Wednesday, December 19, 2012

my thoughts on the Newtown CT shooting

A few people have expressed surprise to me that I haven't really verbalized my thoughts on the Newtown CT Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I'm sure some people who follow me on Facebook are relieved that I haven't pulled out my soapbox to speak my mind whereas others have expressed that they like to hear my perspective. While I'm flattered to even have my opinion thought of, I have to say, I have definitely retreated a little in the wake of this incident.

I guess the reason is that this is just too real for me. This hits me too close to home and is too similar to the things that my worst nightmares are made of. The whole event stings of awful, soul crushing, intolerable pain and I guess I have been just trying to sit in it and let it process.

However I do have a few things that I feel that I need to say and since some time has passed I can begin to pull my emotions together into a somewhat linear thought process.

The first thing that comes to mind is the absolute gut wrenching punch of pain that I feel when I think about these victims, their parents and really, the whole community that will never be the same. That piece of it - the pain - is the portion I can't really even deal with because it literally renders me speechless and doubled over. I know that there is something that must be done with that pain - something that helps and even honors those lost but I am still too overwhelmed by it all to figure out exactly how I can do that just yet.

After that I have to say the following: this is an issue of public safety. This is something that truly needs to change.

One of the many things that have bothered me since this happened was how many people said that this isn't a gun control issue. "Don't politicize this" they cried out.

Sorry but seriously, situations like this are political whether we acknowledge it in 140 characters or not. They're politicized by speaking up and they're politicized by not speaking up too. Imagine if people had said not to politicize the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, for one random historical example? Would there be changes to factory regulations and safety precautions today? I doubt it.

The point I'm making is that these are political issues. The thing NOT to do is just bury them under the carpet of sadness, shame and grief and call it respect. Real respect is to do everything in our power so these babies didn't die in vain. Real respect is changing something in their name so other children are safe going to school every day. I mean truly, shouldn't we be shocked that I can even SAY that?  That young children aren't safe in school anymore. FIRST GRADERS aren't safe and yet here we have people arguing not to make this a political issue? What else is it if not a political issue? There are policies that MUST be changed - they MUST. Our children - the defenseless citizens of our society are at risk and this isn't a political issue? This isn't something that policy should influence? Sorry. I don't agree.

I'm sure it's not surprising to anyone that my stance on this is that more gun control is needed - absolutely 100% necessary even. I honestly don't feel that there is a single solitary reason that any civilian or non-uniformed officer in America needs a gun. Not a single reason. The 2nd Amendment says that we have the right to bear arms for the purpose of forming militia. Oh, okay, how many of these mass-murderers are in militia groups? That's what I thought.

The other arguments for retaining guns as private citizens are equally as absurd: you want to have a gun in case of an intruder? Yea, because home invasions are such a huge epidemic? A friend of mine put it well on Twitter when she said that it's way more likely that your own kid will fall victim to an accidental shooting with the gun you've gotten for Home Protection than the odds are that any intruder will be gunned down in the name of your safety. People who rob houses generally do so when no one is home. We aren't living in some culture where people are storming into houses on a regular enough basis that we should be armed inside our own homes. Know what kind of culture we ARE living in though? One where people are getting murdered in public places on a regular basis. That's insane.

Then there's the other argument: hunting. Sorry but I'm pretty sure that's another invalid reason. Not only am I morally opposed to hunting anyway but truly, it's not much of a sport if you're just hiding in a tree and waiting until some game wanders into your scope. Get the hell down and go running through the woods with a cross-bow like your ancestors did if you're so interested in the "sport" of hunting. Shouldn't it be an active process? Why would you need an automatic weapon for this? Why would you need any firearm at all? Thousands of years worth of humanity have been hunting without firearms. You do not need a gun.

How many people need to die in order for congress to suck it up and stand up to the lobbyists in Washington?

And what kills me is that, like all other things in our culture, this comes down to money. Money, money, money.

