “To Santa, from Brady.” But we added the personalized ornaments to the tree, and I cried some more as I thought about each memory, the reason behind each purchase. A yellow school bus for the year he went to kindergarten. The steam engine for the train phase. “Bah humbug” from last year, when he was cranky more than he wasn’t.

I cried and drank wine and pushed through because my daughter was having such a fun time making the tree look pretty. She and I even added the lights this year, a job usually reserved for my husband. But he was outside putting lights up on the house for the first time in a few years, so we certainly weren’t about to complain.

The tree was full and there were only a few ornaments left, and we joked that we had no more room. And then the phone rang, my mother calling. I don’t even remember why she called or what we talked about. All I know is my daughter and husband were in the kitchen, the dog was curled in her bed, and I was standing in the hallway, staring at the brightly lit tree as it crashed to the floor.

“What was that?” my mother asked.

“Oh my God, the tree just fell over.”

“Bye,” she said, and I dropped the phone. The dog ran into her crate, her safe place. My daughter rushed into the room and dropped to her knees amongst the shattered remains of seventeen years’ worth of Christmas memories, lamenting most especially the loss of the Bronner’s ornaments, the big, fat ones with our names scrawled across the front. Every one except my husband’s (his name is Chris) had to be special ordered because we don’t have typical names.

The train didn’t make it, along with a dozen others. The one with an eight-point buck we’d bought my husband the year he’d shot his first deer. The dog-loving one we’d purchased not two weeks prior for my daughter. I’m honestly not even sure which others didn’t survive. Many were little more than dust when we pulled the tree upright and discovered it had a twisted trunk, and by setting it straight in the stand, we’d actually made it top-heavy. The only way we were able to get it to stay upright was by shoving a pile of newspapers under one side of the stand.

I admit, I lost it that evening. Once the tree was no longer in danger of falling over, I sank to the floor and sobbed. Admittedly, this isn’t unusual, not since March, although I usually go off and hide so no one has to experience the rather un-pretty sight. My daughter hates to see me cry, and tends to hide her own sadness as a result, and I don’t want her to bottle things up the way so many of us do. And my husband isn’t a fan of feeling helpless, and that’s exactly how he feels whenever I cry, a phenomenon he’d rarely experienced prior to this year.

And then my husband walked over, offered me a hand, and pulled me up and into his arms. He let me soak his shirt for a few minutes, and then he said, “We’ll replace the name ornaments. All four.” And I cried harder. So he said, “Hey, you’re the one who said you wanted to do something different this year.”

And we laughed. All three of us.

The cleanup was still hard. There were more tears. I’m still heartbroken over the loss of the physical reminders of those memories. And I’m also admittedly relieved that I don’t have to open those boxes next year and see quite so many of those reminders of what I’ve lost.

When it was finally done, the cleanup and the redecorating of the tree, after we tucked our daughter into bed and my husband wandered off to do who knows what, I stood in the dark in the living room and stared at the tree. There were still plenty of ornaments; it didn’t look sparse at all. A cursory examination of the remaining ornaments told me many of those that broke were representations of my son’s life.


It wasn’t the dog, but I kept wondering … Was it something else?

I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I’ve been in therapy since this past spring. I’ve discussed signs with my therapist. “Everyone talks about receiving a sign that their loved one is happy and well up in heaven,” I’ve told her. “I want a sign. Why haven’t I had a sign?”

I think this was my sign. I admit, I was expecting a shooting star or something equally as profound and benign. But this … this was exactly the sort of sign my son would send.

“I’m trying to make you less sad, Mom,” was what I think he’s trying to tell me, in his typically convoluted way.

I’ll take it.

So no, it wasn’t the dog. And yes, we’re pulling together, finding the joy in this holiday season. Wherever we can. However we can.

Oh, and by the way, ‘Bah Humbug’ survived the crash.



The Truth About Elementary School Graduation

It’s official. My daughter has graduated from elementary school and will move on to middle school in the fall. The hoopla is over. The excitement, the thrill, the celebration….

