Hope

Hope

This is an old post that I wrote in 2012 after the Sandy Hook shootings. The website it was published on is no longer active, and I felt like it might be helpful to someone as we reel from all of the terrifying things that have happened in the past few weeks. 

You’d have to have been living under a rock if you missed all of the social media reactions to the shooting at Sandy Hook.  Even the mainstream news sources covered some of the most viral online activity.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit that I’ve been doing my best to find a rock big enough to live under.

When I found out, I just cried.  I cried on my husband, and cried when I took a shower, and I cried when I was by myself in the car.  As soon as I logged into Facebook, I knew I was going to have to avoid it for the rest of the day.  All of the reactions were what you would expect: anger, sadness, gun control protests, gun control support, cries for love, and cries for God.

Those were all to be expected, and for the most part, completely natural.  The reactions that I simply couldn’t handle reading, no matter how natural they were, however, were the ones of hopelessness.  I don’t know how many times I read the phrase “I’ve lost my faith in humanity.”

When I started seeing those, I had to start hiding every Sandy Hook-related post I saw, regardless of whether they were heartbreaking or inspirational.

You see, I’m about to have a baby.  In less than two weeks.  I can’t be reading posts proclaiming that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  So I hide them.  I’ve said my prayers for the children and their families, and I’ve thought about them every day… but right now, I’m bringing a baby into that handbasket people are talking about, and I absolutely cannot accept that that basket is going anywhere but up.  Call me naïve, call me ignorant, but I refuse to accept that there is no hope for humanity.  You won’t get any logical argument out of me about this, either: I simply cannot accept it.  I can’t afford to accept it.

I know that this incident has brought up issues that absolutely need to be dealt with.  I know that certain things desperately need to be changed in order to prevent more horrifying situations like this from happening.  What I have to focus on right now, however, is that more than ever, we need hope.   I need hope.  And right now, I’m finding hope when I tuck Charlie in at night, and when Paul and I watch the baby in my stomach dance around.  I have to focus on what is beautiful and good and right in front of me, otherwise I’ll lose myself in anxiety and fear.

One of my least favorite blogging habits is the use of popular media as inspiration for a post… but I’m going to break one of my personal rules here.  Some of the last lines in the Christmas episode of Castle ended up being exactly what I needed to hear.  In the final segment, one of the homicide detectives revealed his fear of bringing a baby into the world, after seeing all of the horrific things that are in it.  The other detective responded with this:

“The world’s always falling apart, bro, since the beginning of time.  But having kids, making a family, that’s what keeps it together.”

And that’s what I needed.  I know that there are very serious issues out there that need to be dealt with, but what I need- right now– is hope.  I’m less than two weeks away from having a baby, and I refuse to let the first look it sees on its mother’s face be one of hopelessness and fear.

What I Am Like Totally Loving Right Now

What I Am Like Totally Loving Right Now

So. Here we are. The ol’ blog that I’ve neglected for ALMOST THREE MONTHS.

It’s like running into an old friend at the grocery store after moving back to a town you used to live in. You probably should have contacted each other once you moved back, but you didn’t. It’s only slightly awkward, but it’s cool. You’re both busy, and you’re totally ready to dive back into this friendship, even if it’s just going out for a margarita every three months.

It’s been long enough since I’ve written here that I actually forgot how to add pictures to a blog post. So, since people all around me are doing NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, I’ve decided to at least try to get ONE new blog post up this month. Gotta set some goals, right?

So, in an attempt to jump right back in without staring at my screen for 45 minutes, I decided to try the popular “What I’m Loving” format to jumpstart my brain. I generally am not a huge fan of these posts, but that can be filed into the “It’s not you it’s me” category. Usually these posts are about beauty products and $150 purses… and I would just much rather spend $150 on 15 Target shirts in varying colors. As for beauty products… I get pretty excited when I finally run out of shampoo so I can try a new one. Does that count?

Anyway, life has been a little hectic and I’m feeling stretched, so I figured that focusing on things I am happy with is a good way to avoid excessive snark. So, here are the things I’m like, totally loving right now, you guys.

