Happy, Healthy, Prosperous – all the things a new year should be!

It has been an amazing 2012 for this family.  After several years of serious health issues, teetering on the brink of death times too numerous to mention, my mom is finally battling back and getting around.  My sister added the most amazing brother-in-law to the family in July.  This is the first year in the last four that I haven’t spent at least some time in the hospital.  My husband is awesome, my children incredible.

The year was not without it’s bitterness.  This year, we lost two powerful women who were important in our lives to breast cancer.  We almost entered the new year without our beautiful Lusi, who suffered serious physical damage in an end of year attack by another dog.  Andy Reid was fired as coach of the Eagles.

But regardless of the pills we’ve swallowed, the promise of the new year is too great to ignore!  We’ve got a Bilbrough wedding to look forward to in the coming months, and friends will be welcoming a new baby that I hope I get to spoil a bit.  Jim has an appointment at the VA that we believe will bring terrific results.  I will be a certified teacher by the end of this new year, and will hopefully find my way back into the workforce.

Eilis is starring in her show at school; Granuaile remains, in her own words, awesome; and Brighid has a very good plan for her own academic and professional future.  Harper and Lusi will both celebrate second birthdays; Granuaile will make her First Holy Communion; and we will ride into the new year in a new car.

I know the new year won’t be without it’s bumps and hurdles.  But you have to taste the bitter to know the sweet, and we’re ready to tackle whatever comes out way.

I shall close this year with these words from Helen Keller –  “Your success and happiness lies in you.  Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

This is my New Year’s Resolution.

Be inspired – In Memory of the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School

“…let it not turn into something that defines us, but inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate, and more humble people.”  – Robert Parker, father of six year old Emilie Parker

 

Inspire us.

As I sit here, cheeks drenched in tears, chest heaving in sobs, I feel anything but inspired.  I am angry.  And sad.  And scared.

But I have to pack my girls up and send them to school today.  I have to find the strength and the courage to send them out into the world where I can’t protect them.  I can’t wrap my arms around them and hug them, knowing my day will be peaceful and secure.  I have to let them go.

In letting them go, I hope they are the inspiration.  I hope they will be kinder to other children today, more considerate of their teachers, and better in and of themselves.  I hope they find gratitude where they may have found discontent; understanding where they used to find frustration; and friends in kids they may have previously not noticed.

I believe in my heart that we are sent here with a blueprint that outlines our purpose, and although the pain I feel that these tiny blueprints all built up to this sad and tragic event, no life on this earth, no matter how brief, is lived in vain.  Bless these tiny souls for accomplishing so quickly what they were sent her to do.  I know that the choir of angels singing to the Lord Himself on Christmas day will be so much sweeter with these little voices returned home.

I hope in this tragedy we all find the inspiration to be better people.  Even though these feet were tiny, we have big shoes to fill if we ever want to make as big an impact on this world as these tiny lives have done.  May God bless these families, wrap them in His comforting embrace, and give them peace in knowing that we will be forever touched by the beautiful faces of their children.

Be inspired.  Love each other.

Chinks in the Armor

While reading a friend’s blog recently, I began waxing nostalgic (which is English teacher speak for wondering why the hell I did what I did when I did it) about the people I’ve dated and the man I married.  You all know the old adage that love is blind, but I don’t think that it is.  It’s all about lighting.

We all put on rose colored glasses when we first get into a relationship.  Men manage to control the flatulence that often becomes part of life once they’re comfortable in the knowledge that a little gas isn’t going to scare you away (or a lot, just sayin’).  Women race to get out of bed first in the morning to freshen up a bit – you know, wash the important bits, apply heavy coats of makeup, blow dry and curl your hair – so that when their beloved wakes up, he sees the cover of a romance novel laying in bed next to him, in a lacy peignoir  set, as opposed to what he’ll see a few months down the road, curled up in flannel, drool dribbling down her cheek, and her hair looking like she combed it with a rake in her sleep.  We also overlook the little quirks and funny ways when things are just getting started.

Here’s how you know things are going to work out.

You know your partner is flawed.  We are all products of the families we grew up in, and for much of our lives, many of us try to overcome the damage that was done or fix the parts of us that are dented as a result of our parents dropping the ball on the occasions that they did (and all parents do).  But when you have an old favorite vase that was your great grandmother’s, even though it’s got a crack here or a chip there, you put it in the window, so the sun shines behind it, casting it in shadow, chips at the back, cracks covered with a strategically placed plant or flower.  It’s just as beautiful as you remember it being when you first saw it on grandmom’s mantle.

That’s how you should always look at your partner.  I met my knight in shining armor when he was 21 years old.  He’d already been to college, at the age of 14, which put him in an odd sort of circumstance.  He grew up before he was ready, thrust into the more mature world of academia, without learning some of the social graces we learn going to high school with our peers.  He had no real peers – dismissed by kids his own age, not regarded by the people in college.  Wearing shoes that are too big for your feet causes you to fall down a lot, and he certainly has the dents to show that he had.

But when he rides in, on his blazing steed, with the sun at his back, casting him in shadow, you don’t see the chinks in the armor.  You see what a great dad he’s been and what a generous and giving husband he’s been.  You see the man who slept on the floor with a new, crying puppy to keep her comforted, or on a chair next to me as I recovered from surgery and couldn’t sleep in my bed.  You see the wonderful home he’s provided for us and the incredible vacations he’s shared with us.  You see the outline of the hands that have held mine as we sat next to each other at a school play and the arms that wrapped around me when my sister died.

This is our 24th Christmas together.  There are ornaments on my tree that Jim and I chose together at a little shop in Mullica Hill on our first Christmas together.  I chose beautiful gold ornaments, which I knew would reflect the lights on the tree and make a beautiful glow in the living room of our tiny condo.  When you look at them up close now, some are chipped.  The gold has flaked off in some places.  Some are even broken, but if I place them on the tree carefully, you don’t notice it so much because they are cast in the shadow of the lights behind them.

There may be chinks, but if you look in the right light, you still see the knight in shining armor.  And despite what other people see when they look, he always seems to be standing in just the right light to me.

The Sexualization of children

I am doing a group presentation on the sexualization of children at Rutgers University – Camden

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This is a backup of the presentation video in case we have any problems with the YouTube version http://youtu.be/WW8DckKT_Ow