Saturday, May 29, 2010

Can You Spare a Moment?

The irony of "fighting" for peace never escapes me. I hate war. Those who thirst after power, and in doing so shed innocent blood, repulse me. But make no mistake. I will always stand and honor the men & women willing to sacrifice for others. Lydia Bixby lost 5 sons in the Civil War. When President Lincoln learned of the loss, he wrote her a letter expressing gratitude for the costly sacrifice that had been "laid upon the altar of Freedom". Throughout our nation's history, there have been countless men and women willing to give all. In hopes of securing our right to speak freely (even if that speech was against them),to worship as we choose, or to not worship at all. In hopes of guaranteeing future generations the opportunity of pursuing happiness. These men & women sacrificed their lives, placed everything upon the "altar of Freedom". The very least we can do is give one moment of our time. Remembrances such as these transcend politics.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend,
oppose any foe to assure the survival
and the success of liberty." -President John F. Kennedy

"For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose — to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest. We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever."
- President Ronald Reagan, 1984

"They are not dead who live in lives they leave behind.
In those whom they have blessed, they live a life again." -Eleanor Roosevelt

From (White House Commission on Remembrance):

The National Moment of Remembrance asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause (for 60 seconds) in an act of national unity.The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom. It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be. In this shared remembrance, we connect as Americans.

The idea for the Moment was born when children touring the Nation’s Capital were asked what Memorial Day means. They responded, “That’s the day the pool opens.” A Gallup Poll revealed that only 28% of Americans know the meaning of this noble holiday.

The Moment provides a time of Remembrance for America’s fallen and to make a commitment to give something back to our country in their memory.To have Americans participate in an act of national unity and demonstrate gratitude and respect for those who died for freedom since the founding of our Nation. To provide a sense of history to our citizens and ensure that younger generations understand the sacrifices made to preserve our liberties.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Helping People Help Themselves

"I feel that I can do anything." I was touched by the joy she finds in simple things I take for granted, or even dislike (laundry). I'm going to do better.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I've Sunk to the Level of Spewing...and it is not pretty

My husband is home from the sand pit of hell for exactly 2 weeks. That's all, 2 measly weeks. And I'm trying to "enjoy every minute", "cherish this time" we've been given...etc, etc.

I'm intentionally staying away from news channels and anything that distracts from the warm, fuzzy, happy-happy-joy-joy moments we should be having. And, for the most part, it's working! Or I should say, it was working. Until this afternoon. Until I was directed to this story that has to be shared.

And now I feel sick. Just plain ill. I'm sure my level of disgust is taken to an entirely different level altogether because my husband, and so many others, have taken an oath. An oath that calls them to lay their very lives on the line, if necessary, so that others can speak freely and protest. But this is taking those rights entirely too far! COMPLETE IDIOTS terrorizing A CHILD...A CHILD so scared he has to HIDE in his OWN HOME, the one spot that should be his safe place! The pathetic wastes of skin who pulled that stunt DO NOT deserve the sacrifices of honorable men and women. Yes, I am yelling. This is NOT about politics. This is not about standing for what you believe in and protesting peacefully. They could have done that outside a bank or an office building. This is about CHILDREN and their right to feel safe inside their homes!!

No arrests were made because officials were worried that might "incite" the crowd. There were some in the mob who actually followed the man into his home as he was trying to reach his scared son.

Where in the hell was the mainstream media on this one?!? OHHHH, let me guess...covering those lunatics at the Tea Parties! Covering the president of Mexico chastising America on the floor of Congress...covering his condescending remarks, but never asking him to share what exactly his people do to those entering his country illegally. Interesting.

In case you're wondering, spewing does make a girl feel better. A nice release so she can go and "enjoy every minute"; otherwise, the girl would sit all night and worry about the kid who was terrified, hiding in the bathroom of his home.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Am That Mother

First of all, it's ridiculously overdone. Secondly and more importantly, I worry that I might make things harder for women I truly love, women who find the day to be bittersweet or even unbearably painful. Those are the reasons I didn't write about Mother's Day last year, and why I almost didn't write about it this year. Then, Jen threw out the challenge. Feeling as though I had valid reasons for not accepting the challenge, I began looking forward to reading what others would have to say. Obviously, I changed my mind. Jen's good at making me think. And as I thought, I found some things to say. (Don't I always?)

