Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Night...

I didn't get to sleep at all.

NOTE:  If you recognize The Fifth Dimension reference, give yourself 100 points.

I only slept about 3 hours last night.

You'd think I'd be crashing by now -- it's 4 pm -- but actually, I feel pretty good.  Sometimes we think that we just can't make it without something because that's what we're used to:
  • Sleep
  • Coffee
  • Sweets
  • Television
Oh, you know -- just anything.  The over-dramatic -- gosh, I'm so tired, or I need my coffee blather.

But I usually find that I can make it. 

We keep going because we have to keep going.  Gosh, all I really need is some exciting work to do, some ideas to toss around, get those creative juices flowing, etc.

We can do a lot more than we require of ourselves.

I spent last night at Community Partners of Dallas Heart Program.  The Heart Program provides group treatment for child victims of sexual abuse and their non-offending family members.  Last night was the Halloween Party and everyone had a great time.  Every Tuesday night these kids -- some as young as 3 and 4 years old -- talk about their abuse with peers and they heal.

They keep going because they have to keep going.  God bless them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What I know about "The Girl in the Closet"

It happened on June 11, 2001.  Our community (and the nation) was rocked by the story of Lauren Kavanaugh -- the girl in the closet. 

I didn't work for Community Partners of Dallas then, so like most of you I watched Lauren's story on the television and read about it in The Dallas Morning News and just shook my head in horror. 

How could people be so sick? 

If you've ever held a baby in your arms...

If you've ever had a child run and hug you...

If you've ever had a child look at you like you were the most important person in the world...

How could someone do this to a child -- any living creature?  I wouldn't leave a snake to live in it's own filth and slowly starve to death -- and I really don't like snakes.

If you don't know Lauren's story, The Dallas Morning News is publishing a series about her every day this week and is running it on the front page -- above the fold -- check it out here:

But before you read it, prepare yourself.

You'll have questions, just like I do.  Why did the judge return Lauren to a mother who had given her away? Why didn't CPS officials keep better tabs on this family?  Why didn't a family member, a neighbor, anyone, talk?  Why, why, why?

When I started working at CPD in March of 2002, Lauren's story was still discussed and I heard that she hoarded food, but that was about it.  CPD still received a toy periodically from the public mailed to the CPS office and addressed to "The Girl in the Closet".  We passed them along to her caseworker. 

But, time goes by and the horror fades. 

New children took Lauren's place:  the little girl who's mother super glued her hands to the wall, the 10 year old boy named Johnathan who was starved to death in 2012, and more.

I want to thank Scott Farwell and The Dallas Morning News for this series.  Because of CPS confidentiality laws, even I don't usually get to hear about what happens to a child after the abuse has stopped. 

But I do know one thing for certain -- there are more Laurens out there.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Favorite TV Commercials Now!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I love TV.

My grandmother lived with my family most of my life and she loved TV.  Dandoo (I named her and my niece Lina -- my 2 claims to fame.) and I watched together and I even had my own TV in my bedroom when I was 11 -- she gave it to me.

NOTE:  Now, I know you parents are all thinking that was horrible.  Bite me.

So, I have many fond memories of TV and I will admit that it is my crutch -- pretty much when I'm at home, alone, and awake -- my TV is on.

NOTE:  Now, I do read books and work from home sometimes, so the TV is not on then.  At least most of the time it's not...

The thing that has changed semi-recently is the DVR.  Kids, in the olden days, we had to watch commercials -- or least you had to leave the commercials on.

NOTE:  Mute buttons were not invented way back then -- in fact we even had to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel and since there were only about 4 stations, you looked at a thing called the TV Guide and decided what you were going to watch each hour and tuned in.  Truly, I don't know what men did without remotes to channel surf.  Lit a new cigarette and/or poured another scotch, I guess.

