Monday, October 1, 2018

I believe you

I'm sitting on my couch on the verge of tears. I've quietly sat and watched all the drama going on with Christine Blasey Ford and the Kavanaugh hearing. I've read articles about Diane Feinstein and her agenda. I've seen so many memes, and read so many heated opinions. I haven't spoken up because it hits too close to home. Because even though I know I have a story to tell, a story that is true, I know I'm probably going to be attacked and questioned, and my wounds reopened. For me this is not about politics. For me this is about believing and respecting women. That is what my tears are for. Because #metoo

I have been lucky. Incredibly lucky. I have dated boys who tried to take things farther than I was willing to go. I've received unwanted kisses. At times I was touched in areas, or found myself in situations that made me uncomfortable. And thankfully, those young men never took it further. I stood my ground and they backed off. I would never consider accusing any of them of sexual assault.

However, I still clearly remember a time when I was walking after school from the main campus to my driver's ed car. I was walking near the old swimming pool below campus. I was 15, had maybe kissed one boy (who didn't want to actually date me in part because I wouldn't let him feel me up, but also didn't force himself on me.), and was not conventionally, high school standard cute. I was taller than most girls, thicker than most girls, poorer than most girls, and definitely didn't share the same sense of style as the average sophomore. I actually remember what I was wearing, because I have questioned it many times in the decades since. I had on a white, long-sleeved v-neck shirt, black acid-washed knee-length cut-off denim shorts. I was wearing a purple felt fedora (It was 1992!) and a purple patterned fabric belt over the top of the waistband of my shorts. I had attempted this accessorizing after reading some random garbage young adult novel with a heroine known for her dramatic and unusual but incredibly stylish looks. She had paired a cummerbund over a t-shirt and the skirt of a prom dress and supposedly looked amazing in it. I attempted to do the same, though I wasn't bold enough to wear the skirt of a prom dress to school. Also, at that point, I had no prom dresses.

In hindsight, the shorts were probably too tight. I made them from a pair of jeans I bought a couple years prior and then cut off into shorts. Again, I was not built like the average 15 year old girl. While I look back at pictures of myself from that time and wish that I could be that "fat" now, the fact was I was always built more like a woman than a girl. And those shorts were probably riding a little high, and there was probably a bit of leg fat squishing out the bottoms rather than lying smoothly below my shorts. Not. That. It. Should. Matter. However, I have given this issue a lot of thought because as I walked along that spring afternoon, alone at the edge of the school parking lot, a car full of boys drove by, hooting and hollering and yelling, "SLUT!" I was the furthest thing from, I had done nothing wrong, and yet I still, 27 years later, wonder what I had done to make them call me that. I was scared and ashamed, and those feelings lingered.

The words we say matter.

I'm trying to find a way to share this without violating the privacy of those involved. It is my story, but not only my story. Someone very close to me was molested by someone also close to me. When the Victim told me what had happened, my world shattered. Time stopped. I saw my ecclesiastical leader. I saw a therapist. I had to call 3 different police stations before I finally spoke to the right one. (For the record, if you find yourself in this situation, you have to call the station where it happened, not where either the victim or the abuser lives. And CPS has nothing to do with it. And even the police stations don't know the correct protocol.) Each call was harder than the last, but I had to keep making them because the therapist gently told me that as a mandatory reporter, she would have to follow up with the police in 48 hours and if I hadn't yet made the call, I would be under suspicion, too. I can't even remember how many people I spoke to in this process, telling the same brutal story, but I do have their names written down in a file I keep, just in case. Everything was resolved as well as it could be. The Abuser received treatment. The Victim has healed.

But the worst part for me was when my story wasn't believed. There were certain people I was morally obligated to share it with and one who had a stake in both the Victim and the Abuser's lives immediately took the part of the Abuser. "You have to stop talking to people about this. We don't know the whole story yet. We can't ruin his life over something that may not be true."

And here I paused in my writing to sob. I am honestly shocked that just typing these words would break me down like it has. I'm now typing again through my tears, because even though I have forgiven the Abuser, there is still an only partially healed hole the Disbeliever ripped in my heart. He has apologized and we have moved forward, but it still hurts. It is still raw, and every time I read a glib post on Facebook discrediting a woman's experience, usually from someone I have loved and respected in the past, it bleeds a little more. We have to believe the Victims. Those who come forward do so through fear, and shame. And just because you don't feel like what happened to them matters, or matters enough to you, or you think there is some hidden agenda in their words, their words matter!

It matters to the abuser, too. In my case, this was not an isolated incident for the Abuser. He was on a path to total self destruction. Because I stopped him, others were saved. Because I stopped him, he was saved. And as his treatment moved forward, it came to light that he, too, was a Victim, and he was actually able to get the help he needed to deal with that trauma. I am glad. That said, if I were ever to hear that he was placing himself in a potentially compromising position again, I would not hesitate to act and make heretofore private information public.

