Sandy Hook

My heart is broken.

As I left the teacher's lounge late Friday morning, I had my Weight Watchers' microwave meal balanced precariously on a stack of papers from my mailbox.  The plastic container was too hot for me to hold.  The principal walked past me, her eyes clearly reddened from recent tears.  I paused, wondering if I should ask if everything is okay, but didn't want to pry in case it was something personal.  A few steps past me, she turned and asked me if I'd heard the news about the school shooting.

Sherri filled me in with what she knew - a shooter had killed children and teachers at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.  There were at least seventeen kids dead.  An elementary school.  The noise from the chatter of the teachers in the lounge faded as my stomach filled with grief.

"I'm not going to tell the teachers right now," Sherri said.  I nodded, numbly, and began to walk back to my office.  When I got there, I logged onto a news site and watched the coverage, taking slow bites of the tasteless food.  The only urge I had was to go and pick up my kids and hold them close.

This one hits so close to home.  I work at an elementary school.  My children are almost school age.  We have the same safety precautions at our school that Sandy Hook has.  I just can't wrap my head around it.

I seem to have become slightly obsessive about it.  I've been reading news article after news article.  I imagine what those last moments must have been like for those children.  I imagine if I were a teacher there or if I were in the office when the shooter got in or if I were the parent of one of the children that died or if I just lived in the community or....  My mind reels at the ripple effect that this type of thing has.

I have to go back to work tomorrow.  As the counselor, I am the one who is supposed to know what to say and how to deal with these types of things.  I'll be the one to talk to the kids who are scared or help the teachers know what to say...  I guess that as we all are falling apart individually, we'll try to hold each other together and hopefully manage some type of normalcy.

My head realizes that the chances of something like this occurring are more rare than the chance that I'll win the lottery.  My heart says that even that remote chance is way too high.


This is only a test...

Spring break - the sky is cloudy, the temp is below 40-degrees, and I can't keep up with the mess that the children continue to create as I do everything in my power to clean.

It is days like today that I am reminded how grateful I am to be a working mother. I'm sorry if that sounds crass or unappreciative... But, not even a week into our two-week break, I'm about ready to beg to go back...

Excuse me - I have to go put the almost-3-year-old back in bed for his nap.

....Now where was I?

Ah, yes... Patience. Or lack thereof.

I love my children. More than life itself. But this ...

Hang on - infant playing with fireplace poker.

Cool. Soot all over her hands and shirt. Awesome.

Tell me again how I'm supposed to do dishes/laundry/make dinner with only a single hand or being interrupted every 36 seconds? I had great plans for everything I was going to do over break. So far, I think I've gone backward. And if the older one refuses to nap, how will I ever get anything crossed off the list?

And whoever decided that 1:30 p.m. was a perfect time to set off the sirens for the state-wide tornado drill, thanks for that. Because Sparky was almost asleep, but... no longer.


Thoughts on Pregnancy...

As my second pregnancy comes to a close, I find myself taking notice of issues relating to the "miracle of life" and how nobody really tells you ahead of time what it is all about.

For example -

Did you know that catching a cold during the final weeks of your pregnancy can be like playing an ongoing game of Russian Roulette? Every cough or sneeze is a gamble, depending on when your last trip to the bathroom or how much water you've had to drink recently. (Allergy season can be just as bad!)

Why must mothers sacrifice their bodies in order to have a baby? Everyone knows about how hard it can be to lose "the baby weight," but that is just the beginning! At least baby weight is something relatively controllable with diet and exercise after the baby is born. There are worse fates than baby weight! I was lucky - I survived my first pregnancy unscathed by stretch marks and counted myself lucky. This time, however, purply little spider veins are beginning to protrude on my lower right leg. Gross! Call me vain, but I'd prefer the stretch marks on my belly that nobody will ever see to a road map stretching over my legs that is visible if I wear capris!

I don't care what people say - maternity clothes are not "fashionable" and pregnant women are not "cute." There is nothing like wearing a tent to make somebody bitter when some skinny bitch condescends with some type of comment like, "Oh - you look sooo adorable!" Yeah, well, if I weren't already out of breath from walking up that flight of stairs, I'd show you exactly how adorable pregnant women can be!

