2022 in Review

2022 was the year that we settled into our new life in Tacoma, Washington.  We killed most of the grass in our front yard and turned it into a place where we could experiment with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  Sofia became the garden master, but the boys loved to help.  We spent most of our time at Red Elm Cafe and Owen Beach. 

Noah had his second birthday on June 2nd.  Noah became a toddler this year and started daycare in January.  As a pandemic baby, he was part of a group of kids who never got the experience of a pre-Covid world.  It wasn’t until halfway through the year that he even saw his teacher’s faces.  Nonetheless, he prospered in his new environment.  He went from a handful of words to too many to count.  In fact, it is now difficult to get him to stay quiet.  He is an incredibly playful child who loves cars, dinosaurs, and ice cream above all else.

Henry turned four on December 27th.  Henry blossomed so much this year.  At the beginning of the year, Henry had near zero words in his vocabulary.  Today he has hundreds (you just have to pry them out of him at times).  He started daycare and preschool in January. He moved to a more inclusive preschool in September.  He loves it.  He is known as the captain of circle time—ensuring it is never missed and sometimes taking over as the one reading to the other kids.  He loves to ride the bus, going to Owen Beach, and hang out at “Mama’s Cafe.”

Sofia celebrated the big 3-0 on January 17th.   Throughout the year Sofia transitioned from stay at home mom, to community college student, to barista.  She powered through some of the hardest classes in her Sonography prerequisites (like organic chemistry).  With only a few classes left until she could apply for the full program, she came across an opportunity she could not turn down.  The cafe where she had been doing Sunday barista shifts went up for sale.  She jumped at the opportunity and dropped out of community college.  On December 22nd, she signed the purchase agreement to take over 50% ownership.  As of the first of the year, she will be a small business owner of a cafe with six employees (Red Elm Cafe).

Richard completed his first full year as Assistant District Manager of the Olympia, Washington Social Security Administration.  He was lucky enough to start teleworking from home two days a week, making the 35-40 minute commute much easier to sustain.  He spent a good part of the year waiting for his Steam Deck as he ceded control of the Switch over to the boys.  He spends his evenings and weekends trying to turn his boys into nerds and hanging out at “Mama’s Cafe” and Owen Beach.  In January, he will take over the role of community college student from Sofia as he works towards his bookkeeping certificate.


Last Thursday night, Sofia and I snuck into the boys’ room about an hour after we put them down.  I lit up the room with the screen from my phone.  I went over to Henry.  Sofia went over to Noah.  We pulled back the covers on them and shined the light over their PJs.  We held our hands to their chests to make sure they were breathing.  They were both perfectly fine…and a little annoyed at us for disturbing their sleep.

A few minutes before that, Sofia and I were laying in our own bed.  Sofia had just gotten her phone after 26 days of fighting with Google to get them to replace her broken one.  In those 26 days, I had sent her at least a hundred videos on TikTok (I know),  Now that she had her phone, she could finally watch them.  We were both tired so we curled up and watched them together.  We were about halfway through the last video when we were interrupted.

The sound of gunfire is distinct. From afar you may mistake it for fireworks or a car backfiring.  But up close, those three sounds are very distinct.  So when the sound of about 7 gunshots erupted in the street directly in front of our house, we knew what it was instantly.  We rolled off the bed, but it was already over.  I peaked out the window just in time to see an old green pickup not 20 feet from our front door.  It drove off.

Sofia came around and handed me the phone that was dialing 911.  I stayed on the line and answered their questions until the police arrived.  When they arrived I went outside and met a few of the neighbors  After talking with the police officer, I went back inside.  Sofia and I both agreed that the likelihood of stray bullets getting to the back of the house where the kids sleep was low.  But not zero.  So we went in and checked.

That’s something I never want to have to do again.  The boys will never know until they find this post or I tell them the story in 15-20 years.  But the idea that it happened so close to them and that they were in danger of gun violence is absolutely terrifying.  It was a year ago that our car was stolen.  Although that felt violating, it was not a violent crime.  This is different.  This struck fear into me, my wife, and my neighbors.