I ask, how much more valuable is money than human life? Because that's the message here: money matters more than anything else. The precious dollar must be worshipped. The dollar means more than God, more than the self, more than the Earth, more than our own little innocent children. The dollar is all that matters.

Well, not to me. Our children are more important than sucking up to the NRA and their financial influence. You can't put a price tag on the lives and the safety of our babies. If our president is even half of the man he presents himself as he will finally just stand up to his cabinet and DO something about this. He will throw caution to the wind and he will take a stand to protect the innocent people of our country. It is time. A change is needed. This is just out of control.

I have more to say but that's enough for now. I still am trying to avoid facebook and twitter, still needing to scroll quickly past the photos of these children who have been torn from life too early and too violently for me to stomach.

We ALL need to stand up and do something. This isn't something we can wait on. How many more public spaces do we need to be afraid of before something changes? I already don't feel safe in malls, movie theaters, college campuses and high schools. Now i have to worry about elementary schools to? What is wrong with this nation? We're supposed to be the most advanced culture in the world? Pfft. That's laughable and ridiculous. Anyone who believes that guns aren't the problem here is delusional and brainwashed. Sorry, but that's the way I feel about it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

just random rambling plus an awesome hot chocolate recipe

I am sitting next to Henry while he watches The Polar Express for the billionth time this week. He is obsessed. I guess it must be the train that has lured him in because I can't see the appeal in any other aspect of this movie. Truly, if you haven't seen it in a while let me tell you, it really is a creepy world they've created in this storyline: a cranky conductor, plummeting falls, a fairly frightening train hitch-hiker who vanishes constantly, creepy toys yelling at you in the dark, elves with horrible new york accents. These kids aren't even allowed to wait for their Hot Chocolate to cool down before they drink it. A scalding tongue isn't really my idea of fun but hey, the hot chocolate does look pretty delicious.

Sidenote: i have managed to make a fairly delicious hot chocolate to serve during this movie. Recipe as follows:

- Ghiradelli Cocoa mix (use however much they tell you to on the canister for hot chocolate, i think it';s two tablespoons)
- boil almond milk on the stove (original or vanilla, i like it better with original)
- add sugar after you've poured the hot almond milk over your cocoa powder (i use sugar in the raw, use however much it tells you to on the canister (don't you love how specific i'm being? i think it's 1.5 teaspoons)
- and if you wanna get REALLY wild throw some chocolate chips in there too. Seriously, that makes a delicious difference. (this is not a health treat).

However in my world, feel free to let it get to whatever temperature you need in order to enjoy it.

Christmas is coming just around the corner and honestly, I can't wait. This is, of course, assuming we all live past The End of the World on Friday.  This year finances are especially tight for us and I didn't even have the extra cash to send out Christmas Cards which makes me feel sorta bad but it did take a lot of stress off of me. There are few things I despise less than addressing mail. Seriously. That plus going to the post office is the worst ever.

Tomorrow is Henry's Secret Santa holiday party with his playgroup. I think it will be so cute to see them all together exchanging gifts and making ornaments. I love Christmastime.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TLC: The Let's-dehumanize-people Channel?

Have you guys noticed the increase of television shows on networks like TLC that seem just designed to exploit people who are on the lower-end of the economic spectrum and/or who are somehow different or maybe even mentally or physically ill in some way?

I'm talking about shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo which is the newest atrocity. I admittedly haven't watched it but it is about people who are baring flubbery bellies with joy and leaping into mud puddles while a small child quips bizarre phrases like, "A dollar makes me holler Honey Boo Boo." and the whole family stands behind her arguing about whether or not they are rednecks.

What IS this? How is this entertainment?

Is anyone else reminded of days of yore when they used to basically capture people with genetic defects and parade them around the countryside in traveling caravans like they were animals in the circus?

And then there are the shows about people who have drug addictions, or who have so many possessions that they literally can't walk through their homes. How is this okay? These people have diseases - they have disorders, they need HELP and here we are stuffing chips in our faces on our couches watching them SUFFER THROUGH LIFE as if it is entertainment. As if we have nothing better to do than sit back and observe someone ruining their lives and endangering their families.

