4.13.2014

Dear Merritt,

Or should I address this missive to the superhero moniker you requested to be called, but then changed your mind when I put my own spin on it?

Dear Captain AMerrittca,

Congrats on making captain by the age of four and a half!


One early morning recently while we were all in the Mommas' bed, Mommy was still trying to sleep and you and I were whispering. "I'm an expert at talking," you said. And you were not incorrect.

We love "Merritt parlance." The way you ask for "granilla" bars. Or when you exclaim, "What in the 'blazers'?" How you've been listening to the Spanish version of "Let It Go" (Libre Soy) and doing your own mash-up, roaming the world singing, "Let it soooooooyy! Let it sooooyyeeee!"

You tickle us all the time by beginning sentences with "In the first place," or "Not to mention."

When you were penning thank you notes for all your Christmas presents, you wrote something and then told me, "I'm going to draw 'underlow' it."


After seeing "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" (Mr. Bee Potty to you), you came home and were excited to tell Mommy all about the part where they were in "Ajent Eep-shit." We should teach you to walk like an eep-shit-tian.

When you discovered that you could roll your stomach and do what we have always known as "the truffle shuffle," you renamed it "The Nipple Dance" even though your nipples take no part in the dance. They do, however, watch the show when you pull up your shirt and delight us with the wonders of your abdominal control.

This month you have mastered sarcasm in so much as you will say something sarcastic and then to make sure we understand that it is sarcasm, you immediately follow it with "That's sarcasm." You do this every time you make a sarcastic remark. I'm not being sarcastic.


A couple of weeks ago you scurried past me with a jump rope and a wooden hanger, and I asked you what you were building. "A cliffhanger," you told me. And indeed it was one.

Mommy had no idea what she was starting the night she "found something" behind your ear, because for months now you regularly beg us and teachers and strangers to "Find something behind my ear!" It began innocently enough; she was just nuzzling you and then suddenly pulled a tube of Blistex from back there. And then a clothes pin. And then whatever else I could find sitting on my bedside table and covertly slide to her. You were aghast and exhilarated. Then you sat up and got very serious. "ARE WE MAGICIANS??"

We considered that the moment you became a card-carrying member of The Alliance of Magicians. And knew we were right in that assessment when, later, you performed a failed illusion but uttered, "A magician never quits," and trudged on.


You've also been good for quotes such as, "Keep your eyes peeled open just like an orange," and "Momma. On the toy commercials, what does it mean when they say each sold 'xcept Shirley?" And after telling me you liked a new dish towel covered in tractors, and me telling you that you can take it with you when you move out: "I'm never moving out."


We've been playing the "high/low" game at the end of every day where all three of us think back through our day and talk about it. We usually reserve this game for bedtime, though you sometimes decide we should do it over dinner, and then we play round two (to cover the span of time between the last meal of the day and sleeping) just as we're tucking you in.

What we love about this game (aside from glimpsing the world through your eyes) is when something good happens at any point of the day and you are at once ready to play because you can't wait to tell us that moment is your high. We love that you find new highs constantly, whether it's having us wake you up at 2:00 a.m. to watch the first pitch of the baseball season (or taking you to your first MLB game!), or when you wander in wearing my glasses and ask, "Can I have these at college?" and I say you may. Highs. for. days.


Merritt. You are heady and intrepid and everything comes alive in your company. You are a real-life magician with the ability to turn the illusion of "everything is going to be okay" into a reality; your existence just makes it so. You lean hard into love. And we lean hard into you. You are our highest high.

It's okay if you never move out. But even if (when) you do, the tractor towel is yours. The glasses are yours. We are yours. And we will be forever.



We love you,
Momma & Mommy

1.28.2014

This Girl Loves Her Wife

Mere hours before an Indigo Girls concert last summer, I whipped up this shirt and wore it. You know. Just in case there was any confusion.



Erin and I recently made a Teespring campaign with the same awesomely generic shirt. And we're one away from hitting our goal and having the shirt go to print and donating a quarter of the proceeds to GLAAD.

If you are a girl and you have a wife and you love her or if you know a girl who has a wife whom she loves (the love part is crucial), maybe check out this shirt and buy one or share it. 

1.11.2014

Things that made me cry today

1. The first bite of this:

 

My Aunt Deb passed away in October. The last time I talked to her was over three years ago when I came out to her. It didn't feel like the conversation went that well. And since it was the last time we spoke, I think that assessment was fair. But now she's gone and I'm still struggling to wrap my head around it. 

