and we'll drive to Madagascar

Dear Mike,
We stopped at Wal*Mart today after we got Zane from his chest practice. Evan had birthday money he was excited to spend. After deliberating over the perfect remote control truck, he finally made his decision. We lost Zane about 72 times between the toy section and the check-out lane, as usual. Sylvia cried for a ring pop once we got in line, as usual. Evan was a solid 5 star kid waiting patiently to pay for his toy, like usual. Waiting in line always increases my joyful anxiety, but this time it doubled as a woman rolled up behind us in her motorized sit-in shopping cart. What are those called, anyway? It's a cross between a shopping cart and a golf cart: shopfart? I feel a new Urban Dictionary entry coming on......

She was kind and luckily as she inched closed and closer to us no one's toes were in the wrong spot. I finalized payment and wished in my heart I could help her unload her groceries. She struggled to reach many items from the sitting position beyond arm's length. I glanced at the kids and realized they were being good. All three of them were calm and staying by the cart and no one was crying or screaming or punching; very unusual. After collecting my reciept, I leaned over to the boys and whispered for them to please come help this woman unload her groceries.

They paused for a moment, then Evan led the way. I asked her if we could help and she graciously accepted. I stepped back as I softly instructed the boys. They each approached her cart at different sides and selected one item at a time. I marveled at how incredibly gentle they handled her groceries and carefully placed them just so onto the belt. I have never seen them behave so reverently and soft with anything in my life. I felt my eyes begin to fill with tears of happiness at seeing their willing service, but mostly for the inspiration I know I felt suggesting my boys step in to help someone.

I immediately thought of you and wished there was a way to teleport this feeling while I had the opportunity to teach out kids something of great importance to us. If I could send you this feeling, it would look like a glittery ball of magnificent light and would make you smile so very much as it hovered over your desk. It was such a peaceful moment I hope for it to remain through the night.

Well.......no such luck. It turns out the remote control truck Evan chose keeps falling apart, as usual. Anger is overcoming him and dinner is cooking and Sylvia is crying and Zane is trying to handcuff each of us with his toy handcuffs. Fortunately for us they are plastic, so it's easy to pull them off. And! He still hasn't found the real ones we have hidden under our matress.

I must tend to the children now, but want to let you know that I thought of you again as I pushed the shopping cart to the car. I thought of how grateful I am to be able to have a moment like this with our children. I thought of how hard you work for our family so I can be here teaching them and guiding them. While I often wish I was the one with the career and you were the one leading anger management sessions with Evan, potty training Sylvia, and becoming the family expert on Autism, I have to say I got the better end of the deal today.

p.s. I spent more than I should have. Just like usual.

Love you!



More! about Chest!

When I was nursing Sylvia as a baby,  Zane was oblivious. I could have been feeding the baby milk out of a bottle sitting inside of a lion's mouth and he wouldn't have noticed. Evan, however, was used to being by my side and has always been one full of nonstop questions. Much like Macaulay Culkin in the movie Uncle Buck where he asks John Candy 38 questions in a row. That's Evan. He had to learn at a young age that the woman's chest is a private area that needed covering. Even at times when it was in charge of feeding a baby. I knew from his questions and facial expressions little of what I said made any sense and he continued to find the whole area and feeding a baby situation a totally amazing mystery. Often he would try to climb under the blanket and get a closer look or peek down my shirt to figure things out (as if I wouldn't notice).

Years later he still has in-depth questions about The Chest Area, why it can't be touched, how it feeds babies, and why it's a private on a girl, but not a boy. I have a strong suspicion he will turn out to be a chest man. He will either end up being a plastic surgeon or work in the fruits and vegetable section of the grocery store; specializing in cantelopes.


For weeks we have been talking as a family about Zane learning chess. Evan listens patiently as we ask Zane questions about his class and moves. Finally at dinner one night Evan sets down his fork and in an exasperated voice says, "Why does Zane have to learn about the chest!? Aren't we not supposed to talk about privates?!'


