Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut’


I happen to live in the state where the Newington school that’s being criticized for curbing the Halloween celebration within its campus is being criticized.  I can’t believe this nonsense has gone national.  A few parents got their panties in a twist claiming a violation of “rights” because their children couldn’t dress up profusely and have their costumes paraded around their schools.  Because the schools didn’t want to have an entire WEEK of scholastic disruption.

Because of a common sense policy:

  • The school and administration there are getting threats of violence from all over the country .  
  • People are sending hate mail from all over the country.  
  • People are upset that Newington is caving to overly political correctness shoved onto them by evil liberals.  Like the words political correctness and liberal are bad words or bad things to be.  
  • Administrators are being accused of caving to radical Islam (say what now???)
  • Administrators are being accused of assaulting Christianity and Tradition and generally Ruining Everything

 

Yeah, no. Just… shut up.  Shut up shut up shut up shuttity up up up.

I can’t even fathom why anyone would seriously and consciously violently threaten ANYONE for setting a reasonable rule for a school.  I have no argument in favor and every argument against.  Other than that, I can’t really formulate polite words.

An Aside: Why do people say Politically Correct as if it’s a bad thing? Adjusting our language and behavior in order to be sensitive to the cultures and traditions and feelings of others is a GOOD THING.  We become enraged and make threats of violence when others don’t do the same for us…

…but I suppose it only matters and is important if we feel it’s Christianity that’s being marginalized.  I love my faith, I love Jesus, I love my God, and I love my current Pope (yo! Shout out to Pope Frankie!) and I love most of my fellow human beings but a lot of the time I don’t like many of my fellow Christians.  The Bible gets twisted to mean terrible things, and while it’s corrupted, the Ten Commandments are ignored.  In place of goodness, kindness, tolerance, love, and generosity,  I read and hear about hate, selfishness, rage, and self-entitlement.

No, Christianity is not being assaulted.  As a whole when we include all denominations, we are the majority religion in the United States and we are a major world religion.  We are not in the minority in any way.  That is a statistical fact.  We are not marginalized in America.  We tend to be catered to.  We tend to be the religious group with the greatest power.   That’s not to say that in some areas of the world, Christians aren’t persecuted, executed for being Christian, hated simply for being Christian.  I know that right here in the U.S. there are plenty of people who hate Christians for breathing and painting us all with the same extremist evangelistic brush… much the same way people of all other persuasions make broad generalizations and hate simply to hate.  Some people just hate anyone who is not exactly the same as they are.  I know Christians who hate other Christians because they’re not the same denomination.  I know Christians who hate others within their own denomination for “not being Same Denomination enough.”

Haters gonna hate.

Aw, damn it Taylor Swift.  Brain, why you gotta be like that? Toss in Taylor Swift in the middle of a thought process.  Oi.

Ok, so Halloween is, literally, All Hallow’s Eve.  That means it’s the evening before All Soul’s Day (think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows… the Deathly Souls) or as some like to call it, All Saint’s Day.  This next part is very important:

Halloween is not a holy day for Christians.  Tomorrow is.

 

Dear fellow Christians,

All Saints Day is “our day” and no one is taking it away.  We get to recognize both Halloween and All Saints Day aka All Soul’s Day anywhere we want all we want.  We can even go to church tonight (the vigil mass) or tomorrow to honor this holy day.  Cool, huh? Costumes and candy have nothing to do with it.  Church has everything to do with it.

Love,

Jessica

 

Interestingly enough, not all Christian denominations celebrate Halloween.  I think Jehovah’s Witnesses refrain from Halloween, as well as some Evangelicals and other similar denominations.  It’s because we are to abstain from all appearances of evil… even dressing up and making fun of evil and anything that could possibly be construed as an association with evil IE. Halloween, the candy, the parties, the costumes, the make-up, the parades.  It’s way more complicated than that for those denominations but Catholics aren’t like that.  We like Halloween and we like All Saints Day.  *Please note I’m not really speaking for all Catholics regarding Halloween, but All Saints Day is a Holy Day on the Catholic Calendar.