After verifying that the kids were okay, I went back out and talked with all of the neighbors and made sure everyone was accounted for.  As I talked with everyone, the full story came into view.  There were two trucks going in opposite directions in front of our house.  As they passed each other–the green truck shot at the blue truck.  The blue truck hit the gas and hit a parked car across the street from us before taking off.  Then the green truck took off–which is what I saw.

The full picture made me less terrified.  The initial fear I had was that a truck was driving around and shooting at houses.  As the cops did the rounds at the nearby houses and cars, they found no bullets in any of them.  So no stray bullets.  We may never find out what happened.  Road rage?  Feud?  And that’s okay.  

The fact that my neighborhood was not involved, but just the location, doesn’t strip away the safety I feel.  I love my neighbors.  I love my neighborhood.  Hilltop is a community with culture.  That is part of why Sofia loves working at the coffee shop at the center of it all.  This place is amazing.  Assholes will not ruin it for the rest of us.


It is hard to describe to someone who has not been through what we’ve been through.  Today I put my three year old son down for a nap.  As I opened the door to leave, he waved goodbye and said “bye.”  When I waved back, he put his hand to his lips and blew me a kiss.  I blew a kiss back and left the room in shock.  For most other parents of a three year old, this would be like any other day.  For us, this is a milestone.

Whether my son is on the spectrum or not is up for the doctors to decide.  I’ve come to realize it matters very little.  I want to raise a happy child—and he is such a happy child.  The hardest barrier he has is a communication barrier.  He has a few signs and he will grab our hands to lead us places.  But you can only communicate so much that way.  Before February, the number of words I would consider to be in his vocabulary would have been zero.  He would surprise us every once in a while, but nothing consistent.

But over the last week or two, that has started to change.  Two things are happening.  First, his younger brother is starting to pick up words left and right.  Secondly, after a couple of false starts due to COVID, he is going to school regularly.  The love of school and the desire to do what his brother is doing seem to be combining in a way that we long hoped it would.  Within days, he is waving and saying “Hi” when we come home.  He will see a bus and say “bus” (his brother will then yell “BUS!” like it is the most exciting thing ever).

It’s hard to communicate the level of relief at hearing his voice.  It was about 18 months ago when Henry first started saying things like “Mom” “Dad “Diaper “Doggy.”  But then those words started to fade—until there were none.  It happened in the first few weeks of his brother’s life—making it more difficult for us to realize what was happening.  The slow burn of the unknown is terrifying—especially when the unknown is your child’s ability to function in the world.  

Having him say “bye” is such a tiny thing.  

But it is impossible to overstate what it means to me.

He is going to be okay.

My 29 Year Old Wife Had a Stroke

Sofia helped orchestrate a weekend getaway for me in exchange for her going to a two day concert.  I was going to have a full weekend away in Seattle–I would get to be alone, explore the city, and reflect on everything that had happened since we moved to Washington.  It started off so well.  I took public transit up to the city, had an incredible meal at a Vietnamese restaurant, then hung out at a brewery in an alley.  

After a restful night where I didn’t have to wake up to toddlers crying, I walked over to a fancy coffee shop.  I spent a couple hours at a coffee shop writting and researching public transit and adjusting to the new world that I found myself in. I wrote about the future—and the promise it seemed to hold with all the recent changes.  The move.  The promotion.  The house.  When I wrapped up, I dropped off my laptop at the friends’ house I was staying at and wandered to brunch.  

It had been so long since I ate alone at a restaurant.  It was amazing.  This brunch location was filled with millennials late on the Saturday morning.  Sitting alone I was able to skip the line and sit at the bar.  I drank a hard cider and watched the cooks do their thing as I ate.  It was a great meal.  I paid by scanning a QR code and paying online–something that seems to be going mainstream in the pandemic but the first time I ever did it.  When I left, I started back toward my friends’ house with a full belly.  I was thinking about taking a nap before heading to the Link and going downtown in the afternoon to seek out authentic Chinese food and fulfill a fancy bar recommendation I had received years ago..

I put in my earbuds, turned on some ambient music, and walked back.  The music cut out two blocks out from the house.  I was getting a call.  I pulled out my phone and saw that it was my wife.  I assumed she just put the kids down for a nap and wanted to talk.  I answered.  And, honestly, that is the last moment that I felt normal.  That I didn’t feel scared.

