today is my niece kyla’s birthday, she’s 15

dear kyla,

happy birthday. i wish i knew how old you were when i took this picture of you but whatever.

15? how are you 15! i wonder what life is for a teenage girl today.

television and movies try to show us but that’s all lies.

at least that’s what my witty butler tells me when he’s not fighting crime.

here’s my birthday gift. im gonna give you the best advice of your life.

be good.

when people are good they stay under the radar.

why do you wanna be under the radar?

because youre gonna wanna do some things now and then that not everyone would want you to do.

life is the struggle between doing the things the world wants you to do

and the things that you wanna do.

all while dealing with the parts of your days that suck.

anyone can handle the easy, fun parts. but a human being is someone who can deal with the crud.

so study. do what you’re told. be good to your brother.

before you know it you’ll be out of the house on your own and you can do what you wanna do.

but theres the catch. in the outside world

even if you’re tony freaking pierce

people are gonna try to stop you from doing what you wanna do.

which is why you’ll be glad you have all that practice of being good.

because in the outside world if youve been good

the Others will leave you alone.

what i would do if i was you is figure out how you can get a college scholarship.

college costs more than all of the cars ive ever owned in my life

current car included.

use the internet.

figure out how you can go to college for free.

and get as many degrees as you can for free.

stay positive. read the bible. listen to the beastie boys

and if you drink, dont drive.

happy birthday!

your uncle tony

today is my niece Kyla’s birthday, she’s 14


kyla is a gemini.

often shes a sweet angel. but i hear reports that she’s not always that way.

but who can blame her, really, her favorite uncle is far away and she’s in a cold city

and a giant house, with every toy, animal, human, and christmas tree a teenage girl could ever want.

when i was her age i had a tv with three channels and an etch-a-sketch.

we had a rotary phone and an AM radio.

this chick’s got a PS4 AND an XBox One.

she didnt like her brother so they adopted a baby sister for her.

imagine that YOUR OWN BABY!

the pool in the backyard is jacked up to 92 degrees. there are flat screen tvs in every room.

and whenever she wants she can just “log on” to her computer (or phone or tablet or robot screen) and she can read the worlds greatest busblog.

when i was her age i was drawing detailed maps on three ring binder paper so i could stand on a chair and drop a freshly sharpened pencil down upon my little world and see who the “bomb” destroyed.

kyla has snapchat and instagram and minecraft and


i hope she knows how lucky she has it.

and how lucky we are to have her.

happy birthday kyla jo!

today is kyla’s birthday, shes 13

mom and kyla

today my little girl turns into a man. im so proud.

kyla is a sweet blessing to all of us. she is smart, funny, beautiful, and the reason we shouldnt give up on America.

she quietly does her homework, she cooks, she teaches her brother and sisters how it’s done.

she even gives my mom fun birthday gifts (pictured).

will kyla be the first mixed race female president of the united states?

probs. but that won’t be her biggest accomplishment.

the skys the limit for this one.

happy birthday adorable spirit.

may your teenage angst pays off well.

for my moms birthday we took her to a burger place at the mall


i was all ma, why here? she said, it was Kylas choice. i was all wha? she said, dont ask.

anyways kyla has braces now and her gift to my mom was her favorite Glade Plug-ins.

we ate three different versions of french fries and then assorted burgers and booze. it was nice.


nephew tyler was in great spirits because he had an assist during his soccer game

and also because i wasnt telling him how they made the chicken tenders he was eating

he also drank milk and played under the table and generally enjoyed himself like a kid


Babe was probably the happiest. she ate her food, a little of tylers

then when no one was looking she got out of her chair and grabbed some food off the table behind us.

