Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sympathy for the Devil

I love mysteries. I always have. I devour those newsmagazine shows because, let’s face it, truth is stranger than fiction. I watch the progression from crime to investigation to trial. I revel in good triumphing over evil. Like everyone else, I want to see justice done. I believe in consequences.

But there’s another piece for me as well. I can’t seem to make the scales balance between my heart and my head. I don’t believe in the death penalty. But I don’t really want to pay for the food, lodging and medical care of someone who will rightfully never walk the streets again either. And here’s the real conundrum: if anyone ever killed one of my family members, I would want the death penalty. Immediately.

School shootings, movie theater shootings, mall shootings, abortion clinic bombings, a blast at the Boston Marathon finish line; all this heart-wrenching sadness at such senseless loss and permanent alteration of life. Like everyone else, I am horrified by it, by the scars it leaves on individuals and on society as a whole, by the ramifications in our daily lives, by the way we will never again look at places and events, by our increased sense of vulnerability. Family members left to grieve. Forever. Our collective naivete changed. Forever.

But here’s where I admit that I, once again, can’t balance the scales between my heart and my head; when the perpetrator is young, I hurt for them too. And their families. Their young lives, in one way or another, are over too. Their family members left to grieve too. Forever. Many of the families will blame themselves, adding shame and responsibility to that mix.

I feel compelled to mourn for young perpetrators who have come to a place of callous disregard for life, I don’t see only evil. I also see sickness, delusion and pain. I see a mentally ill or brainwashed or rejected and dejected alienated person who not only destroyed the lives of strangers, but his life and those of his family. I mourn for their loss of humanity. I mourn for the person who could have been.

I’m a Bostonian. Patriots’ Day, the Boston Marathon, evoke feelings of pride. So I was horrified at the bombing there, not only as a human, as an American, but as a Bostonian. Of course I wanted justice. I sat with my heart in my throat both as I searched for friends and family that day, and again days later when they were all in lockdown.

But when I saw the pictures of the two young men that law enforcement were hunting down, I knew I was doomed. I knew that another piece of my heart would break for them and for their families. Maybe it’s because I have adolescent boys and I see that they don’t always make good choices, think things through, accept consequences. Not at anywhere near that level, of course. But I don’t know, I just don’t know.

Because as I watched the story in Boston unfold, I also saw this:
*Two boys brought to this country to seek political asylum who tried to fit in. They did well in school, played sports and were well liked. But they didn’t seem to have developed any deep and meaningful connections in their new home. I heard no stories of best friends, sleepovers, parties, days at the beach . . .
*Two boys who didn’t seem to have familial connections either. Their parents had left them behind to go back to Russia for medical treatment (who leaves Boston to go to Russia for medical treatment?). Their uncle, in this country, admits to being estranged from them for years.
*Two boys whose Aunt’s press conference was a narcissistic, unemotional, self-aggrandizing rant.
*A 26 year old who recently visited the place where he grew up and formed a lot of his belief system and most likely (I’m speculating) fell victim to the skewed ideology of predators.
*A 19 year old, whose (again, speculation) love of an idolized older brother who seemed to be the only emotional connection he had, overshadowed any rational thought of where he was being led.

I’m not making excuses. There are no excuses.

After another ruthless murder and the death of his older brother, I watched a 19 year old hunted down like an animal. And yes, he behaved like an animal. But 19 years old. His life is over too. Any possibility of reconciling his love for his brother with being an honorable person, any future promise, extinguished. He deserves it because, no matter what could have been, he did show a callous disregard for life. I believe in consequences.

I recently wrote about a devastating set of circumstances my son found himself in the middle of. In my piece I do not address the gravity of the social issues at the heart of it all, I explore my feelings from the perspective of the mom of a boy caught up in it, trying to make a path through it. I talk about struggling to come to terms with the impact on my son’s life. I write from this more personal place not to diminish the precipitating act, but because I’ve seen first-hand the ripple affect on all in it’s wake. I’m grappling with the devastation to everyone involved. Yes, including the accused.

I do not condone. I do empathize. I don’t think these two concepts are mutually exclusive.

The national headquarters of a fraternity just shut down an Oklahoma chapter because a video of the brothers chanting racial slurs had come to light. No question that in this instance too there are primary concerns, real, frightening glimpses into what still goes on in our society. And yet, when the kid on that video that went viral was named? I hurt for him too. And for his family.

I know I’ll be judged for feeling this, and especially for saying it in light of the premeditated horror carried out by some and the life-changing devastation brought about by others. It’s not that I don’t “see the forest for the trees”, I do. I see it. I’m just as hurt and frightened by the core issues as anyone else.

