Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rat Pack Weekend & Birthday Extravaganza

I confess.  Up until this past weekend, the only time I'd ever spent in Las Vegas, Nevada was a layover in the airport.  As I'm not a big oontz-oontz club-goer, nor do I gamble, there was really no huge desire to go to Sin City.  At least, not conventionally.

Years ago, some friends of mine and I had discussed the idea of going to Las Vegas for a Rat Pack-styled weekend.  Now THAT sounded interesting.  So when the idea was resurrected to celebrate the milestone birthdays of four fabulous fellas--I was giddy about going.

This past weekend was our Rat Pack Birthday Extravaganza and it was a royal hoot.  Major props and tremendous thanks go to Kerri "the enabler" Morin for producing the affair.  She scouted the locations and picked the times and places for our meet-ups throughout Vegas.  Our weekend would not have been nearly so much fun without her hard work.

Kerri & Carol Ann at Oscar's
Friday night we meet up at the newly renovated Plaza Hotel at Oscar's Bar for cocktails.  Oscar's tagline is Beef * Booze * Broads.  While I was there to only sample one of their offerings, I couldn't help by giggle.  And they did a great job on that count, too.  Oscar's made a tasty, well-balanced Sidecar.  The mixologists even gave the Monkey Gland cocktail a try and did a decent job.

My Brian at Oscar's

Afterwards, we wandered Freemont Street and settled in at the Gold Nugget's aquarium bar for more chatting and one more round.  The aquarium was gorgeous, but the Sidecars were just a little too sweet.

Gold Nugget
Jeff & Brian S.
Yours truly, Cat & Theresa
In hindsight, I wish that I had scheduled more of our free time at Freemont Street.  It was the classic Vegas "strip" back in the day.  It had just the right mix of tacky, naughty, and suave.

The birthday celebrations began at 3:00pm on Saturday at a Casa Fuente, a cigar bar in the Forum Shops.  Here we all raised a glass to celebrate Jeff's birthday.  I enjoyed a Jimi Hendricks cocktail.  Hendricks gin, Lillet Blanc, simple syrup and white grape garnish.  Though a touch too sweet, it was one of the better cocktails of the evening.

Casa Fuente

Jeff and his "minion" cap
Theresa, Kristina, Kerri

While I abstained from purchasing a cigar, those who did enjoyed them.  I, instead, stuck to smoking my ladies vintage pipe.  It's a gorgeous red bakelite pipe with a corncob bowl.  It has a darling rhinestone embellishment on the stem.  Perfect accessory for my cherry dress.

Smoking section
At 5:30pm we all convened at Vesper in the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  I was very much looking forward to this bar as their menu features classic cocktails and the bar's own interpretations of those cocktails.  Alas, the drinks and the service were a disappointment.  My Corpse Reviver #2 was only okay (and I had to ask for the classic stemless cherry garnish).  Other cocktails were barely drinkable, and the service was painfully, unnecessarily slow for a mostly-empty bar with five mixologists.  Thankfully we didn't let the bar dampen our celebrations of Brent's birthday too much.  Brent's cheerful, goofy attitude was infectious and we laughed--a LOT--as we continued our celebration.

Brent goofs off
After Vesper, we were free for dinner and a change of clothing.  (It was at this time that I left my camera back at our room.  Thank goodness others had cameras!)  We met up at 8:30 at the steakhouse Smith & Wollensky to celebrate Brian S's big day.  Brian's father had called ahead and reserved a private room for our party, which was probably for the best as we all continued to be boisterous.

The food and deserts were amazing, but the drinks were unfortunate.  My Sidecar was made without fresh lemon juice and their Negroni featured a very strong dry vermouth taste that was off-putting.  Clearly this was a place for wine, not cocktails, so I enjoyed a lovely muscato with my creme brule.  It was a perfect combination.

While here, Mark and Cara used their Polaroid 100 Land camera to take portraits of us all.  Ironically, I had picked up a Polaroid 100 weeks ago, too.  Great minds and all that.  But Mark and Cara were smart enough to pick up a flash kit with the camera, which I did not.  All attempted photos taken indoors with my camera were just too dark.

Brent & Kristina
Carol Ann & Kerri
Cara & Mark
Cat & Jeff
Yours truly & Brian M.
Theresa & Brian S.
The boys
After Smith & Wollensky, we were off to finish off the birthday celebrations by raising a pint to my dapper fella, Brian M.  Where else to toast an Irishman for his birthday?  Why, Nine Fine Irishmen in New York, New York, of course!

