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You’re Welcome, World

For the past eight weeks, I’ve put a lot of thought into this pregnancy. Lord knows I’ve had some struggles as of late, and adding another baby to the mix seems like bad timing, but I was nonetheless over the moon with joy. 

I believe in God and I believe in His plan. Who am I (or anyone else) to question His plan? I may not understand why He decided to gift me with another child, but I whole-heartedly embrace this gift.

Besides, so far I have a 100% success rate at bringing amazing souls to this Earth. My children are beautiful, caring, empathetic people that touch the lives they meet. All of them make this world a better place. Honestly, it would be disservice to humanity if I didn’t improve the gene pool by adding more folks like this to the world.

Just in case you thought my reproductive system is your business (it’s not) the answer to the question you want to ask, but haven’t is…

No, I will not be getting my tubes tied, a hysterectomy, or anything “fixed” because that implies that there is something wrong with me. (Hint – there isn’t.) In order to get fixed, something must be broken and it’s clear there is nothing broken here.

Guess what? We have a clear understanding of “what causes this,” we are familiar with birth control, and we have grown to despise the term “Fertile Myrtle.” To the vast majority of our friends and family that have congratulated us and share in our excitement – we thank you from the bottom of hearts! To the few that have questioned us and God’s plan, to the few that have gossiped, sneered, and brought negativity to our special news – you’re the reason we are thrilled to bring another happy, positive, glowing soul to the universe. Our new bundle of joy will cancel out your shittiness. 

You’re welcome, World.

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Remember When Safety Pins Were Punk Rock? 

Remember when safety pins were punk rock? 

There is a new movement on Facebook and the news encouraging people to wear safety pins as a sign of solidarity with groups such as the LGBT, minorities, and women.
“You are safe with me.”
It began in the UK following Brexit and was picked up in the US following the election results.

I remember when safety pins were punk rock. I wore tons of them on my jean jacket along with band buttons, patches, and anarchy signs. We thought we were so cool. (And we were!) Just recently I wore 89 safety pins in one evening. It was my no-sew Halloween costume. I was a monster from Where the Wild Things Are.
I won’t be wearing a safety pin to prove that you are safe with me. These days, if I am wearing one, it’s most likely due to a wardrobe malfunction.

My no-sew 89 safety pin Halloween costume. 

It’s not that I’m against the movement, in fact, I support it. There are people genuinely scared and I love to see our society coming together. I have dear friends that are passionate about this, handing them out at bars and street corners. I think that’s awesome. But I’m still not going to participate.

I don’t copy and paste. I’m pretty sure Jesus knows I love Him without me having to share a meme. I don’t own a dipped, powder coated, bedazzled, monogrammed Yeti. I didn’t put a rainbow flag across my profile photo when marriage equality passed, I didn’t do the ice bucket challenge, I  didn’t check into Standing Rock, I don’t watch Game of Thrones, I never bought a Chevron print rug for my bathroom, and I didn’t do the things we were supposed to do about Kony. I don’t even remember what that was. Maybe a petition was being circulated or another image across our default photo on Facebook? Whatever happened with Kony?

It’s so hard for me to jump on the social media bandwagon. It’s like, if I’m being told by the masses or media that I should be doing/watching/buying something, my immediate reaction is to not do the thing. It feels trendy and disengenuine.

I’m not a monster. Well, except on Halloween. Yes, I support marriage equality, encouraging other to feel safe, I want clean water for all humans and animals, I don’t believe children should be exploited, I think coffee should stay hot and tea should stay cold, and I’m quite certain GoT is an amazing show. 

I have nothing but love for those that do these things. I am in no way trying to put them down. I respect the passion! It’s just not for me.

I will continue to do my part. I smile at every single passer-by, wink and wave to every small child, and reach out when I can. Some days, that’s all I can do, other days, I quietly move mountains. I won’t be posting my random acts of kindness to social media, or touting my efforts against social injustices.

That’s just me, and maybe in some small way, that’s just a little punk rock.

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Sensible Shoes

We awoke dark and early (thanks, Olive.) By the time I changed her diaper, brewed coffee, fed her a healthy breakfast of leftover crab dip and Ritz crackers, bathed and got us dressed, we were ready to leave the house by 7 am. We ended up watching Monsters, Inc (twice) before actually heading out. 

