All Aboard ‘The Dinosaur Train’

Ever since my daughter started going to school a few days a week, she’s been more enthusiastic about saying her ABCs.  She loves going around the house and finding things that start with each letter of the alphabet.  The EMMY®-nominated children’s series DINOSAUR TRAIN® will be incorporating the alphabet with its traditional dinosaur facts and stories during a one-hour “Dinosaurs A to Z” special premiering TOMORROW, May 14th on PBS KIDS!

There’s also a  Dinosaurs A to Z Countdown Contest on the new Dinosaur Train’s Twitter and Facebook  pages, where you and your kiddos can answer  fun and educational Dinosaur A to Z trivia questions for a chance to win Dinosaur Train prizes every day!  Don’t forget to check your local listings for tomorrow’s special.  I hope your little ones enjoy it as much as I think mine will!

 

25 Things I Want My Daughters to Know

Have you read the book or seen “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch?  If not, let me share a little about The Last Lecture.  It is a tradition at Carnegie Mellon for teachers to do a “Last Lecture” where they are asked to imagine they are going to die soon and clarify what would they want to say or teach for their last presentation.  In the case of Randy Pausch, he was actually dying of cancer when he gave his “Last Lecture”. His personal experience made the lecture all the more poignant. Many people connected to his lecture on YouTube, ultimately making it an internet phenomenon. As a result, Randy had many tv appearances on a variety of news outlets. He admitted that while he was presenting as an instructor to his students, his lecture was also a way of leaving a legacy and some wisdom to his kids.

This made me ask myself, if I only had a few months to live, what would I want my daughters to know?  Thankfully I am lucky that I am healthy and  I intend to be with them to help them through any growing pains (as well as celebrate their joys and successes).   But knowing what thoughts I would want to impart onto them can make me more clear in what’s important to not leave unsaid. So I decided to write them a love note sharing some things I hope will help them down the road. Here it is.  What would your love note be to your kids?

To my beautiful, sweet daughters,

First and foremost, I know I say it all the time, but I love you. You are beautiful inside and out. You’re both smart, kind hearted and thoughtful. I am so proud to be your mom.

I was thinking the other day that there are some things I wish I knew when I was younger.  So I was thinking that it would be good to start to write down some of the  things I’ve learned from experience. Maybe sharing it with you will save you some heartache someday or help you follow a dream or enable you to accept your fears and do something any way.  Even just you knowing I love you so much that I’d sit down and write this for you is enough for me.   Here are a few “words of wisdom” I wanted to share with you….