Scrunchy face and the birthday boy

Never forget your towel!
With the birthday celebrations finished, we wandered the Strip for a brief moment before deciding that it was time to call it a night.  My Brian, Cat, Jeff and I followed Theresa and Brian back to their hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, for a night cap in their bar.  A gorgeous view, a great Negroni and a quiet end to the night.  Perfect.

The following day we decided to be lazy and lounge around our room (and enjoy the jacuzzi) before it was time to head back home.  It was a great way to top off the weekend.

My daughter's favorite thing from the weekend: jacuzzi tub

A few final observations:

  • When dressed in Rat Pack era finery, expect to be gawked at and commented to all weekend.  Most comments will be complimentary, but you will get the occasional weird one.  Weirdest one of the weekend: being called Mary Poppins.  ???
  • Drinks on the Strip are not nearly as strong as drinks on Freemont Street.  That said, while I drank a LOT, I was never more than buzzed.  
  • Evil Dead: the Musical, in 4D--oh, if only I had known and been able to schedule time to see it.
  • The idea of a 40 foot tall stripper is much more interesting than the actual thing.
  • Alas, I only saw one working girl while in Vegas--but, boy howdy! was she a sight.  Bolted on boobs, inflated lips, bleach blonde hair, and a feather boa!  Oh, and she thought we all looked great, too.
HUGE THANKS to Kristina Gundersen-Rudmann and Cara Zitny for additional photos!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shopping and tea--what else can you ask for?!

Should the Lady by Choice ever ask you to tea, do say, "YES!"  You will not regret it.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Store front
Tricia asked me to accompany her to check out the new Besame Cosmetics boutique in Glendale.  Afterwards, she suggested tea at the Rose Tree Cottage.  I was quite happy to join her as I'd been an online customer of Besame for years.  Plus, who doesn't love tea?!

The cosmetics boutique is absolutely darling.  It's a small store-front, but perfectly shows off Besame's gorgeously packaged, vintage-inspired cosmetics.  Gabriela, owner and founder of Besame, was on hand to show off their new products, like the violet-tinted loose powder.  She even gave us a sneak-peek on several up-coming goodies.  Coming soon items include an adorable travel case (pictured), a scarf and lipstick set created with Kenley of Project Runway fame, a reformulated moisturizer, cake mascara, and a gorgeous new powder compact.  I am very much looking forward to all of these!
Travel case-coming soon!

I could not help myself, I just had to pick up some new powder and I love it.  The violet powder is not at all chalky, but gives a gorgeous matte finish to my make-up.  The package is small enough that I could pop it into my purse for touch-ups, but I also picked up a new pressed powder refill for my on-the-go needs.

Oh!  And do take a moment to gaze at Gabriela's collection of vintage make-up and beauty items on display at her shop.

Vintage cosmetics
After our shopping adventure, we went to the tea room.  While Tricia had been once or twice before, this was my first time at Rose Tree.  It certainly will not be my last.  I am a certified tea expert (seriously, there's a bit of trivia about yours truly), and do enjoy a good cuppa as often as I can.  The Rose Tree Cottage did not disappoint.  They offer multiple seats each day for tea instead of a menu service.  Even so, they graciously accommodated my dietary restrictions without fuss.  They serve their own blend of English tea; a tasty, full-bodied black perfect for afternoon tea, but perhaps a touch light for breakfast.  I enjoyed it with a touch of milk and sugar, but it was also lovely on its own.

Alas, Rose Tree does not allow photography, so I came away without pictorial evidence.  (Tricia did ask for a photo of us to be taken, and may have posted it to her own blog.) But all told, it was a lovely tea and featured some very tasty goodies.  I was particularly fond of their Yorkshire pudding.

In addition to their tea service, they have a small store within that vends their own tea, British imported treats, and Barbour clothing.  (I found a gorgeous red Macintosh coat that, try as I might, I could not justify spending nearly $500 on.)

The day was a grand time.  Great company, shopping, and decadent tea all make for a perfect afternoon.

Here are some additional photos from the Besame store:

Tester station

Product, product, product

This darling gal sits upon the display case

Display of the new violet powder

Close-up of collection

Darling detail

My haul

Sunday, July 8, 2012

[the medieval hausfrau] a clothing conundrum

I took some time this weekend to be "The Medieval Hausfrau."

