8 GOT Characters Who Will Die Tonight

8 Characters Who Will Likely Die in Tonight’s Episode of Game of Thrones

There are only four episodes left of Game of Thrones. Like four and done forever, people.

Tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones will likely spend the entire hour in the throes of battle. Showrunners have dedicated entire episodes to battles before (the Battle of the Blackwater, the Battle of Castle Black) and with this impending battle being the most important (we’re not talking kings and lords, we’re talking zombies and the living), the whole episode will focus on defending Winterfell from the Night King and his army of gross dead people.

With all that violence, there’s bound to be some deaths. Here’s eight (YES, 8) characters who will likely die tonight. Don’t fret, they already died hundreds of years ago.

  1. Brienne of Tarth: Or shall I say, Ser Brienne. Last week’s emotional fireside scene when Jamie Lannister made Brienne a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms was everything. Let’s unpack that moment. Jamie, despite his maiming, still has a reputation as one of the most feared fighters in Westeros. Jamie’s knighting Brienne gave her the validation she’s been looking for since beating Loras’s ass in the melee at Renly’s war camp. She’s already the embodiment of knightly qualities and now she has the title to prove it. Furthermore, Brienne is leading the “left flank” in the battle proving that Jon and Daenerys trust her command instincts. Episode 2 was even titled “The Knight of the SevenKingdoms.” While she’s one of my favorites, Brienne has probably reached the finish line of her story. My prediction: Brienne dies valiantly in battle, possibly protecting Jamie or Podrick Payne.
  2. Podrick Payne: Everyone loves him. And if there’s one thing GOT producers love to do, it’s kill the ones we love. I’m not sure why Podrick needs to be around without Brienne, but I’m also not sure how he will die. There’s a possibility he kills one of the Whitewalker lieutenants first. He learned to fight from the best, so I suspect we will see some mad skillz…and then death. Why will he die? He got to sing last episode. And it was acapella. And it was the background for a montage.
  3. Tormund Giantsbane: This one I’m only half sure about. Tormund could be needed to manage the free folk after the battle in whatever new world GOT creates for Jon/Dany/Cersei. But there’s a solid chance Tormund perishes. He’s a badass on the battlefield, but he almost died last season when Jon’s hunting party was trapped on that iceberg. Other reasons he could die include but are not limited to: his awesome speech about the origin of his name, his posturing to Jamie “Kingkiller” Lannister in front of Brienne, his guileless questioning of the sexism embedded in chivalric code—everything points to this character having not much else to do in future episodes.
  4. Theon: Another character who has come full circle. He came back to Winterfell—leaving his sister Yara to retake their home by herself—with the express aim of fighting for Winterfell and the Starks.My prediction: He will die protecting Bran. There’s no need for him to rule theIron Islands with Yara in charge.
  5. Beric Dondarrion: I don’t have anything against him, but there’s like over twenty main characters in this show. He’s another mouth to feed at this point.  Beric will surely do some damage with his light-up sword in the battle. However, without Thoros to resurrect him in the name of the Lord of Light, Beric’s nine lives are up. The Hound has mentioned Beric’s vulnerability like three times too.
  6. Gendry: He got to have sex with one of the most popular characters on the show last episode. Plus, he’s made all the weapons for this battle. Gendry has always been most useful as a blacksmith. Remember when Jon & Co. got trapped in the icy north? Jon told Gendry to run back to Castle Black and get a message to Dany. Jon didn’t seem too worried about not having Gendry’s fierce fighting skills. I predict Gendry will fight somewhat capably but ultimately die…with Ayra watching. While no Starks will die this episode, they can still be hurt with grief.
  7. Grey Worm: I might be shattering some dreams, but when “Baby Obama” (his nickname on Twitter)  made that promise to Missandei last week, I thought, oh now you’re probs going to die. He made a retirement plan and that’s certainly a way to get killed on a show like #DemThrones. After he helps Khaleesi take the Iron Throne, Grey Worm will sail with his love to Naath. Nope. Furthermore, I think the showrunners are building to a “heel turn” for Daenerys. Strip away her trusted advisors and Dany losing touch with her moral compass can happen more easily.
  8. Jorah Mormont: Speaking of stripping away Dany’s close allies, Ser Friendzone (his nickname on the Interwebz) will probably die too. Why? Well, Samwell gave him Heartsbane, the ancestral family sword of House Tarly. Jon Snow carries Longclaw (the Mormont sword). While Jorah doesn’t deserve his own father’s sword, he needed Heartsbane more than Sam. Could be overshooting here but I feel like that moment between Jorah and Sam means for lots of Jorah kicking ass on the battlefield…and then death.  

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Some musings on writing and teaching in 2018 & some goals for 2019

2018 A Look Back: Writing and Teaching

I wrote my goals for 2018 in the front of my planner last year. As I transferred info from one planner to another, I was pleasantly surprised; I had actually accomplished a few of my bigger goals. I finished Stagecraft—a novel I’ve been working on longer than I care to say. I started it back when we lived in New York after reading Megan Abbott’s Dare Me, a noir thriller about cheerleaders. I thought to myself, I can do this type of story with musical kids. And that’s exactly what I set out to do.

Unfortunately,  the first go needed a lot of revisions. My agent’s feedback was good but included major changes. And then we moved to Austin and had Darcy and moved to Dallas, etc. So, finding the time and space to work on a long piece of fiction became more and more challenging. But I’m proud to say that in May of 2018, I sent a finished manuscript to my agent. Now, we wait. Margaret sent the book to five editors, all imprints of large publishing companies.

I also set a goal of publishing two more articles. I know that’s a really low number and I’ve pitched upwards of 10 different stories but only two got published. Between finding the time to do good work and matching myself with a publication for that work, two new articles felt like a manageable expectation. I wrote a short story for The Dead Mule School ofSouthern Literature and a braided essay about my son’s school farm for Thrive.

I wanted to expand my tutoring services in 2018. When I started tutoring, I really hadn’t anticipated how much I would enjoy working one-on-one with students. My only experience was in the classroom where I had to manage anywhere from smaller groups of 10-12 to a class as large as 32 seniors (Hello,Class of 2007!). I decided that I would take on a few more students and offer a writing class in the summer. Everything went really well. Having consistent clients is the best possible compliment to my work as a tutor. And it’s always nice to get a phone call from a new parent that begins with, “Hi! I’m a friend of [current client’s] and I was hoping you might be able to fit in my son/daughter…”

Finally, I wanted to do a great job as a long-term substitute at Hockaday, an all-girls K-12 private school here in Dallas. I haven’t taught in a traditional classroom since Jackson was two-years-old. I went back to teaching right after he was born and then for two years after that as a part-time teacher. It was one of those work situations where it was great and convenient until it wasn’t.

