Maybe My Child is “Gifted”, Maybe Not, Maybe It Doesn’t Matter.

Daniel, my first born, has always been an inquisitive little guy. He was more interested in babbling and listening to books being read than walking or climbing as a baby. As a toddler, his favorite thing to do was recite letters and numbers on flash cards. Now he’s three, about to enter preschool and he’ll tell you the difference between the Jurassic and Triassic period, knows what great white sharks eat and has very strong opinions about his favorite varieties of squid. He also refuses to wear pants 75 percent of the time. Roughly. Because, again, he’s three.

I think he’s brilliant because he’s my child and every parent thinks their child is special in some way, right? Other people have commented on how intelligent he is or how he may be “advanced” and I can’t help but feel a little… uncomfortable. Honestly just typing that makes me cringe a little bit. Here’s the truth– maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, it doesn’t really matter either way.

That’s right. Unclutch your pearls from your white knuckled grasp. I just said it doesn’t matter if my child is “gifted” or especially “smart”. It doesn’t matter if yours are either.

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My special snowflakes.

Many of you probably have memories of being a child in school and the day came to separate the “gifted and talented” students. These special snowflakes were deemed so intelligent that they’d surely be bored with the standard curriculum and would likely be hindered by their peers of average intelligence. There were the special kids and the regular kids. The kids destined for success and the kids destined for mediocrity. Us and them.

Well, spoiler alert… it didn’t matter. Now that you’re an adult, if you actually remember which of your peers were in the gifted and talented program and which were not, you may stalk them on Facebook and see that they now live similar lives. Maybe the “gifted” person is now working to cure malaria, maybe he’s living in his mom’s basement playing X-Box 12 hours a day. The distinction made in elementary school isn’t truly an indication of lifetime success despite the attention and anxiety we gave it.

In fact, the whole theory that “gifted” students perform better when they’re surrounded by other high achieving students has been debunked. Students who qualified for gifted and talented programs scored very similarly to their peers who did not qualify for the program. Despite all the resources, funds, the whole process of distinguishing the gifted– no big results.

Say I do consider my kid to be “gifted”, then what? When he’s in high school, does he still have to study for tests in order to get an “A”? Will he still have to read Beowulf? If he doesn’t get into MIT, should I write an scathing letter to the dean about how gifted he is and how he knew the difference between a pterodactyl and a pteranodon before preschool?

I have another kid. She just turned one. She can’t recite the alphabet. Her current favorite hobbies include eating dog food and trying to climb in the toilet. Maybe she is gifted. Maybe she’s not. She’s one.

Frankly it would seem unfair to me to treat one kid differently than the other based on any perceived notion of intelligence and “giftedness”. It’s important to us that they’re both given the same opportunities and encouragement. One kid wants to get into an Ivy League school, OK. We’re going to do everything we can to make that dream a reality. One kid wants to twirl signs outside an Ashley Furniture, well, I guess we’re going to encourage them to be the best damn sign spinner out there.

The National Association for Gifted Children (because of course that’s a thing) advocates learning opportunities appropriate for the child’s individual abilities and learning style. But isn’t that appropriate for every child? Whether the child has developmental delays or is getting bored in class, both the teachers and parents at home can identify this and make sure they’re thriving in their educational environment. There are many opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to be successful in higher education and beyond. Given the chance, any child can be successful.

I truly believe hard work is a more important factor than intelligence and that’s what we’re going to focus on with our kids. Instead of praising them by saying, “you’re so smart”, I’m going to try saying, “you worked really hard on that” for example. Intelligence is really a matter of luck anyway, isn’t it? So, why should that be more worthy of praise than something they actually worked for and accomplished?

I constantly hear parents humblebragging about their toddler’s achievements while other anxious parents are concerned that their kids are falling behind. With the utmost compassion, I say to both groups of parents– it doesn’t matter. You’re noticing these things because you care and you’re a kickass parent. Due to your awesome parenting, I have no doubt you’ll give your kids every opportunity to succeed in life and they will be awesome.