Well, okay, that isn't quite true.  But "The Early Period Hausfrau" doesn't play on the name of this blog quite as well.

I decided to pull out and wear a Viking-era dress and apron that I made years ago.  Viking-era clothing is certainly more comfortable than my usual Tudor-era garb, and as temperatures are getting warmer and warmer, I wanted to insure comfort.

Unfortunately, I looked awful.  While much of my ghastly appearance could be directly attributed to my status as "Mom of a Toddler," some could not.  The dress just did not fit.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that my dress did not fit because it was too big.  I've lost too many inches for it look flattering, apparently.  The fullness of the skirt and apron were just perfect for casting my figure in a very prenatal light, apparently.  Thank GOODNESS no one asked me if I was pregnant.

In light of this new conundrum, I realize that I need to get behind my sewing machine again.  Frankly, I would LOVE to be sewing, but again my role as "mom" keeps me busy in just such a way to make sewing difficult when it's only the boy and I at home.  Since I have to be choosy about when I am able to sew, I think it best that I be selective about what to sew.

Prior to Declan, if a period silhouette caught my eye, I sewed up a basic dress.  As such, I have a couple of bliauts, a couple of Gothic fitted dresses, a couple of Viking-era dresses, some later period kirtles and over gowns, too.  Post-Declan I have to be particular and I am faced with a decision or two.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Society for Creative Anachronism, I'll provide a (very) brief summation of why I am even discussing old clothing.  My husband and I participate in a history group that attempts to recreate much of daily life, without the bad things like plague, for people who lived in the periods between 600 and 1600 AD.  So, I need something to wear when we gather en masse for a "war" or even for a day-event such as a local tournament or feast.  

14th century with hood
While some participants will stick closely to one particular time period and location, some will outfit themselves with clothes from multiple countries and multiple periods (as evidenced from my own collection outlined above).  As my free time for sewing and my closet space shrinks, I have to rein in my own "oooh, shiny" magpie behavior in favor of something more focused.  No more games of "pick a period" from my closet.

14th century
Since my preferred era clothing is not always the most comfortable for outdoor day events, I think I can justify picking two periods to focus on.  But now comes the hard part: which two?  Tudor era is the easy choice, it's filling in the other that leaves me frustrated.

Do I go with 14th century "high Medieval" to make use of the fitted gowns I currently have (but would likely need to alter)?  Do I go with something earlier to better match my husband's persona and interests?  Do I go with something altogether different?  ARGH.  Have I mentioned that I am not the best at making decisions?

On a perhaps related note, why do I always look so terrible in SCA photos?!  The best of the lot is the one with Declan in it.

Photos nabbed ages ago from Facebook, by the way.  Alas, I've forgotten the photographers by now.   If they're yours and you'd credit, please let me know.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012


My last post almost did not see the light of day.  My husband was quite surprised when I asked him to proofread the post.  For some time he had wanted to let the proverbial cat from the infamous bag, but I was the one too embarrassed (unfounded or no, being called a child abuser stings) to do so.  Additionally, I did not think that saying anything would bring about the apology that he and I both crave.  As I mentioned before, we know who it was.  While we cannot prove anything, we would still love the accuser to own up to their mistake.

Will we ever ask the accuser point-blank to apologize?  No.  An apology loses a lot of its legitimacy if one has to beg to get it.  But I know we certainly deserve one.  Boy, howdy.

I was certainly surprised by the numerous comments that both my husband and I received from people who had read about the ordeal.  Below is a smattering of comments that were posted to our respective Facebook pages:

"While reading that, I kept remembering how small [my daughter] was when she was born and how hard breastfeeding was. Hell, just *having* a newborn is difficult.. add to that any type of health issue and it can be at times overwhelming. If anyone had accused me of not caring for a small baby while I was doing everything I could to keep her healthy, MY GOD. I don't know how I would've dealt with that. I am so sorry that you guys had to go through that." --Mish

"As a former foster child and survivor of abuse I can assure you that a waste of a social workers time is deplorable.They have some of the most horrible situations to work through it is really aggravating to see their time wasted.  Also just knowing you from the distance that I do it is absolutely apparent to me that you are an amazing mom to both of your children. I am so sorry that happened to you, the person who made the accusation is a fool." --Wanda

