just the tiniest bit proud

Today was amazing and I could not be more proud of my brother. Here are a few quick photos of our day watching David get hooded and knighted and awarded and high-fived and hugged and "that's my brother, you guys. That's my little brother up there KILLING IT! HE IS ON FIRE WITH AWESOME!"
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And he was. He is. He always will be. 
-3 photo My parents, right before they exploded into pride shards.

-5 "David? You mean MY BROTHER DAVID WOOLF THE PhD? Dr. Brother David Woolf!??"
-2 ***
-6 watching Oprah preach it. 
-12 ***
-10 Phew, what a day... -4
P.S. The Pacifier 2: Electric Graduation Day Boogaloo, out today in theaters.


Thank you.

It's after midnight here in Boston and the kids are FINALLY down and I have spent the last hour reading through all your wonderful comments and I'm sitting here crying in our tiny hotel room with everyone stacked on top of each other after another epicly long day and I just want to thank you all so incredibly much for your words of encouragement, support and empathy. I felt so alone yesterday and then, now, feel completely the opposite. I feel bound to you and your pets and your lives and losses and everything that is life and loss and having to make horribly difficult decisions, and I guess, just... relieved? Because this is what happens. It's the worst fucking thing ever but it's what happens.

It's what we do. 

I was watching Bo look down at the clouds for the first time, today, and I thought, "how lucky we are to be alive."
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How lucky we are to be alive at this time where we can see the clouds from above AND below, you know? That's remarkable. That's mind blowing if you think about it. That is some SHIT right there, you guys. Two very different views of the same thing and both are real and right and true and honest and beautiful and wow.

That's how I've always looked at the relationship between life and death, joy and sorrow. We are above the clouds and we are below. But there's a tremendous view on both sides, you know? There's a view from all sides.

I don't even know if I'm making any sense at this point. I haven't slept in three days and am very tired and drunk on sad and tonic but I felt the need to write this post, to thank all of you, to send you love...

We were so incredibly fortunate to know and love Cooper and so grateful for the love you've shown our family these past two days. Love and light to all.... (I just wrote love 787983 times but I don't care.)

Also, I'd never heard of Rainbow Bridge before yesterday so thank you for that. We needed a place to imagine Coop and now, because of you, we have one.

xo always,

I don't know what to call this post

I'm packing right now and Cooper is beside me. He's been following me around for weeks, like a ghost and me in denial about it all.

This is it.

He's fine!

This is it.

He's fine!

I wake up to pee in the hallway and clean it up before anyone sees. I know what Hal will say. Again. The same thing he said when we first rushed Coop to the vet. Not with his words but with his eyes, his questions...

"It's your call Bec, but..."

How do I make that call? How do I know?

I've been on and off the phone with the vet for the last three months. 

Up nights letting him out. And then there were the days when he hid in the garage. Under the table. The tree...

I'll let him go naturally, I thought.

And then I went away and Hal called me at 5am after being up all night with him and this is it. NOW this is it.

But then I came home and he wagged his tail and ate his dinner and seemed okay.

"I think he's actually okay now. I think he's fine."

And everyone looked at me like I was crazy.

"You'll know when it's time."

But I haven't.

I haven't known it was time.


Yesterday I kept giving him cheese. I gave him cheese until there was no more cheese in our refrigerator because he likes cheese and kept eating it and at our BBQ I didn't tell him no when he ate Revi's bun.

I've never spent "the last day" with someone or something before. Death tends to sneak up on people. It isn't something to be made in an appointment book. But this was. We spoke last week and made an appointment. It was supposed to be Saturday but I wasn't ready. He seemed okay on Friday. Bad day, good day, good day, bad day...

When we ran out of cheese I have him the leftover turkey burgers and then bread. He hasn't had an appetite in weeks but yesterday he ate and ate.

Maybe he knew. Maybe he knew because I told him because my mom and my sister told me to tell him, to talk to him about it and to sit with him so I did.

"Here's cheese. I love you. We have to say goodbye now."


He belonged to me and someone else. A man I deeply loved and lived with and was engaged to.

And even though it was a lifetime ago and we haven't spoken in years, I felt like I needed his blessing. To make this decision. Because eleven and a half years ago we made the decision to get a dog together and he drove my car while I sat in the back seat with our puppy and isn't this exciting? We're starting a family together.

