Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tappana Times: About Time for April

Well, it's halfway through May, but I wanted to snag all the tag-a-long April photos that I've missed.

For example, though our April Fool's Day was more low key this year, it still happened.

April Fool's Day fell on a Saturday of General Conference weekend. So I decided to make delicious monkey bread for breakfast. I told my kids that it is called monkey bread because it's actually made out of monkeys - their tails, to be specific. Kids totally believed me. The pretty much believe everything I say.

"That's why it made my stomach hurt!" - Lydia.

I also played the bean-boozled game on Lydia and Ammon. They knew I had a giant jar of jelly-belly's but not the disgusting bean-boozled flavors that I actually handed them.

The kids were actually eating flavors like grass clippings and dog food rather than lime or chocolate. Ammon just kept popping them, though he would make some shocked faces, but Lydia was the real kicker. She was thoroughly grossed out. It was great!

After I revealed the trick to them, Lydia said, "I wondered when you were going to play an April Fool's joke on us!"

Like I said, I kept it low key this year because I didn't have the time or energy for the needed preparation that a quality joke requires, so the only trick I played on Brigham was to put some poky, sharp beads between the mattress and sheet on his side of the bed.

Kendrick was my accomplice in crime for this one.

"Hey! What is this?! Ugghh, I thought I was going to get away from it this year. I should have known better!!" - Brigham

And that's it for April Fools. Though, Kendrick did try to to trick us into believing that he suddenly grew beautiful, green hair.

Kendrick also figured out that folding his arms and bowing his head for prayer is something he can do to be just like the rest of us. It pretty much melts all of our hearts instantly, and no matter how mad any of us are with him, we forget it pretty quickly when he does this. The devil.

We actually had some decent weather for a couple days one week, and the kids were finally putting our big backyard to good use. Kendrick LOVED being outside and would lose it when it was time to come back in.

However, he always has to be attached to my side, so when I came in the house he decided to try to talk to me through the sliding glass door. My mom's dogs joined him and soon a little boy and two puppies were begging me to let them in.

 Oh, these made for the best pictures of my life.

Soon, he became desperate and I couldn't stand the pathetic-ness so I let him in.

My mom's dogs were over because my parents were in Utah for my brother's graduation from BYU. While they were away we babysat her dogs and my sister, Kayleen. The kids love having Kayleen over and we enjoyed a fun weekend together.

The weekend was full of basketball as I coached the Young Women's basketball team in regionals for my calling. They didn't win, but they did great. I also played for the women's team. We made it all the way to the regional championship game and lost by two in overtime. Gah! It was super exciting! We should have won, but too bad. I had seven basketball games in the space of a week. I miss it already.

After our final championship game, I rushed back to Maple Valley to take Kayleen and Lydia to the stake Mom and Me activity days activity.

The girls painted canvases while the moms helped and encouraged. Lydia and Kayleen opted for their initials and stripes.

That same weekend Brigham and I celebrated our ten year anniversary. 10 years! But more to come on that later. Since we were babysitting we just stuck around town, but we did manage to squeeze in a walk/hike before rushing to one of my basketball games.

The kids did great and the evening was gorgeous. Stay tuned to hear about our ten years!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jury Duty

Last month I was summoned for jury duty. Having never been summoned before, I was extremely curious and intrigued to go. Little did I know what would await me.

Day 1: After arranging childcare for my kids, I was off to the Kent courthouse. The first day consisted of a lot of sitting around. My number did get selected to be in a pool of fifty to go before a judge who went around asking if anyone had any undue hardship that would prevent them from participating in case that would last three weeks. Then he gave this great, long schpeel about what actual undue hardship means, and I didn't really feel as though I qualified. Sure, it would be difficult arranging childcare on a whim for three weeks, but not impossible. I have a good support system with family and friends in the area and so we could manage. It didn't matter anyway. So many people had so many reasons why they had undue hardship, that the judge was pretty strict on who he let go. No stay-at-home moms were released. I figured that out of fifty, my odds of actually being selected for the jury were pretty slim, so I wasn't concerned. That same day, while waiting in the jury room, the same judge called back ANOTHER fifty jurors to panel. So I was going in among a group of 100 jurors, where only fourteen would end up being selected. I figured no way would that be me, though I secretly wanted it to be. It was all so very tedious and fascinating at the same time.

Day 2: This day was even longer than the first. I sat in the jury room pretty much all day while they second group of fifty jurors went through the same undue hardship process. Once that was done, all that was left out of the hundred went back in front of the judge. This time he told us what the case would consist of. We were told the defendant was being accused of child molestation and we had to fill out a questionnaire about whether we felt we could remain impartial and other questions basically feeling out if we had ever been involved in a similar situation to the one the trial involved.