Today Mike finally got a call back from The Chess Coach. Between the two of us we are still uncertain as to what country he is from, but we'll figure it out one way or another. Apparently there was a great loss in translation (as in the words coming out of his mouth, not as in the words changing once in my ear). He is making headway with his English and for this I am impressed! It turns out our prideful hope and assumption our son had found a skill and strength in the game of chess was spot on. He invited Zane to participate in a weekend tournament and suggested more complex skills for him to work on at home.

Apparently 'he is not practicing correctly' was his way of trying to tell me 'your kid is doing great- let's teach him more complicated things'. Yeah. Kind of two different messages. He must have spent the week looking up more accurate wording while he waited to call my husband back and this is where we have landed as of today. Who knows what news will come next week, it could end up being a bipolar chess experience with all these emotional ups and downs. In the end, the good news is there is no secret unknown way for him to learn that we had been waiting on the edge of our seats to hear about.

He is on the right track. Yay Team Fuller!


check. mate. arrrrgh.

I always said I would teach my kids to skateboard no matter what. Before I became a mother I thought that was important. In conversation people would humor me and ask 'what if they don't like it?' I would scoff at the notion, but always reply with 'oh if they want to do something else, oh say CHESS hahaha, I will be supportive. But I am sure they will love to skate.'

Well, none of them are interested in skateboarding. And naturally, my oldest has joined The Chess Club. 472 club options available in the past 3 years and this is what he gets excited about.

Who knew I could
a) get married
b) get freaky
c)  have a kid with part of my genes
and d) produce someone who actually 'gets' chess and enjoys it?! This will always fascinate me.

Cool! Let's do this!

I have put it on Mike's shoulders to learn and champion this hobby. Each week he reads and practices chess strategy so he can fil our son with as much chess guidance as possible. They have weekly games where strategy and etiquette are executed. It's rather adorable if you ask me.


A week into the club I got a phone call on a night when The Witching Hour was in full effect and the person on the other line was asking for Aziz Ooch in a thick accent. I ran through the names of each family member in my mind and none of them sounded like the words that came in through the receiver. I asked him to repeat again who he was looking for and the same sounds came out. I assumed he was a telemarketer calling from another country. I kindly replied with 'no thank you' and hung up the phone.  5 minutes later my delayed experience from living in New York and translating foreign accents kicked in and I realized the man on the phone was saying "I am Zane's chess coach". We sat down to dinner and I hoped he would call back. Surely he was just calling to tell us what we already know, anyway: that our son is a gifted chess player.


When he wins the other children every week at chess we feel so proud. Mike and I do high fives any chance we can. We chest bump as we pass one another in the kitchen. We are awesome for having a smart son with smart parents! We comment often to one another how amazing we are. Signing him up, teaching him, helping him, getting him there, giving him books about it, playing chess games on the phone together.....

Just as we were at our peak of pride, the phone rang with The Chess Coach on the other line. This time he used different words and spoke more slowly. I remained silent when he spoke of a time he called before. I was sure he would be calling to offer glowing reviews of our son's chess prowess. I was positive he would be calling to tell me that our son has a natural talent for this game and maybe a more advanced class would be necessary. I sat down on the couch with a knowing smile, waiting for outstanding news about how great our son was at chess and asking us for tips on how other childrens' parents could help prepare them the way have our son. We would be told we are model parents of a brilliant son we have been raising so well.

Only, that's not what actually happened. Somewhere in the twist of reality I heard the suggestion that he should practice a lot. Oh, and that he is practicing wrong. I think my vision went fuzzy and the next thing I knew I was browning meat over the stove for dinner while frantically trying to get ahold of Mike as if our bank account had been hacked.

How could this be?! How could this happen?! Not us! Not our son!!!!!

Alas, The Chess Coach is impossible to get ahold of for questions. Emails have not been returned and we are puzzled. We are stumped and, albeit humorously, humbled. I suppose his first call might have been a good one to take.