After all, everyone has gifts and talents and that’s part of why every parent believes their children are so unique and special. They really are! Every child is gifted and talented. So let’s stop distinguishing which children are gifted and start celebrating our children’s unique gifts. How is your child gifted? Think about it and please comment here or on Facebook! I’d love to hear.

Talking about Race Takes an Unexpected Turn.

This morning, Daniel, my three-year-old sweet and wild child was having breakfast after waking up unusually late. My (almost!) one-year-old baby gal Penelope had been awake for hours and was happily crawling around the living room. So I took my cup of coffee in the kitchen so I could spend some time with Daniel while he ate.

He’s a really curious child (like most, right?) and always asks a ton of questions, which we try to answer as honestly and accurately as we can. Even if we have to Google it. Even if I haven’t had quite enough coffee to keep my eyes all the way open. He takes a bite of his waffle, holds my hand and asks, “Hmmm, what color is your skin?”

So, in my head I’m like, OK. Put your game face on. Your kid has some questions about race and now is the time to really mold his precious little mind to be inclusive and know that everyone is equal. This is not a drill. 

Me: Hmm, well, some might say it’s white. [Some might say ghostly Irish pale] What do you think?

Daniel: I think it’s kind of… pink-y!

Me: Yeah! I can see how you would see that. What color is your skin?

Daniel: It’s pink-y too!

Me: Yeah! It is. Some people have skin that looks different than ours, don’t they?

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Miss Elaina from Daniel Tiger

Daniel: Yeah. Like, what colors?

Me: Hmm. Well, like brown?

Daniel: Yeah! Like Miss Elaina!

Yes! Yes! YES! This is going great. Screen time is not bad. It obviously promote diversity and free thinking. I am an excellent parent! 

Me: Very good observation! Miss Elaina’s skin looks a little different than ours. Some people have brown skin or black skin, some people have pink-y skin like ours. But, we’re all the same on the inside.

At this point, Daniel’s jaw drops and he gasps.

Daniel: IS THERE SOMEONE INSIDE OF YOU? …is there something inside of me? IS IT A TYRANNOSAURUS?!

Nailed it. Pass the coffee. I’m going to need another cup.af85f51460f1e66a379c47b4c5d0ff0c

 

 

Best Amazon Prime Day Bargains! (Especially for babies and kids!)

jon-hamm-john-slattery-and-rich-sommer-film-a-scene-for-their-hit-tv-show-mad-men-in-los-angeles-3-752x501It’s Priiiiiiiiiime day, people! Last year was memorably lacklaster, which got the hashtag #primedayfail trending. But this year seems to have some pretty awesome deals! I’m posting some of the best deals, especially for kids and babies. But some of the reallyyy good deals are going fast so snag them ASAP!

Pocket size portable charger— $13, 88% off. If you’re like me, you’re always out and need to charge your phone. 

Waterproof Case for iphone or Android–$7.99, 84% off

Hynes Eagle Vintage Leather Backpack— $27.99, 77% off. Would be great for hauling kid and baby stuff!

Forehead Thermometer— $28.99, 74% off

Talking Forehead Thermometer— $26.99, 63% off

Baby Banz Kids Hearing Protection— $15.77, 47% off. This is an AWESOME deal!

Happy Mat— $19.09, 24% off. These are so cool!

Teething Necklace— $15, 40% off

SwaddleMe Original Swaddles— $18.02, 28% off

Britax Marathon–$209, 20% off (LOTS of carseats are 20% off or more)

Chicco Nextfit Zip— $349, 20% off

3 Pcs Mermaid Bikini Set— $15.99, 68% off

Little Chef Wooden Toy Play Kitchen— $79.40, 53% off

Green Toys Pink Dump Truck— $13.99, 50% off

Green Toys Sand & Water Play Set— $17.49, 50% off

KNEX 100 Model Set— $24.99, 50% off

Hape Wooden Easel–$39.96, 50% off

OK to Wake! Owl with Night-Light— $20.99, 47% off

Manhattan Toy Baby Stella— $17.02, 31% off. Penelope LOVES Stella!