Day 3: This began the "Voir Dire" process where the attorneys narrow down the group to the fourteen that will decide the case. The lawyers each gave a little speech and then went around asking questions to different jury candidates. My friend who was a lawyer told me to get out of jury duty by speaking up loudly and making my opinion known, in order to scare the attorneys way. I was told to even cry if I could. While I'm not one to cry on demand, I did go out of my comfort zone and raised my hand to speak up a couple times when I would have preferred to sit and observe. After raising my hand and contributing for the last time, another juror said to me later, "I don't think they liked your one comment." I happily replied, "I don't think so either." (I had made a comment about repressed memory when the defense council had asked if we ever thought there was a time someone wouldn't remember details about something significant that happened in their life, like their first sexual event. I felt he was leaving this aspect out and made sure to raise my hand and make it known.)

At this point, I really felt like I was safe. I had opened my mouth and spoke up. The case involved molestation of a seven-year-old girl, and I was a stay-at-home mom of an eight-year-old girl. I thought there was no way the defense council would want me on a jury. Also, I was one of about 100 people to be selected from - the odds were in my favor. The thought of figuring out childcare for that length of time had quickly grown daunting, and yet, on the other hand, the curious side of me still wanted to stick around and see how it all played out. I was nervous about being able to handle the thematic material that could possibly be presented in a child molestation case.

Day 4: We went back in to finish the voir dire process. The lawyers finished up their questions and then they went through the people seated in the jury box. If one side didn't like who was in a seat, they released "juror number four", who was then free to go and the next juror in the number line took the empty seat. The lawyers went back and forth until both sides were happy with the jurors sitting in the box. I was juror number thirty-one, and I got put in seat four. And in seat four I did stay. I was selected to be on the jury! Everyone else got to go home, and the fourteen of us who were selected jumped right into the opening arguments of the trial. I didn't even have time to text or call my babysitter to let her know.

The Case: The case involved a now ten-year-old girl, who, when she was seven, revealed to her father that her grandfather had been touching her inappropriately. Of course, that led to therapists, CPS, police involvement, and three years later we were here on trial at court. Because the abuse happened so many years previously, there wasn't any evidence. All we had to go on were testimonies. And testimonies we did hear! So many people were called to the stand. The girl's father, mother, therapist, the child forensic interviewer, the detective on the case, the girl herself, the defendant, the defendant's wife, and the defendant's wife's friend. And some were even brought back to testify again. We went through the timeline, and the motives, and the relationships, and the locations over and over and over again. Sometimes it was so tedious I wanted to yell out the answers for the witness. And sometimes it was very emotional and draining. Despite the subject material, it was all so very fascinating. I would spend all day serving in jury duty, and then go home and my dreams would be filled with it at night.

I sort of fell in love with court. I loved hearing the lawyers badger each other by objecting and the judge refereeing them both. I found all the processes so interesting to be a part of. Analyzing answers and questions and wondering why the prosecution didn't counter this or that point, or why wouldn't that particular question be asked? And the absolute hardest part about all of this is that I wasn't allowed to talk about it with ANYBODY. Not my family, not my friends, not even the jurors sitting next to me. In fact, when we weren't listening to the witnesses, we were sequestered into this tiny little jury room so that we couldn't run into other people involved in the trial. And if we did accidentally see any of them at lunch, we were to avoid all contact, and turn and walk the other way. It sort of felt like prison. Until deliberation, I had to keep my face neutral, and my thoughts and reactions sealed in order to remain as unbiased as possible. With so much weighty material bouncing around in my head constantly, this was HARD.  I wanted to discuss what one witness said with the other jurors, or talk to my kids about good touch/bad touch. I wanted to cry and talk talk talk talk to my husband about it all. I wanted to look up details about the house and the people involved, but if I did any of that I would be held in contempt of court. Not to mention, I wanted to be fair and honest.

When all the witness were done and all the counter-arguments had been made, the lawyers gave their closing statements. I was dying for deliberation so I could make some various points that I felt the prosecution had over-looked, when she, the prosecuting attorney, finally hit them in the closing arguments. Then the defense lawyer made some more good arguments in his closing speech. And then it was handed over to us.

Two of the jurors were let go. Out of the fourteen of us, two were randomly selected to be alternates so that in case someone wasn't able to complete deliberation, there would be someone else to step in that had gone through the trial and it wouldn't have to start all over again. I felt really bad for the alternates. They went through the weeks of trial and then had to go home and STILL couldn't talk to anyone about what they had seen or heard? Brutal. It actually gave me anxiety for weeks that I would be called as an alternate, but luckily I was spared.

Deliberation: With the two alternates gone, we were left with six men and six women. And we were finally able to discuss everything that we had held inside this whole time. Talk about freedom. It was so nice to be able to open up. We selected a lead juror who kind of just ran our discussion and we took a preliminary vote. Out of our preliminary vote, ten of us found the defendant guilty (including me), and two were on the fence. We then went around and said why we thought he was guilty or not. Then we took another vote. Same results. We then asked the two jurors why they couldn't call him guilty. And they had really good reasons. It basically came down to the girl's testimony against her grandfather's. There wasn't much else that mattered. And only those two testimonies against each other can make it hard to push someone to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that this man did molest his granddaughter. However, as we discussed it with them, I couldn't help but be very vocal about my belief in the girl's testimony and the parts of it that pushed me beyond a reasonable doubt. There are some things that a seven-year-old girl wouldn't be able to know or describe in the manner that she ded, unless it happened to her. No matter what leading questions were asked, or how much time had passed between the incident and the forensic interviews.

