Ferias (Vacation) — Returning October 1st



Gosh, what a year.  What a crazy, turbulent, beautiful year and once again we find ourselves at that very special time of year where CWH goes on ferias (vacation) for which we are immensely grateful.

There will be no new conversations until October 1st.

During that time we will have two special visits from American friends and one family member in London, Hank will turn 9 and start 4th grade, Alfredo will turn 41 and start his 36th grade (I think I am never good with numbers), we will laugh, see things and people we love in between much needed naps.

<——- While we are away take advantage of our archives to the left.  There are over 900 published Conversations with Hank beginning when he was five. You can also peek over at our Instagram.

Thank you all so much for your continue and growing support of our blog.  Through your reading and sharing our readership has grown to an all time high.  Thank you so much for returning each day and suggesting to friends and family to tune-in to listen to Hank’s growing voice. Thank you all so much for your messages, advice, chiming in and connecting on social media and most importantly thank you for being a part of this year, which has not been easy for my family.

Wishing you all a wonderful September and see you all on October 1st.

Best wishes,

~ Joy


Cracking the Ice

Hank in 2014 standing in front of Dialofue of Light IV (2013), by Barbora Gediminaité (Lithuania), Casa de Memoria Guimarães, Portugal

Hank in 2014 standing in front of Dialogue of Light IV (2013), by Barbora Gediminaité (Lithuania), at the Casa de Memoria in Guimarães, Portugal


(Authors note: There are some vague references to some drama that has now been resolved in our extended family.  Thank you for your understanding and respecting our need for privacy)

Hank: (The morning after a long, long day and an even longer evening full of all the feels, rudeness and anger, in pajamas and with hair sticking strait up, collapses on my bed)

Me: (still gingerly doing my morning rotating and stretching routine which wakes up my stiff, locked joints so I can get out of bed) Hello, you.

Hank: Mama, I know I shouldn’t be but I am in the worst mood.

Me: Oh?

Hank: I think this is my worst mood ever in my life and I think maybe I should be alone all day.

Me: You could choose to do that.

Hank: Harrumph.

Me: I am going to say some things. This is my hypothesis as to why you are in a bad mood. I am willing to be wrong.


Me: I think your bad mood today and last night have everything to do with the family drama over the last few days and that your family are leaving today and although you have known that for some time today is the actual day and it is so hard that you are having trouble dealing with it. You are full of sadness and fear and anger and more sadness that our family are leaving and you will be alone.


Me: And it is my suggestion that you get through today. You support our family. You hold hands and hug and you keep it together and as soon as that plane takes off you let it all out.

Hank: (calm but raging mad and full of sass) I don’t think that it is. I don’t think you know what you are talking about. I am not trying to be rude, but I think I am just in a bad mood. (getting up to storm off)

Me: You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. I will do you a favor though. While you are at the airport I will blow up the air mattress in the living room, I will pop popcorn, I will get your blue blanket and I will make you a nest and you can have medicinal Xbox and Netflix and YouTube for the rest of the day NOT because you are sad, but because you are in a bad mood.

Hank: (not wanting to let go of his pout, but the ice is cracking)

Me: I understand what a bad mood feels like and sometimes you just need a mental health day.

Hank: (fists clenched) I want to be mad at you and I also want all of those things. (stomps off)

Me: (smiling to myself for this success after having sobbed oceans into my ears not ready for my little boy, my Hank, to push me away, not ready for him to act like he doesn’t need me and independently protecting his precious growing heart with a bad attitude and projected toughness, grateful that I may have some time left with my little boy before he decides to grow up and away from me, grateful that I still know what he needs even if he doesn’t want to admit it. Call it irrational and premature thinking, but that has been my week… and at the same time utterly heart broken and excited for our family to start their new life abroad. Whoosh… all the feels)



Librarians are Super Heroes

Big Brother: Helping

Big Brother: Helping


Me: (tucking Hank into bed)

Hank: What was Ana talking about? Something about rude gestures and she didn’t know.

Me: Oh, yes. She was talking about when Portugal won the Euro-Cup she was in Ireland and she was so happy and said, “Somos Campeões!” (We’re Champions) and held up both hands in a peace sign like a V for victory (showing him the gesture) but then she rotated her hand back and forth from the palm forward to showing the peace sign to the back of her hand and so on like this (gesturing) with excitement and all of her friends went stone cold and looked at her funny and her niece had to explain to her that showing a peace sign with the back of your hand to someone in the United Kingdom, which is Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, is like giving someone your middle finger.

Hank: (shocked, gasps, hand over his mouth) But she didn’t know. I didn’t know.

Me: I also didn’t know that until I was a teenager and this British band called Oasis had a hit in the U.S. and they came over to do press. They were doing that gesture all the time and I was like, “I don’t think that means what we think that means,” so I went to the library.

Hank: Why did you go to the library?

Me: Because in those days there was no google.

Hank: (shocked again) Oh! I guess I knew that, but I think I never thought about that life before now. I mean. What did you do before Google?

Me: When you wanted to know something you went to the library and you found a print resource. You used the encyclopedia or if it was a bit of info that may not be included in an encyclopedia you had to ask for assistance from the librarian. So I went to the library and I walked up to the information desk and I asked the librarian if there was a book on rude gestures from around the world with photos.

Hank: (giggling) Weren’t you embarrassed?

Me: This was the time in my life that I dressed like an uncoordinated punk rock clown every single day including church on Sunday. I was rarely embarrassed.

Hank: Did they have the book?

Me: The librarian asked me why I needed such a book so I told her the whole story, about the band Oasis and that they were always with a sour face and really rude on interviews and I didn’t much like their music but that they kept giving the peace sign backwards and I suspected the gesture had nothing to do with peace and I wanted to know what.

Hank: (chewing on his sheets in anticipation) So there was a book?

Me: Normally the librarian would lead you over to a card catalogue which was an analogue Google of all the books and publications in the library and she would help you find what you were looking for but this day the librarian needed no help. She was standing a bit above me behind a balcão (counter) and she leaned over and quietly said, “In England this,” and then she made the backwards peace sign the mediocre band Oasis was making all over MTV, “mean this,” and then she gave me the middle finger.

Hank: (gasps) The librarian gave you the middle finger?

Me: For educational purposes only. And I was like, “I knew that band was up to something.” The librarian then told me she studied in England in college so she was certain that this band was telling us exactly how they felt about America and I told her it was no crushing news because I didn’t like their music before but now I hated their music and I thanked her for her time and she asked me if she could be of further assistance and I gratefully said no and moved on with my teenage Saturday of loitering and drinking endless cups of coffee.

Hank: Now all I have to do is ask Siri. Siri is like my librarian.

Me: NO. Nope. No one can ever replace the knowledge and usefulness of a librarian. Librarians are an invaluable resource and absolutely irreplaceable. The internet can go down, the power grid could go off line and then Google would be of no help but a librarian will always be there for you, even by candle light.

Hank: I never thought of that.

Me: That is because you were born after the internet. You take it for granted, but not me. Sure Google is convenient at 9:30pm at dinner when I want to know anything the answer is a quick search away. Before the internet you’d hypothesize and then had to take a mental note to do your research, but you can’t always believe the internet, Hank. The internet has no rules and there are many, many published lies, but you can always trust a librarian.

Hank: Like Betsy (family friend). Betsy is a librarian and I know I can trust her for everything.

Me: Like Betsy. Knowledge is power, buddy. Librarians are super heroes.

Hank: Now I am curious if there is a book of rude gestures for the whole world.

Me: Google it.

Hank: (rolling over getting settled in for sleep) No, I will ask Betsy.