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“It Only Took $20 to Make My Cat Love Me… I Think”

Mishka came home and immediately bonded with my husband (because of course she did). They soon struck up a familiar evening routine: he’d sit at the piano keyboard with a glass of wine and she’d hop up on the bench next to him, gazing out the window or nuzzling her head on his arm while he’d play. My son and I went out of town soon after we added Mishka to our animal brood, and my husband was the one who helped all of the animals bond. To this day, she often remains hidden all day until my husband shows up after work or school when she comes speeding out.

As the family’s cat person, I have been understandably aghast.

“10 Weird Books Kids Should Read Before Turning 10”

 As big-time readers, our home is always filled with books–especially books that could be described as fantastic, nerdy, and straight up weird. You know, books that will tickle the brain and make your kid turn her head sideways in a, “Huh?” expression — in a good way.

“What Happens When Your Feminist Superheroes Die?”

From the second she talks to Vader like she could care less who he is or what he’s capable of, to the last glimpse we get of her in Episode VI with her long flowy hair and gleeful resignation to willingly dealing with a lifetime of Han Solo, she has been one of my truest and bluest, one of my closest personifications of how it feels when you know that you’re doing the thing, doing it well, and doing it as a woman. She was unapologetically badass in a way that I aspire to be daily. She was intelligent as all get out. She was compassionate. She had killer hair and cool space clothes. She didn’t get too distracted by Han Solo and his shit, and she led the Resistance like the boss she was (and didn’t care what anyone thought about her while she did it). She’s my everything.

“One of the Biggest Problems Facing Childhood Cancer Research”

Before 2016, “childhood cancer” were two words I never wanted to say out loud. The idea of children getting cancer wasn’t new to me, but as a mom it was —and is— terrifying: childhood cancer is one of those things that just shouldn’t exist. But it does; it’s real. It’s excruciating. I “knew” this before 2016, in a way that everyone knows cancer is awful, whether or not you’ve had it. But it wasn’t until February 2016 that I started to really begin to learn about pediatric cancer. Not firsthand, but through the grapevine, when a friend’s ten-month-old son, Ben, was diagnosed with a Malignant Rhaboid Tumor (MRT) and her world turned upside down.

“Let’s Be Real: I Decorated My Kid’s Room for Myself”

When I asked him what color he wanted his room to be, he said black (it’s his favorite). When I asked what he wanted on the walls, he said black things. When I asked if he still wanted his thrifted Harry Potter blanket, he said ok, but he wanted black everything else. I politely and sweetly smiled at him, told him there was no way my preschooler was going to have an all-black room (we can save that for the teen years, guys), and proceeded to tell him I was thinking of picking a color from the cover of The Cloud Spinner and decorating the room in our usual style of hand-me-downs and hodge podge. He begrudgingly agreed.

“What Happened When I Stopped Playing Secretary for My Family”

My husband, bless him, is fantastic at a lot of things. We’ve split chores, childcare, pet care, everything, for years. We communicate well (and learned how to the hard way), he’s gainfully employed, he doesn’t have bad habits that gross me out or make me think he’s going to get killed. He holds my hand during Grey’s Anatomy and ended up super invested in Friday Night Lights, and for all of these things I appreciate him deeply. And yet.

“Let’s geek out about going on a self-guided Pretty in Pink tour”

When it comes to movies, music, and celebrities that I love I’m an open, honest, unabashed fan girl. We also saw a hobbit (Dominic Monaghan) while I was in town, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never stop talking about it. I saw Pretty In Pink during my pretty formative teen years and Duckie (yes, even in all of his borderline stalker-ish glory) basically laid the groundwork for the creation of my Dream Guy prototype. I have much of the dialogue memorized, and there is never a time that I will turn down watching this movie.

“Parenting sweet spots: spontaneous ‘I love yous’ and eating raw broccoli”

I feel like it’s important to acknowledge these phases in the lives of children — and in our journey as parents — because it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the hard stuff. My kid has faced numerous challenges each month of his life, and we’re in and out of the offices of specialists more than I care to share. Let’s just say that you can find us at the office of one doctor or therapist at least once a week. And I know my family isn’t alone in facing challenges — sometimes relationships are hard or national tragedies feel too overwhelming or you feel like you really suck as a working parent.

“If You’re Not Behind Amber Heard, Where the Hell Are You?”

Domestic violence also isn’t just a physical thing—someone doesn’t have to throw a phone at your face for it to be domestic violence. Any violent behavior that happens in your home—any violent behavior that provokes or incites fear—is domestic violence. Smashing plates, hitting a hole in the wall. Throwing your stuff around the room or in the yard. Kicking your dog, breaking your laptop. Yelling at you until you’re crouched in a corner, sobbing uncontrollably. I know this, because I’ve lived it.

I grew up living under the thumb of a man who felt powerless in most of the world, and who exploited what little power he felt he had over my mother, myself, and my three siblings. Domestic violence is weird. Not everyone who experiences it has the same reaction, or even the same memories. If you get me in a room with my siblings, you’re going to get four different stories about what it was like to grow up with him. If you add my mom, you’re going to get the closest version to the truth.

But back to Amber.