Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections. . . .

2012 is coming to its end.  It has been a long year, at least for me.  As we reflect on 2012 there are many things that come to mind.

First - thankfulness.  I am very thankful that my husband has a job (and has had one for many years) that can feed our family.  I complain about not being able to save for retirement or the kids college - but I am so very thankful that we can afford to feed them and put a roof over their heads.  That is so much more than many others can say.

Second - I think of the two family members we have added to our household - Ninja and Olive.  Olive may be a needy dog at times - but she loves us and we love her.  I am so thankful she is our dog.  Ninja - don't know where he would be if our neighbor hadn't found him in the parking lot of a pharmacy and brought him home.  He is such a loving cat - kind of like a dog in a cats body.  I am so glad he is in our family.

Third, I am thankful that my Lucy is getting better.  I am so thankful.  She may never be where she was on October 17, 2011, but she is getting better.  Our kids and their health are gifts to us that I will never take for granted.

In 2012 I finally did something I have wanted to do for a while - try out homeschooling.  It is a lot of work - but the best thing I have ever done as a parent.  Homeschooling Gabe has allowed us to connect in a way we hadn't before.  Every parent of a middle schooler should do this.  Great bonding experience!  

I think of all the things that have happened in the last year.  I think of the terrible things that have happened here in America. . . . shootings in a theater. . . .shootings in a mall. . . shooting fire men as the come to fight a house fire. . . and the horrible shooting in an elementary school.  I can't help but look at these things and feel sad for the way this country is heading.  I worry what the world will be like for my children, and their children.

Along with that I look around me every time I go out and I see the way people are.  People are so hateful to each other.  Screaming nasty things at each other.  Flipping people off for no reason.  Not caring about anyone but themselves.  I know when I was a child neighbor looked out for neighbor.  I remember that.  People actually cared about each other - now it seems people only care about themselves - oh - and money (or the appearance of money).  I am trying to tell myself that this is just Florida - but it is hard when you hear about the stuff in the above paragraph on the news. . . .

This was the first full calender year with out Grandma - and I survived it.  I miss her - tremendously - but I survived it.  This was the first summer I stayed at Grandma's house without her.  What a privilege it was to be there.  Kind of scary at times, but I am so thankful we were able to do it.

This was our first full year living in Florida.  I can say - I don't like it any more than I did in my first few months of grief down here - but we are doing our best to be happy here.  This is where our home is and we have to make our house the home we want and ignore everything around us.

This year I realized some people I cared about greatly really don't reciprocate those feelings.  I realized that someone I very much enjoyed the company of felt nothing but contempt for me.  I was saddened by that for I very much liked this person.  I realized that many of the people I enjoyed the company of in the past and miss spending time with really don't miss my company at all, I am nothing to them . . . . and I have become OK with that.  Family members that I didn't think cared our thought of me actually do, while at the same time others who I put a lot of time and energy into could care less.  I have also realized that I have my own family now, the five other people who live in this house, and they need to be my focus.  Also,  I do have some great friends from the past that I miss - and I hope this coming year to focus on those relationships more. 

2012 was survived by most. . . despite "super storms" and the end of the Mayan calender. . . despite the hatred from a heated election and sick people targeting our babies in their school. . . .2012 is almost over and we can see 2013 on the horizon.  I look at 2013 with excitement.  It can bring anything.  Despite things like "fiscal cliffs" and anger of guns, more than likely we will all survive 2013 as well.  We might as well enjoy the ride while we are here!  I plan to do my best to enjoy it and look at what I have been blessed with - hope you do the same.

So - to everyone reading - happy 2013. . . .

"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dear world. . .

Hello.  My name is Angel.  I am college educated.  I am a thinker.  I enjoy learning new things and learning how things work.  I believe in science, and love to learn about science. . . and. . . I believe in God.

Yep.  I believe in God.

Recently, I have come across many people who vocalize that God can't be real.  They vocalize that people who believe in a God must be ignorant sheep followers.  They have to be people who believe in fairy tales.  There is no way sane, intelligent people can believe in God.  There is no proof that God exists, thus there must be no God.

I am saddened by this.  This is a very closed minded view.

Now, I must say I did not grow up going to church.  In fact, I don't remember my mother ever taking me to church.  I went with Grandma once or twice, but I am not a church goer.  Church just isn't right for me, and never has been.  I did, however, grow up with God being in my life.  As a child I gathered a lot of strength from God.  My child like "he will right all that is wrong, protect and love those who believe in him, and reward those who are good" really helped me deal with a less than ideal childhood.  I am thankful God was in my life during those times.

In college I had my doubts.  For a time I turned my back on God and vowed he didn't exist.  How could he exist with all the evil and bad in the world?  How could he allow so much suffering?  I admit it.  I doubted God.

