Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In Case You Didn't Know, I Love Yellow Things

When I talk about yellow, I think of Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias explaining her pink wedding. In my mind, I hear myself with a strong(er) southern accent saying, "Yellow is my signature color."

When we were at Universal Studios last week (drying socks with a fan) I saw a lot of yellow, and today I bring you my three favorite shots...
Yellow Staircase
Yellow stairs. 
Because yellow lifts you up higher. 

Giant Yellow Book - Curious George
Yellow book.
Because everything about this 
(giant, yellow, Curious George book) 
is awesome.

Yellow Star
Yellow star.
Because I can.
(Yes, I am laying on the ground on a yellow star. Don't you do that?)

I'm constantly on the look out for it.
Yellow brings me joy
I find it in the grayest of places.

What is making you happy today?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Unplanned Words

Headphones on, email checked and closed, facebook and twitter closed, and I am ready to write.

write.

write.

something.

something my mind has been thinking about.

but.

my heart demands that I write words unplanned.

----------

I planned to tell you about this moment when I walked by Katarina's bed late last night.

A sleepy giggle escaped (there is nothing sweeter than the sound of a kid laughing in her sleep) as she rolled over. I pulled up the purple blanket that always finds itself at the end of her bed, and tucked it in around her.

I leaned over and breathed deeply the smell of shampooed hair, and gave her a kiss; whispering in her ear, "I love you," the way I do each night.

This feeling of awe settled on me. She is mine. My child, a piece of my heart laying there in the bed, asleep, giggling. Growing up, and yet still little. She is depending on me, trusting she will sleep safely, believing nothing bad will come in the night.

My heart demands that I write words unplanned.

Tonight I watched a 60 Minutes special about homeless families. Families who happen to live very close to me. Families who live in their cars because they can't afford a cheap motel in even the worst part of town, much less an apartment.

The reality of this story sits too close to me. My breath catches. I look over and see Katarina sleeping, blanket kicked off. I walk to her bed, and tuck that purple blanket around her. As I lean over to whisper in her ear, the words catch in my throat. A tear falls on her pillow.

A pastor once told me that when he did jail ministry, he always tried to remember he was only three bad days away from being in that situation.

My mind is full of thoughts of kids living in cars...and I won't allow myself to calculate how many bad days it would take for us to be there, because it is too scary.

My heart demands that I write words unplanned. My mind is not ready yet, to share that much of myself, but this is a start.

----------
Right now, almost 25 percent of kids in America are living in poverty (that is more than 16 million kids, the most since 1962) - some of whom don't know where they will sleep tonight, or if they will have food to eat. For $1, you can give 8 meals, a small amount to help a family not go to bed hungry. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Blog Against Child Abuse - November 2011 Surviving Holidays Edition

Welcome to the November 2011 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse!

This the the Surviving Holidays Edition of the carnival. Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US. My family spent a quiet day, watching movies, being thankful, and having family time. We spoke with out of town family (some calls were better than others), but mostly it was just the three of us together, and it was very nice. For those of you who celebrated yesterday, how was your holiday?

This month we have some great posts (with really smart ideas for coping during holidays). I hope they will help you think about good self-care during this season. We also had several submissions in response to the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky story, as well as other great submissions.

Surviving Holidays:
-Kerro from Kerro's Korner submitted, Holiday Coping
She wrote, "This post linked to what I thought was one of the best posts on "holiday coping" that I've ever read. The link is to Dr Kathleen Young, who posted from someone else."
I love this list, especially "Walk out the door the second things get gnarly. Just go." (and not just because she used the word gnarly which is kind of awesome) 

-Kate from Kate1975's Blog submitted, Holiday Coping
She wrote, "I assembled this resource page two years ago. It has helped me a lot over time, and I go to some of the pages throughout the year. I hope that it is a good resource for others."

-Kerro from Kerro's Korner submitted, I Made It
She wrote, "This is an older post about how I survived the Christmas madness last year."

-Kate from Kate1975's Blog submitted, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Part 1 and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Part 2 
Part 1 shares some of Kate's holiday story, and Part 2 has a great list of ideas for planning and coping with holidays. 


Healing and Therapy:
-cornnut32 from Picture of Experience submitted, A Chapter Closing
Writing, "This is it - the story of my confrontation! I've never felt so empowered in my life. Healing IS possible, it has taken me so many years to get to this point. If I can do it, others can too!"