I saw a post recently that said something to the effect of "Now boys will have to carefully document everything they do from their teenage years so they don't get falsely accused of something." Would that it be so bad for boys to document their behavior? If boys had to be as careful as girls, would that be the end of the world? And how many of the accusations are actually false? I welcome a world where every person watches their words and actions, not because they are scared, but because they respect those around them. Because they value the futures of girls as well as boys. As a mother of four daughters, of course I feel very strongly the need to love and protect and respect and believe our girls. But I also want them to be surrounded by good boys! Boys who love and respect and protect and believe, and are loved, respected, protected and believed because they deserve it, not just because they happen to have a set of XY chromosomes.

Monday, January 25, 2016

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Candlelight Processional

I hadn't heard of the Disneyland Candlelight Processional before our most recent trip to Disneyland.  As I searched for the various Christmas activities the resort offers, I learned about the magical candy canes they make, and all the special holiday treats, and which rides get special holiday makeovers, and then I discovered the Candlelight Processional.

The crowd gathering
When we entered the park the first day of our visit, we noticed the stage set up against the Main Street train station.  It turns out that every December, for just two nights, a special performance is held right there.  As a symphony plays, the gathered crowd sings Christmas carols as a candlelit choir walks down Main Street before taking their places on the risers.  Then a celebrity narrator tells the Christmas Story as the choir performs beautiful arrangements of Christmas songs.  Not just holiday songs, but true Christmas carols. 
The choir entering the square.
 We were supposed to be on our way home by about noon on Saturday, but once I learned about this special event, I just couldn't get the idea of it out of my head.  I convinced Bracken to let us stay by promising to drive all the way home afterward (and I did, and it was hard).  We found a great place to camp out, and Bracken held our place from about 2:30 on in anticipation of the 5:30 performance. 
There was a singing Christmas Tree amidst the choir.
 And I'm so very glad we stayed for it.  By the time the show started, the square at the top of Main Street U.S.A. was completely packed.  The guest narrator was Beau Bridges.  He read wonderful scriptures about the birth of our Savior, and the events surrounding it. 
 The choir and symphony were amazing.  There was a beautiful arrangement of "What Child is This," one of my favorite Christmas hymns.  And then a tenor and a guitarist came up and performed "Silent Night."  The solo was beautiful, and then the tenor turned to the audience and had us all join in. I don't know when I've ever heard so many people singing together, and with such reverence, too.  It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.  It filled my heart to see so many people taking time from all the secular fun at Disneyland to celebrate the infant Jesus. 

Lest you think it was all light and spirit and wonderful, my children made sure to keep it grounded.  One decided there was no way she could stand anymore (which I can understand), and spent the entire performance wiggling around on the ground.  Another, despite many visits to the restroom beforehand, was suddenly so overwhelmed with the need to use the bathroom that she was weeping.  And then there was the monkey who wiped a booger On. My. Face. during the concert.  But one child stood enraptured during the entire performance and at the end turned to me with light in her eyes and said, "That was amazing!"

I was holding the monkey during the finale, which was the Hallelujah Chorus.  She, being 3, was desperate for my attention, and it was all I could do to block her out as she made this face, over and over. 

When she realized that wasn't going to work, she started singing along.  Obviously, she didn't know the words, so instead of "Hallelujah!" she sang, "I Love You!" Which was actually perfect.  Because isn't that the true message of the Christmas season?  Our Heavenly Father loved us, so He sent His Son.  Jesus loved us, so He gave his life for us.  And we show our love for them by how we live our lives, even with all the imperfect moments. 

I'm so very glad we were able to attend this performance.  It will stay with me forever, as will the very first gift of Christmas. I'm so grateful for it. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cranberry Christmas Cake

So I don't lose this recipe, and to prove I am still capable of posting things once every six months or so, I'm sharing this recipe.

I've made it a couple times now, and it is so delicious.  Sweet and tart and buttery.  And very pretty, too.

 Cranberry Christmas Cake

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
12 oz fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step. This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Add the butter and vanilla; mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.

Spread in a buttered 9x13 pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 43 minutes.) Let cool completely before cutting into small slices. I cut mine into fairly small pieces, about 1"x2", so that they could be easily eaten at a party. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Good News!

We had gotten off to a rough start.  My kids were grumpy and bickering all through breakfast. I was so grateful to drop one of the worst offenders off at school this morning, though we did have to turn around and run back to the car and retrieve the backpack she'd forgotten.  In her classroom, another student was passing out full treat bags to every student in honor of her birthday.  Really, parents?  Unnecessary.