Of course there’s a lot as to why people dress up as ghosts, goblins, ghouls, scary witches, skeletons, devils, mass murderers, zombies, etc.  There’s a reason why it’s “spooky” with a paranormal feel, why it’s creepy.  Why owls at night give us shivers and some people still think Satan lives in my black cat, Luna.

It has to do with Samhain, an actual blessed day for Wicca, Pagan, and Celtic religions, that honors the Autumn harvest and coming of Winter as it sits halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice and in fact, Samhain predates All Saints Day.  It’s a really spiritual time, when the doorway between our world and the spiritual world is thinned.  A time when anything could happen and people feel vulnerable.  Even if we don’t believe the same things as those religions, we still feel the cultural effects lingering from the days when our ancestors were afraid.

Dressing up as what scares you most lets you hide in plain sight from those very scary things.

We get to hide among the creeperss, letting ourselves believe that if the evil spirits came out on Halloween then they couldn’t distinguish between us and them and therefore we must be safe out in the dark while we put our complete and utter trust in our neighbors to not put poison into the candy they pass out.  It’s a societal show of trust that we allow strangers and neighbors to give our children candy while we let our children go door to door in costumes out of arm’s reach.

We get to do that regardless of  our religious affiliation or cultural background to beg for free candy from strangers and neighbors all we like as long (as the porch lights are on at the houses… leave the houses with the porch lights off alone).  Dressing up for Halloween and begging for candy; attending Halloween parties; sending your children to schools that allow it in costumes…. as long as we remember that it has nothing to do, really, with Christianity.

Honestly, as a parent in general but also as a parent specifically to two children that don’t react well to HFCS and food dyes, with one of them being lactose intolerant to boot, I really don’t want teachers sending my kids home at the Rage Stage of the sugar rushes.

If your school has a policy of “no costumes, no candy, no overtly obnoxious Halloween” then please remember that your rights aren’t being trampled. I’ve come to realize this is actually Mom Spent Way Too Much On A Costume And Wants To Make Sure Nevaehly Is Seen Dressed Up As Pryness Elsa By As Many People As Possible And That Includes School Damn It.  If that’s your issue then throw a damn Halloween party.  Halloween falls on a Friday this year so go to three Halloween parties.  Knock yourself out.  You can let your child sleep in the costume and go on errands in it.

Your child won’t care, and won’t remember because her rights aren’t being trampled either.  It’s not that big of a deal.  Your child will remember Trick or Treating with you in the neighborhood.  Your child will cherish those memories.  Your child will grow up and have fond memories when she sees the photos of  when she was a wee one with white faced cat make-up and pink cat ears while Daddy hugged her tight.  They will show their children how they had their pictures taken year after year in their costumes at the front door of your home, how they got taller every year as they and their costumes changed.  They’ll shed a tear when they see their first Cinderella costume in the memory box and you ask if it might fit their daughter that year.  They’ll remember attending parties with you, helping pass out candy to others, drinking cocoa together, sorting through the loot on the floor looking for open wrappers and candy that might cause allergic reactions.

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In case you were wondering, there weren’t any wild animals on my back porch.  This time.  It’s been very windy with big heavy gusts all day.  In fact, there was a news report earlier that about 12,000 people in Connecticut are out of power due to high winds.  Our back porch is closed in and the screen door that leads outside isn’t secured very well, so it bangs around sometimes.  If it’s opened enough, an animal could come in looking for shelter.  Birds sometimes come in through little holes in the screen.  It’s really okay.  I made my husband check.

Luckily the back doors are very secure so they can’t get into the house, but still.

There weren’t any streaks of blood either, so I’m fairly certain it wasn’t zombies either.

