Old People Say Strange Things

Dear Future Stella,

Current Stella has two great-grandfathers that are alive and they both recently had birthdays. Despite both of their blindness due to macular degeneration they are still kicking and it is my understanding that someone reads them my blog each week. I just want that on video.

I already told you about Gopa’s 80th birthday party in this post. Your other one, Popi, recently turned 91!! Ironically, the two great-grandfathers that Current Stella has left are the two that are not genetically related to her, which isn’t looking good for our overall genetic longevity probability. Here are some of my favorite pics of Popi, just doing what he does best- dancing and sleeping.

pic 055

pic 038

IMG_7437_2

IMG_0537

DSC01578

I love talking to old people, wait- no, I actually hate it. They make absolutely no sense and they tend to smell odd. I only like talking to old people who are part of my family. Those kind of old people are awesome and so in honor of your Popi’s 91st birthday, I decided to ask both of them some questions for you to read in 20 years, you know, just in case they are not around to tell you themselves.

1) Do you still enjoy your birthday and how do you feel about getting older?
Popi- I enjoyed my birthday celebrating with Uncle Rick and Gigi. I am thrilled to be alive.
Gopa- I enjoyed my birthday a lot. Getting older is better than dying as long as I’m healthy.

2) What about your life are you the most proud of?
Popi- My children and their families
Gopa- Knowing Jesus and Goma

3) What hopes do you have for Future Stella (and all of your future great grandkids)?
Popi- I want them to have good health, be successful and live a long life
Gopa- Good health and a good education

4) What is your first memory?
Popi-My mother buying me a doctor set when I was about 6 and I wanted to play doctor with all the girls
Gopa- Catching fire flies in a mason jar in the backyard

5) Is there a special/favorite story about Current Stella that you would like to share with Future Stella?
Popi- The best quality time that I spent with Stella was at her Tia’s house at the pumpkin patch and the goodbye kiss and hug that she gave me after our last dinner together before you left.
Gopa- I loved the tea party that Stella and I had at Christmas at Gma and Grandpa’s house.

6) What is your most favorite meal?
Popi- calf’s liver and onions
Gopa- The one I am eating and the one I am thinking about next

7) Is there anything majorly different you would have done in your 20’s?
Popi- I should have gone to Canada instead of serving in WW2
Gopa- I could have been a better parent — spent all my time working and in college

8) Who in your family is most like you and why?
Popi- My son Rick because he lets stuff roll off his back and saying it is what it is
Gopa- My son Monty because he has the same sense of humor

9) What is the most spectacular thing you have seen in your life thus far? Is there any place that you would say is special or sacred to you?
Popi- The most spectacular thing that I have seen in my life is when I made a hole in one at the golf course on 6 different holes. Special to me was going back to Italy for our 50th anniversary and taking my pictures from WW2 when I fought in Italy and comparing them. It was 50 years since WW2 and the entire tour was watching while we visited some of the sights and compared them.
Gopa- Hydrogen bombs going off when I was in the Navy at Bikini Atoll. Yosemite National Park – both special and sacred

10) Finally, make one prediction about what you think life will be like in 2035?
Popi- I am concerned for my great grandchildren. In 20 years from now there may be another war to end all wars and most likely there will be another 9/11 since our security is so lax.
Gopa- Climate situations could be pretty extreme. Also, there could be extreme religious confrontations.

Having the answers to these questions will ensure that their stories will get passed down and their lives remembered. Family urban legends happen all the time when stories get twisted and exaggerated from generation to generation, so to further clarify I have added some additional information about their answers- the cliff Notes, if you will.

My takeaway from this is that your Popi is a pimp ladies man who eats completely repulsive food and favors his son Rick. He hates America and he regrets defending it. He’s most likely a Canadian terrorist spy who is helping plan the next 9/11. I find it suspicious how many hole-in-ones he said he got. I wonder if he knows that just because he couldn’t find the ball (you know because he’s blind) that it doesn’t mean it went in the hole. He said that his favorite time with Current Stella was at the pumpkin patch a few years ago, but based on this picture- the only person getting quality time with him was his bride of 66+ years.

IMG_5166

Popi is a delightful man.

IMG_5103

IMG_7536

I also learned a lot about Gopa from this interview. Your Gopa apparently had a hispanic lover named Jesus that your Goma knew about and was cool with. He also mentioned being incredibly worried about climate change. This really hit home for me, because I too am worried that global warming is just a sick joke and I won’t actually get to wear shorts year round like they are predicting/promising. Gopa is bummed that he won’t get to experience permanent summers before the end of his life and that is really sad. If for some reason he meant the religious Jesus and not a Mexican boyfriend, then the only “religious confrontation” he should be worried about in your future is going to be the moment this blog goes live and Popi (who is Jewish) gets all cray with the Torah and battles Gopa on the very existence of this Jesus person. Its going to be epic and I can’t wait for it. Two super old blind dudes dropping bible verse bombs from across the country to once and for all settle the big question for Future Stella- What would Jesus do if he was partying with two ancient, vision-impaired great-grandpas?

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, in a complete lapse of judgment the other night I somehow agreed that I would sleep with you in your bunk bed for a night if you ate all of your dinner. You sleep on the top bunk and I never, ever go up there. What I found was terrifying. You had 30 dolls, 12 pillows, 3 blankets, 6 books, 2 water bottles, a protein bar, a hairbrush, a cell phone and 2 flashlights. What in fucks name are you planning for up there? I am no longer concerned about you in the case of an earthquake. You will be just fine up there for roughly 3 weeks. How do you sleep amidst all that rubbish? Also, it is absolutely frightening to sleep with your face 1/2 inch from the ceiling. How do you do it? At around 3 am I eventually had to leave because I kept rolling over on your talking Olaf. He says some strange shit, like old people strange. At one point he said, “What am I looking at right now? Why are you hanging off the earth like a bat?” What does that even mean and why does he say it? Do you have any idea how freaky it is to hear that sentence in the middle of the night? I shot up and slammed my head into the ceiling. Thanks for not having a first aid kit up there.

IMG_7558

Love,

Mom

Here are some photos of your other great-grandpas who were not alive to answer my questions.

