Welcome to your teenage years, Carrie!

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Happy 13th birthday, Carrie! You’ve spent years watching Olivia and Erin navigate the nuances of being a teenager so this should be smooth sailing right? I know teenagers tend to get a bad rap, but I actually love this time. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes still long for the baby days, but definitely not during a pandemic. I like that you can set an alarm clock for school, fix yourself your own breakfast (when you eat it), and get dressed (when you change out of your PJs) all by yourself. 🙂 But more than that during these crazy last 13 months, I’ve really love spending time with you, much more than you probably want, but from our walks with the dogs, you joining me in my home “office” in between your classes, to nightly dinners, I’ve really had a lovely chance to see you grow and bloom, and come into your own.

And can we talk about how much you’ve grown in inches in the last year? I’m not quite ready to admit it, but you are coming dangerously close to surpassing me in height. Some may say you’re already taller than I am, but I’m sticking with my truth that I’ve still got a few millimeters over you. I know, I know– I’ve said it with both of your sisters too, it doesn’t take much to blow by my 5’1″ but it is still a little bittersweet.

Throughout this last year, I’ve been so impressed with how you’ve managed to find a way to amuse yourself, your sisters, and me and Dad. Take your bracelet making business you and Erin started. What began as a way to pass the time turned into an Etsy shop and TikTok channel. Granted, you’ve had only one sale to date, but every business has to start somewhere.

You did also spent a lot of time working on your Bat Mitzvah! And kiddo, you killed it on that big day. Yes, everyone except for our immediate family watched the ceremony over Zoom, but your personality, beautiful voice, and dancing skills shined through the computer. You also braved freezing temperatures while wearing only a thin sweater since it turned into an outdoor service. That may have been the toughest part of your Bat Mitzvah.

Now that we’re FINALLY starting to see through the fog after so many months sheltering-in-place, I’m able to see the joy on your masked-up face playing soccer games and hanging out with friends. Your excitement about returning back to in-person school may have been a little short lived, but even if some of your classes are less than stimulating and the lunch is mediocre, I know you’re probably secretly happy to at least be out of the house for a few hours a day.

While some days in this last year may have seemed to have crawled by, you have accomplished so much and should be proud of yourself. This may be your first year as a teenager, but if your twelfth year is any indication, I’ve got no doubt you’re going to find new ways to fuel your appetite for adventure.

I love, you kiddo!

Mom

My Oldest Turns 18!

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Olivia, how did we get here? Well, technically I KNOW how this happened. Time doesn’t stop though, even if I wish it would, just a little bit. I don’t usually cry while writing these blogs, but I’m not sure I’ll make it through this one without shedding a couple of tears.

I could use this time to look back on your last 18-years and and reflect on how much you’ve grown and matured, which you have (mostly), but instead I want to spend some time talking about you as a human being, and maybe offer a few pieces of advice now that you’re officially an adult (cue the rolling of your eyes here).

First of all, you are one of the most unique, kind-hearted, life-loving high school seniors I know. For a while you had a quote on a letter board in your room that said, “Put On Your Positivity Pants.” I’m not sure if you’ve ever really needed a reminder to find the positive because kiddo you absolutely radiate positivity, even on the difficult days.

Yes, it may seem like the hard days far outweighed the easy ones over the last year, but instead of wallowing, you take action, almost always breaking out the Kitchen Aid to bake something delicious. No doubt, baking for you is a way to de-stress, but I think it’s more than that. If you look at the ingredients of whatever you’re creating individually, they may look and taste pretty ordinary, but when you mix them all together, they turn into something beautiful, be it challah, coffee cake, or New Year’s Eve beignets.

Of course, you usually put your own spin on said creations, but that’s just how you are. You’re not satisfied with the status quo. You try and make things better, and more times than not, you do. Yes, there have been some failures and flops, but you’re also not someone who will dwell on those disappointments. That quality has come quite in handy this last year, when those disappointments felt like a daily occurrence.

