Celebrate: A Child is Born

Last year on December 24th, I walked into our humble church in east Spokane along with some wise men, children bearing straw, and a few angels.  I was holding onto my 1-year-old Olivia who had been baptized in the church 4 months prior.  The church has high ceilings made of wood, everything is wood.  It's the kind of place that reminds you just how many people you really can fit onto a small square piece of land.  It looks small and grandiose at the same time.  A humble place. If you cannot donate to St. Anne's during the passing of the hat, don't despair; you can just as easily donate your adorable child to stand in as a camel or shepherd during the midnight* mass.  (*Midnight has been moved to 4:30 sharp.)  Baby Jesus will not judge you or begrudge you this offering.  He loves kids.

Off to have a baby!

The mass began and soon we were taken back to that story about Bethlehem, the star, the young Mary and Joseph, and the heavenly hosts.

As a Catholic-raised child, I learned a lot about the birth of Christ and the cast of characters that went with it.  But as they got to the part about Mary talking with the angel Gabriel, I started to feel some doubtful feelings.  It happens this way sometimes to Catholics like me.  The rest of you may find it obvious that things like a "virgin birth" are not exactly...well, possible.  Scientifically.  Ok, fine.  But I didn't know that for like 20+ years of my life.

I understood the story that had always been told to me:

An angel is sent to Mary.  Mary, he says, you are the handmaiden of the Lord, you will have a baby and call his name Jesus.  She is impregnated without ruining her virginity.  Basically a win-win on all accounts.

Mary tells Joseph, her betrothed.  He's not cool initially, later he has a dream and all is forgiven.

Let's go back a step, how is Mary able to bear the Child of God, the King of Kings?  Her mother (Saint Anne) gave birth to Mary free from sin.  This is the Immaculate Conception.  (Yes, the term is often confused, but it refers to Mary's birth.  And it is one of the dogmas of Catholicism.)  Since Mary was born without original sin, she is clear to carry the Savior.  Confused yet? Good.

Caesar Augustus decides to tax everyone, or take a census, or both, I'm not sure.  Add this to the list of irrational burdens that the Jews must endure under foreign rule.  So every man must return to his city of birth to pay this tax.  Why their city of birth?  I'm not sure, it's just easier that way, okay?

So, off they go to Bethlehem, the City of David.   (I assume it is significant that Joseph is tied to the line of David.  But if Mary was impregnated miraculously, then Jesus would not carry that bloodline.  Am I the only one to think of this?!  But as He grows up, everyone just assumes that He is Joseph's son, and I mean, He IS (except for the whole Son of God thing). But whatever, moving on.)

And once they arrive, they realize, crap!  Everyone else already got there and snagged all 13 hotels rooms (it was a small town).  Then a kindly innkeeper offers up the barn in back, and they're back in luck!

And the time came that Mary should be delivered.  And she did, presumably with a midwife who would have been called.  Don't even begin to tell me that Joseph wouldn't have called for a midwife, he would.

And Mary brought forth her first born son and lay him in a manger.  No crying He made.

In the fields there were shepherds keeping watch of their sheep.  But the angel came to them to deliver the amazing news, and when that didn't work, a sky full of heavenly hosts convinced them.  And off they ran to see the child who would become the King of the Jews.

Elsewhere, three wise men (who we now believe may have been early astronomers?) followed a star.  And they followed it straight to Baby Jesus, a few weeks after His birth.  But you know, better late than never, right?  Nothing that a little gold and myrrh can't cure.

* * *

 "Madonna of the Streets"

"Madonna of the Streets"

That is the story, more or less.  I don't know if any of it is true, and my hunch (now) is that very little of it really is, but I'm not so sure that matters. History is just as much about what we make it.  History can have little to do with facts, and more to do with meaning.  Particularly in matters like this.