  1. Inner beauty is so much more important that outer beauty. But you already know this one.
  2. Listen to your gut and stand up for what you believe in (not just against what you don’t believe in) or you might regret it.
  3. But pick your battles, not everything is worth fighting for.
  4. While you may disagree with and annoy each other at times, remember to love and respect each other.  I hope you grow up to be each other’s best friends.  As I always say when I see you hugging and playing together, “I love that you love each other.”
  5. No one ever got anywhere by just complaining. Think of what can be done to improve whatever it is you are upset about.   One rule of thumb I have is if I complain about it three times then I have a choice to make.  I can quit complaining and accept it or do something about it.
  6. Don’t waste your time gossiping.  There are so many more interesting and helpful things to talk about.
  7. Follow your passion. Try a bunch of things so you can find out what it is.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in the process, that is how you learn.  If you’re not making mistakes and feeling like a fool once in awhile you’re not challenging yourself enough.
  8. Always remember the saying “This too shall pass”.  This relates to sad and happy occasions.  Sometimes when you’re hurt or sad it will seem like you will feel that way forever. You won’t.  Give yourself time and things will change, they always do. The same holds true of when you’re happy.  Cherish every moment that makes your heart sing. Time passes too quickly not to stop and appreciate the moments and people who make you smile.
  9. When you’re frustrated, believe you can do something to change the situation or yourself for the better. But don’t waste your time trying to change other people.
  10. Don’t strive for perfection.  Just strive to continue to do your best and learn from every experience. I hope you will always remember the question I often ask you both, “What did you learn from this?”
  11. If you don’t have confidence in a skill, then have the confidence that you can learn it. Don’t let the lack of a skill stop you from achieving your dreams.
  12. Love lots and let your heart be broken.  I was afraid too often in my life and missed out on some living when growing up. Don’t let fear stop you from doing things you want to do and meeting people you want to meet.
  13. Even if you are afraid at times don’t label yourself as “shy” (or any other limiting label).  Realize you may just need to learn some new skills or gain some experience in order to feel more secure and confident in what you want to do and who you are.
  14. Be vulnerable. This is something I’ve learned late in my life.  I thought being emotionally independent showed strength.  But being vulnerable is not a weakness.  It takes courage to be vulnerable.  Often times the only real way to build true intimacy is by letting yourself be vulnerable.
  15. Don’t just rely on others for love and acceptance.  Accept and love all of yourself too.  Be vulnerable with yourself about who you are and accept all the good and all the imperfect in yourself.  Other people aren’t perfect either and they can’t always be there for you.
  16. People aren’t prefect and will let you down. It’s the ones who will build you up more than let you down that you want to stick around.
  17. Say nice things to yourself.  You are always going to be with you. You might as well be a friend to yourself.
  18. If other people criticize you, assess if it’s true or not.  If it is, you can choose whether to work on that weakness. If it’s not, realize that it’s not about you, it’s just their weakness and insecurities talking.
  19. Compromising is so important in relationships.  It’s good to find a balance of what you want and what others want.  However, there are some things you should never compromise….don’t ever feel you have to compromise your values or beliefs to please someone else, which ultimately means don’t compromise yourself.
  20. This is one of my new favorite quotes by Doctor Suess:   “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
  21. If you ever feel like you don’t belong  somewhere don’t take it personal. We all feel like we don’t belong sometimes.  Think of the ugly duckling story.   He didn’t know he was a swan and was hanging out with the ducks.  What a joy when he discovered other swans like him who understood him.
  22. It’s important to have friends who have things in common with you. It’s also important to be around people who don’t think like you do.  That is a great way to expand your perspectives. If you only hang around people who agree with you, you won’t be challenged to have new thoughts or perspectives.
  23. Here are two of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
  24. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you don’t agree with someone you don’t like them.  A person is more complex than one issue.  At the very least, you don’t have to agree with or like other people, but you should make an effort to show them respect.   A little respect can go a long way.
  25. If someone doesn’t respect you, you can turn the other cheek from the next room. You don’t have to stoop to their level and return the hurt, but you also don’t have to stick around and continue to be hurt.  Make good choices about who you spend your time with. Whether you’re aware of it or not, who they are will affect who you are.

I wrote at the beginning of this letter that I hoped some of the things above would help you avoid some heartache.  Scratch that. Sometimes we only learn things by experience which can include heartaches. It may also be that you will only truly understand some of these ideas after experiencing more in your life. My hope is that while I can’t stop you from having heartaches, hopefully when you do go through heartache, these words might help prepare you and maybe comfort you in some way.

Oh and just because I wrote some of these words of wisdom (or rephrased wisdom shared through the ages) doesn’t mean that I am able to live them every day.  All we can do is strive to do our best to live authentically while trying to make the world a better place, hoping we learn something in the process and gain some true friendships along the way.

Also, I’m sure I could have written a whole book because there is so much to learn in this life.  But this is a start.  I would love to hear or read your words of wisdom some day.

With all My Love,

Mommy

P.S.- No matter what life brings you, may you alway find the fun and joy in living.

 

 

 

 

Randy Pausch is sadly no longer with us. He lost his battle to cancer.  However, his example and message continue to touch many hearts, including his kids. What are some things you would like to tell your kids? Please share your wisdom in the comments. Then be sure to share them with your kids through words, letters or whatever way you can. Just be sure to share them. Your child is too precious and life is too short not to do it.

 

 

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Cinco de Mayo Margaritas!

It would really be a shame if you only made these margaritas today. I am hoping that you will enjoy them all weekend long. Heck, all summer long and then perhaps into fall. Or maybe for Christmas Eve. This will be your new favorite marg recipe for sure. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a marg connesiour of sorts. Not that there is a licensing committe that has relegated this honor upon me or anything, but let’s just say that the margarita and I? We have been around the block a few times. That block has gotten progressively  blurry a few times, but that doesn’t matter, does it?

Now if you are still using that awful pre-made mix to which you just add tequila? Or even worse,  the ones with the tequila already mixed in? You need to move into the new milennium. Really people, those are packed with sugar and artificial colors and flavors. Not that I mind those things when I am eating an Oreo, mind you. But for the love of all that is good….take a few steps and make it a bit more fresh. You won’t regret it! Here’s what you need to get people hanging from the chandeliers make this recipe!

