Tag Archives: Father’s Day

This Is the Father’s Day We Almost Didn’t Have

at the beach, 2011. the husband with the kids in the ocean. an intentionally blurry photo, taken by me.

This is the Father’s Day that we almost didn’t have.

Had things gone dramatically different on Thanksgiving — as they very nearly did —  this Father’s Day would have been the latest hurdle in a sad series of firsts.

It would have been the beginning of a lifetime of fatherless Father’s Days — which are the only kind I’ve known for the past 32 years.

Perhaps that’s the reason I’m having trouble writing the obligatory Facebook sentiment wishing The Husband a Happy Father’s Day. The emotions are too familiar, too close to the surface. It’s impossible to articulate in the face of the losses that did happen this year and challenges we continue to struggle with this new normal and our ever-present pasts.  They don’t make Hallmark cards for this kind of Father’s Day, which can be my lazy excuse (this year) for not buying one.

Instead, I look for the perfect photo, the best quote and I come up empty-handed until I find these words that I wrote for Father’s Day 2011. Words that still ring true five years later. More than ever, actually, if that’s possible. And it is, because while this was written in the midst of much uncertainly and change, it was also written before.

Before losing everything we’d worked two decades for.

Before The Cancer.

Before Thanksgiving.

Before going places on this parenting journey one never imagines when you first hold that newborn.

Before everything changed.

Before we knew now what we didn’t know then.

Here, then, an abbreviated version of “Father’s Day 2011: The Here and The Now”:

“I didn’t think I needed to write a Father’s Day post to The Husband. I really didn’t plan on it, to be honest. But then, you know, post after glowing post started showing up in my Google Reader – tributes to all the wonderful dads out there, guys who are the type of dads that The Husband is. Friends and family members are writing Hallmark card worthy status updates on Facebook whereas I’m … sitting here thinking, I’m really such a shit for not doing one of my own.

Because it’s not like The Husband doesn’t know how I feel, for God’s sakes. Obviously, he knows that I think he is a great Dad and a wonderful husband, yada yada yada, so it doesn’t really matter.

But see, here’s the thing: it kinda sorta does.

For reasons I don’t really want to go into on the blog and Facebook, it matters especially so this year. After being together for literally half your life, you fall into these sorts of silent, oh,he/she-knows-how-I-feel patterns, despite the irony of the minister at your wedding deliberately changing up your vows and scrapping the to have’s and to holds with phrases like “you’ll remember the big things like your anniversary, but it’s the little day to day things like saying, you matter to me that is the hard stuff.”

You take for granted that things like the laundry will always be done every Sunday of your life, like it has been in mine for 23 years. (Yes. Twenty-three YEARS my husband has been doing my laundry. Top that, girlfriends.)

You take for granted things like being able to count on your husband to run out to Walgreens for a gallon of milk, or take the boy for a haircut, or to pick up the kids when you’re running late, or to remember the sunscreen and apply it better than you, or to take them to the park when you’ve got a migraine kicking your ass for the third day in a row.

And these are just the little things. We’re not even going to get into the big deal, lifelong, no-cure-or-end-in-sight things.

Like parenting a child with autism, for example.

Like being a hands-on, 24/7 dad when you’re living with chronic pain for more than a decade.

You take these big and little things for granted until they’re not there anymore – or, in our case, not there as much. 

One of my faults is that I tend to focus on anything but the here and the now.

I procrastinate. (Hence, the no Father’s Day card or gift.)

I fixate a bit too much on the past.  I don’t always live in the moment.

(I’m working on that.)

And when you live with one foot in the future and one foot in the past, you’re not grounded in the present and you miss saying what needs to be said.

Which, for this Father’s Day for The Husband, goes something like this:

You’re an even better father than I ever imagined you would be, in circumstances that we never imagined would be.

Even though it doesn’t always seem like it, you’re needed more than you know. 

And you’re loved more than you can possibly imagine.

Happy Father’s Day.

  99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #21 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 
 
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The Sunday Salon: Father’s Day Edition

Happy Father’s Day to all who are celebrating!  I say to all who are celebrating because I know this can be a difficult day for some people. If you are missing a father or missing the chance to be a father, these Hallmark holidays can be loaded for bear, amiright?

