Newtown as I know it

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and writer at Steady Mom

I never intended to write about my current location here, or in any online space. I crave privacy and am tiger-mother fierce about protecting that of my kids. But when you see the town in which you live and love plastered across national and international news, the time has come to open up.

I make my home in Newtown, Connecticut–scene of last week’s 2nd deadliest school shooting in US history. If we had not chosen to homeschool, all three of my babes would have walked through the doors of Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning.

Who knows if all three would have come home again.

This tragedy hits close, shockingly close, to our home. Within walking distance families currently nurse a private grief that I find unimaginable.

What disturbs me, though, is that most of you are hearing about Newtown for the first time. Please know that there is another side than the sheer horror of what you’ve seen.

There’s the truth–what life is really like here. And though we’ve only lived in this town for a year and a half, this place will be part of our family’s heart, and history, forever.

This is Newtown as I know it:

I fell in love with this small town over two years ago. My kids attended a week-long summer camp here. After dropping them off I would wander–finding a place to write or take a walk–until time to pick them up again. Driving these country roads birthed a new dream for my family–a different type of life that would include fields and farms, refuge and freedom.

A safe place for my children to love, learn, and grow.

It has been that–and much more. You could say that Newtown was the answer to our prayers.

A stereotype holds that New Englanders keep their distance, but this community welcomed us warmly.

After Hurricane Sandy, when we lost power for four days, neighbors on both sides called and visited–inviting us to shower at their house, sleep on their floors, and borrow their camping stoves.

My children roam freely and play loudly for hours everyday outside our house. Once I noticed Elijah laying on the grass for several minutes, gazing at the sky.

“Watching hawks,” he said, when asked what captured his attention. I’ll always remember that moment. It struck me as exactly what a child should have the time and space for.

And it happened here. Newtown–a remarkable place to raise kids.

Though not exactly your typical family, I have never encountered even one rude look, glance, or comment about our uniqueness and diversity.

When checking out dozens of books recently, the librarian looked up at me with a warm smile and kindly said, “You must homeschool.” She went on to tell me of her positive experiences with other homeschooling families in the area.

Once my kids ran out to eagerly greet the oil man who had arrived to fill our tank. I walked out also, and he spoke up.

“Your son said you homeschool?”

As I answered yes, I wondered what would come next. But instead of questioning the validity of our educational choice, he opened up in my front yard about the learning struggles of his son. Turns out he and his wife had wondered about homeschooling themselves. He left that day with one of my cards for this blog, and an invitation to email me with any questions.

Our experience has shown us that Newtowners live and work with passion. I’ve been genuinely surprised to find that almost anyone hired to come to our house–from exterminators, to chimney sweeps, to tree choppers–exudes an excitement for their chosen line of work. My kids have come away thinking that “loving your job” is just what folks do.

Like I said, there’s something special here. A spark. Please remember that as you watch footage of terrified children running from classrooms and of lives irrevocably changed. That spark may be dim with sorrow, but it has not been extinguished in this courageous community.

Continue to send your prayers this direction. Not for us, who still have the privilege of tucking our little ones in tonight–but for those down the street and around the corner with empty beds and shattered hearts.

As for me, I will wake up tomorrow morning, look out the window at the field in the back, then do what I always do–thank God for sending us here. I will change my mind’s channel when images of horror and violence play on its screen, and replace it with images of what I know to be true about this beautiful community.

Treasured and cherished safely in my memory remains forever Newtown…as I know it.

Now you know it, too.

Further reading & resources:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.” ~ C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Comments now closed. Thank you for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. Thank you for sharing the positive! This is a terrible tragedy but there is always hope, always something good. I choose to look for the good!

  2. I have no special words to offer really, but our family’s hearts and prayers are with everyone in Newtown. May those who are suffering so deeply right now eventually find new meaning and purpose in their lives.

  3. Wonderful piece on our community, Jamie. I am with you in love and grief. Hope to get together with you soon as we planned so our children can get to know one another. xoxo
    Eileen’s latest post: Look for the Light: A Story of Goodness

  4. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thank you for sharing this side of your community, Jamie. It sounds as though Newtown is a place full of kind souls, ones full of courage and commitment to family. I’m sending all of the healing thoughts I can to your community.
    Cookin’ Canuck’s latest post: A Day of Silence & The Only Things I Could Think To Do

  6. As a mama of a 1st grade son, I’m really struggling with sending my son to school this Monday morning. This tragedy has hit so close to home even though I’m on the other side of the country. Jaime, please don’t ever feel the need to “defend” your decision to others about homeschooling. You are doing what you feel is right and a lot of us mamas applaud you. My prayers are with your beloved town.

  7. Thank you, Jamie. Healing will come.
    marian woman’s latest post: day 3

  8. Thank you for that post.

  9. I still can’t wrap my head around what happened. I’m praying for you and your community and for those who lost loved ones.
    Amy @ Living Locurto’s latest post: Elf on the Shelf as Elf the Movie

  10. I Just moved to Maine, after living in CT for 36 years, I am heartsick about what is going on right now, and sending as much love as I can.

