Et Cetera

Today, Julianna turns 12.

Every year, since she was 3, I’ve been publishing a post on this day. You can read them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

These birthday posts have gotten harder and harder to write each year. I generally start thinking about them a few days in advance and then sit down, the night before, and type it out. I started by writing them as a year-in-review style and then switched to a flashback telling of her birth story leading up to last year.

Last year I was convinced (with help) to do a flashforward and let’s be honest, its a great post. I just re-read it and I just don’t think I’d be able to top it.

So I’ve been sitting here for days, trying to figure out the best way to honor the birthday tradition and more importantly, honor Julianna.

And I just figured it out: the last 2 years I’ve taken slightly bigger creative swings and this year I’m going to shrink it down. I’ve been writing on this blog for almost 10 years and at the beginning, the exciting moments that I’d classify as “defining” and worthy of being hilarious were happening all the time. Babies and then toddlers are evolving as individuals relatively quickly but as they get older, those big moments are harder to find.

But maybe I don’t need to look so hard.

I’m about to tell you a story that’s going to sound like its about me but I think it’s actually about Julianna.

I’ve had a beard since the moment I could grow one. You see, I wasn’t invited to the Puberty Party until pretty late and so when I was finally there, I wasn’t leaving. I also look younger than I am (I know, boo hoo) and the beard makes me feel a little closer to reality. Other than pictures, my kids have never seen me without it.

The other day, at lunch, Julianna randomly asked if she could shave my beard. I suppose she thought it would be fun. I half-joked that it might be fun.

The game was on. We decided that we would stream “The Shaving” on Facebook Live. This was just the kind of nonsense that people loved tuning in to see. Then we decided that we would do it for charity because not only would people tune-in for this kind of nonsense, but they’d do so AND give money to charity for the pleasure of the experience.

We chose the local Service Council in our town. They provide meals, transportation, help with bills, and other assistance to people in our town who are mostly senior citizens. Given the current state of affairs (for those reading this after 2020, I’m talking about the Great Pandemic of 2020: COVID-19), the clients of the Service Council are greatly in need of the help.

We started to stream and had ourselves a nice time shaving my beard for charity. We got to $200 and thought, this was a nice lesson.

$300 and still being silly. Julianna and Chloe were both having a great time.

$450 and we can’t believe that people are still donating money to watch a random dude on Facebook lose his beard.

$600. $700. $800 and climbing.

We raised $1000 by the time we were finished. We all had a great time.

Later that night, before the girls went to bed, Julianna handed me a piece of paper that she wanted me to read and eventually share. Here is what she had written:

The Service Council

They provide support to people who are struggling or maybe just need an extra hand. They provide things like food, rides, and sometimes they pay important bills if someone doesn’t have enough money to pay it themselves.

I live a very fortunate life with food, water, a shelter, etc. I have the essentials to living a good, healthy life but some people don’t have all those things, and that is mainly who the Service Council helps.

Now, with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) coming around, it is risky for elderly people to leave their homes. The Service Council helps provide food and other things one would usually need to leave the house for. They make sure everyone is safe and healthy.

If you like what I just talked about, you should donate. This amazing group of people do not get any money from the government, or even the state. They run on donations.


– Julianna

Julianna, to quote her, ”lives a fortunate life with food, water, a shelter, etc.,” and has all the essentials to living a good, healthy life but understands that some people don’t have all those things.

I consider myself to be pretty lucky for a number of reasons. I, too, live a fortunate life with food, water, a shelter, etc.


It’s the etc. that matters isn’t it? Sometimes, its easy to overlook the etc. while looking for the big tangible moments but the etc. is home to the subtle details. It’s where things like understanding and empathy live.

It’s where pride and love and family and friendship all are and so, with that, I hope this year is filled with happiness, joy, laughter, etc.

Happy Birthday Julianna.