I turned 50 this past December.  It was one of the best days of my life.  My husband and son showered me with love and affection.  I received phone calls from family and friends, and got lots of Facebook love.  Topping the evening off was dinner out with Tom and one of my BFFs, Peggy and her husband Jimmy.  It was definitely a day to remember.  Leading up to it I was excited, and pensive.

If I’m lucky, I’ll have lived half or a little over half my life and at some point I’ll probably write about how I’d prefer to spend the next half.  On turning 50, one thing I knew for certain was that I’d hear from the AARP and I’d need to get a colonoscopy. . .

To read the rest of this post, please click on this link here at Mothering in the Middle where I am a featured contributor:  http://www.motheringinthemiddle.com.

The other day I was at my son’s preschool to pick him up. Often, we have “big yard” playdates with some of his classmates after school. The big yard is one of the common areas at the school where the kids play on the jungle gym, run around, pretend to be pirates on the big ship and eat leaves from the vegetable garden. On this day there were a lot of kids playing in the big yard, including little girl visiting the big yard with her younger sister. This young girl, who I’ll call Marla, couldn’t have been more than 6.

The Littlest E was playing with his friends as I sat at one of the children’s picnic tables.  Next to me was this beautiful, little girl with long, wavy hair, a round face and doe-like eyes.  The following is a conversation we had. I ask that you read it with the innocence of a 6-year old.

Marla: Is her your son?

Me: Yes, he is.

Marla: He’s really your son?

Me: Yes. Would you like to know how he’s my son?

Marla: Yes.

Me: We adopted him.

Marla: What’s that?

Me: Well, he didn’t grow inside me, but in his birth mom. For whatever reason, she wasn’t able to take care of him and he needed a Mommy and Daddy. My husband and I wanted a family so we adopted him and he became our son.

Marla: He has brown skin.

Me: Yes, he does.

Marla, said with great concern and caring: We have peach skin and there’s no one else here with brown skin. Will he be okay?

Me, smiling: That’s a really good question. He’ll be fine. He has lots of friends and, in his class he has other friends with brown skin.

Marla was quiet for a moment.

Me: It’s a pretty cool thing that there are all kinds of families, isn’t it? There are many ways to become a family.

Marla: Yes.

There’s another quiet moment.

Marla: Do you love him even if he has brown skin?

Me: I love him because he has brown skin, because he’s my son. I couldn’t love him more than if he grew inside me. I love him.

There’s another quiet moment.

Marla then yells to her sister: What are you doing?

Our brief exchange has ended and she left the table to play with her sister.

© 2015 Melanie Elliott

For The Littlest E’s 4th birthday, Tom and I told him he could get a dog as one of his presents. So, last Labor Day weekend we went on the quest. Our first stop was Wylder’s Holistic Pet Center & Rescue in Studio City. A friend recommended we go there and she was spot on in the recommendation! There were a bunch of dogs in the pen looking eagerly at people as they walked in. Our son’s face brightened when he saw all the four-legged furries excitedly waiting for him to come play with them. We asked him which one he wanted. He pointed and said, “I’d like the black one.” That is how Pepper joined our family.

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She is part Schnauzer and terrier (we’re just not sure which kind, perhaps Cairns Terrier), and she’s the best dog ever. Peppy Girl blended seamlessly into our family and into our hearts. She’s great with kids, potty trained, and is protective in a healthy way. She’s such a sweetie, and The Littlest E LOVES her. It took Pepper some time to warm up to Tom though because we think she witnessed abuse in her old home from a man with salt and pepper hair. After a week, she realized that Tom was a good guy and she loves on him all the time.


While we welcomed Pepper into our lives, we had to make some changes. Dogs need to go for walks, especially Pepper who is energetic and loves to be outside. We developed new routines, including The Littlest E’s and my morning routine. That now includes the morning walk. I’ve come to cherish our morning walks for the exercise, to let Pepper exercise and take care of her morning business, but mostly I enjoy the extra one-on-one time I get to spend with my son. I know this time together is fleeting. He’ll be going off to Kindergarten in the fall and I’m not sure what time we’ll have to leave the house to get him to school. I may end up walking Pepper alone in the early mornings before Tom leaves for work. That remains to be seen.

