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Life In Texas

Life In Texas: October 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Stolen Life - Jaycee Lee Dugard memoir

     If for some reason, you don't know who Jaycee Lee Dugard is, let me give you the cliff notes version.

     Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 at the age of 11. Although suspicion was originally cast on her step-father, he was later cleared. Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months and then months turned to years. With no leads, the case went cold. However, Jaycee was still out there. She was held in the backyard of Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She had two children with Phillip in that time. Phillip was on parole and officers were in the house regularly. There are no records of them ever entering the back yard. Even when Jaycee and her daughters were moved into the main house, the parole officers didn't find it suspicious that a registered sex offender had preteen/teenage girls in his house. It was the suspicions of two UC Berkeley police officers that lead to Dugard's discovery and freedom.

     Now, the reason for my post. I just finished reading Jaycee's memoir. Apparently it came out in July, but since I live in podunk, our library didn't get their one copy until mid-September and then I had to wait my turn. Here are my thoughts on the book (while attempting to not give away too much for those of you who haven't read it).

     1. She has nothing nice to say about her step-father in the entire book. If other people think that he treated her as poorly as she did, I'm not surprised that he was a suspect. That, and he saw her being abducted.

     2. A large portion of the book feels like it was written as a child. Now remember, she was kidnapped at age 11 (5th grade) and had no education beyond that. At first, I thought that this was the reason that it felt that way. Then I got to the chapter entitled Discovery and Reunion and it started to feel more adult. As I progressed through the last few chapters, it felt more and more mature. Here is my thought on that; she was writing exactly what she remembered from her experiences. As graphic and horrific as it is, she was typing her thoughts as she remembered them happening. Therefore, we are really starting the novel listening to 11 year old Jaycee. Not 30 year old Jaycee telling us about 11 year old Jaycee. This makes the book come alive more, but it also makes it seem more tragic.

     3. There is a Reflections section at the end of each chapter. She reflects on what the previous chapter contained. Sometimes, there is more info here or it's 30 year old Jaycee further explaining what she thinks she felt (if that makes sense).

     It is a good but heart wrenching book. If you were at all interested in this case, I would recommend reading it. However, I would suggest having a box of tissues close by because you're going to need them. I know I did. Almost every chapter made me cry.

     Now, here are some facts on child abduction in the United States. This list was compiled from several reliable sources by Parents Magazine.

  • Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or is abducted.
  • Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or "family kidnapping" (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or "acquaintance kidnapping" (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or "stranger kidnapping" (24 percent).
  • Family kidnapping is committed primarily by parents, involves a larger percentage of female perpetrators (43 percent) than other types of kidnapping offenses, occurs more frequently to children under 6, equally victimizes juveniles of both sexes, and most often originates in the home.
  • Acquaintance kidnapping involves a comparatively high percentage of juvenile perpetrators, has the largest percentage of female and teenage victims, is more often associated with other crimes (especially sexual and physical assault), occurs at homes and residences, and has the highest percentage of injured victims.
  • Stranger kidnapping victimizes more females than males, occurs primarily at outdoor locations, victimizes both teenagers and school-age children, is associated with sexual assaults in the case of girl victims and robberies in the case of boy victims (although not exclusively so), and is the type of kidnapping most likely to involve the use of a firearm.
  • Only about one child out of each 10,000 missing children reported to the local police is not found alive. However, about 20 percent of the children reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in nonfamily abductions are not found alive.
  • In 80 percent of abductions by strangers, the first contact between the child and the abductor occurs within a quarter mile of the child's home.
  • Most potential abductors grab their victims on the street or try to lure them into their vehicles.
  • About 74 percent of the victims of nonfamily child abduction are girls.
  • Acting quickly is critical. Seventy-four percent of abducted children who are ultimately murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction.

     Remember, your kids are never too young to learn about stranger safety. Giving them tools now may keep them safe in the future. Just because stranger abductions are the exception rather than the rule, doesn't mean that they are uncommon. For more information, or if you need help getting started, check out these tips on Stranger Safety.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Fun? Thing 1's Birthday

     Today was Thing 1's birthday. She woke up very excited. She knew that we were saving presents and cake for her party, but she was very excited about being 4.

     We started the day with breakfast and a few shows on Sprout. After that, we did a few worksheets from her school folder. Then, we played Barbies, had a tea party, and had a tickle war. Basically, we did whatever Thing 1 wanted to do.

     After all of this fun (and tiring) playtime, it's time for lunch. Thing 1 wanted more cereal for lunch. Usually, cereal is only for breakfast, but since it was her birthday, I let both girls have more cereal for lunch. While they were eating, Thing 1 and I had the following conversation.