The sadness. The marrow deep, incredibly-painful sadness.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. And I’ll be honest: the anticipation was worse than the actual events. Which, I suppose, is probably best. It allowed me (us) to enjoy what is supposed to be a joyful, celebratory moment in life.

But yeah, a week ago, I wasn’t feeling particularly celebratory, and neither was the almost-middle schooler. For obvious, and maybe not so obvious reasons.

On the surface, it’s scary, right? Leaving the security of elementary school, all the teachers and the principal and the friends you’ve known for practically your whole life. Because even though most of you are probably going to the same school next year, it’s a big, giant school and the likelihood of you all being in the same classes—or even the same lunch period—are pretty damn slim.

It’s something new, something different. Growing up. Changing classes every fifty-five minutes. Puberty. Crushes. Fitting in. Caring about what you wear—what others wear or do or say. It’s a whole new world.

Yeah, on the surface, the transition from elementary school is huge, and scary, and exciting and so many conflicting emotions all wrapped up in an utterly un-tidy bundle.

And that’s for the “typical” elementary school graduate.

Now, let’s add the fact that your older brother passed away three months ago. And said older brother was in middle school. And you’ve lived in his shadow for your entire life, which, frankly, you were okay with, because you knew no different. In fact, you kinda liked not being in the spotlight.

And let’s add to that the fact that your parents panicked over your brother’s death and enrolled you in an entirely different school from the one he had been attending—the one you expected to go to—the one “all” your friends are attending.

And let’s layer that with your own grief, and the fact that you are not even remotely over your brother’s death—not that you ever will be—but you haven’t fully grieved, haven’t fully accepted the fact that he’s gone, really, truly, forever gone. And now you have no one’s shadow to hide in, and now you are the center of attention. Everyone’s paying attention to you, watching your every move, analyzing, agonizing, worrying, stressing—and telling you how awesome and amazing you are for the way you’ve “dealt with” your tragic loss.

So now you feel like you have to be perfect, and not cry, and not act out, and not… be yourself. Because suddenly you don’t even know who the hell you are, because you’ve lost an incredibly important aspect of you, and you have no idea how to deal or fix or move on or whatever the hell you’re supposed to do when someone you hold dear dies.

Yeah, that transition from elementary school to middle school sucks, doesn’t it?



Tami Lund Headshot 2014


Tami Lund writes romance, drinks wine, and occasionally writes emotionally-stark blog posts.

Guest Blogger Nicola Simpson Discovers Paints are a Parent’s Best Friend

It’s my blog and I can do what I want to… And what I’ve decided to do today is feature a friend who blogs about children’s crafts. Seems appropriate, given it’s summer and many lucky (said tongue-in-cheek) parents are spending the summer with their kids… trying to figure out how to keep them occupied, so that they (the parents) do not go insane/become alcoholics/contemplate justified murder. Just kidding on that last one… Although after the fourth rainy day cooped up with two kids…

Anyway, enough about my thoughts, let’s turn it over to Nicola Simpson, and see what she does in order to maintain her sanity.

A little bit of imagination and a lot of pink paint!

I have been a stay at home mummy for nearly 7 years now. I have two sons aged 6 and 4 and a daughter aged 2.  After having my first child I couldn’t wait until he was old enough to start painting, colouring, making and sticking. Thankfully, he along with his two siblings have all shared this passion and we have great fun making and creating our own mini masterpieces each week.

I decided to set up my blog as I was struggling to find arts and crafts ideas, which would be suitable for all of my children to enjoy together. My ideas are all simple and easy to achieve. All have been tested and enjoyed by my own children and it is only their own artwork which is displayed on my blog.

Doing arts and crafts with your children can be daunting to some, especially when you are faced with such perfect examples on the huge number of arts and crafts websites now available. However, not all arts and crafts projects take meticulous planning or require lengthy trips to the art and hobby store for specialist materials. Sometimes all you need is a few pots of paint or crayons and a little bit of imagination to get things started.

