Friday, August 22, 2014

Why I'm Angry. Hint: I Don't Hate the Police

It's 3:12 in the morning and no, I haven't gone to bed yet.

My mind is racing and my heart is hurting and I just can't turn it off.

I literally want to run away from these conversations. In fact, I can. It's pretty damn easy. All have to do is talk about something cute or funny. I can make an observation about the weather or the school year, and no one will think any less of me. I can let this fury just sliiiide away, if I want it to. And I do. I really want it to slide away. I really want to release the pain of knowing how huge the gap is between my side and your side. I would love to forget that some people now believe that I hate all policemen; that I am "rude, offensive, and just plain ignorant" because my beliefs are more liberal than theirs are. I think I could fall asleep fairly easily without that knowledge.

You see, I have that luxury. My skin tone allows it. I can be furious on Wednesday but silent on Thursday because it's not expected for me to be constantly battling a fight for equality.

It's bullshit. It's bullshit and I feel like a coward for considering the idea of backing off. I feel like a coward for deleting a heated conversation on Facebook. I feel like I didn't present my views appropriately. Maybe, if I had been more eloquent, more even-keeled, I could have swayed a perspective to the mere IDEA that things are UNBALANCED. And they're not unbalanced because white people are horrible and black people are saints. They're not unbalanced because being black and poor means you're a criminal; any more than being white and financially secure equals a law-abiding citizen.

Things are unbalanced because we all, ALL OF US, allow it to be so. Black and White and Asian and Latino, we all perpetuate these stereotypes and allow them to flourish. With every utterance of a slang term aimed at anyone, regardless of whether or not YOU ARE THAT DEMOGRAPHIC, we dig that divide ever deeper and wider... With every assumption made about a boy sitting on the curb of a parking lot or about a policeman patroling the streets of a heavy-crime area, we make assumptions and justify stereotypes and hurt ourselves.

Let me get one thing straight: I don't hate policemen. Or firemen, or paramedics, or the military, or anyone in public services. What I hate is the power that comes from the shield of those positions. I hate police violence. I hate military cover ups. I hate that the corruption of our system runs SO DEEPLY that anyone would have the audacity to even suggest that profiling doesn't exist.

I hate that a young boy has to be taught how to react if questioned by the police, for fear he will be arrested or SHOT. I hate that Michael Brown is just ONE FACE in a long line of people who have died by the same fate. I hate that arguments about the tiny details of HIS death are what people get hung up on: It's NOT just MICHAEL BROWN. It's the hundreds of deaths and harassments and injustices that don't go viral that are the fuel behind the fury. It's the young people of color who are killed in Chicago every day by gangs and drive by's that we are immune to. If Antonio Smith was a little white boy in my suburban neighborhood, shot down by a gang member, you can DAMN well be sure that it would be making the news. HUGE news. And yet... no. I've seen only a blurb here and there and it will fade away into the weekly murders that happen in Chicago, most especially on a hot summer weekend. Michael Brown's death simply lit a match in front a hissing stream of toxic gases.

This isn't just about police and riots and looting. This is about our nation seeing the equal value and unimaginable loss of every person, not despite the color of their skin, but BECAUSE of ALL of their attributes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


The 2014 school year has begun without nearly as much pomp and circumstance as in years gone by. Justin is a sophomore at public school and is doing fine (knock on wood!). No big surprises for him and he seems to be feeling like an old pro now that he's in his second year back at school.

Didn't take a first day photo of him because I am a sucky mom who doesn't wake up at 6 am.

Evan is in 7th grade! SEVENTH. This is insane. I started homeschooling him near the end of first grade, so to think that we've been doing this for almost 6 years is pretty astonishing. Obviously, we're doing SOMEthing right, because he's progressing along at his own rate and continues to grow in maturity each year. We're upping the science and writing for him this year in preparation for high school in 2 years (his idea, not mine) and so far, on day 3 of this regime, he's doing pretty damn good. He's accepting the routine and the assignments without skimping and without TOO much pressure. I think he's on the right road to claiming more of the responsibility for his education, and that makes me beyond proud.

Evan's first day of 2nd grade, our first FULL year of homeshooling him...
 Corinne is in THIRD GRADE. This kid has only been inside of "schools" for Girl Scout meetings and hasn't seemed to suffer for any lack of "social interaction." In fact, I still need to rein her in to keep her focused on the family and her own business, rather than friends all the time. I don't know if it's because she's a girl, my third child, or if it's her own natural personality, but this kid is crazy responsible. She loves the daily checklists and always corrects her work if it's incorrect. She's not afraid to ask questions or try new things (though it's still a challenge to get her to read chapter books).

Corinne on her first day of Pre-school, because she insisted she needed to do school TOO.
 I can't believe how much they've grown and how long we've been homeschooling.... Wow.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Remember when?

Remember the days, "back in the days" during early* blogging, where you felt the need to announce that you were "taking a break" so that people wouldn't get "worried" about you because you hadn't written in more than 3 days? And remember that it WAS an actual, REAL worry? I mean, I READ blogs EVERY DAY. I read them and clicked them off of lists and connected in ways other than Facebook and texting and IT MATTERED if I didn't write for 12 days (like I just did). People NOTICED and CARED and would email you with concerned messages of "Hey, hon. Noticed you hadn't written. Is everything ok?..." and you would feel important and validated and PRESENT on the internet and so, in order to prevent said concern, you would announce a much needed absence for a vacation and/or sanity break (from all the content finding and witty insights) and maybe even schedule posts (new and/or old favorites) so that your "readers" wouldn't get bored and (God forbid) start reading someone else's blog.

