Category Archives: Teen 1

twilight (the book), as reviewed by my 11 year old daughter

Rotten apple from the tree in our backyard
August 2013
Photo credit: Melissa Firman

I’m pleased to introduce you to someone who you already know pretty well … my 11 year old daughter Betty. Over the summer, she asked to read the Twilight books by Stephanie Meyer and I agreed. We have a “no censorship” book policy in this house; I don’t restrict books based on age or content. And those that do fall into that realm, we discuss.

She also has a blog (mainly dedicated to all things One Direction and the goings-on in her life) and, as an avid reader, she just started including her own book reviews on her site. (Betty’s somewhat of a mini-me.) She allowed me to share her hilarious review of Twilight with you. Enjoy. (Oh, and she’d probably love a comment or two, if you’re so inclined.) 

A review of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

If you do not like reading reviews where people rant about how awful a book is, then you should stop reading this post. I read a little bit of the first Twilight book and thought it was too confusing. Then I saw it at the library and checked it out because I thought it would be a good choice for summer reading.


Lots of people were hating on the series, and I decided to read it to see if it was really that bad. It was. And I am about to tell you all about it. So sit back and get comfy cuz it’s a doozy!

Girls LOVE the Twilight series. But just because there is a hot vampire in the movie and a werewolf who takes his shirt off every five seconds.(thank GOD the movies are over) I mean HELLO?!?!?!?!?!? It doesn’t matter what a character looks like, it’s how it ACTS!! There is this whole Team Edward and Team Jacob crap going around,( I will tell you more about Jacob in my next review of the second book) and if you ask me, I am Team Guy That Almost Killed Bella With A Car. He was probably my favorite character. Would have liked him better if he actually killed her.

Let me start of with telling you about the plot and the main characters. The book is about a girl named Bella Swan who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, I-don’t remember-the-state-that-comes-after. She falls in love with a really pale guy named Edward Cullen. Spoiler alert, he’s a vampire!

What can I say about Bella…oh yeah! BRATTIEST.CHARACTER.EVER. Edward kept telling her *mocks Edwards supposedly deep voice* “You can’t love me, I’m dangerous” But does she listen? NOOOOOO!! Instead she continues to love the guy even MORE. I mean, seriously!!

So the rest of the snoozefest goes on about how Bella is a threat to Edward’s kind and that she needs to be destroyed or whatever.

Here is the part where I explain, or rant, about how much I hated this book series.

I HATED this book. Always will. First, let’s start with the characters. Bella is a huge brat who clings to Edward wayyy too much. She loves the guy even though he tells her not to. Then there is Edward himself, the idiot who really needs a tan. I hated this guy. Possibly even more than I hated Bella. He breaks into her room each night and watches her SLEEP! Stalker much?! He should have just written I AM A VAMPIRE on his forehead. That probably would have been less obvious. And with Bella, she should have written I LOVE YOU on HER forehead with a black Sharpie. THAT would have been LESS obvious, too.

Although I hated this book more than anyone, it WAS kinda suspenseful. There were some parts of the book where I just couldn’t put it down. Hey, if you read it and loved it, fine. Don’t kill me for hating on it. Just giving my opinion. The plot was SO confusing, that is part of the reason why I hated this book. All the events were jumbled up into the wrong places. It’s probably because sometimes I zone out when I read.

And the characters? Even worse.

No offense Stephanie Meyer, but I think this was the WORST BOOK EVER. Three words: CHECK.YOUR.WORK!!!!!

One out of five stars

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The Sunday Salon: Summer Reading

The Sunday Salon

One of the things that I love about our library is its Summer Reading Club. For the most part, it’s the usual set-up for the kids: read a certain number of hours, be eligible for prizes (with fun activities interspersed throughout the summer months).

Betty is like me when it comes to summer reading. Each year, she sets her goal even higher than the year before – so much so, that sometimes she needs some reeling in. 

“This summer, I’m going to read 400 books,” she announced.

Now, Betty’s the type of 11 year old who, if she read a mere 399 books when her goal was 400, this would be a travesty. The world would need to stop on its axis and disintegrate. So, while I told her that 400 books would be awesome, I also had her crunch the numbers to learn that this translates into a minimum of 36 books per week, or at least 5 books per day.

She has since revised her goal down to a total of 200 books (or: 18 books per week, 2 books per day).

