Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thank You

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that it's been a tough week.  I have needed some time away to take care of my son and join in helping our small community begin the process of healing.

I would like to thank all of you for leaving such kind comments here, and for the text messages and emails I've received from so many of my blogging friends.  I have read them all and am so touched by your kindness and support.

I wanted to share some of the amazing pictures that have been taken here in the last week. The rainbow above appeared over Marysville Pilchuck High School on Saturday. This one shone over the school yesterday.

I'm reminded of the lyrics in a song by The Band Perry, called "If I Die Young":

Lord, make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother,
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors.

These clouds floated above the school on Monday.  

Finally, this is the picture that was taken at T's high school and shared with their friends at MP.  Pictures like this have been coming in from all around the country, and it has been such a comfort to the community.

Today my son laughed for the first time in almost a week.  It was a wonderful sound, and made me realize that it's time for me to get back to writing.  I'll have a new post up tomorrow, linking with my Lifestyle Sistas for "5 Things I Miss About My Teens".  I chose this topic, and it will be fun to see what everyone loved best about their teen years.  Scott Baio will make an appearance on my list!

But for today....thank you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grandma's African Violet Part II

I'm re-running this post about an African Violet my grandmother gave me 24 years ago...

When my husband and I got married and moved into our first apartment, my grandmother gave us an African Violet as a housewarming gift.

As she handed the little purple flower to me, I was a bit dismayed.  I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to keeping plants alive.  I figured by the next time she came to visit it would be dead. She assured me that African Violets are a hardy plant and easy to care for.  Apparently she had more faith in my horticulture skills than I did.

That was 24 years ago.  Not only is it still alive, but it blooms regularly and is as beautiful as the day she gave it to us.  Other than each other, it's one of the few things we have from our newlywed days.

We have replanted it over the years, and I have to confess that I let my husband take care of it most of the time, since his thumb is much greener than mine. Several times we thought it wasn't going to make it, but in the end it always lives to bloom another day.

My grandmother passed away suddenly almost eight years ago.  Every time I look at my African Violet sitting in the kitchen window, it reminds me of her.

I miss you, grandma.  Thanks for having so much faith in me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Light In The Darkness

While the last few days have been difficult, there have been some very bright lights. Prayers and good thoughts coming in from all over the country.  A rival football team forfeiting a playoff game so that our high school could take first place.  Kids setting aside their differences and supporting each other.

And my hubby writing a blog post for me, which I'm sharing below:

On Friday our community was devastated when a young man came to one of our high schools and took the lives of fellow students along with his own.  He succeeded in changing the lives of all who are involved in this community forever. 

As a father, I like to fix things and move on.  My wife and two boys came home with pain and grief that I had never seen before that day.  It's not that we haven't lost people in our lives before, but we have never lost them in such a senseless way, with such a presence of evil.  One of the victims was a fourteen year old girl from our neighborhood. She will never be seen in this life again because of this act.  Her family is forever changed, and as a parent, I can say that they will never recover.

We had boys and girls from the high schools at our home all weekend as the details unfolded, and I watched all the lives in my living room struggle to make sense of something that will never have reason associated with it.  As a fixer I could only stand there and watch, feed them a meal or two, and try to help them feel safe.  I did a poor job as a fixer this weekend.  (Editor's note:  Not true!)

On Sunday I tried to bring about some normalcy by running errands with my older son. We received a call from some friends who run a local animal rescue, saying that they were getting nineteen new puppies.  My wife and younger son wanted to see them so we headed that way.  When we arrived, I witnessed two women who have devoted their lives to saving animals that cannot protect themselves.  This cause is their absolute passion and they do it well.  I don't know exactly how many animals they have saved over the years, but I'm sure it's in the hundreds if not the thousands.  As my family was "oohing and aahing" over the pups (dad's not an oohing kind of guy), a thought struck me.

In this time of darkness that has enveloped our community, there are people who will not accept this in their lives.  They make an effort every day to protect God's creatures who cannot protect themselves, thus bringing light into dark.  We have now stood witness to an act of evil that has no equal in our community, yet these people shine their light by caring for these small puppies.  There are students from other communities that are saying NO, you are not alone in this, and we are standing with you.  There are people from all over the country that are going out and helping a stranger with some small act of kindness, to counteract the darkness.