So, when the chair of the Hockaday English department contacted me about the position last winter, my initial reaction was “Sounds like a lot of unnecessary stress for me. No, but thank you for thinking of me.” But I think that reaction was borne out of fear. I thought about all the reasons it would be wrong. I hadn’t taught in six years. Preston was far different from Hockaday (really, the only thing the two schools have in common is the all-girls factor). I have two kids and two schedules to juggle. C.K. travels more than he did when I was teaching at Preston. And I hate grading papers. And I’d have to do so much reading to get ready for it. The reasons piled up and so did my fear.

But I’m happy I said yes. Hockaday is a lovely school with even lovelier students. I enjoyed doing the reading over the summer. I got to read or reread some amazing literature. With the help of my husband and parents, juggling the kids’ schedules was doable—not easy, but doable. I kept up with working out (Hello, 5:30am class!) and I kept up with the chores (mostly) and even better, I learned to ignore the stuff that doesn’t need to get done. (Yes, it’s okay that the playroom is a mess.) Most importantly, I learned that I could work and be mom. And I found a little piece of my pre-motherhood identity that had been lost, a piece of my soul that is fed by great literature and even better class discussions.

2019 Goals: Writing and Teaching

My great hope for Stagecraft is that an editor will love it, have to have it, and publish it right away. Picture a lady named Maxine wearing big tortoise-shell glasses saying that. And then it gets published and the readers just love it and have to have it and tell their boozy book clubs about it.

After talking to Stagecraft beta-readers, I have a good idea for a sequel. I have about 8K words of the sequel. The working title is Curtain Call and it’s a flash-forward ten years to an alumni show back at Whispering Hills Country Day school. I want to answer the questions I left open-ended with Stagecraft and put to rest the conflict between main characters Skylar and Hannah once and for all.

Just like last year, I want to publish two more articles. I think I’d love to pitch an article about my grandfather and his time at the FDNY. Maybe I’ll pitch that to the new NYT column “TIES.”

I’m also working on a NSFW short story that follows a character from my pilot Soccer Domme into a neighborhood New Year’s Eve party that turns into a swinger party. I’ve been meaning to “play”with Kate Wright’s character more. Maybe it will turn into a good short story. Maybe it will turn into a chapter from Soccer Domme the novel.

Either way, one of my main writing goals is to be more disciplined about my craft. You don’t get better at something without a lot practice. Even if you are talented, you still have to hone your skills. I want to start writing every day. Whether I’m working on fiction or personal essays or posting more to my blog, I want to carve out some time in my agenda just for writing.

I’m good at focusing when it comes to teaching and grading and prepping classes. I think it’s because teaching is so structured. Class starts at 8:30 so that lesson better be prepared. It forces the time management on you. But writing is different. All the motivation comes from you. All the drive to sit at the computer and draft or revise comes from within.

And writing a long piece of fiction requires reflection time—so much thinking about your characters and their back stories, and their anxieties. All that thinking time doesn’t show up on the page, but you have to do it. Characters won’t be authentic unless they live with you. I find focusing on this aspect of writing difficult as well. I want to start drafting. I want to be editing sentences already. I don’t like spending time with bigger ideas, with characters and the many tentacles of their personalities.

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Our 2018 Christmas letter

December 2, 2018

Dallas, TX

Dear Family and Friends,

I can’t believe how fast this year went. I thought I’d take a moment and share some of what’s been happening with the Sample family.

Jackson, the easy one, is in third grade at our local public elementary school. He loves math and playing tag on the playground. He plays soccer, takes Hip-Hop class, and this summer, he started guitar lessons at a “School of Rock” type studio. And he loves playing guitar! He’ll be playing a rockin’ version of “Jingle Bells” at the Zounds Sounds Christmas concert.

Darcy, the not-as-easy-as-Jackson one, is in preschool at a local Christian school. She preaches to us regularly about the Bible. She also enjoys pointing out when her brother is sinning: “Bad decisions against God,” she says. Darcy is in her second year of dance. She does tap and ballet at the studio. But at home, she does her own special brand of contemporary…sometimes with no music at all. She also plays soccer–err, played soccer–for the Unicorns. My dad coached and earned his angel wings for his service! This month Darcy starts gymnastics (“bernastics” as she says).

In the beginning of 2018, C.K. was still working as Chief Product Officer for YouEarnedIt, a SaaS company that focuses on employee engagement and retainment. In the spring, C.K. helped sell YEI to Vista Equity Partners. Then in June, C.K. became the Chief Technology Officer at Hypergiant. He’s back working with one of his best friends and doing some really interesting stuff with machine learning. In his free time, he loves playing electronic music and now his office boasts an impressive amount of wires and circuit boards. And when C.K. isn’t dropping hot beats, he’s working on a painting with artist Tanner Lawley. We won a commission at the school auction and when Tanner came to visit us, he offered to do the commission with C.K.! I can’t wait to see the results.

As for me, I just finished doing a 12-week substitute position at Hockaday, a private K-12 all girls prep school. I taught 10th and 11th grade English; it was a great litmus test for this momma who hasn’t worked FT in awhile. I finished Stagecraft in the spring and my agent sent it to editors at several big publishing houses this fall. So I’m in the waiting-and-fingers-crossed stage of the publishing game. I also had a fictional piece come out in a literary journal back in July. In my spare time, I’m usually at the local CrossFit gym. And when I’m not at the gym, I’m boring my husband with tales of what happened at CrossFit.

I hope this letter finds you and yours healthy and happy. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Love,

The Samples

C.K., Kristin, Jackson (8), Darcy (4), Thatcher the pug (12), and Misha the parrot (15)

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S&M meets Suburbia in my pilot Soccer Domme

The following also appears on this site as its own page under the tab “Screenwriting.”