"I suppose we would all like to think that the person in question acted out of genuine concern for your child. There is no way of knowing their intentions, of course. I think the take away is that we are all one phone call away from inconceivable heartache when a well meaning person feels that authority figures need to intervene into our lives." --Annamarie

"I have known you and your family for a very long time and I am shocked and saddened that a "friend" would do this. As a parent, I can not conceive of the stress that you were put through. I hope this all gets behind you so you can continue to raise your family well." --Scott

"This is horrible. You are both better people than I am. This is beyond the pale." --Athene

"That is some crazy ass shit." --Eric

"Nothing could be worse than being unjustly accused by a supposed friend. I am so glad your nightmare is over. I can't think of anyone less likely to abuse." --Sara

"I did not know you had to go through this, what a horrible ordeal that I cannot imagine. I am glad things turned out okay in the end, but after the hell you went through, I wish there was some level of penalty in social worker investigation protocol for people who make completely unfounded claims. I have seen several friends go through similar allegations when growing up (but these were with kids 5-9 years old) and while it scared me, I didn't quite realize what the parents were going through. I felt about those cases, just as this, that it is too easy to be accused of something groundless, and then treated like you're guilty until proven innocent in many matters like this. I have had my own reputation seriously attacked to a degree I never thought possible (although I'm not a parent) and the fear and outrage when there's nothing you can do but wait is horrible. I know it must have been much worse being a parent in such a case as this :-( Hang in there and know you have many true friends!" --Nathan

"This makes me so angry! What I hope for you and your family is that this ordeal has only made you stronger. You've moved through this with strength and dignity ...something that your "friend" should take notice of and learn from. Be blessed." --Jill

"If this person was a friend,then they would have come to you first... Unfortunately, misery loves company and when people are dissatisfied with their own lives, they tend to try and pull other people down with them. You dont need that in your lives. I hope you guys can move past this and heal your emotional scars. I think I'd wring that persons neck, if I had them in front of me." --Monica

We even had a couple of folks share the post on their page.  It has been the most viewed post on my blog.  It's gone beyond my expectations.

In short, I hope the message that people get--especially our accuser--is that if you suspect something to be wrong, ask questions.  Get answers, get the truth before letting your imagination run wild.  

Our accuser claimed that we were denying our son qualified medical attention by seeing lactation professionals and midwives.  Yet had they asked us about seeing a doctor, (or even had they read my early posts here about Declan's GERD), they would have learned that we had been working with a medical doctor, a pediatrician, since Declan was three days old.

Our accuser said that we were refusing to give Declan formula.  Yet had they asked us about it, (or even paid any attention when Declan was eating), they would have learned that Declan was being supplemented on formula and breast milk with each feeding.

Lastly, our accuser reported that Declan was lethargic and failing to thrive.  Yet had they asked us, (or paid even the slightest actual attention to Declan when awake), they would have learned that Declan was alert, vibrant, and thriving in all areas save weight gain.

I am grateful that our society has an organization focused on protecting children, but I am still angered that a very qualified case worker had to spend time clearing our names instead of actively helping children in need.  Had our accuser taken ten minutes out of their day to question us instead of calling CPS, their ten minutes would not have resulted in hours upon hours of time wasted.

To put everyone in a better mood, here is a video of my chatty (and obviously alert, happy, and healthy) boy in the bath:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

[peaceful parenting] Allegation: abuse

Roughly one year ago, my family was dealing as best we could with a very difficult and very stressful situation.

I had just finished up a doctor's appointment for myself.  I was worried that if I was coming down with something it could potentially hurt my new baby.  I decided to be proactive and nip any problem in the bud, hence the doctor visit.  Thankfully, I was fine.  As I got into my car to head home, my phone rang.  The number was blocked, so per my usual routine I let it go to voice mail.

Brian had managed to get off of work early that afternoon and had met me at the doctor's office to help with the baby.  He was gearing up to ride his bike home when I frantically waved him over to the car.

I had listened to the voice mail message.  It was from a woman I didn't know.  She identified herself as being with Child Protective Services.  She was outside my home and requesting entry to follow up on a call they had received that accused me of abusing my son.

I have to stop right here for a moment.  I will wager that everyone at one point or another in their lives is accused of something that they absolutely did not do.  I know that I've on rare occasion been accused of some petty stuff in my life, but to be accused of abusing my son--it was like a gut punch to my being.

Red-faced, scared and near hysterics, I shoved the phone at Brian to listen to the message.  I was shaking, unsure if I had heard the message correctly.