Doesn't this strike you as sick and twisted?

The shows that pretend to be about equality and awareness are some of the worst. Shows about Little People are constantly cropping up. And sure, maybe they are helping normalize the culture so that Little People don't get saddled with as much discrimination as before - at least I hope that's what's happening. But I can't help but wonder if those TV Executives are somehow sitting back and smirking to themselves, knowing that they're just exploiting a group of human beings that have been exploited since the beginning of time.

What is it about our culture that causes us to be fascinated by watching the difficulties of others? People have tons of kids - let's watch them go through drama! People are lower class and participate in activities that we wouldn't? Let's tune in and mock it! People are obese? Let's watch them struggle and huff and puff while we eat ice cream and take out.

It just seems so wrong, it just seems so dehumanizing.

I wish that these shows would stop being produced but I guess in order for that to happen there would have to be a decrease in an audience for them and, well, considering how many of these atrocities are getting churned out every seasons, that seems to be unlikely.

oh well. just my observation for the day. You know there's always one.

edit: since this post was written I have seen an ad for a new show coming on that is about a conjoined set of twins and how they live through life.

Seriously, if this isn't just a television channel exploiting the "circus freak show" mentality I don't know what is.

These are PEOPLE not acts. These are human beings and they should be treated as such, not exploited and put on TV for the general public to watch with unhinged jaws. Just because you CAN buy these people and get them to sign on the dotted line that they will do a television show doesn't mean that you SHOULD do that. We live in a culture that makes life difficult for people with differences. We live in a culture that is not accepting of handicaps and disabilities, that exploits those differences instead of normalizing them and incorporating them into society. These individuals probably really need the income and the fact that this evil television station is exploiting that sickens me. It really does.

They are not doing this in the name of Good and Equality. Let there be no mistake, they're doing this for the ratings, the numbers, the shock value and the cash. That is all each of these shows are to them. That is all each of these people - these lives - mean. Money in the bank.

How truly awful.

Monday, August 20, 2012

photoshoot: {beach session}

Earlier in the summer I was lucky enough to get to have a beach session with a beautiful family!

Below are just a few favorites from that session :) hope you enjoy!

all rights reserved, images encrypted and copyrited to Rhian Lockard of {for always}photography

Saturday, August 18, 2012

{photoshoot}: Oliver's Christening

I am so excited to be blogging this particular session I did! 

I was lucky enough to be present during the baptism of baby Oliver.  The ceremony took place in a gorgeous church and the day was just perfect. 

Hope you enjoy these photos! 

proud big sister!

Friday, August 17, 2012

coloring in the morning

my son is an artist-in-training. or, at least he's a crayon aficionado-in-training :)

he loves sitting down and coloring. He animatedly asks me to draw him trucks, cats, cars, choo-choo trains, and Mater or Lightening McQueen (from the movie Cars, of course).

The other day I saw a Cars coloring book and knew I had to grab it for him. This morning he got a chance to play with it for the first time and since he was sitting by the window while the lovely light filtered through I couldn't help but snap a few photos (of course) so here they are:

i know i'm biased but i really think he's so beautiful lol

Thursday, August 16, 2012

cool event to check out at GapKids this weekend!

This post is sponsored by GapKids. Check out all the fun Shine On activities at your nearest Gap store. For event dates and locations, visit Gap’s Facebook page and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #ShineOn.

I had the opportunity to write this very cool post about an event that's taking place at GapKids locations around the country! 

As you guys know, I am a creative and artistic person who believes in the power and importance of letting our children learn all about creative expression at a young age. 

Gap shares this vision because over the next two weekends in the Philadelphia area (and other areas, check Gap's site by clicking the logo above to find an event near you), they are putting on an incredibly cool event!!