On the other hand we have Boo, who is ready to take a page from the Jaden Smith playbook and file for emancipation from me if I dare to suggest once more the notion of reading during the summer. He would happily spend the next 11 weeks reading the credits of his favorite TV shows. (To be fair, he also does a fair amount of video creation and story writing. But his reading and language arts skills need a big boost and I’m feeling that we’re past the “let him read what he wants” stage. He’s not on par with his reading, I’m afraid.)

So, we’re doing Summer Reading at the library. What I love about this is that our library also offers a Summer Reading Club for adults.

Yours may also. Many do. It’s just that this is the second full summer we’ve lived here and the idea of an adult summer reading club makes me feel like I’m 5 years old and back in the Free Library of Philadelphia checking out as many books as my mother and I can pile in her yellow Volkswagen Beetle for the drive home.

This is absolutely my thing. I could care less about the prizes. (Yeah, they give prizes to the grown-ups too!) In reality, all we do is track our books on the library’s website and submit (optional) reviews, which – hello! – is kind of what I already do here, but gimme another place to track and make lists of my books and I’m in!

My only problem is that I am freakin’ inundated with books and review deadlines right now. The Summer Reading Club’s theme this year is “Dig Into Reading” which feels rather appropriate. You should see the piles beside my bed. There’s no difference between my night table and a pallet of books at Costco.  I’m in the midst of reading The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, which is so damn good. Absolutely loving this, and it’s probably going to be among my favorites for 2013.

Big Book Summer Reading Challenge

Library summer reading programs not your thing? Then consider signing up for the 2013 Big Book Summer Challenge, hosted by Sue Jackson who writes the blog Book by Book.  This one is so easy, you guys. All you have to do is read one book of at least 400 pages this summer. One book!

Usually I’m overly ambitious (wonder where Miss “I’m Reading 400 Books This Summer” gets it from?) and I make a big ol’ list, but this year, there’s only one that I’m committing to definitively. That’s Andre Dubus III’s The Garden of Last Days. He has a new novel, Dirty Love, that comes out on September 30 which I’m reviewing for my new gig with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Before doing so, however, I want and need to catch up on his previous work. (Self-promotion alert: my first published – and paid – review was in the paper this week.)

What do you have on your summer reading list?

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lifelong commitment

On that very first night, the first of many long, sleepless, tear-filled nights after Boo was diagnosed with autism, I turned to The Husband and admitted something I hadn’t wanted to admit before.

“We are really, really going to need Cheryl,” I said.

Cheryl is The Husband’s cousin. And even though nearly two decades separate them in age, she and our daughter Betty have more in common than some shared genetics.

They both have brothers who have autism.

Over the years, I have come to admire and respect and understand Cheryl in a way that I never, ever imagined. And I’ve come to feel grateful and appreciative that Cheryl is there for Betty now and will be there for Betty in the future.

These are rocky times in Betty and Boo’s sibling relationship, but Cheryl gives me hope in so many ways that everything might just turn out to be OK. Because with the gift that is time, Cheryl herself has turned out to be more than OK. 

Cheryl and her brother Adam, are profiled in the Courier-Post (Southern New Jersey) newspaper today, in this gracious and sensitive article by Kim Mulford discussing adult siblings preparing to assume the care of their brothers or sisters with special needs.

Cheryl Resnick was perhaps 7 or 8 years old when she suddenly piped up from the back seat of the family car.
“Mommy, I want you to know it’s OK,” she told her mother, Ilene Resnick. “When Mommy and Daddy die, I’m going to take care of Adam.”

Read more from “Lifelong commitment: many adults are woefully unprepared to assume care for disabled siblings” here. 

photo of bird’s nest taken by me, September 2012

I am an Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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when what to my cynical, sad eyes should appear

