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Newtown

I wanted to come back here to post a picture of Daniel’s certificate from his Mind Math class.  It was his first ever A+.  And post the pictures from Annabel’s Christmas dance recital.  She was a beautiful snowflake.   But then, everything changed. I’ve been existing in a dark, cloudy emotional space for the past three days.  There are parents, there are MOTHERS, who won’t be spending Christmas morning with their babies.  There were 20 beautiful children and several loving teachers taken away from us way too soon because of someone evil.  I should say “mentally ill,” but I just don’t feel like it.

I saw one of the little girl’s father on the news.  He was asking us to pray for the family of the shooter.  Of the evil one.  I just can’t do it. Not yet.

My husband came home early on Friday so we could pick up our kids in the carpool lane together.  Those were the longest 30 minutes of my life.  When I saw them running to the car, hand-in-hand with backpacks flying and big smiles on their faces, I almost broke down.  My eyes were already red and puffy and I tried to hide that.  I just hugged them.  Really hard.

I want to talk to their school.  I want to know what the plan is for something like this.  Is there a cabinet or a storage closet ready to go?  Does my kid’s teacher have someone with mental illness in their life?  Should there be an armed guard at the front door? Should I home school?

I want to scream to the heavens and ask, why, just WHY? I want to stop walking around in hazy circles.  I want to stop checking the news websites every hour waiting for updates and watching the children’s names emerge.  One is named Daniel.

It was a horrible day.   It continues to feel horrible.  I’m a mother and I just feel every mother’s pain.  It’s so deep that I can’t even imagine what they must feel.  I can’t imagine. I just pray.

I want to send them something.  I want to do something for them.  I want to hug them.  All of them.  I want to take my children and run away.  Or lock them in the house and never leave.   I want to take away all the guns.  I feel that it’s my job to protect them from this big, bad world.  I hate that I feel that way.

Instead, I will take them back to school in the morning.  With a heavier heart.  And a little more fear.  And also with immense gratitude.  And with so many questions running through my head.  And with the sadness that comes from living in a world that continues to chip away at our children’s innocence.

This image brought me some peace. It’s called “Security” from bowman-art.com

Love always wins.

It’s been three years since the Newtown tragedy and I still think about it every December. It feels like something from a movie, like something that would never happen in real life. But it did happen. And it’s still happening.

When my husband told me about the horrifying events unfolding in California last week, that there was another mass shooting, ANOTHER mass shooting, I said nothing. I felt nothing. For a moment, I felt nothing.

It took me about an hour to walk to my computer and finally see all of my social media feeds talking about San Bernardino. There were people killed. People who woke up that morning and were just going to work. They were going to their office just like they did the day before. But now they were gone.

I’m numb to it, really. After Newtown. After the Washington Navy Yard, where my brother-in-law works. After the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. After Umpqua Community College in Oregon. After Charleston, the city where I was married. And after Alison and Adam were gunned down during a live broadcast in Virginia. After San Bernardino.

I get scared. My husband works in the media. I’m typing this while my children are in school where I pray they are safe. It’s too much to process and worry about and the fear can sometimes paralyze me.

And then there’s the constant talk about blame. Who, or what, do we blame for the US being the leading country in mass shootings? Do we blame the President? The guns? The NRA? The liberals? The conservatives? The media? Our mental health system? Isis?

I want the killings to stop. Enough is enough. But I feel like we go around in circles on blame and nothing changes. Then I wonder: what can I do? How can I help when I always feel helpless?

Then I remembered this picture of my child from church last week. He brought up the gifts during school mass. I was so happy and content. I was at church. I was with God. I was with my children. I was with amazing teachers and friends. And that’s the answer.

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Over ten years ago I was watching Oprah interview one of the widows from 9/11. I was crying while she talked in detail about her husband’s final moments but then she said something I’ll never forget. She said that she was happy because they lived a great life with no regrets. She said they went on every trip and every adventure. They traveled and did everything they wanted to do. They never took one day for granted. They lived life to the fullest and that brought her enormous peace.

