thinking of wmass

Photo credit: Holly N.

Although I now live in the Hudson Valley, I am originally from a small town in Western Mass. and my family and many of my friends still live in the area. It was completely surreal to turn on The Weather Channel yesterday afternoon and watch the tornado tear through Springfield and then hear that another one was hitting my hometown of Palmer.

Thank God everyone I know is safe, and there was no damage to my immediate family’s homes. Springfield is just a wreck, said people I know who live and work in that area. But my heart breaks for Monson, the next town over from Palmer. I know a few people who live there and to see the damage and utter devastation… well, there just aren’t words. My friend Holly posted several photos of the damage on Facebook, and the picture above is one of them. That church steeple was 137 years old.

I was astounded as I watched this video showing aerial footage of the area. That poor town is destroyed. We’ve been through blizzards and hurricanes, but this is something on another level. Of course, the people of WMass are very strong and they’ll get through this, but my thoughts and prayers are with them. I hope yours are, too.

just an observation

innisfree garden

Well, 6 pm has come and gone on the East Coast with nary a hint of Rapture. No earthquake. No one flying up into the sky. Not even a slight rain shower. Life just continued on as my husband, my friend and I enjoyed a glass of wine while all of our kids played together. Of course, I never expected anything to happen, but clearly there is a group of people who did. And as it becomes clearer and clearer to everyone that Harold Camping is a fraud, I’ve noticed how people love to make fun of these people who believed it would happen.

Don’t get me wrong — they’re idiotic. Even if you believe in a Biblical Rapture, the idea of a rolling global earthquake just sounds silly. But what happens to them now? And please don’t say “Who cares?” That seems to be what a lot of people are saying, unfortunately. Because I am a sap, I feel sorry for these people who have lost so much: homes, savings, family… it’s more than I can personally imagine doing for my faith. I hope they’ll get help if they need it. Their disappointment must be great. But instead of making fun of them, I think we really need to show them compassion.

Of course, there is still the click here to donate button on the radio station’s website, and there’s no message stating “We were wrong, sorry” or anything like that, so I can only imagine what the future is for this man. I would hope that he’ll take responsibility. While he does not believe in churches, per se, like it or not, he is the leader of an ersatz church. He is the leader of a flock of sheep (and you can take that metaphor as far as you want to go). He needs a better excuse this time than “miscalculation.”

god bless them all

It just doesn’t feel right typing up the trivial blog post I’d planned for today when all of Poland is mourning the loss of their president, his wife, and many top officials who were killed in a tragic plane crash at a Russian airport. And let’s not forget all the other passengers on board the plane who also perished. Those who have known me for a while know well that I am passionately Polish and I feel a strong connection to the country even though I have yet to travel there. I can’t help but wonder what this means for the future of the country, politically. And while yes it could very well have just been an accident, the conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but raise an eyebrow. It will all be sorted out in time (though hopefully it won’t take too long).

For now, I offer my thoughts and prayers to a nation that is buried in sorrow.

Thank goodness I’m not on *THAT* Jury!

I feel so bad for those jurors on the R. Kelly trial. How gross: they have to watch the 25-minute sex tape! You can read the article on CNN. I’m not linking to it because sometimes when I link to CNN, the post gets trackbacked and I get werido comments. I have to imagine that when they chose the jury for this they made sure they picked people who wouldn’t take issue watching something like that. But seriously – how do you prepare yourself? All I can think of is Dave Chappelle’s hilarious spoof (definitely NOT safe for work or anywhere near kids!). Somehow I doubt that the real tape is anywhere near as funny (in a potty humor kind of way, of course).

Ew. Just… Ew.

Over-the-Top Birthdays

I have a confession: I love, love, love birthdays. I love celebrating. I love making the day of someone’s birth extra special for them. I do not, however, feel like you have to spend a ton of money doing it. I read this story on CNN about over-the-top birthday parties for small children and I just could not believe it.

Two years ago, Stephanie Kaster of Manhattan set out to plan the birthday party of a lifetime for her daughter. Granted, little Sophie didn’t have many parties under her belt with which to compare it: She was not yet 3.

“I just thought, ‘If I go to another paint-a-ceramic-bowl or stuff-a-bear party, I’ll shoot myself,'” says Kaster.

So she booked a fondue restaurant, hired a musical troupe to perform as the Wiggles (her daughter’s favorite group) and ordered a four-layer cake. Each guest took home a Fisher-Price guitar and custom CD.

The price tag? $5,000

Seriously? What kind of message are we sending to our kids when we feel like we have to go to such lengths for a birthday party? Sure we all want to celebrate and “spoil” our children on their big day, but isn’t dropping 5K on a three-year-old’s party a little silly? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. I know most parents have to think long and hard about spending money on “big” presents like an xbox 360 or something, forget about the party itself.

I guess I understand the people who say that if you have the means, why not do it… but how many people can really afford these things? People are defaulting on their mortgages, putting everything on credit cards. I don’t know. The last birthday party we went to was at Jake’s friend’s house. The kids designed their own t-shirts using foam stamps and fabric paint. We played games outside (potato sack race, pass the orange to the next kid without using your hand, hold the balloon between your legs and make it to the finish line without dropping it). My friend used those star-shaped cupcake molds and each child had his or her own chocolate star cake to eat. It was simple and so much fun. The kids played. The adults got to chit-chat. I guess I just wonder why people feel that is not enough? Why do you need to spend hundreds of dollars on a cake? Forget about saving money for a minute… wouldn’t it just be more fun do make it with your child? (They’re not going to care if you’re not an experienced baker, and really anyone can open up a Duncan Hines box.)

We’re already planning Jake’s 6th birthday party, and we’re going to do it at home, as always. We’re going to invite a few of his school friends. Drew is going to do a magic show for the kids, we’ll have plenty of outside games and they can run around. There will be some snacks, and Jake already asked me to make him a robot cake. (He picked it from a cake decorating book I have.) He’s totally excited about it all, and it’s not going to cost a lot of money. Money doesn’t make it magical. The people do. I think this country would be a lot better off if people would understand that.