Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Never Grow Up

Put your shorts back on, we don't open/swing around/dance with umbrellas in the house/grocery store/near other people and please stop trying to stand on your head before you injure yourself.  This has become a bit of my daily chant that I repeat to her multiple times a day.  Sometimes, though, I forget how lucky I am that I still have my Little to hang out with, who is fearless and outrageous, who sheds her clothing the instant we walk in the door because she just doesn't care, who carries around random objects (this week is umbrellas) everywhere we go without a thought as to how odd it seems and who challenges herself to do things that are crazy.  I forget for a moment until a stranger mentions how cute it is or funny it is that she's doing such and such...and then I remember.  Today that moment was during Sesame Street.  I was just drinking my coffee while she sat there answering every question those hairy monsters gave her-letters, numbers, colors, shapes-things she struggled with just last year-and I started to cry.  At first I tried to cover it up but then it quickly snowballed into this super, enormous, can't-hold-it-in ugly cry and Hadley looked over at me concerned but said nothing.  And my crazy self begged her, "Please just stop growing up!".  She looked at me for a second, grabbed her knees, looked at her feet and said, "Don't worry Mom, I didn't grow up today!".  She hugged me tight, really tight, around the neck and said she would try not to grow up so I wouldn't be sad anymore then went back to her Sesame Street and umbrella twirling.  After running errands today, with the umbrella and many funny stares (it's 90 degrees and sunny), she danced in the yard until she was tired, came inside and took off her shorts and is now singing to herself while playing princess with her wild imagination.  If only I could figure out how to freeze time-this moment would be it.              

Monday, August 18, 2014

A time for Appreciation

The facts are not in and the witnesses have been deemed unreliable, people are at war in a lose-lose situation and there is no verdict, therefore, I am not writing this post in favor for or against either the officer or the deceased.  I will wait for the law to determine the outcome of this situation when the truth is finally set free in, hopefully, an unbiased and peaceful manner.  But while we wait for this to come about I am receiving messages of concern from dear friends who have husbands, wives, relatives and friends lives on the line trying to protect this city of St. Louis from anymore deterioration.  The "I'm sorry, I Love You" good-bye texts from officers, the 'please pray that my husband/wife/friend makes it tonight' requests, the 30 hour shifts, the exhaustion, the stress, the concern of being forced into a "war zone" without proper weapons and the claim that those who fought in Afghanistan felt more safe there than in their own St. Louis hometown is disheartening to say the least.  I finally (and reluctantly) gave in last night, after receiving texts and emails from different friends claiming the above statements, and  took a break from my big brother newsfeed and US weekly (at this point this is the only unbiased news I can stand to read or expose myself to anymore-I need to find my "happy place") but I turned on the TV to more of the same and felt ill.  It's time we do something positive, all of us, and so I propose this to all who want to participate.  (Disclaimer: If you disagree that's completely fine and I'd appreciate you keeping your opinion to yourself just as I have been forced to do when I scroll through my Facebook, Twitter feeds and blogs.  I may disagree with you but I still respect you enough to allow you to your opinion without an argument).  I challenge you, who choose to participate, to do something kind for the police officers, the firemen (thank you Uncle Jimmy for all you do) and all those responding to this, for lack of a better word, crisis.  My kids and I have decided to randomly select 5 different Police and Fire Departments from the St. Louis area to make and send Thank You cards and letters of positive encouragement to (possibly more if we get on a roll).  It can be as simple as that!  Send them a Starbucks giftcard (these people are exhausted), send them giftcards for restaurants to help out their stressed and exhausted families with dinners, send them flowers, send them something to let them know WE APPRECIATE YOU!!  Most of us have needed the police and/or fire department at some time in our lives and, in our experience, they were always so quick to respond, extremely helpful and friendly.  As a resident in the neighborhood of Officer Wilson we have had police guarding the schools and the homes around the area 24/7 and I, for one, am extremely grateful for these positive, courageous and brave individuals.  It's due time for our Thanks and our appreciation.  So for those who wish to accept this challenge please feel free to pass this on and let's do something positive for our men and women in blue.          