DSC01993
Delmar Cowell
11/30/2021 – 5/22/2014

IMG_7563
Maurice Weisbrod
8/24/1919-3/14/2006

FullSizeRender_1
Jon Funkhouser
8/10/1939 – 1/16/2005

FullSizeRender
Mike Larinan
2/26/1933 – 4/11/2000

Notes For Your Therapist

IMG_7447-0

Dear Future Stella,

They say that for a memory to make it to the VIP section of your longterm storage it must be peppered with intense emotion of some kind. This could be trauma or elation, terror or excitement. The event could be profound, awe-inspiring and possibly even life changing. It could also be deeply troubling. You not only just remember the significant parts of the day, but you often can recount little minuet details like what you were wearing or what the air smelled like.
 My first memory ever was when my parents were married. I was 4. I remember my floral print dress and having a little trouble getting out of the car. I can still hear the rushing of the river behind us as we stood to take pictures. I remember the shape of the cups people were drinking from. I can still picture the gesture of my father kneeling down to put a locket around my neck, although I can’t quite recall what he said to me. Based on my experience with Current Stella at age 4, there is no way I was mature enough to grasp the significant of that day and yet my brain knew to hold on to it. I couldn’t have realized in that moment that my dad was choosing a life with a single mom with two small children and not just accepting a role as a Step-father but actually becoming our Dad. I couldn’t have grasped how insane it was for a young, broke, Jewish dude to start a life with my even younger, more broke, Christian mother. I probably did sense the fairytale-ness of it all, the true happiness and joy that eminates off two people that are soul mates. Perhaps I was even able to feel a sense of safety and security for the first time in a while and that overwhelming sense of relief and love is what catipulted that memory into that sacred place in the brain that never lets you forget. It could have also been the dress I was forced to wear. It was a disaster and a huge fashion no-no. Yeah, it was probably the dress. 
I often wonder which of Current Stella’s memories are going to go the distance. She’s old enough now where there might even be one or two of those stashed away. Perhaps the day we brought Gail the Puppy home and she immediately chewed up Current Stella’s favorite flip flops. It was so adorable that I would have to think she held on to it. I know I did. Or the time she had to be hospitalized for 2 nights in Mexico. That was sure traumatizing for everyone, especially for the nice nurse that I questioned if hospitalization was really necessary given that we had a cabana waiting poolside at our upscale resort. She then explained (in Spanglish) what it means exactly when a child’s bronchial tubes are collapsing and I kissed that wonderful, sunny, margarita-laced afternoon goodbye.

 Or perhaps she will remember yesterday in perfect clarity. Yesterday had so many different emotions both negative and positive that it just might qualify for one of those days that you bring up to your therapist. Here is what happened yesterday, although I am guessing that you remember it like it was yesterday. 

We were scheduled to get out of town right after school and drive 3.5 hours down to San Luis Obispo to watch your Papa receive the tremendous honor of being inducted into the Cal Poly Athletic Hall of Fame. It was a big freaking deal and we all had to get dressed up and I took 1.5 days off of work and we were even staying at a sweet hotel on the beach. We left even earlier than we had originally planned, giving us a full extra hour of time for incidentals. 

Your dad picked Current Stella up from school and then they both picked me up from work with the car packed ready to go. I got in the car and Current Stella had a blanket over her head. Kids do weird shit all the time so I thought nothing of it and proceeded to prepare my seat and surrounding area for longterm use (I basically prepare like an upright nap-friendly zone). Your dad seemed a bit stressed, borderline angry-ish. Angry-ish is the most angry he ever gets but it’s never like severe or that obvious. I can tell, and you probably know, Future Stella, what angry-ish looks like on him. Anyway, he said, “Why don’t you tell mommy why you have that blanket on your head?” Silence. So I asked her why she has a blanket on her head. More silence and a tiny bit of whiny noises. These days Current Stella is incapable of going 10 seconds without making some sort of whining noise. I look to your dad to just tell me because my nap was waiting and I was running out of patience. He spills the beans and tells me that you cut your hair while at school. The teacher found a pile of hair on the table where she was sitting. Current Stella vehemently denied these accusations both to her teacher and to her dad. Your dad hates being lied to and since he could obviously see her new bangs he was angry-ish. To a hair stylist, cutting your own bangs is one of the worst, most tragic lapse of judgments a person could have. At this point the blanket was still on her head and so I had no idea the severity of the situation we were dealing with. It could be a no-biggie-let’s-just-switch-her-part-or-clip-it-up-for-the-next-couple-of-weeks kind of deal or a holy-fuck-pull-over-immediately-so-we-can-use-roadside-assistance-to-bring-us-clip-in-extensions-right-now kind of deal. Current Stella was not removing her blanket and little kids can be stronger than they appear because I could not pull it off myself. I asked your dad how much she cut and if it looked even and if it was blending with her layers and he was still focusing on the lying about it part and right about then is when we came to a dead stop on the freeway. Traffic. Ok, no big deal, I was not worried in the slightest. It will clear up once we get to San Jose, it always does. We have plenty of time. 
The estimated time on our GPS just kept increasing and your dad was accelerating up to 15 miles an hour to move forward 3 inches then he would slam on the breaks. It made it impossible for me to enter into Napland but it also made it quite impossible for Current Stella to keep that stupid blanket on her head. Eventually I got to see the bangs, and I have to say, given those pathetic excuse for scissors that they make kids use these days and the fact that she didn’t have a mirror, comb, or styling products, they didn’t look bad at all. Your dad, however, was still angry-ish and made no less than 10 more comments about lying and threatened that if Current Stella cuts her hair again then he would give her his haircut.

Here is a shot of Current Stella and her new asymmetrical side swept bangs.