I've spent the past two and a half months making every recipe of hers I have. Each bite has transported me back to happier times. I've been holding off on this recipe because it's my favorite. I jotted it down while I was in college. Sitting on a stool in her kitchen, and between bites of the simple red stuff, I wrote each ingredient as she called it off, her reading glasses sliding off the tip of her nose as she read her own recipe aloud.

I miss her in the strangest of ways. And that first bite of her hot sauce today brought tears so quickly that I couldn't swallow. It was unmistakably familiar and comforting and haunting and just like hers. 

2. These dudes.
Jonathan & Dwayne | A story about love. from Celia Hilton on Vimeo.

3. The fact that my beloved Encyclopedia Jordannica is currently IN LABOR. And before the day ends, Henry will arrive and explode his parents' hearts with bigger love than either one of them has ever fathomed.

(May 2010) Merritt eyes the woman he eventually comes to call "Aunt Georgian."

4. Jumping frog squats.

5. This stupid setlist out of Tacoma last night:


Not only did the Indigo Girls play "Three County Highway" and "Dairy Queen" and "Land of Canaan" in the same show, but Brandi Carlile joined them for five songs. 137 MILES FROM MY HOUSE.

1.01.2014

In case you were looking for a way to extend the holidays ...

Here! Get this song wedged in your brain.

12.31.2013

Dear Merritt,

Tonight we bid adieu to 2013 with one of your favorite meals (BRINNER!) and tomorrow we'll wake up and begin 2014 together. Because let's be honest: We're not staying up to ring it in because you'll be awake mere hours after midnight.


Hopefully we won't have a repeat of Christmas, where you came to our room at 1:45 a.m. and whispered-yelled, "MOMMA, I'M DOIN' THE PLAN!" The "plan" involved coming straight to our room when you woke up in the morning. We forgot to mention that "morning" meant "daylight." I don't know why we even made a plan; you always come straight to our room in the morning.


Here's a toast to that. To you continuing to crawl into bed with us every morning. To spending the first hour (usually more) of every day just hanging out. Snuggling. Heaping all of your love on top of our heads.

Here's a toast to you learning to snap! And spelling your full name! And becoming the proud owner of a stuffed carrot ("Carrot") and a stuffed broccoli ("Broccoli") and determining that they are twin brothers! And for boldly taking Carrot to school on picture day and convincing the photographer to let you snap what is probably our favorite picture of this year!


Here's a toast to your "Southern accident." You destroy us when you start talkin' with that liltin' drawl of yours, like when you announce, "I'm gonna rahd mah bahk." You know you can get pretty much anything you want (bike rides included) when you bust out that accent.

Here's a toast to your verb conjugation. We passed a car on the road recently and you exclaimed, "We beated it!" And then you paused for a second and corrected yourself. "We bot it?" You'll get there, Bud. You'll getted there before we know it.

Speaking of cars and your vocabulary, here's a toast to your ability to express yourself when you walk out of the library and take a big whiff of the air and then gag and say, "It stinks! P.U.!" And when I ask what it smells like, you casually say, "Car breath." Ah, all that exhaust around us, yes.


Heck, here's a toast to your ability to express yourself ALL THE TIME, and with the best words. 

"I didn't like that story much, but I loved it a little." 

Here's to you thinking that a camel is called a "canimal," but also to your profound understanding of a large percentage of the rest of our language. 

"Well, he's small compared to me!" 

"This won't be an ordinary bath!" 

"Momma, can you make me something unusual out of this balloon?"

"Can you help me defeat this?"




Here's a toast to you talking for the rest of forever. Monologues and soliloquies. Dinner conversations. Sleep talks. Toilet talks. Car talks. Whisper-yells. Deep Thoughts with Merritt Handey.

A toast to never hushing.


Here's a toast to another year full of your curiosity and insights, your exuberance, your made-up dances and games and words, your revelry, your tenderness and wildness, your sense of adventure, your sense of calm, your sass and your spunk, your capacity to live succulently, your magnificent you-ness, and your heart-filling-to-the-point-of-exploding love.


Cheers!

We love you,

Momma & Mommy

10.20.2013

Dear Merritt,


You are four years and one week old. We can not begin to comprehend this. How have you completed four years of life and entered your fifth? Does. Not. Compute.