1 Container of Minutemaid Limeade (found in the freezer section of most grocery stores, and not the itty bitty ones)

Tequila (not the Jose Hornitos kind, either)

Triple Sec

2 fresh limes

Gran Marinier (this will set you back a few but lasts forever and is fully responsible for the awesomeness of this drink)

Salt (optional)

Okay. Salt the rim of your glasses if you like. And if not, I will just call you wussy. No, that’s fine….some of my most upstanding friends like their margs saltless! I don’t judge. Keep limeade mix in freezer till ready to party use. Take out one half of mix and reserve in a different container. Empty other half into blender. Fill half way again with tequila. (I use Jose Gold, but if you are packin’ the Patron, more power to ya!) Fill one quarter full with Triple Sec and add. Squeeze juice of both limes in blender as well. Fill to the brim with ice. Mix will be thick, but softens to a loveliness over just a few minutes. Here’s the key!!! Pay attention. Don’t drink yet! Slowly drizzle some Gran Marinier over the top of each drink. Now taste. Aha! Who’s your momma now? Wait, don’t answer that! I am only two peoples’ mama. That I know for sure. Okay, drink up, put on some Tito Cruz and get dancin’!

When to Wear White – No Rules

Ever wonder, when exactly can I wear white again?  The answer – always when you are talking about white denim!

White shoes or white linen – a little different, save those items for the summer or the old rule “after Memorial day/before Labor day”.  White denim is always great!  Now, that being said, you may not want to sport an entire body of white in the messy weather months, but white goes with every color and texture.  Black and white are a standard all year – every season.  A neutral palette of white with creams or tans is so now and so classy.  White with a bright color or bright print is very popular.  Don’t you love red, white and blue?  The nautical look is always classy in New England! 

I love dressing up white! Whether I’m decorating it with layers of jewels or pulling it together with a coordinating jacket, it makes me feel fashion savvy.  Clothes and accessories are emotional, right?!  Afraid to wear white because of stains?…are you a mommy with sweet, yet ready to stain little fingers reaching up to you?!  I never leave without my Tide to Go pen. It’s amazing!  (I was so excited to score a free one at our Getting Gorgeous event in April!) My little ones are past this stage, yet somehow I manage to find stains and I love this little Tide stick.  Afraid to wear it because hips/legs could appear even larger that they are?? Draw the eye up! Pull it together with a pattern on top that looks fabulous with the white, yet draws all the attention up- like this black and white top or a fun flirty floral!

So wear your white, ladies – It’s the new black!

What have you paired your white denim with? Do you ever create a suit like our celebrities in the photo did? Can you do it? Can you wear white before Memorial day?!

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What Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up?!

 

 

Photo by Bob Packert

Photo by Bob Packert

I’m just now catching on that as a mother your identity shifts every few years.  You are not just a mother, you are a mother of a newborn, or a mother of toddlers, a mother of school kids, a mother of teenagers…and so on and so on!  I can see that as they grow, I’ll need to evolve with the kids various stages, and maybe I’ll be prepared by the time I hit the High school, college and empty nest stages……(o.k, bringing that up puts me in a full fledged panic, but I digress).    That said, I have been eagerly anticipating my current stage of motherhood, finally getting all my kids in school for a full day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my children from the depths of my heart, but come on ladies, if you have small kids at home, you are flat out lying if you tell me you haven’t fantasized about this moment too.  So now I have time to ponder the yawning question of    “What do I want to be when I grow up!?!”   I know, as a married mother of four in her mid-forties, I kind of am grown up.  I also know that I am not the only one out there with an inner 21 year old, who looks around baffled some days thinking  ”and who thought it was a good idea to give all of this responsibility to me exactly?!”.  Despite that delusional youthful inner being, I do seem to find myself with all evidence pointing to truly, and actually being an adult!  I suppose the lines that have taken up permanent residence on my face are Nature’s gentle reminder of such.  So here I am, a mature woman, almost thirteen years out of the work force, with finally some time to start thinking about what I’d like to be (along with wife and mother).   I allowed myself the savor the first half of the year, to see what it really felt like to have time to myself again.  I found the need to re-learn time management in the paradigm of my new schedule, so that I could efficiently balance that new found freedom with accomplishing the day’s practical tasks.

Entering the second half of the school year, I now feel it is time to start figuring out what to do for a job.  There are a few parameters.   Namely the aforementioned kids who need shuttling around in the afternoons, and said husband with primary career of varied schedule. Whatever it is I do, has to take place between the hours of 8:30am and 2:00pm.