You’re also a do-er, which has made this last year awfully tough for you. But while a pandemic may have forced you to stay home 95% of the time, you still found ways to do, in a do-gooder sort of way. What does that mean? Well, you decided to put on not-one, but two different fundraisers, raising money for mental health awareness and young people facing homelessness. You may have been surprised at how successful they turned out, but I wasn’t. When you put your mind to something, you jump in with your positivity pants, determined to spread goodness to others who really need it.

And that goodness will be spread beyond the borders of California next year. This is really where I may start crying. It will be so hard to see you fly the coop, but I know you’re more than ready, especially after this year. At one point over the summer, I suggested we rent an RV and drive to various National Parks, and your immediate response to me was, “I’ve been stuck in this house with you people 24/7 for the last four months, spending two-weeks with you crazies in an RV is the last thing I want to do.” Okay. Point taken.

As I write this, you’re still contemplating where you will go to college next year, but try as I might to talk you into staying local for the next two years, you’re not having it. I can’t say I really blame you. I loved my 4-year college experience, and I’m fairly certain you’re going to thrive wherever you end up. Just make sure you call and FaceTime often, not for me and Dad of course, but for your sisters.

I know at 18, you’re officially considered an adult, and when I see you interacting with other adults, I think, yep, she’s pretty much an adult. But then if I’m scrolling on my phone looking at old photos, I think nope, you’re still my little kid who needs help tying her shoes. But you really don’t ask for help with much of anything these days. You’ve got an independent streak which served you well during this entire crazy college admissions process. Dad and I pretty much stayed out of your way as you researched schools, submitted applications, and anxiously awaited hearing back from schools. The only time you asked for help was for a ride to Chico so you could re-take your SATs. Dad was the one nice enough to carry out that request.

Okay, now for some advice to my now adult child. Don’t worry, I’m keeping it short and sweet.

  • Keep being kind. I know you already know this, but kindness really does matter and it will take you far. Do nice things for others, without expecting anything in return.
  • Learn to say No. It only has two letters, but small things as you know sometimes are the most powerful. You’ve got good instincts, but you’re also a people pleaser so saying No might be hard, but it will save you from bad boys, bad jobs, and bad situations. Oh, and don’t say sorry for saying no.
  • Stand up for what’s right and speak out when you see injustice. I’m still working on this one myself, but it’s more important now than ever. There’s so much hate in the world right now, but don’t be the bystander when you see wrongdoing. I know you have strong convictions and a strong voice so be sure to make yourself heard.
  • Stop and smell the roses. The next chunk of your life will be a time when you’re in go mode. But sometimes just stop, breathe, and take time to enjoy the little things, like a hummingbird outside your window, the smell of freshly cut grass, or that perfect steaming mug of coffee.
  • Don’t get bangs. Seriously, just don’t do it. You’ve got curly hair like me and one day you’re going to be sick of your hair and think, hey bangs are a good idea. They’re not.

I’m so excited to see what happens in your next life chapter. Your first 18 years have been pretty incredible if I do say so myself, and I’m certain you are about to embark on a new journey filled with adventure and plenty of great stories.

I love you like crazy! Happy Birthday!

Mom

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Turning 15 During a Pandemic

Erin, on your 15th birthday, I think I can accurately say that I’ve spent more time with you in the last year than any other time in your life. For me, it has been great! For you, maybe not so much, especially when my voice carries from the living room (which is my new home office) to your bedroom. But let me tell you why it has been so amazing to have this (hopefully) once in a lifetime opportunity of forced togetherness. First and foremost, I’ve been able to see up close how well you handle adversity. You are a matter-of-fact, no-nonsense type of person who adapts to disappointments and hardships with equal parts can-do attitude and sense of humor.

Take for example your 8th grade graduation. Like millions of other kids, an in-person graduation was replaced with a virtual one. Like the good sport that you are, you placated me while I took photos of you in your graduation gown in front of the school (even though you never stepped foot in there after March 13th) and in front of our lawn sign. I will admit it was a bit odd to watch your graduation ceremony from home on YouTube, but alas, here we were in 2020. We all know how hard you work for your stellar grades, but what we didn’t know was you’d be named Salutatorian of your class. Now I’m not normally one to brag about my kids’ accomplishments, but in this case, it feels worth bragging about, especially in light of your final trimester of middle school spent distant learning.