We were recently playing in your room and you said, "I know you why you picked me out at the baby store." We often talk about how you grew in my body, so this notion of the baby store was new and somewhat surprising. I asked where you'd learned about such a place and you used your typical "I don't know, I just realized it" answer. So I played along and asked, "Okay? Why did I pick you?" And you leaned in close and grinned a giant grin and said, "Was I cute?"

Oh, man. Were you ever. And you still are.

You were when you smiled in your sleep for the first time. And you are when you laugh your head off at a homemade knock-knock joke. You were when all your newborn--and even premie--clothes swallowed you whole. And you are when you've outgrown your pajamas and your tummy and wrists and ankles peek out around all your hems, but that doesn't stop you from wearing your old favorites. You were when your eyes could barely pull focus and sometimes crossed. And you are when you watch the Dodgers and Red Sox so fiercely and intently (and cheer for them to get a "home score," your current terminology for "home run").

I suspect you will probably always be cute.


You do this thing where you nuzzle into our necks and whisper the most wonderful things.

"Thank you for this delicious meal."

"I'm so glad to be here with the mommas."

"I love you so badly. And goodly."

It wouldn't be fair to call these "sweet nothings" because they feel like sweet everythings.


Last week at the library, you insisted on returning all sixteen books by yourself, one at a time. Instead of hurrying you along or being frustrated, I just stood back and let you do your thing. And I'm so glad I did.

You essentially conducted a "celebration of life" for each book you returned, taking a moment to say a few kind words aloud (but to yourself) about each publication before sending it down the shoot. "Oh, Dirty Gert. You were a good mess." "Bye, Leprechauns! I love your rainbows." "Thanks for the the treasure hunt idea, Ruby & Max!"


This is a perfect glimpse at how you traipse through life. "Oh, hey there, thing I can experience. I'm going to go ahead and experience you to the fullest. And then I'm going to be grateful for you." Merritt, you astonish and inspire us with your exuberance, your gratitude, and your ability to wring the very best out of any moment and sop it up and roll around in it and revel.


You are a billion sunbeams and a force to be reckoned with (the best kind of force). You are a "tiny teacher" (your declaration) and a brilliant pupil of the world. A phenomenal friend. A powerhouse of creativity and zest and fervor.  A harbinger of wonder. You are a life force like no other. And it is staggering to think about how lucky we are to know you and love you.

There is no greater honor.

Love,
Momma & Mommy


P.S. We're not the only ones who love you:

9.25.2013

Happy Accidents

This house we bought? The previous owner was a hoarder. And a cat lady. And the kind of person who didn't bathe, but instead used the tub as a place to hang-dry her assortment of homemade muumuus, most of them cat-themed.

But that wasn't the only wonder in the main bathroom.

We saw the inside of the house four times prior to our closing date. During the first three viewings (two showings and an inspection), this oddity greeted us from the bathroom counter:


The fourth viewing was prompted when our realtor called to tell us the the seller had finally moved out, but that we needed to meet at the house to understand what that meant.

This is what that meant:


Our seller moved out and took almost nothing. Not her economy-size Vagisil. Not her furniture. Not her medication or her tax records. Rooms that had been empty on the first three viewings were suddenly filled with hoard. Cereal was left in bowls (with milk) on the counter. The refrigerator and two freezers were crammed full. So was a litter box.

She took a suitcase and her cats. And that Marisa Tomei picture.

That. Was. It.

Now, the fact that this was a mere, like, four seconds before closing and filming "House Hunters" and US HAVING TO LIVE HERE is all beside the point.

The point is, the Marisa Tomei picture was gone.

And I don't know how to fully explain this next part, especially since it sort of makes more sense to--I don't know--burn this house to the ground and put a bounty on hoarder cat lady's head. But instead, we decided to honor Ms. Tomei and the former owner's weirdness about her. To continue the inanity.

Back in 2000, Marisa Tomei and Vincent D'Onofrio starred in an Indie flick called "Happy Accidents." We liked it. That's all you need to know about it except that time-traveler Sam Deed (D'Onofrio) claims to be from "the Atlantic Coast of Iowa" (a little over 450 years in the future).

So we made a frame out of some reclaimed wood (the supports from the bottom of the box in which our new dishwasher arrived). I stretched some burlap over it. And then I got to painting something so obscure that any guest who uses this bathroom will either demand an explanation or not mention it and then never return. And Merritt will probably grow up with a really warped sense of U.S. geography.

This 27.5" x 29" beast now hangs above the toilet.

We kind of dig it.

It just feels right to commemorate the former owner, hoard-y though she may be, and to pay tribute to her peculiarity surrounding one Marisa Tomei.