 

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There’s a catch in my throat that won’t go away.  It’s as if my body is currently set to the default of Ready To Cry.  I laugh a little more loudly than I should at things that are funny… or are trying to be funny.  I laugh at every silly thing my daughters say and do, even if it annoyed me before Friday.  Laughter sounds and feels strange to me, right now.  It feels out of place.  It feels wrong.

Today it’s a drizzly, freezing cold day.  It actually feels like the weary world is weeping to remind us to slow down for a while.

At the same time, I know that for my children I need to keep my smile.  I can’t hide it or be stingy with it.  I can’t jealously guard my children and tuck them away from the world.  I can’t let my anxiety get the best of me.  I need to show them that even if we don’t feel especially happy right now, we can still feel joy and anticipate happiness in the near future again.  Maybe even now.  But then again, I have that luxury.  I can pick up my eldest daughter from school and get my other two daughters off the bus.  There’s no one to tell me that I can’t take them home ever again.

As a human being, Sandy Hook weighs heavily on my heart.

As a mother to a seven year old, Sandy Hook has decimated my heart.

All too easily, I can imagine being a Mother of Sandy Hook.  The children there are children of Connecticut… of the nation.  The women who gave their lives that day are heroes, every single one of them.  They gave their lives for every child that attended their school, giving them precious moments to try to get away.  Those women could easily have been my own daughters’ teachers, who show my children care and love and compassion every single day.

And so as I sit here this evening, writing this entry after a very somber work day, I watch my children watching TV with their dad.  I watch one of my daughters putting together a new game she received as a Christmas gift over the weekend.  They should all be doing homework.  I should be on top of them, nagging their butts to get going and finish so that they have the entire night after supper to relax.  To be honest, I won’t feel guilty if they don’t finish it tonight.  I’ll feel guilty if I force it by going into bitch mode.   At the Christmas party over the weekend, I didn’t make sure that they ate a good supper before filling up on cupcakes, chocolate, cookies, and chips.  For breakfast yesterday I let them have reindeer ornament “pops” that we made (look it up on Youtube or Pinterest; marshmallows, chocolate, pretzels).

Don’t worry.  The sugary part of my current parenting won’t last the week.   Okay, fine, and neither will the “not forcing the homework” part.  I’ll make sure that I half-heartedly encourage them to do it tonight.  And tomorrow.  But I won’t enjoy it.  For now, I’m going to parent irresponsibly.

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I feel like I have an obligation to write about the tragedy of the Sandy Hook shooting.  I’m so overwhelmed that I’m not entirely sure where to start.  There’s not exactly a beginning… and I feel like some of the things I want to say will come off in a chastising manner.  I’m not really sure I’ll be able to temper that, to be honest.

I feel a responsibility to post because I live in Connecticut; because I have a seven year old daughter in elementary school; because I’m a mother; because I have strong feelings about this tragedy; because I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depressive Disorder;  and unfortunately, because news outlets are reporting that the shooter “may have” had some mental health issues and then that’s immediately followed by “and Autism.” Then it’s clarified that it’s thought that he may have had Asperger’s Disorder, a type of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I feel as if I can’t express and write about what I need to write about until I get rid of the giant pink elephant in the room: that the shooter may have had Autism Spectrum Disorder and also been mentally ill.  First and foremost, let me state in no uncertain terms that Autism is not a diagnosis of mental illness.  Can it be a co-morbid diagnosis or diagnoses with other neurological disorders and/or Depression Disorders and/or Mood Disorders and/or Oppositional Defiant Disorder and/or Bi-Polar and/or Schizophrenia and/or Psychosis and/or ADD/ADHD and/or OCD and/or Anxiety Disorder and/or other Psychological Disorders? Yes.  I’ve written about this before.  It’s very possible and very common.

Except that just like the great majority of neuro-typical people don’t go out and commit mass murder or murder their loved ones or commit crimes that land them jail, neither do people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder and comorbid diagnoses.

