"I Don't Cook," I said, while casually throwing various ingredients above my head and mincing them midair.

The following post was sponsored by Blue Apron, a dinner delivery service that delivers ingredients and recipes for healthy family eating TO YOUR HOUSE so all you have to do is open your door, open a box, pull the ingredients out of the box and cook the food with the recipe included. 
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This is kind of a follow-up to Tuesdays post in a way because, last week, I cooked four entire majorly serious time-consuming meals. Not because I wanted to (I do not love cooking, you guys. The apple falls very fall from the tree in that respect) but because Blue Apron (see info on free meal offer, below) gave me no choice. Which is, perhaps, the greatest review I could possibly give such a service. 

I'm the same way with gyms. I will get a membership and go never. Because:

A. I don't have time. 
B. It's too much work.
C. It overwhelms me just thinking about being in that space.
D. I do not like gyms.

I like to go on walks. I like to dance. And stretch. I like to fly my kids on my airplane legs. Other than that, I am not a fan of working out. 

Same goes for cooking gourmet meals for my family. Hal and I usually trade off with our go-tos that we KNOW the kids will eat and love, while sporadically introducing them to new foods that we hope they will eat and love. We have our (chicken) taco night and my chicken breast night. We do pasta once a week and pizza once a week... a breakfast for dinner... We serve fresh veggies and fruits with every meal and include a protein... whether it be an egg on the side or a handful of almonds. Bo will eat absolutely everything while Archer is super picky on the vegetable tip and Revi doesn't eat meat and Fable cannot so much as LOOK at an egg without feeling revolted.

"THE SMELL, MOM! THE SMELL!"

AKA... there are very few combinations that all four kids will eat. No meat on this plate, no eggs on that plate... carrots for 3/4... etc etc... 

Which is why I was like, "Okay, Blue Apron. You want to work together on a post? Let's do this. Let's do this and see what happens.

Because if I have no choice but to cook, I will cook. And both times those boxes arrived, I mentally rolled up my sleeves.

I went to the gym, you guys. I stopped dragging my feet and went for it...
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The first box arrived with two recipes + the ingredients for said recipes and I got super excited because it felt really fun unpacking everything and being like OH LOOK, CARROTS! AND GINGER! AND A BAG OF KNICK KNACKS!

The first meal I cooked was a the Winter Chicken Ramen. ALL SIX OF US ATE IT ALL UP (mine and Revi's were sans chicken) which whoa. That never happens. (Leave it to soup, folks! Leave it to soup.)
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(Pardon the pictures. It was dark when I took them.) 
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The Quinoa & Tofu "Fried Rice" was my favorite BECAUSE QUINOA, OBVS. Unfortunately, 3/4 of the kids were not as into it I was so I had to supplement with some scrambled eggs.
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The Fish & Sweet Potato Chips was sort of popular. The fish fell apart and the spinach with the apples was not our particular jam but the sweet potatoes were incredible. And the tartar sauce was damn good, too.
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The Lemongrass Turkey Burgers were SUPER popular with everyone. (Except for me who does not eat Turkey.) I had never cooked burgers before and will be doing it now because ground turkey is much easier for me to handle than raw breasts, for example. I also added extra veggies to the ground meat mix because I am sneaky.
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Anyway, I learned more about cooking for six in two weeks than I did in ten years and here's why. When you have no choice but to cook certain things, you do it. And if the kids are like I DON'T LIKE THIS then you deal with it... The thing is? I would never cooked ramen or made turkey burgers without this little Blue Apron experiment so we now have two new meals to add to our rotation which is awesome. Also, for all four of these meals we ALL sat together and ate them as a family which, hey, full circle on the posts this week. High five.

For those interested in checking out the Blue Apron family plan, it costs $8.74 per meal or 69.92 per 8 serving delivery. (Which, in our case = 12 meals.) ED: With this plan you can opt to receive one or two deliveries per week, each delivery consisting of two meals to be served family-style. This is great for a family of four eating full portions, or a family with three or four younger kids eating smaller portions - or any combination of less people looking for leftovers. (And for the vegetarians in the house, they DO have veggie subscriptions but only for their two-person plans.)

