Orlando Massacre: We Are all To Blame

Silence, blame

Blame. It’s easy to throw around. Most people throw it as far from themselves as possible not wanting to take responsibility for their actions. This week blame has been flying like shrapnel in a war zone.

Guns. Muslims. Democrats. Religion. Media. Isis. Conservatives. Parents. Trump. (I’m afraid I could go on forever.)

I have heard each one of these blamed for the Orlando Massacre. What an easy out. People cast their blame like trash in a dumpster. Wad it up, toss it in, and throw it away…as far away as possible. You see, by disposing of their blame into one of these receptacles they don’t have to own it. This makes it all too easy. It’s akin to blaming the French fries for making you fat. I serious doubt those French fries jumped in your mouth, and I seriously doubt any of these groups can be solely held to blame for the Orlando massacre. It’s just not that simple.

The way I see it…WE ARE ALL TO BLAME.

I know what you’re thinking. “This is bullshit. I didn’t have anything to do with the massacre.” You’re right to a point. You did not research the nightclub; scoping it out to see when it would be at its busiest. You did not buy the AR-15 used to strike down 102 innocent people. Killing 49. You did not pull the trigger. You did not.

Sadly, WE ARE ALL TO BLAME. We are all to blame for the silence. We are all to blame for the hate. We are all to blame for the intolerance. We are all to blame for the ignorance.

Have you ever listened intently while a friend or colleague told an anti-gay joke; laughing at the punch line. I mean everyone enjoys a good joke, right? At the expense of others? Have you stopped to think about the prejudices that are exposed in you by being a part of this derogatory humor? Oh sure, you were just listening…you didn’t actually tell the joke. I get it. You were silent.

My favorite is when someone reacts to something by saying, “that’s gay.” Hmmm. Fifty years ago “that’s gay” was used to describe something as happy. I think we can all be honest about its meaning today. You might throw that expression out not even thinking about it, but it is showing your true colors.

Pray for the victims! Pray for Orlando! Hashtag Pray! Prayers have been flooding every possible outlet since Monday. I can’t open my social media pages without seeing a “copy and paste” prayer. Hollow…cavernous prayers. Seriously. Praying out of one side of your mouth, and hating out of the other is not how this works. If you are going to “pray for Orlando”, and “pray for the victims” be ALL IN. Do not flip-flop.

Are you talking to your children? Really talking to them? Are you asking the important questions? Are you answering the important questions? Education, no matter the topic, starts at home. Let me tell you…if you are not having these important discussions with your kids…someone else will. Are you teaching your children to be compassionate and loving to all they meet? They learn from example. Are you setting the right example; an example you are proud of?

Do you speak up when you hear casual conversations ridiculing others for their way of life? Or, do you blow it off as “not my business”? That’s a hard call isn’t it. I mean “they are JUST talking”. By not speaking up you are in a sense condoning their words. your silence speaks volumes, I’m afraid.

Do you have a family member or friend in the gay community? Have you reached out to them? Have you comforted them? Have you said, “I’m here for you.”? They are fighting a war they never sought. They are in unimaginable pain. Can you imagine being hated this degree? Can you imagine people wanting you dead? Dead for loving someone. Think about it. Can you imagine being afraid to go to work, afraid to go out in public, afraid to live. I implore you to reach out.

I am to blame as well. I am embarrassed that I have coward down in some of these very same circumstances. Afraid to speak my mind. Afraid to rock the boat. Me, I have a son who happens to be gay, and I was afraid to rock the boat. I cannot alter my past behavior, my silence. But, I can tell you I won’t be silent anymore. I’m going to rock the boat, and if you get whacked with a paddle so be it.

Have you noticed that people are never shy about sharing their disdain for something? They tell jokes, they mock, they hide behind their hateful posts online. Why do we allow this in our lives?

Why are we so meek? Why do we yield to the “haters”?

Are we afraid we will “make them mad”? Ok, be mad. I don’t give a shit.