  
The traffic wasn’t stopping and neither was Current Stella’s whining voice. She was performing the longest monologue ever and she still has not dropped the habit of beginning every sentence with “Maw-ma” so for the first time in a long time your Dad was possibly going to drop the ish from his angry. This is where this memory could enter into the traumatizing category. You see, although Current Stella was being on another level of annoying, it wasn’t the reason he was dropping the ish. Your dad was stressing out hardcore that all this traffic was going to cause him to miss your Papa’s big night and he was unnecessarily taking it out on you. We both were. Please explain this to your therapist. We basically told Current Stella  to quit talking. We might have also told her that she’s annoying. It was a bit harsh.
At some point your dad was able to regather the ish to his angry and we played a really fun educational car game. Current Stella would say a letter and then we would have to come up with words that start with that letter. For instance, Current Stella would say L. I would say love, she would say lizard and your dad would say lick, then lips, then labia. Current Stella changed it to D. I said dog, she said door, your dad said diarrhea. Current Stella said T. Your dad just kept saying traffic over and over again. It was really fun. 
Perhaps this day made it to your longterm memory because it was the longest time anyone has ever spend in traffic. It took us more than two extra hours to get to a destination your dad and I have traveled hundreds of times. This destination of course is both of our hometowns- San Luis Obispo, specifically the college your dad was lucky enough to attend and the place your Papa called home for many, many years. We came barreling  into a gas station parking lot where we changed into our fancy dresses in a bathroom that was in dire need of some attention. 
We missed the cocktail reception (huge mistake), and most of the dinner and found our seats right before all the inductees took the stage. There were seven athletes getting recognition this year, and your Papa was one of them. Each story was so inspiring and incredible- there was even a two-time Olympian! I can’t believe we almost missed this ceremony because I got way more out of it than I was expecting. First, your Papa is one amazing man. He’s kind of a big deal.  Second, I realized I have not accomplished anything worthy of any hall of fame. I want to change that! I hope by the time you read this I have contributed something to this life worth getting dressed up and talking about (and I’m not talking about a funeral). Third, all seven athletes thanked their parents, specifically for attending every single game or match, even ones that included travel across the country. I have already missed Current Stella’s first two athletic games. Based on their formula for success, she will never achieve athletic dominance and for that I am very sorry. Please, tell your therapist that I take full responsibly for your lack of sports medals, scholarships, and a professional athletic career. Also, remind her that it’s just soccer and that you are female. Oh, and also go over your genetic makeup when it comes to height on your dads side and overall lack of coordination on my side. That should clear it up really quick. 

   
   

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, sorry for being a jerk to you in the car yesterday. You are just a kid and we basically subjected you to 5 hours of no food and no entertainment while strapped into a car seat. That being said, a popular song kept coming on the radio by The Weekend.  In the chorus he sings, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you.” I think it’s about cocaine but the words really resonated with me. 

Love,
Mom

Our Marriage Turns 8

IMG_7204

Dear Future Stella,

At this point in your life, your Dad and I will have been married for 28 years exactly (today is our anniversary). I will pause while you call/text/virtual hologram us a celebratory message. If, for some awkward reason, we are not still married please note the super-rich, super-hot guy I am currently married to. I am guessing his name is something sexy like Vincent (perhaps he is your ex?) and he rocks my world in so many ways your Dad never could. I doubt that is the case- I am one of those who never wins a raffle, let alone the life jackpot. Also, your dad is the closest I have come to winning it big (besides you) and everyone who knows the two of us would say that I have the better deal.

On our anniversary we usually exchange gifts according to the traditional Hallmark suggestions. The gifts start out small (year one is paper) but once you have put in enough time you can wind up with some pretty expensive stuff. In fact, I bet year 28 is epic because 28 years married is a big freaking deal so I would have to imagine that my present will be pretty sweet this year. Well, I just looked it up and year 28 is an orchid. A god damn flower-that-needs-a-little-water-but-hates-too-much-water-and-don’t-even-think-about-moving-it-a-quarter-of-an-inch-to-the-left-because-it-will-die kind of flower. Is that some kind of sick joke Hallmark? My marriage is hard enough to keep alive thank you very much. However, I am guessing 28 years of marriage is on a whole other level of hard so it might actually be refreshing to only have to manage the delicate life of a flower that spends its whole existence oscillating between the ICU and hospice with brief moments of assisted living. Well played Hallmark, well played. It has actually been really fun celebrating our anniversaries this way and you should try it with your significant other if you have one. OMG- do you have one? Ugh, I hope he or she is super awesome and I am smiling so big right now thinking of you in a sweet relationship. Being in love is the best and you are going to kill it as a partner because you are so damn nice and you thrive when you are showing or being shown affection. Anyway, here is a summary of our anniversaries thus far.

Year 1- Paper. Your Dad had just opened his own business and I was a brand new colorist in the midst of the recession so we were so broke. We decided to make paper airplanes and see who could fly theirs farther. I was extra creative and made multiple planes; one out of our wedding invitation and one of my planes even unfolded into a love letter. Your dad built a NASA-quality paper aircraft that beat the shit out of mine but had no sentimental value whatsoever. He took the task literally, which is basically the definition of a dude. He did, however, get us some sparkling to enjoy that we shared on our wedding day so that was nice.

DSC01440

DSC01441

Year 2- cotton. We are both HUGE football fans, Denver specifically. Our anniversary just happens to coincide with the beginning of football season so we felt it necessary to get new Bronco t-shirts (made out of cotton). This was clearly before iPhones or filters and I was clearly having a skin breakout issue so please ignore the general disgusting look I am displaying. In hindsight, I am shocked we made it beyond this day, based on my looks alone.
DSC01644

Year 3- Leather. We bought a new leather couch for our living room. You had just arrived a couple months prior to this and when you showed up we had to surrender our guest bedroom. To make up for it, we bought a great leather pull-out sofa for guests to sleep on. Later, Louis the Cat would declare that couch his personal litter box, officially making that pet the worst, most expensive pet that ever lived. That couch didn’t even see it through to year four. What I find interesting, is when I went to find a picture from our anniversary the only photos that were taken on Sept. 15, 2010 were these ones. Spoiler alert- there is no leather couch to be found.

DSC02003

DSC02005

Year 4- Flowers/Fruit. We both got each other flowers, and I am almost falling asleep typing it so I can only imagine how snore-worthy it was on that date. The boringness of it explains why the only photo taken that day was this one.

IMG_0904

Year 5- wood. Besides the obvious gift, your Dad also gave me this. Again, he can’t help but be literal.

IMG_0110

Year 6- candy. We each picked out the other one’s favorite sweets. Soooo predictable. This was my favorite anniversary to date though, because we took you back to Big Sur and showed you where we got married. That place is downright magical and romantic. My parents were married there, we were married there, and so if you don’t get married there then we can blame you for breaking the chain.