Remember when your favorite blogger would suddenly declare that she (rarely a "he") didn't know if blogging was something she could continue with? And you would GASP! because, "OMG, this is one of the best and if SHE can't cut it long-term, why would I think that I could?" and then you would secretly bite your lip in guilty hopes that this actually WAS a REAL departure of another amazing writer so that you would somehow become more awesome(r) in her absence. And then the guilt would get REALLY bad so you would be overcome with writer's block as a punishment from the Goddess of Blogdom.

How quaint.

*We're talking old-school and time-warping to 2007(ish).

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I'm a little Corny

I tend to get a little nostalgic about corn.

When you drive daily on roads that are lined with fields of this crop, you can't help but take notice of the subtle changes that result in formerly barren acres of space. What was recently just dirt is now a towering pseudo-forest of the deepest greens.

I get a tangible JOY when I drive these country roads. On my drive tonight, I inhaled so deeply, I could actually TASTE the corn. The sweetness permeates the air.  It's a constant reminder of how very precious and impermanent all of Life truly is. I remember being a child, thinking that the corn was ALWAYS EVERYWHERE when, in fact, it's only here for a very short time. Mid-summer through harvest and then? It's gone. It's empty and barren again, with only the indiscriminate wind whipping piles of snow against fence lines, random barns, and the lumpy remains of last year's combine.

Our air-conditioner needs a frion charge, so I turned it off this week. We're too busy for an a/c guy to monopolize an entire day right now, so we're just dealing with the humidity by sleeping in the living room in front of 3 fans while watching reruns of H2O. Last night, as my daughter tossed about on the couch, rearranging the pillows, I noticed her profile and absolutely froze in awe. The lighting was dim and flickering from the television, and her hair, highlighted by many days in the chlorine and sunshine, fell about her face in beautiful, amber waves. She is stunning, my daughter. And somehow, despite the fact that she is only 8, I saw in her face last night a glimpse of what she will look like as a woman. I saw into the future and knew that she will only become even more beautiful as the seasons pass. It absolutely took my breath away.

It's all so fleeting. These moments driving through the summer fields, breathing the sweetness of this thick and heady air. These days of her 8th year have shifted and we are nearly upon her ninth.

The corn is at its fullest and greenest right now. Soon, the leaves will yellow and the harvest will be upon us once again.

But today? Today, it's still green.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Summer Fun in Ohio!

Disclaimer: My family was provided with 5 complimentary tickets to Cedar Point. No payment was received and this post is strictly of my own desire to share our experience with you. All opinions and words are my own.

Summer is definitely a time for families to reconnect. Every day presents new possibilities for chances to enjoy each others company. My own family enjoys a WIDE range of summertime activities, with one activity being particularly favored by all: Roller Coaster Parks.

Bring it on, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio!!

In line for the Iron Dragon, a perfect beginner's roller coaster!
Yes, he really IS that good looking in real life.

We've enjoyed many coaster parks in the Midwest and South and none of them really compare to the awesome that is Cedar Point. Not only do they have some of the BEST rides (Millennium Force and Top Speed Dragster are a MUST) but it's probably my favorite layout of any park, EVER. I never get lost in Cedar Point because it's a peninsula for cryin out loud! You can only go so far before you have to turn around. There are no random paths to no-man's-land; just a nice, long loop along the shore with plenty of short-cuts throughout. BRING IT ON.
Millennium Force! One of the BEST ROLLER COASTERS ever. You have to experience the rush of that first fall, at least once in your life....
Another benefit of having limited land to build upon is that they really utilize EVERY inch of space. The Gate Keeper, new to the 2014 season, is located directly over the entrance of the park's "gate."
The Gatekeeper's entrance is just steps away from several other rides, which is the general layout of the entire park. Don't like the ride to your left? Then turn to your right.

Gatekeeper is in the distance, and MaxAir is above. You are literally STEPS from the next ride, all day long...
There are always ways to save at Cedar Point. I highly suggest checking out their website for info on ticket deals and hotels that discount ticket purchases with a stay at their location. 
Top Speed Dragster is about 11 seconds long, so don't waste a single second being scared: just GO with it! TRUST ME.

Family time: the best reason to go to Cedar Point!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Too Much. Too Many.

Too much laundry, too many dishes.

There are too many weeds to pull and forms to fill out and bills to pay.

Too many errands and too many instant-reminders on my Google calendar of places I'm supposed to be and details I'm supposed to remember. Too many opportunities to make mistakes.

It's too late in the summer to enjoy it without a sense of urgency. "You're missing it! You're missing it!" rings in my head, but I am too apathetic to jump up and seize the day. All I want to do is seize the solitude and sit in the shade with a cool drink and a quiet child or two beside me.

There is too much pain and too much injustice with too many babies that cry without hope for a bottle or breast to ease their hunger, or even a pair of loving arms to be held within.

Too much war and too many fights over who did/said/believed something that no longer matters once your hearts ceases beating. Too many people feeling too different from each other, despite the most important similarity we all share; each began as a single cell, a small life, a tiny baby - innocent and sweet and trusting.

There is too much in my head just now. Too much in my heart. It overwhelms and overflows and I just need to be quiet a little longer.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yes, this is a scheduled post. I'm at BlogHer!

I realized that I never posted my own video after the Chicago Listen To Your Mother Show this year. Hmmm. Being a producer does that to you, I guess? I really want for EVERYone's pieces to be viewed and adored, but I kind of think my own is pretty hilarious, too. So, if you have 5 minutes and 9 seconds to spare for a few giggles, here is my 2014 LTYM Chicago piece, "Sweeter Than Honey."

It's all true. Every word. In fact, this is one of the TAMER stories I have to share. 

My kids are going to need therapy, for sure.
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