Acclaimed artist and awesome blogger Merrilee Liddiard of mer mag is hosting Special Art Projects in select GapKids stores! These events were designed by Merilee Liddiard herself and were inspired by the GapKids and babyGap fall collections (which include the incredibly cute best new 1969 denim - Jewel Box Skinnies for girls (adorable new skinny jeans that come in bright stretchy denims (wish I could wear them)) and of course the Action Stretch Denim for boys (these jeans have literally been designed for playing ALL day, the denim is made to move - we love it!)). 

These events - called ShineOn Saturdays are designed to be fun and interactive for kids and families alike. They focus on education and FUN and you get to literally go into the store and participate in an art project with your kids! How great is that? From creating geometric masterpieces on canvas using paint and tape, to colorful custom journals that will get the kids ready to go back to school, these projects really focus on helping kids express their creativity. And seriously, how cool that they are designed and hosted by Merilee Liddiard??
check out this fun video for more info :)

For those of you who are in the Philadelphia area - this event starts THIS WEEKEND so mark your calendars! 

Upcoming GapKids Shine On Saturdays Events in Philadelphia 
Saturday, August 18 
GapKids @ Rittenhouse Square 
1510 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19103 

Saturday, August 25 
GapKids @ King of Prussia 
690 W. DeKalb Pike 
King of Prussia, PA 19406

If you're going let me know, maybe I'll see you there! And leave a comment and tell me how it went :)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

my son's toys are judging me.

My son's first steps were in pursuit of my vacuum cleaner. He had been wobbling his way around our house by holding onto furniture for months and then one night when I started cleaning he just took off running after it. Ten or more steps in hot pursuit of our trusty old Hoover.

Even now, almost a year later, he is still obsessed with the vacuum. He loves to take the attachments off and make a whirring sound while he touches the various knobs and dials. Hopefully this bodes well for our future and I'll have a teenager who just can't help but clean up after himself constantly (snort).

So you can imagine my elation when, last Spring, I found a toy vacuum that is just his size at a consignment sale. I proudly brought it home and presented it to him and, just as I suspected, he immediately fell into toy-appliance-love with it. He adores this thing. He plays with it every day (which, anyone who has a toddler knows is basically a miracle).

So, this should be where this happy tale ends, right?

I wish.

See, there's one vital flaw with this toy: it judges me.

I know I sound like a paranoid lunatic but I swear I'm not. I'm not even exaggerating the situation or saying that I'm imagining that its cold, empty, plastic eyes are mocking me (although, okay, they are). I'm being literal here. The vacuum actually literally judges me and criticizes the cleanliness of my home. Whenever my son pushes it across the floor, this vacuum says things like, "This place is a pig sty!" and "Somebody should really clean up around here!". Yea, you heard me right. That's seriously what it says.

At first I sort of chuckled to myself at these declarations and I even thought, "that's kind of funny!" But my amusement ended quickly after I found myself day after day watching as this vacuum looked around my house and told me how disgusting we are.  Every morning it says, "This place is a mess!" and it asks, "Does anyone clean up around here?" and every morning I want to yell, "Yea? Well if you don't like it why don't YOU do something about it, you jerk?"

I mean, maybe it's totally irrational but I can't help but defend myself whenever it's mocking the state of my home. I frequently retort with things like, "YOU try getting three hours of sleep last night and picking up all the toys all morning long. They only wind up on the floor again the second I turn around! You see if you can do it any better! I dare you!"

I can't decide if it was a genius move on the part of the manufacturer to make this vacuum so insulting or if it was the kiss of death. I mean, it is true that on that doomed day at the consignment sale I did only pay $4 for it and some stalking reveals that its retail price is significantly higher than that (holy lord it costs $99 new!). I also distinctly remember (and should have heeded this as a bad omen) that there were two others of the exact same model sitting next to it at the sale. More seasoned mothers passed them all by as I thought to myself, "whoa, I am SO LUCKY to be snagging one of these!" how I laugh at my innocence. Now I know better, you see. Now I understand why all these vacuums found themselves in the 'Sell' piles: they're Rude! No wonder people want to rid their lives of these snarky toys.

