Category Archives: In the News

And Reason #173 Why “Auntie Jen” Shouldn’t Have Children

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, THIS pops up in my news feed…..

“A jury has ruled against a New York woman who sued her nephew for hugging her too hard on his eighth birthday.”

I’m sorry. But with that kind of lead-in, I just had to click and read.

Apparently, with undue glee, the sweet,  “very loving” (<—her words!) 8-year-old boy ran towards her and leapt into her arms, saying “Auntie Jen, I love you!” The force knocked her down and she broke her wrist. She didn’t complain to him at the time because, as she told the jury, “It was his birthday and I didn’t want to upset him.”

So, Jennifer Connell upset him later with a $127, 000 lawsuit. She wants him accountable for his actions. Besides, now the 54-year-old has a hard time juggling her hors d’oeuvre plate when she attends parties due to her injury. (I’m not kidding. That’s what she told the jury. I can’t make this stuff up.) 

Hence, my disgust and confusion.

How in the world did this woman find an attorney that would take this case?

How in the world did anyone, crazy aunt or money-grubbing attorney, think they were going to get $127,000 from an 8-year-old boy?

How in the world did this ever, ever in a million years, get to a jury and waste the good taxpayers time and money?

Thank you, dear jury, for delivering the only verdict possible.

Thank you, Auntie Jen, for never having children. You’ve already squashed the loving exuberance of a sweet child in one fell swoop. We don’t need to squash any other children.

And to the poor, sweet, very loving boy (who is now 12-years-old — yes, it took four years for this debacle to end) may you find love and kindness in your other relatives.

And may you never have to hug Auntie Jen ever again.



Filed under I'm Baffled (And Because I Love The Word Baffled), In the News, Soapbox

Negotiating iThis, xThat and Every Screen In Between

A Facebook friend alerted me to an article on the Washington Post that has resonated with me in every fiber of my being. “Parenting as a Gen Xer: We’re the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything.”

I was born on the cusp of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. I remember the days in college of wrapping rubber bands around the punch cards you inserted into the computer. Then, just a few years later, I  purchased  my first “home” computer shortly after graduation.

I have three children. A 21 year old daughter and 10 and 11 year old sons. And that 10 year difference might as well be 3 generations of technology users. When we finally let our daughter have a cell phone, that’s all it was. A cellphone. You called people with it.

Now? It’s a phone, a mailbox, an urban dictionary, an internet surfer, a radio, a photo album, a camera, a video recorder. It connects you to your parents, your siblings, your family, your friends, your friend’s friends, and every other sick-o stranger on the planet.

How do you teach “Stranger Danger” and stay current with all the tricks that twist and turn by the minute?

screen time

One answer: You can’t.

My sons, especially Mr. 11-year-old, have been begging for a phone. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not necessary. I drive them everywhere they need to be. We still have an old-fashioned land line phone at home.

But if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m scared to death to break down and let them have a phone. It’s one less screen in front of their faces. It’s one less screen I have to worry about breaking. And it’s one less screen that’s going to take their precious innocence.

We have limited screen time. Weekends = 3 hours each day. Weekdays = unlimited. Well, that’s what we tell them – so they think they’re getting away with something. But between school, swim practice, baseball, Kung-Fu and Boy Scouts it works out to about 1.5 hours a day.

We have “Unplugged” days when no screens of any kind are allowed. We recently took an unplugged 4 day vacation to the mountains. Just fishing and hiking and board games and card games . Campfires and mosquitoes and skipping rocks. Books with real pages and that intoxicating “new book” smell.

It was heaven.

Like the author of the Washington Post article, I just can’t outright ban the screen time. It’s oh-so-necessary in this day and age. They need to be connected and savvy. On the other hand, I worry about what it is doing to their social skills. Will they develop a Dowager’s hump, hovering over their Kindles and iPads? And who ARE they talking to on xbox-Live?

This is truly a rickety-tricky age in which to live. Oh, sure. I know that every generation has its struggles. But this is one arena where we don’t have a role model to guide us. It’s trial and error. And with cyber-bullying and sexual predators, it’s an error that can be devastating.


I struggle.

And you struggle.

And our kids hate us for keeping them from their precious screens.

But that’s just how it’s going to have to be.