As I listened to her fumble through incoherent words, then nearly scream “I DON KNEW WATS APPENIN,” my world broke. I got her to mumble a few words that made it sound like she couldn’t feel her right arm.   I know the signs of a stroke—I’ve had enough cholesterol issues myself to learn what to look out for.  I told her to hang up and dial 911.  I immediately realized she would struggle to talk with the operator. So I dialed as well.  Seattle dispatch quickly sent me down to Tacoma dispatch.  Once I described what was happening, I was told that my wife was on the line of the woman next to my operator.  I clarified everything and they disconnected telling me dispatch was on their way.

I was back at the house when they disconnected.  Suddenly I realized how isolated I was.  I had taken public transit up.  No one was home.  I was an hour out–if I had a car.  I called Sarah.  No answer.  I called Kristen.  No answer.  I called Paul.  He answered, confused.  I choked out the words that I never imagined I would have to say: “Sofie’s having a stroke.  I need help.”  He told me he would figure it out and call me back.  I packed my bag as quickly as I could, filled my water bottle, and tried to make myself puke so I wouldn’t puke in someone’s car.  It didn’t work.

Paul called me back.  He said his wife would be there within ten minutes to pick me up and that Meg, a friend much closer to our house, was en route to be with Sofia.  I thanked him, hung up, and called Sofia.  The paramedics were with her.  I heard them kind of annoyed, telling me they were trying to get her to calm down.  Not wanting to make the situation worse, I told her what was happening, told her that I loved her, and told her I’d be there soon.

Kristen arrived much faster than expected.  She flew down I-5.  She was amazing at getting me to calm down.  I called my dad on the way down as well.  Between the two of them, I was able to center myself and prepare for what was ahead.  When we got close, we heard that the paramedics had not taken her–they called it a panic attack and left.  I’ll never forgive those faceless paramedics.  My wife had a phantom right arm and speech dispashia and they thought it was a fucking panic attack?! Fuck you.  I don’t care that she is 29–those are stroke symptoms and you don’t take chances with that.

She was taking a shower when we arrived.  We hugged for a very long time.  She tried to talk to me.  If she focused really hard, she could get some words out, but they were heavily slurred.  She often burst into tears when she couldn’t get a word out or couldn’t get her point across.  After less than a minute with her, I walked back into the living room and told Kristen that I would need her to help watch the kids–I had to take Sofia to the ER.  She expected it and was ready.  She was amazing.  And when Sofia came out, she got to see how bad it was.

We went to the urgent care next to the hospital.  I explained what happened to the woman at the front desk.  She immediately called a nurse over for triage.  When I told her what was going on, they told us to go across the street to the emergency room.  We crossed the street and checked in.  We were pulled back into the ER within minutes.  I was able to get past the “COVID No Visitors” rule by telling them she needed someone to help her communicate with nurses and doctors.  

The next four hours were a flurry of nurses, doctors, blood tests, CT Scans, and an MRI.  At the end, the doctor confirmed that my wife, at 29, had a stroke.  No matter how minor, the reality that something like that could happen was terrifying.  As they prepared a room for Sofia, I had to leave–the no visitors rule was much stricter outside the ER.  

I went home, relieved Kristen, put the kids to sleep, and started making calls and texts.  I updated everyone.  I updated the friends who helped me in my time of need.  I called my sister and my parents.   Then, knowing that I had put it off too long, I took a deep breath and called Sofia’s family.  That was probably the most difficult phone call I ever had to make.  They were all sitting together when I called.  I did my best to explain the severity of what had happened but also explain that she was okay.  Being able to tell them that her speech was normalizing helped soften to the blow—for them.

It didn’t for me.  In hours since she called, I had played out a hundred versions in my mind.  Ones where she was gone and I had two boys who have never been to daycare.  Ones where she spent months in rehab.  Ones where she was paralyzed.  And it wasn’t stopping.  As the calls ended and I was finally alone, the thoughts of her having a secondary stroke overnight hit me hard.  I put my phone on as loud as I could before I went to bed.