On the other hand, my son is absolutely obsessed with it and therein is where the genius of the item lies. Were I ever to give in to my impulse to hurtle that thing through the sliding glass doors at the back of my house and into the flower bed, I know I would have to replace it. He would be devastated without it. So maybe that's the brilliance. Maybe this company knows they've created an addictive toy that our kids love and that we are forced to endure. And maybe they planned it so that eventually parents would give in to the anger and actually carry out our rage fantasies onto these toys. Maybe these corporate geniuses knew that there will eventually come a particularly exhausting morning when we will no longer be able to control ourselves and will find ourselves beating the vacuum to death with a high heeled shoe (that, let's be honest, we only have in the closet now for nostalgia and bug-killing purposes). Maybe if we kill these vacuums, the manufacturer is betting that we will then have to turn around and buy another one. Who would be able to resist the look of tearful guilt in our child's eyes after witnessing us murdering their (deserving) precious favored toy? Basically, it's like planned obsolescence in a sense only they know that it will be the customer breaking the toy intentionally and joyously after being pushed to the limit. Who needs new customers the executives at the toy company will think with a cackle when your current customers are making the same purchase multiple times? Mu-hahahahaha! (and then they stroke a fluffy but clearly evil white cat while sitting in their swivel chairs and puffing on cigars).

Either way, this vacuum is living on borrowed time and if I have to hear, "Look at all this dirt!" again coming from it's judgmental little face I might just lose it. Literally. That vacuum might get "lost" forever on trash day.

Check yourself, Vacuum. This is your final warning.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ministry School: The Beginning

As some of you know, I have begun attending ministry school. Hopefully by this time next year I will be an ordained, inter-faith minister who is able to perform weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies, baptisms, and Worship Services. 

The most popular question I get asked when people find out that I am in school to become a minister is "What made you decide to do that?"

The answer is cheesy but honest: I am meant to. 

I guess I've always known what people mean when they say they are called to a life in service to a higher power. I have always felt that way too. I think I assumed everyone feels that but I suppose maybe that's not the case. 

I've never been one to truly question IF there is a God/Spiritual Force in the Universe. My questions have all centered around what form that spirit takes, how it moves through us, within us and around us in this life. 

I don't know the answers to those questions yet, and I don't believe that ministry school will provide them to me. What I do know, however, is that by choosing to put my feet on this path, I am walking towards the person I am meant to be - towards becoming the Tree that the Seed within me contained when I was born. 

What I guess I mean in simplified terms is: I am figuring out those answers on my own, and ministry school is a piece to that puzzle for me. 

We are all here acknowledge and embrace our own spiritual place in the universe. That is one of the quintessential purposes of every life. We each must decide what our personal vibration resonance is here and what other resonances we feel connected to. Each religion, each political party, heck, each restaurant, store, school or band even has a different vibrational essence that is being put out into the universe. We are drawn to those the things that match up with the essence of who we are, to those things that fit a piece of us inside. 

As we change, so do the things we are attracted to change to accommodate us. We cannot stick to something once we have outgrown it, it won't work anymore. Like that saying goes, you can't put a square peg into a round hole. It's true. You can't. Just like you can't force something to be there if it's not. That's okay though because where something ISN'T another thing IS. There are gifts to be had, and pieces to be matched, in all circumstances in life. 

And for me, one of the things I have always been attracted to is the ministry. I have always wanted to study and preach and share the true essence of spirituality with people. Whatever that means to me. And I want to share my resonance with people who resonate with it. I want to surround myself with spirituality, beauty, the belief in something greater. I want to step into the Knowing of it all and fully bathe myself in it. 

That is what ministry means to me. To learn, study, LIVE, embrace this unspoken but very much experienced side of life. Because to me, the Spirit IS life. It is the whole reason that we exist, it is the whole purpose behind it all. And I have always known that I am meant to give myself to that in one way or another. It's always been a driving force inside of me, and now it's time for me to begin to step up and acknowledge those little pulls on my heartstrings. 

I am so thrilled to be on this path, and so blessed that so many of you are interested in following it with me.