I believe that in life, every action has an equal reaction.  For every darkness there is an equal amount of lightness bearing down.  While we struggle with questions of safety and normalcy and the black that is trying to envelope this community, I want to say that lightness is there.  As a fixer, I am going to cut a hole the size of a football field in my life so I can make it shine on my family and community.  God bless.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Fear Is The Hardest Part

"Mom, there's been a shooting at MP.  Someone is dead and we don't know who the shooter is".

I was just leaving my Zumba class Friday morning when my son called me with those words. MP is Marysville-Pilchuck, one of two high schools in our town of 60,000 people. My son attends Marysville-Getchell (MG), but I could hear the terror in his voice.  

No one knew what to do - MG wasn't in lock down, and the teachers were instructing students to go home if they were able.  I told T to grab as many kids as he could and head to our house, half a mile from the school.  I remember hanging up the phone and thinking "no, no, no, not again, not here".  When I got home minutes later, ten kids were huddled around the television, checking their phones for updates from friends at MP.  As they looked at me, I could see the fear and trauma on their faces.

It was heartbreaking.

The rest of the day passed in a blur.  About three hours after the shooting, a friend arrived who had been in lock down at MP.  He told us about his experience - being told to get down on the floor, away from the windows, and staying there for two hours.  No one could use their phone.  When the police finally got to his classroom, it was searched and each kid was patted down before being escorted out in a single file line to a waiting bus.  Only then did they find out what had happened.

By Friday afternoon we had pieces of the terrible news.  The shooter, a student at the school, was dead.  So was a young girl, someone my son knew.   Four other students were in the hospital with critical injuries.  Today, one of those girls was taken off life support and passed away.

Our small town is reeling.  I cannot begin to fathom what the parents of the victims or the shooter are going through.  My heart is broken into a million pieces for them and their pain. I cannot wrap my head around what the kids of this community are going through. My son has been with different groups of friends all weekend long.  They come and go, but there are always at least two of them together - they need each other to lean on. Only they understand what the other is going through, and none of them want to be alone.

As for me and my husband, I feel like we're struggling with our greatest parenting challenge so far. It's such a difficult situation, and there's no script to follow.  Dealing with the fear we feel as parents, but not communicating that to our son.  All I want to do is sit on the couch and hold him close.  

A reporter took this picture of a rainbow over the high school on Saturday

What happened in my town has become too common.  I was so naive to hear the stories of far off acts of violence and think it could never happen here.  But it did, and it is shocking.  I have been floundering all weekend, trying to be strong for my son, and then crying my eyes out when he leaves the house.  I know it's okay to feel sad and angry and helpless.  It's the fear I'm having a hard time with.  I noticed this morning that my left fist was clenched so hard I was leaving fingernail marks on my hand.

I'm scared to send T to school on Monday.  He is a class leader, it's the right place for him to be, and he needs to go.  I'm so proud of him for being brave.  But all I can picture is the young man at MP, well liked by his peers, standing up during lunch and shooting those around him.  I don't feel brave at all.

The "what if's" and the "what can we do's" and the "how did this happen" are conversations for another day.  All I know is that children shouldn't be afraid to go to school - and parents shouldn't be afraid to send them there.  For the people in our community who lived through this terrible day, that will never be a reality again.  

I will be re-running some older posts on my blog over the next few days.  I apologize in advance for those of you who have already read them!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Shooting In My Town

Yesterday there was a school shooting in Washington, which I'm sure you all heard about.  It happened in my little town, a suburb about thirty minutes north of Seattle.  My son goes to the other high school here, and wasn't involved, although he does know two of the students who were shot. Our entire community is sad and traumatized.  I remembered this post I wrote a few months ago, and because I can't think of anything else today, I'm running it again.  Who knew.

On the final day of school last month, my sixteen year old son came home, and when I asked him how he felt about finishing up his sophomore year he said, and I quote, "Good. I made it through another semester without getting shot at school".  He stopped me in my tracks.

As my older son was getting ready for his first day of community college, he commented that there should be a class about what to do if a shooter shows up on campus.