Amazon Fire Stick— $24.99, 38% off. This is what we use for our TVs.

Amazon Kindle for Kids— save $40.

Amazon Echo— save $50. I totally want one of these!

Roomba— $249.99, 34% off. I looooooove mine! Sanity saver. For real.

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There are really too many deals to highlight, but here’s an easy pro tip… Just go to Amazon and select “Prime Day” on the search bar. Then search for anything you’re in the market for and you might just get lucky! Be sure to brag about your bargains on the Facebook page!

This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy here. 

Great Books for Children that Combat Racism

In my post, We Need to Stand Up and Be the Village for Parents of Black Children., I discussed various ways to combat racism particularly for white parents like myself. Many parents requested book ideas which is a FANTASTIC idea! So here are some really great books I would recommend for every age group.

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Baby-5 years old

Chidi Only Like Blue: An African Book of Colors

The Sneetches and Other Stories 

The Rainbow Fish

We’re Different, We’re the Same (Sesame Street)

The Other Side

Shades of People

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad

Global Babies (This one was suggested by a reader on our Facebook page. She said their copy is WELL worn!)

Age 6-8

One Crazy Summer

A Handful of Stars

Separate Is Never Equal

Towers Falling

Amos Fortune

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Ages 9-12

Brown Girl Dreaming

All American Boys

Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High

Stella by Starlight

The Lions of Little Rock

Shooting Kabul (The Kabul Chronicles)

Hope you find something for your child from this list! As always, please leave a comment on our Facebook page with feedback! I’d love to hear your favorites!

This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy here

 

We Need to Stand Up and Be the Village for Parents of Black Children.

I’m a total worrywart and have lots of worries about my kids. I worry about bullying. I worry about hurt feelings. I worry about broken hearts. I worry about skinned knees. I worry one of them will get an liberal arts degree and won’t find a job.

I don’t worry one of them will become a hashtag.

It’s an uncomfortable truth, but it is the truth. There are many, many moms just like me who happened to be raising black children and they have much different and grave concerns for their children’s future. I spoke to one mom, Ivy Sowell, who is a stay-at-home mom and entrepreneur working towards her own business . She and her husband, Eugene, have an adorable eight-month-old son named Dixon.

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Ivy’s husband, Eugene, and their son, Dixon.

“I know as my son gets older I’m going to have to teach him to live a very calculated life because of the color of his skin,” said Ivy. “Teach him to keep his hands out of his pockets in stores… when he starts driving, teach him what to do and what to say if he gets stopped by the police… when he gets in an elevator with a woman and she clutches her purse, he’ll need to be very careful of his movements… He will have to learn there are certain places where it’s not safe for him to go because he’s black.”

Ivy said they pray a hedge of protection constantly and the prayer is always in the back of her mind. She said the prayer is also the reason she’s not afraid to raise a black boy into a powerful black man.

In the wake of recent police shootings, Ivy called to her Facebook friends–particularly white ones– to speak out. She called out to all of her Facebook friends who have made comments about how adorable her infant son was or what a beautiful family they were and reminded them that they could be next.

My initial reaction was to ask how I could help. But I now realize how unfair that is to ask. It’s almost like approaching a grieving widow with a casserole and a “let me know how I can help!” The intentions may be good, but it’s unfair to ask someone to appease your desire to help on top of their own grief, and even worse if it’s just an empty gesture in response to pain.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I– just a white Suburban mom– can help and you can too.

Listen! You must know how frustrating it is when you express yourself and someone invalidates your feelings. Know that when moms like Ivy talk about their very real concerns in raising children, their feelings are valid. Do not dismiss them.

Talk to your kids about race. It’s not enough to take the “colorblind” approach. Raising a child to be “colorblind” would only be effective if we lived in a society in which racism doesn’t exist and sadly, we do not. It’s also impossible to tackle the complex issue of racism if we’re not even comfortable acknowledging the existence of race.