The story is really quite beautiful and meaningful when you strip away all the dogmatic nonsense.  Start with the virgin story.  Mary does not need to be a virgin for this story to work.  The virgin birth story is a thread that weaves through several cultures' origin stories or stories of God.  It may have several meanings, but one of the less savory ones is this: it explains the birth of a God without all the messy sex stuff that has always made women so unholy.  Women can be evil (impure, sinful, sexual) or pure (untouched, unsexual, the eternal mother).  Our cultures have typically not left room for much else.

But think about it this way:  Mary and Joseph marry young, and miraculously become pregnant with a quickness they can't understand.  They wouldn't understand.  Being young and somewhat uneducated in these matters, pregnancy would be a bit scary and a bit inexplicable.  Isn't it still?

But they pray and they ask their God for guidance, and God sends messengers to tell them it will all be ok.  Did it happen in a dream?  Certainly possible.  Were they angels?  Most definitely.

Then they must make a trip.  Joseph must care for Mary.  (He buys a reliable donkey.  Good gas milage, able to haul big loads.  Good thinking.)  They run into unexpected trouble.  They make the best of it.  (Find shelter.  Use the pregnancy card on the innkeeper.  Oh you have a stable?  Great, send blankets.  And a midwife.)

Then they have this moment, in the stable, alone.  I imagine them holding on with fear in their eyes but with a strength that comes from love and faith.  They believe that their purpose is bigger than themselves.  They believe that this child has come to the world to do something wonderful.  And their job, right now, is to get him here.

As I was sitting in our church on Christmas, I was reminded of this moment in my own life.  I remember that feeling... oh dear... I am truly alone, aren't I?  Who trusted me to do this job?!  But right now I can panic or I can push this baby out with all that I have.  There is no time to question whether you have that strength.  Then I remember, Jake grabbed my leg, my mom grabbed my arm.  I was not really alone.  I remember hearing them cheer.  There were others in the room.  And I think Someone else was there too.

And suddenly there she was.  There He was.  The King of Kings.  Prince of Peace.

And his name shall be called Wonderful...

Perhaps the most beautiful thing is how simple this story is, and yet how miraculous.  A baby is born every day.  This one was born to poor, young parents in a stable surrounded by animals and other earthly things.  And yet he gets the royal treatment. Nothing like the modern Prince George, mind you.  But this little king is greeted by an entourage too: shepherds, and later "wise" men.  He receives gifts that his family desperately needs as they are fleeing back to home (we skipped that part earlier, it's quite sad).  They travel far to see Him, a baby!

...Babies, if you're not already aware, make for rather lousy entertainment.  They coo a little, they sleep, they do other bodily functions...

And yet we travel far to see them.  We wait for them, and pray for them.  We put our hopes and dreams on them. We go through ups and downs and difficulty and uncertainty, but we go on making more of them.  And each one is a miracle.  And each one could grow up to be a king.  What a beautiful thing to celebrate.

Welcome, little one!

How to Balance Work and Life like a Pro

This blog post title is sure to bring in the hoards...don't worry I totally have the answer keep reading...

So the other night at a social event for lady lawyers, I was asked this terrific question: "how do you balance work and family?"

Many responses came to mind ... "hopefully pretty well?"  "I'm not sure"  "Umm... you tell me?"  I think I went with "Perfectly!"  Then laughed like a dork at my own joke.  Anyone who asks that question by now ought know how silly it is, and yet, I get it; we all still want to know.  And then when we know how YOU'RE doing it, we want to compare our own tactics and either

(a) gloat inwardly at our own magnificence,

(b) offer veiled suggestions on how you could improve, because ummm clearly you're doing it wrong, or

(c) wallow in self-pity.

I don't know which camp I am in.  It depends on the response, I suppose.  Though I rarely pity myself.  I happen to think I do things pretty well.  It comes from a kind of a "who the flip cares?" attitude mixed with an inflated ego that you can blame on my parents. My sense that I am doing okay in the work/life arena also comes from the fact that sometimes you just have to forgive yourself in order to move on and survive.   Do you know what I mean by that?  Let me set out an example.