I have a child on the Autism  Spectrum.  She has many developmental delays, including social delays.  It’s often like raising a toddler or a preschooler, especially with her emotional level and impulse control.  She’s not inherently violent and she’s not a bad girl.  She’s sweet, charming, intelligent, funny, beautiful, shy, talented, artistic, and vibrant.  I couldn’t imagine my life without her.  That’s not to gloss over the difficulties of raising a special needs child who will be a special needs teenager, a special needs young adult, and a special needs adult.  I’ve often shared our difficulties here, so I won’t go into great detail again in this post.

Mainly, I don’t want to keep feeling as if I will be put into a position of having to defend my autistic daughter.  I don’t want to feel as if I’ll be put into a position of having to defend my parenting of her to people who have never met her and only know that she’s autistic.  I don’t want to have to worry that people who already know her to suddenly become wary of her or fear her simply because she has Autism.

If that young man were mentally ill or had Autism Spectrum Disorder or any other neurological Disorder, then I hope that people will be smart enough not to paint the rest of the community that shares that characteristic with the same brush.  Because I can guarantee that his having any particular neurological disorder is not what “caused” him to do what he did.  While I will not blame his mother’s parenting or even his parents’ divorce, I WILL say that this young man’s entire life had to  have led up to the decisions that he made.  His world must have been a very dark one whether he was mentally ill or not.   Whether he had Autism had nothing to do with it.

But I will say this one last time in this post: It has NOT been confirmed that the Sandy Hook shooter had mental illness nor Autism of any kind.  This is only based on the speculation of gossip and comments that were supposedly made to the police by the shooter’s brother whom he hadn’t seen in two years.

Maybe now I can move on with the business of mourning and processing.

 

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Cappuccino

Cappuccino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh my gosh, there is just not enough coffee in the world today.  Not to wake up, not to warm up.  Speaking of… we’re not even supposed to get more than a dusting of snow today.  Maybe a total of two inches, and the further north in the state you get the less snow there should be if you listen to NBC Connecticut AND YET there are schools dismissing early and evening activities canceling.

Come ON people! This is Connecticut! NEW ENGLAND! We have been in New England dealing with harsh winter weather, well… harsher weather than this… for hundreds of years.  I’m a horrible New Englander and I’m not even phased by this.  So far my town hasn’t released school early and I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Granted, I’m home from work today because our heater bit the dust and we’re waiting for a part to come in to repair it and the temperatures are just not fun to deal with.  But the roads are a different matter.  It’s FLURRIES.  Not snow, not ice, not sleet or even freezing rain.  Flurries and clouds.

The most today needs is not early school dismissal or evening activity cancellation until you have heating issues, but a shit-ton of coffee, tea, cocoa, and other hot potables like soup.  In fact, today would be a good day to dig up my Ode to Coffee post.

Luckily I’m in happy stock of coffee, which I’ll be polishing off shortly.  I have a fresh, full box of fully caffeinated green tea.  I also have decaf green tea.  Of course, I have green tea with super fruit flavors like cranberry and blueberry.  There’s also chamomile tea.  I cracked open a new box of vanilla chai tea a night or two ago and expect to whip that out shortly.  When the girls get home from school, whenever that is, I have some recently made homemade hot chocolate mix.

O’hai, you want to know how to make homemade hot chocolate mix? It’s lactose-free, which makes it even better.  You need a medium sized Tupperware container.  You need an entire container of unsweetened powdered cocoa like Hershey Cocoa Powder.  Put it into the container with two cups of white sugar and one tablespoon of fine salt.  Cover with a tight lid and shake.  Heat milk in a mug in the microwave and add the mix per tablespoon into the mug and stir well, or heat the milk in a pan on the stove and stir it so that it doesn’t scald and then add the cocoa mix to taste and stir until it’s melted in.  Then serve in mugs.