Kids recognize that race exists. This is not racism. Recognizing the differences between others only become racism when we add superior or inferior values to those differences. Instead, talk to your kids about their own identity, encourage appreciation of others, share accurate information about other racial groups and explain to your child what racism is and how to combat it.

Educate your children about race. Many parents have asked about book recommendations, which I think it is a GREAT idea. Books have always proven to be helpful in difficult situations in my house. I made a list of helpful books here for every age group.

Even as a white parent, you’ll no doubt come in contact with racism at some point in your life and have an opportunity to say something when you see something. It may be a racist joke someone tells that you interrupt. You may request supporting facts and evidence when someone makes a racist assumption (because chances are there are none). It may be something much bigger like standing up for someone directly confronted with racism (because it happens all the time). You can very easily combat racism in your everyday life and your child will see and learn from this.

Stand in solidarity in response to injustice. You may not feel personally impacted, but you can still take a stand as an ally and make an impact. In Billings, MT, a Jewish family displayed a menorah and someone threw a cinder block through their window in 1993. When the family reported the hate crime to the police, the investigating officer suggested they remove the menorah. A local women heard of the incident and contacted her minister about making paper menorahs in their Sunday school classes and displaying them in solidarity against religious bigotry.  Within a week, 6-10,000 homes displayed menorahs in their front windows. Allies can make powerful statements.

Get to know your local police department. Ivy pointed out that while teaching her son how to handle encounters with law enforcement, they needed to teach him not to fear law enforcement officers. The National Crime Prevention Council recommends presenting police officers to your children as a “safe stranger” who can help your child if he needs it.

For adults, Ijeoma Oluo, a woman living outside of Seattle, posted some key questions to ask regarding police reform on Facebook and they’re pretty on point:

  • Do you know your city’s procedures regarding accountability?
  • Does your police force have any provisions for citizen oversight?
  • Is there a civilian oversight panel to review police shootings and misconduct?
  • Do the officers wear body cameras?

You can find most of the answers to those questions simply by Googling the topics and your city name. Otherwise you can contact your local police department and ask. Know where your own community stands on these issues. And if you’re not satisfied with the answers?

Vote. Start with your city council. Then the mayor. Next your congressperson. Your state representatives. Don’t vote for or financially support a candidate who doesn’t believe there is a problem. See where they stand and if they don’t align with your values, vote them out. Share with your friends WHY you’re voting against them and voting for those who share your concerns and values and are committed to act.

I know this is difficult. Trust me, the more tragedies I hear about, the more I want to turn off the TV, ignore the news and just tune out. But then I think about Ivy and millions of other moms who don’t have the privilege of tuning out. I think we owe it to them to acknowledge this and stand beside them.

“We have to teach our son not to harbor hate in his heart, ” Ivy said among the many things she and Eugene plan to teach their son. “Even though it seems the world hates him.”

The very least we can do for children like Dixon, husbands and fathers like Eugene, wives and mothers like Ivy, and millions of others like them in this country is to value their lives, show them love and do our damnest to stop this from happening.

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FauxLaRoe– LuLaRoe Style For Less!

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After most women are introduced to the super cute, unique, cult-like trendy LuLaRoe craze, they quickly go from…

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to…

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LuLaRoe has a catalog of leggings, dresses, skirts and tops. The material is a knit that is often called “buttery soft”. There are only 1,000 items in each pattern so each item is pretty unique. LLR is total mom wear. They’re super comfortable and great for chasing kids all day and still looking cute. The prices are fairly reasonable, leggings are about $22 and a dress is about $50.

Consultants sell their inventory in pop-up boutiques in their homes or online, usually in their Facebook groups. But if you know someone who sells LLR you probably aren’t getting soliciting messages from them. Unlike most multi-level marketing companies, the consultants aren’t short on customers. They have thousands in their groups and regularly schedule pop-ups so the customers can set their alarms and fight others for the inventory. Seriously.

I personally like LLR. The leggings aren’t quite like anything I’ve purchased in a store, they really are super soft. Some of the prints are ridiculously goofy and my husband hates them, but I think they’re fun! I really love the dresses because they’re just as comfy as the leggings but can easily be dressed up or down.

