Dear Olivia

It’s taken me awhile to write this letter to you. The words just never seemed to come. Usually I know what to say to someone who is grieving but to you…when I try to form the right words, I just find an emptiness in my core. At my very center. Your mother was a good friend. She lived a short life. But she lived more than most of us will in 80 or 90 years. She loved more than most of us can even imagine. When I think of her, that emptiness takes over again. I feel like nothing I say to you will ever fully explain her goodness. I suppose ‘good’ is the only word I can find that really describes her. Your mother believed in the goodness of others. In the goodness of the world. She met a person and saw the potential for goodness inside them. I know she saw it in me much more than I see it in myself. In our line of work we mostly have contact with people when they are at the lowest moments of their lives. And sometimes those horrible moments can rub off on us. Those moments in other people’s lives begin to affect our own lives. Those moments can eat away at you at night. That is the life that most cops choose. We choose to meet people at their worst and to absorb those moments. We know they will affect us in some way or another. They can make us hard, uncaring and sometimes mean. They can make us want to complain and criticize. To argue and incite. Your mother was the only officer I have ever met who never let those moments eat at her. She would smile. She would laugh. She would say “dang it!” and the moment would pass. And people responded to her goodness, as if they could sense it inside her and she made them want to reflect it back. If you lived in our world, the world of officers, you would know how truly remarkable that was. I wish I had told her that. For months leading up to her death, I found myself becoming more and more in awe of your mother. She would write me little notes on my desk and leave them to brighten up my day. And they would! Just little notes of nothing that made me smile. She did it just because she wanted to share her ‘good’ with me. Even in that little way. When you were born, I went to visit you and your mom. I brought some gifts from a group of us Mommies who wanted to make sure she had everything she needed for your long stay at the hospital. She was so excited to show me your little room. To show me your pictures on the wall and to laugh at the nurses. She joked that all the pictures were of you and your Daddy and that maybe the nurses liked him more than her. She doted over your “big feet”, which were so, so tiny and told me every updated statistic on your growth. She had everything memorized and could recite all your latest numbers from heart. I would have made the trip for any of my friends who had a baby in the hospital but your mom wrote me the sweetest Thank You note afterward. One that was so detailed and so thankful for the little things I did not think much of. She delivered the Thank You note after my son was born a few months later. She brought it to our house with some gluten free snacks she had made herself. We stood in my front hallway and she met my son. We talked about how much she loved her temporary position with the Fugitive Unit and how she wanted to make it permanent to spend more time with her family, with you. We talked about how much she loved the job and how excited she was to bring you home in a few days. She showed me the latest pictures of you on her phone. And then she left. It was a short visit. One that I wish I had savored more. I remember opening her Thank You card that night and smiling at how sweet it was. How thoughtful and considerate her message was. She was so thankful that we were friends. She died a few days later. Her treats were still sitting on my counter. The days after she was killed, I thought about you every single moment of the day. My daughter ate your Mommies homemade snacks and said, “Kerrie! I love her!” I cried and cried for you. I promised your mother I would be there for you and your Daddy. So many of us swore to protect you. Your entire family. I hope that by the time you read this, you still know my name. I hope that I have kept my promise to your mother. I hope that when you see an Omaha Police Officer you know that you are our family. That we love you. I hope that you have seen the videos of her funeral and understand that on the day your Mommy was buried, the entire city was silent. Thousands upon thousands of people lined the procession route, waving flags, hugging and crying. And they did it in complete silence. I have never and hope to never see anything like it again. During a time in American history where so many people in our society are anti-police, your mother changed the game. Her story touched people all over the world. Her goodness resonated with millions. Her picture was everywhere. On billboards, in magazines, newspapers and tv. Her name was “trending” on social media. #KerrieOn echoed everywhere. Strangers felt as though they knew her by the stories we shared. People just called her “Kerrie.” No further identification was needed. We all shared her loss. Collectively we mourned the loss of someone so good. But no one has felt the loss like your father. Your Daddy has been stronger than anyone has any right to be. And he is doing it all for you, your sister and your brother. In the month that has passed since your Mommy was taken, I have heard your Daddy say so many profound things. But one of the moments I will never forget was when he told Tara and I how much your Mommy and Daddy “loved” in the five years they were together. He said that they had loved a lifetime in a short amount of time. They packed so much love into those short years that he was so happy he had them. I pray that one day you find someone who loves you as much as your Daddy loved your Mommy. I have a feeling your Daddy will make sure that person is worthy of your love too.

I know I have been rambling and I hope this all makes sense to you. Whenever you read this I hope that you take from it one thing, the woman who gave birth to you, the woman who loved you like no one else will ever love you, was Kerrie Orozco, the kindest, most self-less person I have ever met. Her goodness changed our community and affected the world. She was a hero. Your Mommy was a hero.

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#kerrieon

Dear Reader,

This letter was written a month after a dear friend of mine was killed in the line of duty in Omaha, Nebraska. Kerrie believed she was a small piece in the puzzle of solving violence in our community. She believed the way to do that was to do a hundred small things every day for others. The list of community groups and causes she championed is endless. The greatest way to honor her and her sacrifice, is to affect change in our community in her memory. To “Kerrie On” and for each of us to be a small piece of the puzzle. So that someday we can say to her daughter, Olivia Ruth, her step children, Santiago and Natalia, her husband, Hector and the rest of her family, ‘Your Mommy was a hero. She changed our world.’

 If you would like to read more about her story, click here or here. If you would be so generous as to give to the future needs of her family, click here.

Thank you

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Dim sum: pleasure measured plate by plate

Mmmm.