Of course, because of the dumpster fire that was 2020, you started high school at home. To date, you still haven’t walked the halls of your school as a student. The closest you came was taking photos for your student I.D. But being the kid that you are, you’ve attacked the start of your high school career with diligence and rigor. I’ve never had to wake you up for any of your online classes, but perhaps I should have double checked on you during finals. Midway through finals week you came running out of your room in a panic, asking what time it was. It turned out, you overslept and missed the start of your geometry final. I think you joined the class 15 minutes late, but still managed to finish taking your test with plenty of time to spare. Yep, that’s how you roll, kiddo. Panic may have been your first emotion, but it was quickly replaced by a steely resolve to get the job done. Is it too much for me to say you ended up with an A in geometry? Too bad. With so little to brag about this year, I think every accomplishment is worth celebrating.

With so much time on your hands this last 10 1/2 months, you’ve found ways to occupy yourself, be it skateboarding most days during the summer or refining your charcuterie board skills. To that end, our entire family is grateful. Who knew you’d become determined to make the perfect river of cured meats? Certainly not I, but this has not only surprised and delighted me, but also shown me your creative side.

I’ve also got to say that I’ve loved how close you’ve become with your sisters. I know you pretty much had no choice, but it truly was music to my ears hearing you and your sisters laugh as only sisters can while sitting in the back yard with your feet up on the edge of the fire pit eating s’mores. When you look back on this time, I do hope you’ll remember the bonds you formed with Olivia and Carrie. Now I know it’s not all sunshine and roses, there’s been plenty of fights and eye rolls, and shouts of shut-up (or worse), but for the most part our house has remained relatively peaceful.

Since soccer games and tournaments got cancelled for the year, you and Carrie spent hours and hours making all sorts of embroidery bracelets and a TikTok account called knotsbycarrie to highlight all of your hard work.

I know this is not the year any of us could have imagined or wished for, but you, my favorite middle child, have made it a little easier to bear. Happy Birthday! I love you!

Mom

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A quarantine-style 12th birthday

Happy 12th Birthday, Carrie!

I know this isn’t the way you envisioned the end of your 11th year; spending just about every waking moment with me, your Dad and sisters. Lucky you! I also know the last 5 weeks of sheltering-in-place have not been easy, but just like everything else you do, you have persevered and even shined. You and Erin have found ingenious ways to entertain yourselves, whether you two are skateboarding on the nearly empty streets of Redwood City, doing chalk art, or working on solo projects like Bertha.

Modeling Bertha

For those who don’t know who or what Bertha is, let me explain. Bertha is a beautiful hand knitted blanket you began working on early in the quarantine. Being the perfectionist that you are, you didn’t like your first version of it, or even the second, but like the saying goes, the third time is the charm. I must admit, it is lovely, even if it sheds more than our old dog, Mac.

Maybe I should have relented and let you get the faux fur coat you modeled during one of our excursions to Nordstrom Rack (well before COVID-19).

But I digress… back to you and celebrating the cool and quirky self that you are. 🙂

One of the totally cool things that I love about you is that once you set your mind to doing something, you do it, no matter what. Take the great COVID-19 puzzle challenge. You singlehandedly completed a 1000 piece superhero puzzle, easily defeating me by almost a week as I tried to finish a Grand Canyon puzzle on my own. I only finished it because you, Erin and Dad answered my incessant pleas for help.

Technically, this was the second time you worked on the superhero puzzle, which you bought all on your own with a Target gift card. The first time we did it together I (ahem) finished it without you, going as far as putting in nearly the very last piece. True story. You haven’t let me forget it, for good reason.

See, this is what determination looks like and proof you can do just about anything if you put your mind to it.

You’re also a kid who likes to go out and do things, and luckily you are almost always up for an exercise excursion with me, be it going for a run or paddle boarding. I seriously love these times when we’re hanging out just me, and you, even with the complaints of knee pain or sore arms. I hope you still want to do this once you’re a teenager.