There were a couple of yard sale stops and I found a book by my favorite author. I was inspired. Jose got us tacos from Granzin’s and my grumbling belly thanked him. We arrived at Black Dog Spa in time for him to greet the pet parents dropping off. I loaded up Ollie in the stroller and headed downtown to the Farmer’s Market. On the way there, we stopped at a Pumpkin Patch. She made friends with the scarecrow and we continued our journey.

Fifty feet later, my left flip-flop had a blow-out. Awesome. I debated calling Jose to come pick us up, but I’m not a quitter. Rummaging around in my purse, I managed to come up with a band-aid (because I’m a prepared Mom like that.) I “fixed” the flop and we were off again.

The Market proved to be rather boring. Somehow, shopping for fresh carrots and butternut squash isn’t nearly as exciting as one would think.  We (I) decided to stop at the Phoenix Saloon for a diaper change and a Lone Star. We drank our respective bottles and headed back to the shop.

Jose was done and with plenty of sunshine left in the day, we decided a river trip was in order. Within five minutes of setting up our blanket and slathering Olive in sunscreen, Jose jumped up, dove in the river fully-clothed, and frantically swam to save a 3 year-old little girl getting swept away in the current after her dad thought it was a good idea to take her down the tube chute in a kayak, where it promptly flipped over. She was (thankfully) wearing an adorable tiny life-vest with a shark fin on the back. After checking on the visibly shaken family, Jose returned to our blanket to dry out. There were no other notable incidents with the minor exception of a twenty-something gal who laid claim to a Ziplock freezer bag full of Dorito’s found floating in the river. She swore she wasn’t stoned. Surreeeee.

We packed up things and decided to call it a day, stopping at HEB for three items needed for dinner. I opted to stay in the car with Olive while Jose ran in “real quick.” Twenty minutes later, I noticed a lady with a basket full of groceries and a fussy toddler prancing around on tip-toes with her arm extended above her head, clicking her key-chain in a desperate attempt to locate her car. Feeling her pain and wanting to help, I climbed out the open window Dukes of Hazzard style, barefoot and bikini-clad on to the top of the Mitzu. (In retrospect, I don’t know why I didn’t just open the door.)
“What kind of car do you drive?” I hollered to her. She turned and looked at me horrified. I probably should’ve told her I was trying to help, but I realize now that I must’ve looked like a lunatic up there. She ran in the other direction.
I noticed everyone in the parking lot was staring at me so I slinked down the side of the car, scraping my fanny on the side-view mirror. My shoeless feet hit the hot pavement, as well as a gooey piece of spit out bubble gum. I uses a wet wipe to clean myself up and get back in the car. Olive was giggling in the back seat. Just as I hid the evidence in the bottom of the diaper bag, Jose got back to the car. I resisted the urge to ask what took him so long.

We tag teamed dinner, making tamales, rice, and beans. Olive ate all the beans. After dinner, we finally settled down on the sofa to watch Swiss Army Man. I made it through the trailers, making a mental note to pick up The Lobster from Red Box before dozing off. The next thing I knew, Jose was telling me to go get in bed. The credits were rolling.

Today, as we’re prepare to head to the Flea Market, packing sunscreen and extra band-aids, we wonder if there will be any toddler-saving or top-of-the Mitzu frantic waving. I’ve decided to ditch the flops and don some sensible flats. 

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Tiny Dancer

It was awful. The kind of cry that makes your gut wrench. It wasn’t a “hungry cry” or an “I have a poopy diaper cry,” it was an “I’m in terrible pain cry.” At 10 months old, Olive is too young to vocalize with words so she cried. And cried some more. She wouldn’t stop crying no matter how many times I softly sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while rocking her. I tried every baby soothing method imaginable to no avail. I ran bathwater and got in the tub with her. It was 1:30 in the morning and we struggled. She was uncomfortable, kicking and screaming, water splashing, her face red. I was naked and vunerable. Overwhelmed with fear that I was failing as a mother, failing her, unable to calm her or make her feel better, wiping the tears from her cheeks (and mine.)