Also, we immensely enjoy that this piece declares the love this family shares to extend beyond the confines of both geography and time.

Also-also, Iowa boasts a town called "Coon Rapids." I put a tiny heart on it. The size of that heart in no way indicates how much I actually heart that. Maybe Erin can explain its relevance in a future post.

9.13.2013

Dear Merritt,


In the five months since you last received a letter, we have purchased a house, made it a home, and allowed a television crew to document the process for a national audience. On a scale of zero to solid, I give it a shaky six as far as excuses for not writing go. While we may not have been writing to you during the hiatus, we've definitely been writing about you.

So we present here a sort of laundry list of the arbitrary stuff that has fallen out of your mouth in the last 154 days.


"I can't borrow any more sleep." Or that day's excuse for why you didn't nap.

After wandering into the room naked, we asked what happened to your clothes, and you offered this completely logical explanation: "They were too comfy, so I took them off."

"'Diego' starts with 'D' and 'egg.'"

You delight in showing us your belly after a meal. "Look how much room I don't have!"

"I can clean messes up with my tongue." And then after some thought, "Wait. No. Not poop."


One evening we explained the water cycle to you. It was simple, but still scientific. Your take-away was something about how big giants stomp on tiny giants (and that makes rain?) and when Mommy asked where you learned that, your proud response was, "From science one time. I just taught me that science."

"Momma, when I was your age, you didn't know what to do." Merritt, that statement right there is what would have happened had M.C. Escher made sentences instead of lithographs.

I asked if you want to go to the grocery store with me to get some milk. "I need to work out tonight." I asked again. "Wellllllllllllll, after my workout."




(Singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat") "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is down the drain." Your renditions are often this sobering.

After finding something in your meal that you deemed crunchy/unacceptable, I told you it was just a fluke and to keep eating. You refused. "No. There are a lot of flukes in this."

"This is how I karate." Or the alternate, "I know how to karate. WATCH." All this despite the fact that you've never been schooled in the martial arts.

"Look! Cropty Duster!" Anytime you see DisneyPixar's Dusty Crophopper.


Cake's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" came on the radio the other day and you listened intently as every line began with, "I want a girl with ..." About three-quarters of the way through the song you broke your silence and announced, "Well, he's not going to get one if he doesn't say 'please.'" Exactly, son.

"Mommy. 'Earmops,' please." After you heard me "earmuff" her while you and I were working on a surprise.


We ask you how many books you want us to read you or for how many more minutes you'd like to play or how many pieces of candy you'd consume in your wildest dreams. "Zero." Then we argue about how zero means nothing and you fight that "zero means a lot," then we argue some more that, okay, zero can mean a lot when you see it coming after a natural number (100 books, 1,000 more minutes of playing, 1,000,000 pieces of candy), then we ask again how many of whatever you want and you answer, "Zero."

A giant air vent was blowing down on you at Home Depot. "The wind is blowing my hair and it looks 'fablious.'" It really did.


"I need my baseball mitten."

You've been wandering around with an old, dead cell phone and randomly putting it to your ear and then yelling out "HELLO?" and from wherever we are in the house, we've been answering and having riveting phone calls with you. On a recent call, you asked us to come over to your house and when asked at what time you wanted us to join you, you sighed and said, "Maybe at six noon point." I can't be certain, but I don't think we showed up late.


Some of the time you spout the kind of nonsense that only we can "get." But other times you speak truths so huge and original and immediately universal that it's impossible to process.

"There is one heart and we all share it. It's a rainbow."

"I love you around your neck and under your panties and into outer space and by the sun and on the floor and it tangles everyone up."

Thank you, Merritt. For giving us daily rainbows. For sharing this one gigantic heart. For tangling us up in this crazy, wonderful, life-changing love.


Love,
Momma & Mommy

6.07.2013

How Conversations Progress


Erin mentions it’s been exactly two weeks since we ate Ruth’s Chris. The best The only way to break vegetarianism for one night.

She says she wants it so badly she can taste it. 

I look at her. Her eyes are watering. She’s making motions toward her munching cave with her hand in the shape of a shovel.

She swears she’s never eating my soy beef tips again. Ever.

Then Gilmore jumps up on the bed and she asks her, “What are you doing, Beef Tip?” And I think that would have been a cool dog name.

And then she asks, “How’s his beef tip?” as she nudges Chapin because his lipstick is almost always out. And now I never want my fake beef tips ever again either.