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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Dear Corwin,

I haven’t written you anything here in years. It was a conscious decision to share less about you here, and let you grow into your own person without people’s impressions of you being influenced by how I see you. I still share little stories of you on Instagram, but it’s different. I miss this, and today, I want to make an exception.

You are five years and eight months old now. You love drawing, and it’s been amazing seeing you develop over time. You draw stories, and make little books of your own. You spend hours playing Lego, building and breaking things, weaving all sorts of stories with your minifigures. Raising you without TV during your first 2 years was challenging, as is limited screentime as a preschooler, but I think it’s paying off. You call your dad Master Storyteller. Your humour is so spot on with ours, and you fit into this family more perfectly than I could’ve ever imagined.

Dear CorwinLast month, we treated your first major knee scrapes and a broken toenail. I almost fainted fixing the latter, but it’s all good. You were a brave little boy. And speaking of brave, you’re also getting better at swimming. I call you my little fishy, but you insist you’re a shark.

You started reading at 3 years old (I originally wrote 4, but I just saw a video of you reading CVC words back in August 2015), and are now reading Level 2 books all on your own. You read more advanced books with a little help. You read reference books for fun, too, the way your father and I read encyclopedias when we were kids. 

We’ve just started reading Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire, a chapter or two every night. I was reading it to you but my reading of Voldemort’s lines scared you, so you asked to read them instead. I didn’t think I would ever find Voldy cute.

Reading is a big part of who I am, who your father is, and who we are together. It means so much to me that you love it as much as we do. Whenever the house is quiet, I know it’s because you’re reading. You’re still very much the chatterbox with the gazillion questions. And you love music, too — all sorts: classical, The Beatles, David Bowie, One Direction, random 90s music, The Decemberists, and almost all the Disney songs and animated movie soundtracks in existence.

Grandma Alma passed away a few days before your 5th birthday. I cannot begin to express how much it broke my heart to tell you. You have been inviting her to your nonexistent birthday party for weeks, as always. We never plan to have one, but you invite all the people you love to it anyway, year after year, and we end up having people over each time because we know how much it means to you.

Weeks later, while we had ice cream on the playground swings, you asked me quietly, “I made Grandma happy?” I wanted to cry into my cone. Yes, you did. She loved you so much, little one. She adored you and delighted in everything you did. She loved spending bits of her Sundays with you, and you looked forward to each one. She would drop by with art materials to make things with you on our dining table, answer all your questions, and play Monopoly Junior with you a hundred billion times. It took me some time to process my own grief, because I felt your loss so immensely. I am sorry grandma is gone.

We’ve moved closer to your school, and you love it here so much. We have open space where you get to run around, with the neighborhood kids who are all, as luck would have it, more or less your age. I love how you explore in the grass, and get earth in your hands and on your feet like a boy your age should, in spite of your slightly obsessive-compulsive and germophobic mother. I am a work in progress, just like you, and I think I’m getting better. Even though it drives me nuts at times, I delight in your boy-ness. I cherish the pretend battles with imaginary villains and the dirt under your nails as part of a childhood well spent, and have learned to shake off the panic when your unwashed feet find their way to our bed.

I will love you forever and ever, even when I’m “old and wrinkly”. Remember that wrinkles are nothing to be afraid of; they’re stories you carry with you everywhere you go, memories of love and loss and laughter. Wear them proudly. And yes, I will climb up your window like the mother in the book Love You Forever if I absolutely must, but would still very much prefer to go through the door.


…or some form of it that suits us.

I love clean, white spaces. My husband and I are both drawn to Scandinavian design and the Japanese way of life, both for their simplicity and minimalism. We go to Japan sometimes for work, and being able to live that way for a week or two is always refreshing. We’ve always put more value into experiences rather than things, but it’s surprising how much junk one accumulates over the years.

Early mornings. Quiet time. #travelersnotebook #travelersfactory #penaddict

A post shared by Lisa Llarena (@lisallarena) on

There have been considerable attempts as early as my college years when I took to uniform dressing. I’m almost always in black, blue, or grey, and I love how this simplifies my life. It saves me so much time and gets me out the door in 5-10 minutes if I have to. I figure since I’m high-maintenance in other ways, this evens it out. Lol.

Last February, I went ahead and went nuclear mode on clearing things out. Well, as much as I could get with our work schedule then and a move, which means it has been ongoing for the last 5 months. But to be fair, with Jeff’s help, I’ve been able to get rid of a third of our belongings since starting all this. We sold a few things, and donated or threw out the rest. I think I’m finally getting somewhere on the home front.

It wasn’t sudden, but it has been a significant change. It’s nowhere near as extreme as Marie Kondo or The Minimalists, which we feel are both too much for us, but what we’ve done so far has been wildly cathartic. It feels lighter somehow. There’s more space to breathe, more space for light to fill.


We’ve kept most some of our books and most of our Lego because we bond over them as a family. I think decluttering shouldn’t feel like penance or righting a wrong, just as having “stuff” isn’t a bad thing. I like stuff — paper, in particular. It’s just a decision to simplify one’s way of life by only keeping your essentials, whatever they may be. It’s admitting that the things you stored in boxes two years ago will never be unearthed again, and that those Kinfolk magazines on your bookshelf will never be read again, and letting them all go.

It’s a work in progress, but we’re getting to the sweet spot that works for us. I’m messy by default, and some days, I do enjoy a little clutter. Some days, my mind is messy enough for the whole house. Thankfully, the boys bring the chill.