Safely at home, one child happily playing with a visiting friend, the other "helping" me, I watered my garden.  I got a little lost in my plants, breathing in the pungent smell of the tomato plants, excitedly finding my first few peppers.  Then I realized that my smallest helper was no where in sight. 

I walked into the house and wondered why I was hearing trickling water.  And then I splashed into it.  Droplets flew as I hurried down the hall to the bathroom to discover the toilet, merrily overflowing.  So . . .

Good news! I now know a motivated toddler can clog our toilet with about half a roll of toilet paper!

Good news! I learned that water flowing out of my bathroom will go directly down the tile hall and out towards the front door, only dampening the first foot or so of carpet in my bedroom and the living room!

Good news!  I just mopped my bathroom and hall!

Good news!  I vacuumed behind the couch and shampooed part of the carpet!

Good news!  All the towels in the house are washed/being washed!  And some of the blankets, too!

Good news!  I didn't swear out loud in front of a guest!  Or my own children!

Good news!  Though Rosie slipped and fell several times on the wet floor as I tried to be my own branch of FEMA, she didn't crack her head open, nor did she land hard enough on her bum to cause her incredibly smelly diaper to blow out its contents. 

Good news! I hadn't had time to put on makeup yet, so I didn't sweat it all off as I frantically sopped up water!

Good news!  I no longer feel any guilt about laying down for a nap this afternoon.  I have earned it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Notes from my children

 I love the notes my children leave for me.  Chloe has recently learned to ride her bike and left the above missive all across the driveway for me when it took me longer to drive home that it took her to ride (I was talking to my friend.  I don't actually drive that slowly.)  I know it's hard to read, but it said something to the tune of, "I am the best bike rider ever!  I can ride faster than a car!  I beat you home!"
"No disturbing"
 Addie has been writing those magical notes only a new reader/write can compose.  I found the one above on my door after a recent nap.  So very thoughtful!  The note below has been floating around the house for a few weeks.  I'm not sure what interaction with dad inspired it, but it's hilarious.
It's better to be with mom.  Love Addie
 And then there are more fantastic captions coming home on Maggie's artwork.  She is learning to write, though, and currently likes to write lengthy compositions, full of all the letters she knows, and then asks me to read them back to her so she knows what she wrote.
I think the lead in question on this particular piece was, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  Maggie wants to just be herself.  And to do that she needs to be nude.

Garage Sales

I went garage sale-ing yesterday.  Our community has a huge sale every year, and last year there were many amazing finds.  And two other neighborhoods were having community sales also.  I made sure I was out the door the second the sale started this year.  I learned, and was reminded of, some things.

  •  There are people who drive Smart Cars to garage sales!  Isn't that like bringing a knife to a gunfight?
  • If you really think it is that collectable of an item, don't try to sell it at a garage sale.  You probably will get to keep your $10 Serena Williams Barbie in a crushed box.
  • If you go to the same garage sale two years in a row, you will see some of the exact same items for sale two years in a row.
  • People have a lot, A LOT of baby gear they are trying to unload.
  • Do not let your awkward tween man the garage sale by himself.  I walked by one, carrying a load of books I has just bought for my girls.  "Do you like books?  I have books."  No thanks, just these ones for me.  "What are you looking for then?  What do you want?"  Oh, I'm mainly looking for bigger things.  "I have this printer.  It's a bigger thing."  Thanks, but no.
  • If a house has the filthiest stove you have seen in your life (and remember, I served a mission in the south.  I have seen filthy) sitting outside it for sale, you can confidently walk away from that sale knowing everything they are selling will have a smell you can't get rid of.
  • There are bike trailers for dogs!  For dogs!  And it looked nicer than the nice bike trailer for kids I bought at the garage sale last year!
  • Do not, under any circumstances, let your shopping become synchronized with they irritating couple who double park, block driveways, drive super-duper slowly, and then cut you off when they decide to do a three point turn in the middle of the street.  Street after street after street.
  • If you talk to a sweet older lady and tell her how much you admire her cute yard, she might take you into her back yard and show you the amazing playhouse her late husband built for their granddaughters.  

  •  If you buy a stack of sombreros for a party you're planning, and a stack of fairy books for your daughters and walk into the house carrying both, your daughters will jump off the couch and run toward you with lights and excitement in your eyes . . . and grab the sombreros.
  • Sometimes, even though you've planned ahead and gotten $100 dollars out of the bank in anticipation of the tremendous deals you will find, at the end of the day you realize how much you already have and how much you don't really need and you  only spend $6 in a morning of garage sale-ing.  And then, you console yourself by planning out how you will trick your husband into thinking you spent all your money before you reveal how little you actually spent, and HE NEVER EVEN ASKS!  Oh well, it was still a good morning.