Often I've heard people describe their mothers as having "the voice of an angel". To be honest, this description unfailingly causes me to hang my head in shame, to quickly recall the countless times I have yelled at my children. I've always found the phrase "the voice of an angel" to be relentless in its torment. A tsunami of guilt enveloping me, as I look around, only to see others smiling, nodding in agreement. Apparently, their mothers also spoke with this angel voice. Holy crap, am I the only mother on the planet who speaks with a voice that holds NO resemblance to that of an angel? I must be. I am that mother.

Unless that mother tells her children many times a day how she loves them. Not just that she loves them, but exactly how and what she loves about them. Unless that mother laughs, often and wholeheartedly, with her children. Unless that mother carefully chooses her words (even if they are spoken loudly), so as never to harm the fragile and developing egos of the young souls under her care. Unless that mother quickly and humbly speaks the words "I'm sorry" when she knows she has not been on her best behavior. Unless that mother is whispering the words "it will be okay" into the ear of a sad, lonely, hurt, or ailing child. Unless that mother is teaching, reading, or singing to her children.

I've realized "the voice of an angel" has many different sounds. There are times I yell. Loudly. I wish there weren't. There are times I am too quick to speak in frustration or anger. I wish there weren't. And if that is the only stick by which "the voice of an angel" is determined, I am certain I don't measure up. But if I consider the times I use my voice to encourage, praise, love and adore my children? Well, I am that mother.

I believe I've had the blessing of learning from one of the greats. My Snarky Mama started on her journey of motherhood at the entirely too young age of 16. That's right, 16. I don't really know how she did it, and I'm pretty sure there have to be times she wonders the same. I know every single odd out there was stacked firmly against her. She was that mother. She yelled, she spoke in frustration many times. But overwhelmingly, she spoke love. She never hesitated telling me that I could do anything in this world I wanted to do...even if deep down, she knew I couldn't. She let me learn that on my own. She never took one dream from me because she knew that eventually, the world would. That's just the way this life works, and we have to learn to live it. She says things like: "What if this is the best it ever gets, what if right now you are living the best you will ever get? What are your choices, you live it or you don't. Giving up isn't an option, living is the only option."

She taught me I should never hold back praise for others. Do you think someone is smart, funny, kind? Tell them! Do you think someone is beautiful, has cool hair, or you love their shoes? Tell them! Because you may be the ONLY person who does. She taught me that acknowledging others' gifts, talents, beauty, or intelligence doesn't diminish your own. In fact, it does the opposite.

She taught me loyalty. You fight to the death for those you love, and ask questions later. Family is first. Plain and simple. And even though she yelled at times, my siblings and I were not allowed to yell. There was no name-calling, no fighting. We didn't always agree, and there was the one time my brothers were teenagers and decided to get pushy-shovey (something about a door coming off its hinges)...but that's my happened so rarely, I can actually remember the one time. My mother was adamant about how the sibling relationship should go, and that is one of the greatest gifts she's given me. We were taught siblings are more important than any friends we would ever meet. Everyone that knows us finds the relationship my brothers and I share to be remarkable. I am trying to pass this on to my children.

She taught me to stand for what I believe, alone if necessary, and never be afraid of the punches people will throw. At least you're fighting the good fight.

She continues encouraging me to be comfortable in my own contradictions. It's how I came up with the term "Snarky Belle"'s who I am. People rile me up and aggravate the snot out of me. At the same time my heart hurts, and you can find me in my closet weeping because I feel others' pain so deeply. I'm intolerant of intolerant people, judgemental of judgemental people. I call people out on dishonesty and rudeness, but I'll be first in line to offer thanks for kindness or provide words of encouragement. It takes a special woman to raise a contradiction...thank you Snarky Mama.

She taught me it's unacceptable to judge other mothers. I don't care if you have ten children, one child, or one who is not with you on this Earth. In my eyes you are a mother. I don't believe you score more points for each child you bring into this world....because mothering is not a game. I don't care if your children came to you through C-section, with pain meds, without pain meds, or thanks to a mother loving unselfishly enough to let her child become your child.