Sunday was strange.  Just me and the boys.  All day.  Mommy in the hospital down the street–except neither of them could understand that.  It was so lonely.  All I had to do was hold it together.  And I did. I walked the boys around in their stroller.  We went to the coffee shop with the kid section.  We walked by the hospital and waved to mommy through a window that we couldn’t see through—but at least she saw us.

She got out on Monday–after 48 hours in the hospital.  Our routine went back to normal.  We made dinner together.  We went for walks together.  But there are small things.  She had to wear a heart monitor for two weeks.  She questions herself when she stumbles over a word.  Her right hand gets tired far easier than ever before.  And I am still holding it together–frozen by the fear of losing her.

I am just so relieved that I didn’t lose her.

My Car Was Stolen

 I woke up, lumbared to the bathroom, turned on the shower, sat on the toilet, and looked at my phone.  I swiped away the news notifications and was left with an email.  “Vehicle Security Alarm was triggered from your White 2019 Outback at 12:34 AM MDT on 09/30/2021.”  That feeling: still trying to shake off the morning haze and mentally preparing for another day of working from home slammed up against a brick wall.

I think I knew in that moment.  But I went through the motions.  I turned off the shower.  I went back into my room.  I got dressed.  I went to the back window.  Nothing.  But I’ve only lived here three weeks–can I normally see the car out the back window?  I went out the back door, through the backyard, and out the back gate.  The emptiness was shocking–allowing that air of doubt when I first read the email to solidify into a brick in my stomach. 

My car has been stolen.

Without any blatant evidence, I turned around and went back inside.  I told myself that my primary goal was to keep it together.  Back inside, I pulled out my phone and opened Subaru Starlink.  No–that was the wrong one.  That’s what I use in the car.  I exited the app and looked for the other one.  MySubaru.  When it opened, I was presented with four options.  Lock.  Unlock.  Locate Vehicle.  Horn and Lights.

I pressed on the Locate Vehicle option.  In a few seconds, a map came up with a location just over a mile away.  I went back into my bedroom and quietly got a pen and sticky notes.  I could hear my kids starting to make sounds through the baby monitor and Sofia was starting to stir.  I went back to the kitchen and wrote down the crossroads.  I pressed the “Locate Vehicle” option again.  It hadn’t moved.  I paused–preparing to call 911.  With the household starting to wake, I imagined my wife walking into the kitchen while I talked to the 911 operator.  What a horrible way to find out.  No–it had to be me.  And now.  

Bringing someone into your reality is a jarring experience.  I will never forget the story my dad told about the death of his oldest sister.  From the first call he received from the hospital, letting him know about the crash, to the moment he arrived and heard the news, more than an hour had passed.  Although that barely softens the blow, he had an hour to come to terms with the possibilities before reality solidified.  When he called his father–nothing would soften the blow.  Although nothing can compare to that experience, it has helped me understand how different ways of receiving information affect how we react.

I woke Sofia softly.  She muttered something about getting the kids.  I told her it would have to wait.  I told her I needed her help.  I nearly choked up when she flashed me a confused look.  And….I told her.  It could see it in her eyes–she was hoping I would tell her it was joke.  A bad joke.  I told her I needed to call the police on her phone so I could continue to track the car on my phone.  She bolted up, got dressed and joined me.

I’ve called 911 a few times in my life.  Once on my former brother-in-law.  Once when I witnessed a nasty fight.  But I never had to call them for myself.  As I dialed, I prepared myself for the frustration of having to wait awhile.  911 dispatch has been strained through the pandemic–I knew that much.  But they answered in seconds.  Just as expected: “911: What’s your emergency?”

I told them I just woke up and that my car was stolen.  Almost after the fact, I said I was tracking in.  The call lasted a few minutes.  I told them where it was.  She said she was creating a call to go out.  As the call ended, she told me to call back if the location of the call changed.

I called back three times over the next 30 minutes.

Whoever had my car was wandering around the city.

I started work as normal at 7:15–the earliest I am allowed to clock in.  Almost immediately, a call came through.  It was a police officer telling me that he found my car–with several people in it.  I told him it was my only car and he told me he would swing by to pick me up in a few minutes.  I locked my terminal and abandoned the idea of actually clocking in until things were more settled. 