     Thing 1: Mama, you know how we call people on their birthdays and sing 'Happy Birthday' to them?

     Me: Yes, baby.

     Thing 1: How come no one has called to sing to me?

     Me: I don't know baby.

     At this point, I didn't know what to do. So, I changed the subject. I asked her if she wanted to go get a slushy monkey. Of course, her answer was yes. Both girls got purple slushy monkeys. They really enjoyed them. Although, neither girl finished them.

     Now, it was nap time. For some reason, I had a killer headache. I decided that a nap would be good for me too. So we all snuggled in my bed and took a nice long nap. While we were napping, Scout's grandmother did call to wish Thing 1 a happy birthday. She's the only one that called. All day.

     Is it really too much effort for her grandparents to pick up the phone and tell their granddaughter "happy birthday"? I guess that it is, because none of them called. Not 1. That's something that I will always miss about my mom. Birthdays were a big deal. You know, a day to specifically say "I'm glad that you were born." Since Thing 1's first birthday, my mom would come pick her up and take her to a special lunch. She would never not call. And neither of my grandmothers called. Well, not true. My mom's mom, J, called. When she said "I can't believe that she's going to be 4." I said, "Well, she's already 4. Today is her birthday." And do you know what she said?!?! "That's nice." There were a few expletives that came to mind, but I resisted.

     I then took the girls to my high schools homecoming football game. They had a blast playing with my cousin's kids, watching the cheerleaders and seeing the "girls in pretty dresses". Our team won, which they always do.

     So, I spent a lot of the day crying and missing my mom. But, after we got home from the game and enjoyed a brownie, Thing 1 declared that this was "the best birthday ever!".

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Potty training! And the Pull-Ups Potty Timer

     Potty training Thing 2 has been a huge struggle! Thing 1 was so easy, she showed signs that she was ready and she was potty trained 3 days later. Well, things have been 1000 times more difficult with Thing 2. She's been showing all the signs of being ready for a long time.
     Since then, I've tried every single potty training technique I know. We put the toddler potty chair in the living room, we offered stickers as a reward, when that didn't work, we offered candy. When candy didn't work, we offered pennies for her piggy bank (she's obsessed with change). I would set her on the potty every thirty minutes. I let her run around naked. I let her pick out her own panties and then let her wear them, being sure to say with each clean pair "Now, you don't want to get your pretty panties dirty. So, where do you go if you have to pee?" Each time, she would respond, "In the potty!"
     After weeks of cleaning up messes and having to wash a load of undies each night, I accepted the fact that she just wasn't going to go in the toilet. She was ready, I had no doubt. If she wasn't busy, then she would run to the bathroom and go potty. But, if she was playing, forget it. She's rather pee in a diaper than set her toy down and go potty.

     I did decide that I was done with diapers. Babies wear diapers. I was tired of my 2 year old, walking around in diapers. So, we switched to Pull-Ups. Now, those of you with children know that if you use as many Pull-Ups as you do diapers, it can get very expensive, very fast. My hope was that I could convince her that Pull-Ups were like Big Girl panties. So that she would feel that freedom, but it would make clean up a LOT easier.

     We went through our first pack of 26 Pull-Ups relatively quickly. Still, I was determined that Pull-Ups were going to work! I stopped at Wal-Mart to get another pack of Pull-Ups (they sell big boxes and my grocery store does not). While I was there, I noticed the Pull-Ups Potty Time Combination Pack. The combo pack includes the Potty Dance DVD (which I already have 6, I did a Pull-Up party) and a Potty Timer.

     For those of you that haven't seen it (we got the Princess one):

     This is Pull-Ups product description of the Potty Timer:

Pull-Ups* Potty Timer lets kids know when it's time to go!

The NEW Pull-Ups* Potty Timer provides fun, customizable reminder to keep your Potty Training Team working together toward Big Kid* success.

     Now, I was skeptical that it would work, but I got it anyway. Thing 2 asked about the pictures on the box while we were still in the store so I explained that there was a special watch in the box that would help her remember when it was time to go potty.

     As soon as we got home, she wanted to put the watch on. Good sign, right? One problem, Mommy has to set it all up. No big deal, the instructions seem pretty simple. "Press and hold both buttons until you hear the beep". Great. So, I press and hold both buttons. And I wait, and beep. I turn the watch so that I can see the face a little better to see if anything is happening. I press the buttons and hold the buttons again. This time, I can see that 2 of the 4 light kind of flicker after I've help the buttons for a few seconds.