One thing I don’t think you’ll ever stop loving is musicals, specifically Hamilton! Can you even count the number of times you’ve listened to the soundtrack? Any time you pick the dinner music there’s a 99.9% chance you’re choosing Hamilton. The other .1% would be Dear Evan Hansen.

We were lucky enough to get the chance to see Hamilton as an entire family, and it is one memory I think I’m going to cherish for my entire life. Dad and I kept it as a surprise to you girls, and once you guessed where we were headed, you had the biggest smile on your face for the rest of the car ride to San Francisco. Olivia was excited too, but not nearly as excited as you.

It has been quite the year to say the least. I’ve watched you grow and get out of your comfort zone, doing things you would never do if left to your own devices, but you’ve come out the other side stronger. I’m so proud of you for what you’ve already done, but am so very excited to see what’s in store for your 12th year… besides many, many, many more Hamilton songs playing on Google Home.

I love you kiddo! I know I say sign off every birthday blog with these four words, but consider it a signature sign-off.

Mom

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Happy 17th Birthday – COVID-19 Style

I know this is not the birthday you envisioned. But we are here to celebrate you and all your awesomeness as best we can. And you are awesome. That is a proven fact. I’ve had plenty of time to verify it since we’ve been forced to be together 24/7 for the last few weeks. Many teenagers would barricade themselves in their rooms, only to leave to eat or use the bathroom (and even then maybe not), but not you. Throughout these weeks, you’ve willingly played games with us, binged watched terrible reality shows with us (Yes, we are among the Love is Blind viewers), and filled our bellies with everything from pies and cookies and brownies to homemade bread. Yes, the COVID-19 15 lb weight gain is real, especially with a baker like you in our house.

As sucky as this shelter-in-place has been, I can honestly say I’ve truly enjoyed spending time with you. We’re now forced to eat dinner together EVERY SINGLE NIGHT without the interruptions of soccer practice, swim practice, or other activities. And get this, most nights there’s much more laughing than yelling at the kitchen table. I’d love to be able to box up these moments and put them into a time capsule so we can all look back at them decades from now, but I guess this blog will have to do.

Even before this “new normal” set in, I’ve known you’re a good human. Teenagers often get a bad rap for their actions and inactions, and I too am guilty of adding to that chorus of complaints. But I always come back to the baseline of who you are as a person. You are good and kind and compassionate. You have a deep sense of who you are and you embrace it– almost always with a smile on your face and a one-of-a-kind laugh that involves your entire body. Anyone who knows you, knows exactly what I’m talking about. I’d love to be able to say I had everything to do with you turning out so well, but that wouldn’t be true. You find causes that you believe in and you jump in with both feet, hands, fingers and toes, even if you really have no time to do it! I never would have imagined you’d embrace your Jewish identity and be so involved with USY, but it’s a great example of you finding ways to surprise me. It’s a good surprise though!

I know these last several weeks have been a hard adjustment for you. You are someone who likes to have something scheduled just about every minute of every day, and now life is anything but structured. From classes and homework, to work, to SAT tutoring, to USY, to babysitting, and on and on and on, we hardly ever saw you over the last few months! You’d fly in for a few moments before heading out the door again. The only positive (besides hanging with me) is you don’t have to set your alarm for 6:15 am to make your zero period at school.

I don’t have to tell you this is going to be a pivotal year for you, but just like everything else you do, you’ve been approaching it with tenacity and grit. I think back to over the summer when you worked to get your driver’s license. While you faced setbacks (code for not passing on the first try), you didn’t give up. You wouldn’t even wait to get home before logging onto the California DMV website looking for new dates to take the test again. You did get that license, and found a new sense of freedom in the form of 4-wheels and a set of keys.

One thing the COVID-19 quarantine has allowed me to do is appreciate all that we have. It’s easy to look at what we don’t have, and since I’m a half-glass full kind of a gal, I’m so appreciative of you, and your sisters and dad too, but since this is your birthday blog, not theirs, you get the shout out.