IMG_7480

IMG_4884

IMG_4838

Year 7- copper. We purchased a set of copper mugs for making Moscow Mules. I weirdly don’t have a photo of this celebration and I really have no reason why. However, your dad researched every single copper cup on the market before deciding on the ones we got. Maybe I didn’t take any pictures because by the time we actually had any cups in our cupboards, I had seen roughly 38 different options and I was numb to the excitement.

Year 8- linens/lace. We are in desperate need of a bedroom makeover so we have decided to get new bedding for our anniversary. This is the most important room in the house because it is where we regularly consummate our marriage (not always though), and therefore it is unacceptable to have dated linens. We spent the majority of our anniversary today going from store to store to check out all the options available, which let me tell you, is beyond romantic. We still have not pulled the trigger on a set, and by “we” I mean your father. Those copper cups have nothing on this duvet search. Hopefully by the time you read this we have settled into our new bedroom situation, but at this rate I can’t guarantee it. Tonight we got you a babysitter, this time an English speaker for sure, but it could be one of those situations where the boyfriend sneaks in after you go to bed. Good for her, those sheets are getting replaced anyway. Your Dad is taking me to this restaurants that is a block away from our very first apartment in San Francisco. We spent our first anniversary as a couple there. It has been several different restaurants since we last dined there, so its not exactly the same, but the table we sat at is tucked behind a curtain in the back of the restaurant- and that still remains. I am pretty excited to revisit it.

Future Stella, I love your Dad. He is the only person who can have me in stitches with a single sentence and the whole time he is cracking jokes you can feel how intensely he is protecting the two of us. Its such an odd combination but I like knowing that if he needed to stop making inappropriate comments about the sales lady at West Elm under his breath (which he was doing today) to beat the shit out of someone who was threatening our family he would. He’s such an easy man to be with and he takes his job as your Dad so seriously and he just lets me be me, which is kinda crazy because Im as strange as they come. He cares so much what kind of cup I drink my Moscow mule out of and what kind of sheets I lay my head on at night and he shows up to everything for us that is important. His priorities are so clear and he doesn’t compromise our happiness for anything.

Not to be overshadowed by my love fest, your Gopa (my Grandpa) turned 80 over the weekend. Enough with these Virgo birthdays already! We drove to Oregon to celebrate with our family. Your Goma threw him the most lovely party at a local restaurant in their town. She was even feeling a bit under the weather but managed to pull off a fantastic event. Your Gopa is not blood related to you (he is my mother’s step-dad) and that really is a shame. He’s so smart and has such great genes that it’s too bad they are not running through you. However, I know more than anyone that your time spent with someone can impact you way more than genetics can. Your Gopa is almost completely blind and I can’t imagine how different that makes the world for him but he finds so many ways to connect with you. He’s a great listener and has a very unique perspective on things. He gives great advice and is very wise and something tells me his wisdom came prematurely. I love these pictures I captured of him having “these talks” with you.

IMG_6742

IMG_7007

  1. And finally, here I was at his birthday party. You were not invited.

FullSizeRender copy 2
Future Stella, I love you but tonight I love your father more. Current Stella, even though you don’t realize it, you are showing me a better way to love. You forgive instantly and when there is a conflict you listen first. 

Love,
Mom

When You Ask Your Co-Workers For Mother’s Day Advice

IMG_5290.JPG

Dear Future Stella,
Today is Mother’s Day and I hope that means that your Dad has coached Current Stella on how to properly shower me with gifts and adoration. It’s only 6am still so it’s too soon to tell. 

My own Mommy, your G-Ma, is visiting this weekend to celebrate. We went to the most fabulous 4 hour, 5 course dinner last night at this place called Nico. Current Stella came too but didn’t eat anything (obviously) and I’m still in shock that she was so behaved. I mean, I can barely sit still for 4 hours, much less do it without causing some sort of scene so I was VERY impressed. 

We have a fun day of brunch (more behaved sitting by Current Stella I’m praying) followed by the Giants game. The weather today is shi-tay so I’m hoping it doesn’t suck. You will know if it’s really awesome or really terrible because I will most likely elaborate in a blog post in either circumstance. 

Awhile back while stumped on what to get my mom for Mother’s Day, I stupidly asked my coworkers in the breakroom at the salon I work at for suggestions on what I should buy her. I say stupidly because the breakroom at my salon is notorious for being the most inapropriate place on this earth so I should have known what I was getting myself into. It’s a breeding ground for sexual harassment, foul language, sarcasm, racism and all other isms that are generally frowned upon. We work at a high end salon where our language needs to be heavily sensored when we are with our clients and so the moment we get back into the privacy of our tiny breakroom we all feel the need to spew profanities of all kinds. We are hardly ever serious and everyone gets along so it’s really harmless, but incredibly offensive to most of the population. It’s so rancid that one of my favorites pastimes is just writing down verbatim of what is said back there. It’s disturbing and wonderful all at once. 

So, when I asked for gift advice this is what my lovely co-workers suggested 

*A Birkin bag. These bags cost anywhere from 10K to 60K so the fact that this was most likely the only serious suggestion was worrisome. 

*fake a pregnancy. Then tell her the next day that you miscarried. It would be hilarious. This idea came with multiple options on how to fake the miscarriage ranging from emotional (fake crying)  to graphic (fake menstral matter). 

*Jade eggs. I actually pictured some sort of beautiful stone eggs that possibly represent the life that a mother gives a child. Um, wrong. They are vaginal exercise beads. Here’s a quote from their website, “Practice with the Jade Eggs in a thorough exercise program will increase elasticity and blood flow to the vaginal muscles, awakening sexual sensitivity not only in your vagina but also in surrounding genital areas. This will lead you to heightened awareness of clitoral-vaginal sensations and may lead you to experiencing multiple vaginal orgasms even for the first time, at any age!” 

*Ben Wa Balls. I said that it sounds like a similar catergory to the jade eggs. The lovely fellow who suggested it confirmed this was true but that Ben Wa Balls can’t be used for anal insertion so that’s the major difference. He said this matter-of-factly while eating his salad. 