 

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1. Coffee

As per usual, I love coffee. I seem to be extra loving it right now though, for whatever reason. Probably because October was a very busy month for work, and I was staying up late a lot. Also probably because it’s getting cooler out there, and I don’t care how trendy it is right now to make fun of chicks loving fall (flip-flop lovers watch out; someone will tweet about your shorts and iced white mochas and the internet will think it’s HILARIOUS one of these days so don’t get too smug), but dudefriends, I LOVE FALL. So, onto my next topic:

2. Fall

We’ve got this ravine/prairie chunk right outside of our house, and in the summertime, jackrabbits frolic about on it, fully unaware that our building owner will soon be razing it for more poorly-constructed and vomitously expensive townhomes. In the summer, the rabbits are great and it’s awesome to see storms roll in… but in the fall? It’s quiet and windy and I’m pretty sure that if Heathcliffe magically found himself dropped off in our time period/exact location, he’d head straight to that grassy stretch to brood. Oh, would he brood. And then I’d bring him a lovely scarf and a mug of coffee. He would give me a weird look. I would shrug mysteriously and walk back to my house with wind in my hair and a call in the branches of the trees saying, “Don’t stop brooding on account of me; I just thought you’d like a scarf.”

3. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I’ve been listening to Yes Please on audio book, and it has been fantastic. Amy reads it herself, along with celebrities like Patrick Stewart and Kathleen Turner, and it’s funny and sad and feminist and fascinating. Also, I’m listening to it for free via an app from my public library. It’s firing me up to be more productive and creative, and is probably the reason I’m writing a blog post right now. I’m definitely going to have to go back and listen to Bossypants by Tina Fey, because the audiobook experience when read by the author is super-fun.

4. Doctor Who Podcasts: Verity, Radio Free Skaro, Lazy Doctor Who

I’ve had a hard time keeping up with podcasts in the past, and I’ve finally realized that it’s because I was listening to what I thought I should be listening to. I thought I should be listening to This American Life and The Moth (which are both genuinely AWESOME podcasts), but I just couldn’t stick with it. This is because I was hoping that podcast time would be a good mental break… but I was trying to take a break by listening to really real stuff. And when I need a break, I need a break. Luckily, the current season of Doctor Who has been OH MY GOSH SO SO GOOD, and prompted me to start listening to these podcasts. Verity is a show of six rotating ladies discussing recent episodes, and Radio Free Skaro is three dudes doing the same. Lazy Doctor Who consists of Stephen (from RFS) and Erika (from Verity), the most adorable damned married couple I have ever listened to on a regular basis, watching all of the episodes together, starting with the very first one aired in 1963. These are podcasts about something that I love, made by smart, enthusiastic people. Winners all around in my book.

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5. These Things Matter

This is a podcast put on by a cool old friend (well, kind of; he went to my school for one year in junior high, but managed to escape, I thought he was cool from afar) named Kevin and a kickass lady named Taylor, who are comics in Denver. They operate on the idea that the pop culture we love is important, and is worthy of (hilarious) discussion. I’ve said this a lot, but listening to it is just like sitting in a college dorm room talking about stuff you like with people you like. A wonderful escape full of smart and funny discussion. I even decided to listen to their recent episode about the band Sublime (which. I. HATE.), and ended up loving every minute of it. Check it out.

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6. Thermal Shirts, and Crocheted Stuff. So, still, basically Fall.

Target and Old Navy both are going nuts with thermal shirts. You know, the waffley kind that make you feel like you’re hip regardless of how many days it’s been since you’ve had a shower? I love them. And they have been on sale. See above statement about buying a bunch of the same shirt in varying colors. Also, I got some lovely goodies in the mail from the even lovelier Katillia at Momma Sweet Pea Crochet. Be looking for a giveaway in the coming weeks, ya crazy kids!

7. Tomato Timer

I’m planning a post (gasp ANOTHER?) about productivity on this blog pretty soon, but I still want to throw this in here. I’ve recently stumbled upon the “Pomodoro Technique” for creativity, and it has been a GAME CHANGER. Its simplicity is deceptive. You basically work in hard sprints of 25 minutes, focusing on one task, then take a short 5 minute break before jumping in for another 25. (You can try this tomato timer here, but you can also just use the stopwatch on your phone) After a few of these periods of time, you do a longer break, between 15-30 minutes. I am amazed at how much work I can get done in 25 minutes when there’s a guaranteed 5 minute break ahead of me, and when I’m purposefully allowing myself to only focus on ONE THING. “So far, November’s looking up in the productivity department,” she said, nonchalantly, as she was secretly scrambling around the room knocking on any piece of wood available.

So. What about you? What are you, like, totally loving right now, friends?

Black Day: The Monster Rock Band by Marcus Sikora

Black Day: The Monster Rock Band by Marcus Sikora

Disclosure Stuff: I received an eBook preview of Black Day: The Monster Rock Band in return for this post. All opinions are my own and reading is awesome so high-fives all around!

I know, I know. Lauren’s doing another sponsored post? Doesn’t she usually blather on about how she really doesn’t do that kind of thing?

Well, sometimes I do, when it’s something I think is totally awesome. Plus, the compensation I’m getting from this particular post is the best kind ever: reading.