My husband stood in the doorway of the bathroom watching us with concern and sadness. When it became obivous the bath wasn’t calming her, he grabbed a towel and gently scooped her up. I sat there for a moment, feeling exhausted and defeated. Jose stepped back in the bathroom, Olive bundled up in my favorite soft towel, cradled in his arms, still screeching. He handed me a towel. I headed to our bedroom, he headed to the living room. After drying off and getting back in to my nightgown, I warily walked down the hallway towards the living room. Olive’s howls were cracking. Her throat was dry. The walk down the hallway felt like “The Green Mile.”

They were sitting in the brown velour chair against the window. Jose was hunched, his head hanging down as he looked at Olive, inconsolable in his lap.I couldn’t see his expression but his body language told the story. By the flicker of the flame, their silhouettes danced on the wall beside them. It was beautiful. If I were a photographer I would’ve captured the image. If I were an artist I would paint it on canvas. But I’m just a writer trying to put it in words, but I can’t. Failing again.

Jose has her at the clinic right now. I wish I could be there, but at least I have that image in my mind. I hope it stays there forever.

 UPDATE: Jose called me from the clinic. Olive was diagnosed with Staphylococcus Scalding Skin Syndrome. We are heading to the children’s hospital in San Antonio for treatment. Please say a prayer, light a candle, knock on wood, sacrifice a cockroach, or do whatever it is that you can do to send some good juju our way.

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We Buried Our Son Tonight

We buried our son tonight.
I hope I never have to say those words again. He wasn’t just tissue that I passed. He was a real baby and when I saw him, no bigger than a quarter, I couldn’t flush him down the toilet.
I wrapped his tiny body in toilet paper and put him in a little cardboard earring box. The box sat on my nightstand for 3 days. I guess it took us that long to come to terms with it.
I put a sterling silver cross necklace in the box so he could be buried with it. Jose found a heart shaped rock and picked a beautiful flower to put on top of the “grave.” We decided to go for a walk to find the perfect place for him to rest forever. We held hands walking down sidewalk. Jose said he wanted to name our son after my father and I silently nodded in agreement. Without giving them direction, our feet took us to a nearby park. Under the moonlight, we spotted an oak tree by the playground. It was perfect. Jose used a small garden shovel and dug a deep hole. We both kissed the box our baby was in and placed it in the grave. Jose filled the hole and put the flower on top. The heart shaped rock now leans against the base of the oak – my son’s marker. We said a prayer and felt a breeze. The weather was just right. I wouldn’t say this gave us the proverbial closure people seek in tragic times, but it gave us something.
We buried our son tonight under the moonlight next to the playground at the park by an oak tree.
Rest in peace, Wilbur Clyde Castelan. I never even met you, but I loved you so much.

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Big Sister Olive

Of course we didn’t plan for it to happen. We weren’t trying, but we weren’t exactly careful about it, either. After having Olive at 40, we were well aware of the risks, but when I didn’t get my period as expected on May 2nd, I knew I was pregnant. Hell, I knew I was pregnant the morning after conception. They say you don’t know, that you can’t tell, but I could. I knew. I even took a home test the day my period was due, but it came back negative. I waited 5 days and finally said something to Jose. I asked him to go buy another test. He left right away to go to the same Walgreen’s we purchased the test from that confirmed my pregnancy with Olive. It was only a few blocks down the street. On his way there, a woman racing down the street barreled into him head-on, totaling the car. He ended up with a swollen elbow and back injuries resulting in daily visits to the chiropractor ever since the accident.

He never made it to Walgreen’s.

My daughter Dallas picked us up and we made the stop on the way to the house. I could feel the box burning through my purse; I couldn’t wait to get home. I burst through the door and ran to my bathroom in anticipation of the results. The first window was negative and the second window, the test window was blank. It was invalid. Luckily, Jose had purchased a two-pack. The second test, as expected, came back positive. I was pregnant!
I told my sister. I told my mom. I told my kids. I told my boss and colleagues. I told a few close friends. I was over the moon! I started making baby name lists, planning the nursery for two babies, and imagining the enormous family photo at Easter. I made a tutu and “Big Sis” onesie for Olive. It was going to be the next Yellow Chair photo in the album. I bought her a book called, “I’m a Big Sister.” I called my insurance company and made my 10 week appointment with my doctor for June 14th. I already knew my due date was January 9th,  but hoped for a News Years Eve birth so there would always be a party for my baby to go to on his birthday when he grew up. I downloaded a pregnancy app and read daily about his growing progress. I walked with my head in the clouds for almost 3 weeks as visions of babies danced in my head.