Are we afraid of what others will think? High school for me was almost 30 years ago…I’m so over caring about what you think of me.

Are we afraid of losing friends? If I lose a friend over this; I’m afraid we weren’t very good friends to begin with.

Now, I’m no fool. I know that for the most part people are going to disagree on the issue of homosexuality until the end of time. It’s ok to disagree. The hate, however, is not ok. It’s not ok to hate someone simply because they are different than you. It is not ok to fuel this fire. Why is this such a difficult concept?

I know you are thinking, “I’m just one person. How can I make a difference?” You have a voice, don’t you? Use your voice to educate, to provide compassion, to speak out. It takes just one spark to light a fire. One. Use your voice, people.

If you are not part of the solution; you ARE the problem.

You Have NO Right To Your Hate


I don’t understand your hate.
My heart is hurting…screaming for the families in Orlando. The violence. The hate. I will never pretend to understand what is going on in our society.
All because someone lives a different life…people hate, people kill. Senseless. This is our world? Our country? Shameful. And, as far as I’m concerned the people who have the hateful thoughts are JUST as much to blame as the killers. The ones who just voice their hate through jokes, and casual conversation with their friends, The people who glare, point and make snide comments in public are cultivating this horrible scene. Watering it like a seed. They are NO better.
My son was not at this nightclub, he is Gay and lives in Orlando, and I am forever grateful. The few hours that I couldn’t reach him this morning were unbearable. For 120 minutes I thought my son, my baby, was dead. I now know what an eternity feels like.
I know that I speak for all of the Mothers, the Fathers, of Gay sons and daughters. You never stop worrying. NEVER. Your heart is constantly braced for THAT phone call. These are our children. Our babies. Our hearts.
You have NO right to your hate. NO RIGHT.
I will say many prayers today for those families who are grieving today. And, I I’ll continue to say more prayers for those who face this persecution for simply living their lives.
‪#‎prayingfororlando‬ ‪#‎stopthehate‬

Life Changing


We had spent a couple of days in San Francisco hanging out…tourists…ya know the typical…China Town, the Japanese Gardens, Lombard Street. Dating, having a blast…smitten. On this particular day we drove up through Saulsalito stopping for lunch, the best artichokes I’ve ever eaten, on our way to hike the Muir Woods.

Many people talk about their Best Days. This day 15 years ago was a Life Changing day. John and I hiked the trails amazed at trees. Have you ever seen trees that brushed the Heavens? Trees that hug the Earth and hold her tight with a mightiness that can’t be touched. It was absolutely breathtaking.

On this fabulous hike John and I stepped inside the trunk of one of these beauties…the two of us in the trunk. “Will you marry me?” Were the next words I heard. Life Changing.

I cannot begin to put into words adequately how awesome this guy is. I thank him daily for marrying me. Um, no lie.

He gets me, and he puts up with me. I’m not easy. I lose my words, and shut down. I cry, oh do I cry. I question things, and I get pissed off. But, he’s patient. Patience. Oh, Lord do I love his patience! He knows when to sit back and wait for my clouds to pass. And, he knows when to gently nudge to bring out the best from me.

John never fails to go the extra mile when it comes to our marriage. He totally understands the little things. The fridge must be stocked with half and half at all times. I hate revolving doors. Crowds make me nauseous. I like our house clean…very clean. My dog must sleep with us always. My side of the closet is a pit. I shop. I love flowers.

His humor lights up our house, and his laugh will give him away every time.

He is my biggest cheerleader and stands behind every passion I decide I’m following. These passions change daily sometimes, mind you.

He sets the bar high for our five kiddos, but I know he has a soft cushion. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for his family; they are his heart.

Just like that majestic tree that we stood inside of on October 7..15 short years ago; John holds our family tighter than  I could ever imagine. Protecting and loving us above all else.

So, ya our engagement was “Life Changing”. I am just everyday so very grateful that this great guy married Me.