Monday, August 11, 2014

Done! (War of the Races?)

I CAN'T ANYMORE!!  I watched the news until 1 in the morning.  I watched people rioting, looting and destroying their own city while news crews (and the people at home shaking their heads in disbelief) looked helplessly on.  I watched what started as a peaceful protest of a teen's death escalate into a race war and I'm done being quiet.  While I attempt to keep my blog lighthearted and happy, I'm so angry and so sad at the lies, assumptions and racial hatred being spewed all over every type of social media and news media I can't keep my mouth shut (or my typing fingers still) anymore.  DONE!  You didn't ask for my opinion and if you don't want it then stop here...
First off, google North St. Louis crime rate or Ferguson crime rate right now.  I'll wait.....  Did you just read about the 6,000 vacant homes in the area, many being used as drug and/or gang hangouts?  About the rapes, the murders and the robberies?  Or how about the average crime rates in major cities around the Country being 297.5 but Ferguson has remained between 517.6 down to 381.1 (still well above the average crime rate) since the year 2000?  And that's just Ferguson-North St. Louis, as a whole, has a crime rate skyrocketing above the rest.  Those are just a few sad facts about the area and the reason police presence is necessary and why many who know St. Louis well typically avoid driving into the area so many have been working hard to change the perception of.  Sadly, they were improving and almost there, yet now...
The facts #1: a terrible tragedy has occurred in North St. Louis, a teen has been shot and died.
But why this tragedy?  Why, when so many murders occur in the St. Louis area every year has this one made an impact nationwide?  Don't get me wrong, I believe every life is valuable but why choose now to care when we are annually listed as one of the most dangerous places to live in the United States?
Would you even think twice about this situation if it involved two people of the same race or a black police officer and a white teen?  And, unless you were present at the time, you don't know what happened.  Neither do I.  There are multiple sides to every story so how can you judge so quickly without knowing the facts?

Media Reports and Eye Witness accounts part 1: This quiet, unarmed teen boy, described by others as a teddy bear, was walking in the street to his grandma's house.  He was asked to get out of the street by an officer and then gunned down.

Media Reports and Eye Witness accounts part 2: A teen boy assaulted an officer when he was asked to get out of the street.  He was placed in the patrol car and attempted to take the officer's weapon.  The two struggled for the weapon and the teen was shot in self-defense.

There is no happy ending to this story either way you spin it.  I don't know what happened.  You, unless you were there, don't know what happened.  So STOP!

The facts #2: A group of people in North St. Louis rioted in the streets, tore up the businesses that came to better their area and provide jobs to those living in that area (also note: retail trade is the #1 occupation of those living in Ferguson ), looted from these businesses and claimed it all in the name of Michael Brown.  
While I realize most of those living in North St. Louis are trying to survive, stay out of trouble, keep their kids safe and live a normal life, they are forced to live in the midst of thugs (that's truly the nicest word I could come up with) who have convinced themselves that destroying their own town will somehow make a difference.  If anything the display from yesterday evening's behavior looks irresponsible, foolish and crazy.  Any chance once had at getting the Country to take these concerns seriously during this tragedy just slipped through the cracks and washed away the name of Michael Brown in fits of rage and raised up the name of Ferguson, Missouri in his place in the worst possible way.  Where a peaceful protest in memory of a death has been replaced with the memory of a destructive mob and the chance at uniting the races has caused an even greater, deeper and uglier divide on all sides with all races.
I don't know what the future holds in this situation but I do know that this situation cannot be reconciled until we stop acting like animals and start communicating respectfully.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Friday Night

Friday Nights used to look like:
-Come home
-Relax in the quietness
-Change from one dress into mini dress and from high heels into higher heels
-Nice sit-down dinner with date or friends
-Grown-up talk and Grown-up drinks
-Staying out until 2 a.m. without worry of having to wake up before noon