*a blanket. Although not exactly inapropriate, it’s super random nonetheless. Here mom, I got you a blanket. Is that like a metaphor for the safely and warmth that she has provided me with? I’m terrified to google what this might mean in the gay community because there is no way this person meant an actual blanket. 

In the end I decided to go with the jade eggs. The packaging is adorable and if you get the Empress Pack it looks like an actual carton of eggs. Magical sexual eggs that strengthen your vaginal muscles and provide you with the opportunity to have multiple orgasms. Plus, the website said it was sold in over 60 counties including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and North Korea- so totally legit sounding. 

Future Stella, if you are wondering what to get me this year for Mother’s Day in the year 2035, please seek the advice of a salon breakroom. I think I would quite like anything they would come up with. 

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, all I ask is that today you allow me to spend some quality time with Gail the Puppy. It’s Mother’s Day after all. 

In case you are wondering, I can’t actually elaborate on what it means to me to be your mom or how lucky I am to have a mom like your G-Ma, because I would start crying uncontrollably. Your dad is still sleeping and this would definitely freak him out. 


Love,


Mom

  
My mommy and Current Stella. 

Happy Birthday Papa!

IMG_9652.JPG

Dear Future Stella,

As promised in my birthday tribute to your Guncle, I have another important person in your life who has a birthday today who I would like to honor, your Papa, Lennis Cowell. This is your Dad’s Father and today he turns 72.

You two have always had a very special connection. You were named after his mother, who sadly you never got to meet. Lennis relishes in being a Grandfather and he has equally spoiled his 5 grandchildren. You are the baby though, and his other 4 are all grown now, so its all about Current Stella these days.

Lennis is a very well respected, tough, intimidating man. He spent his entire professional career coaching wrestling, most of it on the collegiate level. There are many men walking around this earth who would call this man their mentor, their friend, and their hero. He is a man of integrity who doesn’t like bullshit, excuses, or whiners. He survived a rough childhood, albeit with excellent parents, surrounded by uneducated people in a scary neighborhood with almost no financial resources. He was a dedicated athlete, and the sport of Wrestling saved him from a life of God knows what. Lennis obtained a college degree while wrestling at Cal Poly. Once graduated, he immediately went into the world of coaching and as soon as the opportunity presented itself, returned to Cal Poly as the head coach, where he remained until the day he retired. He even coached your Dad when he attended Cal Poly himself. He is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame and continues to be an advocate for this sport that he hopes is still around by the time you get to read these letters.

   
     

He can be terrifying and his expectations can be so high that you literally fear his wrath. His height would be considered short, but he commands the respect of a man who stands 7 feet tall. The night I met him I watched him scream into the face of a referee roughly 3 inches from his face. I was absolutely scared to death of him. By the way, the night I met him it was at a Cal Poly Home Wrestling match on Valentine’s Day. More about the romantic gestures of your father later.

It didn’t take long to see that Lennis is actually a giant mush pot that can be brought to tears at the mere mention of his wife, kids, or anyone who he loves. He is sentimental, and values family to the point of obsession. Whatever he expected his wrestlers to do out on the mat, is quadrupled when it comes to his loved ones. However, just like that ref who unjustly scored his wrestler on Valentine’s Day, he will go to battle for his family. His support comes with no strings and no freebees, he makes his kids earn their success but he is there coaching them every step of the way. It also didn’t take long to see that he has a wicked sense of humor that borders on perverted, rightfully earning his nickname Uncle Pervy. He’s the first to notice a nice set of boobs, and a week doesn’t go by without a raunchy joke email from him. He teases the crap out of everyone all the time. He loves a good prank and can take one right back. He is allergic to technology but that doesn’t stop him from always having the latest and greatest gadgets.

Your Papa is shamelessly obsessed with your Grandma. He doesn’t even try to hide his love for that woman and knows damn well who his better half is. I hope you have witnessed this fantastic example of a loving marriage. My favorite thing he does is when a song comes on at their house that he knows your Grandma likes, he stops what he is doing (even watching an important football game) to pull her away from whatever she is doing (even if it’s stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey) and dances with her, dip and all, in the middle of their kitchen. He also cannot publicly speak about her without getting choked up, even if he’s speaking to a group of ex-wrestlers, which he does every single year when he hosts a Cal Poly Alumni event. He drives her nuts half the time, but I would imagine that sweet adoration is hard to stay mad at for long. He knows where his strength comes from.

IMG_0177

IMG_0178

  
Now that your Papa is retired, he loves to golf, spend time with his family and travel. These may not sound like really unique things- don’t all retired people like to do them? Sure, but he had to work his ass off for this to be his reality. Its so great for us to see them spending their days just enjoying life. When you are in your 20’s, its easy to not think about or plan for your future. Trust me, I remember this feeling. Retirement seems so far, far away, and there is always tomorrow to start preparing for it. Life has already been so much easier for you than it was for your Papa, and so I just want you to think of him when you are making your life decisions. Are you working hard enough? You better not have any excuses for anything in your life that you wish were better. Do your loved ones know they are loved by you? 

Your Papa adores you, Future Stella. You can most often be found on his lap or in his arms. I like to watch you melt into his hugs and surrender on his shoulders. He is so proud of every single thing you accomplish and relishes in just watching you play. Its quite a sight to see a man of such strength reveal their vulnerable weaknesses, and you my dear, do this like nobody else.

IMGP0974

IMGP0982

IMG_0364

IMG_0487

IMG_0414IMG_0026

IMG_1824

IMG_0560

IMG_0262

IMG_1397

IMG_4257

IMG_9652

IMG_1754

IMG_1945

Future Stella, this year your Papa will turn 92, God willing. His dad lived until 93 so I really hope he’s still around for you, but life doesn’t make any guarantees except death. I know old people are not the most fun to hang out with, especially when you are 25 years old. If he’s anything like his Dad though, my guess he’s the exception to this rule. I bet he still makes you laugh. I bet he still cries. I bet he still loves just watching you be who you are. I can guarantee he still gives great hugs and that those sturdy shoulders are just as magical as they were 20 years ago. Whatever 92 looks like for him, even if its in memorium, I hope you take the time today to honor him and reflect on how lucky you are to carry on his Mother’s name.