But there are several things I don’t like about LLR and I’ve heard similar sentiments from others.

  • Making fewer prints is cool, but it can also be a total pain in the ass. For example, I saw a dress I loved, but it wasn’t in my size. Tough luck. It’s nearly impossible to find one specific thing you really want. Some women stalk the groups for months to find something they’ve been hunting which they find thrilling, but I find agonizing.
  • Quality issues arise frequently. It’s not uncommon for fans to complain about holes in leggings, stripes not matching up, etc. Consultants are usually awesome about exchanges, but it’s definitely a pain.
  • Sizing is very inconsistent and confusing. You’re a women’s medium? Ok, you wear a XXS in an Irma top. But you’re a medium in a Nicole dress. Sizing is even inconsistent with the same items. So you might get one pair of one-size leggings and then find another print that doesn’t fit at all.
  • Some of the patterns are hideous. Like, hilariously hideous. This Irma top is commonly called the “Turdma” because it literally looks like a top with turds all over it.
  • Very specific washing instructions I am sure to screw up.
  • You can’t just BUY THEM. So, oh cool, you just want to try LuLaRoe? Find a Facebook group, wait for a pop-up, compete with others to claim the item first, inevitably lose, get frustrated, DO IT ALL AGAIN. It’s tiring. It’s not like just going to Target.

Even the biggest LLR fans usually find themselves looking for alternatives. In my own search I found items very similar to the style and material of LLR, but much less expensive and can arrive on my doorstep in two days time. It’s not LLR, but the style and quality is very similar, and the price and convenience is waaaay more my speed.

I only included items on this list that have at LEAST four star reviews, most have five stars. Most of the items are eligible for Amazon prime shipping. All are less than the retail price of LLR– most items at least 50 percent less. Most of the sizing is pretty straightforward, but I would recommend checking the size charts and also briefly scanning reviews to see how the sizing runs. Some of the items are readily available, like many of the leggings. Some of the items are LIMITED stock, so if you see a “Only __ left in stock” on the item and you like it, SNAG IT! I’ve missed out on so many items because I just didn’t buy quickly enough. Amazon returns are usually very easy so that’s always an option.

Leggings

These leggings have a TON of glowing reviews, come in lots of adorable prints (roses!) and at $11.99, are about half the LLR price.

These leggings are also the VIV brand and share the same pros, but are capri length! Awesome for summer, LLR doesn’t even carry capri length leggings. They also come in solid colors and are only about $11!

I love these prints, only 10 bucks!

Another brand has great reviews for their super soft leggings and are only 10 bucks!

These JUST launched and I loooove the “space dye” printed look! Only 10 bucks!

Plus size is also available for only $12.99, lots of cute prints.

Tops

You can get a pack of three tunics for about the price of one LLR top! Good solid colors, less than 40 bucks for three tops.

I love this top! Perfect length, great material, only $12!

This is a great print to match with solid leggings, great length and price at $20.

This is a great option for those who prefer a dolman style top and is only $18.

This kimono reminds me of LLR’s gorgeous Monroe at an absolute fraction of the price, less than $7!!!

This raglan is similar to LLR’s Randy tee and is less than 20 bucks.

Dresses

This curve hugging dress is VERY similar to LLR’s Julia and is $22. Love the floral print!

This dress is very similar to LLR’s Nicole with the short sleeves, hem length and circle skirt. Only 30 bucks and the polka dots give it an adorable retro vibe!

This maxi isn’t a dead ringer for LLR’s Ana. It’s sexier, more flowy and nursing friendly so I love it! $23

This dress is great if you wish LLR’s Nicole was shorter or if you like to wear a short dress over leggings rather than a tunic or top.

Skirts

This skirt has a slightly more retro vibe than LLR, but the style is very similar to the Madison. $24. Awesome colors!

This maxi is really similar to LLR and can be hiked up like theirs to wear as a strapless dress. I love the aqua and neon pink combo! Less than 20 bucks.