But I also feel sympathy for the devil. I’m sorry, I just do.

 Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Friday, March 27, 2015

Funny Friday, Roughing it the Easy Way

Today’s post is March’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Funny Friday group post | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphic

Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by Confessions of a part-time working mom.

Funny Friday group post | pic by Confessions of a part-time working mom | www.BakingInATornado.com

1. Husband to wife: Anything else you want to take along, plenty of room.

2. Wife to husband: NOOOOO. I said we have to take the other car!

3. Husband to wife: This is not what I had in mind when I said I wanted a vacation out in nature.
Wife to husband: But you have to admit that the bathroom facilities are much better here . . .

4. Wife to husband: What do you mean this isn’t a rustic vacation, look over there to the left, I think I see a cougar.

5. Wife to husband: Lesson learned. That’s the last time I say that you can buy whatever you want as long as you can get it home with us.

And now for something yummy:

 French Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cake

French Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile:

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

French Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream
Printable Recipe
1 1/2 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
¼ cup powdered French Vanilla Creamer
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Ingredients, frosting:
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 ounces of fresh raspberries (about 6 good sized berries)
¼ cup seedless red raspberry jam
½ tsp raspberry extract
*Grease a 9 X 13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla.
*Starting at your lowest speed beat in the flour, creamer, salt and baking powder just until incorporated, then increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
*Pour evenly into prepared pan.
*Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the edges start to brown and the center springs back to the touch.
*Cool completely.
*Mash the fresh raspberries, raspberry jam and raspberry extract together. Push through a fine sieve and discard seeds.
*Beat the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and raspberry mixture and beat until stiff peaks hold. Spread over the cooled cake. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When You’re not There, Again

I recently wrote about my younger son, who I call PurDude, and the heartbreaking situation that he's caught up in. That is all still playing out. The boys have been through a trial, been sanctioned by the school and are trying to get through the fallout. These are good kids, focused on school and on community service. The national office of their fraternity is supporting them, but locally the focus is on punishment. There's not a lot of compassion for what these guys are suffering. And they ARE suffering.

One of the things that brings me comfort, as a mom, is that there is an adult who works in the fraternity house where PurDude lives, who feeds these boys and who has a relationship with them all. Chef Mark has been with the house for 10 years. He is so much a member of the family that the boys, just this past semester, made him a brother. That’s the kind of boys they are. And that’s how much they think of Chef Mark.

Crockpot BBQ Beef Grilled Cheese | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner
Crockpot BBQ Beef Grilled Cheese

I have to admit that at first I was jealous of Chef Mark. PurDude has always been a very picky eater, yet I kept hearing that he loves Chef Mark’s food. Even his wings. Now those are fighting words. MY Baked Hot Wings are PurDude’s favorite dinner. Hearing that Chef Mark went out of his way to also make desserts? And that those desserts were epic? Very very jealous.

But ultimately the friendship he offers, the adult presence in their lives, the fact that food is purchased for them and meals are on the table, all made me feel that my son was being cared for. And when he’s hundreds of miles away, that is priceless.

When the boys got back to school after winter break they heard some sad news. Chef Mark had just lost his father. I asked PurDude if the house did anything in memory of Chef's father. Of course they did. They also told Chef Mark to go wherever he needed to be, do whatever he needed to do, take whatever time he needed off.

Chef came to the frat to cook. He told the boys that this is where he needed to be. This is what he needed to do.

That was in January. It was in February, just one month after my son started dealing with the emotional upheaval and the loss of a friend from that first situation, that I received a call from PurDude. He told me that Chef’s wife had called. Chef had a heart attack and was in the hospital.

The boys couldn’t get much information. The hospital, of course, wasn’t releasing it and they were not yet allowed to visit. They anxiously waited for word that they had permission to see Chef Mark.

The next morning the boys heard that Chef would be out for about 2 weeks. Knowing that there is often rehab and endurance restrictions following a cardiac event I wasn't sure, but for now this was good news.

Beside all of my concerns with what these boys had already been dealing with, beside my genuine concern for a man who means so much to these kids, I now was worried about my son eating. He lives in this house. He's going through a traumatic time. He is in extremely difficult classes. Now they all have to worry about providing their own meals?

Tribute to Chef Mark | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

The endurance of friendship despite physical distance is an amazing thing. So is coincidence.

When I moved to the Midwest I developed a number of friendships with people who were also not from here. We served as each others' support system, we were each others' family in so many senses. Susan was one of those friends, a really good friend. She has 2 daughters the same ages as my two sons. I was sad, many years ago, when she moved away. Coincidentally she's now an hour and a half from Purdue where one of her daughters happens to go to school.