Blue Apron is offering the first 50 readers to receive two free Blue Apron meals of their first order. (Click here to get in on that action.) 

Thanks again to Blue Apron for sponsoring this post. For more on Blue Apron's family (and table for two) plans go, here. Happy food...y... ing, all! 

GGC
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Fade Into You + J Mascis is basically what happens when every fond memory of adolescence collides with the pieces of broken hearts that never fully healed. Not completely, anyway. I can still see the Dinosaur Jr. cassette tapes on the floor of various pick-up trucks... besides sweaty t-shirts and stickers, surf wax and empty boxes of smokes in cars we were too young to drive ourselves...


226. Fade Into You covered by: J Mascis

...The throaty rasp of J Mascis + wispy wail of Mazzy Star = the collision of girl talk and boy issues. This song is the whole story. It smells like unmade beds and sun-in and burritos on the curb at Mexico Viejo at midnight, even though our curfews were 11. It sounds like fake IDs against acrylic finger nails and the puckering of lips in photo booths -- the long lost selfies of yesteryear.
photo-3 *Summer of '95, #tbt

An old friend sent me the above photo a few weeks ago and when I showed it to Fable she didn't believe that the girl on the right was me.

"No it isn't, Mom. You look nothing like that..."

"That's because I changed. My body and my face and my hair color...  You will look different someday, too. You will look different and then you will look different from that and then you will look different from that but you're still you, you know...you're still THIS AMAZING GIRL right here."

I was posting old (teenage) journal entries on Instagram for a while. Mainly because I thought they were hysterical and heartbreaking and mortifying in a way that all old journal entries are. But then, as I thumbed through more volumes and saw myself darken, I started to feel protective. Of all of those moments and feelings I kept hidden away under my bed.... all the secrets and sadness...  You would never know from the photos I have. Nobody ever knows, right? Nobody ever knows anyone from anything beyond their projections.

We roll our eyes at our former selves.

Because we can.

Because our #tbt posts and musings do not represent who we are now, so we can laugh at them and point and shake our heads. Because it's easier to share our dirty truths from way back when than it is to share them now.

We talk about our daughters, say things like, "We're going to be in big trouble when she turns 16, amirite."

It is far easier to envy how we looked then than it is to embrace (appreciate?) how we look now.  It is far easier to comment on our future "troubled daughters" than to acknowledge our troubling system.

Because we're detached from who we were and who they will someday become. Because we're not that girl anymore and they are not that girl yet except yes they are and yes we are and yes, actually. There is a core that hasn't changed. That never will. Even when it appears to have become unrecognizable. But J Mascis still sounds like J Mascis and Fade Into You still stings and old pictures don't feel that old.

Because in the words of Dan Mangan, we like to talk about the past. WE LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE PAST! 


(I had to post this song, too, because HELLO.)

Wanna breathe in all the ashes of the books they tried to burn/I wanna keep the pages in my skin and understand the words...  

That is some truth right there, man... gan. That is some truth. 

***

... Mouthpiece by: Dan Mangan + Blacksmith

GGC

Please Pass the Peace...

Today's post was brought to you by The Family Dinner Project, promoting the nourishment of minds and bodies, one family dinner at a time. 
photo 2 This is breakfast, btw. We don't eat cereal for dinner typically. 

Family dinners are not my strength -- or our strength, I should say. Family dinners were an EVERY NIGHT occurrence at our house growing up and even though I didn't want to participate much in my teen years, being made to sit at that table, every night, no matter how much homework I had or what boy just broke up with me or how much I hated my mother -- being together as we ate dinner, I realize in retrospect, was HUGELY beneficial to me and our family bond. Even though I kicked and screamed half the time.

That said, we do sit down with the kids as they eat, regardless of whether or not we're eating with them and when we do, we go around the table and talk about the highs and lows of our day. We also talk about what is happening -- in the world, in our country, community...

Our oldest is in 4th grade and he has a political stance all his own. He is deeply interested in global warming and what can be done to reverse its effects and Hal has made it his mission to deliver every piece of news that might engage Archer in his quest for more efficient energy.

What can we do as a family to do our part to save the world?

How can we, as a family, chip in and use less energy? Less water? Buy less stuff....?