Happy 17th Birthday! Next year I’ve got plans to celebrate with a huge blowout party.

I love you so very much, kiddo.

Mom

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Happy Birthday to my funny 14-year-old middle daughter

Oh my, where do I begin?! This year truly feels like a transformational year for you. You’re not only a year older, but you’ve grown so much, and not just in inches, although you never fail to miss a moment to point out how much taller you are than me. I also never fail to mention that it doesn’t take much. Much to Olivia’s dismay, I think you’ve got a good chance of passing her up too.

As I was going through the pictures on my phone looking for ones to include in this blog, I was struck by how much your look has changed in 12 months. I know it’s not about what’s on the outside that matters but what’s on the inside, but kiddo, oh my goodness– you really are transforming right before my eyes.

I remember looking at your kindergarten photo several months ago and thinking, “Erin’s face looks pretty much the same as it did when she was 6.” I can’t say that any more. Sure, you’ve grown out your bangs and your hair is longer, but it’s much more than that. You’re growing into a confident, hilarious, insightful young woman. Here’s where you can cue Neil Diamond’s classic song, “You’ll be a woman soon.” It might not come to mind right away, but I’m certain I’ve serenaded it to you wildly off-key at the dinner table.

I get it, this is the time when everyone goes through a massive amount of changes. And while yes, the physical changes are striking, it’s good to see that who you are as a human has stayed the same since you were a little kid. You still like your routine and remain a stickler for trying to get me out of the house by 8:10 am on school days. I can visibly see your anxiety increasing if we leave a minute later than that. As much as I may stress you out about getting you to school on time, you’ve never been late (even if barely by the skin of your teeth). You’ve also kept the long tradition of only wearing shorts to school. How many years is it now?

Throughout middle school, you’ve mostly kept the same group of friends. A few have left your group, and a couple of others have joined, but all in all, you’ve found yourself a solid crew to hang out with. I’m also heartened that they often hang out at our house. Please don’t stop inviting them over. 🙂

While I’ve seen so many changes already this year, I know more are to come next year- namely high school. I don’t have to tell you that we’re getting very close to the deadline if you want to apply to a different school other than Sequoia. It’s a tough decision, but like everything else you do in life, you’re attacking this latest conundrum with a common sense strategy, even if unlike math, there’s no right answer. One thing I know for certain is this. Whatever school you end up attending, you are going to absolutely rock high school!

Change of course is inevitable. It’s not always easy for me and it’s not always easy for you. But when it comes to you, it has been an absolute joy and privilege to see your year of transformation. May 2020 be as awesome as the previous year has been for you.

I love you, kiddo.

Mom

Carrie’s 11 and Carefree

Happy 11th Birthday, Carrie!

Oh what a year it has been for you! I could go through the laundry list of achievements and accomplishments you’ve reached (which are many!), but this year I want to devote this blog more to who you are as a person.

First off, you’ve got one of the most unique personalities on the planet, which is a good thing! You’re someone who can see the silliness in just about everything, and are the first to defuse a tense situation with a joke, funny face, or ridiculous accent that’s a cross between Russian and Italian.

This usually happens when I’m yelling at one of your sisters or Dad. Clearly, you are someone who does not like conflict, and use humor to put pretty much everyone at ease. It’s hard to stay mad when you hear that crazy accent you made up, and trust me, I try and stay angry.

You’re also someone who could use a little self-confidence boost every now and then. I see all of your potential, whether it’s on the soccer field, playing guitar, or working on your math homework with Daddy, but my wish for you is for you to see it yourself. Every now and then, when you don’t know I’m looking, I see you working things out on your own, sometimes singing a song, sometimes strumming your guitar, or sometimes figuring out a complicated fraction. I see the lightbulb moment and a smile cross your lips knowing you’ve figured it out. It’s at those moments I know you’ll do just fine in life. You just need to believe and have a little more faith in yourself.

You’re someone who does not like silence. At all. As I’m sitting here writing this blog, you’re talking to yourself while working on your homework, pausing only to break out in song (on tune, unlike me or anyone else in our family).