Susan is a force to be reckoned with. She insisted on going to the store, stocking up on pre-made dinners and driving a carload of food an hour and a half to the frat. She was already at the store when I caught her to tell her that the boys were able to arrange for a temporary chef.

And I had at least one less thing to worry about. The boys would have food on the table as Chef recovered. 

Tribute to Chef Mark | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

The next day I heard the ding of an incoming text from my son:

Chef has passed away.

I called immediately. The emotional enormity of the situation was almost incomprehensible. I was now calling my young son to express my condolences.

I know I’m the mom and I thought I had myself under control but the minute I heard his voice I lost it.

My son who was already going through so much just took another kick to the gut.

And I am still not there.

I didn’t hold back this time. I asked him if he wanted me to fly up there. I asked him if he wanted to come home.

No. Spring Break is in 3 weeks, I’m already flying him home then. He’s not leaving now, he’s going to pay his respects to Chef Mark.

We talked a little, not much. We were both a bit stunned.




Before we hung up I asked if he has his suit at school. He does but he’s concerned because his is navy, he doesn’t have a black suit.

I told him that he doesn’t need a black suit, just his dark suit and a conservative shirt. Black is for family.

“He IS family, Mom. He’s a brother.”

Tribute to Chef Mark | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

With all of my heart I hope that Chef Mark knew that a group of boys off on their own and reveling in their freedom from adult supervision considered him a friend. That these boys chose him to be their brother. That they loved and respected him. That they wanted him in their lives. That they are better young men for having known him. That he helped make their house a home. That his presence and his work mattered. That his food nourished them in so many more ways than one. That he will not be forgotten.

And that the plaque hanging in the frat kitchen, and the duplicate presented to his wife at the memorial dinner put on at the house by the boys, is a tribute to all that he meant to so many young men. 

My deepest condolences to Chef Mark’s wife and mother. 

My heartfelt sympathies go out as well to my son and to every one of those remarkable young men who were, and will always be, Chef Mark's brothers.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Crockpot BBQ Beef Grilled Cheese
Printable Recipe
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 – 3 # round roast
1 onion, sliced
3 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
½ cup seedless raspberry jam
32 ounce bottle of Barbecue Sauce
1 cup water

2 slices bread per sandwich
1 TBSP butter, divided, per sandwich
2 slices provolone per sandwich
Directions (Crockpot BBQ Beef):
*Mix together the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Rub all over the rinsed and dried roast.
*In slow cooker, mix the onion, bacon, jam, barbecue sauce and water. Add the roast and spoon the sauce over the roast.
*Cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce to low and cook for 4 hours. Turn the meat over at the half way point.
*Remove meat from slow cooker, slice and return to the cooker for another hour.

Directions (BBQ Beef Grilled Cheese):
* Melt ½ TBSP butter into a pan on medium heat. Place one slice of bread in the pan, swirl it around so it’s coated with butter and remove. Melt the second ½ TBSP of butter into the pan. Put the second slice of bread in the pan. Swirl it around so it’s coated in butter. Place the slice of provolone onto the bread, followed by some of the onions that cooked with the roast, then a slice of the roast followed by another slice of provolone. Top with the first slice of bread, butter side up.
*Turn the heat down a notch and cook until the lower slice of bread has browned.
*Using a spatula, carefully flip the sandwich over and cook until the bottom slice of bread is also browned. Serve the sauce on the side.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fly on the Wall: The Typo Edition

Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 15 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts. Feel free to go laugh at goes on in their lives too!

Fly on the Wall  | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Sadly, here’s something I did not want to be known for (and lesson learned). When leaving a comment on a friend’s blog, I didn’t proofread before submitting it to be permanently on her blog and associated with my name. So in the middle of a thoughtful sentence, instead of “it’s not”, it says “it snot”.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Here’s another typo and the reason I’m glad my kids don’t read my Facebook page or I’d never live this one down. I mentioned in a FB post that I was sort of bored with my winter meals and looking for something else to make. I asked what everyone’s favorite dinner was and my friend Sarah of The Momisodes mentioned Pot Roast. That’s a favorite of mine too so I answered her that I love Pot Roast too. Except somehow I hit “enter” in the middle of typing so my answer was “Ooooh, I love pot”.
Good thing you can edit those answers or I’d have to leave town.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