Filed under children, In the News, parenting

The Zimmerman Case: I’m Not Sure We’re Entitled To An Opinion

Before nodding off to sleep last night, I checked in with Facebook.

“Not Guilty!”

“Please pray for these poor parents!” (insert picture of Trayvon’s parents)

“Don’t worry. Justice will eventually be served!”

“Finally! A not guilty verdict!”

There were status updates for the verdict. There were status updates against the verdict. But many of my Facebook friends had an opinion and they weren’t shy about voicing it.

But me? I don’t have an opinion. I don’t feel like we are entitled to an opinion. Except for George Zimmerman, that is. Because he was the only person who lived to tell about it. Which is incredibly sad. Because I would love to hear Trayvon Martin’s side of the story.

So, here’s what I/we know. A young man was walking through a neighborhood. Another man, concerned for the safety of his neighborhood (or so he says) , deemed the situation suspicious. An altercation ensued. A death occurred.

That’s it. That’s all we know. Because every eye-witness account is contradictory. Because there isn’t conclusive evidence either way. Because every family member and every friend of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin thinks their friend or family member is innocent.

We could listen to evidence and opinion and conjecture all day/week/year long. But we’d never hear the real story, what really happened. Even if we heard it from Zimmerman and Martin themselves, we’d have to sift through their words to guess at whose version is the truth.

Sound bites on the nightly news. Op-ed pieces floating around the internet. We never get the whole story. We get sensational headlines. (Who even reads the entire article anymore?) We get biased interviews. We get rants and raves from attention seeking journalists, experts and by-standers.

I feel for the jurors. The incredible burden of finding the truth. Their task was beyond difficult and heart wrenching.

I feel for George Zimmerman if he indeed, feared for his life and felt he had to pull the trigger. A man is now dead at his hands. What a burden to bear for the rest of his life.

And I feel for Trayvon Martin and his family. A life cut short. A grieving family. Their burden is beyond comprehension for most of us.

Burdens all around.

But no opinion here.

I’m not sure we’re entitled to an opinion.



Filed under In the News

A Call To Post. A Call To Help Us Remember The True Heroes.

Stop the madness! Quit inadvertently glorifying the cowardly Boston Marathon bombers by posting their pictures with every Facebook post, blog post or every news story, cheering their capture. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled we got the bastards. But I don’t want to remember their faces. I don’t care what they looked like. Their lives mean nothing to me.

Let’s remember these faces. The heroes. The victims. The winners.

The ones who matter.

Martin Richard (age 8), Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi

Martin Richard (age 8), Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi

Officer Sean Collier

Officer Sean Collier

Former New England Patriots player Joe Andruzzi carries a woman from the scene on Exeter Street after two explosions went off on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013. (Bill Greene/The Boston Globe/Getty Images)

Former New England Patriots player Joe Andruzzi carries a woman from the scene on Exeter Street after two explosions went off on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013. (Bill Greene/The Boston Globe/Getty Images)

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia pose with a trophy at the finish line after winning the women's and men's divisions of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia pose with a trophy at the finish line after winning the women’s and men’s divisions of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Feel free to re-post. Or write your own post glorifying the real winners in this horrific event. And post images. Lots and lots of images of the victims and the heroes.

Let their faces be the ones we remember.






Filed under In the News, Soapbox, television

We Can All Be Heroes Today

When senseless tragedy hits I have to find a way to cope. My own experience with this can be calculated by the before & after 9/11 timeline.

Before 9/11, I would cry, devour the news, curse the terrorists, curse God, cry some more and then, eventually, slowly, move forward.

After 9/11, I cry, scan the news, pity the terrorists, cry a little more and then relish in all of the Good Samaritan stories that begin to trickle through.

After reading a handful or more of these stories, I can move forward with gusto.

In my lifetime, I’ve noticed that with every tragedy caused by a handful of idiots, hundreds upon thousands of good, kind, compassionate, caring, amazing heroes emerge. It is a wonderful, beautiful, mathematical probability that can only be explained by love.

Man is inherently good. Evil, while it tends to grab the spotlight with a better stronghold, is rare. When faced with adversity, we DO rise to the occasion. We help. We care. We reach out.