My two kids will read this blog one day and here’s what I want them to learn from all of this. This is what I know for sure:

People are good. Life is good. God is good. We can’t live in fear of what will happen. We have to focus on the every day amazing moments and the small miracles of life. So we go on that last minute trip to Disney World. We take a plane to see Taylor in concert and our family every Easter. We buy gifts for the families on the Angel Tree. We start a charity and get fueled by all the children who are brave and inspiring. We get the expensive hot stone pedicure. We play football in the living room. We dance in the kitchen. We stay up past bedtime to watch the end of the movie. We tip more than 20%. We hug friends goodbye. We say thank you to every person in uniform. We get the 350 calorie Starbucks peppermint mocha with extra whip. We live each day with gratitude and kindness and more gratitude. We go to church every week and we pray.

And we love each other with all our hearts. Because love always wins. Love always wins. <3

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Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Aw, man. I love when I can capture a picture like this. That’s one happy kid. That’s JOY.

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Daniel hates to pose for pictures and I’m getting better about just snapping the moment without staging it. Annabel will ham it up, but the best shots are the purest ones. The ones where they aren’t looking. The ones when they’re truly happy.

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“That’s what I want for you. I want you to be happy.” I tell them that all the time. I took Daniel out of camp this summer because the look on his face after he came home the first day was horrible. “It’s not worth it,” I told him. “Remember, I want you to be happy.” It gets tricky too. I understand that their homework does not make them happy or maybe even a sport doesn’t thrill them right now, but certain things are fine because I know it will lead to two confident, happy people.

The thing is…I’M not always happy. The few people that really, really know me understand how sensitive I am. Most people see me as organized, hard working, and caring. As happy. But the truth is, I over think everything. I hate that I still care too much about what other people think of me. It’s this crutch that I’ve carried since childhood that makes it difficult for me to say “no” or put myself first. I really enjoy being a Mom because I can put my energy into my kids. But I feel defeated knowing that I’m still a work in progress. That I lack self confidence. That I have anxiety. That I still think about this and this. That I’m still looking for my place. For the perfect, comfy seat. For peace. For joy.

The other thing is the constant influx of bad news. Man, it will just ruin my day. I’ve finally stopped reading it. You know how celebrities say they don’t like to read bad reviews or negative comments because it will make their work suffer? Well, I’ve had to stop reading the headlines because it will make my day suffer. I do believe that people are good, but there is so much bad it weighs on my mind. Another mass shooting, another child missing, another bully-inspired suicide. I’m overwhelmed with protecting my family from it all. I’m overwhelmed with what I can do to help or how I can make a difference. What is the point of writing about Prince George’s christening dress or Taylor Swift’s new song?  Shouldn’t I be trying to make the world a better place? What SHOULD I do?

Phew. Breathe, maybe?

Well, what I do is what I know. I go back to writing about Prince George’s christening dress and Taylor Swift’s new song. I volunteer in the school lunchroom and for the PTO board. I start a new business. I conquer my fear of going to the doctor and I exercise more. I learn to say “no.” I read other amazing blogs that give me inspiration. I pray. I make donations. I go out with awesome friends. I watch my kids play. I remember to be grateful. I remind myself that I’m so very blessed. And then, there it is. Just like that. The happy. The joy.

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Girls Night

It was Super Bowl XLVII last night and the Baltimore Ravens won!  (Or the Baltimore RAISINS, according to my daughter.) I’m from Maryland, and I love the east coast, so it was an easy rooting choice.  But my favorite moment was not watching the boys in purple make some great plays.  And it wasn’t even the shocking, and now memorable, thirty minute blackout.  Sure, the power went out, but I was focused on all the girl power on that Super Bowl stage.

First, Jennifer Hudson joined the children’s choir from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT for a powerful rendition of “America the Beautiful.”  It was amazing to see those brave children with smiling faces and matching outfits sing their hearts out.  They are true heroes.  It was hard not to tear up.  It was an emotional highlight for sure.

