When Headlines Happen to People You Know

In my past life, I was a media junkie. Granted, working in media relations meant that it came with the territory, but I was happy I found a job that allowed me an excuse to read that many newspapers, trade journals and websites, not to mention watch countless hours of broadcast news programming. Monitoring media trends and auditing coverage of issues was fascinating to me. Working with former reporters and editors was an added bonus that has influenced my reading and writing to this day.

Unfortunately, news has taken a big back seat in my stay at home mom life. I’m lucky if I read the newspaper on Sunday, the only edition we actually subscribe to now. I catch a few minutes of the morning news on television and am typically horrified by the amount of royal wedding coverage that I end up turning it off right away. I see headlines through Twitter and Facebook and will occasionally click a link to read a whole story, although not as often as I would like. Most of my news is gathered from NPR headlines at the top of the hour during preschool pick up and All Things Considered while I’m cooking dinner.
Although I have a handle on the news environment, I am woefully uneducated on the details of an issue, the nuances of a story, the details of a disaster. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan were so devastating that I couldn’t bring myself to seek out information on them. In fact, I actively avoided coverage. I have, to this day, not watched a single frame of this terrifying footage. I know that I’m sticking my head in the sand, or rather burying my denial in the sweet smelling crooks of my children’s necks. I’m not proud of it, but have justified it to this point as simply a season in my life – that soon enough, I’ll be back to reading papers, engaging in national issues and educating myself on the latest discoveries/wars/debates.
And then I wake up one unsuspecting morning to the following conversation:
Hubby: “Did you see about those journalists killed in Libya?”
Me: “I saw something last night, but didn’t click on it.”
Hubby: “One of them was Dean’s brother.”
And there it is. Chris Hondros was one of the two journalists killed in Libya yesterday. Tim Hetherington was the other. I found myself immersed in this story, feeling the pain of my husband’s college friend now mourning his brother. I spent time looking through Chris’ compelling photographs, all from some of the most dangerous areas of the world, in awe at the emotion they capture.
It was then that I realized I can’t sit idly by anymore. Chris, Tim and thousands of other journalists risk their lives each and every day to bring a story to light. How dare I ignore the work they so dangerously dedicate their lives to? How can I NOT be engaged in these stories? Sure, Libya is a world away and seemingly doesn’t impact my day of preschool Easter parties and children’s dentist appointments. But don’t the mothers of the world deserve to feel annoyed that their children aren’t behaving at lunch, not worried that their sons are being killed fighting for what they believe in?
From now on, in memory of Chris, Tim and all the others who have perished to tell a story, I will pay more attention to the media world around me. I don’t mean the partisan blow hards that seem to fill up our television screens pitting neighbor against neighbor, but the real journalists who are researching, photographing and telling the hard stories that otherwise might not be told.
I ask that you all do the same. Take a moment. Read a story under the headline. Learn about something you didn’t know about yesterday. I’m not saying I’ll be throwing down a breakfast of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post like I used to, but taking a moment to read a story and engage with it for a few minutes, I think I can handle that.
Meanwhile, I’ll pray for the safe return home of Chris and Tim so that their families might begin the long process of learning to live their lives without these two extraordinary men.

April Showers Bring May Babies!