As we went back over those points, over and over again, the two jurors eventually changed their vote to guilty and we let the bailiff know that we had reached a unanimous decision. We had deliberated for over three hours.

The Verdict: As the verdict was read, I felt very emotional. We were convicting a man to prison and ruining his life. Were we really doing the right thing? Did he really do it? His family cried and shook their heads at us, and he turned red, but didn't say or react otherwise. As I asked myself those questions, I knew we had done the right thing, but it felt really....heavy. Like a large burden. I felt heavy the whole way to my car, and I cried quite a bit on the way home. A few of the other jurors had congratulated me after the case because speaking out on my ideas and thoughts played a large role in the other jurors changing their minds, but it just felt wrong to be praised on swaying others to put a man in prison. Really, there would not have been a happy ending either way, as a family is permanently fractured and a girl has to deal with this happening to her, and a man's life is ruined. But I thought I would feel more satisfaction in the justice of it all. I do know that I did the right thing. It's taken me awhile to feel settled in that idea, but I'm finally there.

And here I am with my jury duty certificate. After it's all said and done, I loved my time as a juror. There was a lot of hurry up and wait, and long days, but so much of my time flew by in what felt like seconds because I was so engrossed. I think I could have made a good lawyer in another lifetime. I even started looking into jobs that I might enjoy in that field for possible future times. I also hadn't realized how much of a rut I was in. I was so depressed and just plodding through life. This woke me up to who I am again: a capable, smart, qualified woman. I have so much to offer.

I also really felt God's hand in this. It might sound funny, but I kept getting the feeling that I was supposed to be there and that I got put on that case for a reason. Whatever role it plays in my life or anyone else's it was supposed to happen.

I met some great people. The other jurors were kind, funny, and helpful. I was blessed to be in a great group. Some of the older gentlemen always looked out for me. They knew some of the subject matter was hard for me, and they always checked in to make sure I was ok. And everyone always asked me how my kids were.

Speaking of kids, out of everyone, they suffered the most. While I was loving feeling like a productive adult again, they were bounced around from house to house and shuffled here and there. Not to mention, I was exhausted physically and emotionally when I finally got home, and so I didn't have much left to give them. Kendrick was always terrified of where I was taking him next, and Lydia and Ammon often had no idea which bus they were riding home on that day. Luckily, kids are resilient and they survived. I like to tell myself that it might have even been good for them at times.

I would totally do jury duty again. I actually find myself missing court all the time. I guess I'm just a special sort of person. I know that I only saw one side as a juror, and that much more goes on when we're out of the room, but I would LOVE to find out what all of that actually is.  And hey, it didn't hurt to have everyone rise just because I entered the room.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Easter Egg Extravaganza

Easter weekend started out with the typical egg-dying afternoon. This year we went to my aunt's house in Lynnwood. It was lucky she covered her table so well, because we made a mess!

We laughed because Aunt Sandy was one of the messiest.

Though we had fun, we all struggled to get our eggs to turn out like we wanted them too. It was a failure year with design, but a success in fun and colors.

(Aunt Sandy did not want her picture taken with her eggs. She's a bit camera shy. Too bad, because she has some of the best looking eggs)

That night my family spent the night at Aunt Sandy's house so that the adults could stay up late playing games when the kids went to bed - one of our favorite activities. The kids were nervous that the Easter Bunny might not find them at a different house, but that Easter Bunny is one smart cookie and there were no lost eggs or empty baskets.

It was fun to watch Kendrick because it was his first Easter where he knew what was going on and could participate.

There's nothing like a one-year-old finding Easter eggs.

Lydia and Ammon found all of the hidden Easter eggs pretty quickly this year. They have lots of practice.

After a fancy breakfast provided by Aunt Sandy and Russ, we got ready and visited a ward at a LDS church nearby.

The kids all got new Easter outfits (luckily Kendrick didn't know his is a hand-me-down from Ammon, and luckily Ammon has no idea it used to be his) and they looked smashing.

After church we had a nice lunch with my aunt and cousin's family. It was a lovely day. My favorite part was probably before bringing the kids downstairs to look at what the Easter Bunny brought. I sat with them for a minute and talked about what we really celebrate on Easter day. How so many of the fun traditions we have actually symbolize Christ and new life. The kids sat and listened eagerly and responded with true interest. I felt the Spirit witness to me and to them the beauty of Easter and that Christ is risen. That because of Him conquering death, I get to be with the people for forever.

Happy Easter!