Some of the author's "passions"

That pretty much rules out my previous work in Film Production and renders my Masters degree in Ethnographic filmmaking as obsolete. (a documentary on the anthropology of childrearing in the suburbs, I’m sure would fascinate the masses) So of course I’ve been reading a lot of Oprah and More magazine lately, and taking those quizzes to “find my passion”.    (Off the bat, I’d just say, my husband, eating and drinking, travel, reading, skiing, movies…..)But I don’t think that’s what they mean.  These magazines are full of women who turn their passion into fulfilling moneymaking careers!  They are so inspirational, and yet that whatever it is going to be for me thing seems just beyond my cognitive grasp.

Photo by Bob Packert

Photo by Bob Packert

Some of the tips the articles I’ve read advise things like; Figure out what you love to do.  Think of something you loved to do as a kid.  Look around your house and write down the things that point to a certain passion, such as books, art,travel, or antique collection. Once you figure out what you would love to be doing, research ways to make money on it.  My Google search for “how to make money shopping” turned up at least seven legitimate ideas for how to do so.  Other tactics include writing lists of the things you are good at, the things you would do if you were sure not to fail, and all the things that make you happy.   Now cross reference your lists to formulate a plan.

Documama's logo

The things I tore out of magazines (this is a great method for formulating your decorating style as well) were all articles on socialpreneurs such as Lauren Lauren and her FEED bags, Tom’s shoes, and Alex & Ani Charity by design bracelets.  My role models were real life moms who have found careers where they are making a difference globally, such as Navyn Salem and her Edesia factory that produces global nutritional solutions.  I realized whatever it is I end up doing; I would like it to have a positive impact, not just a financial reward.  I get things moving, I created a blog www.documama.org to be able to explore my passions for travel, food, family, and global issues in one place.  Figuring out what I am going to be when I grow up is clearly a process, and a work in progress, and as a Mom, I have a feeling that just when I get this part all figured out….it will be just in time for another Maternal identity shift!

 

 

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My 5 Favorite iPhone Apps

 

Cardstar:   This allows you to clean the clutter out of your wallet, add all of the bar codes of your plastic membership cards, and just open the app to scan for discounts and benefits at CVS, Stop &Shop, Barnes & Noble …wherever!!

 

Shazam: I am the absolute worst when it comes to remembering song names and artists, Shazam helps, but even better, when you hear a song that you love and have never heard it before, Shazam will tell you what it is and let you buy it on the spot.

 

Tunein radio: When traveling it is so annoying to drive out of range of your favorite radio station, in the middle of your favorite song! Tune in radio allows you to keep your station on no matter how far out of range you go.

 

Project 365: I can’t remember what I did yesterday, never mind last month! Project 365 lets you capture a moment a day onto a yearly calendar. A very cool way to look back at your year in pictures.

 

 

Instagram: I know you’ve seen those ultra hip looking photos all the cool people are posting on Facebook these days, it’s not just their artsy eye, so much as Insagram. It  makes every photo it takes look  cool.

 

What are your favorite Apps?

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Wear Red Today!

Why you ask? Because it is National Wear Red Day for the American Heart Association!   In an effort to educate women on  heart health, and the risks of Heart Disease in women, they are encouraging us to wear red, spread the word and in doing so potentially help save lives. Not to mention we look fabulous in Red!!  More women die of heart disease than the next three causes of death combined, including all forms of Cancer.  Throw on something red to remind the women that you love to take care of their health. I’m wearing mine!

 

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Good Reads!

Reading is one of my great life passions.   It is a thrill to become totally immersed in a good book.  As a member of two monthly book clubs, I enjoy most things I read, but each year come away with only a few books that I can say I truly loved.  Below are the six I read in 2011 that I could not put down, and a couple that I’ve picked up in 2012 that are already on my favorite books list.

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese; Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.  Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles–and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

 

 The Forgotten Garden  by Kate Morton; A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay; Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard—their secret hiding place—and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.

 

 

Room by Emma Donoghue; To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

 

 Little Bee by Chris Cleave;  This novel explains the intertwined fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple–journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday–who should have stayed behind their resort’s walls. What happens on a Nigerian beach brings her into their world and forever alters the course of their lives.

 

 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand; The story is that of Louie Zamperini – a track and field star of the 1930’s, who participated in the Berlin olympics, was part of the US air force in WWII, was shot down over the ocean, was adrift in the Pacific for over a month, was held as a POW by the Japanese forces and finally made it back to his life and has had the courage to live it to its fullest.