It’s Not Perfect, But It Sure Is Beautiful

It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful

How often do we run around like crazy people trying to get everything perfect? I mean seriously…think about it.

This applies to so many aspects of our lives. Whether it be the homemaker wanting her house to be spotless all the time…nice and tidy, nothing out of place, laundry baskets always empty, cookies in the oven, “Are you kidding? Who touched the throw pillows?”. Ready for Martha to stop by at a moments notice. (Raising hand) I don’t think Martha is coming. All the while missing the laughter that barrels through the door, the snuggles on the couch, the talks on the porch…the life around us.

We may criticize the hair out of place in a photo…”take it again…my muffin top is showing”. Instead of looking deeper at the love and laughter that is truly shown in the memory. I mean, honestly, 20 years from now that muffin top will be the least of our worries.

Ahhh, perfect kiddos….little cherubs. Do you have those? Didn’t think so. Me either. Comforting to know that we are all in the same boat on this one. Mine, all 5, have gotten in trouble, caused me to lose sleep, given me gray hair, said things that shocked me, and have filled my heart with more love and joy than I could have ever imagined.

And, then came marriage. It’s always amazing to me when a couple gets divorced, and everyone looks so surprised. “But, they were the PERFECT couple!” Really, people? Is there such a thing?
John and I are about as far from perfect as we can get. What we are is committed to our marriage. Committed to doing whatever it takes to make this wonderful sometimes-crazy difficult partnership work. It means looking past the little stuff…socks on the floor…and savoring the stuff that matters….John rubbed my feet while I lay shaking in an MRI last week.
Marriage is a constant work in process, and I am a firm firm believer that you get what you give. Handle your partnership gently, nurture it, and be prepared to work on it daily. Think about it…you wouldn’t plant a garden at the beginning of spring and come back at the end of the season expecting beautiful fruits and veggies. No, you would tend it lovingly; daily…and you would reap your rewards. Marriage is no different. Put the love of your life as a top priority; love them with your whole being. It’s the beautiful nuances of a relationship that will see you through…not the grandiose gestures.

None of us, nothing we have, or anything we do will ever be perfect. But, there is absolute beauty all around us…in the people we love, the home we create, and the lives we live.

Its not perfect, but it sure is beautiful.

Facebook Flashbooks…Love Em/Hate Em

Facebook flashback love em/hateem


I have a love hate relationship with these Facebook flashbacks that sneak up on me while I’m peacefully drinking my coffee. Love them because they take me back to these sweet little faces…I’m mean…look at those cheeks, and tiny little hands. , I’m also reminded of the easy life that was Elementary school. (And, can I just mention that I was having a fabulous hair day)
And, I can’t help but hate these flashbacks…selfishly. They remind me that time can’t be forced to stand still. So, I’ll hold on with all my might, and watch in amazement as these wonderful little people transform and grow right before my eyes. (Through good hair days and bad.)
I’ve made it through this three times now…watching my kids grow up, and leave, come home, and leave. You would think it would get easier. It doesn’t.

Those 12 Letters…Middle Scho


imageThe view from my hammock this morning…..swaying slowly, trees dancing back and forth above just enough to give me that slight twinge of motion sickness….

Thinking about the upcoming week…total serenity buzzkill. Why do Mondays creep in on the weekends where they have no business? The twins will start 7th grade. New school…Middle School and all that those 12 letters bring with them. The good, the bad, the nervewrackery that is junior high.

Oh, I know they’ve got this…I’m quite certain I’m just remembering the fun that I had in Middle School. Yes, that’s it.