When I did ask this question back to her, this nice attorney told me that she works for another attorney in town, she has a one-year-old, and she only works 20 hours per week.  Dang.  I have a two year old, and I work 40 hours per week.  Am I hurting my little babe by being gone from her so long?  I couldn't stay home full time, but 20 hours would be a compromise.  Hmmmm.

...But if I worked 20 hours I would linger in this position for years or take a step back.  They would give part of my job to someone else (if they even agreed to do it at all), and it would probably be the interesting part.  And the interesting stuff is the whole reason I like this job.  If I didn't have that part, then I'd probably want to move along eventually, possibly taking another step back in order to take a step forward.

...And what exactly would I DO for those 20 hours at home?  I'm not very crafty.  I wouldn't have enough time to learn how to pre-school my child (is that a verb?).  And my cooking is terrible.  Shoot.

And that leads me back to where I was before the conversation began: basically happy with my choices.

You guys....I kind of like working full time.  There, I said it.  I kind of like the consolidated periods of time I have my daughter.  Okay, yes there are days when we need to grocery shop and get a new backpack and stop by the pharmacy, and that all needs to happen RIGHTNOW.  And those days suck because I only get a few minutes at home with her before bedtime, but some days are going to suck.  That does happen.

If there were more crappy days than happy days, I would feel differently.  If I started missing her every night after bedtime, this would be a miserable existence.  If my job were not so interesting and pleasant, I KNOW that I would much rather be home.  And I reserve the right to change my mind.  But for now, it works.

But you probably didn't click on this little post to hear me think out loud, I do that enough with you all in person.  So here are a few little pearls of wisdom I have gleaned from my relatively short period of time as a FTWM (full time working mom...did I just make that up?):

  • Find a job you love.  Or at least a job that gives you some really exhilarating moments and challenging work from time to time.  Barring that, try for one that pays you oodles of money.  I haven't tried that approach just yet, but something tells me it would do the trick.  Why is this important?  Because you simply must have a strong reason to get yourself out of bed, through the door, past the daycare, and into your office, raring to go.  I've worked at a place that I hated, and thank GOD I'm not there any more.  If I were, I suspect I would spend every last hour staring at pictures of Lil O and accomplishing zero things.  I would still need to be there (or somewhere) because my family relies on my income.  But boy would that be miserable.  Forget that.
  • Set your boundaries and stick to them.  My boundaries include the rule that I leave every day at 5:00.  This is relatively easy because I work for a public entity (ha ha) and because of my awesome boss (but I'll get to that).  If I need to catch up on a few emails after 5:00, then I'll try and do that after I put O to bed.  But usually I find that things can wait.  This rule also had the bonus side-effect of making me more efficient with my time.  I need a deadline to set a little fire under my butt...and also the stare-down from my daycare lady when I show up late is quite motivating.
  • Get yourself an amazing boss.  Or more likely, work with your boss to get them on your team.  You need an advocate in the workplace who will stand up for you in meetings and say, "no, she is not late "again," she is taking her kids to the doctor and we already spoke beforehand."  That person should ideally be your boss.  My boss is pretty sweet, and she has been through all this before as a working mom.  But if you need some help creating this...
  • Keep your boss and coworkers in-the-know about the kid-related things that take you away from the office.  Some people want a clear line drawn between work and life.  I'm here to tell you, there is no such line anymore!  You can argue otherwise, but I would argue back that this line will ultimately do you a disservice.  This doesn't mean that you need to share every last detail of your life with your coworkers, OR your work details with your family.  Don't.  Please, keep a little mystery.  But don't be afraid to let people know that you have obligations outside of work.  They do too.  And while you are telling them about how you can't come in until 8:30 because you kid starts school at 8:15, be sure to ask how you can help them out more with the afternoon stuff.  Market yourself as a team player.  And when someone else decides to share some personal obligation with YOU, take that opportunity to be their advocate and back them up.  The favor is sure to be returned.
  • Remember that EVERYONE wants hours that work for them, and EVERYONE has things that come up that keep them from giving 100% to their work.  (At least they should...those true workaholics really worry me.  Something's got to give.  Will it be their sanity?  Will it be during my big presentation??)  So don't be shy and don't undermine your requests or refer to them as mommy time, kid stuff, etc.  It is important work.  It is THE important work of our lives, this family stuff.