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My 4 year old pre-schooler has a fierce imagination and he loves to make up stories.  The other day he was telling us all about some pirates who went to visit dinosaur land.  Pirates and dinosaurs are real favourites in our house at the moment.  He began by telling us about how the pirates were going to fly in a bright red aeroplane, after sailing their pirate ship to the airport and that they were going to deliver pineapples for the “Pineappleasaurus’s” to eat.  Thankfully the story had a happy ending; despite the pirates having to navigate their way past T-rex’s and Stegosaurus’s to get to the Pineappleasaurus’s.

After he had finished his tale we decided to have a go at painting some dinosaurs. My 4 year old of course wanted to paint his “Pineappleasaurus” and my 6 year old decided he would create a “Sillyasaurus”. My sons had great fun helping their little sister name her dinosaur “Pinkieasaurus” after she made a grab for the pink paint pot as soon as we sat down.dinos 004

We had a great session painting our dinosaurs together. The boys got very animated in deciding what their dinosaurs would look like and what special features they would have.  The “Pineappleasaurus” had 3 eyes and 10 legs and his brain was in his tummy.  The “Sillyasaurus” was very silly indeed he had 21 eyes and 100 legs, he laughed all day instead of roaring and his favourite food was ice-cream..  The boys then decided that their sister’s dinosaur, which was definitely a girl, only ate pink food, especially pink marshmallows.

dinos 027    dinos 029 

Painting with three young children is not without its challenges, but the rewards certainly outweigh the post-paint session clean up operation and the odd temper tantrum that you may have to deal with.  Arts and crafts are a great way to help grow your children’s imaginations.  So next time your children start to tell you a tale, grab some paper and paint and see what they can create.

By Nicola Simpson


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Thanks for taking the time to read today’s blog. If you enjoyed it, let Nicola know by leaving a comment below!



Evolution of the Beach Experience

Readers often ask, “Where do you get the inspiration for your books?” Book Publishing PicThe easy answer is … Everywhere. I once concocted an entire novel in my head, about a wedding planner and one of the guests, along with some intrigue for excitement, while sitting through one of my husband’s cousin’s weddings. When the hubs nudged my arm and said it was time to go to the reception, I protested. “I haven’t worked out the ending yet.” (Luckily, he was used to this sort of behavior by then, so he did not make me an appointment for psychiatric treatment.)

A perfect example of inspiration is this particular blog. Last week, I read a blog about going to the beach and the differences between childless individuals who go to the beach and parents with children who go to the beach. It was utterly hilarious (because it’s so true), and the link is here:

This past weekend (not surprisingly, if you know me at all), I went to the beach, with my kids and a few of my neighbors and their kids. As I sat there, half paying attention to my kids and sipping cocktails with the neighbors, I thought about the above blog, and about my personal beach experience over the years. So was the inspiration for a blog about the evolution of my beach experience.

When my husband and I were searching for our first home (which happens to be the same house in which we still live), just a couple years after we were married (so yes, a long time ago), we had a handful of criteria:

  1. The house had to be located in a decent school district (for our future children)
  2. It had to have a fireplace (we live in the north and roaring fires go a long way towards helping one deal with the long, cold winters)
  3. It had to have a garage (see long, cold winter comment above)
  4. It had to have access to a beach (also see long, cold winter comment)


Lakefront would have been nice, of course, but we were poor as dirt back then and were lucky to even afford a house at all. We ended up in an established neighborhood with residents that were a healthy mix of retired folk (my kids call one of our neighbors “Grandma”) and young couples either with children, or, like us, planning to start families of their own soon. The house also had access to a private beach that was owned by the neighborhood association.

For the first two summers, we simply walked down to the beach, towel, sunscreen, and book in hand. That’s it. Every nice weekend, all summer long. Then we had our first child. And then the second.

For years, my beach experience involved standing over two young children who were generally content playing in the shallow water near shore. This slowly evolved into two young children who were trying out their wings, or rather, fins, and were determined to give their mother a heart attack, as they swam into deeper and deeper water. I was afraid to turn away, even for a second. Except to grab another drink, that is. Drinks became a requirement at the beach, just to keep me somewhat sane during this phase.486541_10151192409961579_1171425848_n

One summer, a few years ago, the kids became brave enough to swim out to the floating raft. Without lifejackets. Then they became brave enough to jump off said raft. Without lifejackets. I can say with all honesty that my heart lodged into my throat every single time.