No where was this more apparent than our recent Tahoe trip over Spring Break. We normally paired up together to ride on the chairlift, and during that 8 to 10 minute ride up the mountain, whatever popped into your head came out of your mouth in a non-stop stream of consciousness.

While this could grate on the nerves of some people, it truly is music to my ears (most of the time). You know why? It kind of reminds me of myself. I too have been known to be something of a chatter-box.

We’ve got lots of similarities– good ones– I’d like to believe. You’re more willing than either of your sisters to join me on a hike, with little to no whining.

Just like me, you’re someone that doesn’t like to sit still, unless you’re on your iPad. At times, it can be a little exhausting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. You kiddo, make life so much more interesting, fun and seriously bring a smile to just about everyone you encounter (except maybe Olivia ☺️).

I love you so very much and look forward to seeing you embrace all of your talents and let more people see what an amazing kid you are!

Love,

Mom

(Mostly) Sweet 16!

Well it happened. It was inventible, of course. As much as I’d like time to slow, the years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds keep coming and you Olivia, keep getting older. You’re 16! I know I don’t have to remind you of that fact, but maybe it’s more of a reminder for me.

I’ve spent the last year watching you grow into the makings of an amazing human being. You care a lot about people and want to do good in this world. I love that about you. You are a person who sees the good not only in people, but also in life in general. Some people may call that naive, but I call it taking a glass half full approach.

Here’s a perfect example of your positive attitude. It takes a bit of explaining so bear with me. You recently took a nasty fall while snowboarding and injured your thumb.

Luckily, you didn’t break any bones, but your right thumb swelled to about three times its size and was purple, black, and blue.

It happened on the last run of the day, which if you’re going to injure yourself, is usually the case. But this really was the last run. It was the end of the day and the clock was ticking before the bus was leaving for the long ride back to the Bay Area.

As you’re apt to do, you tend to cram as many things into your life as possible, so in addition to snowboarding, you also decided to try lacrosse this year. Unfortunately, you need your right thumb to grip the lacrosse stick since you are right handed. You bemoaned this fact for a bit, but then in your optimistic way you then said, “Well, I need to improve the strength in my left arm anyway.”

I’ve got to admit, I’ve got a love hate relationship with your zeal for filling every moment of just about every day. While you procrastinate when it comes to homework, you’re all about coming up with big grand plans, be it getting together with friends, planning fundraisers, or hatching a way to get a car once you get your driver’s license. You’ve got no shortage of big ideas. Execution? Well… let’s just say you’re still a work in progress. 🙂

It wouldn’t be a 16th birthday blog without me talking a little bit about your driving. Due to all the rules and regulations and general difficulties of the California DMV, you have to wait until June until you take the test. I seriously think if you can navigate your way through all of the hoops of the DMV just to schedule your permit and driver’s test, they should automatically give you a license.

Anyway, I digress. People ask me if you’re a good driver. You’re not, but I don’t think anyone who has been driving less than six months can be considered a good driver. You are getting better though. I tend to cringe less and haven’t recently tried to brake while sitting in the passenger seat.

And… it’s been months since you’ve driven onto the front lawn. Practice may not make perfect when it comes to driving, but it sure helps.

So much has changed since I started writing these birthday blogs 9 years ago, but so much has stayed the same. I just checked back to the one I wrote when you turned 8. In it I mentioned you were a great big sister — but I also said you like bossing them around. Those things are still true, but I’d love for you to have a little more patience with them, especially your youngest sister (I can see you rolling your eyes as you read this). Friends will come and go, but sisters are forever. They know you like no one else; the good, the bad, and the ugly. With all that knowledge, they will always have your back.

As much as your sisters (and your parents for that matter) may drive you insane at times, I know you like our family time together (Even if you won’t admit it). Hearing how often your phone buzzes, chimes, beeps, and dings, you’ve got no shortage of options to hang out with your friends, which you do, but you also willingly hang out with us. I may not say it to you outright, but I don’t take that for granted.