We had a nice weekend. We rode bikes to Landa Park, pushed Olive in the swings, had friends over for dinner, went to The Flea Market, and went swimming at The Comal River. Everything went fine, I felt fine, nothing out of the ordinary happened. But everything wasn’t fine.
Jose dropped us off at the house and he left to go to the store. I got Olive settled in her crib and went to change out of my new bathing suit. That’s when I looked down and saw it. The blood. So much blood.

At 6 weeks and 6 days, I was losing my baby.

As soon as my brain registered what was happening, my body started to feel what was happening. I doubled over in pain from the cramps. My uterus was contracting trying to expel my baby from my body. The baby I didn’t plan to have, but couldn’t wait to meet. The baby I talked to everyday. The baby I imagined raising with his Big Sister Olive.
Sobbing, my world crumbling around me, and my husband at the store without a phone to reach him with, I called my kids. After much consoling and sympathizing from all of them, Mikayla told me everything happens for a reason. Maybe so. But what reason? This baby was going to be so loved, so well taken care of. He would have 8 amazing brothers and sisters looking after him his whole life. Doesn’t God already have enough babies in Heaven? Why take this one? Why take my baby?
I woke up this morning and went to work. We had an important meeting that I knew I couldn’t miss. The cramping wasn’t bad, but I was an emotional disaster. Halfway through the 2 hour meeting, the pain set in. I could barely sit straight in my chair and I could feel my baby passing through my body. I should have never gone to work. If anything, I should’ve gone to the hospital. I wanted to go home, put on my nightgown, and snuggle with Olive in bed while watching a Criminal Minds marathon on the ION Network. My eyes burned from tears, my back ached, and my gut was twisted. I went home as soon as the meeting let out.
So here I am, laying in bed, marveling at how lucky I am to have a perfect living baby while simultaneously mourning the loss of her baby brother. (In my mind, this baby is a boy.)
I don’t know why these things happen. Is it science or God? I guess I will never have the answers. I don’t know if I will ever get pregnant again and I don’t know if I will be able to carry that baby full term. But I do know this:
I know I’m blessed to have what I already have and I’m thankful for the joy Olive has brought to our lives.
She would have been a wonderful big sister.


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From Treasure to Trash

Sometimes I wonder what will become of my things after I’m gone. Not that I have anything of value, but they are valuable to me. Will my milk glass collection end up donated and dusty on the shelves of some thrift store? Will my children each keep a piece as a memento? Will my husband be glad to finally rid our home of it?

Will my family sit around in a circle sifting through my memory box telling “mom stories” as they come across every birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas card they’ve ever made me? Will they find the love notes they tucked in my purse years ago that I’ve saved all this time? Will all of it be tossed in the trash bin or perhaps framed and hung on the wall?

Will they sort through my boxes of jewelry, too cheap to even be considered “costume” and disregard the tiny Mason lapel pin I have, not knowing it belonged to my father? Will they wonder why I store a gold compact from the 1950’s in my nightstand without ever knowing it belonged to their great-grandmother? While looking through old photographs, will the ones with unfamiliar faces be thrown away, not knowing that was their Great Aunt Loree and that she was, in fact, pretty great?

Will my clothes be picked through and the rest donated to a womans shelter? Will my favorite dress become a stranger’s favorite dress? Will she feel as good in it as I did? Will my friends step forward and ask for a little piece of me for old times sake?

My bathrobe that hangs on a hook by the shower door, the one I’ve had since the weekend we moved to New Braunfels – will my husband leave it there to hang as a reminder of me? The basket of hair flowers stored next to my cosmetics, I must have 25 of them in all colors and sizes; will they be placed in Olive’s hair? I once overheard Jose tell someone that my flower was one of the reasons he was drawn to me. It was my signature look. I made sure to wear one for every special occasion after hearing that. Will he see the basket of hair flowers and know I wore them for him?

