Not A Drill



Dear Little,

I’ve been a dog trainer since 2004 (ish, give or take).

This is the first time I’ve ever had to post on social about a missing puppy of our own.


puppy missing

Oh, Kiddo. We’re so sorry. We’re trying. Your dad just tore the entire apartment apart trying to find her after we went to a parking garage on our search. We also walked around the playground looking for her, just in case. We should have thought that through a little more carefully as class was in session and we were ducking behind bushes in front of classrooms. To be honest, we probably should have thought that through a little more carefully as class was in session and we were ducking behind bushes in front of classrooms. It appeared to the untrained eye that we were perhaps casing the joint for nefarious reasons.

puppy full
At least we didn’t get arrested, but we also didn’t find Puppy.



Mom (and Dad)

PS: Four day later, we found her wrapped in a blanket and hiding behind your dollhouse. Because I listen to True Crime podcasts and was actually listening to one while I was on the Puppy search party, my initial thought was, “I found the body!”

Slowly, I peeled the blanket back, revealing an ear and a foot. This will be practice for when I really do find a body. I’ve seen CSI. I know the dog walker always finds the body.

Then, I sobbed. I cried, alone in my house with no one home as you and Daddy were visiting Mimi and Pop-Pop. I cried alone in my house over a stuffed animal that we have kept a hypervigilant eye on for the past four years. I’m a grown ass woman, kiddo, and I cried when I found your toy.

I’m going to be a mess when you don’t need her anymore. As it was, I was a wreck when we pulled out your car seat last week and upgraded you to a booster seat.


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You were so happy you were dancing after being reunited. ❤ 




Dear Little: Boyfriend(s)

Dear Little,

I thought I’d share a highlight of a typical conversation with you, my kindergartner, after school.

You: “Mom? I have a boyfriend.”

Me “…”

You: “His name is Calvin.”

Me: play it cool, McGrath…”So, what is a boyfriend?”

You: “A boy that is a special friend.”

Me: What am I supposed to do now?

You: “Oh and I also have two girlfriends who are girls that are special friends.”

Me: oh, ok. I can work with this. See? No big deal. They are just friends. “Who are they? Your girlfriends?”

You: “Kimberly and…um… some other girl. I can’t remember her name.”

Me: Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh. *Snicker* maybe she didn’t notice. So that boyfriend thing. Totally cute! Don’t make a thing out of it… Oh, wait. I have a question. “So, kiddo? Which Calvin is your boyfriend? Is this Calvin with Brody or a schoolmate?”

You: “Both. I mean, they don’t know about each other.”

Me:. *chokes on Lime Ricky*

You: “They each think they are my only boyfriend. But Calvin with Brody doesn’t know we’re boyfriend/girlfriend, but we are. I’ll let him know later.”

Me: Ok, well. That’s respectable.

You: “And the other Calvin doesn’t know about Calvin. But he’s my school boyfriend. They don’t know about each other. That’s good.”

Me: Do kids watch soap operas because this is straight out of General Hospital.


I can’t even.

Can’t we go back to uncomfortably discussing religion or apologizing to some stranger for loudly using inappropriate language in a library or something?



Dear Little: Rebel Girls


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Dear Little –

Last night, we were reading Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, a bedtime story book with 100 impactful, strong, game-changing women that is written in the familiar, “Once upon a time” format that all good bedtime stories follow.

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We were reading about Lella Lombardi and Malala Yousafzai last night when you asked, “Momma? Is there a part of the world where girls have to tell boys they can do everything? Are there places where boys are shot for going to school? Can girls drive race cars and tell boys they can’t do it? Is there any place like that? Just one? Do girls go to the moon somewhere in the world and there is only one boy from that place that went?”

While there are 6 modern societies where women are in charge, there are no documented places in the world where young men are shot in the head for going to school because their place is in the home.

There is no place where a white man will make 75% of the income a woman will make (or less).