We broke off the engagement six months later.

He moved out.

I kept the dogs.

My cousins were here over the weekend, one of whom shares a name with my ex...  And upon seeing Cooper, he gasped.

"He's pretty bad. You have to let him go."

He explained that he had to recently put his girlfriend's dog down. And that his childhood dog was going through the same thing - the same accidents and falls and inability to control his body...  the end.

"He wasn't anywhere near as bad as Cooper," he said.

I explained to him that he was having a particularly bad day. 

"It's time."

I needed his blessing.

"Thanks, Jason."

I called the vet immediately.

"I'm ready."


He was a puppy when we brought him home. He had a heart murmor and we were told he'd likely live a short life.

"You might want to trade him in for a different puppy," the Vet told us. "This one might not make it through his first few weeks.

I never went back to that Vet again.

Fuck you, Vet.

He lived nine lives since then. Recovered from Cancer.


Was given six months to live and then lived six more years...

Today was his half birthday. He was eleven and a half.


The kids were fine. They said their goodbyes weeks ago when we thought, for the second time in two months, that this was it.

And then I called the vet and changed my mind and no he's okay! He's going to be okay!

The mom who cried wolf. 

He's not okay.

This morning they said goodbye on their way out to school.

They were okay.


Yesterday was perfect. Friends came over and I haven't seen Cooper happier in months. He went so far as to eat table scraps and lick BBQ sauce off Revi's face and he followed us around and I thought, oh he's fine. See? He's totally fine.

Because yesterday he was.

Yesterday I fell asleep with him in his bed with his paw over my shoulder which is what Boxers do when you sleep with them.

He used to sleep with his giant paws over my shoulders every night when I was twenty and twenty-one and twenty-two and twenty-three.... And some nights I'd wake up on the floor because there was no room for me because he'd sprawl his giant self sideways and okay fine, dog. It's yours.


I'm packing right now and Cooper isn't beside me. He is. But he isn't. But he is. But he isn't.

Hal drove us to the vet this morning and I got to sit in the back seat with Cooper like I did all those years ago when he was a tiny puppy and I was a tiny puppy and everything is different now...  And I held his paw and told him I loved him and thanked him for being my first baby - for all those nights he slept with me under the covers and all the years he watched over me - through a very dark period in my life and then back into the light.

And I mourn all that darkness and I mourn all that light and all of those years hiking trails with him off leash and windows open in the back of the car and how I'd bring him and Zadie with me to Hal's house in the summer and we were always a team. What will Zadie do without him?

We leave tomorrow for Boston to be with my brother who is graduating and my sister and my parents who will be flying out, too.

The timing could not be worse.

Or maybe it's just right.

I could not have left him the way he was.

I would not have been able to say goodbye if I didn't have to.

I couldn't have done it.

Life has a way of pushing us up against deadlines, especially those of us who struggle with them. I mourn our first moments together in the back of my car and the last ones, at the clinic with his head in my hands. I wonder how people do this. How my mother did this with our dog, Dexter. How my friends have done this with their pets. How every day people say goodbye to each other and the creatures who take care of them.

Zadie will spend the next week and a half with my aunt and her dogs. Familiar faces and creatures who love her and I'm so grateful.  I'm grateful to Hal and my mom for driving halfway between our homes to meet and my dad who cried with me on the phone. (He loved Cooper most of all, I think.) I'm grateful fort all the years I got to spend with my dog - my first baby. I'm grateful I got to be with him until he took his last breath - that he will no longer feel pain...

It was time. I know it was time but it's still terribly hard. Heartbreakingly hard.


I'm sitting here on my laptop surrounded by a thousand suitcases and I don't know where I'm going. What's happening again? I feel wrecked and I don't want to move and it's Fable's last day of preschool and Archer's last day of 2nd grade and I'm supposed to bring cupcakes and flowers and cards and I'm sitting here writing this and what the fuck do I pack?

I don't want to pack.

Or move.

Or leave this very square of wood. I miss my dog.

Even though he's here.

He will always be here.

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Thank you for eleven and a half extraordinary years, Cooper. You were a prince and are part of our family always. 