 

 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford; Great to read after the above book, Unbroken, because it gives an entirely different perspective during the same time period in history. Chronicling the relationship between two 12 yr. olds, a Chinese boy, and Japanese girl in San Francisco in the early 1940’s. It provides a brief glimpse into what each culture had to face as American Immigrants in a bitter-sweet tale.

 

 

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, The Man Who Would Cure The World  by Tracy Kidder; Compelling and inspiring, Paul Farmer sets out on his mission to cure infectious diseases, and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. From Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia, Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity.” At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”–as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.

 

I cannot wait to delve into the next books that are lining up for 2012, and anticipate finding new favorites among them.  The Tiger’s Wife, The Paris Wife, and Freedom are a few on my list. What is on your list? Please share your recent favorites.  Did you find any that you loved?

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5 Things I Love During The Holidays

I always try and think about things I like to do with my two kids during the holidays.  I want them to love the holidays as much as I do!  My parents made the holidays so special for us growing up and I want to do the same for my kids.  Here are five things I love to do with my kids during the holidays:

1.  Decorate the Tree and the House Together

We always set-up the tree the day after Thanksgiving.  It’s become a family tradition of ours.  It started when we got our Elf on the Shelf book.  The story talks about the Elf, ours is named Chuck, coming out the day after Thanksgiving.  We decided we would set-up the tree and put Chuck in the tree to start his magic.  It’s so much fun, and the kids really look forward to “the day AFTER Thanksgiving.”  They also LOVE putting the decorations on the tree and decorating with lights outside.  Such a joyous time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Bake Cookies Together

I am the baker of the family and my hubby is the cook (as many of you probably already know).  I really love to make my “special” chocolate chip cookies and holiday sugar cookies!  I got this really cool cookie press from Pampered Chef that I use to shoot cookies out of!  The kids think it’s so funny to use this and the cookies come out great!  I love baking during the holidays and the kids LOVE to join in!  I think I need to host another Pampered Chef party soon here in RI!  They have so many wonderful hostess specials and I LOVE the stuff I get from them!  Also, check out MamaLuvsBooks soon where we will have a giveaway for the Pampered Chef cookie press!!  You can make your own holiday cookies with your kids!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Go to Shows Together

We LOVE shows!!!  We started taking my daughter when she was two years old and have been going ever since!  We saw Go Diego Go Live (an AWESOME show!), and I couldn’t believe how much she loved it and watched the entire show!  We have been to Dora, Barney, Thomas, The Nutcracker, Zillion Bubble Show, and much more!  This year we are going to Disney On Ice at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence.  The kids can’t wait!  I am doing a giveaway on my personal site, MamaLuvsBooks, so if you want a chance to win a 4-Pack of Tickets to the show in Providence, please click on my site and enter!  The winner gets a choice of any showtime.  Hope you win and hope to see you there!  We will be there having a BLAST!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  See Family During the Holidays

I LOVE to see family during the holidays.  We are the only ones from both sides of the family that moved away from the DC area, so whenever we get a chance to see family I love it.  The past few years we have rented a beach house and all stayed together for a week during the holidays.  With the growing family and multiple babies it is getting a bit harder to do.  This year my brother and his family are coming to visit in RI and so is my husband’s sister’s family.  I can’t wait to see everyone!  Holidays are about being with family!!!

5.  Find Something Charitable for the Kids to Get Involved With

I really like the idea of showing my kids that there is more to the holidays than just “getting presents.”  I want them to focus on being generous and loving to others and learn the real spirit of the holidays.  I would love to help out with my daughter at the Sharing Locker, a group in town the helps provide people with their essential needs.  My son is a bit young for this.  Last year we also helped with the Adopt-A-Family Program in town where you get wish lists from families that can’t afford to purchase everything on their own.  It’s nice to know you are getting something that someone really wants, and it’s such a nice feeling helping out others that need it.  I want my kids to learn to WANT to do this.

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!  What are your favorite things to do during the holidays?

Kristin Wheeler

Too Young to Die

I found out last night that a former 4th grade student of mine passed away this week.  I had just seen her post on Facebook the previous week about loving her friends and family.  Of course I “liked” the post, but had no idea I would not be seeing her around on Facebook anymore.  Her name was Kylie, and she was one of the sweetest girls I ever taught.  I remember her getting sick the year I taught her as well.  She ended up at the hospital for about a week and I remember taking her work and a stuffed teddy bear.  This week she was back in that same hospital at age 18, a freshman in college.  This time she did not make it back home, but passed away due to complications of pneumonia.