Will the pictures I hung so carefully on the wall, perfectly spaced and leveled be rearranged? Will the photos of me be replaced by photos of my husband’s new wife? Will the bed continue to be made every morning just the way I like it with the top sheet inside out so that when it’s folded over the comforter it is right side out?

…and then there’s the Yellow Chair. I stumbled upon it at the Flea Market (naturally) and insisted we buy it. I don’t remember the asking price, but Jose managed to haggle it down to $15. Will the Yellow Chair photos continue on without me? Will it be the one piece of furniture Olive takes with her when she leaves home for college? Will it one day be sold at a yard sale becoming nothing more than a memory as I have?

I know you can’t take things with you when you’re gone. I would never expect my family to be burdened with all my junk, but what I do hope, as they go through all that I’ve treasured in my life, they will see that these things are reflections of them and that’s what makes it priceless.


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Cantina del No-No

We haven’t gone out very much since I’ve been expecting so I was excited to head to Gruene Hall for the Texas Tornados Saturday night. I asked Jose if I would have time to nap after work and said we were going to dinner at Cantina del Rio at 7:30. Awesome! I had time to nap, didn’t have to cook dinner, and I was in the mood for nachos.

When end I woke up, I realized it was going to be 200 degrees (or something similar) inside Gruene Hall. What was I going to wear? I had a slight breakdown as most pregnant and non-pregnant women go through. NOTHING FIT. NOTHING WAS COMFORTABLE. NOTHING WAS CUTE. NOTHING WOULD WORK. I didn’t have anything to wear and I held back tears. Jose tried to be patient. He even offered staying in and not going at all. He suggest several dresses and none would do. It seemed hopeless.

Let’s be honest… when you’re almost seven months pregnant, you don’t feel attractive. When you’re hot & sweaty & your clothes fit awkwardly, you don’t feel attractive. I styled my hair in loose curls on top of my head, added a signature flower, and pulled some stray tendrils down. I did the full make-up job, not just mascara and lipstick (as I’m prone to do.) I was wearing foundation for the love of God! I started to feel better, more positive. I even felt attractive! I faced my closet one more time with a renewed outlook. I pulled out a long, flowy, floral print layered skirt with a black waistband (that was my daughters when she was pregnant with my grandson) and paired it with a black tube top that has lace around the bottom. It looked lovely! I could feel that pregnant glow coming back and when Jose walked in the bathroom and saw me, his face made the same expression it used to before I had the belly.

We jumped in the car and headed to Gruene, knowing there would be a wait on a Saturday night. We approached the hostess stand, hand in hand and gave her our name. She told us there would be a 50 minute wait and we said that would be fine. Then it happened. The hostess, who I’m guessing was about 17, too young to serve alcohol, looked at me and said, “Before I seat you, you’ll need to put a shirt on.” My heart sank, my blood boiled, I wanted to scream and cause a scene (and in my younger years, I would have,) but instead I calmly replied with a smile on my face, “I AM wearing a shirt.”

Look, this isn’t fine dining. This is a patio bar, fish tacos, and chips n salsa joint. The food comes in baskets. They haven’t even had a hostess or table service for that long. I understand not seating people in bathing suits, but I had clearly NOT just come off the river. My hair was fixed, my make-up was on, my skirt was adorable… I was attractive, dammit! She told me my appearance was not acceptable and in that moment, all the confidence I had managed to muster up earlier had disappeared without a trace. In one word, I was mortified. Jose’s hand clenched tighter in mine and I knew he was on the verge, too. I managed to spit out the words, “We will wait here for a manger,” while holding back tears.

A gal came out,  a server, maybe a “key employee,” and was very sweet. She told me I was beautiful and there were no problems. We were sat in less than 50 minutes. Our waiter was awesome and I finally got my nachos. They were delicious. The rest of the night was fantastic. We danced away at The Hall, the band was amazing and I was showered with compliments all night from every direction. I felt like a star!