We love hot drinks in this house.  Can you tell? When my girls are sick, they love hot drinks the way I do.  My eldest and youngest ask for hot chicken broth in a mug, so I always keep bouillon cubes in the pantry.  My middle daughter loves to have hot tea when she’s not feeling well, so I keep chamomile for her although she’ll drink almost any tea.  Her favorite seems to be vanilla chai, and in the summer she likes it iced.  A runner up is iced caramel tea, which is made from a black tea, blended up just the same way we make chai.  Delish.  I love the caramel tea hot, too.  Lipton has an interesting caramel truffle tea, but it’s not as good as vanilla caramel in the other brand… um… Bigelow.  I get the vanilla chai from Bigelow too.

I still make my coffee using a French press.  Every now and then I use my electric coffee maker, but I’m out of those coffee grounds.  I’d love to have one of those new KeurigMr.Coffee hybrids for Christmas, though, for the mornings I need a mug of coffee before work but don’t have time to press some coffee.  I never have time to press coffee on work mornings.  It would also be great on mornings when I want to ask The Mister or one of the girls to “make” me some coffee and the response is, “I can’t run to Dunkin Donuts right now, sorry.”  🙂  Of course I saw those cute little reusable Keurig k-cups that you can put your own coffee grounds into.  Those are brilliant.

Speaking of Christmas, I know I’m not the only one who hasn’t even started gift shopping.  But that could be a whole ‘nother post.  🙂

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Cadbury's Mini Eggs

Cadbury's Dark Mini Eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been praying that the weather would warm back up soon, and the last few days have been gloriously sunny and pretty.  They’ve reached the low 50*s and been comfortable, which has been better on my poor joints and bones.  Stress always pushes that back a bit and of course makes my flare-ups worse, but with warmer weather I can sit in the sun and feel a lovely natural warmth loosen the pain a little bit.

Tonight or tomorrow, we’re supposed to get some much-needed rain.  Connecticut has been red-flagged for being severely high risk for brush fires and worse since it’s so dry and we’re in a rain deficit, partly because of the mild winter.  But I’ll be honest… I’m dreading it.

I’m dreading the migraine and the body pain, especially since I’m coming out of a moderate flare-up already.  I’ll be sure to take my Vitamin B-Complex and stay hydrated, and of course “get enough sleep” is always on my calendar.  But I know what’s coming if the weather men are right.

What am I saying? How often are the weather men really right? My body is right more often than they are.

My real saving grace is yoga.  Ease the back, the hips, the shoulders… redirect the stress and nervous energy.  Bring oxygen to the muscles.  ::sigh::  Pretend that it worked better than it did.  Tolerate it because I have to and there’s no alternative.  Then raid the girls’ Easter baskets.

No, not that part.  I have my own chocolate.  My favorite Easter candy is the Cadbury Mini Egg.  I love those little bits of sweet-smelling crusty sugar coating smooth chocolate.  I love the purple ones.  Chocolate makes me happy and there’s a scientific reason!!!! yes! a legitimate reason! to eat chocolate! I swear! I don’t have the research handy at the moment, but that would be a great post.

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Map depicting United States East Coast

Image via Wikipedia

A week ago Saturday, the East Coast of the United Stateswas hit with a freak October Nor’Easter.  It would have been nothing more than “stay home from church on  Sunday and then let’s call it a nuisance” sort of storm except for one thing. There were still leaves on all of our trees.  Connecticut is really dense with trees.  We have some of the highest density of tree population below New Hampshire, but even worse is that much of our power linesare still above ground on poles.  Near trees.  Near our many trees.

Over 700,000 Connecticut residents lost power due to storm damage, much of it due to downed trees.  It’s now over a week later and there’s still a significant number of people out of power.  My town is still 11% out of power, but the majority of the week it was 100% out.  It was only in the past couple of days that there were crews clearing roads and downed wires and making repairs.  My street only just got power back yesterday afternoon (Saturday) a full week after the storm.

