Glad I Saw It: Make Music Day

photo copyIt was a great day of free music that gave musicians a chance to be heard, music lovers a chance to hear tunes they might not usually hear, and towns and cities a chance to promote community.

Featured here is The Abandon Ship Band performing various tunes of Rock & Roll.

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First Comes Talk, Then Comes Action…

Gun Sense Voter

This weekend was an active one for gun violence prevention in the Tri-State Area. (In NJ, the tri-state area means NJ, NY, PA.) In Newark, there was an Anti-Violence Rally that shut down an intersection. In NYC, Moms Demand Action held a rally for gun sense over Brooklyn Bridge and at City Hall Park. And in Philadelphia, Million Hoodies held a power summit to move gun violence prevention forward. Lots of people are talking.

Lots of people are also writing. The Times of Trenton printed a letter in support of the Ten Round Ammunition limit recently. The Star Ledger printed this letter asking ALL of NJ’s Congressmen to support expanded background checks on firearms. And the Montclair Times printed this letter supporting the GunSenseVoter.org campaign. And there are more. Many more.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of violent and unbelievable news stories, know that you CAN act. You can CALL your elected representatives. You can TALK with your neighbors and friends. You can WRITE to your local newspapers. You can COMMIT to voting only for candidates that support common sense gun reform. You must ASK about firearms and whether they are properly secured before leaving your children at a home.

Don’t let the news cycle of horrific and preventable tragedies dishearten you. Staying mute and still is not required. Feeling helpless is not a given. Be bold.

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Father to Son: “The only way you can truly be strong”

storycorps_logoFathers show strength in so many ways. Sometimes it’s a literal strength, like carrying a stumbling drunk daughter into the house. Other times it’s by holding in emotion to help family and friends bear their own pain more easily. And sometimes the greatest strength is shown in exposing what others might call weakness.

This StoryCorps submission shows that last example of fatherly strength with intense clarity. Please give it a listen today.

Thompson Williams’ son, Kiamichi-tet, sat down with his dad to learn more about his grandfather.

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Glad I Saw It: Sprinkler-Sized Yard

sprinkler Our backyard is roughly twice the size of what it would have been in Brooklyn. Which means it’s about three times the size of a four-door sedan.  And while it would be nice to have grounds resembling Pemberley, we can barely keep up with the weeds as it is. Besides, it’s just the right size for a sprinkler break on a hot day.

Plus, the entire yard gets watered as the kids play.

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Domestic Violence and Guns Don’t Mix: #Savethe9

Domestic-Violence-9Women-1_Meme-noURLLast October, Moms Demand Action focused on the nine American women shot and killed by their husbands and intimate partners every single week. Every single week. That number doesn’t include threats, injuries, intimidation — horrific enough on its own — made even more terrifying and immediate when a firearm is involved.

The victims are mothers, sisters, daughters, friends—each an irreplaceable loss to their families and our society. This past week, combined with the school shooting in Seattle and the story of a five-year-old Jersey City boy shot in the abdomen, came this story from Connecticut.

The bodies of a husband and wife were found in a Bristol home Wednesday morning, and it was three small children who made the discovery. (WFSB)

A fund has been set up for Kyla Ryng’s three children, all under four years old. Kyla was shot in the head and killed by her husband, who then shot and killed himself. This all happened in their Bristol, CT home while the children were playing in the next room. Kyla had filed for divorce just a week before her death, and it is reported that the marriage included abuse and intimidation. Her husband was a member of the Connecticut Army National Guard, and he owned a gun.

If you are moved to help the three children who are currently staying with family members, there is a GoFundMe site set up here that makes it easy: Kyla’s Kids.

If you want to avoid the fees at GoFundMe, you can also donate directly. Checks may be sent directly to Remembering Kyla, Farmington Savings Bank, 475 Broad St. Bristol, CT 06010.

If you want to help in your own community (yes, yours!), organizations like SOFIA in Essex County, the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, and more are always looking for resources and support. A quick google search with your state and/or county will lead the way.

 

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Maya Would Have Forgiven Me

NeverDefeatedI didn’t know any better. Before I ever read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I taught a chapter called “Momma, The Dentist, and Me.” I was teaching kids who were about as far from avid readers as is possible. Some had diagnosed learning disabilities, others had missed so many classes in elementary school that when they were shuffled along into the next grade (out of pity? apathy? kindness?) the new educators had to re-realize they couldn’t read. Others were lazy. And a few made sure to exhibit obnoxious behavior bordering on abusive so they would be removed from the oppressive classroom environment often enough to allow deep breaths of freedom. But they all loved being read to, so that’s what I did. Continue reading

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Ten Round Magazine Limit: Nothing New; Still Effective

imagesLast week, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill lowering its current 15 round magazine limit to 10 rounds. New Jersey is one of only eight states that has ANY limit to how many rounds a magazine can hold. Part of the reason is that the expired National Assault Weapons Ban included a magazine limit of ten rounds, so states didn’t feel pressure to enact their own.

Now that the New Jersey legislation has passed both the NJ Assembly and the NJ Senate, the bill moves on to Governor Christie’s desk and he will decide whether to sign it into law, veto it outright, or conditionally veto with suggested changes. Continue reading

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Glad I Saw It: Salt & Pepper Feet

I haven’t been one to collect items of any sort lately. Not for a couple decades anyway. But I do appreciate other people’s collections. Local businesses do love to decorate with style. And this collection of salt & pepper shakers was especially fun to peruse. Love the feet!

photo 3

Can you name the local business that houses this pedicured pair?

You know what goes great with S&P? A little moonshine over at yeah write! Join us. Now.

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I don’t always act like a Fan Girl, but when I do, it’s for #OITNB

non celeb paparazzi

Not-yet-celebs I abused into taking a photo with me to erase the less-than-perfect interaction I had with a bona fide celeb moments before.

I had to play catch up with the first season of Orange is the New Black because I hadn’t read the book, and I like to read the book before watching its . But then, in the midst of a very aggravating week or three, I was pointed to this video by a trusted internet friend (Thanks Ms. Mary Mack!). And of the almost 150k views, I think my children and I account for about a million. It got us all through a LONG winter.

So I skipped the book and went straight to the show for a binge-watch session. Continue reading

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Mr. Rogers’ Mother Knitted

mrrogers_imageI’m not a big fan of designated days. I rarely acknowledge birthdays or anniversaries through social media — and I do my very best to discourage choruses of “Happy {special day}!” on my feeds. It’s partly because I’m an anti-social grump, and it’s partly because I find the whole ramalamadingdong of invented days a tad insincere. See? I’m a grump.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate my kids making lots of pictures and special cards and cleaning their playroom and attempting to set the breakfast table. (We found out today that they’ve been taking the less dirty dishes out of the dishwasher when they’ve set it in the past.)

And one thing I’ve always found difficult is the gifts. I’m a big fan of consumables in the hopes of avoiding more pile up in closets and drawers. But this little segment from Mr. Rogers helped me to understand how items can help us to both remember and honor loved ones in deeply sentimental ways. One way that Mr. Rogers’ Mom showed love was through her knitting. And suddenly the iconic Mr. Rogers Sweater takes on new and wonderful meaning for those of us who grew up with his show.

Happy Mother’s Day to those who celebrate — with or without gifts! — and happy everything else day for all of us!

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