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I’m a huge fan of anything that complements my taco earrings.

This skirt is also similar to the Madison, but the prints are super fun. I bought one for our vacation to the Dominican Republic and love wearing it with my taco earring for margarita nights!

This pencil skirt is similar to LLR’s Cassie in material and style. At only $19, you can stock up on some of the bright colors.

The gorgeous lace overlay on this skirt reminds me of LLR’s Lola and is a steal at less than $15.

I would love to see your FauxLaRoe scores! Feel free to post on my Facebook page or use #fauxlaroe!

This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy here. 

 

Warrior Moms Climb Out of Darkness and Fight Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

From her brown eyes to the occasional purple streaks in her hair, everything about Lucy McEwen looks bright. She’s the type of person who seem to always be smiling sweetly, expressing care for others and fiercely loving her two small children. But there’s another side of Lucy that her friends also know as an incredibly brave survivor of postpartum depression and advocate for other moms fighting the same battle.lucy1

“After my daughter was born, I started struggling,” said Lucy. “Every single time she cried, I would cry too. I sat on my bed in the middle of the night, nursing her, tears flowing along with the milk.

I had very little motivation to get up and go anywhere with her. I struggled to do basic household chores, much less feed or dress myself. I nursed her, changed her and we slept. I played with her, but I found it difficult at times to feel joy. I did the bare necessities and sometimes a little more. I had days when I could do everything and felt like super mom. Then I’d be back in the thick of it, deep in the darkness once more.

I struggled greatly with exhaustion, lack of motivation, feelings of sadness, anxiety and loneliness. I wanted to be with her all of the time, yet I felt stuck with her. I felt as though the world would be better off if I were not around.”

Lucy is one of roughly one million women who struggle with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Postpartum depression, which can affect women within the first year of baby’s life, is the most common complication of childbirth.

Although so many women are affected, only 15 percent ever seek treatment for their symptom, which inspires many like Lucy to tell others about their own experience to help fight the stigma and encourage women to seek treatment.

Lucy is a participant in Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of Darkness which is the world’s largest event raising awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The organization plans the climb every year around the longest day of the year in an effort to “shine the light of hope” so that moms will receive better information and better support and their new families will get off to the strong start they deserve.” Mothers walk, hike or climb alongside fellow moms who understand the struggle they face. lucy2

Participants of the climb also raise funds for Postpartum Progress, which is a fantastic resource that greatly helped moms like Lucy. Postpartum Progress uses the funds to distribute free educational materials, maintain an exceptional blog and private support forum, train peer support leaders and “advocate for better support, less stigma and increased services for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders“, according to their website.

“Postpartum Progress was a great source of hope for me to see that this happened to many, many women who then went on to lead normal, happy lives,” said Lucy. “I met so many amazing women who inspire and encourage me to work and fight harder than ever before to break the stigma and help moms all over the world get the help they so desperately need.”

After enduring postpartum depression and armed with the knowledge she gained and support from friends and family, Lucy was proactive after her care when she was pregnant with her son. She formed a postpartum plan along with her birth plan which ensured she enjoyed her time with visitors, made time for herself, ate, took her medication and did everything she needed to take care of herself so she could take care of her toddler daughter and newborn son.

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Lucy’s “Warrior Mom” tattoo to symbolize her journey.

If you’re pregnant, currently struggling or just interested in finding out more information about this issue, check out this awesome resource.

You can find a climb near you by clicking here.

You can donate to Postpartum Progress and support Lucy’s climb team here.

Lucy has also recently become a postpartum doula! You can follow her on Facebook here.

To Those Who Have Loved and Lost in Orlando– I am so sorry.

pulseWhen expressing sympathy after someone has suffered a loss, “I’m sorry” is the default expression. Even when the deceased is someone you have known personally, the words may not be completely sincere.

You may be sorry, but grateful they lived such a long and fulfilling life. You may be sorry, but grateful they’re no longer in pain. You may be sorry, but believed it was their time to go.

