4.26.16 Lost Boy



“Neverland is home to lost boys like me, and lost boys like me are free.” -Ruth B.

My son is eight … eight going on growing up way too soon.  This is the boy who reads novels, the boy who learned quickly how to beat his mommy in Chess, and who now rolls down the window every day to call her name, and wave a grinning goodbye to his favorite girl from class.

And I watch.

And I try my hardest to remember it all – every moment of him.

He is blessed with a healthy balance of intelligence and curiosity, and maybe just a little too generous a dose of mischief. With a light dash of freckles across his smile-crinkled cheeks, he is beautiful … and I still … all these years later, can’t believe he’s mine.

There are days I think about him before, when he was just bits of smiles and coos.  And I remember Jodi Lynn Anderson’s words from the book Tiger Lily, “I knew I’d miss you. But the surprising thing is, you never leave me. I never forget a thing. Every kind of love, it seems, is the only one. It doesn’t happen twice.”

While I agree that love is singular, it also has a beautiful way of recurring in just the right way – at just the right time. Last night, the sky was crowded with clouds that stretched and pushed the weight of their weightlessness across the atmosphere.  Every so often, they would flicker and glow from within, lightning playing its own version of catch-me-if-you- can. He was mesmerized, and asked me if we could go outside together, and watch the sky.  So we did.  And in an instant I was taken back to my own childhood, sitting on the porch with my dad … watching until the storm got too close.  The inverse brought me back to a tight hug, and an inquisitive, “Oh mom, did you see that one?”  And I did.  I saw every filament of light that filled his blue eyes, as he searched for the wonder in mine.

Love may not, “happen twice” the same way, but there is something unequivocally magical about seeing it come full circle. And in my son, like his mother, and papa before him, I see a place, “… where dreams are born, and time is never planned.” (J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan)  He is caught up in the possibility of, “What if?” He is enchanted with the world of pretend.  He believes without doubt or question in things only imagination can offer. He is my lost boy … growing up much too fast, and forever ageless, all the same.

Searching for Neverland,


4.19.16 Least of These



“If you don’t take hold of the light, the darkness will take ahold of you.” Dave Brickey

People don’t typically gravitate toward teenagers. They’re seen as “the least” of society. Selfish. Egotistical. Moody. Lazy. I can think of a dozen more titles flippantly cast at the age. Mostly, it’s true, or it can be. So for the past few years, I’ve done a research project that asks my students to chose a charity to study, advocate for, and represent to the class. It has been an amazing journey of seeing teenagers learn to care about something bigger than their day, and invest in something that isn’t self-serving. While the initial draw is the $100.00 I promise to donate to the winner’s charity, there are always countless examples during presentations that prove it is so much more than a competition. This year was no different.

In the beginning of the unit, I tell the students that they may chose any charity, but to get my approval, they must first convince me that they are the right person to be an ambassador for this cause. They need to make a connection. I don’t always anticipate just how deep a chord this will strike. A few days ago, near the end of a week of feel-good presentations, it was her turn. Her. The beautiful girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful … who hides behind the hair that falls in her face … who wears only black, or grey … who smiles, but speaks only in whispers. Her.

I tell the students that they need to dress up to present, and that hoodies and jeans aren’t allowed. She stood simply, removing her ever-present grey hoodie at the last minute to reveal a plain white t-shirt. Quietly, she walked to the front of the room, not choosing the digital format of a website or powerpoint, but an old fashioned poster to display her information. It was hand-written, but neatly … and there were only a few pictures. To Write Love on Her Arms was the name of her charity, and I remember being struck when she chose it, at the beauty in the name, and the beauty in the girl who found the charity dedicated to helping those who suffer from: depression, addiction, and self-harm. She’d told me, when she picked it, that a friend of hers needed support, and she was glad there were places, “like this,” to help her.

She began with the facts, displayed the mission and the purpose, and then paused. She was breathing heavily, placing her arms on her legs like someone who’d just run very far and needed a moment to compose themselves.  Then she raised her arms, those hidden, secret arms concealed daily in a hoodie, and shared her faint, criss-cross scars with the world. She exposed what was left of her dark choices, and went on to bravely implore her fellow classmates to get help, and offer help. She said she was better, but explained why she, and so many like her, hide. With tears shed and shared, I could not have been more proud of her … and for that moment … she was the class hero.

Lately I’ve heard so many, many problems others have been facing. Students I know, kids of friends, acquaintances, grown and child alike … they are hurting, or scared, or confused.  And they are literally waiting for any ear open enough to hear their call. I’ve always been attracted to the passage in the Bible from Matthew 25:40 which says,  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” If that’s true … we cannot possibly be confused about our calling.

