Thursday, February 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Sarah J

She's always been Sarah J, she will always be Sarah J.

That's just who she is to me.

And today is her birthday.  My friend Alison and I came up with a crazy plan to give her a smash hit of a birthday present, and we will be doing it and perfecting it and finishing it up in March when I am with Al in Texas.  Until then, I present you this teaser trailer, a preview of good things to come.

Please note: My children are just in the trailer to be cute, they will not actually be in the final product. Very much. Probably.

Happy Birthday Sarah, I hope you know how much we (Al and I) love you!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Finally Three!

The basement guys showed up bright and early yesterday morning to begin working.  They worked all day, leaving at 5:30 and then were back at it again this morning.  They hope to be done before too long and then I can have my house back! (although, break to just write a huge check and say goodbye to my new friends the Basement Guys and they tell me I can't put anything in my basement for three days. Awesome.)

Yesterday just as they were getting started, the crew leader, Mike, mentioned that I would have to turn my heat off, because the dust from all the concrete they would be breaking up would filter through the whole house otherwise.  And so with below freezing temperatures outside, I turned off my heat inside and we all huddled in my bedroom with a space heater on all day.  As I sat there in my bedroom for hours with my three little girls, I thought I could probably complain about this. Or I could be grateful that my bedroom is the size of the houses people lived in a couple hundred years ago, when things like furnaces and solid walls and running water were unheard of dreams.  I chose gratitude.

At one point I was in my bathroom cleaning out my closet and the cupboards under the sink and you know you start to get a little stir crazy after so many hours in your bedroom with the littles.  So you do what you do.  You find all your lipstick and you start trying them on, putting them on Hallie and Hanna too because you can only wipe off your own lips so many times.  There I was, trying on something called "Fancy Raisin" or some such and Hanna comes into the bathroom.  "You need to go downstairs to talk to the basement guy, mom."

"No I don't, Hanna. We're not going to bother them."

"Ok, mom.  But I think you need to go talk to him."

Of course I didn't go talk to him, I was trying to decide if I should try out that lip liner* that I've never used or not.  Oh the depths of boredom.

Then I hear Heather out in the hall, "My mom is in her room,"  and suddenly I realized that Hanna wasn't telling me to go downstairs to talk to him, but that he was downstairs asking to talk to me.  Awesome.

I go out of my room to the top of the stairs and yep, there he is, and I wonder how long ago was it that Hanna came to get me and I didn't understand her? How long has he been standing there trying to get one of my kids to come get me?

I tried to explain the confusion, and he laughed and said, "That's ok.  They told me that you couldn't come because you were getting pretty."

And that's when I thought maybe I would die.  I don't get embarrassed often, but put me and makeup and a guy roughly my age who is not Devin all together with the word "pretty" and that will do it.  That will definitely do it.  Thankfully I just barely stopped myself from explaining that I wasn't getting pretty for him, of course.  It's just that it was four in the afternoon and what else was there to do?

But all that going on couldn't stop Heather from having a birthday, and somewhere in the midst of it all she turned three.

My favorite moment yesterday was when Heather remembered it was her birthday she walked around the house, singing/saying "Happy Birthday dear me."  I just, I like that attitude.

*What's the story with lip liner anyway?  I just don't get that stuff. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of White to Black

Imagine with me, if you will, that you live in a quiet and peaceful neighborhood.  And then one day,  a new family moveds into the house across the street from ours.  At first, everything seemed normal and life went on as it usually does. 

Sometime later you are sitting on your couch reading and you hear an awful sound.  You think it was some wild animal that had gotten trapped or injured, because you have never heard a human make sounds like that before.  You are terrified as you sit and listen and try to figure out if the animal was in my own backyard.  Eventually you begin to pick out words, and realize that it was a person, screaming in the most awful way, at another person.

Imagine that time passes but you can still hear his voice in your head - the obscenities that make your stomach churn as he screams how much he hates her, and how he is going to kill her.  You can still hear in your head her own voice as she screams back at him, hers a wordless and guttural shriek, a human voice that has shattered and broken.

Over the course of the next few months you watch as the cops come to their house once, sometimes twice a week.  You watch him get arrested three times, once the cops come for him while your children are outside playing in the backyard. You try to hurry them inside the house as quickly as you can because like the eye of Sauron you are afraid that he would turn and see you.  And yet, he kept coming back.  He always came back.  You can only imagine it is because she loved him.  She forgave him. She knew that he would never actually hurt her, even as I watched him approach her with a two by four, even as I watched him put his hands around her neck.

Imagine when there is a night that is worse than the others you have seen.  You want to let this whole mess be their own business and none of yours, but a voice in your head says that if he was going to kill her in their garage then it is your civic duty to watch it happen so that she could get justice.  But five minutes before the cops come he suddenly puts down the two by four, his shoulders sunken, deflated, and goes into the house.  She follows and they turn off all the lights in every room.  The cops bang on their door for an hour that night and you keep your vigil at the window, shaking in your living room. 

And then you begin to wonder.  It occurs to you that perhaps this was all foreplay to them.  Perhaps even having the cops come and question them so often just added to the... excitement.  Maybe the periods of time when he was gone after being arrested just added fuel to the flames of their passion.