I don’t personally know a single person who was killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting and yet I am truly, sincerely sorry for this loss.

To all of those who have lost someone in the Orlando shooting… I’m sorry that I’ve become so desensitized to mass shootings, I didn’t initially feel the magnitude of this loss.

I’m sorry there is still such intolerance in this country.

I’m sorry this keeps happening.

I’m sorry I feel so helpless to prevent this from happening again.

I’m sorry there is still so much hatred.

I’m sorry this is so unfair.

I’m sorry I don’t have all the answers.

I’m sorry I don’t have a clear solution.

I’m sorry we tend to blame others before mourning your loss.

I’m sorry there are still those who hate others for who they choose to love.

I’m sorry there are those who hate others simply for who they are.

I’m sorry your pain will far outlast the news coverage of the event.

I’m sorry the face of your loved one’s murderer will likely be more publicized than the face of your loved one.

I’m sorry your loved one did not deserve this.

I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

I’m sorry your loved one is one of 50, as I know they are so much more than a number.

I’m sorry this tragedy so quickly has become a politically divisive issue.

I’m sorry your life will be forever changed by such a senseless act.

I’m sorry I don’t fully understand your grief and I pray I never will.

I’m sorry the ache in my heart is absolutely nothing compared to what you must be feeling.

I’m sorry I can’t promise this will never happen again.

Fifty lives were taken away in a senseless act. Fifty lives taken far too soon. Fifty people who were daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, partners, wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends and meant so much to so many people.

Each one of these 50 people have been loved and touched the lives of many others, who are intensely grieving. Each one of them have a throng of loved ones who long to hear their laughs, see their smiles, hear their voices and never will again. Each one of these people contributed something positive to the world and had much more to contribute in the years to come, making their loss a profound one not only to their loved ones but to everyone.

I profoundly hope we can unite and declare enough is enough. I hope we can put our differences aside enough to recognize that this is a problem that we must fix. I hope we can not just hope and pray about this event, but enact real change to prevent further innocent lives to be so senselessly lost. I hope we are better than this.

But today I’m just so sorry.


Donate to support the victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting here.  Click here to find more information about blood donation in your area. If you’re in the Orlando area, blood banks are currently at capacity, but will need to be replenished so please consider donating in the coming days and weeks. 

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Wine and Coffee: Now featured on Huffington Post!

asseenonhuffpoforblog

I’m so pleased to announce that I am now a contributor for Huffington Post! I was contacted by a HuffPost editor last week and I was shocked and THRILLED that they wanted to publish my latest blog post, A gorilla is dead. Put down your pitchforks. I’ve been a big HuffPost fan for years and have always wanted to write for them. So this was really a dream come true for me. I was even more shocked when the editor clarified that they’d like to keep me as contributor and I can continue to submit articles for publication.

861c61642ded8f23ca973a6130b7530e On HuffPost I’ll likely be hanging out a lot in the Parents section, but I’ll also likely be writing for Politics (I’m a total Poli Sci nerd and campaign season is like my basketball season), Women, Home and wherever else tickles my fancy. You can check out my author page here and “fan” me, “like” me, or sign up to get notifications. huffpostauthorpage.JPG

You may be wondering what this means for the blog. Well, the great thing about writing for HuffPost is that they do not demand exclusivity. I can continue to write here, publish on HuffPost AND retain the rights to my work. So to keep updated, please “like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and I’ll be sure to share all posts.

I want to really sincerely thank you all for reading and supporting me. It really means a lot to me to see you all reading, sharing and liking my posts. I’m really thrilled that I can write for such an amazing, thriving audience while sipping coffee in my kitchen while I’m taking care of my babies. I can’t tell you all how grateful I am for that opportunity. Thank you.

A gorilla is dead. Put down your pitchforks.

You’ve likely heard of the absolutely tragic situation involving the death of 17-year-old gorilla Harambe after a toddler entered the gorilla’s exhibit. In order to protect the young boy, the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team [yeah, it’s a thing] quickly acted to fatally shoot the gorilla. A tranquilizer was not a sufficient option as it does not work quickly enough and could agitate the gorilla in an already tense situation. The boy suffered a concussion and minor injuries and has since been released.