Philadelphia Flower Show
March 2009
“for i’ve grown a little leaner
grown a little colder
grown a little sadder
grown a little older
and i need a little angel
sitting on my shoulder
we need a little christmas now.” 
from “mame”
After I finished my volunteer stint in the kids’ classroom last Wednesday, I decided to take the kids home right from there. Since I was already at the school, it seemed ridiculous to send them to their after-school program. 
As we walked through the school parking lot, Boo started in about seeing Santa that weekend. 
At 11, my kids still Believe. Wholeheartedly and unabashedly and completely. And I’m not about to change that, especially after yesterday.
“I think I’d like a bulletproof vest,” Boo said, very seriously. 
I was startled. I admit, the setting – the elementary/middle school parking lot, at dismissal time – jolted me. I asked him why he wanted such a thing. 
“In case someone shoots me,” he said, matter of factly.
“My God, Boo,” I said. “What a horrible thought. Why would someone shoot you?” 
We talked about if anyone had threatened to shoot him. Nobody hadn’t. Still, my mind went there, as it tends to do. Because that’s what my mind DOES. I saw it all as we walked through the crosswalk – the news vans, the police cars, the ambulances, the vigils, the candles – and I talked as calmly as possible to my son.  
“You know, 11-year old boys don’t need to walk around wearing bulletproof vests,” 
This was nine days ago. I felt I was lying as I remembered Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora. 
“The likelihood that you’re going to get shot, sweetie, is pretty slim,” I said, choosing my words carefully. 
Nine days before all of America would learn where Newtown, Connecticut was. 
I admit that I am addicted to all things social media, but even I knew that I needed to put myself on a restricted social media diet for this one. 
I knew how this would play itself out. 
I knew that there would be reports that the shooter was on the autism spectrum. That the talking heads would go there and start their damning theories. 
Facebook and Twitter and the rest of the Internet would get along just fine without me for this particular news story. My autism mom friends worked the Interwebs with poignant blog posts and tweets and impassioned pleas to media types not to paint everyone with autism with this brush. 
(I may have sneaked a peek on my phone.) 
Meanwhile, I descended into the basement and surrounded myself by scrapbooking. A banal task: sorting paper by color. The sort of thing one does in kindergarten. 
My boy came downstairs where I was working. 
“I found something,” he said, holding up one of my blog cards and beginning to read the description of The Betty and Boo Chronicles to me. 
“What does this mean?” he said. “This. ‘Raising a child with autism.’ Do you hate me?” 
Oh, dear God. 
Do I hate you? 
Do I HATE you? 
Today, this. Today, on a day when 20 little children lost their lives. 
I told him to sit down with me on the sofa, that there were a few things I needed to say. I told him that I wrote about him having autism here because there were a lot of parents out there who were just finding out that their kids have autism. That by writing about the funny and awesome things that you do, that helps other people not be as scared and not see autism as a bad or scary thing. That when WE found out about Boo having autism, we didn’t know anyone else the same age who had it or what Boo’s life could possibly be like.
That’s why I write about it, I explained. To try and give people some hope. 
“Does that make any sense?” I asked. 
He said that it did, that he understood. 
“Do you want me to stop writing about it?” I asked. 
“No, it’s okay. It’s cool.” 
* * 
I don’t want to leave the house today. 
I don’t even want to get dressed. 
I’m still in my social media blackout (sorta). The Husband is giving me updates about Connecticut that I’ve read on Twitter, when I’ve (once again) snuck looks at it. He’s told me about the autism angle. I told him I saw that last night. 
I can’t do this. I’m too angry to do this. Not when the memory of my boy telling me that he wants a bulletproof vest is only (now) 10 days old. 
We need things at Costco. I get dressed, get myself into the car. Betty decides she wants to come with me for the samples and a possible Christmas gift for her teacher. 
A gift for her teacher. How can I say no? Today, I can’t. 
I drive up our street, see a flash of red and white knocking on the door of one of my neighbors’ houses. 
It’s Santa Claus. 
“Look, Betty!” I exclaim, before I drive out of sight. 
“Oh, wow ….” Betty breathes. 
I stare. Santa turns and waves at us. We wave back and smile. Thank you, Santa, I think. 
I realize I’ll lose the moment if I stop the car, reach into my purse for my phone, and take a photo for Facebook and the blog. I decide to just let it be, live it for what it is. 
I glance at Betty in the back seat. Her face is magic. 
She still Believes. 
And for just one single precious moment, so do I. 

I am an Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you! copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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The Olympics Are Over. Prepare for an Invasion of Flying Squirrels.

Brandywine Zoo, Wilmington DE
July 4, 2009
Photo taken by me.

We are not a sports family.

Correction: We are not a sports family in the sense that our kids are not scheduled to the max with practices and travel tournaments for every sport under the sun. (We ARE a sports family in that we like to partake of the watching of football, baseball, and hockey from the comfort of our family room, as well as from the occasional venture to the ballpark.)