It’s a low-key Father’s Day here. Last Saturday, The Husband took a tumble down the deck stairs and suffered a concussion, which has resulted in a week off from work for the last five days and a headache that is still present.  So, our gift to him is a day of rest and peace and quiet. So far, so good. Grocery shopping and gardening (if the rain holds off) is on the agenda for me, along with some resume-sending and reading.

As I mentioned in last week’s Salon, our library just got e-books available for borrowing. Bookish geek that I am, you KNOW I was right there at my laptop on the day that this service went live, checking out what they had to offer.

I must say, I am pleased with the selection. I’m NOT so pleased that I can’t renew them – meaning that, if you’re in the midst of the e-book and your time is up in a day, no renewal for you. You have to take your chances that nobody else will scoop it up when it automatically returns, and THEN you can check it out again. Otherwise, you have to put it on hold and it could be another two weeks before you can resume reading.

That’s the situation I may find myself in with my first library e-book: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel, which I am really enjoying so far (but which I have today to finish). I loved Last Night in Montreal – but as I just re-read that review, I realize that there are more similarities to the two than I remembered. No matter. I still like The Lola Quartet and I’m not normally a mystery reader kind of girl, so this is a bit of a departure for me.

My audiobook this week wound up being a DNF.
Now, I was an English major in college, but the first CD of The Marriage Plot just made me feel completely and utterly stupid and that my degree was a waste. And this was not a week where I needed that. So … I tried reading the print version. No can do. This one has gotten mixed reviews on the blogs, with more than a few comparisons to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which I thought was just okay albeit overhyped. Given that, back to the library it went.

And yeah, I’ve tried Middlesex and – don’t hate me – but that was a DNF for me, too. Verdict? I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, but I don’t think Jeffrey Eugenides is the author for me.


This week I finished the rather provocative With My Body by Nikki Gemmell. I’ll have more to say about this one on Thursday – which is my review date for TLC Book Tours, which sent me this one for review. One word for now: wow. This one was all over the map. The majority of this (like, 300 pages worth) is NOT an easy read and I was prepared to give it a negative review, if not declare it a DNF.

Then … Something Happened.

That’s all I’ll say about that, but suffice it to say, few books have had that effect on me. I’m still thinking about this several days later.

There are a few bookish things on tap for us this week. Summer Reading officially starts at our library tomorrow, which Betty is rather excited about. Our library also has a summer reading program for adults, where you submit reviews and can win prizes, so that will motivate me to actually write a review or two.

On Wednesday, YA author Siobhan Vivian (The List, Same Difference, Not That Kind of Girl, A Little Friendly Advice) will be appearing at our library. I’m planning to stop by and do a post for the blog. I’ve been hearing her name everywhere since I’ve been hearing that she’ll be appearing.

Hope you’re having a great Sunday, whether you’re celebrating Father’s Day or not.

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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Links I Liked

It has been awhile, I know, since I shared some links with y’all.  A few of these have been hanging around in my Drafts folder, chomping at the bit to be shared, but they’re still good. 

On Father’s Day:

Love this post from the Ms. Magazine blog on Ending the Cold War with My Father.

On Parenting:
Jason from Out-Numbered is one of my favorite bloggers, especially since I met him at BlogHer’10 last year.  This post of his (“When Her Face Gets Long”) is one of my favorites of his. 

On Social Media

Six Pixels of Separation muses on the mutterings of Twitter and the reactions of brands to these gripes.

If you’ve been doing this blogging thing for any length of time, you’ve experienced the blogger blahs. It varies in severity and in form from one blogger to another, but this guest post by Steff over at ProBlogger has some good tips on “Curing the Dreaded Blogger’s Malaise.”

Know any kids under 13 who are on Facebook?  The Family Factor has some interesting, eye-opening statistics about “The Faces of Facebook.”  A sampling:  “Of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, more than one-third or about 7.5 million were younger than 13 and not supposed to be able to use the site. More than five million were 10 years and under, whose accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents.”  …. What was even more troubling was that the report found the majority of parents of children 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children’s use of the site. Only 18 per cent made their child a Facebook friend, which is the best way to monitor the child and only 10 per cent of parents of children 10 and under had open and direct conversations about appropriate online behaviour and threats.”

On Autism, Special Needs:

Turns out that, for one blogger, Calling Something Retarded Is … Well … A Pretty Big Deal, After All

Why one blogger is keeping the blue lights burning, even though Autism Awareness Month is over.