In fall of 2017, I wrote the pilot for  Soccer Domme. I entered the teleplay in the Austin Film Festival and it received some glowing comments:

“I love the family dynamics, the church, the stress of the health issues mixed with parenting. The suburbia of it all, juxtaposed with the S&M scene is wonderful. Kate and Dante have great chemistry as screen partners, and would be a ton of fun to follow on their adventures.”

I’m really proud of this pilot. The script came to me so quickly and I loved spending time with the characters. The premise was borne out of an anxiety that I have about death. I’m always worried that something will happen to my husband and one day, while I was driving, I had this weird fantasy that I would become a dominatrix if I had to provide for my family. I thought, I could pull off a corset. And I could totally yell at someone. I’m bossy. Why not get paid for it? 

Yeah, so now you know way more about how the anxious little neuron fire around my brain. I definitely deleted then rewrote that last paragraph several times.

Welcome to the world of anxiety.

When I shared this premise with Danielle, my writing partner for North Shore South Shore’s pilot, she was like “I love it. But…is C.K. okay? He’s not sick or anything right?”

No, he’s fine. And out of the depths of fearful yet brightly colored Catholic imagination came one of the best things I’ve ever written. And everyone who reads the pilot really likes it. I swear. I’m not one to toot my own horn but…

Toot. Toot.

In fact, a production company here in Dallas was interested in turning into a movie. Here’s what he wrote me, “I’m always looking to add a diverse array of creative voices to our slate, and the idea behind it just strikes this right chord for me between contemporary character-driven storytelling and the sort of fun, zany concept that I saw in so many an 80s film.”

Cinestate makes thrillers so Soccer Domme didn’t fit the bill ultimately. BUT it was great practice emailing back & forth with a producer and even having a discussion over the phone.

Have your people call my people and we’ll set this up. If by “my people” I mean “me.” So your staff of 20 or so can call my staff of me. *wink*

SOCCER DOMME

by Kristin Sample

Genre: dramedy, 1-hour, single camera

Logline: When Kate Wright’s perfect life comes crashing down with news of her husband’s failing health, an opportunity from dungeon owner Dante provides an unorthodox solution: pro-domme. Kate becomes “Katerina,” supports her family, and even starts to like her new career. But Kate soon finds that her clients aren’t the only ones in chains.

Synopsis: KATE WRIGHT has the ideal life. With a wonderful marriage, two great kids, and plenty of money, Kate spends her free time volunteering for PTA, singing in the church choir, and drumming her body tight at CrossFit. However, when Kate’s husband SEAN is diagnosed with cancer, the life they’ve built is upended. Treatments don’t work and Sean moves to hospice. To complicate matters further, Sean’s company cuts him off and Kate is tasked with supporting her family.

Enter DANTE. He’s a bisexual man who dabbles in drag but only wears cisgender clothes to visit his dying mother ALBERTA. Kate and Dante share an unexpected but close friendship. What started as polite hellos at hospital vending machines became a mutual support system. And Dante reveals the perfect solution to Kate’s financial problems: dominatrix.

Dante owns and operates a high-end dungeon. When a wealthy client wants a domme who fits Kate’s description, Dante sees an opportunity. Mostly benign stuff—spanking, foot fetish—Dante assures her. Kate is appalled at the suggestion. But after a confrontation about owed tuition at her children’s school, she realizes she needs fast money. Domme work is lucrative, safer than she thinks, and there’s no intercourse. And most importantly, Dante has her back.

Over the course of the series, we see Kate navigate this new world…and start to like her new self. But her double life provides a host of conflicts both internal and external. And, at times, Dante definitely does not have her back. Will Kate find empowerment in this new world? Or is it delusional to think that her clients are the only ones in chains?

Soccer Domme is Weeds meets Fifty Shades of Grey. Transmedia components could include: Snapchats with Dante, Kate’s mommy blog, “Katerina’s” tinyletter, and interviews with real dommes. Audiences will find the Wright family endearing and relatable and will be titillated by Kate’s new career as a prodomme. Using both Kate’s and Dante’s stories, Soccer Domme challenges conventional conceptions of gender, sexuality, morality, and what it means to be “normal.”

*All of my screen projects are registered with the Writer’s Guild of America. My novel North Shore South Shore is copyrighted material.

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The School of Life: My first trip to a crystal store

I know this will be special. I tell this to my Instagram followers and my daughter Darcy as we sit in the car and stare at the awning of the store. The Golden Orb. I make a video in which I sing “The Golden Orb. Love and Light” and quickly post it to my IG stories. Followers surely will want to know what I’m up to. This video, or the audio from it, plays not once but twice while I’m inside the store. I try in vain to silence it as I browse Rose Quartz. A woman looks at me. She is puzzled. When the video plays a second time without my even touching my phone, I know there is fairy magic afoot.

It happens as I am checking out. My own voice singing from within my purse. The cashier narrows his gaze through glasses that make his eyes look small. He has a ponytail.

And when Ponytail peers at me, I know he can see my heart. I scramble to silence my phone. But the Instagram story keeps repeating, “The Golden Orbs. Love and light.” My own voice sings from inside my bag.

I feel shame. My voice (or throat chakra) is what I’m here to address. I tell this to the wisp of a woman who greets me when I enter the store. But throughout my shopping trip, my voice is loud and clear. It’s just in my bag.

Wisp wears a large sweat shirt and purple prayer beads. Her Pinterest-worthy nails finger the crystals in the bag I’ve brought.

“Ooh! You’ve brought me some goodies,” her eyes dart from the crystals to my daughter. I clutch Darcy closer to me. No, Wisp, you may not bake her into a gingerbread cookie.

Ponytail helps a braless woman. He gives me side-eye and knows I will offensively mix narratives. Suddenly, I feel an urge to take off my own bra. A sports bra. A garment at odds with all the love and light that the Golden Orb represents.

Wisp takes my crystals out of the bag and asks earnestly, “Do you need me to tell you what these are?”

I bristle immediately but repress an audible scoff. Of course, I know what they are. Amazon told me what they are. Wisp, I’ve been a student of life longer than you’ve had your moonblood. But being snarky isn’t an option. Who knows how far Wisp has gotten at Hogwarts?

“Yes,” I reply, “I know what they are. I just need to know how to charge them.”

An easy tutorial follows. Cleanse them. Then set in the moonlight to charge.

Ahh, I say to myself, I wasn’t cleansing them. I add sage in both spray and twig form to my order. I’m now $21 in and Darcy has only begun to feel her way through the neurotically sorted rocks.