While I love this book, I don’t think every girl should have Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls on their bookshelves because girls know they are capable of moving mountains, going to the moon, changing cultural norms, work a job while raising a family, or making the decision to do none of these things. This book does empower, provide context, highlights history, and most importantly, you absolutely adore this book (we have read it every night this week and you keep asking for more). It’s a bonus book for young girls.
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But, I really, really, honestly, truly, and every other -ly word I can use to put emphasis on this next point, every young boy should have this book on his bookshelf. Every young boy should have a parent recite these tales over and over and over again until it’s clear as day girls are mighty. Every young boy should read this book until it’s not even a big deal at all and it’s as much part of the human fabric as breathing. Every young boy should hear these stories and see how truly unequal things still are for the girls they befriend.

You don’t have to tell a girl she’s mighty when she’s young – every girl knows it in her bones. It’s later when they are told they can’t accomplish something and start to believe it, start to doubt themselves (in my case, a science teacher in middle school embarrassed me in front of the class with a science project on osmosis). We need young men to stand up for these young women and girls, and it starts with books like these. This book should be read in elementary schools to all students. The sympathetic, half-hearted, ‘Sure, girls can do anything. Just sit over there while I do man stuff,” isn’t the same as truly being supportive and being absolutely inclusive. It’s that attitude that allows stories like this to continue existing in 2017. And while it’s true there are more women in science, in math, in physics, in astronomy, in sports, in politics, in video game development, the idea that there is a small group of hard-working pioneering women in these industries that have to work so much harder to be taken seriously as professionals while also battling blatant sexism in these formerly male-only professions makes it tempting to say, “See? There is equality! There are girls here. We’re fine. And while we’re at it, I’ll tell you how to do your job better because I’m a dude.”

Girls can do all of these things and bring a different perspective to the table. They have every opportunity to shine, if only they weren’t also fighting sexism, the ol’ boys club, and mansplaining on the daily. We’re getting there, but it’s something that’s still quite prevalent, and something you will likely need to deal with.

It starts with a spark, and girls have that spark. It takes a supportive community, including men and boys, to keep that spark growing into something much brighter. This is why young boys should have this book on their bedside table. Girls know they can. Boys need to know it, too.

Goodnight, my Rebel Girl.




Dear Little: Mariners Revenge

Dear Little –

meant to grab your toddler tunes CD in the car today.

actually grabbed the Decemberists CD. I’m surprised the discs looked that similar. The Decemberists, while a great alternative rock band rooted in exploring the darkness of men and the spirit of the sea, was not exactly what I had in mind for our trip back from the pet store.

You have been humming a little ditty called The Mariners Revenge Song, with these gems.

We are two mariners
Our ship’s sole survivors
In this belly of a whale
It’s ribs are ceiling beams
It’s guts are carpeting
I guess we have some time to kill

and the chorus:

Find him, find him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave


Moby Dick by Gianluca Garofalo

Gianluca Garofalo, “Moby Dick”

As a result, we’ve spent the last 30 minutes looking up sea shanties, which was fine until you asked for the Mariners Revenge song. We watched a live version (the band pulled out a simple hinged puppet that “eats” the audience, acting out the whale eating the crew of the ship), and you just thought this was the best song ever.


Apologies in advance to your Kindergarten music teacher.
“What should we sing today, kids?”
Other Kids: “Itsy Bitsy Spi…”
You: “Drunken Sailor!”

So while Mariners’ Revenge and Barrett’s Privateers play on repeat as you sleep under the desk between tantrums when I try to deviate from the playlist, I’m sitting here thinking how I’m going to explain this to the principal in two weeks.

RIP Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Row Row Row Your Boat.





For Me


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Dear Little,

I’m putting this here because being a girl is hard, even when you’re young. I’m dreading this discussion, but P!nk is incredible and handled this with as much grace, sass, and truth as I hope to for you someday.

So this is for me, to you, at some point. Hopefully, not for a very long time.

We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell, and we help other people see other kinds of beauty. And you, my darling girl, are beautiful and I love you.



-Mom. (And P!nk.)

Dear Little: But…


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Dear Little,

You turned 5 yesterday. I wanted to write about all the changes you’ve made, the places you might go, and how I can’t believe you are a full-blown kid.


More importantly than that, it’s time to talk to you about standing up to bullies.

You recognize that sometimes the “bad guys” say “mean things” in cartoons and that Batgirl, Bubbles or Pinkie Pie will come around the corner, do the right thing, and everything is fine. That’s an important lesson to learn right now. Because you are five.