  11. Thinking of everyone in your community and prayers for all those hurting. My heart hurts for you all!! May you continue to be a shining light to those around you during this difficult time.

  12. Thank you for allowing us to see a light in your little community. Your community will be in our prayers. News of this has even shaken my children which do go to a public school. We don’t live in a small town (wish we did). We prayed this morning, gave extra hugs and sent them off to school. My 7 yr old daughter has especially prayed for everyone in your community and was the top prayer before we ate lunch yesterday afternoon. Just know we are continuing to send our prayers for comfort, warm thoughts, hugs and our love to everyone that has been affected! May God continue to wrap His loving arms around everyone that has been affected as you mourn and start to pick up the pieces! Much love!
    The Buchanan Family

  13. Dear Jamie,
    I read your post today. My heart goes out to all those families who lost children in this senseless tragedy. I have gain a new appreciation for Moms/families who chose to home school their kids since finding your blog and others that give me a new perspective. Thank you. This is your way to spread love in this world. Best Wishes to you and everyone in your Newtown.

  14. Well done. Simply well done. Prayers in abundance.
    Gretchen’s latest post: The Cure for the Ho-Hum Christmas

  15. I never would have blamed the town. It sounds like a lovely places. Praying for all affected. Only a loving Heavenly Father can ease their burdens.
    Lisa’s latest post: Dealing with the Guilt

  16. memory eternal to those lost!
    priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)’s latest post: praying

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this. I enjoyed visualizing this community as it really is. We are praying for these dear families and your community at large. Only God Himself can bring healing to this situation.
    Kathy Jensen’s latest post: Your assignments for this week!

  18. Auntiepatch says:

    I’m sending love and blessings to you and your neighbors from So. Calif.

  19. Jamie, this is a wonderful post and it’s evident how much connection you feel to your neighbors. I live in Blacksburg and work at Virginia Tech (as well as being a VT alum), so I can empathize with what you and your community are going through, although our indvidual struggles are so deeply personal. We absolutely LOVE living here and, ironically, feel like it’s one of the safest towns on the planet and a special place to raise our son. Although the journey to recovery and “normalcy” is long, you will continue to be amazed at the true sense of community and pride of place that will follow. Our entire community is sending love your way. Take care, Ginny

  20. Jamie,
    Thank you so much for your beautiful words about your town. I am praying for your entire community. My heart and prayers stay steadfastly focused on praying for the grieving parents, families, and community. I was a member of the community where the shooting was in an Amish schoolhouse. The cloak of grief may put a damper on the joy and spirit of children for a time, but the love, peace, and arms of the community will sustain the children and continue to ensure peace for their hearts as they grow. <3 Prayers, peace, and love. Sitting in grief with your community here in Pennsylvania. <3

  21. Beautifully written. So glad I was able to read this. I’ll share on fb. All should be seeing how wonderful this little town is.

  22. They say that beauty can always be found if you look for it. Thank you for sharing the beauty that is found in Newtown. I, like most of the world, is grieving for the precious beauty that was lost. I pray that the citizens of Newton continue to wrap their arms around one another and know that they are loved, thought of and prayed for. I pray that the town will gather strength that it didn’t know it had to help guide it through the difficult moments and days ahead that will be endured.
    I pray for peace and love for all.
    Laura Ingalls Gunn’s latest post: Unwrap Hope: Winter Wonder Cloches

  23. After the darkness, comes the light. Thank you for being that first spark (for me) to come out of such hurt and pain. Happy to see the “other side” as you talk about it. Mainstream media are so focussed on the negative, that your post really shines a beacon on all that is good, and THAT, is GOOD!

  24. Dear Jaime,
    Your beautiful words are such a bright light on a town that will be know forever for this tragedy. I couldn’t help reading this and things I don’t know anything about Columbine except for the horror, but now forever I will always think of Newtown, CT as an awesome place to homeschool, a town full of loving and dedicated workers, and the place where you live a woman I love to hear talk to Tsh on podcasts. May your holiday be full of joy in a troubled time.

  25. Thank you for posting this. We lived in & around Middlebury, CT for over 10 years, moving to Illinois just last year. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven to or through Newtown. My heart is broken to know that this has happened to a community that I’m so familiar with.

  26. Thank you for sharing your heart. Praying for God’s comfort and peace. Very eloquently said and I will definitely have your images in my head. You are all in my heart and prayers.

  27. Hi Jamie, Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of Newtown. I live on the border in Brookfield and because we also homeschool, we are very connected with your town through friends and activities. We spend every Friday with a lovely group of homeschoolers in Newtown for our performing arts classes. I wish you and your neighbors peace during this difficult time.