But, you know, I have to say that even though this post doesn't sound like it, I love being pregnant. Yes, I miss my lounging on the patio with a margarita. And, yes, I look forward to being able to wear pants with a fly. But, it is cool to feel that little girl wriggling around inside of me and knowing that in a few short weeks, she'll be joining us and we'll get to know this wholly new little person!

Besides - I hear that laser surgery can take care of those spider veins. And I'm doing Kegel's right now for the roulette issue!



I was a Girl Scout for longer than I generally care to admit. One of my favorite activities was building a fire and singing around the campfire on our camping trips. One song that most anyone who was ever a Girl Scout will remember goes something like this:

Make new friends,
But keep the old.
One is silver,
And the other gold.

I had the opportunity recently to reconnect with two friends who were members of my Girl Scout troop through to the very end. Not only were we Girl Scouts together, but I would freely describe them as my two best friends from elementary school through high school. For many years, the three of us were inseparable.

They endured my impulsive antics with a tempered patience, half waiting to see what would come next, half hoping that whatever it was would not cause too much trouble. Together, we discussed the boys in our class that we liked (with code names to ensure ultimate secrecy), and employed primitive three-way calling to conduct subterfuge operations when on the phone with aforementioned boys (aka - one person listening in on another line in another room).

I was often overly sensitive and competitive as a kid and would get my feelings hurt over things that most kids my age wouldn't think about twice about. The fact that these two girls managed to stay friends with me for as long as they did says a lot about their character.

Once we entered high school, we began to find separate paths. Differing lunch schedules and dissimilar schedules caused the logistics of our daily communication to wane. They both became involved in band; I began participating on the swim team, in theatre, and on the newspaper staff. As our interests expanded, so did our circle of friends. I remember experiencing a level of jealousy about the new friends who seemed to take up so much of their time; however, I can't claim that I kept my schedule available for them all the time, either.

Ultimately, though, we remained friends. I would still refer to them as my best friends throughout the high school years.

College was different, though. We all went different ways. I became involved in a relationship with a man who didn't have time for my friends; therefore, I didn't have time for them. The emails grew fewer and fewer.

I once imagined that these two women would be in my wedding. By the time I finally got married, I hadn't spoken to either of them in almost ten years, other than the perfunctory conversations at each of the other's weddings.

About a month ago, I got a note card from one of them. She invited the two of us to get together for lunch and even set a date and time. We met and had a nice time catching up with each other.

I have to admit that I was kind of nervous about the meeting. I knew that we'd grown apart and had very separate lives over the past ten years. The person that I am now is very different from the person I was then. I was worried that we wouldn't have enough to talk about.

I know that on one level, our conversation wasn't the same as what it used to be. I can't say that we fell right into talking about old times, as though no time had passed at all. But, at the same time, it was wonderful to see my old friends and catch up on what had been going on in their lives. And, we set another date to get together for lunch again. I hope that we can work to rebuild and rekindle our friendships, because these two women have known me longer than anyone, and I miss having them in my life.

There is something to be said about cherishing old friends... I'm grateful to have a second chance to keep ahold of mine.



...for Warmth...

sitting by the fire.
a stranger's smile.
unsolicited help.
a cup of steaming tea.
wrapped in a fuzzy blanket.
my son's palm in mine.

...for Change...

being challenged.
always learning.
a new house.
adding to our family.

...for Love...



I remember when I used to blog.

Blogging brought my husband and me together. Our first interactions were some mildly inappropriate blog comments; we were linked through some mutual friends' blogs. Very few of those friends blog anymore... Dave and I barely do, either.

Blogging also triggered the me to leave one job and begin another. At the time, this was painful and I must admit that there are still some hard feelings associated with the departure. However, it was ultimately a "net good" experience, given the people and experiences I've had since then due to the new environment.

I used to crave the acknowledgement of being added to somebody's link list. It took so much more effort to be recognized as a blogger worthy of interest than it does to add somebody as a Facebook friend. I was also a comment-collector, feeling vindicated when I would reach a high number of comments on a single post. Or, I'd watch my Sitemeter climb and find new heights for daily number of hits, feeling valued.

Inspiration slowed when the baby was born. The time needed to create a worthy blog entry was a ever-dwindling commodity. Facebook siphoned the motivation to take the time to compose a blog entry. Now, my only entries are when I have something that is weighing on my mind and I need a place to vent with relative anonymity and safety.