Good thing it’s pay day.

Darcy lands on a statue of a baby dragon holding a gem—in short, her spirit animal. She demands some gold (pyrite) for her dragon and I acquiesce. Darcy is satisfied. She thinks that now she has more money than her brother.

“My dwragon will protwect it,” Darcy closes chubby fingers around the nugget.

Wisp sees us and glides over, “You still okay over here?”

“Yes, I’m looking for blue stones for my throat chakra,” I say without irony and hold up a lapis lazuli. Ponytail overhears. I know I will earn his respect now. Yes, Ponytail, I know about aligning the ‘chakra khans.’

But the blue stone I hold is not the blue stone I am looking for.

“That’s more of a third eye blue,” Wisp takes the lapis lazuli, “You need less blue for the throat.”

Foiled again. How many blue chakra khans are there?

Wisp hands me an aquamarine and all I can think is—That’s GREEN, Wisp! Is she sabotaging my chakra khans? Does Wisp see blues I do not?

I settle on celestite because Wisp says something about angels. I add the stone, another blue one, and at Darcy’s behest, a very large blue stone for Jackson.

“Because he’s a big boy,” she says as she hands it to Wisp without waiting for my approval.

By the time I check out I’m $58 in damage. Not bad considering there were necklaces and candles and fairy dust bath salts that I wanted, nay, needed.

I arrive home to a husband who is bemused and maybe disappointed with my spiritual purchases. I know this because he tells me to leave when I offer to sage his office. Fine, I think to myself, I’ll wait until you are out of town. I can’t have your Negative Ned attitude around when I’m clearing energy.

I sage the den. It is a workspace for me, a playroom for the kids, and a place where both our pets sleep. I read the directions for “smudging” carefully.

Start at the door.

Go counter clockwise.

Don’t neglect the corners.

I begin smudging, moving the smoldering twigs through the room. I hear an obnoxiously punctuated, “What. Is. That. Smell?!” from C.K.’s office. Why is it that he has the nose of a bloodhound when it comes to scents I like?

I repress a sigh. Be quiet, Ned.

“I’m burning sage,” I sing back cheerfully.

“Well…could you not?”

The sage has gone out by now. I’ve neglected one corner of the room. And I’ve forgotten to open the door to escort the bad energy out. I wave my arms to the lingering pot/cemetery smell toward the door. But I’m too far. I won’t make it. Suddenly, as if with intention, the pug busts through her doggie door.

Perfect. The pug has adequately escorted any bad energy out of the room. My virgin smudging was newbsauce but I’m all about acceptance today. I bless the room and say a prayer. It will be a place of positivity and creativity.

About an hour later, C.K. ambles over to his easel. The easel sits in a smudged corner of the den. He fiddles with some brushes he hasn’t touched in years. I am satisfied. Positivity and Creativity are really in the room now.

Consider yourself smudged, Ned.

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The Second Grade Essay

I started this blog post with the last writing prompt and never finished it. I blame the writing prompts. Ha. Anyway, we are on our last writing prompt now and I thought I’d throw it up on the blog…

So, my second-grader has been assigned the first of many, many writing assignments he will complete in the course of his K-12 education. They are called simply the “writing prompt” and as of this week, we are on the third one. The assignment, which takes students through the writing process, is sent home on Wednesday and due the following week.

I love these assignments…in theory. The high school teacher in me is impressed and grateful. I mean, a mini-version of the writing process at eight-years-old? Awesome. Thank you, second grade teachers! By the time the students get to ninth grade, they won’t go cross-eyed when I suggest that maybe—just maybe—their first draft shouldn’t be their final draft. And the writer in me is loving it. #blessed.

No, not #blessed. The whole ‘getting to share my love of the written word’ with Jackson, my adorable, dyslexic, ADHD son? Not so much. This past week, when we sat down to work, I pointed out that I tutor kids in writing (and I’m good at it).

Me: I’m a writing teacher. You’re lucky because your mom is a writing teacher.

Jackson: You’re a high school teacher. Not second-grade. And you’re not my writing teacher. You’re just my helper.

Well, I guess it’s good that our relationship is clearly defined. That way, Jackson won’t have to pay me my rate per hour. Just a helper. This isn’t a tutoring sesh, mom. Really? Cause it sure feels like work to me, kiddo.

Jackson doesn’t need my help (according to Jackson). He will just model his stories off his favorite author Dav Pilkey and the Captain Underpants series. And this technique might be okay if Jackson were writing a graphic novel and not prose.

An example. For the first writing prompt, Jackson chose to write about spring break. Below is an exact line from his draft…

Then back in the hot tub…whaaaaaa????? Darcy What are you…whaaaaaa????

Apparently, Jackson and Darcy were playing in the hot tub at my mom’s house and Darcy jumped in and splashed him.

Me: Jackson, who is saying this?

Jackson: Me, I’m talking to the reader. And then Darcy is interrupting me.

Me: But you need punctuation here.

The ‘special snowflake parent’ in me wants to commend Jackson for breaking the fourth wall. But the sensible writer in me knows that we need some clarification if the reader is going to have ANY IDEA what the heck is going on.

For the second prompt, I wised up and got C.K. involved.  Jackson wrote about plants. Well, the question was to explain what plants need to survive and showcase his knowledge about the life cycle. Jackson decided to write about buying me a lemon verbena for my birthday because I love the smell.

(Aside: Jackson is the best. I’m love my lemon verbena because now he will stop stealing the leaves from an enormous plant on the school farm. The leaves are sweaty and crumpled and he watches me like a hawk until I put them in my tea.)

So, after Jackson spends the entire first paragraph describing the ride to Calloways with C.K. (no mention of plant knowledge but plenty about my birthday, the gift, the party, etc), he knocks the transition out of the park with “Okay, so you probably know what this paragraph is about.”

The above sentence is what happens when I loosen the reins and let my husband do homework with Jackson. I thought I was being smart. I was saving myself the stress of doing the writing homework with Jackson for the evening and C.K. would get to see Jackson’s brilliant but bouncy mind in action. C.K. would appreciate my efforts. Jackson would spend quality time with his father. I have awesome ideas, right?

