Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm at work

We're all in shock - disbelief -

Like so many people across the country, we've heard about the horrific, the tragic shooting in Connecticut

We're struggling to find words to express our feelings
We're struggling to comprehend, to understand, to wrap our arms, our head, and our hearts around how and why something like this can happen

On Facebook, on Twitter, on pick your form of social media, people are praying
People are expressing their disbelief and grief
Some are calling for gun control - some are saying let's not talk about that now, pray and grieve
Others are expressing their need to go and get their own children, to hug them tightly
Some are saying they can’t even imagine what those involved must be thinking and feeling
A few are saying thank goodness I don’t have to think or feel what those involved are

There are thousands of parents out there sitting at their desks as unfocused as I am because they can't fathom what it would be like to receive such a call
Because we can't reconcile in our mind why someone would do something like this to innocent children and adults
We're thinking if our children are not safe at school....

In the days to come, we'll hear all kinds of arguments for gun control
We'll hear arguments stating no amount of gun control could have or would have prevented this
We'll see an increase in the interest for home schooling
People will demand that schools be made safer, more security measures put in place
People will argue God can't exist if he allows something like this to happen
Someone else will argue God let this happen because we kicked him out of our schools and the public sector

My husband's reaction was of shock and grief
There was a lump in his throat as we talked and a couple times a catch in his voice
My husband is one of those people who jumps to gun control when he hears about things like this
Being English, he does not “get” the American Right to Bear Arms - it confounds and confuses him and frankly, just does not make sense to him
Nor does it make sense to so many of his countrymen we speak with
To Americans who believe in it, it's a constitutional right and sacred
My husband is not wrong
Nor or those who believe in their right to bear arms

A work colleague made the observation this is how he knows God does not exist
He's also one who criticizes organized religion (especially “those” Catholics) on a regular basis and thinks any "religious" holiday is just an excuse to not work
He’s not wrong

My cousin, who has a heart as big as Texas, is asking for prayers for the children, the teachers, the families and friends
She’s not wrong either

My boss, who as he has gotten older has gotten more sensitive, is just in shock
He just keeps shaking his head and asking why - he wonders what is happening in the world...and then muses about how hard raising kids is nowadays,....keeping them safe and sound, teaching them right from wrong...the world is not the way it used to be he used to be easier
I don’t think he’s wrong

A woman I work with had to walk away from her computer because she could not stop reading about it and watching the live news feeds
She called her husband just because...and had that pull to go and pick up her daughter.....and wondered aloud about home schooling
She's not wrong

When I saw the headline flash across my screen, I had to read it a couple times before I understood what it meant

I read as many news feeds as I could find in a five minute window
I watched Lester Holt deliver a live report from the anchor desk about what was going on
And then I fled to Facebook to see what was being said

And I prayed
And I had an overwhelming urge to go get Lucy
And call my Mum and Dad

I thought about my nephews in Oklahoma and wondered what his parents, my brother and sister-in-law must be thinking at this moment

I wondered if my nephew in Maine, who is home sick today, would see this on the news and what he would think - and I wonder how tightly his Mum, my sister will hug him tonight

I thought of my sister who is a teacher at an elementary school - I can only imagine what is running through her mind...and I wonder if she ever thinks about something like this happening

I thought of Lucy - of how...of how my world would be without her...of what I would do if ever....

And then I cried
I sat at my desk and let the tears run down my face
I cried for the same reason everyone else is crying, demanding gun control, questioning the existence of God and hugging their children
I cried for the kids, for the parents, for the families whose lives have been devastated, forever changed on what was seemingly a normal Friday morning as they dropped their kids off for school
And I wasn't wrong either

When I picked Lucy up the other day, I was talking to Barbara about some of the lesson they are working on in class right now - being polite, showing respect and being kind
Miss Barbara said to me she thinks being kind, raising a kind child, is one of the best things we can do as parents

If we were more kind to one another, Miss Barbara said, the world would be a better place