I hate to get all Garden State on you guys but this song/video combo is kind of life changing. I've always loved The Shins and pretty much everything James Mercer does/sings/breathes, but this is definitely up there in terms of all the everythings. I've watched this video a thousand times tonight and don't intend to stop.


166. It's only life. by: The Shins
Video directed by: Hiro Murai



1. "Sometimes when you have a problem, Fable, you will find that you are the solution," he says to Fable on the other side of the closed door, where the two of them are changing into their pajamas. I don't know what it was in reference to. Only that Archer went on to ask Fable questions about what the problem was exactly and how he could help her find a way to make it better.

And I kept my ear pressed against the door hoping to hear more, to gather more wisdom, to crash a class with my favorite professor.

Like so many other pieces of wisdom Archer has given me over the years, I have gone back to this one many times over the past few months.

"You are your own solution."
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2. He's not having a birthday party this year. He didn't want one. Kind of like last year when he invited two friends over and the year before when he only wanted to invite adults. This year he told us that he wanted to do nothing - to celebrate with his family and that was all. 

"Not even one friend?"

"No, Mom."

When we asked why he'd rather not he explained to us that he didn't want to upset anyone or hurt anyone's feelings. That he would feel terrible if someone felt left out. That people always feel left out and the alternative would be to invite everyone and everyone was too many. 

"Are you sure?"


"Are you sure?" I've asked repeatedly for the last six weeks.

"Yes, Mom. Birthday parties aren't for me." 

"Can I bring cupcakes to school at least?"

"Okay. Just make sure there are enough for everyone."

"Of course."

"Buy extras just in case."

"Of course."

"Goodnight, Mom."

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3. "Sometimes I feel like an old man on a bench feeding pigeons popcorn," he tells me as we sit at the table doing homework, his sisters trying to climb into his lap.

Which is exactly what he is.

Except the pigeons are all of us...
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4. "If you imagine something hard enough you can teach yourself how to do exactly what you're imagining," he told me, after I asked him how he learned to draw perspective in one of his many city drawings.
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5. When we were moving I stumbled upon Archer's baby book. I didn't even remember keeping one or putting one together for him but apparently I did a lot of things that I didn't remember because taped to the first page of the book was an envelope and in that envelope a collection of envelopes, dated and sealed and addressed to "Archer on his 18th birthday."

I had written him letters.

I had written him letters?

But what did they say?

I didn't open them. But I did manage to read one line front inside the white paper as I held it up to the light. 

"... love you like a dream has..."
6. "The thing about women is that they like to stand on their own. Men like to be with someone all the time. Men don't like to be by themselves."

"What makes you say that, Archer?"

"Your friends. They all seem very independent. Like they don't need to be married or anything. I think boys want to get married more than women do. Boys are afraid of being alone."

"Why do you think that is?"

"Because we're very sensitive people."
7. It's parent teacher conference day and I follow Archer through the classroom to his desk where a pile of projects are waiting. One of them is the report he's been working on for several months. An "All About" book where he gets to choose a subject to write about - something he is knowledgable in. Something that interests him. Something he can teach his peers about in a presentation. 

His best friend is doing his report about sharks and the girl who sits next to him is doing fashion and the boy who sits next to her displays: ALL ABOUT CARS. 

"It's not quite finished yet but I'm getting there," Archer says, before passing the pile of stapled pages to me. "ALL ABOUT MOMS" it says on its cover above a collection of portraits of moms taking care of babies and children. Playing on the floor. Reading stories before bed. Standing somewhat awkwardly in front of computer screens. 

I don't want to make a big deal out of it because I can tell he doesn't want me to. This is who he is. This is who he's always been. He's the boy who writes a nine page report all about moms. And I get to be in the pictures. 

I get to be in the pictures with him by my side and eight years of moments like this one with him on my lap reading me the table of contents of his first book. 

"You want to know about moms? Well, you've come to the right place," he reads aloud, his legs hanging off of mine and touching the ground. 

He's right. I have.
8. Signs are my religion. Moments are my churches - infinite and everywhere. Eight years ago, I gave birth to a little old man on a park bench feeding pigeons. And I was one of them. I still am and always will be. Ears pressed up against the doors of his world, taking notes on the back of my hand.

I look back and I gasp and sigh and dance and cheer and order cupcakes and wrap little toy cars for him to build cities around. I watch him smile and the world becomes this place of wonder... joy infinite. Joy infinity. Figure eight. Mobius. Ageless. Archer.