So that's how you do it.  Got it?

Ok, there are like a billion more things I could say.  And I know I'm not the first one to say these things either.  But those are my thoughts, and this is my blog, so I shall start with this list, and then totally change my mind later.

Mother's Day, from 1982 to 2013

My amazing mama, and Dad, and me - 1982

When I was 6 weeks old my mother returned to work. She was 28 years old, and she worked as a registered nurse. She worked at the hospital where my parents would go to work and be nurses for the next 10 or so years of my childhood.  My mother gave birth to me there, 6 weeks before coming back, and she would give birth to my next sister there 2 1/2 years later.  She was relatively new at the time, so she worked an evening or night shift.  And because the night workers started their weeks on Sundays, my mom started back to work on the Sunday of Mother's Day.

Mom cried all the way to work, as the story goes. It is a story I heard several times growing up. I knew that Mom was sad to leave me on the day that was meant to celebrate her. I knew it was extra special because it was her FIRST Mother's Day, and I was her first baby. I just did not understand how heartwrenching it must have been. Now that I am a mom, I have a little better idea.

My first Mother's Day was spent with Olivia, Jake, the Vaseys, and Grandma Jones. We had a lovely brunch and Jake got be an antique ring with one pearl on it. Beautiful and simplistic, inexpensive but meaningful. I wear it now with pride. And I imagine wearing it some day when I am older and richer (as we all plan to be, right?). If someone were to ask me if it was real, I would say No, but it is more beautiful than all the fancy jewelry (that I would presumably own at this point in my imaginary future).

We could not afford real pearls on my first Mother's Day, and we can't really afford them now either. But I was happy that I'd been given the chance to start a new job, and that job was going really well. We were no longer in "unemployed" status. Jake was happy that he got to take the month of April off to be home with Olivia. And no one had to work the night shift that day. (Not even Olivia, who was sleeping like a champ--finally!)

My mom's story sounds so heroic to me now. She might not see it that way, and at the time I'm sure she was just trying to get through. My dad was still finishing nursing school, and I think they had just purchased a house with my grandparents' help. There were several sources of stress for them at that time. But my mom carried on. I picture her driving in her uniform in our old yellow car. I can see her pull up to the hospital and straighten herself out. Wipe away the tears. Fix the make-up in the rear view mirror. And then walk in, work her shift, clock out, and eagerly come back home to me and Dad.

That is heroic. That is motherhood.  It's everyday stuff, but it's not, too. Her baby was 6 WEEKS OLD.  That is so little.  And hardly enough time to heal from a C-section.  She could have driven back home.  She could have broken down at work and confirmed everyone's predetermined notions about women and having babies and trying to "do it all."  Instead she showed up, and made a living for her family. 

At that time, there was no such thing as FMLA or protected maternity leave or even pregnancy discrimination.  And rather than being outraged by that fact (like I am), my mom was probably just grateful that the hospital let her have 6 weeks off and did not fire her.  It's not right.  And it's not much better now, but we are getting there.

 * * *

This year was my second Mother's Day, and it was great.  It started with a brunch outdoors on the patio of a one of our favorite wineries, and it ended with a sweet little conversation that I had with my Grandma Evie, that went something like...

Grandma E:  "How is Olivia doing these days?  She is getting so big!  Isn't she getting tall?"