It's true that living this way: that's their choice.  If that's how they want to live their lives, there is nothing anyone can really do to stop it.  She lets him back in the door every time and that is her choice.  Who can deny her that?

What about her children though?  Suppose she has a middle school daughter, and two elementary school kids, and a baby just a year old.  What choice would they have to be around this man who threatens their mother so loudly, so violently, that the whole neighborhood can hear to call the cops on him once, twice a week?

In a world where Christian Grey is acceptable, I suppose this man and what he is doing to this family, by their own consent, must also be acceptable.  But in reality, it makes me sick to my stomach that I have to watch it, and it will not stop me from calling the police the next time I see him attack her.  Because what if I don't, and that's the time his rage takes him one step farther than he meant to and this time actually kills her, in an effort to make their lives "spicier"?  How do I live with myself then?

We are on the precipice of a new wave of cultural brainwashing.  At one time, fat was beautiful, then they told us skinny is beautiful. At one time pale was beautiful, and women had to carry parasols.  Then they told us tan was beautiful and we drove in flocks to the tanning salons.  At one time smoking cigarettes was cool and all the kids did it, and then they told us that smoking would kill us and we better stop.  And with each cultural shift we saw changes in the paradigms of our society: we saw increased eating disorders and skin cancers and on the other spectrum we saw a drop in lung cancer.  I may not be a licensed therapist but it doesn't take a genius to see that if the kind of emotional manipulation involved in the idea that it is acceptable for a woman (by her consent) to be hurt for the sick pleasure of the man she loves is going to become mainstream and acceptable, then there will also be an increase in sexual abuse.

And maybe some girls will let themselves be emotionally manipulated into thinking that they are fine with it, maybe even that they enjoy it.  Maybe I can stretch my imagination far enough for a scenario where that is possible - but does that make it right? Does that even make it ok?  No. Not in my book, anyway.  I will always be the woman watching out the window, worried that my neighbor would kill his girlfriend.  Does it make it ok if it is behind bedroom doors?  Is the rage that fuels this kind of passion acceptable if no one else is watching it? Oh, except for when we put it up on a big beautiful movie screen.

I have four beautiful daughters and they look at the world with big eyes that see the blue sky, and flying birds, and they smell flowers and they bake chocolate chip cookies.  They are the definition of everything that is good and pure and worthwhile in this world.  When they fall in love someday, when their eyes shift to seeing the men in the world around them, I hope that I have taught them enough that they understand that a man should never, ever hurt a woman.  And that a man who not only is willing to hurt a woman, but who does so for his own pleasure is a man to file a restraining order against, not a man to get in a relationship with.  I hope they understand that love is gentle, love is kind, love is hope and generosity, love is selfless.  The feeling of one person toward another that finds actual pleasure out of pain is an emotion so broken, so damaged, that it has decayed into filth.

Now I am not saying that Christian Grey doesn't deserve to find love, or happiness.  I don't think that people can be so broken that they are beyond repair.  I think Christian Grey needs to take some time off from having girlfriends, so that he can fix what is broken inside of him, probably with the help of a really good therapist.  I think that when he is whole again he can begin to look for love, and then he can find something healthy and beautiful.

It is very dangerous for girls to think that they can fix what is broken in a man, especially when the broken parts of him rail out at him to damage her.  Simply because she gave her emotionally manipulated "consent" doesn't mean that he isn't damaging her.  Any act that injures or causes pain is in definition, damaging.

I beg and plead that we will be careful of the jumps we make, as a society.  Is this a cliff we are willing to throw ourselves off of?  Is this a cliff you are willing to throw your children off of?

Don't take my word for it though, links here:
Meg Meeker, MD: A Psychiatrist's Letter to Young People About Fifty Shades of Grey

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Right now I'm thinking about family.  My mom just left, she was here for a week as a stop on her trip from Michigan to California, where she will visit my brother.  While she was here I took the opportunity, as I do, to take the pictures of her phone and put them on my computer.  As I scroll through all the pictures of my beautiful, wonderful, crazy awesome family, I feel really happy that they are mine, lucky that I get to be a part of this group.

For instance, in this little clip, a nearby resort was having a bonfire, and smores, and a magic show, and a dance party.  And no, no one else was dancing, until we got the party started.

We were in Michigan for a wedding/family reunion/ camping trip.

 Michelle, Clay, Amber, Me, Susi

 Great Aunt Cathy and Hanna

 Great Aunt Phyllis and Hazel

 Great Uncle Larry and Daniel
 Allison and Jamison (I took a shot, was I right?)

 Great Uncle Geoff and Jill


 Grandpa and Uncle Dan, with Daniel, Hallie, Emily, and Jill

 GG and Alice, Hanna, Hazel, Hallie, Heather, and Jill

Golly gee gosh I love those faces.

A Creepy Picture

Sometimes when I am putting pictures onto my computer from my phone and I scroll through them to clean out all the hundreds of pictures of someone's pant leg, I come across something truly bizarre.

I think if I ever decide to write a creepy psycho thriller type novel (won't happen) I will use this image for the cover.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but um, that's creepy.