My Friday Night tonight looks like:
-Come home from playdate with kids
-Realize I completely forgot to plan dinner.  Try to sell my idea of frozen pizzas or chicken fingers to the kids and fail.
-Husband sends me text with a picture of some kind of cement asking me to run to Home Depot and find it.
-Get lost in Home Depot but eventually find pictured object and score some fast food on the way home.
-Get home and he says, "But you were supposed to buy two!".  I tell him he's wrong and I think about arguing my case more except I remember the 3 hungry little people I'm responsible for feeding.
-Sit down with kids to eat and 1 kid decides to lay on floor screaming because I chose the wrong food and another child decides they are no longer hungry.  By the time I have dealt with the other 2 kids the 3rd kid is done and I eat alone.
-Decide to do dishes and, during this time, the toy room explodes and lands over every room and stairway in the house.
-A child screams "POOP!" and I run to the bathroom to see it COVERED in poop.  All kids deny it was them.  First I turn on coffee maker (because in a minute I know I'll need a cup to recover), begin the cloroxing of the entire bathroom, step in a smear and lose every ounce of cool I was attempting to maintain.  Kids all still deny the poop but pretty sure this time it's because I'm screaming, "WHO DID IT?"
-Finish cleaning the bathroom and go to get that coffee until I hear the front door and realize my 4 year old decided to bolt.  Run after her with my boys running after me.
-Catch her, lecture her for the 5000th time and realize it's time for baths and bed. Yay!  Coffee and sitting will wait.
-Start the bedtime process and giant flying bug discovered in kids bathroom.  Chase bug with shoes, give up, shut bathroom door and pretend bug isn't in there.
-Put kids to bed and dress in yoga pants.
-Start to go workout and all kids get out of bed.  They need a drink, they need to pee, they have a question, they have another question, too hot, too cold, can't find blankie/doll/book/watch, need a song-a long song-a song from Frozen, ugh.  Kids back in bed.
-Come back downstairs, decide my working out window has once again passed and remember that there's a slice of chocolate mousse pie in the fridge and that sounds waaay better than aerobics. Turn off coffee maker and grab wine instead.  
-And here I find myself wearing yoga gear and bare feet instead of pretty dresses and heels, sitting alone with wine and pie, watching Pretty In Pink on a sofa full of toys and very much looking forward to staying up late reading the end of that book on my nightstand.
-Oh, and the giant flying bug has escaped (or there's 2) and is circling my head right at this moment.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Don't Feed The Homeless?!