-Tammy Taylor from Here We Go submitted, Little Miss Sunbeam
Tammy shares how therapy has helped her to reach out to the child within her, and enabled them to go on this healing journey together. 


Survivor Stories:
-Strife Survivor from My Life as a Strife Survivor submitted, The Beginning - Part 1
She wrote, "This story is my account of the first time I experienced sexual abuse."


Aftermath:
-Tracie submitted, Sometimes I Feel So Much Guilt
The Penn State story triggered me in ways I did not expect, causing me to look at the guilt I feel (even though it is not mine to carry) about other children who were abused by my uncle.  



 Advocacy and Awareness:
-Rick Belden from The Good Men Project submitted, A View Through A Cracked Lens
An Interview with Jon Ritchie brings up memories for Rick. 

-Jenn from ...so this is love... submitted, I Carry Them With Me
Jenn is a social worker who helps children who have been abused. They touch her heart, and she tries to be a safe place for them to share their stories and pain. 

-Brittany P from Butterfly Closures submitted, Penn State Scandal as it Triggers Many Survivors
Brittany found herself triggered by the Penn State news coverage and the stories of abuse even though it was different from the abuse she survived. She said, "Survivors just ache for other victims, because we know the harsh path that we walk, and because we often know the tragedy of an adult that doesn't follow through to protect a child."


-April from mindsetforlife submitted, Feeling Empowered
April recently wrote a book to inspire and empower abuse survivors, and she is sharing a piece of that work with us. 



In the News:
-An Indiana Senator wants to prevent child sex abuse
It is always encouraging to me when I see lawmakers making steps toward protecting children. Especially after this month, and all the news coming out about Penn State. 


Poetry:
-Tammy Taylor from Here We Go submitted, The Best of You
She wrote, "The best of you!"


*********
The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is a monthly event. The purpose is to raise awareness about the serious issue of child abuse and to share important posts with others who may not be frequent readers of an author's blog, and expose one's work to a wider audience. There are so many wonderful bloggers who are contributing to the cause of ending and recovering from child abuse. If you, as a reader or author, know of other blogs that you find helpful, please encourage them to submit to an upcoming issue of the Carnival Against Child Abuse; and please bookmark that page so we can continue to receive high quality submissions from a wide swath of bloggers.

Many thanks to all of you who shared your hearts and stories with us, and to all of you who read the submissions and show your support. You keep this carnival, the awareness, support, and healing going each month.


To provide another way for you to stay in contact with the blog carnival, and make sure you don't miss any updates; you can like the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse Facebook Page



Thank you for raising your voice and speaking out against child abuse! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Peace Like An Iceberg

The phone rang, and as I listened to the words on the other side, I was overcome by what I think of as the scary peace. It hits like cold water, numbing you when bad news comes. Your mind instinctively shuts down, because it knows you will crumble under the weight of what is about to happen if you are able to think clearly.

But as I listened, something snuck past that scary peace and shattered the numbness. These words, which could have destroyed me, were tempered with a grace and mercy that I could feel. And I was so very thankful.

God took this thing, and used it as a blessing. When I realized what was happening, real peace settled over me. Not the scary, numbing kind of peace, but the peace that says, "I've got this. You will be okay." Tears still fall, and life still happens, but there are also second chances, and provisions from God showing up when they are so desperately needed.

On a holiday week that is a lot about pilgrims, and harvests (which I know very little about) and parades, and turkeys (which are not my favorite), and family (who are far away), I usually give some obligatory thoughts to thankfulness and move on. But this year, I feel a thankfulness, a peace, and even an optimism, that I did not expect.

I am thankful....God has got my back, and it is going to be okay.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

90210 Was Not A Cop Show

Thomas and I were flipping through tv channels, when we came across some silly movie on the Sci-Fi Channel (I think it is SyFy now, but I refuse to spell it that way on principle).

This movie (or maybe it was a show, I am not the authority on Sci-Fi channel programming) starred Jason Priestley - thus sparking a conversation wherein Thomas refused to believe Jason Priestley was his name until I looked it up.

"I was right! Jason Priestley."

"Who is he? How do you know his name?"

"Brandon Walsh. 90210." (<---self explanatory, right?)

Thomas stares at me blankly.

"The original 90210........Beverly Hills, 90210!"

"Oh yeah. That. Wasn't that a cop show?"

Generational differences. We have them.

