There are moments in history everyone remembers. Where you were when Kennedy was shot, or whether you saw the second plane hit the south tower. Monday evening I was just about finished packing for the first of this year's 3 Christmases: a trip to Arizona to enjoy my in-laws and a rain-free week of fun. Time got away from me and I heard the 11 o'clock news come on in the living room. I probably wouldn't have heard what came next if it weren't for my shock at the late hour.

"The search for a baby boy has been called off today in Springfield...Angelica Swartout...confession..."

I flew to the living room just in time to see the mugshot of a beautiful girl I mentored years ago. I'll never forget the anguish and sadness I felt slam in to me like a semi truck. The news was talking about Angie. My Angie. This life that I had poured in to for years while she was in high school--was on the news. Her mugshot--was on the news. "NO!" I screamed to God. "This isn't happening. This can't be happening..."

Several weeks ago we reconnected on Facebook. I was so excited to accept her friend request, I didn't even hesitate. I wanted to catch up. To see what she'd been doing these past 6 years. I wondered if I'd see pictures of a boyfriend, a husband, a family. Was she working? Was she happy? We quickly made plans to get together and chat.

God has a funny way of not letting things happen. Her days off were chalk-full of commitments for me. My available days she was working. We'd get together when things slowed down after the first of the year, I told myself. Then she could meet Em and we'd have a great time.

They were talking about this person as if hers was yet another unimaginable story. It was the type of story I would have winced at and then turned the channel. "'She' is being held...," "...'her' family says..." Do these newscasters realize they're talking about a person? A real, live, person that I spent hundreds of hours with talking about college, chatting about boys, pondering life. I could have thrown a Christmas ornament at the TV if I could have mustered the strength. What gave them the right to refer to this amazing girl as "she" or "her" -- as if to have already forgotten her? A rich story of a child who practically grew up in a baby-mill fronting as a foster home. A story of an outwardly beautiful girl that couldn't see past her hand-me-downs to realize how her heart was more authentic and tender than most. How dare they use simple pronouns to describe Angie in this way?

The next day it really hit, and I realized the magnitude of her act. I was fried. I was sad, hurt...and pissed as hell. She didn't give birth to a stillborn baby, as told in numerous emails. She gave birth while working the nightshift alone at a motel, wrapped him in a dirty sheet, suffocated him in it and left him behind the motel in a dumpster.

I once heard someone say, "forgiveness isn't a one time thing. You choose to forgive someone over and over until one day it isn't a choice; it just is." So today I choose to forgive her; whether it's my place or not I don't know. But every letter I write in plain ball-point pen, addressed just-so with her inmate number will contain encouragement and love. Because I refuse to forget the 'her' that was once Angie.

I Refuse.


wax on...wax off.

I am a focused person. I don't think that makes me any better or worse than the next person; it's just how I happen to be. Some people call it 'drive', but with me it's more focus than anything. Take Christmas presents for example. Some people have the ability to shop for their loved ones by walking into a store, picking up a few things, swinging by gift wrap and calling it good. Not me. I turn a would-be pleasant shopping trip with cider, Christmas music and credit cards into a full-scale-nuclear-attack. For example, in mid-November I make a spreadsheet: who to send a christmas card and who to send a gift. There are columns for gift ideas, when I find it and when it's been sent. I have codes and sub-categories so I make sure no one is missed. I'm going to stop now because this is only step #4 of Operation 'CCSIFS' (Casual Christmas Shopping is for Sissies), and I fear you'll show up this afternoon for an intervention if I continue.

Needless to say, while this kind of focus served me just fine when I ran my own business, it can be a thorn in your personal life. I mean who has time to smell the roses if you're on a mission? Let's just say my daughter has taught me more about the good stuff of life than I ever could her, and leave it at that.

The other day I had one of those days. I hadn't had one in a while, but I think life was just saving up for that day. Having read my string of emails accounting for the day's frustrations, my husband sent me on an errand (sans baby) that evening so I could 'get out and take some time.' I got into the car, and going through the usual pre-trip checklist I turned on the seat-warmers (bestinventionever), tuned the radio and adjusted my mirrors. As I'm adjusting the rear-view, this movie line comes to mind: "focus, Danielsan."

Do you remember the Karate Kid? No, I don't mean the new Karate Kid. I mean the old school, Ralph Macchio Karate Kid from 1984. I'm sure I've seen it a hundred times. The classic story where the skinny awkward kid takes on the cool blonde stud with the great hair, gets the girl and still saves the tree. Great story. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, Mr. Miyagi is trying to teach young Daniel Larusso the art of martial arts and expresses the need for him to focus if he is to master the art, get the girl, and save the tree.

Last time I was in the car I had the rear-view adjusted down so I could see Emily. We were singing songs on our way home from an event-filled trip to Nords (don't get me started) and I can't help but watch her little hands go over her head to do the 'sun' as it's drying up all the rain so the itsy bitsy spider can go up the spout again. But this time there was no peanut in the backseat, so I was adjusting the mirror to see out the back window.

I remember a day when the reason I adjusted my rear-view was because I was feeling exceptionally tall that morning (hardy har), but these days it is certainly for a different reason. Today I think I'll make more of an effort to curb my slightly-nerotic-OCD-list-making-tendencies and concentrate on those mud puddles forming outside our door. What are Hello Kitty rainboots for, afterall?