Now, finally, they are old enough and experienced enough swimmers that I do not think twice about them swimming out to and spending hours leaping from the dock. In fact, my thoughts are usually along the lines of, “Oh good, they will probably fall asleep early tonight.” The next rite of passage is the swim across the lake, but we’ll cross that bridge when we have to. Until then, I am enjoying this phase of the beach evolution.

We have not been alone throughout this nearly fifteen year cycle. In fact, I would venture to say we have almost never been alone down at that beach. This perfect neighborhood really is just that, and together, we are raising our children. We are standing over them at the beach and chewing our nails as they swim to the dock for the first time and holding our breath when they leap off the dock for the first time. Each and every summer weekend, I say a little prayer of thanks that the hubs and I were too poor to afford lakefront property back in the day. Because the experiences I have with this neighborhood are something I would not trade for anything.

320359_10151114685666579_519189452_nThere’s more where this blog came from. I post a new blog every Monday. I have also written a few books. You can check them out through my website. If you purchase them, and you like them, please leave a review. Thank you!



Dinnertime with the Fam

sillouette family dinner

Is the family dinner necessary in today’s world? I feel like my family is the poster child for the answer. Let me introduce you…

Me: Self-published author who also works a job-with-a-steady-paycheck that is located approximately 45 minutes from my home. I spend half that ridiculously long drive trying not to develop road rage over the fact that I am wasting precious minutes of my life just sitting in my car. The other half I spend coming up with new plot lines, potential publisher pitches, and new, hopefully interesting blog posts.

Eldest child: Eleven-going-on-sixteen-year-old-girl (he’s a boy, by the way) whose personality not only seesaws between Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, but also has a slightly-obsessive (don’t know where he gets that personality trait) interest in electronics. Specifically computers. Specifically how the internal pieces of computers function. He comes out of his bedroom long enough to droll on about things that sound like a foreign language to me. I do my best to pretend to care, but I’ve never been a very good actor.

Youngest child: aspiring animal savior, actress, I-just-want-everyone-to-love-me adorableness that I feel utterly guilty ignoring. Not that it stops me when I have a deadline or a really awesome idea floating around in my head.

The hubs: “Are you ever going to make money at that pastime?” To be fair, since I’ve landed my first (two!!) publishing contracts, he has become slightly more of a believer. The question has altered somewhat to, “When do you get your first royalty check?”

As you can well imagine, these four personalities combined with the typical middle-class American busy lifestyle does not allow for much togetherness time. The kids are old enough now that even on weekends during which we are not committed to something or another, they would rather be… Somewhere other than hanging out with their parents.

Sometimes, I don’t mind this because weekends are about the only time I have available to write, and that’s a lot of word count to cram into forty-eight hours. But everyone now and then I have to check myself, remind myself that I am also a mother and these two kids still require a little bit of maintenance before I can thrust them out into the world.

Someone needs to teach them right from wrong (or at least remind them of the lessons we taught when they were younger and more impressionable and, let’s be honest, cuter.) Someone needs to make sure they aren’t getting bullied at school (or being the bully). Someone needs to ensure they aren’t flunking out of elementary school, thus ruining any chances of a scholarship and that dream vacation home on which I secretly plan to spend their college savings.

Hence, the family dinner. In one thirty or forty minute session each day (okay, every third day), the hubs and I are able to wrap our heads around our kids lives.

“I learned how to skip count today.”

“I learned that there were three primary Native American tribes in Michigan.”

They may not always like it (especially if we’ve let them snack within a few hours of dinner or if we forced them to give up playing outside with their friends to come inside for family time), but they know the routine. And every once in a while, just as soon as I walk in the door after work (or sometimes, they will even call me and tell me as I’m still driving home), I get the excited review of one of my kid’s day, and I know, in my heart and head, that I have managed to do something right in this whole child-rearing gig.

Which is good, because the list of ways in which we’ve likely screwed up as parents is probably far too long to fit into one blog post. Or several.FamilyDinner

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