Earth Week Festivities

Today we went to the culminating Earth Fest activities at UChicago. We ate locally grown apples, organic bananas, manna bread, and some delicious hummus. Cora colored a reusable shopping bag, and I smelled an array of delightful hand-dipped soaps from a local store. It was wonderful to get out of the house and take a good, long walk.

I love to walk. I will miss walking everywhere when I leave Chicago. Maybe. You just watch me walk the streets of Oklahoma City to get to where I need to go - and literally the streets. OKC is lacking in sidewalks, but hopefully that will soon be remedied with the MAPS improvements.

Afterward, we went to our favorite local restaurant, Medici, and ate our favorite pizza, spinach with goat cheese. We enjoyed the leftovers for dinner with a salad we made this evening. Boston lettuce with red bell pepper. Simple.

Next Saturday, May 1st, my little family is taking part in Pick Up Trash Day. This event was inspired by a friend's daughter (follow the link for more information). It's a good excuse to get outside and make a difference in your community.

It Really Can Happen

It was a perfect Thursday evening. Jake's dad got home a little early and grilled dinner for the family. Vaughn getting home early is a rare and celebrated occasion. After dinner, we decided to go to the park. Tracey, Jake, Cora, and I went ahead while Vaughn stayed behind doing things like... vacuuming.

There were a lot of people at the park, all over it. After about 20 minutes, Vaughn and Gabby (their dog) showed up to play. He hadn't been there for long when a young teenager started using some less than desirable language toward a peer. Vaughn went over and told her to stop using that kind of language - that it was inappropriate, especially with so many young children around.

We went on with our evening.

Ten minutes later, a group of 20 or so people came walking across the park with the girl who used the f-bomb several times and her father in the lead. I started for the exit with Cora because I thought they were on their way over to fight the girl she'd been throwing words around with earlier. (The other girl repeatedly said snap-crackle-pop...I don't know its derogatory meaning...but it aided in riling up the aforementioned f-bomb dropper - in her defense, of course). They bypassed the girl and headed straight for my father-in-law.

The father of the teenager began with "What right do you have to tell my child what to do?" Tracey and Vaughn were trying to explain the situation. After about a minute, it happened.

I will never forget the sound of a fist hitting flesh and bone. I will never forget seeing my father-in-law fall to the ground and his dog run toward me with her leash dragging behind her. I will never forget seeing Vaughn get up with the right side of his face depressed in the shape of a fist.

The confronting man's son, brother of the girl Vaughn told to stop cussing, came out of the crowd and threw a punch. Even after Vaughn got up, the girl's father continued to demand he apologize to his daughter - his face having just been smashed in by his son. Vaughn apologized if what he said hurt the girl's feelings, or embarrassed her, but he did not apologize for telling her to use better language. Kudos to you, Vaughn.

The crowd dispersed quickly, the boy who threw the punch ran towards the tracks in the direction of the cemetery. Vaughn and Tracey left the park just as the police arrived. A high school aged boy happened to get the whole thing on video. I believe this same boy's friend was the one who picked Vaughn's glasses up out of the grass and handed them to him. He gave the video to the officer.

Vaughn went to the hospital, and after a rather long ordeal (which included Holdenville hospital and a transfer Baptist in OKC), he was released with a cheek bone that is fractured in several places and fragmented in many pieces in the middle. He will undergo surgery in about a week, after the swelling goes down, to repair the damage. For now his day-to-day consists of pureed food, slurping from a spoon because he can hardly open his mouth, and a toothbrush just like Cora's for the same reason as slurping. He's the kind of person who runs a million miles per hour from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed at night...this is a kink in his chain of life. But a kink that will hopefully work its way out in a big way when it comes to changing his community for the better...something he's always striving for anyway.

While I've had a million different thoughts about it all, there is one that remains in the forefront of my mind that seems to go best with the actual events of the evening...evening turned weekend with the hospital stay. That is the father confronting a man who asked his daughter to stop cussing around children. Who knows what the girl told her father? But my initial reaction would be gratitude for someone else looking out for my child. If my child was out in a public place stirring the pot with another person, I would gladly take the extra eyes and ears. I would hope that my children would never be in a position to need someone to tell them to act in a respectable manner in the first place.

We need more people to stand up for what they know is right. It is unfortunate that standing up for something resulted in physical and emotional damage. But what kind of damage will result if nothing is done? What if I would have been the one who told the girl to not cuss around my language acquiring two-year-old? There will not always be someone else around to do the right thing. This event really proves that anything can happen to anyone, anywhere. I live on the south side of Chicago and haven't felt the need to pull out the pepper spray my dad sent me with - not once. I go to visit my family in small town America, and I become witness to a completely senseless act of violence.

This post is very matter-of-fact, but sometimes the facts are the best introduction to the various implications that result from a situation. I'm sure I will write a lot more on what I've been thinking about in the days to come. Right now I need to go to bed so I can be ready for the journey back to Chicago in the morning.

PS: Thank you Bryan and Kristen. Bryan, you were a super help for me in understanding what we were dealing with in terms of Vaughn's injury and in making things seem to unfold clearly in a situation that was unpredictable (despite all of the confusion with the stay in Holdenville hospital). Thank you Annie and Michelle for helping me get in touch with Kristen's answering machine. ;) Thank you Ashleigh and Andrew for the food at the hospital and the deluxe accommodations the night before Jake's test. More thank you's to come...

The Sartorialist

I visit The Sartorialist every time I visit my blog.

Today I came across this, and of all the things I've loved most on this gem of a blog, it is my favorite (calling it a blog seems beneath what all of these stories and photos really are).

Yes, I have dreams that someday I will be so put together that someone will stop me in the middle of the street and ask to take my picture.

Being the Hands of Christ

Twice a year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold a conference that is broadcast world-wide so that all members who can, are able to hear the messages that are shared. I love these times of year. The last one fell on Easter weekend, it's always the first weekend of April and October. There are always messages of hope and love, of tender mercies, renewal, of Jesus Christ. I come away refreshed, having had the opportunity for evaluation of where I am compared to where I want to be in the way I'm living my life. I read the messages when they come out in print form a month later. In today's world, I can watch them over and over again, soon after conference is over. I always have a favorite talk. One that both humbles and makes my heart sing. This conference, as well as last, it belonged to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I've posted a few highlights of his message, as well as the video in its entirety. It's worth the 17 minutes, really.

"When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched; reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with — never down to — people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation. This is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. … As we emulate His perfect example we can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart."

"True love requires action ... We can speak of love all day long — we can write notes or poems that proclaim it, sing songs that praise it and preach sermons that encourage it — but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal' (1 Corinthians 13:1). … Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger and better people as a result. If we are His hands, should we not do the same?"


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