THAT was probably the funniest thing i’d ever seen.

the dude was all, oh dont worry we’ve got kids too, it happens.


afterwards i went to my favorite store in the world and bought a Cubs hat


because if this rain stops, tomorrow we’re going to Wrigley Field,

finest ball park on earth.

and i hear they’ve been waiting for me.

my mom always liked Liana, and today Liana is a mom


everyones favorite Cubana, Liana is now the proud mamacita of an adorable little bundle of joy


Havana Sofia was actually born on May 9th

but because Liana didn’t post these pics on Facebook till today it didn’t count til now

not that it was ever in question but a few years back when my little niece was littler

we took this pic and we were all wow she will make a beautiful mom

and she does! Congrats Liana

when did the Elf on the shelf or whatever become a Thing?

kyla and her elf

i dont mind Christmas traditions



leading up to and on his birthday.

but if theres one thing i hate it’s “traditions” that aren’t traditional

phony, consumer orientated, and/or just another lie to ruin the trust of our children.

and by “our” of course i mean “your”.

when i was a lad the lie was that big fat Santa slid down everyones chimneys and delivered toys

to all the good little boys and girls


somehow Rudolph, Frosty, and even Mrs. Claus worked their way into the grand sham

despite the fact that the original story of Jesus was pretty magical and fascinating enough.

540410_4869051371382_247139618_nBut apparently virgin births of babies who have to high tail it outta town cuz the ruling king was gonna slaughter it wasn’t good enough for the modern world but i digress.

somewhere in the last 7-8 years this little Elf has made its way into the massive lie.

from what i gather you buy a cute little elf and put him into random places around your house

i dont know, to trick your kids into being good because somehow the elf watches to see that youre little angels arent snorting bath salts and trading arms for hostages.

each night the elf flies to the North Pole and rats out all the bad little kids and appears the next day in a new weird spot in your crib.

you name him. and tuck him away after Christmas. but has this fake crap backfired?


one of my niece’s friends said, “I don’t believe in Santa anymore because I saw Merle, our Elf, this summer in a box in our closet.”

which made me laugh so hard i nearly choked on my Irish coffee.

so when did all of this become a thing? Fox News tells me: 2004. Figures.

Bottom photo by Susan, Robinwood Photography

my niece is awesome


my nephew is a left handed slugging shortstop


my mom is trying to get me to go to my sisters house which is gonna be packed tonight

with neighborhood kids and their parents and dogs and babies crying and mayhem

and heat and loudness and no one my age.

kyla snapping the dog

i was all, not one bit interested in going ma.

she was like, the kids love you.

i was all, they should. im ridiculously fun. and i let them sip from my flask.


she said see, you should go play with them. they love their uncle.

i was all, nah. if i wanted to play with kids i wouldnt have tied my tubes.

she was like dont you want them to love you?

i said, love is fleeting.

she said, im going to have to reconsider my will.


i was all, give it to the kids.

college is gonna cost $200k soon.

soon drugs will be legal. they’ll have no way to pay.

give them your fortune.

the phone rang. my mom said, tony’s coming so make sure theres old style.

and now you know where i learned the assumptive close.

today is my nieces birthday, shes 9

im awesome or 10, or 8, who knows

do kids even have ages any more?

arent they on the metric system yet?

anyways, Kyla is my favorite niece. shes keeps it real. i like that.

she says that her brother is my favorite of the pair.

it’s good to keep kids guessing.

i talked with her on the phone yesterday as i was getting my oil changed.

at first kyla seemed a little grumpy that she was a year older

but then when we talked about the presents she received at her party

she pepped right up.

she was happy to have a new digital camera

and a colorful bag.

“a purse or a backpack?” i asked.

“like um like a messenger bag,” she said, “which is good because i lose stuff a lot.”
she then said,

“oh and I got a shirt that says ‘I’m Awesome’. BECAUSE I AM!”

and then super fast she said, “heres Jo.”

she doesn’t call my mom grandma
she calls her her name.

etienne used to say kyla was our daughter.

cuz she sorta exactly looks like what our kid would look like.
and act like.

hard to disagree with weird truths.

“love you!” she screamed in the background
when she realized she forgot to say it.