But now, I don't watch commercials much since I DVR my favorite shows and watch them later so I can fast-forward through the ads.  I know that all of us do this now.  Like me, I'm sure that even if your favorite show is on right then while you've parked your butt in the La-Z-Boy, you might watch something you have saved in the box, then watch your preferred show later so you can skip the commericals.

NOTE:  The girls here at CPD know that I really love a show when I tell them that "I watched that show live."  This means commitment, people.

So now, I pretty much only see commericals during The Today Show.  So, take this favorites list with that in mind:

1.  The AT&T Commercials with the guy in a suit sitting around the little kid table asking the kids about how fast something is, etc.  The whole series is pretty cute, but I think I burst the bubble of my co-worker Corinne when I told her that I know it is scripted.  One of the little boys mouths the words of one of the girls when she speaks. 

I am, at heart, a critic.  Sorry, but that bubble had to be burst.  Still like the series though.  Here's the link for the "Infinity" one.  Watch the boy's mouth when the little girl says "infinity times infinity" -- sorry, but you needed to know the truth.  The "Dizzy" one is probably my favorite, though.

2.  As for more cerebral (Can that word even be used when we're talking about commercials?) ads, I like the Prudential one with the bald guy saying "We asked people to tell us about the oldest person they've known" and they have a huge chart with dots all in the later years of age like the 80's to 100's.  The point is that we're living longer, so we need to plan for retirement.  It hasn't made me add anything more to my Roth IRA, but I still think it's pretty good. 

This is a longer version:

3.  But my favorite of all is from Carters.  It's narrated by a little girl voice (And yes, I know it's an adult who sounds like a little girl -- critic, remember?) and starts with "I was born on a cold September Sunday" and goes through the life of the child.  The thing I love most is near the end -- something like "Because the moment I became yours, you became mine."

I just love that line and I had never thought about it before.  I think as parents, we think that our kids are ours -- almost like property.  Sometimes I think this is partially why child abuse happens -- the whole attitude of "that's MY kid and I can do anything I want with them/to them".

But this line in this commercial flipped it -- and I love it.  That line makes me cry every time.

That kid is yours, but YOU are also his. 

Remember that.  It's sacred.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I Learned from Gravity

I was lucky enough to see a preview of the film Gravity a couple of weeks ago through the USA Film Festival.  My brother went with me.

NOTE:  I invited my niece to join me but when she cancelled my brother was conveniently the first one to text me his availability.  The McDaniel siblings like free stuff, people.

Now normally the USA Film Festival does advance screenings of more limited release films -- not blockbusters starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, so this was an unusual film for them and I hopped right in to get a reservation for 2 seats front and center.  The Film Festival had warned us to leave our cell phones and any other recording devices at home and John and I obliged.

Because I'm a donor to the Film Festival, we get reserved seats and don't have to wait in the long line -- LOVE that.  When John and I arrived at the AMC NorthPark they checked my purse and wanded both of us looking for recording devices and/or firearms. 

NOTE:  We passed. 

The press members finally arrive and the film is about to begin, but before they start (usually at screenings there are no previews) a big guy in a suit walks out and gets the audience's attention.  He explains that no recording devices may be brought out during the film and that he and his team will be watching with night-vision goggles throughout the screening.  When he says this, some people giggle, but the man quickly looked them straight in the eye and very seriously said "Hey -- this is not a laughing matter.  My job is to protect this film and I am very serious.  We are protecting this film."

Wow.  I have not stopped thinking about this statement.  I am protecting this film.  It is my job to protect this film.

I wish that all parents felt this way.  Good ones know that protecting children is their job -- in fact, it is the job of every single one of us.  We are all required by law to report child abuse and neglect in Texas.

NOTE:  To report in Texas call 1-800-252-5400.  If you are not in Texas, the Texas hot line can give you information for your state or neck of the woods (a little Al Roker for you).

If only we took child protection as seriously as film protection.

P.S.  Gravity is great -- see it.  And of course it had lots of birth/mother imagery.  You can take the girl out of the office, but you can't ever take the office out of this girl...