How do we give back to our community? What can we donate? How can we be of service to others? What kind of example are we setting within our community? Why do you think that's important? 

Fable, for example (inspired by what happened in Big Sur) has been writing and drawing out letters to deliver to random areas of our neighborhood for strangers to find. Because making someone's day is no small feat. 
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Conversations jumpstart change. In thought. in progress. In one's ability to trust his/her own instincts/feel confident in the value of his/her words... And that's where the family dinner comes in... Because how often does a family of 6 or 4 or 2 or 10 sit together, face to face, and TALK? Together.

Dinner is, in many cases, the ONLY time during the day where these kinds of conversations, debates, brainstorm sessions are possible.

***

Fable recently learned about Rosa Parks in school and when we brought up MLK, she steered the conversation toward Rosa and Alberta Williams King. (Fable is all about lady heroes at the moment and relates very differently to their stories which I respect and understand.)

"Rosa Parks believed in herself," she said. "even when everyone else was telling her not to. And Martin Luther King Jr.'s Mother told him that he was just as special as everyone else and he listened to her and then everyone listened to him..."

"YES! Because we must always question the rules and stand up for ourselves and others when they/we are being pushed aside..."

...Because in order to make change, to stand up, to fight the good fight, a little bit of anarchy is in order. I'm talking free-thinking peacemaking anarchy -- something that public education does not endorse except when referencing our heroes -- all of whom revolted against systems and laws and rules that were unjust and/or unreasonable.

"If you feel that what you are being told to do is wrong. If you feel that others are acting in ways that are unjust and unfair, than you have to do something. You have to say something. You have to stand up."

"Like Rosa Parks?"

"Like Rosa Parks."

And Irene Morgan.

And Sarah Louise Keys.

Like Martin Luther King.

And Cesar Chavez.

Like the Suffragettes...

"Rosa Parks didn't get up, Mom. She KNEW she was right even though the rules said she was wrong."

YES. YESyesyesyesyes.

"Question everything," I tell them and myself. "Form your own opinions and ideas. Know when to lead. When to stand up. Think of Rosa Parks."

Everything begins and ends with instinct, after all... that is how we survive and thrive in a world of rules and regulations and institutions herding us toward pasture...


***

Bo and Revi are only three so the conversations we have with them about world change have to do with treating each other with respect and applauding them for their teamwork, kindness, willingness to share, independence...

But for Fable and Archer, I find that having conversations with them -- about race and privilege, violence and consent... bullying and bravery -- are conversations that are best had as a family AS WELL as one-on-one.

While one-on-one conversations are hugely important, sitting down as a family to discuss and share opinions, to question and argue, to know how to converse around a table is of paramount importance. Because while Hal and I can prompt the various discussions, it is Archer and Fable (and Bo and Revi as they get older) with the insight worth investigating.
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I'm not usually one for Infographics but this one (via The Family Dinner Project) I find especially helpful, for me, personally, to push me to push harder for NIGHTLY family dinners where we're all eating at the same time. (COME ON, SELF! YOU CAN DO THIS!)
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ED: Right now we probably sit down 2-3 days a week and eat together. One of my main goals this year is to get that to 5-6. Because, hello:

What about you guys? I would love to hear about the kinds of conversations you have over dinner and why family dinners are important to you. The point of The Family Dinner Project is to inspire and motivate families to take the time to SIT together, to break bread and tell stories, to plot social good as a family -- to recognize what it means not only to be a citizen of the community but of the household as well.

Thanks again, to The Family Dinner Project for partnering with me on this post. You guys rule. 

GGC

When You're the Stranger

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This Last week on Mom.me, I wrote about an altercation that went down last month. On the beach. Between myself and another mother. Because nothing says "Happy Holidays" like an ocean breeze, sandy toes and an almost brawl with another parent. 

I used to be shy about telling children to behave on the playground. I'll never forget when a toddler boy kicked a barely crawling Fable IN THE FACE ON PURPOSE and his dad sat him down and was like, "please use your words next time!" as Fable screamed--and I said nothing. But at some point, after many of these sorts of incidents where parents clearly did not get involved when their children were out of line, I started to speak up, and have often gone right up to children on the playground and told them to KNOCK IT OFF. Because if you're a parent and you're not there to see your kid act out but I am, I'm going to say something. I just am. And I would expect, if roles were reversed, that you would say something, too. Because stealing someone's shovel or kicking someone in the face is not acceptable. 