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, I want to say I love you too. You have been a pretty good kid lately.

Love,

Mom

Uncle Ricky Comes to Visit

IMG_5055.JPG

Dear Future Stella, 

Your Uncle Ricky just left to go back to Florida after visiting California for a week. Technically, he’s MY Uncle Ricky but I’m letting you borrow the name until we come up with something slightly more interesting than Great Uncle Ricky for you to call him. I kinda like “Gur” but as you get older, a young girl saying that to a much older male relative might get strange. 

He used to be our closest  (geographically speaking) family member until a year ago when he moved to Florida. Now he’s one of the farthest. He’s my Dad’s baby brother and we have always been close. Maybe because I’m also the baby in my family, but I seem to gravitate towards the youngest members of families as the people I connect with. My mom’s baby sister (My tante, your G-Ta) is hands down the closest person to me (besides the peeps in my immediate family). I married the baby of his family. My two best friends are both youngest children. We just all get eachother. There is something really unifying about being the spoiled little angles that make them easy to surround myself with. To be honest, I am glad I am not having another kid because I fear I will just like that kid more because they will be the youngest. With you being an only, you are going to be both the oldest and the youngest and therefore don’t count. Actually, Gail the puppy is the youngest member of our family and I totally favor her. She can do no wrong and we are connected at the hip. Literally, she lays on my hips as often as possible. 

Your, well, actually our Uncle Ricky, spent the night with us two Sunday’s in a row both on his way in and out of California. Last Sunday he came and made us dinner. He used to do this once a month when he lived near us. He’s a phenominal chef, an ex-professional actually. His food is to die for and I have really missed it. As a kid, I have such wonderful memories of going to his restaurant and he would have to make me the most basic, boring meals ever- like plain pasta, while everyone else at the table was feasting on his gourmet specialties. I don’t know who this reminds me of…..hmm, who else do I know that eats bland boring food even when surrounded by culinary excellence? I don’t know, it will come to me. I will also never forget when he ruined Caesar salad for me for life when he told me that all Caesar dressing has anchovies in it. I could still puke in my mouth thinking about how utterly disgusted I was by this little trivia fun fact. It’s funny the things you remember.

Here’s the meal Uncle Ricky made us. Visually it looks so simple, but each and every thing tastes like heaven and his sauces are always out of this world.

  

Uncle Ricky always comes with little gifts for you and he has always tried really hard to win you over. You are a tough crowd though, and for reasons that I can’t begin to know, you have always taken extra time to warm up to him. You often throw your most epic meltdowns in his presence- this trip being no exception. You also tend to start enjoying his company right around the time it is time for him to leave. This never stops Uncle Ricky from trying and it’s so wonderful for me to witness the great joy you bring to him even though you are a shit stain most of his time with him.

This trip he brought you a coloring book with markers and a floor puzzle that is Frozen themed. He sat with you on the ground and you educated him on who all the princesses are and their names. He was genuinely paying attention. This is a great time to mention that Uncle Rick is a rebel bachelor who wears  black leather jackets and drives sports cars. He drinks Jack Daniels and smokes cigars and gambles and plays cards. He doesn’t watch Disney or play princess games but he genuinely tries for you. He wouldn’t miss a birthday or holiday and he cares so much about forming a bond with you. This is a good man Future Stella and I hope you have formed that relationship that he has spent a lot of time fostering, even though he now lives in Florida. When you are a kid it’s up to the adult to make this happen, but you are an adult now so it’s time that you return this gesture. It’s easy to get caught up in your own world and not make time for the older loved ones in your life but this is so important and rewarding. I’m still working on this as an adult. 

The next Sunday he came back and it was our turn to make Uncle Ricky dinner. This was his request and I have to admit I was nervous! I wanted to make something that we would all eat but that wasn’t kid food. I also wanted you to participate because I know that would make it extra special for Uncle Rick.  We made a chicken stir fry with sugar snap peas, and fresh mint. We served this over rice and for dessert we made a puff pastry with strawberries and homemade whip cream. It was all very yummy and even though we had to seperate out each component of the meal for you to eat it, you did eat the whole thing. You also tried fresh mint for the first time while we were cooking so I had to buy you a toy on Amazon for that. You also tried a French fry at lunch and you got a toy at Walgreens. I’m glad you are draining my bank account buying worthless toys in exchange for trying super nutritious fried foods and other things that are most often garnishes or found in Mojitos and chewing gum. It’s my fault for adding no fine print to the house rule of “If you try a new food then you get a new toy.” 

Anyway, the meal was a hit for everyone. The next morning we went to breakfast with Uncle Ricky and walked around the Palace of Fine Arts to feed the ducks before he had to fly back to Florida.

  
Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, the other night you woke up in the middle of the night complaining about bees being in your room. We obviously told you that you were crazy and just having a bad dream. The next morning you woke up covered, and I mean covered, in mosquito bites. My bad. 
Love,
Mom

Spring Break- Day 2,3, and 4

Dear Future Stella,

We just got back from a really fun Spring Break trip to Santa Barbara. It’s so fun taking you places that I spent a lot of time visiting when I was a child. So fun in fact, that I didn’t really have any time to stop and write!

I would say the most substantial thing that happened on this trip was that your Grandpa (my dad) bought me a selfie stick. I think this is important to share with you because it is one of the first models, I believe, on the market (they are somewhat of a new phenominon). He paid 30 dollars for this device and it utilizes Bluetooth to connect to my phone,  allowing me to take pictures while having my camera/phone a few feet away from me. I can almost guarantee that this gadget is completely obsolete by the time you are reading this and I’m sure the following photos are going to make you laugh your ass off. I can, however, fully guarantee that the most flattering angle to capture oneself is STILL coming from high above, at a slight angle. You can improve technology all you want but you can’t change physics/science/facts of life- so if you don’t have 2025’s version of a selfie stick, then I suggest you run out and get one. They are incredibly useful for taking group photos and if you enjoy it when people photobomb your pictures, selfie sticks create the perfect environment for this- producing complete random strangers in the background of every shot with almost 100% accuracy.

  

There we are at the counter of the store where my Dad bought the stick. Notice how Current Stella needs to work on her selfie pose.