(Kylie on the left around the age I taught her)

I was in shock when I saw the post come through yesterday of people tagging her in candlelight vigil pictures (her name spelled out in candles with a beautiful picture of her in the center).  I didn’t know what to make of it at first since I had just seen her post on Facebook days before.  Why were they tagging her in pictures and having a picture of her surrounded by candles?  I went to her main Facebook page and got some answers.  She passed away at the hospital in Norman, OK on Wednesday.  I saw some posts from other former teachers, and one in particular from a high school teacher that mentioned she had been sick and hospitalized while in high school as well.  I was in shock, saddened, and confused all at the same time.  I could this happen to a bright, beautiful, young girl with her life in front of her.  She was so sweet and caring.  How does this happen?

I was thinking back a funeral my husband attended a few years back of a co-worker whose son died of Leukemia at the age of six.  Why?  What did that little boy do to deserve that?  I thought of my good friend whose sister just lost her baby daughter at 39 weeks.  Her room was set-up, clothes were ready to be taken to the hospital, there was so much hope for a new life into this world.  Why?  Why did she not have a chance to enter this world?  What’s the reason?

Unfortunately, there are no answers as to why.  Nobody did anything.  Nobody deserved anything.  There is no rhyme or reason of why people are taken at different ages and for different reasons.  This is where your beliefs come into play.  What do you believe?  Even if you are religious and believe in God it can be a hard concept to wrap your mind around.  I asked my mom last night, “What do you think Heaven looks like?  Do you believe in a Heaven?”  She said she did and that she believed it was the most beautiful place surrounded by no pain, but only by love.  She said she spoke with a friend about reading the book “90 Minutes in Heaven,” and that her friend claimed to have a similar near death experience.  She said to my mother, “Don’t ever be afraid to die.  It’s beautiful.  It’s comforting.  It was the best thing I have ever experienced.  I saw my loved ones who had passed on.  I saw the tunnel and the light.  I am not afraid to die when the time comes.”

Those words were comforting to me but confusing as well.  I am a person who likes to see to believe, and with religion it is more about faith than evidence.  I do believe in God and a Heaven.  I guess I just need to have stronger faith in that faith.  It’s hard to imagine that with young ones dying at such a young age that there is some purpose in their death, but I guess we must leave that up to something or someone greater to decide.  The most we can do as mortal individuals is to take life and cherish it when we have it.  Pay attention to the beautiful things in your life, cherish your children and family members, help others and take care of your community, know what is important in your life and what is not worth worrying about.  I am guilty of letting small things get me upset.  Unimportant things.  I think everyone can be.  When I think of these young souls it helps me to cherish what I have here on the Earth now.  Go hug your kids, leave the dishes dirty for a day, spend time outside in nature, be with your family.  Live your life to the fullest each and every day!  Know what is important and focus on all you have in your life.

Kylie’s last Facebook posts said:

Kylie Johnston If I have you on my Facebook you are on there for a reason. You have either taught me a lesson, been there when I needed a friend, given me advice, or taught me patience. For whatever the reason, I am glad that we are friends. I love all of you.· October 6 at 1:15pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston Thanks everyone for your love, support, and prayers. I am beiginning to feel better and I appreciate the kind words.· October 7 at 10:07pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston BOOOOOOOMER!!!!! · October 8 at 2:46pm via mobile · (Kylie was an OU fan!)

Kylie Johnston Really sick. Listening to the rain, watching lifetime movies, and eating soup. Happy Saturday everyone.· October 8 at 6:48pm via mobile ·

Kylie Johnston So sick I can barely lift my head off my pillow. Thank you mother nature for the beautiful rain that I plan to fall asleep listening to. · October 9 at 8:15pmvia mobile ·

Kylie Johnston Delete Facebook or not? Such a hard decision! · October 11 at 12:08am via mobile (So many are glad now that she decided to leave her page so they can visit her and talk to her there!)

* Kylie passed away at 2am on October 12th.  It’s fitting that her funeral is held on the “Sweetest Day,” as Kylie was such a sweet and caring person.

(Kylie’s Facebook profile picture)

Kylie:  Rest in peace sweet girl.  You are in a good place without ailments.  I pray for you and for your family.  May their hearts heal from the emptiness they must feel without you.  You were a bright light on this Earth and you left such special memories for everyone that knew you.  Rest well.  Your Teacher, Mrs. Wheeler

(One of her Senior pictures)
* Have you lost a loved one at a young age?  How do you deal with the pain of losing someone so young?

 

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Kristin Wheeler