Did you watch 90210? I know I'm not the only one! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Universal Studios - Bring A Towel

We spent yesterday at Universal Studios, where we found a fabulous Curious George area with giant books and a cute little town.

Tracie standing behind a giant Curious George Book

I was happily enjoying the giant Curious George book, when I heard........
"Ooooh! Look! What do these holes in the ground do?"

Katarina and Thomas stare at holes in the ground

They shoot water! 

Water shooting out of holes in the ground

"We are just getting a little bit wet, Mom"


What's this? More water! 

Water falls from a balcony

I'm not sure this pictures conveys just how soaked Katarina was 
when we left Curious George-ville.
(clearly jeans are not the proper attire for visiting George)

Katarina is drenched

We poured the water out of her boots, 
and set her boots and socks out in the sun to dry.

It takes a loooonnnngggg time to dry boots and socks in the sun. 

Boots and Socks Drying in the Sun

How did a sock get up there?

Sock hanging from a fan

One sock flew off the fan. The other sock flew off the fan.
But Thomas was not discouraged in his sock-drying efforts. Even when people walked by, pointing and laughing, he kept climbing back up and tying the socks on the fan... 

Thomas hanging socks on a fan

until he finally got them to stay, as Curious George looked on with approval. 

Two socks hanging from a fan

I am happy to report that we weren't kicked out for our improvised sock dryer.
Do you have a funny sock story? I know I'm not the only one! 


*this post was in no way sponsored or endorsed by Universal Studios. I'm pretty sure they prefer you drying your socks at home!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Moon Navigation Knowledge

My husband called me the other day to talk about the moon. Not really to talk about the moon - I'm sure there was some other important information he was sharing, but the moon came up. It was a new moon, or a full moon, or a harvest moon....honesty? I don't know. If it looks like a round ball, I call it a full moon. If it looks like anything else, I just call it the moon and move on with my life.

I said as much to Thomas. He told me it was probably okay that I didn't know the moon types, as long as I wasn't planning on becoming a sailor anytime soon.

A sailor? That is pretty much the farthest plan from my mind right now. I think I'll be safe.

Unless....unless he has a boat hidden somewhere that I haven't heard about in our 9 years of marriage. Or a trust fund - one that is about to kick in in the next year or so. If those things are happening, I might change my plans. Sailing could be fun, right?

Do you think I should buy some moon books and start studying up just in case?

Probably not.


This was my Sunday morning five minute stream of consciousness writing. I've dumped my brain, feel free to dump yours with Fadra. 




Can you give me a crash course in moon navigation information just in case I need it? Or stars? (because it occurs to me that star knowledge is really what is needed for navigation) Do you sail? 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weight Watchers Satisfying Selections Review

This week Katarina and I tried the Weight Watchers Smart Ones Satisfying Selections meals.

The package promised 30% more food than tray meals, but the bag looked pretty small. Once I cooked it, and poured it out on a plate, I was impressed with the serving size hiding in the bag. Definitely more than most frozen meals I've tried.

We tried the Ziti with Meatballs and Cheese and the Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry.


The ziti was fabulous. I counted at least 10 meatballs, and I was happy they didn't skimp on the cheese. Katarina liked it as well.

The teriyaki stir fry was okay, but not my favorite. The chicken was good (it didn't have that strange texture that most frozen meal chicken has), and the rice was puffy and light from being cooked in the steam bag, but the sauce was a bit too sweet.

I remembered partway through our meal that pictures are a good thing, so I snapped this shot of the Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry. The Ziti with Meatballs and Cheese had already been scarfed down by this point, so I don't have a picture of them.

Neither meal tasted like diet food, which is great, and I'm definitely going to buy the ziti again. There are other meals in the Satisfying Selections line, and the Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo is next on my list to try.


Disclosure: This post is part of a SocialMoms product evaluation, for which I’ve been selected. I’ve been compensated for my time with 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SocialMoms or Heinz. I was not required to say nice things.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Accepting Submissions for the November 2011 Blog Against Child Abuse

The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is a monthly event. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the serious issue of child abuse. All forms of abuse - physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, verbal - are discussed. We highlight blog posts, from child abuse survivor stories, to art and poetry, to child abuse as a topic in the news media, as well as PTSD, disassociation and other areas of abuse "aftermath" that adult survivors are forced to deal with. We also link to hopeful posts about therapy, recovery, and healing from abuse. All forms of child advocacy and awareness are included.