Brian listened, and I noticed a look of bewilderment wash over his face.  He confirmed that I had heard correctly, but he also could not understand why CPS would be at our door.

I called back the number, but got a voice mail.  I apologized for not being at home and left as calm of a message as I could requesting that the caller call me back at her convenience.  I was still shaking.

Brian suggested that we go grab some lunch to regroup and calm down.  I agreed as I just could not see myself doing anything productive with all the shaking.  As carefully as I could manage, I followed Brian to a nearby restaurant.  Shortly after arriving, my phone rang again.  I stayed in my car for privacy and I answered.  It was the caller from before.

In an official and matter-of-fact way, the caller again identified herself as a social worker and investigator for Child Protective Services.  They had received an anonymous phone call that morning in which the caller identified me, my husband, and son by name.  This anonymous caller knew my address and phone number, too.  And they claimed that I was abusing my son through neglect, that I was refusing to get him adequate medical attention, and that I was, due to lack of milk supply, not feeding him enough, and refusing to use formula.  The anonymous caller knew details of our situation that only a friend would know, in addition to our address and phone numbers.  But they had also mixed up many of the details and left out many of the facts of our situation.

Once I heard the report as relayed to me by the social worker, I was still deeply saddened and upset, but I was also horrified to think that a FRIEND was the one who called me an abuser.  As calmly as I could muster, I outlined our exact situation: Declan was under the care of a medical doctor, his pediatrician, and had been under his care since his THIRD day of life.  Declan was diagnosed with Gastro-Esophogeal Reflux Disease and we were breastfeeding him on demand.  Additionally, we were supplementing his feedings with additional milk or formula each time he breastfed.  While he had lost weight, his pediatrician was seeing him on an average of once a week and was closely monitoring the situation.  While it was true that I could only pump an average of 1 ounce at a time, lactation professionals and medical doctors acknowledge that the amount a woman is able to pump is NOT an adequate measure of how much their baby is able to draw down.  (Babies are much more efficient at extracting breast milk than pumps are.  Not to mention, 1 ounce is enough to fill a newborn's stomach.)

During my conversation with the social worker, I expressed shock that anyone who had access to the information given in the phone call would make such an accusation.  The social worker, to my surprise, told me that it was obvious to her that any one who would make such a call was a false friend and that I should be careful about who I trusted.  She went on to say that she understood why I was feeling betrayed, and that based on what I had told her it appeared that my case would be a colossal waste of her time.  Still, she added, if a call is made she is required to investigate and that she would have to come see us.  I understood and we made an appointment for later in the week to meet.

Lunch that day was not enjoyable to say the least.

Let me interrupt again.  Breastfeeding can be stressful.  Unfortunately, stress has an adverse effect on breast milk production.  When one's son is already dealing with health issues, and seeing a doctor every few days--you can bet that there is even more stress.  But you know what?  That stress is nothing compared to the stress one feels knowing that one of you "friends" could not be trusted, and you have no idea who that is.  Additionally, knowing that you're under investigation for child abuse--no matter how unfounded--is stressful.  So there is a deep irony.  Who ever this anonymous caller was, not only were they wasting tax payer resources and the social worker's time, they were actually adding to our stress and actively making our situation worse.

I lost a fair amount of sleep over the course of a few days, but eventually the day arrived when the social worker came to visit.  Upon arrival, she examined Declan.  As she looked him over and watched him nurse, she repeated her frustration at being called out to investigate when there was obviously no abuse.  She agreed that Declan was small, but she saw an alert, happy baby with no signs of lethargy (the anonymous caller claimed that Declan showed signs of lethargy and failure to thrive, they further claimed that he may even have some brain damage).  She mentioned that who ever called in the allegation, they probably had spent almost no time with Declan directly, or that they had almost no experience with children.

Small, but happy and alert
As much as we all would have liked the "case" to have ended right then and there with that visit, the social worker had a procedure to follow.  She repeatedly stressed to us that we were not the only ones upset by the anonymous call as she would have to spend valuable time on our case instead of serving the children truly in need.  She gave us an overview of what to expect: she would have to phone our pediatrician, she would have to sift through all of Declan's medical records, a nurse would have to visit our home and validate the social worker's assessment of Declan's good health, the social worker might have to visit a couple more times.  The investigation would come to a conclusion and we would receive a notice about their findings via a letter.