Back on February 14, 2010, I blogged about Jennifer Daugherty and the horrific murder that ended her life.  (Jennifer was 30 years and mentally-challenged.) As a follow up, the first of six defendants (yes, SIX!) in this god-awful case received life in prison.  Jennifer Daugherty family’s statement is also worth the read … and said with complete class. (And in keeping with their wish for privacy, I won’t be blogging about this case in the future.)

And finally, stark.raving.mad.mommy’s take on the Autism Study of the Day:  Autism and Anti-Depressants: Don’t Freak Out.

copyright 2011, 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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Father’s Day 2011: The Here and the Now

I didn’t think I needed to write a Father’s Day post to The Husband.  I really didn’t plan on it, to be honest.
But then, you know, post after glowing post started showing up in my Google Reader – tributes to all the wonderful dads out there, guys who are the type of dads that The Husband is.  Friends and family members are writing Hallmark card worthy status updates on Facebook whereas I’m posting a picture of the kids and calling it a day.
And I’m sitting here thinking, I’m really such a shit for not doing one of my own.  I didn’t buy a gift this year (when the hell the last time I did so is beyond me) and a card?  Well, Betty just made him an animated Dad-inator Phineas and Ferb card on disney.com.  That counts, right?  And I did make his favorite dinner for dinner (baked ziti).  That counts too, right? Right?
I demonstrated the same behavior last weekend for our anniversary.  No card, no gift (although we were away for a couple days, so that was a gift itself), although we did have dinner out at one of our favorite shore restaurants … with the kids.
Because it’s not like The Husband doesn’t know how I feel, for God’s sakes.  Obviously, he knows that I think he is a great Dad and a wonderful husband, yada yada yada, so it doesn’t really matter.
But see, here’s the thing:  it kinda sorta does.
For reasons I don’t really want to go into on the blog and Facebook, it matters especially so this year.  After being together for literally half your life, you fall into these sorts of silent, oh,he/she-knows-how-I-feel patterns, despite the irony of the minister at your wedding deliberately changing up your vows and scrapping the to have’s and to holds with phrases like “you’ll remember the big things like your anniversary, but it’s the little day to day things like saying, you matter to me that is the hard stuff.”
You take for granted that things like the laundry will always be done every Sunday of your life, like it has been in mine for 20 years.  (Yes.  Twenty years my husband has been doing my laundry.  Top that, girlfriends.)  You take for granted things like being able to count on your husband to run out to Walgreens for a gallon of milk, or take the boy for a haircut, or to pick up the kids when you’re running late, or to remember the sunscreen and apply it better than you, or to take them to the park when you’ve got a migraine kicking your ass for the third day in a row.
And these are just the little things.  We’re not even going to get into the big deal, lifelong, no-cure-or-end-in-sight things.
Like parenting a child with autism, for example.
Like being a hands-on, 24/7 dad when you’re living with chronic pain due to not one, not two, but three (at last count) herniated disks.
You take these big and little things for granted until they’re not there anymore – or, in our case, not there as much.  For as regular readers and friends know, this year is shaping up to be a doozy for us and one of our most challenging and most vulnerable since the year of Boo’s autism diagnosis.  This is a year where we’ve been parenting by BlackBerry and Skype (when the connection doesn’t crap out on us), due to The Husband living more than 6 hours and more than 300 miles away from us.  We’ve been living this crazy, home-is absolutely-the-Pennsylvania-Turnpike life since February and even though he has been making the trip home every single weekend for five months, this is getting tiresome.  (How the hell people do this in more extenuating circumstances – like all the time or while in the military – is beyond my comprehension.)
One of my faults is that I tend to focus on anything but the here and the now.
I procrastinate. (Hence, the no Father’s Day card or gift.)
I fixate a bit too much on the past. (I spent several hours last night trying to figure out – and then find – which photo of my dad, who has been gone 26 years, to use for a Father’s Day post.)
I don’t always live in the moment.  (I’m working on that.)
And when you live with one foot in the future and one foot in the past, you’re not grounded in the present and you miss saying what needs to be said.
Which, for this Father’s Day for The Husband, goes something like this:
You’re an even better father than I ever imagined you would be, in circumstances that we never imagined would be.
Even though it doesn’t always seem like it, you’re needed and missed more than you can imagine.
And you’re loved more than you can possibly imagine.
Happy Father’s Day.