Alicia Keys sung the National Anthem and played the piano at the same time.  I loved it so much because my daughter said, “I want to do that, Mama!  I want to take piano lessons and sing too!”  Thanks, Alicia.

And then there was Queen B.  BEYONCE.  Enough said, right?  All my Twitter friends where saying that the football game was just an opening act for the Beyonce concert. And she ran a marathon on that stage.  I was exhausted after watching her high energy, booty shaking, and hair flipping extravaganza.  She truly is a super mom. It’s just so cool to watch a woman own the stage and give the performance of her career.  I’m also a 90s geek, so the Destiny’s Child reunion did not hurt.  You go, girls.

Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show

I don’t think you’re ready for my kick ass Pepsi Super Bowl performance.

Fashion Forward

No matter which side you are on politically, you have to admit: Mrs. Obama looks GOOD in this red hot dress (and brand new bangs!):

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First Lady in Jason Wu. (Getty Images)

And these colorful coats on the Obama girls are just beautiful!  And I adore the J. Crew belt on the First Lady too.  The creative director for J. Crew told the Today Show this morning that the belt will no longer be available and Malia’s day coat will no longer be available in that particular color (fresh plum).  They are both being retired in honor of the first family.  But snatch up another coat color while they last!

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Sasha in Kate Spade, Malia in J. Crew, Mrs. Obama in Thom Browne with J. Crew belt/sash. (Getty Images)

And this gorgeous couple – can they be any more fashionable?

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Jay-Z in Tom Ford and Beyonce in Emilio Pucci dress and Dior coat. (Getty Images)

Of course I love my John Mayer and his new main squeeze Katy Perry.  What’s up you two?

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Lovin’ the cool shades (Getty Images)

No matter which side you are on politically, it was a great Inauguration day.  It’s always a great day to watch so many people come out and celebrate our country.  Our country has been through some seriously TOUGH MONTHS.  Let’s hope and pray for a united front and a chance to honestly move forward.  I’m hopeful.   I will always be proud to be an American.  Now, sing it Kelly.  (Apparently purple was the color of the day.)

A Year in Review

In 2012…

Daniel lost these and this.

Annabel rode this.

I met a pop star.

I mourned a pop star.

I loved a new one.

And a country one.

And something red.

My men came back.

I enjoyed a new series.

And some new TV shows.

And new music.

We spent a week at the happiest place on earth.

And some time in another world.

And visited our favorite city.

The kids went to their very first concert.

Things ended.

Then, new things began.

I launched.

Annabel had TWO firsts.

We went back to the beach.

And back to school.

We were inside.

And outside.

I voted.

I donated.

My heart broke into a million pieces.

I reflectedA LOTThen, reflected.  Again. And again.

Then the year ended on a high note!  Literally!  Annabel took her very first airplane ride when we went to visit family and friends in Washington, DC/MD over Christmas break.  She loved every minute of it.

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My Florida kids also saw snow!  They tasted snowflakes (Annabel’s favorite), threw snowballs (Daniel’s favorite), and built their very first miniature snowman.  Complete with poker chip eyes (Thanks, Grandpa!) and a carrot nose, of course.

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We spent “Noon” Year’s Eve back home with our great friends – a new tradition, which I love.  And we cheered to a brand new year.

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And, man, am I ready for a brand new year.  2012 was a roller coaster year of emotions and emotional decisions for me and my family.  Some things I did not write about, but most things I did.  It’s therapeutic for me to pour my thoughts and feelings on this website and watch you agree (or disagree!)  It’s comforting when you tell me you understand.  Or that you’re angry too.  Or that you even like the same TV show I like.  Or you think I should DEFINITELY start a “Hot Guys Just Hanging Out and Looking Hot” Pinterest board. (Hi, Ryan!)

Thank you for coming back.  Thank you for your comments.  Happy New Year, friends.  Here’s to an exciting, yet peaceful, 2013.