So, as I lay in my hammock I’m saying a prayer and lifting up all of the kiddos as they approach “the first day”. Take care of our Babes, handle them with care. Give them the courage they need to stand tall each and every day, and let them know that we are waiting for them each and every day to love and hug them…to fill them back up. #lovedoes #middleschool #wecandohardthings

Pão de Quije, Brazilian Bread, Tastebud Orgasms



Pão de Quije aka Tastebud Orgasms

A couple of weeks ago I met some of my favorite ladies for dinner at a fabulous South American restaurant in Dallas, Nazca Kitchen. While the conversation was fabulous, and we laughed until we cried…what brought the table to a halt were the rolls. Now, I know you are thinking….ROLLS? Honey, these weren’t just rolls. These delicate cheesy pillows called Pão de Quije were heavenly. So delightful that we ordered our second basket before the first was gone. Someone at the table them tastebuds orgasms…let me tell you I had multiple that night.

For the past few weeks I have been craving these little gems, and last night I whipped up a batch. They are dangerously easy, and the ultimate comfort food!!! It takes 5 minutes of prep, 15-20 minutes to bake, and then you’re in trouble. A full pan of hot, steaming, Heaven. Ready to share, or not. Pão de Queija remind me of popovers or cream puffs. Slightly crisp on the outside, but airy and chewy on the inside. Oh, did I mention they’re Gluten Free.

Pão de Quijie aka Tastebud Orgasms

Pão de Quije aka Tastebud Orgasms
Preheat 350° Makes about 24 mini rolls

Lighlty grease mini muffin pan (batter keeps in fridge, so only grease the number you want to devour)

~1 egg (room temperature)

~1/3 cup olive oil

~2/3 cup milk

~Scant 1 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour (aka Tapioca starch)

~1/2 cup packed cheese of your choice…I used a combo of sharp cheddar and parmaseanthese are your babies, though….live on the edge…Gruyere, Mexican Farmer’s Cheese, Swiss…shake it up!!

~1/2 tsp salt (more or less…you’re the boss of your kitchen)

~a little more cheese for sprinkling on top

~maybe some fresh herbs for sprinklingif you’re feeling frisky. Might I suggest parsley sage, rosemary or thyme? They seemed to work Simon and Garfunkel.

Add all ingredients to your blender. (I know…mind blown.) I start with all my liquids. Trust me on this one. Pulse a couple of times to incorporate all ingredients. Scrape down sides. Pulse twice more. Resist the urge to hit the liquefy button…remember…less is more.

Pour into muffin cups filling about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with extra cheese or herbs, or nothing if your lazy…I won’t judge.

**This batter keeps in the fridge up to one week, so only bake the number of rolls you desire today  Then when you can handle more bring the batter back to room temperature, and treat yourself to a few more. You’re welcome !!

Put in oven preheated to °350. Check at 15 min. May take 20. They are done when lightly golden.

Pão de Quije are best devoured as soon as you can handle them. I dare you to share them!!!



Summer Is Like That

Summer is like that: Amy Hafele

August to me is a FOUR letter word. Oh, I suppose I could look at it as beginning of sorts; a Genesis if you will. I know, I know a new school year is about to start. The retailers have been warning of this day of doom with bigger than life pencils swinging from the ceiling…casting shadows on our summer since school let out. Backpacks have been purchased, school supplies are filling the aisles, calls for registration are on my voicemail. I deleted them immediately. I even heard a little excitement in Pickle’s voice when asked about going to 7th grade.

We have 21 days left…21 days.

I crave my children; their toothy grins, and their warm smell as they come down for the first hug of the day. Even if it’s almost 10. Summer allows me to slow down and take notice of the little things…like the fact that they grew almost an inch in their sleep.

These days of summer…they are truly the best. Having quiet talks with kids over a lazy breakfast. Nothing hurried. Just connecting. Listening. Summer is like that. Taking in their sweet smell as they lay their head on my shoulder at the movies. Summer is like that. We’ve hung out and played games, made cookies almost everyday, and truly enjoyed each other. Summer is like that. We’ve made pallets on the floor, and had movie nights; complete with a concession stand. No planned menus…Smoothies anyone? Who wants to make pizza? Summer is like that. We even took a trip to Japan with Sushi night served seated on the living room floor; complete with chopsticks. Summer is like that. Swimming until their fingers are pruny and the moon is full. Dinner with the neighbors on the patio…even if it’s not the weekend. Summer is like that. Splashing in fountains, picking blackberries, water balloon fights. Yes. Summer is like that.