And every day when I feel afraid, or overwhelmed or completely out of my mind, I turn to him, -- my son - the Archer who has always seen his mark on the path of the infinite - who, for the last eight years has bent us with his might that our arrows may go swift and far. And, with his help, continue to fly...
Eight years ago, so-called problems became solutions - overwhelming and poetic and frightening and life affirming and where would we be if it wasn't for you - if it wasn't for all of these moments and you in them and all of the love you have given us and the world. There would be no us. No sisters. No home. No marriage. There would be no family...

Without that main sail there would be no ship.
Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy. Love you like a dream has... 
photo-3 photo-2photo-1 (We all do.)


Eat Well: Lebanese Lentils

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
I grew up in a small town, but as an adult, I’ve only lived in suburban communities. I love where I live, but there is something to be said for being able to walk out your door to do your errands, never having to get in your car.

Rachel spent the last two years getting her Master’s degree in Bowling Green, Ohio—a very small town. We were there for her graduation a couple of weeks ago and a month before that, for her recital. She lives right on Main Street in the center of town, across the street from the post office, the library, a great little coffee shop/used bookstore, and a Ben Franklin, a store I haven’t seen since I was a little girl, a store that is alive and well in Bowling Green, Ohio. Forgot coffee stirrers for an after recital party? Go to Ben Franklin’s. Want some superglue, a birthday present, party supplies, fabric, baking pans or even gluten-free pancake mix? Ben Franklin has them all. It even has really cheap moving boxes, Rachel found out, and since the store is so close, she can grab a few at a time whenever she needs more for her upcoming move. 
I suppose drug stores have become our modern-day variety stores, but for some reason, CVS gives me hives and Ben Franklin makes me feel like home and apple pie and everything that is right with the world. Something about the eclectic and random combination of so many wonderful things packed into one store is comforting. The minute I walked through the doors I warped back to the 60’s where every town had a five and dime store on the corner and you saved your allowance to spend there…on marbles or paper dolls or a raft. I am not normally a nostalgic person, but being in the Ben Franklin made me, just for a minute, close my eyes and remember the way it used to be. 

Main Street Bowling Green is also the home of several great and homey eateries. We ate fabulous hippy food at The Happy Badger, scrumptious Bulgarian food at Naslada Bistro, and Turkish coffee, Lebanese food and real Italian gelato at Café Havana. And this brings me to my post. Larry and I got food to go for the plane ride home from Café Havana as they had several gluten free vegetarian choices. We loved the food so much that I decided I wanted to try out the lentils and rice dish, a traditional Arabic recipe, at home. 

Lentils and rice is a staple dish all over the Arab world. In Lebanon it’s called Mdarda (also called Mjadra or Mujadara) and is traditional comfort food. What makes this dish so unbelievably delicious is the caramelized onions on top. But also, it’s easy, quick and super nutritious. It’s also very baby friendly. I decided to use quinoa instead of rice because I like adding in the extra protein to our diet and the quinoa worked perfectly. I think I even like it better with quinoa. 

You can improvise the recipe to suit your tastes. Add several spices or none at all. Here is my version. (If you want to make the traditional recipe, substitute rice for the quinoa.) 

Quinoa Mdarda 
3 large onions, sliced 
¼ cup olive oil 
1 ½ cups quinoa, washed thoroughly 
4 ½ cups water 
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon cumin seeds 
1/2 teaspoon allspice or cinnamon (optional) 
1 cup brown or green lentils, washed and sorted 
2 bay leaves 
1 teaspoon salt 
Pepper to taste (leave out for babies) 

Toast cumin seeds in dry hot skillet until they start to brown. Set aside. Add oil to pan and saute onions on medium-low heat until golden brown, crispy, and caramelized. Meanwhile, add two cups of water, ground cumin, cumin seeds, allspice or cinnamon and bay leaves to the lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add 2 ½ cups water, salt, and quinoa. Bring back to a boil and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve topped with caramelized onions. Makes 4 generous servings. 