No! That is hardly what happened. The one (ONE!) paragraph they worked on together was a hot mess. The rest of the paragraph talked about the various parts of a plant. Jackson wrote something like this…

Okay, so you probably know what this paragraph is about.

Oh sooooo cute…. leaves + stem + roots + flowers

No flowers = still perfect

When I called this paragraph to the attention of my hubs and asked, “H ey, did you read this?” I asked him with NO ATTITUDE WHATSOEVER because I NEVER HAVE AN ATTITUDE and I’m the PERFECT SPOUSE.

C.K., who has not one but two advanced degrees in English, looked at me incredulously as if to say, “It’s a rough draft.” Yeah, rough. Like Jackson wrote this on a dang cocktail napkin.

The third prompt is about Earth Day. Dare I say, things are going smoother. Or the plying him with leftover Easter candy after each sentence is making it bearable.  Or we’ve gotten used to the torturous 45-minutes a day we spend “writing” together. See, by the afternoon, Jackson’s meds have worn off. So, he spends a lot of time fidgeting. And talking. And walking around the chair twenty times. Today, Jackson took three whole minutes writing the sentence “Earth day is coming.” I know it was three minutes because I used the hyperlapse app (video compression) to record it.

While Jackson wanted to write about Earth Day, he doesn’t like thinking about what would happen if we didn’t take care of the earth.

Me: Okay so, you’ve you got ‘If we didn’t take care of the earth,…’ then what? What do you want to say?

Jackson: If we didn’t take care of the earth, we would die.

Me: Okay, write that.

Jackson [starts to write]: I can’t write that. I can’t start out so violent. I can’t go dark so quickly.

Me [sighs]: Well, it’s true. If we didn’t care for the earth, we wouldn’t be able to live here anymore. Maybe say that animals could go extinct instead.

Jackson: That’s even worse. I don’t want to think about animals dying.

We decided on “If we didn’t take care of the Earth, we couldn’t live here anymore.” This produced a lengthy tangent on how cool it would be to live on the moon or Mars. And how the guy who made the electric car Daddy wants is going to set up a colony in outer space.

Throughout this paragraph, since Jackson had to describe what would happen if the earth continued to be destroyed, we used the word “would” a lot. That is, until Jackson announced, “Calm down with the ‘woulds’ already. I’m not writing it anymore.”

I debated attempting to explain future conditional verb tense. Instead I resorted to this: “You have two more sentences. Just write it two more times and then we’re done. And I’ll give more M&Ms.”

This was acceptable.

[UPDATE: We just finished the rough draft of his last writing prompt. It was a letter to next year’s second grades explaining the pros and cons of writing prompts. Jackson’s conclusion read like this: “You shouldn’t have to do writing prompts because they take forever. But good luck.” #nailedit ]

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Walt the Crossing Guard isn’t there…and I’m beside myself

We’ve arrived at a sad hiatus in our tales from the school drop-off/pick-up carpool lanes.

I’ve written about him before—our beloved crossing guard at Jackson’s elementary school, the Godfather of School Intersections. Actually, my first post about Walt was largely satirical. He had reprimanded me, wielding his whistle like a whip. But I wrote it in the beginning of the year. I was hurt. I follow traffic laws. I go slow in school zones. I was just waving to a friend. I was going to turn. Sheesh.

Since my initial post, Walt has become the subject of adoration and fascination. On rainy days, he wears full body slickers, a neon raincoat, and an umbrella hat. Yes, an umbrella hat. And he makes it look downright sensible.

 

During the week before Christmas break, he wore a different head piece each day (antlers, Santa hats) and tiny holiday lights around his neck. Walt hung a small speaker from his chair and played Christmas music everyday. The music was a nice touch; it certainly added to the yuletide spirit. It was a small speaker too. And his chair sits close to some ornamental shrubberies. So you walk to the corner with your kid and hear a faint “Hark, the herald angels sing” and you think  Are the bushes singing about the Lord’s birth?

And you feel like a 21st century Moses.

He planned that.

Then we found out that Walt paid the cafeteria debts for all the kids in arrears right before Christmas. I mean, where is Charles Dickens or whoever wrote Polar Express when you need them? We need a new children’s holiday book!

Remember those Rankin Bass holiday movies? The ones with stop-motion animation, like Santa Claus is Coming to Town?  And the animated Frosty one? We need a Rankin Bass holiday movie about Walt.

Remember the guy directing traffic during the musical break in Frosty the Snowman? Walt is NOTHING like that fool.

The children don’t stop for the traffic. The traffic stops for the children. The traffic definitely stops for the children when said children are being led a by a magical snowman who thinks it’s his birthday.

Then there was the time someone (someone!) called the district on Walt. His crime? Moving cars through the intersection efficiently. Getting kids to school on time. Making parents less stressed out.

Wow! Someone call the cops. This guy is making drop off easier.

How did Walt the Crossing Guard respond? With 400 traffic cones. If he can’t direct the traffic, he is gonna make sure parents don’t park where they will clog the intersection…or a solid quarter mile radius in every direction around the intersection. And I bet Walt has the cones in his garage. He’s been putting like fifteen around his VW bug everyday since August. (Or his scooter…the one with the foxtails hanging off of it)

Walt’s cone placement has got to be the most thorough placement of cones I have ever witnessed. We’re talking like one cone every two feet. He should rent out his services for Coachella. Millennials need a crap-ton of cones. It will remind them of youth soccer and then they will know where to go.

And now this. I can’t take it. I’m barely recovered from the sugar crash of Easter candy, the post-friends-departure melancholy, and the shame at the number on the scale after I ate all the aforementioned candy, and Walt is nowhere to be found.

The kindergarten teacher has been there all week, waving a flag with the gusto of the World Cup lineman. But does the wave mean “Stop”? Does it mean “Go”? I think it means “Pay attention! There are children in the crosswalk!” While I like this teacher (and she looked fierce in her cold shoulder tunic the other day), she is not Walt. Furthermore, teachers should not have to do extras like direct traffic. It’s downright magnanimous of this teacher to volunteer to be crossing guard. Who would ever want to deal with beastly people like me anymore than they actually have to? And at 7:30am! I can’t even stomach myself at that hour.

Anyway, we come to find out the sad news. Sorry in advance but the levity of the post is about to take a left turn. Walt is taking time for himself. He’s had deaths in his family. I won’t go into detail but suffice to say, no one should suffer that much loss. My heart absolutely breaks for him. We all miss him already.