Truer words have never been spoken - they've been spoken before and will be spoken again
Someday, maybe we'll listen and actually be kind

In the meantime

Fight for gun control
Fight against gun control
Think what if
Forgive if you need to forgive
Hug your children
Let them stay up a bit later tonight and have dessert before dinner
Linger in the doorway as they sleep, or better yet, let them climb in bed with you tonight

Do whatever you have to do to deal with whatever it is you're thinking and feeling and let everyone else do the same

In a week or two, the headlines will start to fade

For some, it will be over - now and then a passing thought will be given to today's tragic events but they'll move on

For some, this has forever changed their life......their family, the very essence of their beings have been rocked to the core
Normal will never be normal for them again

For others, they'll struggle with coming to grips with it - struggle to understand and explain to their children, to themselves, why something like this can happen in this world

And some people will learn from this
They'll be kinder
Say please and thank you a bit more
They'll have more respect for one another
They’ll have more respect for this gift of life
They'll cherish their children a bit more than they did yesterday
They'll do what they can to keep themselves and their loved ones safe

And then maybe the world will be a kinder place..................

Friday, December 7, 2012

Santa is out of Control

Last night, Lucy dictated her letter to Santa
As I was putting her to bed, she realized she forgot to include Clifford the Big Red Dog in her letter

I assured her it was not a big deal, Santa would know she also loves Clifford
'Casue Peter (her elf on the shelf) will tell him Mama?
Yes honey, Peter will tell him and sometimes, Santa just knows stuff
Oh, okay, that's good

And she snuggled down and closed her little eyes and drifted off to sleep
(read she tossed and turned for ten minutes, fidgeted for 5, flopped for three and then finally drifted off only to wake up when I opened her door and then flopped back down, coughed and fell asleep for good)

For some odd reason, I have been laboring and lamenting with Santa over this Christmas and what Lucy should be getting

In 2009, Lucy's first Christmas, Santa went a bit bonkers - but it was a first child's first Christmas
Frankly, there was so much between Santa and all the family and friends that I'm not even sure I could remember what was under the tree

In 2010, Santa calmed down a bit - you know, as much as Santa can calm it down in a year's time especially when he realizes that this first child is probably going to be an only child

And last year, Santa reeled it in even more going with 4 gifts and a stocking

Lucy asked for a lion and tiger, which she received
Santa also brought her a trampoline...s/he made this call on his own - Peter reported back to him  Lucy had more energy to burn that the average child so I think this was actually a gift for us
Then s/he left her an alphabet zoo because s/he though Lucy would like it and she was totally down with learning the alphabet at that time
She also received some "bumpy" animals (as Lucy calls them) - this child loves PVC/plastic figures more than anyone I know - as part of her stocking

(and for the record, Santa got way better prices than what is reflected as I write a matter of fact, it was all done for a fraction of the prices two cases, the prices have doubled in a year)

Then Santa filled her stocking with a toothbrush, tooth paste, some socks, a bag of M&Ms and I think a T Short with a tiger on it spelling her name

And I know when I look at that list, there are some who would think Santa was still going overboard but I gotta tell ya, Santa and his (her) Head Elf/Assistant were pretty satisfied with the haul and felt it was quite restrained given what it could have been

But this year?

This year, Santa is out of control
And I mean out of control in capital letters, like this:

When I say out of control I mean Santa should be placed somewhere (an island) where there are no stores, wi-fi networks or computers/tablets/smart phones

Santa is spending money like a drunken sailor
Santa is filling up carts left and right
Santa is acting as a fulfillment center for a small country right now

I'm not sure what is going on with him (her)

Lucy will say something and Santa is fixated on it
Sometimes spends hours searching on line for it and then is willing to go to some pretty crazy and expensive lengths to get it

Last year, Santa was pretty chill about the gifts
All were picked out and ready for the tree by the first of December

This year?
This year Santa is trolling around looking, yes looking, for more

Why you ask?
I don't know
And when I ask Santa I get no reply, just a vacate stare which tells me Santa is not listening, he (she) is going through a mental checklist in his (her) head

Is this something Santa goes through every other year?
Like does Santa just lose control of his (her) senses and just go crazy?
Can any other Santas relate?
Is it because Lucy is an only child?
Is it because Santa is short? Plump?
Is it Santa trying to make up for something?