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Some mornings it’s rush, rush, rush, we are running late and my usually energetic son is taking his time walking so I’m having to yell, “Come on, let’s get moving!!!” Or, he’s so focused on picking up every stick or touching every wall of every home on our way to let Pepper do her business. It can take a long time and I get wrapped up in ending the walk before we’ve even begun the morning journey because we’ve GOT to get to school. I forget to experience the NOW and be present with my little boy and dog.

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Then there are the walks where my son says to me, “Mom, can I hold your hand?” Sometimes he just slips his hand into the one that’s not holding the leash and we walk together, mother and son. Those are the best walks. His hand feels so small in mine, yet strong and warm. One day mine will be the one that’s small. On those walks, time doesn’t matter, so what if he’s late. I’m bonding with my son. We enjoy each other’s company and that’s priceless.


One morning he asked me, “Mom, do you want to learn a song?” “Of course,” I replied smiling down at him. We spent the first half of that walk with him teaching me the words to his song. He’d sing a line; then I’d echo it. The second half, after Pepper had pooped, I taught him one of the songs I know. Those are the mornings I treasure, being fully present with him, not worried about getting anywhere, when the world is just the two of us spending time together outside with our Little Furry hustling along, sniffing the ground and exploring life.

Images: Melanie Elliott

© 2015 Melanie Elliott


The Shield

I used to teach comedy traffic school many years ago when I was fresh out of college and didn’t know what to do with my life. It was great. I worked in the office with friends signing people up, then learned how to teach the course, then eventually taught all over the Bay Area. Funny thing though, the class I meant to audit to become a teacher, I actually had to enroll in because I got a speeding ticket. There was lots of laughter from my fellow traffic violators when they learned that. One of the things I learned, and taught violators was that for every 2 to 3 thousand times we violate a traffic law do we get caught. You can see where this is going, right?

The other day, I was driving The Littlest E to preschool. We take a certain route down Colfax Avenue and sometimes there’s traffic. To go around the traffic I sometimes drive in the bike lane before making the right hand turn I need to make to avoid the traffic entirely. Well, on this particular day, while I was making said violation (along with another car in front of me), there happened to be a police car next to me as well as an idiotic mother and child wanting to jay walk across the crowded street. For the record, it’s okay to drive in the bike lane, if and only if, the line is split, not solid. I wasn’t doing that.

Bike Lane!

I made the turn, and another left turn to get to Chandler Boulevard, that is the way I take my son to school, and sure enough the police car followed me, turned its lights on and I pulled over. I was hoping they’d follow the guy in front of me, but no. It was my turn. As I was stopped the car, I told my son, “I’m getting pulled over by the police.” He asked, “Why Mama?” I said, “Because I may have done something wrong.” At this point my heart was racing, was I going to get a ticket or warning? Was the police officer going to be nice? Was this going to be a positive teaching moment for my son who observes everything? If I got a ticket, would my insurance go up? Would I have to attend traffic school? All these questions entered my head in the seconds it took me to pull over.

The most important thing for me regardless of whether I got a ticket or not, was that my son witness a positive encounter with the police. The Littlest E is not aware of events that happened in Ferguson, South Carolina, New York, or Florida, but he may have seen a bit of the Ferguson coverage while I was watching the news. Did he fully understand know what happened? No, but he doesn’t like me watching the news anymore. He’s only 5 and, to our knowledge, hasn’t yet really experienced overt or inadvertent racism in his short life. It’s important he know that police officers are there to protect and help us and catch us if we break the law. I was impressed by a recent video of a young black man, Will Stack, who was pulled over by police and after posted a video of his encounter on Facebook. (Google “Will Stack Video” to find it.) We have talked to our son about racism in an age-appropriate way. As The Littlest E grows up, we will definitely fill in the details more thoroughly.

After I stopped, I took my sunglasses off so the officer could see my face. He came over and my window came down. I asked, “Did I do something wrong, Officer?” He told me I was driving in the bike lane. I said, “I thought you were allowed to ride in the bike lane before turning.” He basically told me I was in the lane for too long and I almost cut off a mother and child wanting to cross the street. Mind you, they were going to jay walk, but that’s beside the point. The office didn’t need to hear my inner monologue about that. What I needed for my son to hear was that I was respectful of the officer. He asked for my license, registration and proof of insurance. I then had a “senior” moment not remembering what my registration looked like. To him I probably looked flustered so I then added “It’s been a long time since I’ve been pulled over.” Went into the glove compartment and got the registration and insurance info and gave everything to him.