And one more this month because clearly typo bad luck comes in threes:
I was on Facebook private messaging with a friend. She asked about a conversation we had been having with a third friend, Susie (name has been changed to protect the innocent). Susie had been talking about an ex who this friend didn’t know. I told her the ex wasn’t very nice but was very, very nice looking. She asked if I had a picture and I told her I’d email her one.
When I sent the email the friend answered: You’re sending me porn? I’m not opening that attachment.
Huh? What the hell was she talking about?
I looked again at the email I sent her.
What I meant to say was: Attachment is Susie’s ex picture.
What I typed was: Attachment is Susie sex picture.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Me: College Boy and I were thinking of bringing in Chinese food for dinner if that’s OK with you.
Hubs: That’s fine.
Me: You don’t sound too excited, if you’d rather I cook something I will.
Hubs: No, I certainly don’t want you to cook anything.
Me: Why don’t you rethink how you worded that while I move your blanket and pillow to the couch in the basement.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Right around 1:00 pm on a Saturday, College Boy finally made his way out of bed. I’d already been to the grocery store, had dinner simmering in the crockpot, done a load of laundry, done the dishes, made a cake and was about to make the frosting for the cake.
Me: You’re up. Hope you didn’t have anything you had to do today, the day’s half over.
College Boy: It’s the weekend. Everyone knows there’s nothing you absolutely have to do on the weekends.
Me (looking around the kitchen): Really? Is that true? What is this magical weekend thing of which you speak? Where do I sign up?

Fruity Krispie Treats | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

Fruity Krispie Treats
Fruity Krispie Treats | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

I was watching TV on a Sunday afternoon during a snowstorm.
Me (yelling): Oh, they just canceled school tomorrow!
Hubs comes up the stairs from the man cave: You do realize that there’s no one here who cares about school cancellations anymore, right?
Sheesh, having no one in the house who goes to the local schools sure takes the fun out of seeing those cancellations at the bottom of the screen.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I tried a new recipe for dinner. None of us were thrilled. One of us needs lessons in tact, however:
Me: This is not going to be my new favorite meal.
College Boy: No, I don’t love it either.
Hubs: Be sure you don’t accidentally post this on your blog, your friends will think you’ve gone nuts.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

The next night Hubs went out and brought in Italian food for dinner. I told him what I wanted and he ordered and left.
When he got home I was pulling the food out of the bag and asked what he’d ordered. He’d gotten spaghetti.
We sat down and while we were eating I asked how his dinner was.
Hubs: Good. I’ve never had these chicken meatballs before. I don’t know what they’re made of but they’re good.
Me: I think they’re made of ground up pigs’ ears and tails.
Hubs (looking slightly green): Pigs’ ears? And tails? Disgusting. I’m not eating that.
Me: well, either that or. . . you know. . . they’re made of chicken.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

You all have these kinds of nonsensical conversations too, right? It’s not just me, is it?
Me: I’m freezing.
College Boy: It’s not that cold in the house.
Me: It’s really cold outside, I can feel it in the house. And it’s going to get worse, they’re saying tomorrow we’ll have a little snow in the morning and in the afternoon it’ll be really windy and freezing cold.
College Boy: Outside?
Me: No, in the house.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I'm not sure but I may have cheated on my husband. If I did, it was totally not my fault.

I've never told anyone, I'm keeping my dirty little secret.

I know this guy through blogging, I have for over a year. He seems to be a nice guy and caring father. His blog posts are thoughtful and kind. He asks others to join in on some group posts that he does on a regular basis and I always have fun with them.

And then one day, out of the blue, he poked me on Facebook.

It's true. I've been poked by another man. And I haven't told a soul, but I think the guilt is starting to get to me.

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Fruity Krispie Treats
Printable Recipe
3 TBSP butter
1 package (10 oz) fruit flavored mini marshmallows
7 cups crisped rice cereal
2 TBSP multicolored sprinkles
1 package (12 oz) colored candy melts
1 TBSP colored sugar
decorations of your choice for the top

*Remove 3/4 cup mini marshmallows and set aside.
*Spray a 9 X 13 dish and a spatula with non-stick spray.
*In a large microwave safe bowl, place all but 3/4 cup of the mini marshmallows and the butter. Microwave 2 minutes, mix and if not all melted, microwave at 10 second intervals until they are. Stir.
*Immediately add the cereal, sprinkles and 3/4 cup marshmallow's you'd set aside. Mix and pour into prepared dish. Pat down to equalize the thickness. Set aside.
*In a microwave safe bowl, met the candy melts according to the package directions. Once completely smooth, pour over the krispie treats and spread evenly over the top. Sprinkle with colored sugar.
*Decide how large you want your squares and place whatever fruit or candy you're using for decoration onto the melted topping so that when you cut around them, one will be in the center of each treat.
*Allow to set completely. If in a hurry, place in refrigerator just until set. Remove and slice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

When You’re Not There

I am devastated. I have been for a while now. I’d like to say that I handled the news with maturity when I first read it, but I did not. I called PurDude (what I call my son, if you’re new here) and what I said was:


Sadly, I said it twice.