These statements from my boys literally made me cry.  I am so sad that they are growing up in a world where they have to worry about gun violence in the classroom every day.  When I was their age, I felt perfectly safe at school.  In fact, I didn't even give it a second thought.

We live in a small community with a relatively low crime rate, but my boys are still worried. Our kids can't help but think about it every day, even if it's in the back of their mind.  

There have been 31 firearms attacks at U.S. schools since the start of the year.  In the eighteen months since the horrible incident at Sandy Hook Elementary, the frequency of gun related events has actually increased.

I don't know what the answer is, and I'm not prepared enough to discuss gun control or mental health needs, although those things certainly must be part of the solution.

What I do know is that I want to do something.  I don't want to just talk about it or debate it anymore,  because enough of that has been going on, and as shown by the statistics above, it's obviously not doing any good. 

I don't want my boys to be afraid every day when they go to school, and I certainly don't want my someday grandchildren to experience the same thing. 

I want to know what I can do to stop the violence.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oscar, I Will Miss You

"Any girl from any walk of life dreams of that special dress, and I try to make that dream a reality for her" -- Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta passed away on Monday at the age of 82.   He was one of my favorite designers, and if I had the money and the fame, I would have had Oscar design my wedding gown.

The man was a true style legend, and while studying him in school, I was impressed with not only his talent, but also his kindness.  He was known as "fashion's gentleman", and those who worked with him praised his generosity.

De la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic, and learned design and tailoring from some of the best in Spain and Paris.  He came to New York in the 1960's to work for Elizabeth Arden, and after many years started his own line.  In 1991 he became the first American designer to show at Paris Fashion Week.  His affinity for the feminine in his romantic, glamorous designs came naturally - he was the sixth of seven children, and the only boy.

I found all of his dresses to be works of art, but his wedding gowns were stunning.  In 2006 he launched his ready to wear bridal line - sadly, too late for my own wedding.  I definitely would have worn this, although I probably would have had to forego the reception to afford the dress.

I know there are many who find fashion silly and frivolous, but there is no denying that Oscar de la Renta's dresses brought so much beauty into the world.  For that I say thank you, and you will be missed.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Homecoming Has Changed

Times sure have changed since I was a teenager.

This Saturday is Homecoming for my younger son.  We've spent the past few weeks choosing an outfit for him (which mostly consisted of finding a tie with just the right shade of purple to match her dress), buying a corsage, and finding a restaurant that was willing to make a reservation for fourteen teenagers. Pretty much the same routine as when I was in high school.

It's the "inviting" to Homecoming that has changed.  Gone are the days when the boy asked the girl as they walked between classes, or maybe passed her a note if he was a little shy.

Now boys are expected to go all out on the Homecoming "proposal".  There are entire websites devoted to coming up with the perfect, creative invitation.  A few I found:
  • Choreograph a 60 second dance and perform it during a break in her sporting event
  • Create a scavenger hunt 
  • Write different parts of the message in chalk outside her house for 4 or 5 days
  • Spell out the invitation with candles on her driveway
The lists go on and on, and honestly, these were some of the easier ones.  I've heard of kids spending hundreds of dollars on flowers, balloons and presents - just to ask someone to a dance.

While I suppose the intention is sweet, I've got a few issues.  First, this is putting an awful lot of pressure on boys to come up with the perfect proposal.  T said that girls are hoping for something unique that hasn't been done before.  I was reading a blogger friend's post, and her son decided to opt out of Homecoming because it was too hard to come up with an invitation.  I feel bad for him.

And can we talk about the future?  I do wonder what these kids will expect when it comes time for their marriage proposals. There were no scavenger hunts or choreographed dances when my hubby asked me to marry him, although that would have been very entertaining.

After much debate (and no help from me - harumph), T came up with a cute, easy way to ask his girlfriend to the dance.  He is the Charger mascot at football games, and he asked her at half time in front of the spectators in the stands.  She looks pretty happy about it.

Speaking of Homecoming, it's spirit week at T's school, and today was "tacky tourist" day. He wore his dad's sandals, and my hubby was quite offended that they classified as tacky.  I suggested maybe it was time for a new pair of sandals.

T asked if he could borrow my camera for the outfit.  I told him to take pictures, so I could see what a day in the life of a high school junior looked like - future blog post? This is the best of what he came up with.  Sigh.

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