I was really down the other day because Walt isn’t there anymore. I had to ask why.  I myself only exchanged niceties with him. Perhaps that for those thirty feet in the crosswalk, our children are safe if he is there? Is it because I see him twice a day? Or maybe it’s the weird cocktail of sympathy plus relief (the glad-it’s-not-me kind) that accompanies tragic news. That combo can make you feel pretty shitty.

Or maybe it’s Walt’s authenticity that we will all miss. A person who is so unabashedly himself, like Walt is, refreshes us in a world of Instagram filters, Facebook updates, and Pinterest boards.

Walt is a character. He is who he is. Take or leave it. (Let’s see how many more clichés I can fit in here.)  Walt is like that little elf in Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer who wants to be a dentist.  I mean, I wish I had the stones to put fifty cones around the perimeter of my cul de sac and wear an umbrella hat and blow my whistle at cars when they drive into the cul de sac to turn around.

I think I’m going to try and be more like Walt. Not the cones in the cul de sac. Just the whole authentic thing.  I mean, people would think I was nuts if I directed traffic in a cul de sac.

So until the return of the Walt, I’m going to keep him in my prayers.

 

 

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The Yahoo Mom Group…you know what I’m talking ’bout.

I’ve written a short story version of this and submitted it to McSweeney’s. If I get published, we will all be famous.

Stop. Collaborate. And listen.

These words, spoken by lyricist and philosopher and house renovator Vanilla Ice, are basically the main tenants of any good Yahoo or Facebook group for moms.

We help each other find and vet services and contractors and landscapers.

We support each other when someone writes the classic vulnerable mom post.

 I lost it today in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot.

 We all did, sister. Mommin’ ain’t easy.

 We forgive each other when someone asks who the HVAC guy in the neighborhood is…for the hundredth time.

But every once in awhile, there’s a post that evolves into a lively discussion but eventually goes semi-rotten. A dialogue so intense and laden with passive aggression that the post begets so many other threads and side conversations via text and snarky asides at school dismissal.

That conversation happened in the last 48 hours on my beloved mom Yahoo group. It was about children. It was about safety. It was about what moms everywhere know…this is how things should really work, dammit.

Because if moms know one thing, it’s that moms are always right.

[Names changed to protect the innocent.]

It all started with Debra. She decided that she would create a list of suggestions (read: rules) on how carpool at our elementary school should work. Debra doesn’t work for the school. But she knows what we all know. The drop off and pick up carpool lines are a shit show.

This shit show was mitigated for a brief but peaceful period by our crossing guard. I wrote about him earlier this year. But I have since changed my opinion and he is now directing traffic in the menagerie. (I can’t go into this right now so read the other blog post here.) I call this time of efficiency and tranquility the Golden Age.

We’ll get back to the crossing guard in a hot minute.

Debra’s initial “suggestions” post was followed by the expected “murmurs of agreement.” A few bipartisan, concerned mothers cosigned Debra’s list of rules. A resounding yes to what we all already know. Carpool is a dang shit show, y’all. Someone’s gonna get hurt.

The murmurs of agreement, however, quickly gave way to more complaining and add-ons to the original list. And because we’re really lucky, the accusations began.

You know who’s to blame for this? The dads!

 Totally. They are always in a rush.

This accusation holds some water. I’ll admit that the times when some expletives have left mouth during carpool, it has been because a dad cut in front of me. Ford Tough! Outta my way. Wife’ll kill me if these kids are late.

(sings) Jesus, take the wheel…take it from that dad.

After the group impugns a faceless group of fathers, there is the juicy gossip part of the thread. This time, someone (a dirty whore someone) told on our beloved crossing guard for directing traffic. He’s not to direct traffic. He’s ONLY to cross the children safely. And if he does it again, he’s going to be fired. The Golden Age has officially given way to the Dark Ages.

What? The crossing guard? He’s the God of drop off!

It’s the first time I’ve felt safe in my own neighborhood in years.

I bet an old person called.

Be vigilant. The traitor is among us.

In the small world of mom social media groups, if there’s anything worse than a dad who doesn’t read the damn school emails, it’s the old people. They sit there in their houses, watching The Price is Right, drinking that Hate-or-ade. They hate us because we are young (cough middle-aged) and beautiful (cough access to botox).

After the group slanders the old people—the people who are surely not on a Yahoo group because they are too old—people start with the proposals. But proposals come from people who have absolutely NO INTENTION of following through. Someone (never the author, no) should call “the city” or “the district” about getting a “sign.” The author of these emails is the person who wants to delegate. She acts like she calls “the city” all the time. Just call “the city.” They will handle it. So easy. Like ordering from Pizza Hut. I just used my “the city” app and ordered new street signs last Tuesday. Duh. If only one of your morons would listen to my brills idea!

Well, when I call “the city” tomorrow, it will be to erect a bronze statue for you, fellow mom. I’m sure they already have one in the works. Or they don’t. Because you’ve never called “the city” in your life. If you had to deal with the death by minutiae that is calling “the city,” you would never suggest it on a mom email thread. Sit down!

Yesterday, we enjoyed an added bonus to the “call the city” reply. This one came from someone who styled herself as Ms. Husband’s First and Last Name. We’ll call her Nancy. Nancy works at another school and thinks we moms should have our principal call their principal because their carpool line is far better than ours.

Sit down, Nancy! A cattle drive is more streamlined than our carpool. We know other schools probably have better carpool lines. Also, the school mentioned has like double the students. Logic would dictate that they probably have a decent system. With almost 1,000 elementary children going to and fro each day, that’s not a carpool anymore. That’s straight up crowd control. I’m surprised they haven’t hired the Hells Angels to keep order over there.

The best part about Nancy is that she actually called her response a “quick fix” and a way to stop all the emails. I repeat, sit down, Nancy!

Then comes the climax…where conversations like this always go. And my personal favorite. Like I get the popcorn out after this reply is sent. A working mom invariably gets all fired up about her clogged inbox. We’ll call her Janice. Janice sent the “everybody stop hitting reply all email.”

This response was followed by some #shade. And I read the replies to Janice while shoving popcorn in my mouth. Same as when I watched Get Out. Shit just got real. Southern-style real.