copyright 2011, 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: Books by the Beach

I’m playing catch up with the Salon this week, since we were away last Sunday. It was our 18th wedding anniversary (how is that possible?!) and we spent a glorious weekend with the kids at my aunt and uncle’s beach house to celebrate.
Even though this was somewhat of an impromptu trip, I still had the dilemma and indecision of which books to bring along.  (Never mind the fact that I have 433 books downloaded on my Kindle, which was obviously coming along but just not to the actual beach.) 
I need not have worried about that, because as luck would have it, the little library by the sea in this tiny shore town (separate post to come on that) was having a Summer Book Sale!  Whereas I practically jumped out of the car as we passed by the sign, I think The Husband was hoping I’d be rendered temporarily illiterate. The kids and I caught the sale on one of its last days, but I still managed to fill a bag for $2 with these gems:

Not pictured is one that I purchased for The Husband, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss. (He’s reading it outside as I type, accompanied by a Father’s Day cigar.) None of these made it out of the bag (or the car, for that matter) as I had selected Dangerous Neighbors by my friend Beth Kephart for my beach read. 

This was an ARC (advance reader’s copy) that I had purchased from another book sale, which was perfect because my copy of Dangerous Neighbors is a) signed and signed books don’t go to the beach and b) packed away, in preparation for our move.  (This also means that, for my review, I’m going to be a bad blogger and break all the rules by referring to the ARC version. So be it.) 

I really liked Dangerous Neighbors.  As with Beth’s other books I’ve read (House of Dance, Nothing But Ghosts), it is set in my hometown of Philadelphia.  This one, moreso than the other two, is a love story to our city of brotherly (or sisterly, as the case may be here) love.  And, I loved that part of it was set in Cape May, a shore town that I adore and which was (and still is, of course) only a stone’s throw from where I sat reading.  
Back to the little library by the sea for a minute.  (It’s such a wonderful place.)  We borrowed my aunt’s library card and one of the books I checked out (and devoured in one sitting) was the incredible I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn.  Holy cow, people … I’m telling you, this one just blew me away. The writing in this one! Spectacular.  
In her debut novel, Mendelsohn takes her reader into the mind of pilot Amelia Earhart after her plane crashes and imagines what happened afterwards.  It’s brilliantly done.  It’s going to be one of my favorite reads of 2011. I have Beth Kephart to thank for introducing me to the works of Jane Mendelsohn, for it was her review of American Music that made me pick that one up (and select that as one of my favorite books of 2010).  I wasn’t crazy about Mendelsohn’s Innocence, but this one has solidified her place as one of my favorite writers. 
So, that was last week.  Two fabulous books read from start to finish on a 3 day vacation, along with a decent portion of the Summer Fiction Issue of “The New Yorker” on my Kindle. (And might I add that I am loving having a Kindle subscription to this? It is perfect for reading in short increments of time.)

Upon returning home, I finished Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn. He connects the books Jackie edited to significant instances, events, and people in her life; in doing so, he presents his view that the books serve as a window into her thoughts and feelings while giving us a glimpse into the woman Jackie really was – the woman behind the two marriages to famous, powerful men.  Some of the discussion about the actual books and conception and production thereof struck me as a little dry (I admit that I skimmed over some of those parts).

I’ll have more to say about this in my review (I have Jackie as Editor out from the library so am hoping to review both of them together) but for the most part I found this to be interesting.

Last night I finished Click: The Magic of Instant Connections by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman.  This is a short, fairly fast read about the psychology behind feeling an immediate, powerful connection to someone – or when we are in the state of flow (as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) with a project or hobby.

We can all probably think of a time when we “clicked” right away with someone, be that a significant other or a work colleague. These connections are ones that I always thought to be more serendipitious than scientific, but the Brafmans show that there are several psychological factors at play. There are some work implications with this, too, which is making me look at the business of fundraising in a slightly different way.

On Friday, Boo and I spent the day with my mom.  We went to their pool in the morning, where I continued reading the Summer Fiction Issue.  I only got through George Saunders’s story “Home,” but wow … what a fabulous piece of writing. 

This is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. Again, it’s the writing (particularly, the dialogue) that makes this one shine.  I loved it, and now I am going to want to seek out more of George Saunders’s work.  If his other stories are even half as good as “Home,” then I know I will be in for a treat. 