Those are the facts we– good people of the Internet who were not at the zoo at the time– know about the case. Kid got into gorilla exhibit. The response team determined the child was in grave danger. The gorilla, which was beloved and endangered, died. Kid survived.

So, likely to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Internet became enraged. Suddenly everyone is a closet conservationist. Everyone is of course particularly enraged at the mother.

Videos (warning, extremely scary videos) of the incident popped up. Many comments blaming the mother accompanied news articles. A petition was formed seeking “justice for Harambe”, asking that the parents are held responsible by Child Protective Services. At the time of this writing, the petition is just shy of the 50,000 signature goal. A Facebook page titled “Justice for Harambe” also was created and currently has more than 17k  20k “likes”.

On the Justice for Harambe page, a Facebook status from Michelle Gregg, the child’s mother was posted. Gregg posted:

I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers today. What started off as a wonderful day turned in to a scary one. For those of you that have seen the news or been on social media that was my son that fell in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him. My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes… no broken bones or internal injuries.

As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today. Thank you to everyone that helped me and my son today and most importantly God for being the awsome [sic] God that he is.

So, unfortunately, for Gregg, even if she was guilty of looking away from her child. She now made the very unfortunate mistake of telling all the enraged people of the Internet, “Oh, hey, you know that mom you’re shaming and directing sooooo much anger towards? That’s me.”

Don’t bother looking up Gregg’s profile on Facebook. It’s gone.

The Justice for Harambe page quickly posted a screengrab of the mom’s response.

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Mmm… pizza…

Lets pay close attention to a few things presented in this call to action…

  • she shows no regret or remorse
  • she is litigious, as suspected by many
  • she should know where we [the angry mob, 17k nearly 20k strong] stand

So, among the many predictably angry responses, is a simple question to the original poster. How do you know she is planning to sue? Which, keep in mind, is presented as a known fact to thousands of very angry people.

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(((record scratch))) Did you catch that? The creator of the page actually has no information to support the claim that Gregg is planning to sue. Of course this is completely lost in the hundreds of comments about what an awful mother she is.

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Prior to getting lost in the witch hunt, I brought up the incident to some of my favorite mom friends because I truly wanted to know how the hell something like this happened. Andrea, a mom in Cincinnati, happened to go to the Cincinnati zoo the day before the infamous incident. Andrea described the gorilla enclosure as some shrubs and then a little cliff down to the moat. She also noted that the boy wouldn’t notice the moat because as you’re standing to look at the gorillas, the gorillas appear to be directly across from you (especially to a toddler) although they aren’t. Eerily, she actually commented to her niece how easy it seemed to reach the gorillas.

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“The zoo was very busy on Saturday and sadly, I can see how this happened,” Andrea said. “It’s just sad all around. No one wanted to see that gorilla die. He was amazing to watch. He definitely stood out from the others.”

A witness, Deidre Lykins, posted an account of the incident on Facebook.

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According to Lykins, the incident was an accident. She claimed the mother was not negligent and the zoo staff acted appropriately. She also reaffirmed the obvious, that this was a horrible situation.

It is a horrible situation,  of which many are trying to make sense and peace. As I find myself frequently telling my three-year-old… accidents happen. I shudder to think of the inevitable Internet shitstorm that would rain down on me if I were to unfortunately find myself in such an accident.

So, dear Internet, I implore you… Please, put down your pitchforks. Even if the mom in question, was guilty of taking her eye off her child for a second, I believe the trauma of the incident and the incredible public backlash was more than enough punishment. If those that took several minutes to comment about what a horrible mother Gregg is, signed a petition or professed their love for Harambe instead donated $1 to the World Wildlife Fund, we would have donated THOUSANDS of dollars to gorilla conservation efforts.*

In fact, if you’re so inclined, I made that easier for you. Click right here and you can make a quick, easy, tax-deductible donation to the World Wildlife Fund.