I mean, come on, Janice. If we can’t see the “reply all” button, maybe you should look a little harder for the “delete” button. Also, if you are emailing everyone, aren’t you part of the problem? Sit down, Janice!

Then the emails come full circle. Debra, seeing the mess she’s made, emails again. Like Victor Frankenstein looking at his mottled monster in horror, she must email again. She must reiterate the main point of her original email: safety, cars, children.

But maybe Debra hasn’t read Frankenstein. Spoiler alert: The monster has children and joins a yahoo group. So sit down, Debra!

I got the fully fictionalized version of this published in a REAL literary journal. Read it. Do it now!

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The “Jesus was an American” Assembly

 

I haven’t written about Darcy’s new preschool yet. And because she really loves her teacher and the school is such a sweet place I’ve stayed away from writing anything that—while I would mean it as humorous cultural commentary—would come off as hurtful. Truly, it’s a lovely little school.

Let me just set the scene though. I’m a solidly Northeastern girl who grew up Catholic, went to Catholic high school, and then onto Catholic university. Despite attending Methodist church for the past few years, Catholicism is really the dominant religious tradition in my mind. So the “bible” churches or nondenominational churches in Texas are a whole new world for me. While I love my faith and the faithful people around me, this is culture shock…big league culture shock.

Just as someone who went to church/school in Texas would likely feel if they walked into a Catholic school on the Feast of St. Blaise. Why are they blessing throats? What’s with the candles to the throat? How does one get to be a throat blesser? If you grew up Catholic, this feast makes perfect sense…especially if it’s school musical season. Get your throat blessed by St. Blaise! It really helps! But if you didn’t grow up in this culture, I can imagine it would be jarring.

So Darcy’s school is Christian. Just Christian. No denominations. I have elevated this school to “Super Christian,” like “Super Tuscan” wines or “supermodels.” Most of the time I really love her school. But there’s a small percentage of the time where I do a double take and say, “Yep, file that under Super Christian.”

Like when Darcy corrected Jackson for stating (correctly) that J is for Jackson.

“No, J is only for Jesus!!!” she yelled. Calm down evangelical TV pastor. We know J is for Jesus.

Or like when Darcy came home and randomly blurted out, “Baaaaddd decisions against God.” Turns out, the class was reading a story about sheep who didn’t obey God. But I felt the need to clarify something, “Wait, were you saying that to a kid in the class that misbehaved?” She didn’t. But for a second I was all Calm down, handmaiden.

Yesterday morning was the Veteran’s Day assembly, a ripe mixture of patriotic and religious narratives that simply cannot be ignored. It was an excellently produced pageant I have since dubbed “Jesus was an American.”

We began with the preschool singing some patriotic songs. I knew none except for “My Country Tis of Thee,” a song whose lyrics I still insist should be “of the icing.” Because icing is part of cake and cake is awesome and so is America.

My daughter’s class was downright adorable. When they finished, the classes were ushered off the stage as quick as their little legs could carry them. Darcy held up an index finger to my parents and I as if to say “#1.”

Maybe it was America is #1. Yes.

Jesus is #1. Agreed. Number one in my book.

Darcy is #1. Nailed it.

I saw that chubby finger and smiled at how she’s my little Texan baby.

Then came the pledges. You read that right. Plural. As in four pledges. Here’s what I pledged:

The Pledge to the Bible. Didn’t know this one.

The Pledge to the Christian Flag. Yes, there is indeed a Christian flag. It may be the same as the Crusades flag. My recollection of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves fails me here.

The Pledge to the Texas flag. This one is so redundant in its wording and yet I can’t seem to get it. At least I’m not just moving my lips and awkwardly looking around to see who notices that I have no idea what I’m saying. I was doing that for a LONG time.

Then, finally, the American Flag Pledge. Yes! One I know. Now I don’t feel like a terrorist. She doesn’t know the pledges! Take her down!

At this point we have been pledging for like 8 minutes. At least now, I understand while Darcy prays by saying the end of the Pledge of Allegiance. She’s conflated praying to God the father with pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. But with four pledges and only four years of life, who could blame the confusion?

I stood between my parents. My mother didn’t know there were four pledges and false-started the Pledge of Allegiance three times.

“Not yet,” I kept whispering snidely.

My dad was on the other side of me, all basking in the red state glow, “You would never see this in New York.”

And then mom was all like, “A Veteran’s Day assembly? We had one every year. It was in Newsday.”

So while Mom was indignantly reminding everyone about Davison Ave School’s amazing Veteran’s Day assembly and Dad was all Making Jesus Great Again, I was in the middle figuring out how we could scoot from this event early. Darcy had, after all, finished her part of the performance.

I know I sound awful with my wanting to skedaddle. Here’s the deal though. I taught high school for seven years. I sat through countless assemblies—Veteran’s Day, 9/11 Assembly, Honor Society Assembly, Leadership Assembly, Graduation, Baccalaureate Liturgy. I don’t do assemblies and I don’t do lunch duty anymore. I go to an assembly if my kids are in it and then I have to fight every fiber of my being that wants to leave or play Candy Crush.

And I was hungry. I wanted pancakes. Mom and Dad promised to take me to The Original Pancake house for breakfast. This celebration of the American military stood in between me and pumpkin spice pancakes.

But my daughter’s class was seated right behind us. Drats! So I had to console myself with deep thoughts about America and how great it is to be American and how free I am to sit here and think about pancakes when I’m supposed to be thinking about America.

And then came the keynote. A 16-year Navy SEAL veteran whose title was “Master Chief.” He was there all the way from Tennessee to share his story about his commitment to God and military. And my first thought was “Yes, this guy has been ‘in the shit.’” I immediately imagined him yelling at his battalion or squad or whatever and saying things like “Stay frosty!” and “Get some!”

The children sat on the stage as he addressed them. It reminded me of a part of the Methodist worship service where the pastor calls all the children up to the front for a mini-sermon wherein he/she makes the scripture relatable to their age and stage. Do you like animals, children? Oh, ducks, you like ducks? Well, God created the whole world and everything in it. That means God made ducks.

Master Chief had lots of good reflections and stories. But I was surprised that he broke from the Veteran’s Day façade of “Thank you for your service. As far as the whole our-taxes-pay-you-to-murder-death-kill-our-enemies…Let’s not go there. But thank you for your service.”