Just this morning I was sitting with my 10 year old who mentioned that time we went to Walgreens to buy a sandwich, chips, drink and an umbrella for the homeless man, standing in the rain, with a sign asking for food.  What I remember about that day is sitting in my parked car in a parking lot across the street as I watched this older gentleman, at a busy intersection in Webster Groves, Missouri, with a bowed head.  I watched car after car after car speed past him- no one was slowing down, no one was stopping to give him money, no one was giving him food and, when the light turned red, the stopped cars rolled up windows and heads turned the other way.  He was asking for a MEAL!  He wasn't asking for drugs, he wasn't asking for alcohol, he wasn't even asking for money-what is wrong with us that we are so busy we can't be bothered to stop for a moment and acknowledge a simple need of another human being?  To be honest, I didn't want the person who helped to be me either.  I was fearful for my 3 year old, Spencer, sitting in the backseat and, shamefully, I was stereotyping all homeless persons as unsafe.  After waiting awhile I eventually gave in to my conscience and drove over to him.  As I rolled down the window to hand him the Walgreens bag I expected a quick drop-off and drive away but he looked me in the eyes (I still remember exactly what he looked like), he thanked me over and over and then he said, "God Bless You" with such sincerity that it brought me to tears.  Spencer watched, he took it all in and asked me a lot of questions after it occurred.  It was such a small task but, for my then 3 year old and now 10 year old, Spencer never forgot.  
Coincidentally, I also read a news piece (actually several) this morning that now 33 cities have adopted laws against individuals and/or groups from feeding the homeless?!?!  While I usually attempt to steer clear of any type of political anything on my blog, I've decided to dive into this political atrocity headfirst.  Why?  Because we're taught to obey the law and we're taught to respect elected officials (even when we disagree)-well, my parents made a wholehearted attempt to teach me this anyway but let me be the first to say that the government is WRONG!  (and now my blog is being watched by drones who will attack my house while I sleep but I stand by my 'opinion', which is pretty much fact).  How can we possibly teach our children to become upstanding American citizens who care about others in need and go out of their way to take care of those needs when the government declares this as breaking the law?  
I had never even heard of this law until today when it was announced that more cities are joining in to put a ban on feeding the homeless, but it has been around for awhile and why?  Because the government wants to take charge of the homeless, ration the amount of food given to them, choose the areas homeless people are allowed to inhabit and, one city claims, to make sure the salt, fat, sugar content of food for the homeless is doled out in healthy amounts...this ban has been in effect for over a decade and guess what political officials?  You are failing!  All of you Elephants, Donkeys and Turtles (do the independents even have an animal?) are to blame and, to make matters worse, certain cities have even started handing out fines (the largest so far is $2,000 to a couple for feeding homeless people in a park in Daytona Beach, FL.) and threatening prison time to individuals caught helping the homeless in Daytona Beach, FL., Raleigh, NC, Myrtle Beach, SC and Birmingham, AL.  Although I couldn't find a list of all 33 cities involved, since 11 have recently signed on to be included in this ban, as of 2007 these cities include Atlanta, GA., Baltimore, MD., Chattanooga, TN., Cincinnati, OH., Dallas, TX., Denver, CO., Ft. Lauderdale, FL., Ft. Meyers, FL., Gainesville, FL., Hempstead, NY., Jacksonville, FL., Las Vegas, NV., Miami-Dade County, FL., Orlando, FL., Pinellas Park, FL., Portland, OR., San Francisco, CA., Santa Monica, CA., Sarasota, FL., Tampa, FL., West Palm Beach, FL. and Wilmington, NC.  
So, to the government officials and/or drones now following my blog I'm curious how you plan to care for all the homeless on your own?  How do the homeless know where to find help in these 'forbidden homeless' cities and how do you expect them to get to these government help stations?  Bus, Taxi, Limo??  After watching the police step over countless homeless people spread out from one end of the strip in Vegas to the other end I certainly know police (you know, those people we pay to take care of people in need?) don't bat an eye at the devastation that is happening around them, do you really think they're going to help a homeless person to their squad car and drive them to a place to receive government assistance?  That is, they don't care until you dare to help one out and find yourself with a ticket or behind bars (and not the fun bars with fruity drinks).  
Over the years I have tried to stress to my kids the importance of caring for others and treating others the way they would want to be treated.  My kids have chosen to give their time, their money and even their food (Coen recently saved a bag of popcorn from a Cardinals game because the man outside looked really hungry and the man was thrilled-what could be more simple than that?) to those less fortunate.  This type of behavior or teaching is not one to be commended, it's simply an act of kindness every capable being should possess.  A few minutes out of your time, a few dollars out of your pocket- so many hesitate on this already and the government is certainly not doing their part to support this type of giving or change others perceptions of the homeless as actual PEOPLE.  
After I read about these bans I asked Spencer what he would do if helping the homeless was illegal in St. Louis-would he feed a homeless person begging for food and risk breaking the law or would he ignore the person to obey the law?  His answer: "I don't understand why this is wrong and I don't care if they take me to jail, it's more important to care about people and give to people who need help".  I didn't tell him if I agreed or not, I told him that it would be a difficult decision for anyone to make but, as his Mom, I'm proud of the little man I've raised.  I hope, if ever finding himself in this situation, he stands his ground and follows his moral compass since our elected officials seem to have misplaced theirs.