Now the next part is questionable whether I should have said this or not. As the officer walked away with my info, I asked him if he was going to give me a warning or ticket? Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, but the words tumbled out. A good friend said to me after she heard the story and what I said, “What, were you crazy?” The officer replied, (and he didn’t have to) “Let me check your info first.” While we waited I kept explaining to my inquisitive son what was going on, what the police were doing and how I made a driving mistake and the officer was telling me about it. A female police officer was outside our car standing on the street. I looked at my son and said, “Hey, there’s a female police officer,” while I waved to her.   She came over to the car and I explained to her that I was telling my son about what police officers do and how they are there to protect us and keep us safe. It was probably overkill, but I wanted to make sure my son was okay while all this was going on and that he knew I was okay, too.

Algona Traffic Ticket

The officer in charge came back and told me he was giving me a warning because he wasn’t comfortable giving me a ticket knowing the other driver who did the same thing wasn’t getting one. He instructed me not to drive in the bike lane and told me I could have hit the mother and child. I apologized and promised not to do that again. With sweaty pits, I took back my info, thanked the police officer and started the car. I made sure to obey all traffic laws while driving The Littlest E to school. All the way there, he kept asking, “Mommy, why did you get pulled over?” and other questions. I kept telling him that I broke the law and the police officer was nice enough to give me a warning. He then asked, “Can I tell my teachers about it?” Sure, why not.

It’s been a couple of days and as my son and I drive the route to school, he asks, “When did the police start following you?” “Is this where you got pulled over?” “What did you do wrong, Mommy?” I answer and explain. I’m very grateful that this became a positive teaching moment for both my son and I. It’s important to obey the traffic rules. We think we won’t get caught, but inevitably we do. He saw that the police officers were people and they were helpful. All in all it was a win-win for the both of us. I’m especially grateful that I didn’t get a ticket. My hope is that this will be his only encounter with police. That is my hope.

©2015 Melanie Elliott

Images: banspy, Greg Whalin, John Liu, Keith Tyler


Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress.  I did plays in my youth with high school, community theatre and even in college.  Then, in the early 90s, I moved to Chicago and got an MFA in acting…

To continue reading, please go to Mothering In The Middle.  More posts to come!

Is it just me, or does it seem like the last few months of the year go incredibly fast?  We hit October and there’s Halloween.  You blink and it’s Thanksgiving.  You blink again and it’s Christmas/Hanukkah, and one more blink and it’s an entirely New Year!

New Years Eve

As I wrote in a previous post, we celebrate many holidays in our home.  We keep the Christmas decorations up after the New Year until the 12 days of Christmas are over – January 6.  The Littlest E was on break from school for 2-½ weeks and my husband took a staycation for 1 of those weeks.  It was wonderful to have both of them home.  Tom and I didn’t need to set an alarm clock because we knew our lively lad would wake us up around 6:30. I think once or twice during that week, we were blessed with a 7:00 appearance.  The luxury of sleeping in!  Part of me does look forward to the day when The Littlest E is a bit older and actually, truly does sleep in, however, I love the mornings when he wants to come in bed with us and hang out.  It’s awesome family time.  And, of course, our dog, Pepper, has to get in on the action, too.

Holiday time is such a busy time, with vacation, visiting friends, holiday gatherings, all the planning and prep it takes, etc., etc., etc.  Many people take time to reflect at year’s end and come up with resolutions for the approaching year.  I used to pick Angel Cards to see what words would be my focus for the year ahead.  I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution person though, and, since bringing The Littlest E home with us from Ethiopia 4+ years ago, there doesn’t seem too much time during the holidays for major introspection.

That time happened on January 6.  Tom started back to work on January 5, and The Littlest E went back to school the next day. After I dropped him off, I came home, walked the dog and then proceeded to put away all our holiday decorations.  It was the first time in a couple of weeks I was alone for an extended period.  Pepper was resting and the house was quiet.  The only sounds were cars driving by on a street nearby, the heat coming through the vents wafting warm air my way, and an occasional bird making its voice heard.  It was the perfect opportunity for a bit of contemplation about the year past and the year ahead, and the floodgates of my mind opened with numerous thoughts rushing in.