When you read this in 10, 15, 20 years, it’s critical to recognize that the bad guys are still easy to spot but standing up might seem much harder. Here’s a clue. If a group of people are holding torches and are supported by the KKK; if that group is waving Nazi flags and beating up people; if that group is shouting in a threatening manner – perceived threat is a real threat- I hope you stand solidly on the side everything that is NOT that.

There is no “but.” There is no “they have a good point.” There is no “on both sides.”

There is something to be said about finding a middle ground in many cases. Compromise can be good and is necessary. For instance, we might be wishy-washy on what kind of house to get (still looking for our third summer). Your dad and I are compromising on an expensive purchase.  It’s fair that since we’ll both be living in the house, we both get most of what we want for a reasonable price. That’s compromise.

Choices: it often takes me 20 minutes to pick the right kind of peanut butter because *choices*, or choosing how to prepare potatoes for dinner can be *hard*. However, let me be perfectly clear: there is no choice when it comes to bullies.

If the circumstances involve a group of people marching with torches intending to harm or threaten another group of people, supported by the KKK, then there is absolutely no middle ground. You should stand solidly on the side that is not supported by the KKK.

There is no middle ground for people who march in protest of hating an entire other group (or groups).  If the circumstances involve a group of people marching with torches intending to harm or threaten another group of people and that group is supported by the KKK, then there is absolutely no middle ground.

I can’t say it any other way. I’m beating this into your skull as many times as I can.

Whatever happens in your life, you should stand solidly on the side that is not supported by the KKK.

It’s not that hard.

There is a fallacy of false equivalence which is what, I think, complicates things if you are reading this as an adult. Let me be clear, Little (because no matter how much taller than me you will inevitably get, you will always be my Little.) If you are against the KKK or any other hate group, then you aren’t the opposite.

You are a decent human being.

Be careful – do not fail to stand up for what’s right because you are afraid to be seen as equally bad. You’re not. People might call you terrible things for standing on the side of right. Just follow these simple rules:

Don’t burn things to the ground.

Don’t instigate violence.

Don’t tip cars.

Don’t jump into the mob unless you know exactly what’s going on.

Glass shattering? Please don’t. You could get a nasty cut and an infection. Plus, destruction of property is illegal.

Ask people who are being bullied, harassed or otherized how you can help effectively. I’ve screwed up in that way, even just a few days ago at the park. I asked a friend how can we get more people of color to attend rallies, and he very honestly, candidly, openly told me I was asking the wrong question. And he’s right. He is presenting tonight and we are going to support him, his family, our city, and our fellow citizens. But we have to do more. It’s not up to me to figure out how to do more to make others feel comfortable – it’s up to me to have a conversation with someone to see what I can do to be supportive in a meaningful way. That’s harder to do, but it’s so very important.

But yes. If someone or a group is hurting someone you love, there is no equivalent.
You help. You help. You help.

If someone or a group is standing on the wrong side of history, waving symbols that are so clearly selected to threaten another group of people, even if you have no connection to that wronged group, you stand up.

You stand alongside those who can not defend themselves or those who are hoarse for yelling for so long they need support. You stand in front of those who can not defend themselves or are too tired to fight any longer.

You help. You help. You help. 

You are 5 as of yesterday. It’s the year 2017 and I can’t believe I have to send a message to future you about the KK fucking K.

I love you. Please, be good. Be good. Be good.

And…happy birthday.

Also, don’t say the F word. It’s not ladylike.


Dear Little: Swimming


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Dear Little,

Last year, I wanted nothing more than to take you swimming. My goal was to teach you over the summer.

And then, I fell and this is what I got to wear all summer.


green cast

Seriously. Knocked over on Mother’s Day. Thanks, Captain!


(Not to be outdone, you broke your thumb falling out of bed a few months later. Apple…Tree. )


broken thumb

Awww! Baby’s first x-ray!


Anyway, so last summer was a bust for swimming lessons. But THIS year, free lessons at the local pool, the one we can walk to. So we joined a class with your friend, Zoe, who is a year younger than you. Zoe has taken the class before. You have not. And while I love that you are fearless and enthusiastic about swimming, you did not have the skills to keep up with the young lady to your right who kept “diving under” and swimming across the pool unassisted.