What's Left Of My Cherry Tree

The first two nights in the dark, I think we expected the power to come back on shortly.  Monday was sunny, The Mister went to work, the kids played and listened to the radio… but the house was cold enough to be able to see our breath.  It was 54*F.  We were already tired of not having power.  We could see out our front window that there were trees down all over the place, including our own front yard.  I lost my beloved cherry tree.

Some people couldn’t get out of their homes.  Some people couldn’t get out of their neighborhoods.  Emergency crews had their hands full and a week later there are still some dangerous situations out there with blocked roads.

Monday night, the girls and I were lucky enough to go to my younger brother’s house.  They had power and heat.  We thought it would be only a night or two, but it ended up stretching out to five nights.  The girls saw it as an adventure.  We brought down some food that would have spoiled to help out, and camped out on the couch, a spare mattress, and an air mattress.  I’m really proud of the girls, especially Gracie… such a stressful situation for her all around but she handled things really well.  We created a new routine and tried to stick with it and that helped a lot.  She got sick and we picked up an antibiotic, and she handled that as well as she could.  I felt sad that while she had a mini-meltdown, she couldn’t have her release the way she needed but she still did wonderfully.  I know it wasn’t easy.

It’s tough when you’re a guest in someone’s home and you know that you’re probably stepping on their toes, not doing things their way or putting things away exactly the right way.  Or that your kids are a little too noisy or waking up a little too early, or they’re leaving towels just a bit too soggy in the bathroom, but they’re kids and you just can’t control every single thing they say and do.  It’s tough when you’re uncomfortable on the couch, but you can’t and shouldn’t complain because it’s a kindness that you’re there, even if you’re not sleeping well and the less you sleep the higher your anxiety gets.

Then the Fibromyalgia flares up due to the anxiety and exhaustion, and allergy flare-up from your brother’s amazing, smart, hysterical, sweet dog that the kids are in love with.  Prayer.  Prayer helped a lot to ease anxieties.  So did reading, and I’m so thankful that I thought ahead before leaving to bring a couple of books with me.  And you just remember that you try to help as much you can, encourage the kids to do the same, and not to leave a bigger mess than when was there when you arrived.  🙂  You may not always be successful, and you make apologies when you need to, and then rectify the situation.  Then you remember that it’s not forever.

Daisy Pearl

Daisy Pearl

Yesterday, The Mister came to get us so we could get things packed up and then visit with his mom.  It was nice to get out and get a change of scenery even though we didn’t know for sure yet if or when power would be back.  It did come back on in the afternoon.  After our visit we came home to power and heat, and we watched a movie while the girls settled in and snuggled with the cats.  Of course, although The Mister stayed home so that he could work this past week, he didn’t use Daisy’s name with her.  She’s the, uh, less smart cat.  She forgot her name.  ::sigh::  Luna was so happy to see me when we got home and she’s been my shadow since I walked in the door.  She keeps checking on me to make sure I’m really there, I think.  Daisy wouldn’t come near me until I gave her some treats.  Of course she remembers the treats, but I think she was also a bit angry because she thinks I just… just left her.  It took her a while to warm up to me, and she’s my cat.  I’m the only one that she’s completely friendly and attached to at all times.  She forgave me, but she still doesn’t know her name and we’ve been home since last night.  She’s not even answering to Luna’s name.  Silly cat, lost her memory.  At least she still knows how to use the litter box.

So my brother and his wife were amazing, and we’re extremely grateful that they let us stay there for five nights.  My mom was amazing too, bringing us some food and money to help with the food.  It’s good to know that there’s family that would do for us the exact same way we would do for anyone.

There’s nothing like my own couch, my own blankets, my own bed, my own toilet, and getting to see my husband.  I’m more grateful than I can say for my brother and sister-in-law, especially since I got the chance to get to know my SIL in a way that I never could have otherwise.  They’re incredibly generous and kind, and funny and great with my girls.  I’m also grateful that I’m back in my own home.

I feel a gratitude journal coming on within the next day or two.

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