"Yes, she is big for her age, she is quite verbal for her age too.  Grandma, I know everyone thinks their child is special, but I really think Olivia is going to be pretty smart."

Grandma E: "Honey, you just keep thinking that, and she will be.  She will."

*Heart bursting with pride*

Love, all-

hmv

My favorite place to be

Why I am Nominating Jake V., Greatest Husband Ever

By a mere technicality, this topic generated the most votes in my recent birthday fundraiser. And I suppose that's a good thing. When I wrote this topic idea, I was in a great mood. Now I'm a little exhausted and not really feeling like writing about amazing Jake is. But these are the times when it is probably most important to do just such a thing.

And I must say, it is weird writing that when I know that Jake is going to read this later, and probably several of his friends/family... but you know, this is the hmv blog, and I try to keep it real. Even Jake's biggest fans can admit that relationships are complex and everyone has their days.

So here it is, my list of great things about Jake.  People kind of love it when I post things about Jake.  I think this is because 1) Jake never posts anything, ever...he is a man of international mystery, really, and 2) everyone loves Jake.  Every. Single. Person. Ever.  So eat your heart out, internets!

1.  He cooks.  A lot.  And it's really pretty good.  Jake knows stuff about cooking that some people....well, my people...the MVs of the world, have no clue about.  He calls this stuff "basic cooking knowledge."  I grew up in a house where "basic cooking knowledge" meant "know thy microwave like you know thyself."  And we did.

2.  He seems to magically have a large, detailed amount of information about a huge variety of topics.  Pick any topic.  Jake can probably tell you a few things about it, or at least something about a related topic, or something about this one guy that he knows from a thing that once knew something about that topic.  Some folks attribute this to his addiction to Wikipedia.  I'm not so sure.  It seems like magic.

3. Hmm... I want to say "Good father" here.  But that whole "He's a great dad! He really plays with his kids!  And even does laundry!" deal is so ... ugh.  We should just expect that.  No one would commend a woman for playing with her kids and tending to their every need.  Why?  BECAUSE THAT IS YOUR JOB.  Duh!  It is not the woman's job, it's just any half-decent, non-negligent parent's job.

But I will say that Jake has impressed me as a father.  I will say that he has been a wonderful partner in this journey of parenthood.  When I need a break, he steps in.  When O screams for mama for the 1 millionth time, he stays strong and turns her attention to something else.  Ok he's a good father, there!

4.  Everyone in my family loves Jake.  They don't just like him, they really love him.  There was a moment several years ago when I realized how true this was.  Our family was getting together for something (a birthday? holiday? I can't remember),  and Jake wasn't able to make it.  My sister called me about this.  After explaining the situation to her, she said that she understood, but you know, it is just hard, Jake helps keep us all ... together.  Maybe you had to be there?  It just made sense.

5. I'm going to stop at 5, just so you know. I could go on, I know. But Jake's ego is getting way too big as it is, knowing that I am writing an actual essay on how great he is.  Plus it has taken me far too long to get this post published!

So last but not least, Jake is just a really great partner. We do things together and really value each others' opinion. We are a TEAM.  And I'm sure right now you are thinking, OK but so were Simon and Garfunkel and well, 13 years of sweet melodic harmonies later and SOMEbody's ready to do a solo album and someone else is like, now I'm an actor! And it's like, hey guys...what happened to the music?  They had the voice of an angel (together), but apart...ugh...ok I'm getting sidetracked, the point is: Jacob is my bridge over troubled water. He is the diamond on the sole of my shoes. (If you aren't a S&G fan (or you were born after 1982) you are SO lost right now. Haha...sorry Maren!)

There are not enough words or metaphors in the world to explain the point I'm trying to make. When I get sad, Jake makes me happy. When I am overwhelmed, he takes over and makes things manageable again. He treats me as his equal, without really expecting or demanding equal work. That is not always what I thought marriage would be like, but it so is. It is not 50/50.  It is a constantly changing, evolving relationship. If we had insisted on 50/50 then I would never have passed law school, he would not have moved to Eugene with me, and Olivia would not have been breastfed.  He tried but, you know, anatomy...