So... the other day, a group of kids were being jerks and I said something. And the kids went and told their mother who then got pissed at me.

And then I got pissed. And, well...

And then I thought, well, shit. Did I handle this situation poorly? Should I gave gone straight to the parent before telling the kids to knock it off? They were older kids, so I felt it was perfectly fine to be, like, "Uh, guys? Can you... not?"

It wasn't until later that I realized why this particular group of kids ignored all of us when we tried to tell them to "please stop." We were strangers. 

And yet... 

I have written about “stranger danger” in the past on GGC, about how detrimental I feel it is to raise children to be afraid of new people and experiences. And while I had never had an experience quite like the one on the beach, I started to think about how I could have handled the situation differently and with less confrontation.

More, here...
GGC

10. We Drove Thru... and Kept on Driving

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Every year has had a title page and then a bunch of other pages, too, but those have long since been torn off and released. With children, we hold on to every memory.  With marriage, we tear off the calendar pages and release them. Years are not quietly mourned, but celebrated.

We made it.

We did it. 

We're still here. 


***


Hal and I were babies when we said, "I do." I was twenty-three and five months pregnant. We had only been dating for three months when we found out... it was all a rush and a blur and a spontaneous wtfarewedoing fuckitletsjustdoit type of thing.

We were strangers, trying to play it off like we were in control -- like we had this whole thing figured out.

We would go to Vegas, get married, live together, have a kid... see what happened.

The day we drove to Vegas in January of 2005, Hal's car stank. He was working as a PA at the time, carting around food for people on set... food with sauces that regularly spilled all over the upholstery of his car. (Not much has changed.)

We could only afford one night at the MGM. And I think it was our parents who paid for it. I know they paid for the cake that was delivered to our room. Our two incomes could barely pay our $1250 rent, let alone a hotel room. I was working three odd jobs and trying to fool the world and myself into thinking I was an adult.

Hal was, too.

That, more anything, was why we insisted on eloping. It was also why we wanted to do it alone. WE DIDN'T NEED ANYONE'S BLESSING. We didn't need anyone to witness what we had going on.

We were going to get married.

And have a baby.

And live together.

And hustle together.

And see how far we got.... together.

On the road. And off the road. And on the road again...

That was all we knew.

That was all we needed to know.

And in retrospect, we were totally onto something. Just do it, kids. Just drive and see what happens.
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On our sixth wedding anniversary, we got pregnant with the twins and on our seventh, I wrote this:












The twins were four months old when I wrote that post and Hal and I were barely alive. 

Sometimes I look back on old posts and think I was writing them in order to believe that they were true.

Like the tattoo on my arm that says: "Tell the story until it comes true."

When I first started writing Rockabye, nearly eight years ago, my editor asked how I was planning to end the book. Hal and I were in our darkest place at that time and I told her I was pretty sure it would end in divorce.

It wasn't until I wrote those words down that I realized how badly I wanted a different ending. Archer was barely two and I kept thinking that we had to have more fight in us than this. We had to. That was when we picked out a ring. That was when Hal got on his knee,

“Will you stay married to me,” he said?

And that is how I ended my book. With a giant "yes" and a room full of rainbows...

Months later, we would be okay.

Months after that, I would find myself pregnant with Fable.

The ring that Hal proposed to me with would break soon after. It would break many times during our marriage. Just like us...


...It will break many times more. 

Just like us.

***

It's Saturday afternoon when I pack up the car. Archer and Fable have theater class on Saturdays and didn't want to miss class to "drive in a car all day," so we're waiting until class is over to hit the road. 

I pack everyone one change of clothes for the 24 hour trip. We have no plans except to hit up The Little White Chapel at some point to renew our vows in the drive-thru. Still, I pack a nice dress... some tights and shoes... something fun and relatively interesting. I throw it in my duffle with my "car clothes" which consist of an oversized maternity shirt, jeans and boots.

"WE'RE GOING TO LAS VEGAS, YOU GUYS!" I tell the kids and start to sing. 