  28. Thank you for sharing this. Please know, I don’t think anyone is looking at your town as an unsafe place. We all know that monsters lurk. They lurk everywhere. In the heart of a metropolitan city, in the homes of the suburbs, and in quiet, beautiful spaces like Newtown. Thank you, again, for sharing. May you all be able to heal and move on from this tragedy.
    Amy’s latest post: What If…

  29. Thank you for sharing the beauty of Newtown. It sounds like such a lovely place to live and raise your family. My heart and prayers are with you and your neighbors and the whole community. God bless you all!
    Vicki’s latest post: When God Speaks

  30. Thank you for giving us an inside look into your beautiful community of Newtown. Sending lots of love and prayers to the victims and their families.
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl’s latest post: A Day of Remembrance

  31. I’ve been reading this blog for a couple of years now. You and other contributors have taught me so much about homeschooling! God brought you to Newtown for His purposes! My prayers are with you as you comfort the broken-hearted and as you reach out to those in need. My prayers are with your close-knit community as it-and all of us-struggle to understand and heal.

  32. Christina Y. says:

    Thank you for sharing the beauty of your community! Words cannot express the deep sympathy my family feels for your entire town, especially those parents who have “empty beds and shattered hearts”. May the victims memories be eternal and may the Lord comfort their families and friends! God bless you all!

  33. Jamie-I’ve been reading and been inspired by your blogging for quite a while now. Never would I have guessed that the beautiful idyllic home you have so often written of was the one where such devastating tragedy occurred last week. Sitting here reading todays post I found myself in tears because it put such a different perspective on this horror-that the families who have lost so much likely felt as you do about your lovely place in the world and never imagined such a thing could happen in such a place. I cried for them and for those children afresh. There will never be enough words, enough tears for those lost, those left to carry on, and those who live and love surrounding them in the community to hold them all close in their arms was you all walk through this devastation. All of Newtown continues to be in my prayers. Thank you for stepping out your privacy to offer the world this post today.

  34. Events such as this are one of the many reasons we have chosen to homeschool.
    May peace and joy return to your beloved town soon.
    Emily’s latest post: Check This Out: Homemade, Beautiful Organic Clothing

  35. I’m sending prayers for your beautiful community, Jamie. Thanks for sharing with us. You are loved!
    Heidi @ Mt Hope’s latest post: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.”

  36. Thank you for sharing your beautiful town with us. Praying over you all.

  37. Thank you for sharing your love for your very special hometown with us.
    All how live in your community are in my prayers.
    Lollie ~ The Fortuitous Housewife’s latest post: Great Gal Pal Gifts for Under $25

  38. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  39. Thank you!

  40. Thank you so much for sharing, and I’m mourning for your neighbors and your town right along with you. I was shocked to see this in my Google feed, as I have followed you for awhile now. It’s a small world. I have no doubt the town in which you chose to raise your family is beautiful and full of love and life, it is obvious by the stories of the helpers on that tragic day. Prayers coming your way.
    Olivia’s latest post: mourning

  41. Thank you for sharing! I have been crying since Friday, unable to imagine how devastated the families are, and so thankful that my babies are safe. I have thought about homeschooling many times, but now I am seriously considering it. Sending love to all of you!

    • Please take heart for courage. You are very sweet. And I am thankful I home school and for many things. Our being strong now is in order so we may give EVERYTHING to those suffering!! Thank you for your heart, Bridget.

  42. Thank you so much for sharing. I can identify; I went to college at Virginia Tech, a wonderful school in a beautiful, small, safe little town. Now, I can’t mention where I went to school without it calling brutal violence to mind. I spend time reminding people that there is so much more to Blacksburg, as there is so much more to Newtown. It is so important to focus on what remains that is good instead of what this person did. It is so important to remember those we lost, instead of focusing on the crime itself. Thank you.
    Michelle’s latest post: It’s Not too Late for Cute Teacher Gifts!

  43. Therese Green says:

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing ♥

  44. My cousin lives in Sandy Hook and we recently stayed there for Thanksgiving. The area is lovely and we will visit again. Thank you for sharing and my prayers go out to everyone and their families.

  45. God bless you for writing this! I have been writing the same all morning. Please know that we should not even speak of this unless it is in encouragement of God. This was meant to scare us and put us off track. Nope. Not on my watch. Not being manipulated not even for political gain. Guns did not do this. Please stand up, everyone, and push the horror away by replacing it with thoughts of truth. As we have seen, the media lies. Do your independent research. And step in to give love to those who require it, and sober those who are afraid. Be NOT afraid. Perfect love casteth out fear.

  46. Thank you for sharing the good things about your community. My thoughts and prayers are with those families who lost their children, and loved ones. I can’t think of anything more horrific, but God always prevails, and healing will begin.

  47. I grew up in a similar town . . . I just had that feel that Newton was like ,y all- American town of NorthCanton Ohio . . . and I grieved for the total shattering of innocense and peace you once possessed. Our church had an amazing prayer time on Sunday in which we embraced you as if you were our own town and we had the hope that Jesus was visiting there . . . in evey home, in the midst of every grief. It makes the TRUE meaning of Christmas stand out in gold to me this year because He came . . . that is the only way there will be a difference . . .

  48. Keeping every single soul in Newtown in my prayers.

  49. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.
    Mary’s latest post: Third Grade Weekly Wrap Up – 12/14/12

  50. Thank you for sharing your experience. I will always think of your town as idealic…this horror won’t change that. You are all being prayed for.