High Heeled Sis is due with her first baby in mid-May. She is expecting a baby girl and it is no secret that I might be more excited about the fact that she is having a girl than anyone else. I suddenly have an excuse to wander into the baby girl section of a store again, relishing in all the ruffles and pink and softness. Our oldest niece on the hubby’s side is six and sadly no longer in need of fruffy bloomers or tiny tutus. Instead, I’ve had fun sharing my crafty side with her by finding fun toys/activities that she will hopefully enjoy as much as I did at that age.
The fact of the matter is, we are not a couple that feels the need to try for a girl. We have our two boys and our family feels complete. I think part of the reason it feels that way is because we already have some little ladies in our life. Little ladies I can spoil or take shopping or to tea as they get older and then leave their tween-girl drama to their mamas.
With that being said, when it was time to throw my sister a baby shower, I wanted it to be baby girl fantastic. Thanks to some seriously lovely ladies as co-hostesses and helpers (K, K and V, you gals ROCK!), I think we succeeded. Since the small world of the Internet provided me with some inspiration, I wanted to share some of the highlights.
Our colors were pink and green, and yes, we managed to make all pink and green food. Sounds kind of gross at first, but we had shrimp salad, honeydew & watermelon salad, tortellini pasta salad, cucumber sandwiches, prosciutto, arugula & pesto crostinis, iced green tea, raspberry lemonade, wine and a signature Mommy Mocktail (Baby Bellinis: apricot nectar and sparkling grape juice garnished with a fresh raspberry – surprisingly yummy!). Delish!
For dessert, I took a risk and some inspiration from a Google search that landed me here. I modified the cupcakes to look like the baby face that was on our invites. They came out pretty cute, if I do say so myself:
They were cute, but is there anything better than freshly made buttercream frosting? I’m still dreaming about it.
My sister’s nursery has a very garden-meadow feel to it, so I wanted to tie something into that for the shower decor. I decided to do a play on a family tree by using real branches and tying photos of all the family that will love and support the baby – a sort of “it takes a village” theme. Just as I was beginning to wonder exactly how I was going to pull it off, I found some fabulous inspiration here. Here is my finished product:

It’s not the best picture, but you get the idea. It was also a little breezy when I shot it.

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful occasion. Her friends and family thought so, too:
Is there anything cuter than a big pile of gifts in baby paper? Didn’t think so!

Meanwhile, I just want to move into K’s screen porch. This is only half of it, I’m shooting the picture from the eating area of the porch – such a beautiful room (DISCLAIMER: My dad is the residential designer who created this space for K, so I suppose I am a little biased! Anyone need a custom home, renovation or addition design in NC’s Triangle area? I’ve got the man for the job!)

We had a lovely time and somehow I realized a week later that I didn’t take a single picture of High Heeled Sis and me together. Too bad, too.

We were both rocking some sassy heels!

The Post Where I Complain About Complaining

I have a friend who was so disheartened by the negative attitudes she was encountering on Facebook that she actually deactivated her account for awhile and now approaches her interaction with the site completely differently. I have to agree that there are certainly times a contact’s status message has given me pause – did s/he really just say that?! In print?

Has social media really just given us all a medium for a giant b*tchfest where it’s suddenly okay to publicly complain about our job, spouse, kids, whatever?
I admit, I periodically scroll through past Facebook statuses and posts as well as my tweets to get a glimpse of what I’m saying about myself. Am I complaining too often? Too kid-heavy? Sharing too much? Posting just to post or actually sharing something valuable? I think this is the PR training in me – what do the individual statements when taken as a whole communicate about me?
Granted, this space is probably where I am most guilty of complaining/venting/ranting, but I also have endless space to explore and explain and dig and since it’s my therapy space, I tend to allow those things to evolve. The good thing is that I tend to reflect and grow as a result and hopefully don’t bore you all with the same old rants each time I post.
I admit that I was recently guilty of tweeting a complaint about how I had nothing to wear to a mom’s night out. It was trite and vain and a post just to post. Once I typed it and hit enter, I instantly regretted it. I know people whose babies are still stuck in the hospital weeks after being born, folks struggling through a death in the family, people fighting cancer, problems much more worthy of a vent than my petty inability to find a cute pair of pants that fit and matched the top I wanted to wear. And I promptly apologized for my vanity.
So, are we under an obligation to tell folks when their negativity has gone too far? Or do we simply ignore it, skipping over those negative messages along with the Farmville updates? Or, should we all just take a step back and reread that status message before we hit the enter button?
I suppose all I can do is worry about myself and do what I always strive to do (not always achieve, mind you, but try nonetheless) — and that’s be a good example to my kids. Sure, they aren’t reading Facebook or following me on Twitter, but just like all my interactions – online, face-to-face or otherwise – they all represent me. And from now until eternity, that me is a mother with two boys who hopefully will show them how to be caring, empathetic, optimistic citizens of the world.
Whether it’s in 140 characters or not.