I recently got to check out a sneak peek of a new children’s book called Black Day: The Monster Rock Band, written by a local author named Marcus Sikora, and his mom, Mardra.

Black Day stars a young boy named Brad who desperately wants to be in a rock band… regardless of who’s in it. When he stumbles upon the band practice of a group that just so happens to be made up of monsters, Brad has no intention of changing his plans. Not only do we get to watch Brad use his resourcefulness and gain acceptance from his spooky band members, we also get to see the inception of a town’s newest Halloween tradition. I love that the book promotes the importance of recognizing people’s value, whether we fully understand them or not.

One of the things that makes this book special is the fact that the author, Marcus, is a young man living with Down Syndrome. His mother, Mardra, writes beautifully about their life together on her website, and I feel privileged to be allowed a glimpse into their lives. Marcus is a vibrant guy with an honest demeanor, and seems to be more emotionally intelligent than most of the people I’ve met in my life. Definitely more so than I am.

Let’s get real here, though. I think the most awesome thing about this book is that I got to see Marcus singing onstage before I had any idea that he had a book about a rock band cooking in his head.

I met Marcus and Mardra officially last year, but it turned out that I had been watching them sing Karaoke together since 2011 at one of my favorite (but sadly closed now) Karaoke bars. Mardra’s got a killer voice and can belt some 90’s alternative music without breaking a sweat, but the real showstopper is Marcus and his rendition of Harry Belafonte’s Day-O. I’ve gotten to watch Marcus’ accomplishments all the way from the stage to the page, and I feel incredibly honored.

The Details:

Black Day: The Monster Rock Band is a 40 page hardcover book, and is available for $20 online here for delivery in July, and immediately available for purchase at the Bookworm in Omaha, NE

-For more info about the book, you can head over to www.BlackDayBook.com.

-There will be a reading and book signing event at the Bookworm on Friday July 11th 1:00 pm. -You can follow Marcus and Mardra on Facebook and Twitter!

Very Complex and In-depth Video Book Review

I asked Charlie to do a little video book review about Black Day. He may or may not mention a lot that the book is scary… just bear in mind that even a dash of ominous ambiance is enough to have him covering his eyes.

The Croup is a Big Bad A-Hole.

The Croup is a Big Bad A-Hole.

When you are pregnant, or thinking about having a baby, people will have plenty of things to tell you about your future . . . some of them awesome, some of them daunting:

“It’s like having your own little best friend to hang out with all the time.”
or. . .
“It will be years before you sleep for more than 6 hours at a time . . . if you’re lucky.”
or. . .
“You will have no idea how you could possibly love someone that much, but you will, and it will be awesome.”
or. . .
“Sex life, schmex life!”

Now, here’s something they never got around to telling me:

There will be times where you will be terrified out of your mind, battling an epic war of indecision in your brain, while, at the same time, having to be responsible for this little person’s well-being.

Enter Croup. Croup is when the vocal chords and larynx get inflamed, causing breathing difficulty for the child. If your kid starts coughing like a baby seal, you need to take them in to the doctor. Sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean BOTH times that Charlie has gotten Croup now) it gets bad enough that they have to give your kid a shot of steroids. The other thing you have to watch out for is something called “Stridor.” This is the name for the sound your kid makes when the croup is making it difficult for him to breathe. The nurse described it to me today as a “raspy, vibrating, inhalation” sound. If you start hearing this, take him in. (Also, sometimes taking the kid out in the cold air will clear up Stridor, but you should still probably take him in, just in case.)

Ugh. This . . . is . . . a HORRIBLE feeling. “Is that Stridor? Is he . . . stridoring? Or is it just nasal congestion? Am I being paranoid and just terrifying myself? Or do I need to take him to the emergency room? Is it blue around his mouth? Is it a shadow? IS HE GOING TOEXPLODE!?”

That’s what it feels like. It feels like your child is about to explode, and if you don’t do something, the exact right thing right now, he will explode. Or . . . maybe he won’t, and you will have gotten up in the middle of the night, put off sleep for everyone involved, and used up a lot of money and resources because what you thought was imminent explosion was actually just a little nasal congestion.
That’s the other side of the coin. “What if it’s nothing? What if an entire trip to the emergency room could be prevented by sucking the snot out of his nose with that blue thing? What if I take him in and the doctor calls me a paranoid fool and slaps me across the face?”

(Here’s a little secret: You’re probably not going to get slapped.)

In fact, if the doctor’s not a total jerk-nozzle, the worst you will get is a “Better safe than sorry!” and you will go home with a safe and (mostly) healthy kid. You may feel a little stupid, but at least you’ll know for sure that your child is fine.