Rebecca has a no-cook version of this recipe. Just combine pre-cooked lentils and pre-cooked quinoa. (You could add cumin, cinnamon, and the onions to make it more like mine). This is Bo and Revi’s favorite dinner. I made my version for them yesterday and they gobbled it up (sans the onions, pepper and cinnamon—cinnamon gives Bo a rash.)
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The Recital

"Will you fix my sleeves?" she says. It's Sunday morning and I'm still kind of half sleeping and Fable is fully dressed at the side of the bed with her leotard over her tights over the underwear that hangs out the sides of her velvet one-piece. I don't bother tucking it in because she's four and it doesn't matter. And then I take pause, relishing in this moment of quiet innocence, trying to recall the way it felt to be her age, when I was too little to care about such things. Or rather, to know I should.
So much of innocence is that lack of awareness. Of what people are saying and what they're doing and how they judge. The need to protect from outside influences is as innate as our desire to return to simpler times. When we were more like them, our children. When we could hold cameras up to our faces, lens cap still attached, and see the world, alive and vibrant, without ever really seeing anything.

Because we saw it all, you know?

They see it all.

And there was a time, like them, when we didn't think twice about how our bodies looked in leotards. When all that mattered were the sequins. Our only issues, twisted sleeves. 

"It's not working." Fable frowns. "Something's wrong with the shoulder part."

So I tell her relax, that I will help you please calm down.

"There," I say, untwisting her sleeve. She smiles. 

"Thanks, Mama. Can I do my makeup now?" 

"Shouldn't we have breakfast first?"

(Of course not.)

She does her own makeup because she wants to do it herself. Because "I know exactly how to do it, mommy."
She grabs the pinkest lipstick she can find and spends ten minutes applying it in slow motion.

She's right. She does know exactly how to do it. 
She is careful and excited and every so often turns around to smile at me and jump up and down. 

"I told you I could do it myself," she says and then she smears blush all over her cheeks and eyeshadow  under her eyes and I'm kind of relieved that it's everywhere - that it's a little bit of a mess.

Because she's four and it doesn't matter. 

When we arrive at the theatre, all of the children are in costume and I tell Hal that costumes haven't changed in twenty-five years. That I wore a costume just like that when I was little and my brother wore those same suspenders when he danced to 2 Legit 2 Quit - right before he quit dance to play baseball. 
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Hal took dance class, too when he was young. He took ballet with a class full of girls - a class he loved and looked forward to until his friends found out and made fun of him. He quit the next day and never danced again.

My brother stopped for similar reasons. They all did. And I watch the little boys on stage recognizing that at some point they just stop dancing... that the girls age, get curvier and more confident, dance on chairs, flip their bodies through the air, but there are no boys over five on stage. 

And I think of Hal and how he "never lived that one down" and how unfortunate it is that we don't acknowledge #boysunstoppable the same way we do girls

No boy should stop doing what he loves because of anxiety about how it looks to everyone else. 

And yet... 

I watch Hal in the darkness with Archer next to him and all of the brothers and fathers in the audience in the same way I do the mothers and sisters. What were they doing before they were aware?
My husband danced. 

My brother danced. 

And then they stopped. 

One day my underwear was showing.

One day I put on my recital costume and noticed I had hips. And a chest that was no longer totally flat and legs that were suddenly  hairy and my eyebrows were too furry and I couldn't wear underwear under my leotard anymore because it showed and this is not fun anymore, I feel stupid. I don't want to be seen.

And then I stopped. 
I was done with dance. 
Age changes us. Age puts us in the audience when we wish we were on stage. Not because we want to be seen but because we miss dancing.

There was a time when I was so happy up there and I watch Fable's silhouette tiptoe across the stage and I remember how it felt to stand in the back and wait my turn - the rush of the darkness that seemed to stretch out in front of me like the universe as we whispered amongst ourselves and how the music was as loud as I'd ever heard it. One two and you're on! Kick ball change! Kick ball change. 


When the lights go up, Fable is smiling. The music swells and she puts her arms in the air, forgets some of the moves but it doesn't matter...

She dances somewhat out of sync and doesn't care. She twirls and waves, closes her eyes and drags her feet across the stage.

Hal and I are laughing and in the audience because we can't believe how big she is and how small she is and how confident and proud and stoic... She smiles, lips the words to the song... I watch them bloom for me and for you, and I think to myself...

She's not dancing for anyone but Fable. 
And nothing, not even a twisted sleeve, can stop her.
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