We actually swing so much in the opposite direction that sometimes I wonder and worry if my kids have too much downtime. We’re homebodies. Islands. We like hanging out together doing our own thing. As a therapist once said to me about my relationship with The Husband, we “have a lot of cerebral interests.”

(That’ll be $125 please, and no, I don’t accept your insurance plan.)

So, when Betty started talking about taking gymnastics lessons last fall – well before all of America would fall in love with Aly or Gabby – I didn’t immediately sign her up for classes. I waited to see if this interest in gymnastics would be A Passing Thing.

One of the things I’ve learned about both my kids is that there are few fads in their world. Once they find something they like, they tend to stick with it. (Except sneakers. Boo just outgrew a pair of sneakers in three days.)

Toward the end of the school year, Betty was becoming more and more frustrated with her brother’s differences, and I began to think more seriously about the possibility of gymnastics helping as a stress-reliever. She also has a few perfectionism issues and a bit of a self-confidence boost couldn’t hurt either. So, with all that in mind, I plunked down my credit card in early June for an 8-week summer session at a local gym “just to see how this would go.”

Two classes in, she announced she LOVED gymnastics and it was absolutely helping her to feel better and she DEFINITELY OH MY GOD YES wanted to sign up for the fall. I was like, yeah, fine, whatever, let’s just get through the summer.

She kept insisting she wanted to continue in the fall, so I said that a fall session sounded all fine and well and good …

except the “next session” is an entire school year.

As in, from September to JUNE.

Not being a sports mom, I didn’t immediately realize this. Nor did I take much notice of a little thing called the 2012 Olympics. Sure, we watched – when I could figure out the damn convoluted schedule. We cheered for Gabby Douglas, et al.

Apparently, so did a lot of other people.

Summer session gymnastics finished up last night and in my cerebral-interested way, I thought I could just walk up to the counter, plunk down my credit card and sign up, no problem. What I failed to realize was that, thanks to a little thing called the Olympics, every kid and their parental unit now seems to think they are made of gold. (Or silver. Or bronze.)

This mentality annoyed me more than the possibility of Betty not getting into a class. (“Fucking Olympics.” I texted to The Husband. “Getting into a class = a zoo. Everyone suddenly has the next fucking Wheaties champion.”)

We managed to get the last spot in a class, but not before the waiting list for each class grew to 14 kids deep. I decided that I, the chick with no athletic ability whatsoever, was going to open a gymnastics studio right here in my town tomorrow, first thing. (I kid. I’d lose what’s left of my freakin’ mind.) All night long, new parents came in wanting to sign their kids up and leaving dejected once they realized they might have to tell their kid “no” or “not quite yet.”

It made me wonder who the class was really for. I’ll be completely honest and say that I have no expectations whatsoever that Betty is ever going to be standing on a stage tearing up as the American flag is raised as a gold medal is placed around her neck. Now if that happens, fantastic. Her father and I – not to mention her grandparents – will be out of our freakin’ minds. But Betty and I have had conversations about the sacrifices that Gabby Douglas and her family have made, about how she moved away from her home in Virginia to train in Iowa, and Betty has said quite bluntly that she could never do that. And I know this kid enough to know that I don’t think she could. She can do a hell of a lot, but that’s not in her persona. At least, not at almost 11 years old.

I worry about the kids being pushed into a sport for reasons other than because it is something they want to try, or something that might be a good stress-reliever for them, or a means to self-confidence and individuality, and to usurp one’s perfectionistic tendencies. This summer, gymnastics has been all of that for Betty, which is why we made the decision to continue it for this school year. It’s part and parcel of how we’re figuring out the pieces of this autism puzzle that life has dealt our family.

Maybe the throngs of people rushing to sign their kids up for gymnastics last night also had good intentions that don’t involve kids moving out of state at 14 and Wheaties boxes. I’d like to think so.

I’ll let you know in June.

I hope.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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The Sunday Salon: How to Feel 10 Years Old Again

Just call me Ponce de Leon (the Spanish explorer in search of the Fountain of Youth, for those who need a history refresher), for I have discovered the secret for instantly recapturing one’s youth and feeling 10 years old again!

And, just for you, my lovely blog readers, I’m going to share it with you today. Right now.

Here’s what you do:

1. Sign up for your local library’s adult Summer Reading Club program, which requires all of two things: read a book and write a review of said book. (Yeah, I’ve got this.)