As for today? It’s Father’s Day, and while this is always kind of a bittersweet day (my dad died when I was 15), it’s a day to celebrate the wonderful father that The Husband is. We don’t have any grandiose plans (The Husband and Boo are probably getting haircuts; I’ll make The Husband’s favorite dinner, baked ziti).

Hope you’re having a great Sunday – and to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day!

copyright 2011, 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 It Feels Sad and Beautiful, Like the Last Day



Me and my dad on my first Christmas, 1969

 
“When she thinks of her father now, she sees him at the end of the day.  That’s his time of day, twilight, or just before. The late afternoon, when the sun is setting, when it feels sad and beautiful, like the last day. When the sadness is too unbearable to think about, and this makes you strangely cheerful.”

from I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn,  pg. 95

copyright 2011, 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: Father’s Day Edition


My husband is an incredible father.  There’s so much I could say about all that he does for us, but suffice it to say that I married an amazing guy who does five loads of laundry every single weekend (washing, folding, putting away), makes the kids breakfast every morning (on the weekends too) and deals with the entire morning routine of getting them out of the house, and handles the dropping off and picking up of the kids on most days. This isn’t new; he’s done the laundry for all of the 20 years we’ve been together and the stuff with the kids since Day One of their lives. Moreover, he does this through incredible pain – he’s had three herniated discs in his neck for nearly six years.

(I know.  I’m practically a kept woman. People wonder how I’m able to blog so much?  That’s how. I’m damn lucky, and I know it.)

Anyway, for this Father’s Day edition of The Sunday Salon, I give you this little funny reading-related story from this week. 

While we were at the library this week, Betty discovered the graphic novel collection and was delighted to find two of the The Baby-Sitters Club books on that shelf.  When we got home, the GRAPHIC NOVEL label on The Baby-Sitters Club book made The Husband momentarily apoplectic. 

“What the hell is she doing with something about babysitters that’s labeled a graphic novel?!” he said. When I showed him what they were, he asked when comic books became graphic novels.  Can’t say that I had much of an answer for him.  Still, it was pretty funny.  (Or maybe you just had to be there.)

Having never read any of The Baby-Sitters Club books myself (as Laura from I’m Booking It and I discussed over lunch at the Book Blogger Convention), I was curious to see if they were appropriate for an 8.5 year old so I read this version. Happily, they seem to be OK.  According to Barnes and Noble they have an age range of 9-12, and that’s generally what Betty reads.

Speaking of which, Betty’s doing really well with her summer reading.  Her goal is to read 200 books this summer.  She’s completed 10 this week.  She’s also nearly completed the measly summer reading project that is assigned for incoming 3rd graders, which is to read a whopping total of 10 hours for the entire summer. (Yeah, an hour a week … and they’re allowed to take a week off from reading, for VACATION, if you can imagine such a thing.)

In addition to reading The Baby-Sitters Club,  I also finished two other books. While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty was good enough, but I didn’t like it as much as her debut novel, The Center of Everything.  
My other finished book this week was Made for Goodness and Why This Makes All the Difference by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu.  I had the great opportunity to hear Archbishop Tutu as the keynote speaker during a conference I attended this past April and this book reminded me of how inspiring he was. It weaves together Archbishop Tutu’s experiences of living through apartheid and the Bible stories of Adam and Eve as well as the prodigal son in order to provide comfort in the face of life’s toughest questions. I’m not a highly religious person, but I liked this book. 
(Completing two books in one week is highly unusual for me unless we’re on vacation, which we’re not.)
Finally, there is my current read, Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.  I don’t know why it took me this long to read this, but it is absolutely hilarious.  (Ferris is now my new literary crush.) Basically, this is “The Office” in novel form. It’s brilliantly written. There are a million characters, it seems, who work at this Chicago ad agency that is the epitome of office dysfunction but the genius of Ferris is that he makes each one of them so memorable – maybe because you know this person, or someone pretty close to that person. And the dialogue! He just nails it, and the result is a spectacular piece of writing that I am enjoying way too much.
Whether you’re celebrating Father’s Day today with a special father or remembering a special father who may not be here to celebrate (I’m doing both), I hope you’re reading something just as great this Sunday.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, 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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