Eatocracy

(Travel + Leisure) Dim sum calls for dumplings, and about 55,000 are sold annually at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. But not classics like shrimp-filled har gow. Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski prefer their dumplings with guinea hen. “Dim sum service offers a slew of freedoms with our cooking,” explains Brioza, whose menu includes steak tartare in lettuce cups.

The pleasure of a dim sum meal also comes from the showmanship and ordering experience. At Seattle’s New Hong Kong, for example, carts glide past diners and attendants raise the lids off steamer baskets, bellowing out what’s inside, whether sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves or garlicky spareribs. It’s all washed down with generous cups of fragrant tea.

Read on for more of America’s best dim sum destinations, and share your favorites in the comments below.

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Does the Big Bang breakthrough offer proof of God?

CNN Belief Blog

Opinion by Leslie A. Wickman, special to CNN

(CNN) The remarkable discovery, announced this week, of ripples in the space-time fabric of the universe rocked the world of science and the world of religion.

Touted as evidence for inflation (a faster-than-the-speed-of-light expansion of our universe), the new discovery of traces of gravity waves affirms scientific concepts in the fields of cosmology, general relativity, and particle physics.

The new discovery also has significant implications for the Judeo-Christian worldview, offering strong support for biblical beliefs.

Here’s how.

The prevalent theory of cosmic origins prior to the Big Bang theory was the “Steady State,” which argued that the universe has always existed, without a beginning that necessitated a cause.

However, this new evidence strongly suggests that there was a beginning to our universe.

If the universe did indeed have a beginning, by the simple logic of cause and effect, there had…

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Pumpkin Patch Themed First Birthday Party

This blog is so, way, incredibly past OVERDUE! My daughter is now 15 months old. And yet I have posted nothing in regards to the giant first birthday party we planned for months.

Worst. Mom. Ever.

So here goes, the EPIC blog you have been waiting for:

Jilly’s First Birthday Spectacular!

I started with invitations which I discussed previously here. I love simple baby styling. More modern with a hint of industrial/rustic undertones and less…leopard print with pink glitter….

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I mailed them like this…

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The final headcount was for 55. I realize this is alot but I have a huge local family and small family gatherings are unheard of in the midwest.

I then went about recruiting my husband and family into cooking. My husband, self-proclaimed Grill Master, picked up 13 pounds of beef brisket, 12 pounds of pork butt and one 4 pound chicken. The formula he usually operates by is half a pound of meat per person. (This formula is tried and true!)

The rest of the menu went as follows:

9x 13 pan of Baked ooey Macaroni & Cheese

9 x 13 pan of  Cheesey Hashbrown Casserole (Contributed by my mother.)

giant pot of Chicken and Sweet Potato Risotto (I referenced this recipe in my Fall Party Blog)

5 pounds of Potato Salad (Contributed by my aunt.)

4 bags of Hawaiin sweet rolls

1 Apple Pie

1 Carmel Apple Pie (Purchased at a local bakery.)

1 Pumpkin Pie

1 batch of Smores cupcakes

1 batch of pumpkin muffins (Purchased at a local bakery.)

1 peach cobbler

THE birthday cake (Purchased at a local bakery.)

The brisket, risotto, hashbrown casserole and potato salad received rave reviews. The down side being that because people filled up on so much food there were several deserts left untouched. But really having your guests leave full and happy is way better than them filling up on snacks because they’re starving. BONUS: You get to eat awesome desert for a week after the party.

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The front entry of our new house looked like this: (It was super easy. 2 plastic pumpkins. black sharpie. boom.)

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I planned just a couple activities for the children attending because I counted on most of them entertaining themselves outside in the yard…which they did…for hours. The biggest hit of the party was the Pumpkin Decorating Station.

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I bought two bags of six mini “pie pumpkins” at a local hardware store. I had planned to place glitter, glue sticks and markers at the designated station but began having nightmares about glitter covered children sliding down my freshly painted walls. Instead, I found a kit at Target of styrofoam noses, eyes and mouths that were self-adhesive. Whew! Dodged a bullet there. The kids decorated their pumpkins, labeled them for display with forest animal themed labels and then took their prize home at the end of the night.

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My daughter stared at her guests as they sang Happy Birthday and tore apart a huge cupcake covered in frosting.

Though the party started at 2, we had guests linger until 10.

My daughter was delighted.

My husband was drunk with brisket praise.

I. Was. Exhausted.

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Until next time…

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Pinterest of Interest – Toddler Valentines Day Party

As I’ve said before…I’m not a huge fan of glitter. Not only does it look cheesy and tacky but it gets all over your house. I hate Christmas cards with glitter. I will check the envelope for the hint of a stray sparkle and slowly tuck the entire thing into a drawer without opening. It’s how I live my life. Anti-glitter. Anti-tacky.

With that in mind, I decided to host a small Valentines Day get together for some of my favorite (younger) kiddos. No one allowed over 3. I thought it would be a great oportunity for the babies to play without being tackled or run over by the “big kids.” I am planning on a small group of five or six kids and maybe a few of their parents on a cozy saturday afternoon. A relaxed and kid-friendly Vday party.

With that said, enjoy some of my favorite Vday finds on Pinterest this week.

As always, all of these links go somewhere. They’ve been followed up on and found to be worth a look.

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1. Valentine’s Day Toddler Discovery Box – No Time For Flashcards

2. Chocolate Dipped Wafer Cookies – Flour On My Face

3. Balloon False Ceiling – Wants and Wishes: Party Planning

4. Travel Activities for Toddlers – Salty Cinderella

5. Valentine’s Sensory Play with Colored Rice – Lean, Play, Imagine

6. Toddler Valentine Snacks – The Baby Steps Blog

Stay tuned for more Toddler Vday Party details!

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