Viva Las Vegas! Viva Las Vegas!

Moments later, Bo is singing along. 

"Peanut Las Vegas!" she sings. "Peanut Las Vegas!" 

All of this was Hal's idea...

It was the greatest idea I had ever heard. 

It was exactly what we were supposed to do. Fuck a ten-year romantic getaway for two. Our marriage was never really about us, the couple, anyway, and while I believe that one on one time is imperative in order to keep a marriage functioning, our marriage was for Archer. And then all of us -- so that we might be a team. All hands in... 
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The kids climb into the car with their scripts in hand and their new parts (Fable is "Daisy" in a play called The Vegetarian T-Rex and Archer is Vernon Hines in The Pajama Game) and we all cheer for them and download the music so that we can sing along. Fable will already have memorized her part by the time we get to the Nevada border and we will have listened to I'll Never Be Jealous Again 43 times 

This is the first time in ten years Hal and I have done this drive together and we hold hands.

"Ten years," we keep saying.

"Can you even?"

"I cannot even."

We keep driving. 
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After five hours in the car and an hour in the lobby trying to figure it all out, we finally make it to our rooms. The blinds come with remote controls and the kids put on shows with the curtains and then bounce on the beds, and after finally getting everyone settled in bed with the radio on low, Hal's "favorite song" (which the rest of us DESPISE) comes on and soon Hal is dancing and the kids are all out of bed and I say, "DUDE! WE FINALLY GOT EVERYONE INTO BED YOU ARE BLOWING IT" but everyone is laughing and, well... fuck it. Let's just dance to this terrible song and never sleep again. 
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So that is what we do. 
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The next morning, I smear concealer under my eyes as Hal fetches coffee.  We're all paying for our dance party/bed jumping/ late night.

Fable's excited because I'm planning on wearing my rainbow dress today. Something old, something new, something rainbow...  I told her I was packing it and planned to wear it with my technicolor dream vest... a ten pound sweater vest from the 80s that I loved for months before my mother-in-law secretly bought it for me.

But when I put the dress on, I soon realize that it is torn at the neck and can’t be fixed with the in-room sewing kit. 

Do you remember that scene in White Christmas where the General doesn't want to wear his military uniform because it's not who he is anymore so his granddaughter takes all of his suits to the cleaners so he has no choice? That's kind of how this felt. Like, okay universe. I will wear my old maternity shirt to renew my vows... because full circle is how we roll and it's a drive-thru and who needs a dress when you have... everything else. 

So I put on my black tunic that I wore for all three pregnancies.

And my new/old vest. 

Something old, something new, something maternity... 

It wasn't the plan but it certainly felt appropriate.

***


When we arrive at the chapel, it's much smaller than I remember it. Like going back to school or driving past an old house.

"This is where we got married," Hal tells the kids, and we all follow him into the tiny room where the photographer is taking her lunch break.

"This is where we stood."
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I fill out the vow-renewal paperwork at the reception desk. I forgot how easy it is... to do this—to get married, or in our case, re-married... at least that's what they call it here.

"Your second wedding..." they say.

The girls want to hold flowers during the ceremony so they pick their colors: white and purple for Bo and Pink and Red for Fable and Revi. The woman at the desk asks if Archer wants to wear a boutonniere and he shrugs.

"Sure," he says. "How about white to match Bo?"
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The kids get their flowers and we try (but fail) to keep everyone seated. There's another couple in the chapel waiting to get married, too.

We decide, last minute, that instead of renewing our vows in the stinky minivan, we'll class it up in the pink Cadillac.

"The big kids can sit up front and the little kids can sit in the back with you," we are told.

We climb into the pink car and wait for our minister to appear.

But before that, it's this:

"You guys! Stop messing with the mirrors!"

"Dude. This isn't our car."

"Bo, come back! You can't leave! We are having a wedding here in this car!"

"You guys. Shhh, he's coming. Shhh."

When the minister arrives, we are all talking over each other.
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And then, as he proceeds to speak, all is quiet...

....

.........

..............

.......................

.................................

................................................

............................................................

...............................................

....................................

.........................

.................

.........

....

And it feels just like it did that day, ten years ago. We shake our heads and roll our eyes like "can you even even believe this? This can't be real, right?"
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It doesn't feel real.