As I grew I studied more.  I saw the world.  I saw things that could only be explained by the fact that we are not here alone. 

Now, I am not sure if I fully believe in the bible.  I do have some doubts there . . . but I know more than anything that there is a God and he loves us.  He cries with us when we cry.  He shares in our joys with us.  I also believe that the bad things that happen in this world are not "his will".  He did not want these things to happen, but he is with us in our sadness when they do.  I don't believe God can protect us from each other - our gift of free will has a dark side (if the bible is 100% true).

I do have questions and doubts, but I will say this, my belief in God doesn't mean I am ignorant.  I question everything and take a long time to form my opinion.  I am not a follower, I am a questioner.  My belief in God does not make me weak, in fact it is exactly the opposite, my belief in God makes me stronger.  I know that no matter what happens here on this Earth I will never be alone, for God is with me.  His love is with me - and with his love nothing else matters much. 

Thus, you can talk about me being "stupid" for what I believe in.  You can laugh when you see me reading the bible or you see my family say grace.  Personally, it doesn't matter what you think, all that matters is what God thinks.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

What, as Americans, are we OK with?

Gabe is in his room playing his new video game, and I have an hour before I have to pick the girls up from the bus so I decided to turn on the news.  We have avoided it as much as possible - most information I learned was from searching the internet news sites when the kids were not around.  Beyond just the total sadness of the loss of these 27 people (I include his mother here as well for she is also a victim), I hear people arguing over political stuff.  Personally it makes me ill. . . . But here are my thoughts on it.

I grew up in northern Michigan.  When I lived with my mom we almost always had a loaded gun by the door.  Guns were part of our livelihood.  My parents were avid hunters.  On top of that my parents also believed the government was out to get us and that we had a right to own any gun out there to protect ourselves from when the government decided to do what ever evil thing it was going to do.  We should own flame throwers, machine guns. . . anything out there.  Our second amendment right says we can have these guns and we should have them.

I am not anti-gun.  I see a need for them.  I see a use for them.  When this country was founded there was a good chance your survival depended on owning a gun.  There are still people today who use guns to keep their livelihood.  I see hunting as a good thing.  It keeps the animal population down and provides healthy meat for a family.  My children have held guns and target practiced.  I understand the draw of guns, but for me, personally, I don't see why people need to own some of these guns.  A gun to hunt with - I get it.  A gun for protection - OK - I could see that, but why do you need a gun that will do the kind of damage that some of these guns can do?

So here we are - as Americans - and we have to decide what we are OK with.  Are we OK with people owning the semi-automatic weapons that can carry 30 rounds in them?  Are we OK with people owning guns that really aren't going to be used for hunting?  We have the right to keep and bare arms - the constitution states that - but this constitution was written during a different time.  People were different.

I know, if someone wants to do this kind of damage they can do it without a gun.  Timothy McVeigh and Andrew Kehoe showed us that, but it is harder.  Requires more planning.  Requires more steps that might bring attention to this person and may prevent this from happening.  A gun makes it so easy, especially a gun that can demolish 27 people in a matter of minutes.  Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Kehoe had to put intensive planning into what they did, took a long time to gather all the material needed.  It took a while.  It wasn't a week or two. . . . it was a long time.  A gun makes a moment of anger so much easier to act upon. . .

We can toss blame everywhere here.  We can say the mother shouldn't have owned the guns (which, in all honestly, I kind of think that if you have an unstable person in the home and guns then those guns should be made unavailable to this person).  We can say the mother should have put this individual in an institution (which, the reality of it is there are very few institutions for these individuals.)  We can say "guns don't kill people, people kill people,"  all we want, but the reality of it is that 27 people were blown to pieces because a gun was put in the hands of this young man.  Would these people have been killed if he didn't have access to these guns?  We don't know, but we don know that 20 little kids and 7 adults are gone because this person did have access to these guns.

So I go back to my title of this blog, what are we, as Americans, OK with.  Do we see our right to own these guns as so important that we are going to keep selling them (there is no way we can remove the guns that are already sold and owned, but we could stop selling new guns in this country)?  I am not talking about hunting guns.  I am not talking about six shooter hand guns.  I am talking about weapons that go beyond basic self defense and hunting.  Is the freedom to continue selling these guns that important?  If your answer is "yes" then we, as Americans, have to be OK with things like this happening here in this country.  You can't have it both ways.  You can't still have these guns available (and from what I have read these guns were all purchased legally), and be irate when things like this happen.  We have to choose. . . .

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trying to come to terms . . .

After the events of yesterday I think every parent in America is devastated.  What a heartbreaking thing to have happen.  20 children - most probably 5 or 6 years old - gone.  This was not a bus accident - tragic as it would be.  This was not a fire in a building or school.  This was not a middle or high school shooting conducted by these children's peers.  These sort of things, tragic as they may be, have a seed of understanding in them.  You can grasp a reason.  At this point, less than 24 hours later, what you know is that 20 kids and 7 people are dead because someone walked into a school with a gun and killed them.