As Sofia went about the normal breakfast routine, I got properly dressed  and updated her on what was happening.  The officer arrived a few minutes later.  He was pleasant.  He told me that they were smoking “stimulants” in the vehicle and that a pipe and tin foil was found.  Although it wasn’t confirmed, meth is my assumption with those descriptors. 

He was blunt in a way that made me suspect he had lots of practice.  “No one is being arrested.”  No one was found in the driver’s seat.  The rest of them had enough sense (or practice) to say they didn’t know that the car was stolen.  Since there was no way to prove who had stolen the vehicle, there was no way to arrest anybody.  Plus the paraphernalia wasn’t found on anybody.

There were three police cars and three officers at the scene.  The officer asked if I wanted to stay in the car until they finished releasing the people they had detained.  I said no–honestly, I knew I had to get back to work.  The car looked fine aside from the flat tire that they were trying to fix when they were caught. And it was.  The two real issues were the smell and what was missing.

Everything was missing.  Two car seats.  A double stroller.  The dash cam.  The portable phone charger.  The cash.  The masks.  My COVID Vaccine Card.  Even most of the baby toys and books were gone. The cops helped me change out the tire then asked me if I had any questions.  I asked if there was anything else I needed to do aside from deal with insurance.  They sounded like they deal with this far too often.  “Welcome to Tacoma” was their parting remark.

As we parted ways, I rolled down the windows and threw some items that were not mine out of the way.  I kept spotting things that were wrong.  The cigarettes in the car door.  The steering wheel had been lowered.  The music was turned up to the max.  The presets to my radio stations had been changed.  That was when the distinct feeling of violation crept in.  

I drove carefully home–all too aware that I no longer had any license plates (they had been removed).  Unwilling to put the car right back in the spot where it was stolen, I parked the car in front of the house on the street.  I locked it five times and went inside to tell Sofia the bad news.  Without the stroller or the car seats, the next few days would be difficult.  After I updated her, I logged into work–a full hour later than normal.

In the hours and days that passed since then, most everything is back to normal.  We have car seats.  The car was professionally cleaned by “sunshine cleaners.”  Insurance covered nearly everything.  As the event falls into my rear view mirror, I know I am lucky that this didn’t cost me a fortune or make me loss my job since I was late to work.  I was lucky.  

But that feeling of violation is persistent.  I bought security cameras.  I often check on the cars when I wake up in the middle of the night.  I am far more paranoid than I ever have been.  I understand why people buy guns—but I also understand enough about escalating situations to know that is a terrible idea.  In the end, this whole event has just made me more acutely aware of the homelessness epidemic and addiction epidemics that have run rampant during the pandemic.  I live in the right place—a place where the people and our government want to do something about it.

10 Years. 13 Moves. 8 Cities. 3 States. 2 Countries.

November 2011: Greeley, CO to Fort Collins, CO
September 2012: Fort Collins, CO to Greeley, CO
January 2013: Greeley, CO to Bouderham, Morocco
April 2013: Bouderham, Morocco to Bhalil, Morocco
February 2014: Bhalil, Morocco to Greeley, CO
May 2014: Greeley, CO to Wappingers Falls, NY
April 2015: Wappingers Falls, NY to Beacon, NY
March 2016: Beacon, NY to Beacon, NY (across town)
November 2016: Beacon, NY to Greeley, CO
January 2017: Greeley, CO to Fort Collins, CO
November 2017: Fort Collins, CO to Greeley, CO
November 2019: Greeley, CO to Colorado Springs, CO
September 2021: Colorado Springs, CO to Tacoma, WA

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide

The United States has helped an ally sweep a genocide under the rug for over 100 years. For the last few decades, that sentiment started to change in the US. Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama all promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide if elected. They were all elected and they all went back on their word.

I may not have been the biggest fan of Biden during the primaries. I wanted Warren, Bernie, or even Yang. But he keeps surprising me. Today, he kept his word and recognized the Armenian Genocide. If you don’t understand the significance of this moment, take a few minutes to read the paper I wrote about Falsifying historical memory back in 2012. We have been waiting too long for someone with Biden’s courage to make their way to the White House.