     I wasn't happy. Now, I have to go tell my very excited 2 year old that they Potty Timer isn't working. Kimberly Clark has a lovely 1-800 number listed on their website, but because of my luck, they're already closed. So, I put the watch away for the night and vow to call them first thing in the morning.

     When I called them, I was impressed with the kindness and helpfulness of the employee. She seemed shocked that it wasn't working. She took my address and said that they would send me a new Potty Timer right away. They also sent a pre-paid envelope that I returned the broken watch in. The new watch arrived in days (way quicker than they told me it would) and worked great.

     Setting the watch: you have several different options. There are 3 different types of reminders, lights and sound, vibration or a customizable message. Your frequency options are 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 120 minutes.

     Day 1 of the Potty Timer: I selected the customizable reminder which now says "Button, it's time to go potty!" The first time it went off, she came running to me and said "Mama! My tick tock (thank you Mickey Mouse) says that it's time to go potty!" She then ran into the bathroom and went potty! I was so happy because she was in the middle of a tea party when the watch went off...and she still got up! That day we had....NO accidents. It was great.

     It's now been a week since we started using the Potty Timer. We used it for 6 days. Today, Thing 2 has been going potty whenever she needs to. Still, no accidents. We even went outside for over an hour and she didn't have an accident! I am so happy. Relieved even. I know that I'll still put a Pull-Up on her when we go somewhere for a while, just in case. But this is a major step forward!

If you want to order a Potty Timer without purchasing the Pull-Ups Potty Time Combination Pack, click here to visit the Pull-Ups Store online.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thing 1 - Halloween

     Today, Thing 1 and I decided to have a spur-of-the-moment photo shoot while Thing 2 was napping. Thing 1 has been begging to try on her Halloween costume (again), so I thought that her costume would be perfect for the pictures. She's going to be Belle (from Beauty and the Beast).

Here are a few of the favorites. I hope that you enjoy!

This is just completely her personality.
She's my little Diva.

She kept making silly faces and this is the
smile that I got when I threatened to
send the silly pictures to Allo (my sister).

Thing 1's favorite.
She insist that I add it to the post.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Testament: Patience


     When you ask God for patience, do you know how he gives you patience? He tests it. There are a thousand ways that God tests my patience. Kids, slow drivers, waiting forever in the grocery store, having to explain my point several times to a person.

     Sometimes, I think that I'm crazy for asking for patience. Usually, I think that in the must of an incredibly trying time.

     What I should do is remember Hebrews 10:36. Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

     We also have to remember that raising our children in a calm, loving, Christian environment is God's will. There are trying times when it would be easiest to just tell them to sit down and shut up. But because these lovely children are gifts from God, we don't. We need to show them the love of Christ through the way we handle them even when they are being trying on purpose. When we lose patience with or children (who hasn't been there?), we can turn to Psalm 127:3. Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.

     My biggest test is probably my children. 99% of the time, they are angels. They do what their told, they use their manners and most importantly, they don't pick on each other. But that one percent. Wow. I never knew that 1% could seem to take sooooooo long. Did you know that 1% of a week isn't even 2 hours? It's about 101 minutes. That means that, on average, my kids try my patience for less than 15 minutes a day. Doesn't seem like much when you put it that way. Maybe putting out problems in perspective is a great way to handle them.

     Lastly, (and this verse is great for so many different instances) I'd like to leave you with Jeremiah 29:11. "I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fun!

Each Friday, my children and I attempt to do something fun.
Today, we made a Halloween craft - 
Hand Print Spiders

What you will need:

White paper (I used scrapbook paper that is more heavy duty than copier paper)

Black paint

Paint brush

Scissors (or safety scissors, if you want your kids to do the cutting)


Fishing line

How to - 
Step 1: Use the paint brush to put black paint on your child's hand. (You can skip the thumb if you want less mess because you'll cut it off anyway).

Step 2: Press the child's painted hand onto the white paper. (You will need 2 hand prints for each spider)

Step 3: Let the hand prints dry.

Step 4: Cut out the hand prints (or have your child do it). If you printed the thumb, cut it off. Don't stress if there is some white around the edges.

Step 5: Place 2 hand prints face down. Overlap them to your spiders desired size. Tape them together.

Step 6: Bend the fingers where they meet the hands to make the spider's legs.

Step 7: Poke a small hole in the middle of the spider's back. Add fishing line for a hanging-from-the-web effect.