This poem is for them.  All of them who need us … whoever they are. Please share it.

Least of These

You are far from the least of these,

that harbor troubled hearts,

entangled with troubled minds.

You are not simply one in a million voices,

but rather one voice that is quiet …

but heard.

What I have come to realize,

dear one,

is that skating on eggshell thin self-esteem

cannot get you far enough,

fast enough

from where you’ve been traveling.

You’ve become a fragile creature,

too accustomed to the dark to remember how to feel comfortable in the light.

But you are not lost,

because the truly lost have none reaching out to them –

and I’m still reaching.

You need to trust that different 

really can be,

and that there is such a place

as better.

Leave worse to the shadows it came from.

Remember that no one gets it right all the time,

and that even those of us on the upside of down –


We’ve just been in the light long enough to know

that it’s always strong enough to pull us back.

So if you’re not there yet … if you’re not quite strong enough to handle it all …

I want you to know it’s okay.

Insecurities are not weakness,

they’re only fears unresolved.

And everyone has them,

it’s just time to untie their bind on you.

You aren’t alone –

you never were.

And it’s time you be properly introduced

back into the world you belong in …


And even if, for now,

(because it won’t always be so, I promise)

mine is the only world you’re comfortable rejoining,

it will be enough.

You will be safe, with me.

Little by little, you’ll find yourself –

the you we’ve all missed so dearly.

Moment by moment you won’t have to try quite so hard,

and your choices will be seen more clearly.

Day after day,

your eyes will adjust to the light …

until it is your turn,

to reach out,

and bring someone back too.




4.13.16 For Simply Being You



Whenever someone tells me that they’re tired, I tell them that I understand, as I’ve been tired for eight years. I’ve been this way pretty much ever since the moment the doctor congratulated me and said, “It’s a boy!” The Snark-e-Card company has a quote that says, “Great parenting lies somewhere between ‘don’t do that’ and ‘ah, what the heck.” I think I agree. There is sometimes a very fine line between my “over-parenting self,” and my “I’m-too-tired-to-ask-why-you’re-being-so-quiet self.” Still, my husband and I must be doing something right, because after our recent family vacation to Disney … I realized just how amazing my children really are. 

Let me start with the preface that amazing and perfect are two very different things. Great as they may be, mistakes are to be made, and often at that. It’s pretty embarrassing, to say the least, when your son (enthralled by the video game the kid behind him on the plane is playing) turns to stare like an open-mouthed neanderthal and lets the gum fall out of his mouth onto the floor! What’s even more awesome is awkwardly having to ask the lady behind me if I can crawl on my hands and knees in between her twins to retrieve the rogue sticky mess, just as the “fasten seat belt” sign dings, and the entire surrounding area laughs at my predicament. Thanks for that buddy – thanks. And yeah, on the plane ride back, my daughter decides to have the equivalent bladder control of an expectant mother in her ninth month. Nothing shouts “good time” like squeezing past nauseated passengers on a turbulent flight to stand beside minuscule bathrooms whose scent is akin to a port-o-potty in the air, all while staring into the face of the flight attendant who is seated with his seatbelt fastened between the two make-shift bathrooms. 

Unfortunately, I think my kids had the opinion of Laurence J. Peter who said, “If two wrong things don’t make a right, try three.” Because in a moment, we were off the plane, and my son decided he knew where he was going, managing to both get in the wrong line for Disney transportation, while also forcing us to cut in front of all those before us so we looked like entitled jerks as we boarded the right bus first. I wasn’t sure whether to be mortified or proud of his tactic. 

If the flight and airport were the entirety of our trip, I might have more cause to challenge myself as a parent, but the things I saw at Disney … let’s just say it was magical how great my husband and I felt about ourselves after a trip to the kingdom. In short, here are my favorite witnessed moments:

  • I passed a little boy who singlehandedly was trying to shove both fists into his mouth simultaneously as his parents looked blindly on.
  • I saw a much-too-old kid picking his nose and, yeah … you know.
  • I heard a mother plead with the two-year-old she was dragging out of the bathroom stall saying, “Don’t bite me Jack, just wash your hands.” 
  • I watched a toddler crawl on the ground (THE GROUND) at the fanciest restaurant, only to scream when anyone but her mother tried to pick her up.
  • We had a gaggle of plastic-looking-teenage-somethings behind us at the Beauty and the Beast show wearing matching white tanks, identical dyed hair and way too much make-up shift and squeeze themselves together to get a “selfie” until I suggested taking a picture for them, at which point they looked at me like I was a genius, and handed over their phones. 
  • I watched a frantic father with an empty stroller whiz around the marketplace looking for his lost little one, as another, completely different little girl stood with about five Disney personnel crying her eyes out because her parent left her behind. 
  • There were a slough of screaming strollers, complete with feet-dragging little wonders who then cried louder when their shoes, laces, blankets, or toys mysteriously tangled with the wheels of their ride.