Santa thought he (she) was on the ball a month ago
Submitted a proposal, it was met with agreement and approval from the Head/Assistant Elf and the order was placed and fulfilled

And then Santa just plain old lost it and has packages flying in from all over the place
Santa has not only lost "it," Santa has also lost track of what has been secured for Lucy
Santa has a screen open with a pending order on it as we speak

Well, Santa, let me just say this to you(rself), it is Christmas indeed and as much as you love showering people, especially little 3' blond haired blue eyed people with an infectious laugh, an impish smile, a quick wit and a voice that warms even the greenest and grinchiest (I totally made that word up but I think you get it) of souls, with gifts, you do not need to do so

What you need to do is take a deep breath and remember this:

No mater what that little person asked for,
No matter what is on her list,
No matter what you give her,
At the end of the day,
All she wants is for you to love her
All she wants is for you to play with her, laugh at her jokes, color with her, let her watch something and snuggle her when she needs it most
All she wants is you to be there when she needs you, when she calls your name

Yes, part of Christmas is about giving gifts......

But remember this, your gift can be a drive through the neighborhoods to see the lights
Your gift can be teaching her the right words to Frosty the Snowman
Your gift could be sharing with her your favorite Christmas Special
And then letting her discover her own
Your gift could be baking cookies together
Letting her help you wrap presents
Reading stories
Your gift could be picking out the tree together then decorating it
Your gift could be letting her choose the cake for Baby Jesus
Taking her to Mass to celebrate the season
Praying with her before she goes to bed

No matter what is under the tree Santa,
No matter how many (how few),
No matter how expensive (or inexpensive because you waited until Amazon dropped the price),
No matter what Santa, Lucy will wake up Christmas morning and shriek with delight because you will have been there
She will shriek with delight because you left her something,
Because you ate her cookies and drank the milk she set out
And though she may ask where something is that she wrote to you about, her Mum and Dad will be there to remind her what it is really all about:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, 

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

LUKE 2:8-14

It is about the birth of Baby Jesus, the magic of Santa, and the unconditional love of a Mum, a Dad and a Toddler

Merry Christmas Lucy

Maria the Mum

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dear Santa 2012

Yes Lucy
I'm ready to write to Santa now, can you help me?
Sure Lucy, what do you want me to do?
Write what I say please
Ok Lucy, I'm ready....

Dear Santa:
I don't know if you know this but I love Mike the Knight
I also love Lady and the Tramp, Lion King, Dinosaurs, Scooby Doo, Jake the Pirate, Martha and I think that's it
Oh wait, I also like to color and paint
Could you bring me some of those things?
I also like does Baby Jesus
I've been pretty good this year but sometimes I forget my words and push but I'm working on it
And I'm not having accidents anymore
I'll leave you cookies and milk for when you come
Love Lucy xxoo
PS Peter is fine

Mama can you read it to me?
Sure Lucy

So I read it back

How's it sound Lucy? Did I miss anything?
No, I don't think so Mama...did you get Lion King?
I did Lucy
Do you know where to send the letter Mama?
I do Lucy, to the North Pole
Did Noni tell you that?
Yep, she sure did Lucy
Ok well, I think that's it Mama, thanks for helping me
Sure Lucy
Oh Mama?
Yes Lucy Why don't you just give the letter to Peter since he goes back to the North Pole every night?
Hmm, good idea Lucy
I know Mama but thanks for telling me

Maria the Mum

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Snippets from our time in England

Hey Lucy, what's your favorite thing about England?
When we have tea, 'cuz we get to have chocolate cake or biscuits (cookies of course) Mama! I love biscuits in England! Can we get England biscuits in Boston.....?