  

And here we are 20 seconds later on State Street

  

Here’s your Dad trying it out. Ugh, Current Stella really needs to figure this concept out soon. We are at a wine tasting room called Santa Barbara Wine Collective (in case you care).

  

Here is our first photobomber of the day. No clue who that lady is but her photobombing skills are borderline professional. She even managed to block the sign that was supposed to document where we were. We were at a winery called Kunin. Your dad and I visited this place last year and really liked it so we took the whole gang back.

  

Now we are at a place called Drake (another winery). Don’t you like how kid friendly we make our family vacations? All of Current Stella’s friends are probably at a museum somewhere. Notice how her selfie look is dramatically improving? We have only had the thing for an hour at this point. Current Stella has not learned anything in that short of time in her whole life. Mother. Of. The. Year.

  

By now your Tia (my sister) and your Uncle Germ and your cousins have arrived. They brought along their Au Pair, Talina, so all the cousins stayed back at the hotel so we could have an adult only evening (whatever that means). I have no idea who most of these people are in this picture. I do know we are at a yummy restaurant called The Lark. 

  

This one you can barely see (a major downfall of the selfie stick is that is doesn’t allow you to use flash so night time pictures are horrendous). However, I wanted to include it because Uncle Germ is giving you the bird. Yes, he specifically said Fuck You to Future Stella. 

  

 

At the end of the night we decided to get in the shower in my parent’s hotel room and take a giant selfie. Adults, especially ones who have been drinking wine all day, do really strange things sometimes. I don’t know why your dad is gripping that bottle of wine but if you notice he was holding it in the last photo as well. Every single person in that picture is related so not sure why we wanted to take a group shower but we thought it was an excellent idea.

That was basically day 2 of our Easter vacation. I couldn’t figure out why my head hurt so bad the next day (Easter) but now recapping on the photos, it makes perfect sense! 

Here are some cute photos of Current Stella on Easter.

   

           

And, because I couldn’t resist, here are more awkward selfie stick pictures. It’s funny how in pictures of 4 or more people, someone feels the need to put their hands in the air. If that’s not a law of physics it really should be. 

   

           

The last day of our time in Santa Barbara we had a blast but surprisingly I didn’t take that many pictures! We ate lunch at this awesome taqueria called Mony’s. I might have taken photos but your cousin Kathy (almost 3 at the time) fell over in her chair and smacked her forehead on the concrete and it was really super scary. This is why you don’t mess with the ratio of 6 adults to 1 child when traveling that I mentioned in my last post. She was ok but it scared the crap out of me! After that we tasted wine at a few more spots on the Urban Wine Trail and then we took the train back to the central coast.

Here’s a fun game. Of the 3 following pictures that I took on the train ride home, which represents my favorite view? 

A) Current Stella’s butt crack that always seems to be out on display these days 

  

B) Your Dad’s crotch. I love when the selfie stick malfunctions like this.

  

C) this

  

Haha. 

We were all very sad to have to go home. It was a lovely vacation. 

   

 

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, tonight I got mad at you for leaving your flip flops out because Gail the Puppy chewed one up. You cried and got all sad. Well, after you went to bed I discovered this 

  

That little bitch got mine too! I probably won’t tell you this in the morning because parents don’t really like to admit their hypocrisy to their young children but I did take the photo so at least in 20 years you will know that I’m not perfect. 

Love, 

Mom

Spring Break Day 1

Dear Future Stella,


Do you have any memories of your Spring Break in 2015 when you were 4? I bet you do! I will provide a recap right now to hopefully ignite your memory.

First, I want to tell you about the funny conversation Current Stella had with your dad on the car ride to the train station.

Current Stella- I’m bored

Dad- I’m Casey nice to meet you (he actually turned around while driving and extended his hand to you)

Current Stella- No, IM bored

Dad- IM Casey

Current Stella- No. No. I’m not saying that you are bored- I’m saying that I’m bored

Dad- I know and I’m telling you that I’m Casey, that’s Phyllis, this is Shelby, and the dog on your lap is Gail.

Current Stella- Daddy. No. I’m bored. Stop telling me your name

Dad- Ok well stop telling me your name is bored. We named you Stella and we like that name better.

Current Stella- Daddy I’m not saying that my name is bored. Bored means that you don’t have anything to do. I’m trying to say that I don’t have anything to do. 

A few minutes later your dad announced that he smelled food. I agreed but thought that it smelled like dog food more specifically. He told me that was impossible because all the dog food was in our trunk. We moved on to singing along to the music and mutually day dreaming about how fantastic this trip was going to be. A good 15 minutes later I turned around in the car and saw this.

  

Cool Bitch, thanks for puking all over the car. I wonder which dog is the culprit? We didn’t even hear anything and apparently Current Stella didn’t see anything despite her sitting right next to it. It was obviously Phyllis- just the look she is giving me is a dead give away. Plus, Gail is too perfect to behave that way. 


We pulled over and I made your dad clean it up while I checked out what’s new in the snack world inside the gas station store. I hope jalapeño and cheese filled pretzels still exist for you as well as butterscotch krumpets that say “fresh baked” on the plastic sealed wrapper but that have a shelf life of at least 10 years. 

 We eventually made it to the train station with at least 3 minutes to spare and we boarded the train along with both sets of your grandparents. 6 adults to 1 child is the only acceptable ratio when traveling. This number ensures that I can peacefully drink my wine while 5 other people take turns retrieving all the things that you will inevitably drop throughout the duration of the 2 hour train ride. Little kids are built like slip-n-slides, every single crayon and raisin shoots down their limbs and on to the ground. Whoever invented children should have made their bodies out of velcro or possibly a magnetic surface of some sort. That would have been genius.


Here we all are on the train

   

     

Notice you butchered the only photo we let you be in. Thanks a lot. That was going to be our Christmas card.

  

Future Stella, you are so damn lucky that both sides of your family get along so well that they travel together. Your grandparents are delightful people who obsess over you in a way I find disturbing. I hope you have appreciated this over the years. Call them right now and express this to them if you have not already. I’m serious- do it right now young lady or I will march over to your house (you better not still be living with me) and I will embarass you infront of your roommates (you better not be living with a partner). 