I don't usually watch Oprah, but last week I did happen to catch the interview with Stephenie Meyer. Did you know that before "Twilight" she had never really written or been published? Inspiration struck her and she went for it, unsure that anything would ever culminate from her efforts.

I find myself with ideas and stories and thoughts rattling through my mind on a daily basis. Occasionally, they keep me awake at night, screaming to be recognized, heard. I'll jot down a couple of notes in case I ever find the time to write about them.

But, come on. I can't even find time to post a thought on this blog regularly. I am working full-time, caring for a toddler, expecting another baby this spring, and working on a second master's degree. Oh, yeah - and we're moving in a week. (I am taking a lunch break from packing at the moment.) How could I ever find time to do something as selfish as blogging with that type of schedule, let alone time to try to write something fictional?

Writing has been a part of my life since before I could form the letters with my small hands; I used to dictate stories to my mother and illustrate them after she'd written out the words. In third grade, I created a class newspaper by hand and photocopied it at my dad's office. I've always been a verbal person and I process my thoughts through language, often preferring to write out my thoughts in a letter or email than try to explain them out loud.

I guess the bottom line is that I miss blogging. I need to do it for myself. For release. For a form of meditation. For a way to connect, not only with other people in the cyberworld, but with myself. When things get crazy, instead of frantically scrolling through lazy Facebook postings, I should take the time to sit down and think about something "real" to write about. Not for comments or site hits... but for me.



Today was a frustrating day.

(Disclaimer: This blog has ceased to become much more than a place for me to occasionally write a post about something that strikes me as worth pondering. No longer do I post to solicit admiration, provide entertainment, or collect comments. If you happen to be one of the few who still checks my blog, feel free to commiserate... Just fair warning that my "audience" when I am writing has slowly changed in the last year or so...)

When I opened my work email box, the first thing that I saw was a short email from an administrator regarding President Obama's upcoming speech. Next week, President Obama is planning on making a short 2-minute speech to the nation's students on the topic of staying motivated and excelling in school. A nice gesture, right?

Apparently not. The political opposition to Obama is so fierce, that our schools are receiving requests from parents to excuse their children from the two-minute cheerleading session from our nation's leader.

Do they think that he is going to address the controversial topic of healthcare to the young minds of America? Are they worried that his charm might brainwash their children into believing that he is actually somebody that students could see as a role model? Maybe he's going to, in one hundred and twenty seconds, turn them in mini-Socialists!!! (*Gasp*)

I'm sorry, but I don't understand. While there has never been any question which side of the aisle that my political ideals gravitate towards, I feel like I have an open mind. If President Bush had wanted to make a short speech to the nation's students, I would have welcomed the opportunity for my son to be exposed to the political leader of the free world. I would have encouraged him to think critically about what was said and to form his own opinions about it, whether they differed from mine or not.

When something as trivial as this becomes a politically charged issue, it makes me feel sad about the state of our nation. I cherish the right to freedom of speech and I am glad that parents have the right to choose what their children are exposed to and what they are not. What saddens me is that people are so entrenched in their political ideals that they can't see the value in anything that has to do with the "opponent" and will dig their heels in if that is what the idealogues tell them that they should do.

I wonder how this country has managed to become so divided. I worry that we will never be able to make progress in any way if both sides refuse to work together to set some common goals. And I wish that we could find some common ground. However, if when one side reaches out a hand and the other simply slaps it away, how is progress to be made?


Let's Have Some Bubbly...

Mom felt guilty after retrieving Sparky from Grambeana's house after the weeklong honeymoon to Jamaica. So, yesterday, I purchased a Bubble Machine for Sparky. We broke it out this morning, and had the time of our lives chasing after these small globes of soap floating across our driveway.


Visiting the Gardens

Grayson and I had the pleasure today of taking a trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens with some of the other children and moms involved in our playgroup. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to make the trip. I really appreciated the time, knowing that I'll be going back to work sooner than expected; the school where I was hired (yesterday!) is on cycles and I'll be going back at the beginning of July. I've also been inspired to try to use our nice camera to capture some great photos of our little Sparkster... Here are some from our trip today.