My wish for you in this next year is to keep your optimism, even on the dark days, even when you want to give up. Those are the days when you need it most.

I love you, kiddo! Happy Sweet 16!

Love,

Mom

13 going on…. 13

To Erin: on your 13th birthday

This birthday blog will stay short and sweet. It’s not that I’m lazy or you’re a terrible child with no redeeming qualities to write about. Neither could be further from the truth. Well, sometimes I can be lazy, but you my dear, are one of the coolest kids I know, full of wit and wisdom, spunk and sass.

But while today is your birthday, tomorrow is another big day. Your Bat Mitzvah!!!! I know it’s kind of hard to forget, but in case it slipped your mind, you can thank me for reminding you. So, I’m saving much of my advice and effusive praise for tomorrow. But I can’t let today go without telling you what an amazing human being you are becoming right before my eyes. You’ve always been a quirky funny kid who is comfortable in her own skin, but with each passing year, I’m getting glimpses of who you will become, and I’ve got to tell you, I love what I see.

You’re usually most comfortable in a certain sweatshirt; a bright orange tie-dye one from a State Cup Soccer Tournament. If I had my way, I’d get rid of it, but that would mean it would actually have to come off your body. I don’t think I’m exaggerating in saying that you’ve probably worn it at least 350 out of the last 365 days this last year, and those 15 days were probably either above 95 degrees or the sweatshirt was in the laundry. As of now, there are rips and stains, but you refuse to retire it. It’s kind of awesome, actually. Gross, but awesome.

You are confident and walk tall. Sure, some of that may be to reach to my height, which will happen any day now, but you’ve got a self-assuredness that is rare for someone your age. I hope you never lose that. You can read a situation fairly quickly and can normally navigate around the landmines that can trip up other middle school girls. You don’t ignore the drama, but you tend to observe, rather than put yourself into the middle of things. A bit of advice: stay out of the middle when it comes to middle school drama. That’s where you’ll find most of those landmines.

I’m beyond excited for this upcoming weekend and to have people see you shine! I love you, kiddo!

Mom

Let’s start talking about suicide

Why? Why? Why? That one word keeps rattling around in my brain after hearing about the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. Celebrity deaths are always shocking, but his death has hit me hard. I’m so very sad for his loved ones and the loss of his one-of-a-kind storytelling that would make you want to immediately hop onto a plane to a far-flung country, and eat and drink in the sketchiest restaurant imaginable. He not only changed the way people thought about eating, but made the world a much smaller place by showing that no matter where you live, humans share a commonality through food.

His apparent suicide and the suicide of Kate Spade, show that outward appearances don’t show what’s really going on with a person on the inside. We make assumptions. We see a rich and famous person smiling for the camera, (or in Bourdain’s case, looking straight into the camera to make an astute and snarky observation) and think they lead a charmed life, but depression and other mental health issues don’t discriminate.  These high-profile deaths prove it.

Statistics prove it too. Just yesterday, the CDC released a report showing a sharp rise in suicide rates across the United States. In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide, more than twice the number of homicides. Think about those numbers. Let those numbers set into your brain. Now think about this. For people between the ages of 15 and 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death.

This public health crisis breaks my heart. These are preventable deaths, but the stigma around suicide make people fearful about talking about it. I know I’m only one person, but I’m doing what I can to shatter that stigma. For the last couple of years I’ve been working on a documentary about teenage suicide. The documentary, called The Edge of Success, looks at this issue from the kids’ perspective. I’ve learned so much from the amazing teenagers we feature simply by talking to them, and maybe more importantly, just listening to them.

Too often, we see someone and don’t ask this question. Are you ok? Once again, we make assumptions. But there is help. There is hope. Repeat after me. There is help. There is hope.

You are never alone. If you can’t go to a friend or loved one, there are plenty of suicide prevention resources. First off is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Here’s the number available 24/7. 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There’s also a Crisis Text Line. Text  741741 to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

My heart will be heavy today. I know I’ll be asking my family and friends if they’re ok. And I’ll also be raising a glass to honor Anthony Bourdain. I hope he is able to rest in peace.