Just as the social worker predicted, we had to go through the steps above.  The nurse, upon her visit, also validated our position as loving, non-abusive parents.  Declan was small, she noted, but certainly not neglected nor abused.  Admittedly, it felt good to be validated, but it would have felt better had we never been accused in the first place.

The entire process from beginning to end lasted weeks upon weeks upon weeks.  The wheels of progress move very slow in these cases, and it is stressful the entire time.  Sure, I felt better hearing from professionals who, sadly, do see cases of actual abuse telling me that it was plainly obvious to them that there not even a whiff of abuse in our case, but--again--I would have much preferred to not be in the situation in the first place.

It is an awful feeling not knowing who to trust, constantly wondering if one "friend" or another was the anonymous caller.  Brian and I withdrew for a while for fear that this anonymous "friend" might try and use anything we said or did as fodder for another call.  We also listened very closely to questions that we were asked about Declan, and to comments made to us about him.  And eventually, we figured out who it was who placed that anonymous call.

We cannot ever be 100% certain unless they come forward and admit it*, but we are mostly certain that we know exactly who did it.  We were able to use the information that they had given to narrow down the field of possible callers--not everyone has our contact information, for instance.  We used other clues from the report itself to narrow down exactly which conversations they either had with us or overheard.  And then the probable caller even used a few key words and phrases from the allegation in conversation with us after the fact.

While it was (and even IS) tempting to completely cut this person out of lives, we've decided to keep our friends close and, in this case, our enemy closer.  We still see them socially, but we now know not to trust them, particularly with Declan.  We are civil in their presence, despite wishing we could let them know just how much trouble they caused.  And we are definitely careful about what we say lest they misunderstand us again and decide to waste more tax payer money by making another call.

As for the investigation, it did eventually come to close.  The social worker had told us all of the possible outcomes.  One way or another the case would be closed.  It could be determined to be inconclusive or unfounded.  A safety plan could be put into place, or not.  Or, worst case, they could decide that there was, in fact, abuse via neglect and they could remove Declan from our custody, but this last possibility was highly unlikely as nothing had pointed to even a shred of evidence of abuse.

On October of last year, a full FIVE months after the case was opened, we received our letter.  Below is the exact text (though I have edited out our name):

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mxxxxxxxd,
Thank you for your cooperation during our investigation.  Effective 10/13/2011 your referral has been closed by this Department.  The reason for this action is that the allegation of child abuse and/or neglect was unfounded.
A SDM Safety Plan was not put into place during the investigation.  If a SDM Safety Plan was put into place, this is to advise you that as of ____ the SDM Safety Plan is no longer in effect.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please call me.
Why after almost a year am I finally coming out to talk about this?  Honestly, I'm not sure.  While one of the first things I wanted to do after receiving that voice mail was to run to my friends for support, I knew that I could not because I had no clue which "friend" had claimed that I was a bad mother.  Additionally, I did not want to give the anonymous caller the satisfaction of knowing all the pain, all the stress, and all the crying (oh, there was a LOT of crying) that we were going through.  A real friend, with real concerns, would come to us directly with their worries.  A jealous friend, a bitter friend would hide behind a veil and deliberately stir up trouble.

So, doesn't this finally give that jealous friend the satisfaction that they wanted so badly last year?  Maybe.  But I hope that it also puts them on notice:  We know who you are now.  We know what you're capable of now.  But we also have an official piece of paper, a permanent record, that tells us how wrong you were to ever call me an abuser.  Unfounded is a new favorite word of mine.

Now, it's very possible this person only had good intentions.  They saw something that concerned them and took a misguided step to help.  But a friend? They should have come to us and found out the whole story, the true story (or even spoken with friends closer to us, as they would have known the facts), instead of giving false information to the authorities.  They made a tough situation worse.  Hopefully this will make them (and anyone else who reads this) think twice before taking a drastic step that turns lives upside down.


Here's my funny guy now
On a positive note, in the last several months we have all taken steps towards recovery from this harrowing experience.  I feel that I have moved closer to being able to trust people again.  I no longer live in fear of every glance towards my son.  I've even lost almost twenty of the numerous pounds that this stress put onto my poor frame.

Declan is, of course, still happy, alert, and very healthy.  He is so smart and so clever and such a sweet little boy.  We are all completely crazy about him and he continues to surprise us every day with his growth and development.

*You know who you are, of course.  And we would love to hear your apology when you are ready, but we cannot be counted on to wait forever.


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