And it does. 
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And it doesn't. 

And it does. 
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And it certainly does not. 
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And soon enough, we're laughing because, is this real? Is any of this really real?
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...All these kids and all this time and all this life. How did we get here? No, seriously? How?
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#Bo

How were we just here, the two of us, with my five-months pregnant belly and Fable "in my leg... waiting," as she says, and Bo and Revi dancing somewhere in our dreams...? 

At the end of our "service," the minister pronounces us "husband and wife for the second time."

We kiss, and the kids are all, "ew," and then we get out of the car and take a few pictures. And Bo keeps running off, so I put her on my shoulders and ask her to give me 787813 high fives in order to keep her there, and that's how our "wedding" ends. 
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high five

***

It has not been easy. This road. This marriage. The last ten years have been a giant pain in the ass, if you really want to know.  But they have also been full of more love and magic than I will ever be able to properly articulate. And infinite blessings. And moments that revive and remind and restore and reload us all... 
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Love cannot be quantified or defined. Marriage is not a one size-fits all proposition. And we still have a long ways to go as people, as a couple, as a family, but we're doing it. We're riding together in this stinky-ass van with Archer's musical theater soundtrack blasting and the sunroof open because Hal loves to drive with the sunroof open and my feet on the dashboard in all their cracked-nail glory and Fable having to go to the bathroom and Revi also having to go to the bathroom and Bo trying to unbuckle her seat belt because SHE DOES NOT WANT TO SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW THIS IS BORING. 

And it's all happening right here. 

On this road. 

In this van. 

And before it happened in the van, it happened in my station wagon. 

And before that, in Hal's two-door Civic. 

All along, there has been magic. Maybe that's because we've made a point to look for it. Maybe that's because, in times of struggle and strife, it's all we had to tie to our ankles as we felt ourselves dangle over the various sides of the ship.

The signs were always there. They still are -- and every few miles one appears on the side of the road. And in the time between, there is laughter. 

I think that's the most important thing two people can share -- a sense of humor -- an ability not to take themselves and their relationship too seriously. Humans are human, even spouses. Even the most perfect of perfectly behaved perfect people. We're all messy. We all have our shit.

After the wedding, we grab some lunch at the Rainforest cafe. We walk around the strip, and when the sun begins to set, we head home, stopping first for coffee, always coffee. We are very tired in this life. We are very tired always and forever.
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It's nine-something pm when the kids, who have yet to fall asleep, are suddenly famished. We stop in Barstow. We are the only people in the restaurant besides our waitress. We are the only people in the world. We squish together in the booth, the girls on one side, the boys on another...
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(I would say "it's a sign" but it's just that, that effing song is ALWAYS ALWAYS on.)

We're all tired and completely out of our minds at this point and our waitress most likely hates us, but this is our wedding night and ten years only comes around once, yo.

This is where the magic happens. At 9:16 on a Sunday night at an IHOP in Barstow.

"We should do this every ten years," I say.

"More like every three years," Archer corrects.

"Every one year," Fable smiles.

"EVERY WEEKEND!" Hal proclaims.
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Some girls dream of white weddings in Bora Bora.  For me, it’s a party of six in a Pink Cadillac. It's maternity shirts on accident and 10:00 dinners at IHOP. It's this.

ALLLLLL of this.

This is why we kicked and screamed and moaned and moved and hustled and cried and laughed and built and changed and grew and merged and separated and fixed and spent and saved and held on. This was supposed to happen. We were meant to be a family. It is what we do best. Even when we completely suck at it, we are meant to be together. All of us. And we knew that, I think. We certainly do now. 

This is what bleeds. This is what binds. This is what we'll hold onto as we step from one decade into the next—the magic.

We fucking did this thing, kids. We made a life, here, wherever here is, and we're standing in it together, all hands in.

And it's good.

And it's everything.

And I'm so grateful.
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Team BAHRRF.
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On January 22nd, 2005, Hal and I went to Vegas for us, the family. And last weekend we returned with our jackpot. Hard fought and hard earned and to be continued... day by day. Moment by moment. One bet at a time.
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1/22/05
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1/18/15

***
P.S:



GGC