Now, I am by no means an expert (like, at all) on Croup, but I think I’ve gathered some information that would have been useful early on:

1. Know where the emergency room is, so you’re not scrambling on Google Maps at 2 in the morning trying to find out which one is closest to you. This may sound like a no-brainer, but, hey, I’m just sayin.’

2. Find out if there is a nurse-on-call number for your physician/city and program it in your phone (or put it on the fridge . . . whatever works).

3. When you get ahold of the nurse on call, keep this in mind: No one is ever going to say “Pshhh, he’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” because that’s a liability issue. Now, while they won’t tell you to stay home, they may have information (such as what Stridor sounds like, or whether or not a marble can be pooped out) that will help you make your own decision. Paul thinks I use the nurse-on-call number as an excuse to have a legitimate reason to bring him in, because they never tell me, “Naw, it’s cool.” As much as I hate to admit it, he’s right.

4. On a similar note . . . listen to your gut. If your gut is feeling unsettled enough that you can’t sleep, or are setting your alarm for every 20 minutes just to make sure your kid is still breathing, quit fracking around already and just go into the ER. I dilly-dallied around all evening, looking things up on the internet, checking on Charlie, calling the nurse on call, checking on Charlie again, laying down for bed, and then finally waking everybody up for the 50th time at 2 AM after finally deciding that we do, in fact, need to take him in. Had we just gone in as soon as my gut started telling me to be really worried, I think we would have all gotten a lot more sleep that night.

5. Finally, PLEASE call your doctor before you get on the internet. The internet isTERRIFYING. The information you find is rarely consistent enough to be truly helpful, and will most likely convince you that your child has some kind of mutated extra-terrestrial alien flu.

I’m going to stop rambling now. Sick kids are scary and stressful.

If you’ve got croup stories, lemme have ‘em!

Hi, I’m Lauren, and this is my obese brain.

Hi, I’m Lauren, and this is my obese brain.

And, no, I don’t mean that my brain is corpulent and busting at the seams with intelligence and knowledge. I mean obese in that my brain has been sitting on its big fat medulla oblongata, eating crime novel and Chick-lit bon-bons, drinking heavy amounts ofUSA original programming, and stuffing itself shamelessly with disgusting fistfuls of Facebook. All the while, my big ole lazy brain has been shouting the excuse, “But I’ve got a little baby!”

Not to sound like a know-it-all, dear Brain, but how long have you had that little baby? Eight months? Hmm… So what will your excuse be in another eight months? “But I’ve got a…slightly older little baby?”

The fact is, I’m always going to have an excuse to let my brain atrophy. Eventually, it’s going to get to the point where I’m not going to be able to say “college degree” let alone remember that I have one. So, it’s diet time, people. The thing about diets is that the only person who can make it work is you…(Unless it’s a diet, like, the Cabbage Juice diet…in that case I don’t think it’s your fault.) So as much as I would like to hire Billy Blanks to come Tae Bo my head, I’m going to have to muster up some willpower and figure out a way to get my brain back into bikini shape.

Now I know there are a few of my friends who are thinking, “So…a blog? That’s the way to exercise your brain? Really. Really!?”

I promise you, my friends are not crappy and nonsupporting. They are just remembering the times in college when we would sit in front of the computer and laugh our asses off at other people’s blogs. I’m talking laugh so hard your face hurts and you peed in your pants a little…so they’re justified in their incredulity. In my defense, however, these were “I’m drowning in a pool of my own heartbroken tears because Bobby won’t even look at me in Psych 101 and I know we haven’t ever met but I think that we’re connected spiritually because we both wore shirts today that had pickles on them” type blogs. You can’t blame me for that, right? Right?

So here’s the plan: When Charlie takes his nap, instead of staring blankly at Facebook or getting entirely too attached to TV characters, (No, Lauren. Joey and Rachel are not your friends, and neither Carrie nor Samantha cares that you’re drinking plain cranberry juice out of a wine glass, pretending you’re drinking cosmos over lunch. Sorry.) I will be taking my thoughts and forcing myself to articulate them onto paper…or laptop screen.

You may be thinking, “Oh, great. A mommy blog. We’ll get to hear about baby poop and the stupid Family Circus cartoon that made her cry this morning.”

Trust me, I understand your concerns. I know you don’t want to hear about poop and diaper rash. Yeah, I’m a mom. Definitely. I’m also a wife, writer, friend, and Karaoke dynamo. I’m a whole lot of things. The mom stuff is simply a layer. Now, having mentioned that, I do have to say that if baby poop ends up on the ceiling, my face, or in anyone’s mouth, I’m sorry, but you’re going to hear about it. I can’t be expected to be left alone with that.