* * *

Ok internet, I hope you've enjoyed this post as much as Jake has enjoyed watching me write it. 

Stay tuned for more ...  I will try to write something on the topics that received votes.  And thanks for all the WellMama love last month!

I'm not That Mom

A Valentines Day post....only 1 month after the actual holiday!

So the other night I am flipping through pictures on my Instragram feed of this amazing woman and her crafts.  The pictures are perfect, the scene is so cozy, and the crafts are so crafty.  She is not even a professional craft-maker (crafter?  craftmaster?).  All I can think is, "I will never be this good."  I will never be this mom.  Ughhhhh...just as soon as I convince myself that things are going pretty well over here, I click around to my blogs and realize that the bar has been lifted.  (Seriously, go check it out, it is inspiring what she can do with just a few doilies).

Screw it, I think to myself.  I can't win.  No.....fix that.  I can't let myself feel like I can't win.

Maybe I am just not that girl.  I'm not the crafty type.  I wish I were (sorta), but I'm not. There are some things that just aren't my jam.  Try as I might to feel otherwise. 

A woman that I admire greatly has famously said, "You can choose what youdo, but you can’t choose what you like to do."  You must be yourself.  Why is this so hard?

My dear friend and I were having a conversation like this several weeks ago.  "When are you going to re-do your kitchen?"  I asked.

"I don't know.  Maybe never."

"Why not?  I thought you were going to re-do your bathroom too?"

"Well," she said, "it turns out that we don't really like to renovate and do weekend projects.  We like to have fun on the weekends.  We like to golf.  We wanted to be the kind of people that go to Home Depot on Saturday morning and get a bunch of stuff done, but we aren't.  We thought that maybe by buying a house we could become those kinds of people, but it just hasn't happened!   Golf is still more fun than painting a bathroom.  Have you seen how many corners there are in a bathroom?!"

"I guess you could hire a contractor."

Yes.  And that's why God invented Angie's List.

Ok, so maybe I don't like doing weekend projects that much either.  ...And maybe I needed my friend to get honest about that so that I could turn the mirror on myself. How long have I had that thing of caulk?  For what project was it originally intended?  Certainly not for sitting on the closet shelf.  Why don't I just throw away the GD caulk?!

The hard thing now, is that it doesn't just matter what I am or what I want to be.  I also have to be a mom.  No going back on that one.  But what kind of mom must I be?

The freedom to choose which mothering approach fits me best is a luxury of the 21st century that I do not take for granted.  I can't imagine my grandmothers sitting down with their friends to discuss which of them, the husband or the wife, is in charge of Valentine-making and cookie baking.  And who will volunteer at school to help pass them out?  And which one will call the sitter and who will give her instructions?  And wait....do they even call a sitter?  Isn't that opting out of the motherly duties altogether?  Unheard of!

So now, today, I can choose.  I can stare down these awesome mom blogs and adore them for what they are, but remind myself that this is not me.  It is not my family.  But our family is still perfect.  Maybe not picture perfect, but perfect nonetheless.


Fast-forward a couple of days.  Jake and I realize that it is February 14th and wait, weren't we supposed to bring something for Olivia's daycare friends?  We race to Safeway and quickly decide on the $3.99 puppies and kitties valentine cards (she loves animals!) and find some yogurt-covered raisins for treats (healthy!).  As we pull up to the daycare, I ask Jake to park a few houses away so that we can quickly put the names on the cards.  Lucky for us, theses kids have some crazypants names.  Like Sahalie...and Kahne....wHaT?!

After 3.7 minutes of name-writing, we throw the Valentines into a bag with the treats and walk O up to the door.  "Here you are!  Have fun!"  Bolt away.