Optional steps - you can embellish your spiders any way you wish. Add eyes or markings (like red paint) to make different types of spiders.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thing 2

     Thing 2 had her follow up appointment today. She was a little nervous waiting for the doctor to come in the exam room. She took her stuffed lamb with her. She was holding it's hand and giving it kisses "so that she (the lamb) won't be scared".

     Thing 2 hasn't been talking much since her accident, so the doctor decided that we needed another CT scan (instead if an x ray) to make sure that everything was ok. I was worried that it was going to be a disaster. Last time she had a CT scan, they had to strap her down and then some of the images were still distorted because of movement. Boy, was I wrong. It was a breeze. We had a wonderful tech. He had me lay with her and hold her arms and head still. She looked at my eyes the entire time and was very brave. I was very impressed with the way that the tech handled it. He didn't act like he was in a hurry. He just wanted to make sure that she was calm and relaxed. I'm going to call the hospital tomorrow and tell his supervisor what an amazing job he did. We have to wait a few days for the results (it'll probably be Monday). But, she's still acting like herself, other than the not talking thing.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Testament: Let Go and Let God

     A lot of people do religious posts on Sunday as this is traditionally the day that we reserve for worship. I am going to break with that tradition and make my religious posts on Tuesdays.

     Today's theme:

Let go and Let God!

     Too often, we let our worries and cares pile up because we try to deal with them ourselves. Many of our problems are bigger than we can deal with. Psalm 55:22 (NIV) says: "Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you." 
     Sometimes, we think that our problems are too big for God. Did we ever stop to think that if we gave the problem to God in the beginning, then it may not get that big? Or, some of our problems seem to small for God. You may think, "God doesn't need to be bothered with this, there are other people with real problems." But, if we give it God, he will help us through it. Now, this isn't a give this to God and it'll be all better. We don't always get the answers that we want or get them when we want them. God is a parent, He gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. 
     I attended a Bible study where we listened to Priscilla Shirer, in cases like these, she points to Hebrews 12:2: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." If we turn to Jesus, and let our worries be the worry of a higher power, how freeing would that be?
     In an attempt to worry less (which is hard for me, I am a worrier), my Sunday school class made "Prayer Jars". My teacher found glass jars with a small opening (so that you can't get the paper back out) at Hobby Lobby. We then decorated the jars with scrapbook paper and stickers. Lastly, I wrote verses on mine. Things to remember when I was really stressing. The ones I used are 1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:13, Philippians 4:8, Matt 7:7, Matt 6:25-34 and Jeremiah 29: 11-14. I'm not going to type them here, but I hope that you will take a minute to look them up. Here is the front and back sides of my prayer jar. You can decorate as much, or as little, as you want. I hope that you'll take some time this week and make a prayer jar. If you don't want to go spend money, an old canning jar and a sharpie would work just fine.

     And I'll leave you with this one last verse. Matthew 6:34 says "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 

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Monday, October 10, 2011

2 weeks worth of updates

     I have more time for an update now. But it's been a crazy 2 weeks.

     Thing 2 is doing great. We have another follow-up on Thursday just to make sure that we're in the clear. Other than that, she's her normal, hyper, daredevil self.

     Scout's grandfather passed away on October 2nd. His services were Oct. 7th (rosary) and 8th (mass). I didn't go to the rosary. I have never been to one. I couldn't say a Hail Mary to save my life (too cheesy?) and (according to Scout) "there is no way that the kids would sit still for an hour and a half of the same thing, over and over again." The mass was beautiful. The girls were awesome. Thing 1 sat and chatted quietly with two of Scout's cousins (they are 12 & 10) and Thing 2 stared at the millions of ceiling fans in that sanctuary. The girls got a little crazy playing at the lunch. But after an hour car ride and a mass and military honors that totaled more than an hour and a half, who can blame them? After 3 hours of sitting, I didn't want to sit anymore

     We also took the girls fishing. They love fishing! Well, let me clarify. They love casting. They love the thrill of catching something and reeling it in. They aren't so excited about the fish themselves. They also love to catch more fish than Daddy.

Thing 1 and one of her fish

Me and Thing 2 with one of her fish
(I made the background blurry so that the other kid's face wouldn't be recognizable)

     Lastly, my baby brother turned 3 on the 8th. It was hard because it was his first birthday since our mom passed away. I'm not going to lie, between the funeral and Little Man's birthday, I spent all day the 8th crying. Luckily, we had his party on the 9th. He was so cute. Any time he opened a present that was in a box, he would say "What's this?!?" We did a Thomas and Friends party, so he also spent a large amount of time saying "Look! Trains!"

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