The November edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse will be hosted here, at From Tracie. Our theme is Surviving Holidays.


The big holiday season is coming up, and with it a lot of increased family interaction and triggers. Or maybe no family interaction at all, which comes with its own set of issues. I want to hear what you do to stay safe through the holidays, or what you plan to do different this year. Or maybe a good holiday memory - something encouraging!

All of our regular categories will also be open:
-Advocacy and Awareness
-Aftermath
-Healing and Therapy
-In the News
-Poetry
-Survivor Stories
-Art Therapy

The deadline for submissions is November 23rd, and the carnival will be posted on the 25th. I'm excited to see what y'all share this month. You can submit something written especially for this edition, but please feel free to submit an older post as well.

If you are interested in hosting an upcoming edition of the carnival, please let me know! 

The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the serious issue of child abuse and to share important posts with others who might not be frequent readers of an author's blog, and expose one's work to a wider audience. There are so many wonderful bloggers who are contributing to the cause of ending and recovering from child abuse. If you, as a reader or author, know of other blogs that you find helpful, please encourage them to submit to an upcoming issue of the Carnival Against Child Abuse; and please bookmark that page so we can continue to receive high quality submissions from a wide swath of bloggers. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sometimes I Feel So Much Guilt

I have been triggered more than I expected by the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky child rape situation. My mind has been filled with thoughts of my own childhood things - thoughts of the other children who were abused and assaulted and raped by my uncle. And even though I know it is irrational, I feel a certain amount of guilt for those other children. That was my family member who did those things, and my family who enabled him, and my family who helped to cover it up.

I think back to another family whose names I can not remember. Chuck and Joanie....something. Chuck and Joanie were friends with my uncle and grandparents. They had little children. I did not spend a lot of time with the kids, but there is one instance I remember so clearly. So painfully clearly.  Shortly after my uncle died Chuck and Joanie brought their children over to my grandparent's house. All the kids went in the back to play, in the room that had been my uncle's.

Their oldest son was younger than me, maybe seven? six? I'm not sure exactly. What I am sure about, sure to the bottom of my heart, is that child was molested.

The past two days my mind has been filled with thoughts of that boy, his younger brother and sister. We sat in the back bedroom, and his conversation was full of sexual things. Thoughts and statements and ideas that do not belong to a child.

I emailed my mother to see if she remembered their last name. I want to find those parents. I want to tell them what I remember. I want to know if their kids, grown up by now, are okay. I want to tell them I'm sorry. Sorry I never told. Sorry I didn't stop it from happening. Sorry I couldn't protect their kids.

This is why, when I see people complain on facebook that Joe Paterno should not have been fired "in this way" and that he "did what he should have done by reporting the situation to Curley and Schultz" - I feel my stomach knot, and I want to scream. Because I was nine years old, sitting in that back bedroom, not knowing how to stop the madness I was witnessing, and not having come to terms with the things that were done to me.  But Joe Paterno was a grown man. A man who could have stopped a monster from raping more children. And he didn't do that. He.did.not.do.that.

If you know or suspect a child is being abused, please call your local police, or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Child Was Raped And No One Told The Police

What should you do if you witness a child being abused or sexually assaulted?

Jerry Sandusky
In March of 2002, a Penn State graduate assistant struggled with this question. He alleges to have seen Jerry Sandusky raping a young boy in the locker room showers of the Lasch Football Building, at Penn State's University Park Campus.

After receiving advice from his father, the graduate assistant reported the rape to the head football coach, Joe Paterno. Paterno reported the incident to his immediate superior, Tim Curley (Penn State Athletic Director).

A week and a half later, the graduate assistant was called into a meeting with Tim Curley and Gary Schultz (Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Penn State University, a position that includes oversight of the Penn Sate University Police Department). At this meeting the graduate assistant again recounted witnessing Jerry Sandusky raping the young boy.

Curley and Schultz covered up the rape allegations (and this was not the first time Schultz had heard allegations of Sandusky committing sexually inappropriate behavior on young boys in campus showers).

I believe that this graduate assistant was trying to do the right thing. I believe that he felt reporting the rape to Paterno, and later to Curley and Schultz, would result in an official investigation. But this was not what happened.

I want you to understand this: A graduate assistant told Penn State University officials that he saw Jerry Sandusky anally raping a boy that looked to be about 10 years old, and they did nothing.