Right after I fed Lucy dinner...
Mama! England hot dogs are not good! And don't even (with a hand wave) get me started on their ketchup!

Riding in the car through the Dales
Lucy, look at all those sheep!
Holy Crap! That's a lot of sheep

Lucy, it's our last day in England, what would you like to do?
I dunno know Mama....maybe just have chocolate cake....

Feeding the ducks seems to be a past time here in England
We've fed the ducks at least 4 days that I can think of
On our last day in England, we went down to town and fed the ducks (and the crows and pigeons)
A duck nipped Lucy in the finger
Lucy, before she burst into tears declares
Damn Duck!

We've been driving all over the country side and it really is quite gorgeous up here
And no matter where you look, there are pastures of sheep, cows and horses
For the first few days, we felt compelled to yell out
Lucy! Look sheep!
Lucy! Look, cows!
Lucy! Look, horses!
Yesterday, as we were driving, I again said
Lucy! Look...
Yeah Mama, sheep, I know (in her bored teenage voice)

Driving on the opposite side of the road here really messes with your head (and eyes) as a passenger
Every time Sean went to make a right hand turn, Lucy would pipe up and ask if he went the wrong way as she thought he was turning around
After the fourth or fifth day, she commented under her breath
Daddy sure goes the wrong way a lot

Someone asked Lucy if she wanted chips and when she she was given french fries and not potato chips, she was so upset
I tried to explain to her that in England, potato chips are crisps and french fries are chips
She laughed and declared
England is so silly Mama!

Here, dessert is called pudding (no matter what it is) and when Lucy was asked if she wanted pudding then handed cookies, the poor kid was so confused
She looked at her Uncle and said
But I wanted pudding
Her cousins said that what's for pudding
Poor Lucy was so frustrated
I just want pudding please!!!!!!!!
Fortunately, there was a leftover pudding from the previous day's pudding
When John handed it to her Lucy looks at me and says
Was that so hard to give me a pudding?

One of her cousins kept asking her about her trousers and poor Lucy had not a clue what she was talking about
I no have trousers she'd reply
And my nieces looked at her quizzically and then looked at me
My oldest niece said to me
You don't let her have trousers? Than what does she wear?
Well, honey I do give her trousers to wear but we call then pants
Yes, and when you are asking Lucy about trousers, she doesn't understand what you mean
Oh, says Lauren, well, I'm glad you let her wear pants then

The iPad has come in handy this trip
It's kept Lucy occupied on the plane and some of the long car trips
Sher's been watching Ice Age (the first one) over and over over
The premise is the animals (Sid, Diego and Manny) find a human baby, rescue said baby and then set out to return the baby to his family
Sean went out for drinks our last night with his parents and I was packing while Lucy watched Ice Age for probably the 52nd time in the past week and a half
When the film ended, she padded into the bedroom, stretched out on the bed and said
Mama, instead of a dog, can I get a baby brother?
I never said you could have a dog Lucy
Daddy did.....but instead can I have a baby brother?
A real baby Lucy?
Yeah Mama
A baby brother?
Yes Mama, a baby brother...can I get one?
You mean like a real baby that cries?
Yeah...but if it does not cry a lot that would be better
A baby that comes from Mama's belly?
Yeah Mama, from your belly, where did you think babies come from?
Yeah Mama
I never said you could have a dog and neither did Daddy
Ok fine Mama! So can I get a baby brother?
Are you sure you want a brother?
Yeah Mama (as she rolls her eyes)
Ok, well, would you rather have a baby brother or a baby sister
A brother
Ok, would you rather have a baby brother or a dog?
Hmmmm.....that's hard Mama....I guess a dog
Great, we'll get one when we get home

Lucy misses Ziggy terribly and will occasionally ask me how I think Ziggy is and if he misses her
I assured her Ziggy is being well taken care of and I'm sure he misses her and much as she misses him
I asked her on our last day if she was ready to go home to Ziggy and she responded
Mama, I thought you would never ask!

Maria the Mum