Do I feel guilty about this half-hearted grocery-store attempt at Valentine's Day participation?  A little.  But here's the thing: we are busy people and O is just a wee toddler who doesn't know a Valentine from a cardboard box (box = more fun).

Plus, our daycare people are crafty! See what they made:

And here's the other thing: all the other parents did exactly the same thing.

That's a win.

Sometimes there's sad times

Faithful followers,

It has been some time since the last HMV post.  And why?  I don't know.  I am completely exhausted.  That's one thing.  Although I sit down with every intention of writing, it usually ends with Jake nudging me awake, a hot laptop in my lap, permanently set to Facebook.com or email or my blogs.  The blogs I read, and envy, and convince myself that I will never be like, because let's face it, I don't have that kind of time to write.

I get the irony.  The time is right there in front of me.  Sort of.  When you work full time and have a baby and a house and a dog and a family that can't get enough of you (which I love, truly), the thought of doing anything other than falling face-first into the couch at night is just overwhelming.

We all love it when motherhood looks like this:

Summer, 2012

 

 

But it also looks like this sometimes:

 

Sometimes it is just Too Much.  Everything is Too Much.  The dishes, the grocery store, the phone call that you know you should make to a friend but can't.  What if you can't be happy for her?  What if she tells you that she is so happy for you?  And then you have to say thanks, and pretend that all is well.  After all, that is what it looks like.  On Facebook, on Instagram, in the Christmas cards.

But I firmly believe that it isn't like that for everyone.  Not all the time.  And my desire to reach out and tell you all that I understand, I have been there too, is greater than my embarrassment and my fear to be the only one.  We are all afraid to be the first one to say those things we really think.  "Sometimes I can't wait until 7:30 because that is when my child goes to bed and I get to be alone."  "Sometimes I just cry."  "Sometimes I want to scream at her."  My child.  My world.

Scary thoughts.  And I know for some mamas, it is much worse.  For some mamas, it is much better.  But it gets hard for everyone.  And we do a disservice to each other --and more importantly, ourselves-- when we compare.  So I won't compare.  I will just say that for me, right now, it is hard.

My child screams at me in the car.  She screams at me when I put her in her crib, unless she is 100% asleep when she goes in and no one makes a peep.  She wakes up frequently in the night, crying for me.  Not every night.  But a lot of nights.  I am exhausted when I get home from work, and on the weekends I just want to nap.  The house always needs cleaning.  And I am so overdue for a girls' night.  SO overdue.

And it doesn't help that right now the whole world seems sad around me.  My dear coworker's spouse was killed in a tragic hit-and-run incident.  The details are too sad to share.  It is so dark over here, at work.  We are usually so light and optimistic.  I am* optimistic.

(*Just not right now.)

And then there is the news.  26 people died in Connecticut because of a madman with a gun.  And more died at a mall in Portland before that.  And more died in Aurora, Colorado before that, where some of my family lives.  These events hit too close to home.  I want to run out into the street yelling "WE'VE GOT TO STOP ALL THIS VIOLENCE!"  We have to!!  I am panicked at idea of Olivia growing up in a country like this.  With killing machines in the hands of madmen that no one can stop them from buying, because every time we try to talk about getting a handle on the situation, the gun lobby and their ilk rear their ugly heads (and their money) and make us even MORE scared of what would happen if we didn't let madmen own guns.

Whew... ok, I am getting a little heated.  Breathe...

I want to leave you on a good note, readers.  I want to tell you that I will be fine and this will pass and in the grand scheme of things there really are more good times than bad.  I really am a lighthearted person.  And sometimes even funny.

I just need to sit with the sadness for a moment.  I need you to listen.  I needed to share that picture.  I never have before, but it is as real as all the rest.  I know I am not alone.  It helps to hear that said out loud.

~hmv

Me comforting her

Last night, for a brief moment, she comforted me too