Meeting Mickey

We had a good year as a family last year.  We traveled a bit to see our families, went to an Ethiopian adoptive heritage camp, went glamping with classmates from preschool, and took The Littlest E to Disneyland for the first time.  The Littlest E began asking more questions about his adoption.  Both Tom and I provided him and will continue to provide him with answers that are appropriate for his age. You’d be surprised at the kinds questions he was asking.  Kids are perceptive and understand more than we think they do.  I won’t go into details because it gets into territory that belongs to our son, since his adoption is his story to tell. I’m just really glad we are here at this point, and he’s asking.  It’s so important for him and for everyone concerned.

I love my family and honestly, couldn’t ask for anything more, well, maybe a bigger house, but that will happen in due time.  Our nightly gratitudes we say at dinner make me feel, well, grateful.  I hear the things my son is grateful for and it puts a smile on my face. Pepper, joined the family this past September and she’s love personified.  She fit right in with minimal adjustment.  Our new routine of daily walks including one in the morning with my son, allows me special one-on-one time with him, and a bit of exercise to boot.  I love just being with him.  We’re all good.  Tom and I could always use more date nights, but I think we have a balance that works.  I want to continue to love and support my hubby in all his endeavors.


The explosion of growth that has gone on with The Littlest E this year, not just height, but brain power, imagination, energy, and appetite.  You name it.  He’s sight-reading some words, and they’re learning to write in class.  Watching him figure things out is one of the neatest things I’ve seen or when he’s focused on building something with his Magna Tiles or figuring out answers to questions from his Sylvan learning books, it’s the best.  His imagination is on fire. The first part of last year was all about the Ninja Turtles.  Then the last six months and currently, it’s everything Star Wars. Everything is a lightsaber or sword.  He’s watched a Star Wars movie with lightsaber in hand ready to do battle along the other Jedi, literally. We have rules of play in the house that he observes (most of the time).  He can fight with Darth Wingback or Darth Couch, but can’t fight with Mom and Dad, if neither of us cares to join in.  And he loves stories, too. Right now Tom is reading to him a lot of Greek myths.  The Littlest E LOVES them and regularly asks on the way to school, “Tell me a story, Mommy.” Star Wars, Disney movies, Eurydice, anything made up, often make the ask list. Being a Mom is the coolest thing.


A headspace occupier for us this past year has been the quest for a kindergarten.  When I was a child, schools were vastly different. So it’s been a blog-worthy journey trying to figure out the best option for our son.  We’re not sure how things will unfold.  We’ll know in the next few months.  We just hope we do right by our son, and are excited about where he’s headed for his next phase of life and education.

Aside from a bit of skin cancer, I had a pretty good year.  Now that The Littlest E is older and heading off to kindergarten in the fall, I’m ready to get back to work and start contributing financially to our house.  In serving on the board of Connect-A-Kid and working on my project, I discovered that I’m pretty adept in reaching out to strangers, making cold calls, and networking, particularly when I truly believe in something.  I’ve got my project and I’m also partnering with a girlfriend to help her event company thrive.  I’m excited about both opportunities and have faith that it’s all going to fall into place one way or another. Somehow the Universe has always provided, when I do the footwork.  The biggest challenge from last year, as I think with any parent or person for that matter, is balance, when to say yes, when to say no, and when to take action or take it easy.  Balance will be key this year, too.

So, no resolutions, though more exercise should be on the list as well as cutting back on watching so much television, just ideas and thoughts about 2015, and reflections on 2014.  With life there are ups and downs. Hopefully, the year ahead will have more ups than downs. Hopefully, all the grandparents will stay healthy.  Hopefully, the year will be filled with wonderful adventures, good times with family and friends, and personal, professional, spiritual and emotional growth for the three of us.  We’ll see how the year unfolds!

Images: Cindy Kilpatrick, Melanie Elliott

2014 in review

To All Readers of Mom To The Littlest E:

A heartfelt THANK YOU to the readers near and far for taking the time to stop by, read a blog, post a comment or like a post. In the New Year, there will be more blogs posting, including The License Plate Game, Turing The Big 5 0, and other blogs percolating.  I’ll be back soon.

Below is a summary from WordPress.com.  Again, thanks!

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2015!


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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