  • They did not contact the police. 
  • They did not contact child protective services.
  • They did not contact university police.
  • They did not try to find out the identity of the young boy.
  • They did not even meet with the witness until more than a week had passed.
  • And when confronted by a grand jury, they lied.

Because this incident was not reported to the police, Sandusky was able to roam about freely, having contact with other children, for nine more years.

What should you do if you witness a child being abused or sexually assaulted?
Call your local police 
or call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD

Do not report abuse or sexual assault to your boss, the perpetrator's boss, or any other civilian. You can not be sure they will treat the situation seriously! You can not trust that they will take your information and do the right thing with it!

If you are afraid to call the police, call the National Child Abuse Hotline, where you can make your report anonymously. 

*Sandusky is currently charged with 40 criminal counts, and the grand jury has identified eight victims. At this time, the investigation is still open. Curley and Schultz are charged with committing perjury when testifying in front of a grand jury in January 2011 (denying knowledge of the sexual assault), and failure to report under the Child Protective Services Law. You can read the full grand jury report here, and find further information from the Pennsylvania Attorney General here

**How this news story touched me, personally.

***UPDATE 6/22/2012: Jerry Sandusky is found guilty of 45 out of 48 charges brought against him

Friday, November 04, 2011

Visit From A Traveling Heart-Shaped Rock

I have had a fun visitor at my house  - Anne's Traveling Heart Shaped Rock. The rock traveled all the way from Mary in Canada (which thrilled my half-Canadian heart) to visit me, and soak up some warm weather before winter.

Hand Holding Heart Shaped Rock In Water

This last month has not been an easy time for my family. I wrote out one of my favorite quotes as a reminder to myself, and noticed that Heart-Shaped Rock fit perfectly on the yellow heart. She has been sitting next to my computer, keeping me company, and making me smile every time I looked over at her.
Victor Hugo Quote

We took her on a trick or treating adventure, where I'm happy to report our Heart-Shaped Rock made friends with a package of M&Ms. A yellow package, of course. It was love at first sight.
Heart Shaped Rock In Pile Of Candy

The next stop for the Traveling Heart-Shaped Rock Project is New York, where our gem will be visiting Nicki at Diaries of a Neurotic Non-Trad. Heart-Shaped Rock is quite an experienced traveler, as this will be her 24th blogger visit.

Tracie with Heart Shaped Rock
Farewell Heart-Shaped Rock. I will miss you...but I'm sure you will have lots of fun hanging with Nicki. Maybe you will even get to play in the snow!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My First Halloween

This might be hard to believe, but yesterday I did Halloween for the first time. I grew up in a non-Halloween family, and we haven't really done the Halloween thing with Katarina, either. So dressing up and trick or treating was a pretty big deal. Much thought and discussion went into the costume decision.

Pirate Katarina.
She is a very serious pirate, with a sword and a "don't mess with me" argh.
Katarina the serious pirateKatarina pirate with sword




















We went to Cranes Roost Park - saw some other bloggers
ate yummy cheeseburgers, and hung out with Wendy.
Wendy Thomas Wendy's Tour Across America and Thomas
The real Wendy. She was incredibly nice and it was fun to spend time talking with her.
Wendy Thomas, Tracie, and Katarina

There was a tent with face painting and balloon creations that we could not pass up.
Katarina got a little more pirate-fied.
Katarina looking at painted face

Thomas had Stu make him this snazzy hat. Roll Tide! 
Thomas with elephant balloon hat

Not to be outdone, I had my face painted, too. 
Notice the yellow polka dots on that butterfly. 
And glitter. 
So much joy going on there. 
My Silly Family

These Star Wars guys look pretty scary, but I think the pirate could take them! 
Boba Fett, Pirate, Storm Trooper

I am the Martian Butterfly Queen.
Martian Butterfly Queen Tracie

After we left the park, we visited a couple neighborhoods for the trick or treating thing. 
So much fun! 
Trick or Treat


It makes a pirate dance.....
Dancing Pirate Katarina

.....to come home with all of this candy
Big Pile of Candy

Just so you know, some of that candy is mine, and you should not try to take it, because I'm not afraid to use this sword. Touch my candy, and I will cut you!
Tracie  is menacing with a sword

Now if you will excuse me, there are some pixie sticks and peanut butter cups calling my name. 

But first, one more picture, because I seriously love this little pirate girl! 
Katarina Pirate





Did you do the Halloween thing this year?