Overcome by your own enthusiasm and how easy it looked, you let go of the wall and…

immediately started to sink like a stone.

I jumped in (yes, wearing a bathing-suit, but also a dress, baseball hat, sunglasses, etc).

Sputtering, you looked at me and said, “Can I do that again?”

It was about this time the instructor realized that maybe, just maybe, you should have a flotation device, because while you are “4 and 11/12” (a running joke because your daddy works with numbers) you look like a 6-year-old — with confidence. So I can see why they put you in the category of “she’s got this.”

It’s going to be a long 10 lessons.




Dear Little: Adorawords



Hey, Bunny,

This morning, you were emphatic that your oakmeal was too hot.

No. Not a typo. This is how you say “oatmeal.”
Oak. Meal.

And you get really upset if we try to correct you.

There are a series of words that I will be sad to see disappear as you get older.

  • Oakmeal
  • Boo Boo Hat (Band-aid)
  • Acewyn (your name when you introduce yourself to friends)
  • Runnnnnnniiiiiiinggggggg (this one has gone extinct. You just say “running” like a normal person now.)
  • Erf (as in, Earth to Daddy!)
  • Wuv (Captain Wuv)
  • Cah (though, you DO live in Boston, so you might always pronounce car in this manner.)
  • Puppy (though not because you pronounce her name in a funny manner. You have her with you wherever you go and someday, that won’t be the case. You’ll be fine. I’ll be a wreck.)

So when you’re 14, please don’t roll your eyes at me when I ask if you need a boo-boo hat.



Dear Little: Virtual Reality

Dear Little –

Yesterday, we went took advantage of the Museum of Science membership we got earlier this year. When I was a kid, I remember taking a field trip from Maine to the MOS – or maybe it was a family trip? Aside from the wall that “freezes” a shadow on the wall and the colored wall that turns shadows the primary colors, I can’t tell you anything else about the trip. (These exhibits are still here which is pretty cool.)


You, 2017, with the wall I remember from the 1980’s.


We couldn’t do stuff like this often when we were kids because funding was tight, and a trip to Boston just wasn’t in the cards for us. I remember the one time we did get to go, it was a special event and an amazing time – but I don’t remember much about it. So now that I live in Boston with your dad and we are so close to the museum, I jumped at the opportunity to get you a membership so we can go whenever you want.

Which is often 🙂

Yesterday we went and there is a new permanent exhibit.


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Particle Mirror at the Museum of Science. You were here for an HOUR as different groups came and left.



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Little Kids and Grown Adults playing with varying particles on a screen that respond to “touch” or movement from participants several feet away.


Kiddo, you loved this exhibit.

I loved this exhibit.

There isn’t much more to document here except as you are nearing 5, it’s interesting to see the things you love. We still HAVE to say hi to Cliff every time we’re at the museum which I think is adorable.



Saying hi to your friend, Cliff.


Always be curious.

I mean, not conspiracy-theory-lack-of-evidence curious.  To head this off, the world is spherical. Climate change is real. People did not exist with dinosaurs. Vaccines do not cause autism (

Curious – how are fossils made? Why does bread always land peanut butter side down? What separates those who quit in season 2 Twin Peaks from those who pushed through (for me it was Special Agent Dale Cooper, and the promise of, “It’ll suck for a bit but get better”. Everyone is different.) How does this funky particle mirror WORK?

I love how 4 is wrapping up. You’re my favorite tiny person on the planet. Looking forward to what 5 brings in just a few short weeks.

Love, Mom.

Dear Little: Fourth


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Dear Little,

Today is July 4th, 2017. Without prompting, you put on this outfit.

“Oh, you put on the birthday hat because it’s our country’s birthday!”
“No? Did you know that today is America’s birthday?”
“It is?”
“Kiddo? What do you think the 4th of July is?”
“It’s fireworks day.”
“Fair enough. So you’re wearing the hat…”
“…because I like the hat?”

Can’t argue with that logic. You are mighty happy in that hat.

And while the outfit itself was totally unprompted, I’m happy it didn’t take too much prompting to get you to turn your racerback dress around before I took the photo and let you out in public.

Think about it for a second. You’ll understand. If racerbacks are out of style when you read this, Google it.