Love Letters to my Girls, Courtesy of Hands Free Mama

Growing Up Austin

(If you are visiting looking for SXSW for Kids info, here it is!)

When I first read the idea from Hands Free Mama, I knew I had to do it – write love letters to my kids.

I didn’t want it to be a project that I added on my list of things to do later, so I wrote the letters that same night. I wrote what came to mind right away, without over-thinking or over-editing. I printed them on the prettiest paper I already had in the house. I didn’t worry when the ink printed in alternating colors for no reason. I shared them the next day.

Her idea was so simple, to give examples, to put it in writing and to include an ‘i’m sorry’ for when you have made mistakes. Then, have a sit-down conversation, longer than an every-day-i-love-you, one that might sink in a little deeper and might be remembered a little more.

I thought to include my letter to Sparkles, as an example, but I copied the idea and the format and much of the last few paragraphs from Hands Free Mama, so you should read hers instead.

When I read Buttercup’s letter to her, she smiled a lot and we shared hugs and kisses. Sparkles understood more, she snuggled her head in my shoulder and put her arm around me. With my teenage step-daughter, it has been more complicated. I left her letter on her pillow.

Sometimes Mom Blogs help me understand and sometimes they make me laugh, but this post helped me be a better Mom. These won’t be my only love letters to my kids. Thank you, Hands Free Mama. Thank you, Two Cannoli, for introducing me to Hands Free Mama. And thanks most of all to Buttercup, Sparkles and Noel. I love y’all very much.



I Have Totally Been Cheating on Y’all

Yes, there is another man writing project. I may have seemed distant, not really engaged and hardly ever posting.

The truth is, I have been storytelling.

Not ghost stories by the campfire, but true, personal stories told in front of a live audience, like The Moth. I told my favorite story the other day, with The Story Department, mostly about my breasts. That is a bit much to put out on the Internet, especially when I am looking for a proper day job, but here it goes anyway.

I’m going to try to see both of y’all, even though that hardly ever works out. I’ll let y’all know when I tell my next story. Maybe the two worlds will merge one day.

Hope to see you soon,


Austin City Limits WITHOUT Kids: A Five Point Plan

Austin City Limits Music Festival

I posted last week about how Sparkles and I will attend Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) this Saturday and our ten-point plan for fun. Today I’ll share my five-point plan for Friday, when I’ll go without my kids.

If you are a parent, you might be thinking that ACL isn’t for you, with ACL’s three long days of music and the $200 price tag. If you add the cost of food and a babysitter, you might need to dip into the kids’ college fund to pay for it all.

But for me, as a Mom with small kids, ACL has been a great resource. I don’t get to see live music as much as I did before kids. I miss being there and I miss live music as a way to learn about new bands. With ACL, it’s as if all the music managers of the world got together and said, OK, Mom, this is for you – a ton of bands of all different genres on one day in the same place with good food and decent weather (well, since the festival moved to October). For a few years when my girls were really little, the bands I saw at ACL were the bands I listened to all year long. And if you go for only one day, and make a trade of some kind for babysitting, it is a pretty good value.

Live Music is different when you are a Mom, most things are. Here is how I’m going to do it when I go this Friday. Maybe these ideas will help, if you are going too.

(Ticket Info: If you don’t have a ticket yet, tickets are available on Craig’s List or StubHub. Check out the ACL website for festival details.)

1. Pack and Dress Well. I’ll pack pretty much the same as I will when I go with kids, a small backpack with sunscreen, an unopened water bottle (unopened is a festival rule), wipes, camera, wallet (you need cash for many vendors), a cell phone and a blanket. (Yes, I’ll bring wipes, even though I won’t have my kids. They are pretty handy.) I’ll wear a hat and comfortable shoes. I’ll tell you sometime about my first ACL and how I wore cute sandals that didn’t hold up to multiple treks across the 46 acre park and landed me in the first aid station for band aids and how that was a little embarrassing.

2. Make a Tiny Schedule. The schedule can be overwhelming. For one thing, there are more than 125 bands. For another, I don’t know who these people are. It’s not hard to learn about them, you can play songs and get bios quickly on the ACL Schedule or Lineup pages and you can listen to Texas Music Matters’ ACL preview show. But, sometimes I’m walking around my house and I see the cat has thrown up and I think, “I don’t have time to clean that right now” and I really don’t. On most days, I don’t have hours to pour over data and evaluate exactly the right personal schedule to optimize my potential listening pleasure. So I’m not going to do it. I’ll look ask around and do a Facebook post and maybe read a little.  I’ll end up with a few bands I want to see, then in-between I’ll see what someone else wants to see or walk around and stop when something sounds good. Sometimes shade influences me, the BMI and Zilker stages have the best shade.

3. Get Connected. I’ve had bad luck with my cell phone at ACL in the past, but I imagine by now the technology folks have made it possible for 75,000 people in one park to text all at the same time. I’ll use the Group Text iPhone app to make texting easier and the official ACL app for info and updates. The festival map will include locations for wireless and charging stations.

4. Eat Something New. The ACL food vendors are local businesses and the menus range from the everyday hamburgers and pizza to the pretty unusual, like rabbit and rattlesnake sausage. The same way ACL is a good place to find new music, I like to find new restaurants too. I might try Judges’ Hill Restaurant’s Pulled Puerco Pibil Sandwiches w/ Jicama Coleslaw & House Made Pickles and Daily Juice’s Blueberry Lemonade. I know for sure I’m going to try Coolhaus‘ choose your cookie+choose your ice cream idea, probably with the Chocolate Chip Cookie and the Dirty Mint Chip Ice Cream.

5. See (and Maybe Buy) Art. I’m developing more of a feel for art, mostly through my kids (see, but more for myself, a little bit at a time. The ACL art vendors are mostly affordable and cover many types of mostly accessible art including paintings, clothes, jewelry and accessories. Most of the vendors are Austin-based and the goods are more unique than you would find in a typical store.

Please share or tweet this post if you found it fun or helpful! I’ll check-in with y’all next week and let you know how the two days went.