Our hotel that we are staying at is pretty awesome and modern (by 2015 standards so don’t laugh)

   

     

The lobby has these really big versions of children’s games that you have been playing with your dad. If you still play connect 4 with him the journey began right here at this hotel.

 



Today my sister  arrives with her 2 kids (your cousins) and this is going to significantly affect the proper adult to child ratio so I’m a little nervous. I might actually have to start dealing with you :)


Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, you are sleeping directly above your dad and me on this trip. I hope you are a heavy sleeper otherwise the memories you might have of this vacation will be a little haunting.


Love,


Mom

That Time Your Dad Basically Called You a Whore

Dear Future Stella,

I just want to take a minute to tell you how above and beyond amazing your Dad is. I will most likely go into more detail at many points during this journey of blogging to you, but I just want to share something that makes me heart him so much. For the record, you won’t see me say anything bad about him anywhere in these letters because he’s your Dad, and in that realm anyway, he’s as close as perfect as they come. I say this because other people are reading these and I don’t want to falsely imply that we don’t have our own issues, but those are not for your eyes, or anybody’s really.

Your dad has always made me laugh harder than anyone has ever been able to do. He’s such a different kind of funny than I am. His humor doesn’t seek attention- its under the radar, and it never fails to deliver. If he wants me to discover something funny that he has done he has the patience to wait it out until I discover it organically and authentically. He doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does, I am in stitches.

Your Dad is in the process of redoing your bedroom. Yes, your dad, not me. He also mostly designed and executed your nursery but we didn’t know you were going to be a girl. We, ahem- he, decided to do a Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat themed room. He liked it because it was gender neutral and he discovered appropriate matching bedding was available at Pottery Barn Kids. I liked it because my dad, your Grandpa, would read me that book so much when I was a kid. He spent an adorable amount of time making sure that room was magazine worthy despite our teeny tiny budget. Here is what your room has basically looked like since you were born. Obviously we have since turned the crib into a toddler bed and you have added a gazillion amount of obnoxious princess paraphernalia, but you get the point.

DSC01840

DSC01837

Your dad has been working overtime trying to transform your gender neutral baby room into a Super Stella Dream room. The transformation is still under way, and I will show you when its complete, but that’s NOT what this post is about. This post is about your Dad’s humor and why I think I scored big time in the Partner For Life Department.

The first task that he needed to do is repaint your room. Currently its this weird off-white bordering on peach color. On one wall there are horizontal red stripes and on another wall there is a decal of a Dr. Seuss quote. He needed to scrape the decals off before he could paint the new color on the wall.

The evening after he started this tedious task, I came home to this

IMG_1561

IMG_1563

What other dad thinks its totally normal to re-arrange the letters of a motivational children’s quote into the word SLUT on his 4 year old’s wall? What other mom walks into said 4 year old’s room and isn’t totally horrified but instead can’t stop laughing? Never mind that the babysitter had been there all day, most likely without an explanation from my husband. Its the funniest shit ever because its so totally wrong in so many ways. Be offended all you want, your Dad has never used that word in a derogatory context, nor would he ever. Trust me, Current Stella has been oblivious to this word on her wall. He stopped short of completing his chore of removing the decal just so I would walk in your room and laugh my ass off. That’s love.

His little unexpected bombs of humor is what keeps me going. He was totally satisfied with just me discovering this genius prank; he didn’t feel the need to post it on social media or mass text it to his friends. He was even a little annoyed that I wanted to take a picture of it (wait until he sees that I chose to blog about it). That makes your Dad such a cooler kind of funny than me. I wonder what kind of funny you will be?

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, tonight I overheard you trying to explain to your babysitter that you had pretzels in your tummy except you were saying “pencils” instead of pretzels. I knew what you were trying to say but she didn’t. She kept asking you why you would eat pencils. You would get mad and say “No, not pencils- pen-cils.” I could have rescued you and translated but it was way more entertaining to hear you say things like “No, Pencils. They are long and skinny.” (You were referring to pretzel sticks). The babysitter would say, “I know, pencils, but when did you eat one?” This went on for quite sometime. Hey, you are not going to learn how to enunciate if I swoop in and save the day. Immersion is the fastest way to fluency.

Love,

Mom

Happy Birthday Guncle!!

Dear Future Stella,

You have some very special people in your world who love you and that have really impacted you thus far. These people have made quite an effort to be a major part of your life. I have decided to feature these people on, or near, their birthdays so that you can re-live the moments that your memory might not have stored.

I was just admitting to my Grandma today that I am terrible at remembering birthdays- I blame the fact that I don’t have Facebook, but I am determined to get better at this. I will never forget my best friends’ birthdays (June 29th and May 25th, you know who you are), or my immediate family members- those birthdays have stuck like glue. Everyone else, I just can’t get it together, so these posts will help me to remember and hopefully give you a little glimpse of these beginning relationships.

March 12 is Michael Schwartz’s birthday. He is my uncle, married to my Mom’s sister. You call him Guncle. We gave him this name as an abbreviation for Great Uncle. Later (much too late) we realized that Guncle actually means Gay Uncle. You met him for the first time when you were 5 weeks old and despite the fact that he lives in Oregon, you see him quite a bit.

I remember the day so clearly when he married my Tante. It was so magical to me and I was so excited to have someone like him join our family. I used to drive him crazy singing made up songs like “Michael, Michael, Motorcycle, vroooooooom.” I was obnoxious and loud and was way too hyper around him. Despite my insanity, they decided to have kids of their own and those kids mean just about everything to me. I remember when they were born, and they have since grown up and I now consider them my friends. Your Guncle has also been a parenting inspiration to me and has been such a great example of what a husband should embody. I enjoy his company and since the day you were born he has been the best straight Guncle a girl could ask for.

Guncle has always been down to play with you no matter what it is. He dives right into your interests and puts so much effort into ensuring that you remember him. His specialty is just taking your hand and walking with you.

IMG_0647

IMG_1871

IMG_1618

IMG_6745

We also often find you on his lap

IMG_0662

Guncle, Happy Birthday!! Thank you so much for being an insanely good heterosexual gay uncle to Current Stella.

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, you have been getting hives lately and we have been trying so hard to figure out what is causing them. This morning you suggested that maybe they were tiny houses on your body where little animals were living.