2. Repeat as desired.

3. Do your best impression of a Valley Girl when the librarian calls you to say that you were the prize winner in this week’s random drawing of participants in the adult Summer Reading Club program. (“Omigod, thank you so much! Sure, I’ll be happy to come over to the library and pick up my prize!”)

Which was this:

A Pittsburgh Pirates cap (our local boys of summer), an oversized coffee mug (the best kind!), 3 energy bars (one of which has already been consumed by Betty), 2 packets of iced tea mixes, a notepad with the library’s logo on it, and a Yankee Candle Sampler in Sun and Sand scent.

For the adults, our Summer Reading program works by signing up, keeping track of our reading and writing reviews of our books read. That’s it. It started June 18 and goes until July 27. So far, I’ve read 3 books and am on my 4th. (I’m averaging 1-2 per week. Let’s just say that as far as my reading goes, being an Unemployed Statistic is a good thing.)

This week, I finished two books: Shout Her Lovely Name, a collection of short stories by Natalie Serber (which I mentioned in last Sunday’s Salon and which I’ll be reviewing for TLC Book Tours this coming Tuesday) and Next Stop: A Memoir of Family by Glen Finland. (The inside title page has a slightly different subtitle: A Son With Autism Grows Up.)

Both are accurate, as Finland opens her memoir by recounting the summer that she rode Washington D.C.’s Metro system with her 21 year old son David, in hopes that mastering the rails would lead David to his next stop in his life of getting a job and becoming independent. By telling her family’s story candidly and honestly, Next Stop focuses the reader’s attention on what happens when people with disabilities “age-out” of services and enter a world without jobs, accommodations, or the necessary supports to live independently. 

I liked Next Stop – the second half moreso than the first. While I found myself nodding in recognition in the beginning chapters, this seemed to cover much of the same ground of other “autism memoirs” I’ve read. Finland hits her stride after the midpoint of the book and I became fully invested in her emotional struggle to let go while also securing the necessary supports needed for David to live as independently as possible. 

On Friday, I started Lauren Groff’s newest novel Arcadia. I loved her short story collection, Delicate Edible Birds (see review here) and her novel The Monsters of Templeton, and so far, Arcadia is also winning me over with her rich prose. This is a very character-driven novel, set in a 1970s commune on 600 acres in western New York State. We see life in Arcadia from the perspective of Bit, one of its youngest members. What looks simple and idyllic is not quite so; the hippie lifestyle doesn’t quite agree with his mother, Hannah, who suffers from depression (or so it seems at the page 61 point that I’m up to now). This isn’t going over too well with the other members of the commune, to put it mildly. (They’ve just literally carried Hannah away.)

My 10 year old daughter Betty is also participating in the library’s kids Summer Reading Club. (No luck persuading Boo.) She’s also on book 4 (the awesome Lauren Myracle’s Thirteen) having read three of Rachel Renee Russell’s popular Dork Diaries series (Tales from a Not So Fabulous Life; Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl; Tales from a Not-So-Popular Pop Star). She has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow afternoon, so I’m keeping her home from summer camp in the morning and we’re planning a mini Read-a-Thon in the morning.

Speaking of Read-a-Thons of sorts, I’d be a bad book blogger if I didn’t mention this momentous date of July 1, which marks the midway point of our reading year. Whoooot! Bloggers all over the Internet are marking this occasion by celebrating (or lamenting) their reading goals and progress (or lack) thereof. I’ll be doing the same with a post tomorrow about how my many Reading Challenges are going. I signed up for a ridiculous number of 17 Reading Challenges this year. As crazy as that is, I’ve added an 18th to that (the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge).

I’m on track to finish about the same number of books I usually do in a typical year. Right now, Arcadia is my 30th book of the year, and 60 books (give or take) is slightly lower than my average. Again, my current status as an Unemployed Statistic might help propel that forward a bit, which would be nice.

I’ve also actually FINISHED one of those 18 reading challenges. I know. Go me. Stop by tomorrow to find out which one.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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It’s Your Birthday, Carly. You’ve Never Looked So Good.

“It’s all of our birthdays this summer
One number older, another year younger … “
“Happy Birthday” ~ Carly Simon
photo from

Because it’s her 67th birthday today, I’m using this blog post (which is an encore of a post I published here on this date in 2010) to celebrate my favorite singer/songwriter, Carly Simon. I have no hesitation when asked the proverbial question about which CD I’d take to an island – preferably Martha’s Vineyard, Carly’s home and one of my all time favorite places (we honeymooned there). The real decision would be, which one of Carly’s CDs would make the cut. I’d have to stash some away.

