Thursday, December 20, 2012

How We Can Help

I recently posted about my friend Brian, who lost his daughter, Olivia Engel, last week in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. So many people have been touched by this event, because we all know that this very easily could have been anyone's child. We all hurt because of this reality.

But as much as it could have been anyone's child, it wasn't. 

If anyone reading this has been personally touched by Olivia's story and would like to help in some way, here are some ideas:

1. Send your thoughts and prayers to Olivia's family by posting words of support on a Facebook page that some of my friends set up for this purpose. It can be found by clicking here

2. Make a Paypal donation that will go directly to Shannon & Brian Engel, Olivia's parents, to help with the burden of funeral costs, as well as a potential memorial for Olivia and all the victims. I can personally vouch for this PayPal account (if that helps at all??) because I know the people who set this account up for the Engels. You can make a donation here.

3. Mail a card, a letter, a prayer, a care package, Christmas presents for Olivia's 3-year-old brother or anything else heartfelt to the Engel family at the following address:

P.O. Box 697
Botsford, CT 06404

If you would like to send a donation this way, please make your check out to The Engel Family.

4. As you may have heard, the children who attend Sandy Hook Elementary will not be returning to that location for quite awhile, if ever. An available elementary school one town over in Monroe, Connecticut is being prepared for these students to return to their classes in January. 

To welcome the students back to school, and to help them know they are in a safe, loving and happy environment, there is a campaign to create a Winter Wonderland with thousands of paper snowflakes. This Snowflake Drive is being coordinated by the PTAs for the Newtown Schools. If you would like to contribute your snowflakes, please mail them to the following address by January 12th, 2013 to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

5. An independent family photographer who does not know the victims personally but has been touched very deeply by Olivia's passing has created in her memory The Olivia Act to be passed among other photographers. 

Because our memories of our children should be documented through beautiful photographs, this photographer (who wants their name left out of this) will be donating a family photo package to a family who might otherwise not be able to afford such an opportunity. This person is encouraging other photographers to do the same and help Olivia's memory live on!

Please let me know if there are other ways to help that I can add to the list above. Please help these childrens' memories live on.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Honor of Olivia

Right now we are all trying to understand how it is that this world we live in is home to people who are capable of purposefully taking the lives of innocent children. The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy that just occurred in Newtown, Connecticut will never be forgotten, because somehow we all have got to find a way to honor the 20 beautiful children and 6 heroic adults whose lives were selfishly cut short in a matter of mere minutes.

Like everyone, and as a mother, I am deeply affected by the thought of my child being taken from me in any way, let alone in such a violent, permanent way. But what I am having the most difficulty with is coming to terms with who this happened to. I was very good high school friends with Olivia Engel's father Brian. Due to life moving so fast it has been years since I have talked to Brian, but my heart has been repeatedly breaking for him and his wife Shannon since I learned of how personally they have been affected by this.

It is a shame that this nightmare is what brings me to get caught up on his family. But what I have learned about Olivia in the past few days has given me insight into what is surely a bright light that has joined the other angels in heaven. An energetic yet polite 6-year-old, Olivia was a heavily involved little girl who loved everything from math to tennis to music. She loved to go boating with her family. She also loved her little brother Brayden, who somehow has to understand that his own personal hero will no longer be there to show him how to do things as he grows up.

I ache for my friend, who somehow has to process seeing his family's face on CNN, seeing his daughter's name on the front page of the New York Times and on an episode of The Voice, and even meeting the President of the United States, all while carrying the weight of this loss on his shoulders. It's all the world can do to honor Olivia's memory and help the family to know that the entire world is grieving and praying for them.

My hope is that Olivia will be remembered for the light she clearly was, and that she will live on in her brother, her parents, in the love that every parent has for their own children, and in humanity, which has to do a better job in protecting each other from such darkness that tried to takeover on Friday, December 14th, 2012. We all have to BE better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back to Normal

Well, apparently being back to "normal" - and that means basically being primarily home in Texas for us - means that we are a lot busier! So the downtime for typing up some thoughts, observations, or projects has been few and far between!

We just completed quite a bit of travel for Thanksgiving, and survived Bugga's First Birthday Party! This means I can finally relax and enjoy the rest of this year's holidays...which seems weird but I think will require less planning, at least for this year.

I have several posts ready to go that are overdue for sharing, so keep an eye out if you are out there in internet-land keeping up with us!