I could go on and on and on, but the truth is … the longer I was surrounded by everyone else’s random kids, the more I realized how grateful I was for my own. Sure we had mini-meltdowns, sure we stayed up too late and whined a bit for snacks, but comparatively-speaking, my little miss and mister were in kingdom-worthy form. And truth be told, a little bathroom obsession and gum in the backseat doesn’t seem so bad. 

So my darlings … I thank you – for simply being you. 


Mommy (Also Known as Elle) 



4.6.16 Ordinary Never: Grace Notes & Give Away


“Look at this life, all mystery and magic.” Harry Houdini 

It is my great pleasure to be writing you today as a guest author for Grace Notes, the blog dedicated to the movement of Bella Grace Magazine – a publication meant to enchant everyday living. At the end of the post, there is a gift give-away … so read all the way down friends! For more of Bella Grace’s: Grace Notes, click on the link, (Grace Notes ) and transport yourself to a place devoted to: breathing a little slower, dreaming a little longer, and escaping a little more often.

So I begin the way all stories should …

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Ordinary Never

I’ve never been what anyone would consider normal.  Caught somewhere between reality and my imagination, I believe in whimsy, and the kind of magic only fireflies know. When my “Once Upon a Time” began, I must admit I was afraid all the greatest stories had already been told. The only enchanted apple in my tale was me … and unremarkably, I was not even the kind that fell too far from the family tree, as they say. On the outside, my family was most conventional – but to me, they were ordinary never. My father was a dreamer, my mother … encouragement personified, and my sister, well … she’s my hero – the secret keeper of my heart. How could anyone turn out normal with a family like that?

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After the fairy tale childhood, it’s quite easy to see, why, regardless of the villains and foes my years have confronted me with … I’ve always found that there is an undercurrent of light and magic in my life I refuse to ignore. It certainly isn’t that things are perfect … perfect doesn’t exist after all – but sometimes imperfect is ever-so-close.  That’s magic.

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How else could I explain the gifts of fate I’ve been granted? How else could I explain him? There’s an old saying from the Roman philosopher Atticus that describes my husband. “I don’t believe in magic,’ the young boy said. The old man smiled. ‘You will, when you see her.” And he did see me. He found me.  And that practical boy I fell in love with, has a secret dreaming side most people never see.  That’s magic.

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In this crazy life we have built for ourselves, days traveling faster than the speed of light it seems, I often feel that I have all the grounding of a moth in a hurricane – that the world is pushing past me in a blur of color and wonder. But then I let go, and enjoy the fact that while I am not in control, at least for a moment, like time itself – I get to fly. And I see the boy we didn’t think we could have … and his sister we never expected. Yet again – that’s magic.

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I know this version of life that I see may not be any other curator’s definition of precious. But these artifacts of my life … these are one-of-a-kind collections no museum could house, and no photograph could master. It is my memory’s masterpiece that cannot be tamed. I find it in: the laughter of my best friend … the hand-written letter I never saw coming … the kiss on the forehead I didn’t expect … the giggle she couldn’t contain … the hug he didn’t hold back … the published piece with my name on it … the sound of my grandmother’s, “Remember when …” and on and on it goes. That’s magic.

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“And above all,” Roald Dahl once insisted, “watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” If for no other reason than you could dare to miss it … believe.  Seek.  Pray.  Try.  Wonder.  Explore.  Dare. Then find! Find yourself in all the unanswered questions you didn’t dare to ask.  And tell yourself again and again that there is magic in this life, until you trust it with unequivocal certainty. Have faith. Chase your own version of ordinary never. Because you know what? It’s magic

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Bella Grace Magazine Give-Away!!!


Bella Grace Blog Hop

Thank you so much for your supportive reading of my guest blog to Grace Notes. As a special gift, I’d like to offer a free copy of the newest issue of Bella Grace Magazine to the individual who shares this blog post with the most friends. Use whatever social media you’d like, just tell me your numbers (by April 15th) and I’ll send this lovely gift to you personally. Let’s spread the enchanting work of words together … let’s make life Bella. Write on my friends.


Time to connect and win!

Elle’s Contact

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