Will I go back to Cantina del Rio? Yes! I hope you do, too. Other than a briefly traumatic experience, it was as wonderful as it always is. Take note restaurant managers… Your hostess is the first and last impression of your establishment. They basically run the show. The wait is in their hands. They will triple seat your worst server and skip your best server. Do you really want a person not even of age to serve alcohol, who is still working (and struggling) with social skills to be in that important of a position? Think about it.

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Moms Pages Blues

Oh, those crazy Moms pages on Facebook. I am a member of several. Sometimes I want to remove myself and sometimes I can’t stop myself from interjecting. Something I’ve noticed over the past year is that the same questions are asked over and over, sometimes several times a week! Today, as was I scrolling through the Moms feed, I realized that pretty soon, after my baby is born I’m going to be asking the same questions. EEK!

“Where can I get an amber teething necklace locally?”
Granted, I have no idea what an amber teething necklace is, but I’ve seen it asked 412 times, so I’m pretty sure my baby will need one, too. Also, I always try to shop locally.

“I’m in need of this specialty customized cake for my baby’s 1st birthday. I need it by Saturday and it can’t cost a fortune! Who do you recommend?”
Truth be told, I’ve bought sheet cakes from the grocery store or made a cake from a box for my older kids’ birthdays. Apparently, I’m failing as a mother and only a precisionly hand-made Frozen theme cake with life-like Anna & Elsa and glittered snowflakes will do for my precious little princess.

“I’m also going to need a bouncy house for her 1st birthday party. Who has the least expensive ones to rent that will come to my house on 4 days notice, set it up, and take it down after the party? Also, it can’t damage my freshly landscaped yard.”
A bouncy house for a 1 year old? …I guess so. I’m pretty sure we just held parties in the kitchen and I bounced my babies on my lap. Also, by “freshly landscaped yard,” I mean that we finally paid the teenager down the street to mow over our jungle after we got a letter from the city asking if we abandoned our dwelling.

“ISO of a reliable babysitter that is insured & bonded and has a current CPR certification.”
Would I sound like an old lady if I said, “Back in my day, we asked the teen-aged girl down the street to watch our baby.”?

“Ladies, my car seat is about to expire. What product do you recommend for a forward facing seat that has a mobile, a cup-holder, radio, comes in a variety colors & patterns, and is the safest for my precious cargo?”
Car seats expire?

“I know this asked been asked a jillion times already, but where do kids eat free tonight?”
Yes, it has been asked a jillion times. In fact, if you just scroll down three posts, you’ll find the answer. (If you could tag me in it though, that would be great – I don’t feel like searching either.)

“I know you girls aren’t Doctors, but can you look at my child’s disgusting rash and diagnose it for me, please.”
Ew, just, ew. If I ever do this, please unfriend me on Facebook and in real life.

“I’m looking for an experienced, gentle groomer that will handle my fur baby the same I would handle my human baby.”
Hahahahahahaha! Just kidding. We all know the best groomer in town is Jose Castelan at Happy Tails Pet Ranch  (830) 625-5700. He offers discounts to Moms of New Braunfels on Facebook!

Yeah, yeah, yeah…. shameless plug for my husband, but he really is the best groomer in New Braunfels. I swear I’m not biased.


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My Day Off

When I have to work early, I stealthily roll out of bed, tip-toe to bathroom by the light of my phone, making sure to quietly close the door behind me and get dressed. Then, I sneak in the kitchen, make a pot of coffee like a ninja, grab the lunch I made the night before, and gently kiss my husband on the forehead before I glide out the door. 

On my day off – his fog horn alarm set at maximum volume blares through the neighborhood, waking the dead. He grunts and moans, tossing and turning before he finally let’s out a loud sigh and jerks the blankets off the bed as he stumbles to the floor. He turns on the lights as he makes his way to the bathroom, shuffling through the house like herd of elephants, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. As he fumbles with the coffee pot, making sure to clank every mug against each other, he continues to grunt and burp and I’m sure he has a megaphone under his shirt. Once he finally has all his shit together, he comes back to the brightly lit bedroom, tells me to have a good day and says, “Please try to get some rest, baby.”