Falsifying Historical Memory

A Fragile Republic

Tonight my mind is focused on my sons.  I can’t help but foresee the day, ten or fifteen years from now, when they come home with a homework assignment.  “Interview an adult who remembers the year 2020.”  What do I tell them?  How do I make it clear that we came so close to losing our country?  I need them to understand how fragile this experiment in Democracy truly is.

I will tell them…

In 2020, a deadly virus spread around the world.  Some countries figured out how to stop it in its tracks.  Others struggled to contain it.  Here in the United States, we did neither.  There was zero leadership.  There was no nationwide mask mandate.  There was no mandate that factories repurpose to create PPE.  There was no federal effort to increase testing.  But the absence of leadership was not the worst part.

Our president minimized the effect of the virus.  He not only failed to wear a mask–he actively mocked people who wore them.  He cared only about the strength of the stock market–not about the lives that were being lost.  I remember when the first person in the United States died.  I remember when we surpassed 10,000.  I remember when we surpassed 100,000.  I remember when we surpassed 200,000 dead.  And still he mocked it as a hoax.  But still that was not the worst part.

As the pandemic raged, the very foundation of our republic started to crumble.  The President and their party stacked the courts with ideologues.  They confirmed a supreme court justice a week before the election despite holding up the previous president’s nominee for eight months because “it was an election year.”  He vilified fact based reporting.  And facts.  I will tell my sons to research the term Gaslighting, then let them know that entire teams of reporters were dedicated to keeping track of the president’s lies–surpassing 20,000 in 2020.  He sent in the National Guard when peaceful protesters filled the streets in solidarity that Black Lives Matter. All this happened while the party did everything in its power to make sure not every vote would be counted–because if every voted counted, they would never win.  But that was still not the worst part.

The worst part was that ten of millions of people voted for this man–in 2020.  They knew he was a danger to democracy.  They knew he would let a million Americans die to keep the stock market afloat.  They knew he would tear the constitution to shreds to stay in power.  But still they voted for him.  And that is what makes republics so fragile.  It is one of the most revolutionary ideas in human history–to let the people decide who leads them.  But centuries of republics have taught us the same thing over and over again.  We will vote for our ideals–even if that means the republic could fall.

I need my sons to understand that.

2019 With The Reillys



I’ve never done a formal newsletter.  However, after reading the one my parents mailed to us, I like the idea.I won’t be mailing this out to everybody.  Posting it discreetly on this blog seems more than sufficient for those who want to find it. So here it goes:

After three years of marriage, Sofia and I became parents just four days before 2019 began.  On December 27th, 2018, Sofia and I walked into our scheduled ultrasound at Children’s Hospital of Colorado.  The ultrasound showed that Henry was in distress. Less than two hours later, Henry Thomas Reilly joined us. Within the first hour of his life, his intestines were placed back in his body.  The three of us spent the next three weeks at Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.

Henry was discharged on Sofia’s birthday, January 17th, 2019.  We’ve spent the months since watching him grow. From five and a half pounds to twenty.  He has taken to solid foods–sweet potatoes being his favorite by far. We are convinced that he can walk, but prefers to have us hold his hand as he takes his steps.  Seeing him now, you would never know how chaotic his entry into this world was.

Richard had to return to work, unwillingly, at the Greeley Social Security Administration after two weeks of parental leave.  In August, the opportunity to take a hardship position in Williston, North Dakota arose. All three of us lived out of a one bedroom hotel room for six weeks as Richard reported to work in the one-person office.  But it paid off. Before even returning to work in Greeley, he was offered and accepted a promotion to supervisor at the Colorado Springs Social Security Administration.  

Sofia has grown into her role as a stay at home mother quite well.  She spent considerable time making our Greeley home feel like our own after buying it from my parents in 2018.  She worked hard to help Henry grow in the toddler he is about to become–including the stay in the NICU, a bout of RSV, an ongoing milk allergy, and the complexities of taking care of a baby in one room hotel room for six weeks.  She has been resilient throughout and is the best mother Henry could ask for. She even started working at a coffee shop some evenings and weekends.

The three of us are currently settling into our new home in Colorado Springs.  We hosted Thanksgiving for our friends and family, though most of them are now two hours north.  We drove down to Imperial, California for Christmas so that Henry can meet his abuelo and tio for the first time.  We will also be celebrating Henry’s first birthday before heading back.