I’ve loved her music since I was a little girl. I can’t remember if I bought “You’re So Vain” on a 45 record (show of hands … who remembers 45s?) or if it was my mom’s. What I do remember is playing it constantly, blissfully unaware of the provocative questions it provoked that still linger today. I didn’t even understand the lyrics but I knew enough to know that I loved the poetry of I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee years before I had my first cup.

I don’t have a favorite Carly song.  It’s impossible to choose just one.  I do tend to graviate to the lesser known ones, I’ve noticed. Many have become mantras for me at different times of my life, and never more so than when my kids were born.

As newborns, Betty and Boo spent a few weeks in the NICU.  During that time, we were told to talk to them, sing to them, anything to get them acquainted with our voices and so they could sense we were there.  So The Husband sang George Harrison songs (because he had just died), and told them about the electoral college (because at the time, the country was in the midst of getting a civics lesson and relearning our American history) and obscure Presidents (did you know we had a U.S. President named Chester Arthur?). I sang “Julie Through the Glass” (“Julie through the glass, just born a day ago/ and who knows where you’ve been/ and where you’re gonna go”) and “Libby” (“If all our flights are grounded/ Libby, we’ll go to Paris/ dance along the boulevards and have no one to embarrass ….”)

Finally, we were on the verge of being discharged and all that stood in the way of us and a ticket home first thing early the next morning was a few ounces of formula that Betty needed to drink – but stubbornly refused.  So, I sang the only song that was in my head at the time, over and over and over.

Silver cities rise,
the morning lights
the streets that meet them,
and sirens call them on
with a song.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
stand on a star
and blaze a trail of desire
through the dark’ning dawn.
(“Let the River Run” ~ Carly Simon)

One time, while Betty and I were grocery shopping, this came on over the speakers and I practically started bawling in the middle of Frozen Foods. “Mooo-ommm,” she said, still dramatic 10 years later. “You’re NOT going to cry and tell me the story about this song and me being in the hospital AGAIN, are you?”)

Back to being NICU parents. This all happened in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it especially hard to be so isolated and scared, so when Carly’s Christmas album came out a year later, in 2002,  it seemed like “Christmas Is Almost Here” was written for us, with that whole experience in mind.  It has become one of my very favorite Christmas songs because it is so intertwined with those fragile NICU days.

“There’s a hand that’s old and rough
And it’s holding on
To one that’s new and small
Whose life has just begun
Hand in hand
Young and old
We calm each other’s fears
Christmas is almost here

There’s a rocky road ahead
Two people walk alone
Wondering in the fading light
If they can find their home
When hope is almost gone
A distant light appears
Christmas is almost here …”
(“Christmas Is Almost Here” ~ Carly Simon)

In 2005, I noticed an ad in the paper announcing that Carly was going to be in concert at The Borgata in Atlantic City.  We were the parents of nearly 4 year old twins, I had just started working full time again a few months earlier, and concert tickets long ago ceased to be among our discretionary expeditures. We crunched the numbers; nope, no can do. Maybe she would be comin’ around again, but most likely, this was a once in a lifetime thing that we had to be responsible about and let go.

A few days later at work, I opened an email from The Husband.  “From Santa!” it said, and it was a printout of the confirmation from Ticketmaster that we had tickets in the front section for Carly’s 2005 Serenade Tour. It was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been lucky to see some great ones).  Her kids, Sally and Ben Taylor, were with her on that tour and they sang a rendition of “You Can Close Your Eyes” that was exquisite.  (I still sing part of that song to Boo every night … or, I should say, on the nights when he allows me to tuck him in.)

The Husband says that I am responsible for introducing him to the music of Carly Simon.  He knew the most popular songs, but not the older stuff.  (He did the same for me with the Beatles and their solo stuff, too, so we’re even.)  One of the first gifts The Husband ever bought me was Carly’s picture book, The Fisherman’s Song, which is the words to her song of the same name. He thought I was crazy for wanting a picture book in my 20s. After reading it, he understands.

There are so many moments in my life that either have Carly Simon’s music as a soundtrack as well as moments that a Carly Simon song captures for me in my heart. I’ve been listening to her all of my life and I can’t imagine my life without her music.

“So just blow out the candles … Happy Birthday.”

Happy Birthday, Carly.

And thank you.

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