I don't care if you nursed, didn't nurse, if your kids eat organic fruit or if their only fruit source comes in strawberry pop-tart form. Because it's not my place. Because I will choose to believe that as mothers, we're just trying to do our very best. And we all have times of feeling that we're failing miserably. I won't be the one who adds to that feeling of failure. I won't be the one making you feel less than because you "only have" one or two children, and I won't stare at you as if you're a circus show because you have 15 kids. Instead I'll be the one cheering you on, with a big fat grin on my face, reminding you that you can do this.

I have an infinite number of flaws and weaknesses. But, I love BIG. I will never stop loving big and sharing that with my children. I will praise, discipline, encourage, teach, joke and laugh with them. And if those words come from my mouth, along with the occasional yells, or unfortunate cuss words? Well then, my children will also one day be able to stand and say: "My mother spoke with the voice of an angel."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Break in the Clouds

"Do not always resort to the thought of coincidence,
there were many angels working diligently for it."
~Author Unknown

Cloudy sunset over the Grand Teton, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Monday, May 3, 2010

Apparently I'm Predictable

Eight Year Old: "I'm usually not so excited to get back to school on Monday."

Me: "Why are you already looking forward to Monday, it's Saturday afternoon."

Eight Year Old: "Remember that cute girl I told you about? I get to sit by her in the program because we're two of the tallest kids. Monday we're gonna practice for our program. And I think I'll wear the new shirt you bought me on Tuesday."

Me: "Tuesday, why not Monday?"

Eight Year Old (complete with eyes rolling, head shaking, and a slightly condescending chuckle): "Mom. You can't be for real. That is sooooo predictable. Every kid that gets a new shirt on Saturday wears the shirt to school on Monday. I'm not that kid. So, I'll wait and wear my shirt Tuesday. That's how I like to do things."

I don't love this child any more than I love the others. Promise. It's his material. Twelve Year Old is funny too, when he's making his iMovies and acting out entire movie scenes. It's a different kind of humor. And Six Year Old (because she informed me she's "too grown for the nickname Princie")? Well she makes us laugh also, but in the same way that every kid on the planet makes his/her parents laugh. But Eight Year Old is witty, without ever trying to be. And he's anything but predictable.

On a different note, my Snarky Mama had some things to say about illegal immigration. Snippets of what she wrote:

Do not preach to me about ancestry, predecessors, family immigrants. My grandfather dropped out of school in the 3rd grade. He could barely read, he could hardly write, he was pulled out of a field at 16 years old to be a "sparring partner" for boxers and wrestlers. He had worked in those fields 12-14 hours a day for one dollar a day...a dollar.
He was not angry, he was not bitter. He knew if his children did not want to do virtually the same, they had to change the course and direction of their lives. His son, my father, worked 3 jobs while going to medical school with 4 children, one who was critically ill and spent most of his childhood hospitalized. My father EARNED the "American Dream." He is the last of a dying generation, people who knew what "Let Freedom Ring" means.

I will be the first to say there was a time in this country that the color of your skin was demonized and many, many innocent people suffered at the hands of those who ignored "and justice for all." That was a time of shame for us all. We have learned and we have grown, no one can deny that...there is evidence of that growth all around.

The operative word is "illegal." I do not want words like "illegal" watered down. I want those who are sworn to uphold the law to do so with integrity. I want the country that was preserved to thrive...I want my "America" back...if you do not want to follow the rules to be here and you want to be rewarded because you "showed up"...I will be damned before I say that is o.k.. Far too many lives were lost and too high a price has been paid for this piece of land to be cheapened. Come with the willingness to stand beside me, regardless of MY skin color, and fight WITH me to preserve this land, [come with] DESIRE to obey the law and do so with respect for OUR flag, OUR forefathers, OUR language, OUR freedom. That's right...YOU, ME should EQUAL "OURS"...ONE NATION assimilated together with a rainbow of colors standing side by side to keep this the greatest nation on earth! If you are not willing to do that, do not come at all.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thanks Are in Order

Dear Mother Nature,
Thank you for doing your job.
I'm sure it hasn't been easy on you...what with getting dumped and all.
Needless to say, your recent upturn in mood is sincerely appreciated.

I thank you.

The children thank you.

Even my girl's feet thank you.

And did you know Lantana plants are my favorite?
Imagine how excited I was when I found this Lantana TREE!
Another favorite?
Sitting in my rocker waiting for the kids to get home from school.
Happy days are here!
Thank you Mother Nature.