Maybe it’s me, but we seem to laugh more, hold hands more, hug more, sing more, connect more, say “Yes” more…Summer is like that.

Summer is like that: Amy Hafele Summer is like that: Amy Hafele

I know school is a necessary, but man does it bring me down. Maybe it’s not just school. It’s the whole school “package”. With school comes a schedule (I know…a necessary evil), homework, extracurricular activities, Science projects, socks, meetings, fixing hair, social activities, social anxieties, getting dressed, college, lunches, carpool, tests, dioramas, PTA, standardized tests, bullies, bedtimes, fundraisers, the Sunday blues, laundry, alarm clocks… There are only 24 hours in a day.

Panicked, I wonder if we have etched out enough family time in this fleeting 2 1/2 months of summer. Did we snuggle enough? Talk enough? Reconnect enough? Slow down enough? Eat enough snow cones? Did we make enough memories? Will this carry us through the drought that is sure to follow during the school year?

21 more days….I will be seizing these diems!!! Whether my kiddos like it or not I will be holding their hands, smelling them, loving on them, laughing with them, snuggling with them…every moment I get for the next 21 days. I will be filling our cups up to the brim, so that when the school year starts to chip away at us we can quench our thirst for love and comfort.

Slowing Down

Ann VoscampIt’s not entirely our fault, really. Instant gratification is what we’ve become accustomed to… Sure, we can blame it on society…maybe we should take a look inward at our own impatience. “We want IT, and we want it NOW!” Why are we in such a hurry? What are we missing as we fly through life?

We order movie tickets online, call ahead seating. If the line at the drive thru is too long they come to the car…so we won’t have to wait too long. Oh, hell! Amazon will deliver within two hours, and throw in a cookie…because Heaven we need a TREAT!! My own kids forgo half the rides at amusement parks….Wait for it…Because the lines are too long. My heart truly bleeds for them.

What have we done?

This racing around, demanding things happen this instant…It’s creeped into my heart and soul. I’m impatient in all areas of my life. Instead of enjoying the day to day, and trusting the journey I’ve been given. I find myself restless about the future. Constantly questioning and Praying about where I should be; where my family should be….what our path should be.

But, here’s the kicker…I haven’t been Praying…I’ve been “demanding”. That’s really no different than when my kids demand something of me. Seriously, Talk to the hand!

Only He knows exactly what I need, and maybe…just maybe I should be Still. And Quiet. And Pray.

There is no reason to rush; I’ve missed so much. I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason, and somewhere along the way I’ve let that fade from my heart. My heart and Hands are open. I will trust the journey…

Breathing in. Breathing out. Being conscience of every moment. Everyday.

Ann Voscamp: Fo all Us Hop-ers

My Village

My village

These women…where do I begin…it’s safe to say that they are the Family that I choose. A couple of them have known each other since pigtails, a few since high school, two more since their first cherished neighborhood. I thankfully fell into this group about 13 years ago.

We have been through the births of babies… (Cindy almost decked my OBGYN because he wouldn’t let her in the delivery room.) The drama of middle school; hormones, dating, attitudes…watching all of our kids (19 between us) come in to their own….finding their voices. And, high school….oh, that was fun. Celebrations have been thrown as kids have left for college, and glasses of wine have been poured as we commiserated when kids have come back home…Just to stay for a little while.

Hands have been held and we’ve shared the worry when jobs have been lost and life has been uncertain. And, we’ve pulled each other tight and offered comfort as we’ve lost parents. Reminding each other that we are always here no matter what…

We have raised our glasses to our kids’ accomplishments, and celebrated when they’ve married. And, now Grandbabies!!! How wonderful is this? Our village is coming full circle.