As a parent it is impossible to understand how anyone could target children, especially children of that age.  How someone could specifically go to those classrooms full of young children and target them.  These were not children who happened to be at a movie where someone just started killing people.  These children were not at a mall shopping with their family and just happened to be killed because they were there.  These children didn't happen to be in a building that was being bombed.  These children were targeted.  5 and 6 year olds.

As a parent of four children, three of them in elementary school and two of them in kindergarten, you can empathize with these parents.  You can imagine what it would be like to get that call and go to the school to get your kids.  You can imagine what it would be like to be looking for your child at that school  - the panic - the joy over finding them.  And, you can imagine what those 20 families who went to that school to pick up their child, a child the same age as mine, and not find them.  Watching other children walk out with their parents, and continuing to look for yours.  Waiting - assuming their class will be coming out of the school soon - only to find out those children will not be coming home with you.  You can imagine the emptiness of their homes and their hearts.

I think most people just feel sick.  I know I do.  Nauseous actually.   I also feel grateful.  This school was about the same size as the school my girls attend.  Middle class neighborhood.  A place where you put your kids on the bus and send them off to school with the assumption that they will get off the bus that night.  I am so thankful this didn't happen at my children's school.  Thankful that I get another night to curl up with my kids and watch Christmas movies with them.  Thankful that we get to sit down and share dinner together.  Thankful that it is them and not me - because in all honestly this could have been any school in America.

This has happened before - senseless killing of young children.  May 18, 1927 Andrew Kehoe rigged the school in Bath, Michigan to blow up.  He was angry that the new school building caused his taxes to go up and now he was in danger of losing his home.  He was a member of the school board and did work on the school when it needed it - so he went in there and set up explosives to blow the school up.  38 people died and 58 more were injured - most of them young children.  October 2, 2006 Charles Roberts entered an Amish school and killed 5 girls and injured 5 more before killing himself.  So this isn't new - but it doesn't make it any easier to understand.

So here I sit, at 5:30 am trying to make sense of things that will never be made sense of.  I was woken up by my 10 year old over an hour ago because she was afraid.  Assuring my 10 year old that her school is safe and it won't happen there.  Listing to her cry as she says, "If they came into our school the first class they would get to after the office would be Sarah's!  I don't want Sarah to die."  Hearing my six year old say, "Mom, someone went in there and killed those little kids.  And this close to Christmas too."  Hearing my 12 year old say, "Why does anyone care.  This happened in Connecticut, this is their problem not ours,"  and trying to explain to him that as a fellow American and a fellow parent it is our problem.  These are our brothers and sisters in this country so when something this tragic happens to them it does - to a certain extent - happen to all of us.  Looking at all four of my kids, who drive me nuts sometimes, and knowing that having them here another night to trash my house and drive me nuts is such a pure gift.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those 20 families who weren't given that gift - as well as the families of the adults who were killed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the people who walked into that building to try to save children and teachers only to be confronted with the reality of the situation.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the gunman, who lost two family members through these tragic means.  Bad things happen to good people everyday. . . . but this even goes beyond that line.  This is just heartbreaking. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Working at this school. . .

I have been a parent for a while now, and while I have not been head of the PTA involved I have always tried to help out where/when I could.  This year, with my youngest two in school I have more of a chance to help out.  Was helping once a week at the school lunch, until those bratty kids made me not want to do that anymore.  I have volunteered here and there.  I love working around kids and being around kids - I get a lot of joy out of being around kids - usually - but I can say at this point I never want to work in that school again.

Other blogs have pointed out that I don't feel like I fit down here.  I am who I am.  I don't wear make-up.  I am overweight.  I have yellow, crooked teeth.  I have been this way my entire life and have worked around kids most of my life as well.  Kids usually love me.  Kids who never go to anyone but their parents happily climb up in my lap.  I am a kid person. . .

Well - I think that went away somewhere.  Evelyn's class is awesome.  I have helped out in there a time or two, and the kids from there always say "Hi" to me when they see me on the street.  It is the twins class.  Those are the kids who pop out, "You're not my boss, you're Lucy's boss," when I work the lunch room.  And more recently - something I find very sad - Ellie is now being singled out and made fun of because I am her mom. 

I can take the bratty kids not listening to me.  I can take the, "Why do you have two rows of teeth?" question - it is childhood curiosity.  What I can't take is my kids being singled out and laughed at because I am their mother.  I never wanted that for my children.  I have been there and I know how much it hurts - but now as a parent it hurts even more to see my kids hurt because I am who I am. . . .

I am thankful my husband has a great job, but I really hope he finds another great job somewhere not here in the next year or two.  I don't like my kids growing up in this environment. . . .