And the amazing and far more beautiful part of the equation? Even if we are not directly hit by the tragedy, even if we live thousands of miles away and have no direct ties to the event, we empathize. We put ourselves in another’s shoes and we say to ourselves, what can I do to help? How can I make this better?

If it’s sending blankets or food. Or going to the blood bank. Or pulling out our checkbook. Or holding our children a little tighter. Or saying, “I love you” to those we care about a little more often. It all makes a difference. It all makes our world a better place.

1 idiot: thousands of Good Samaritans.

I’ll take those odds any day of the week.


Thank you, all you heroes out there. Those who were on the scene. Those arriving to the scene. And those of us, miles away, who are living today more mindfully, kindly and lovingly.

We can all be heroes today. Every day.


Filed under Deep Thoughts, In the News, Observations

The Sandy Hook Elementary Snowflake Project. An Opportunity For Healing.

The first day of holiday break and my daughter, home from college, dragged her brothers to the kitchen table.

“We’re making snowflakes. As many as you can. And we’re sending them to Sandy Hook Elementary.”

She had heard about the Snowflake Project for Sandy Hook Elementary on Facebook and like many of us, was searching for a way to help.

So two young boys, under the firm direction of their older sister, sat for hours at the kitchen table, designing, cutting, decorating. Pleased with some of their creations. Tossing their failures (or giving them to Mom, because Mom loves everything they create.)

PicMonkey Collage

And then, they wrote little notes, welcoming the students back to school, placed their creations in an envelope and sent them on their way. A small gesture. But so meaningful for my children to help with the healing, theirs and ours.

After my own children went back to school I was curious about the snowflake project and found this post.  Sandy Hook was inundated with snowflakes, from all over the world. An outpouring of love and caring. More snowflakes than they needed, they are no longer accepting snowflake donations. But if you are moved to help, check in here.

Or, create your own winter wonderland. At your school. Your home.

Snowflakes. To remind us of what is beautiful.

And precious.

And fleeting.


Filed under Be-Causes, In the News, Uncategorized

Charles Darwin For Congress! If I Had Lived In That District He Would Have Had My Vote.

Charles Darwin is alive and well in the state of Georgia.

That is, if by “alive and well” you mean “in theory.”

Rep. Paul Broun decried evolution, the Big Bang theory and other scientific discoveries as “lies straight from the pit of hell!” Granted, his audience was a church group. But in the age of Twitter and YouTube you need to be a little more careful about what you say in public.

Republican Representative Paul Broun was running unopposed in the 10th Congressional District in Georgia. But I knew nothing of the man since I don’t live in his district. (And the fact that I’m not very political, which is a nice way of saying I’m too self-absorbed to follow politics.)

I educated myself on the man this morning. Here is what I learned:

He is a nut.

I was going to list his crazy voting record, his fourth marriage, his feeling that Obama is a Marxist dictator. You can read about it all here. Suffice it to say, he’s crazy.

And he was re-elected. And is representing Americans in our government.

It’s a sad, sad day, indeed.

While watching the election returns (TV muted) I saw the results flash on the screen, Paul Broun 57% and Charles Darwin 0%. I thought, poor Charles Darwin. Named after a famous British naturalist and he still can’t get a vote. And then I thought, how horrible that his lack of popularity has to be broadcast so blatantly. But then I saw Obama gaining ground on Romney and I was distracted again.

I forgot about it until this morning.

An article on an online news magazine got my attention. Jim Leebens-Mack, a professor at the University of Georgia, started a Facebook campaign “Darwin for Congress” as a response to Broun’s ridiculous church-evolution rant. As a result, Charles Darwin received almost 4,000 votes. Not enough to beat Broun’s 209,000 (scary) votes, but an admirable showing, all the same. Especially since Darwin would have to be a party to Congress from the grave. Or the great beyond. (I embrace all theories of the life in the hereafter.)

Even more amusing are the other write-in candidates that peppered the ballots: Big Bird, Anyone but Broun, Anyone else, and Bill Nye The Science Guy.

Apparently, these voters were just as upset but unaware of Charles Darwin’s bid for election.

Too bad.

Maybe Charles would have had a chance.


Filed under Because I'm Curious, I'm Baffled (And Because I Love The Word Baffled), In the News, Politics