Well, Master Chief was going there. He told a story about how his squad was taking fire and how it all happens in slow motion when you think you might die. But his faith carried him through and he stood up with his machine gun and started firing back. This Rambo move was the reason his squad was able to get out of the firefight.*

I only caught some of his story because I was using the restroom for the second time. But I filled in the gaps in my mind with Master Chief killed Bin Laden and Master Chief killed all of ISIS and Master Chief was Quinn from Homeland.

My dad wondered aloud if this ultimate sacrifice/price of war was a bit much for elementary school kids.

“Dad, everything here is a ‘bit much.’” I whispered back. Hello? Did he miss the four pledges?

Also, did he miss the music teacher conducting the audience through the Star Spangled Banner? That happened, by the way. The music teacher conducted the audience instead of the choir during sing-alongs. She wore a lovely sparkly wrap from Chico’s that fell off her shoulders as she waved her quivering forearms at us. And while no one is a better choir conductor than Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act, this lady is a close second place.

And you know who didn’t think Master Chief’s Rambo-ISIS story was too much? The lady in the last row. She wore an American flag dress jacket with sequins all over it. I imagined her admonishing the dry cleaner about how to properly clean such a garment. She looked like she was about to coach the 1980 US Women’s Gymnastics team in Lake Placid. It’s the height of the Cold War. The only way to stop the Commies is with sequins and sticking the effin’ landing.

*At no point did Master Chief refer to himself as Rambo. Because when you’re a frickin’ Navy SEAL Rambo, you don’t have to use weak ass Hollywood references.

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My high school box

Sophomore Homeroom in the Art Room. Lots of doodles during announcements and a big win for the Christmas Decorating Contest that year.

I love titling my blog posts.

So my parents live here now and with them came many boxes from their attic back in Malverne, NY. My dad dropped off said boxes the other day.

One was of books from college. Boring. Straight to Good Will.

One was filled with American Girl Dolls. More on this another day.

One was my wedding dress.

And one was a box of memorabilia from sophomore and junior year of high school. Bingo!

I suppose I could write a sappy post about showing my children my wedding dress and veil. After all today is our 13th wedding anniversary. And I could write about how I choked up thinking about that beautiful day and how it led to my beautiful children. And how Darcy will wear my veil one day at her wedding.

But that would both be a bunch of lies and lame. Let’s talk about some of the stupid stuff that was in my high school box. Like the bottle cap and meticulously saved label from a bottle of Olde English. For those of you who don’t know, Olde English, or O.E.,  is malt liquor that comes in 40 oz servings. You can get it at the 7/11 on Franklin Avenue if you ask the derelict guy who hangs out in the parking lot to buy it for you. That is, if there are no Malverne PD getting coffee. Those guys are VERY attentive to teens at 7/11. #thankyouforyourservice, our heroine hash-tagged begrudgingly.

Darcy was with me as I sifted through trinkets and notes I had once held so dear. All of a sudden, Darcy hands me something. She’d been chewing on it. It was a red candy-colored condom. She held the wrapper in her other hand. I know what you’re thinking. Whoa, Kristin was getting laid in Sophomore year. But no, perv. And if you’re my parents reading this, you should know that I have never known the touch of a man and both my kids were immaculately conceived.

Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba.

Seriously, I actually have NO IDEA why I saved a red candy-colored condom. I can only assume this condom was a gag gift of some kind. Probably from one of my demented best friends. (Hello Laura! Hello Terry!)

Either way, Darcy handed it to me and said, “this is gross. It’s not candy.”

“No, it’s not candy. Give it here,” I took it and promptly threw it in the garbage bag.

“No! It’s a balloon! You blow it,” Darcy whined.

^^Not even going there.^^

It reads “O.K. girls, circle theorem #161 on the board.” and “Barry Darling” and “Math class 201.” Mr. Dickson is Poseidon on this card.

No, I would not be blowing up a condom for my 3yo to frolic through the garage with. I did, however, think that it would be awesome to dig up  her Muno figurine and put this condom on him #raincoat (Note: I didn’t actually do this).

Speaking of inappropriate things I don’t remember at all, let’s talk Barry Dickson. (I didn’t plan that his last name would be so ripe with meaning right after I talked about condoms but it worked so I’m going with it.) I found a birthday card from my friend Jen that was entirely about Barry Dickson. The card was an Ode to Barry and I had no idea who this man was.  After leafing through my sophomore yearbook, I discovered that Mr. Dickson was our math teacher. Maybe Jen had a crush on him and I indulged her with dirty jokes and double entendres involving math words like “protractor.”

But it wouldn’t be a stretch for me to have a crush on Barry Dickson. As any hetero girl who attended an all-girls high school can attest, when there’s no boys to pine for, the male teachers take over that space in your head. Barry is what passes for hot when there are no boys your age, lots of hormones, and pressure from Sacred Heart Academy to get into a good college–all shrouded in Catholic traditions.

 And Mr. Dickson was Jewish which makes him downright tropical in hotness. Because while it was never stated explicitly by any authority figure in my life, when you go Sacred Heart and all the dances/cotillions/proms which constitute your interactions with the opposite sex are with Chaminade boys, anyone other than Catholic reads as  FORBODEN and therefore extra sexy.

Mr. Dickson could eat meat on Friday. So exotic. He may as well have been a public school boy.

There was one teacher I remember thinking was cute. It’s Mr. Pierre-Louis. And he sealed the deal when the Hofstra University Jazz Band came to perform with him. And then he broke out into Scat singing. He was awesome. This was two years after Swing Kids. So bringing your college jazz band (college boys!) and then scat singing with them (WTF! He’s the band teacher! I didn’t know he could sing too!) and combining all that with Swing Kids (Christian Bale! Dancing! WWII Germany!)?

Basically Mr. Pierre-Louis was fighting Nazi oppression with his raspy voice.

The experience of opening up a box of your memories and having no recollection or reference point for some of them was dizzying. Like a coma patient waking for the first time, looking at her husband and uttering, “Are you the doctor?”

Okay, it’s not that serious at all. And, upon further recollection, at 37 years old, I suppose memories of my sophomore math teacher have faded into the background in favor of memories of Jackson walking for the first time or Darcy sleeping through the night for the first time. The latter is not a memory but a fantasy.

And who has room for high school memories when Lake Highlands Soccer Association keeps changing the damn schedule?! Off to 3yo soccer!

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