Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Birthday Weekend To Remember...

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the month of December.  Not only does my absolute favorite holiday fall later in the month, but I get to celebrate my birthday in the middle of the month.  I love everything about the holidays - the lights, the music, the wrapping, the shopping, and of course, Christmas with my family.  Christmas has taken on an even deeper meaning since Georgia came along.  Seeing her absolute delight every time she sees "her" ornaments on the tree this year is so much fun.  She loves the garland going down the stairs and loves to poke at the presents under the tree.  She's so curious about everything new in the house right now.  There is nothing like Christmas with a little one.  Last year's Christmas in New England was the best day ever.  Not only did Georgia have her cousins on my side to interact with, but she also had her cousin, Abby, there.  Having a houseful of children on Christmas makes the day all that more special.  Christmas at home is my favorite day of the year.

What breaks my heart today is knowing that 20 families in Connecticut are going to be missing children at their holiday celebrations this year... if they even have a "celebration" at all this year after the horrible tragedy they just faced.

As someone who has walked into an elementary school every morning for the past 10 years, this past Friday will be a date that I won't soon forget.  It started off like any other normal day, except that it was also my birthday.  Beautiful flowers arrived from my husband in the morning and a massive edible arrangement arrived from my mom in the early afternoon.  At some point during the day, I heard rumors about something happening in Connecticut, but didn't think much of it.  When I returned to my office after lunch and sat down on my computer, I was absolutely stunned.  

I love the state of Connecticut.  I spent four of the best years of my life in that state at the University of Connecticut.  Every time we drive home to Massachusetts, I don't mind the long ride through Connecticut because every exit sign holds a memory of a friend from that area.  Exit 68 off our Route 84 is my personal favorite and Nick knows that I will begin singing the UCONN fight song as we approach that exit.  Nick is also well aware that I'd gladly move to Connecticut any day if he ever wants to transfer to his work's NYC office.  I still have so many friends living in the area and my family would then only be a few short hours away.  I love everything about Connecticut - the small towns, the rolling hills, the ocean nearby, etc.  I've always thought that it would be a perfect place to live and raise a family.

As I learned about the unfolding events in Connecticut, I immediately logged into Facebook knowing that so many friends live in that state.  The feed was filled with rumors, news reports, and people reporting in to let others know that they were okay.  Unfortunately, not all families were that lucky.  I cannot imagine their pain.  I'm very familiar with child reunification plans that are built into every school's emergency plans.  As a staff member who is typically assigned to assist with child-parent reunification, I cannot imagine the horror and anxiety that those parents faced as they arrived to claim their children.  As a member of our school's on-site emergency team, I have attended training after training about situations exactly like those that they faced in Connecticut.  Every year, you sit in that meeting and think to yourself, it will never happen at an elementary school.  However, you still think about your office and your options if that horrible day ever occurred.  I now know that I'll never look at my cabinets in the same manner and that I'll never have my keys far from my  desk.  We practice lock down drills yearly with the thought that an "active shooter" is in the area.  Administrators walk around to ensure that the classrooms are quiet and locked.  The thinking is that if someone thinks that there is no one in a room, they will move on.  It seems that those same practices were in place in Connecticut.  I'm sure countless lives were saved by quick thinking teachers who locked themselves down and took shelter in their classrooms and offices.  Keeping groups of children quiet is not the easiest task in the world, even when you know it is just a drill, so I can't imagine that job when you know the situation outside your door is real and that lives depend upon it.  

I know that many people think this is not the time to discuss gun control, but I completely disagree.  I think now is the perfect time.  I don't often politicize on this blog, but I feel like I have to comment on the state of our country.  I understand the Bill of Rights and the "right to bear arms."  However, that was written in a time of cannons and muskets.  Go ahead, own a handgun or a rifle.  But you do not need to have an arsenal at your private disposal.  I can't even begin to fathom what the suspect's mother was thinking having that many guns in her home while knowing that her son had "mental disabilities" as reported by numerous media outlets.  I know the argument that guns don't kill people and that people kill people.  But right now, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  End of rant.

It is with a heavy heart that I return to work tomorrow to an elementary school where children will no doubt have many questions.  I feel 100% safe in returning to work and know that tomorrow will be one of the safest days to ever work in a school building in the United States.  I would not be surprised to see police presence at our school tomorrow morning, as was the case during dismissal on Friday afternoon.  

So, hug your babies a little tighter today and be thankful that they came home from daycare or from school.  I'm thankful that our daycare has tight security measures to enter the building and I'm grateful that I work in a school with a locked front door and a buzz-in security system similar to the one that was in place in Connecticut. 

I'd like to end on a positive note, so here are some images from this week that made me smile, even with all the horror in the world, there is beauty in our world and I'm thankful for that.

One of my birthday presents from Georgia was a framed copy of this print for my office

Georgia loves screaming "I got you" as she gets chased these days!

My beautiful flowers from Nick, Georgia and even KC!

Our Christmas card collection always brings a giant smile to my face!

And my personal favorite from my birthday...

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