My son, my wonderful, intelligent, honorable, hardworking son is caught up in a heartbreaking situation.

This is his first year of college and he’s hundreds of miles away. He worked hard to get into a good school, chose a fraternity that requires high grades to stay a member in good standing and focuses on community service. That’s the kind of man he’s becoming and these are the values of the people he’s sought out to associate himself with.

PurDude lived in a dorm first semester. His roommate was foreign. Although there was not animosity, there wasn’t a connection either. Some people just don’t click. PurDude made lots of friends both in classes and in his dorm. He and 2 other boys formed “The Jew Crew”.  Despite the discomfort in his room, it was a fun time for him.

When You're Not There | www.Bakinginatornado.com | #parenting #coping

his side of his dorm room

When rush started, PurDude attended a number of functions. From the start he knew that there was a connection with one particular frat. They offered my son one of their first bids and although he checked out other fraternities, PurDude knew this was the right fit for him.

Once he was a Brother, we decided that PurDude would move into the frat for 2nd semester. He’d be taking some extremely difficult required classes that make or break Computer Science majors. I felt that it would be best for him to be in a more comfortable environment, and he would have a private room at the frat. We jumped through all kinds of hoops with the school, which required us not only to pay 60% of the dorm fee for a room he wouldn’t be living in, but 60% of the food he would not be eating. Absurd, but the frat deducted it from his room and board and ultimately we felt that this would be the best stress-free living environment for him. He moved in one week before coming home for winter break.

When You're Not There | www.Bakinginatornado.com | #parenting #coping
setting up his private room in the frat

While home, I reveled in the pride I saw in him for his association with this school, this frat and these friends. Especially with him so far away, to see him embraced, to see him thrive, I can’t even express how that feels as a parent.

About a week after returning to school, spring rush had begun and there was a party at his fraternity. Because PurDude is underage and because I had driven his car 700 miles up to him in October, he chose to work the party as a Sober Driver. These brothers are available throughout the night to drive anyone who’s been drinking at the party wherever they need to go.

A week after the party, a brother, a good friend of my son’s, was removed from the frat, banned from the school, taken away, arrested for rape.

Yes, you read that right.

The alleged incident took place the night of the party.

The frat was shut down by the university pending an investigation into an unsanctioned party and underage drinking (not the alleged rape, that is in the hands of the city police and prosecutor). Until further notice they were no longer a frat. Spring rush was over, the lights went out and these boys were left to come to terms with a devastating explosion in their lives.

 Obviously there’s much I can’t discuss here and now. What I am able to express is the frustration, the sheer helplessness a parent can feel when their child is caught up in something out of his control. When he’s hurt, when he’s distressed at what the alleged victim and her family are going through, when he’s questioning his ability to judge character in friendships, when his reputation is on the line, when he doesn’t know if his school will support or judge him harshly, when he’s grappling with how to take responsibility for what may have gone on in his home.

When you know that your child will forever be profoundly changed by what has, is, and will continue to happen. When he could very well be collateral damage.

And you are just plain not there.

I don’t want you to misconstrue what I’m not addressing here as my diminishing the gravity of the legal charges. Hardly. I’m crushed by the thought of it. What I know of the incident and the aftermath is haunting me. But I'm not going to publicly comment on these elements of this specific incident and this is why: 
*Rape: because there’s nothing to discuss. It’s not an issue with sides where you take one or the other. It’s wrong. Earth shattering wrong.
*Allegations of rape: because it’s not my place. I hope everyone directly involved gets the legal, medical and emotional help they deserve. But the bottom line is that although I’ve read stories, the media does not get everything right. Although I’ve heard stories, word of mouth is not the absolute truth either. The police will continue to investigate, there may or may not be a trial. This is how our system works and it’s not fair to anyone involved for me to publicly speculate.
*Underage drinking, whether or not it does happen on college campuses and did or did not happen in this in this instance will be determined  by people other than me.

In that first phone call there were so many things I wanted to say to my son, so much I wanted him to know and to understand. It is beyond frustrating that I’m not able to have these conversations face-to-face. That he’s so damn far away the first time that life really seriously kicks him in the face.


All of us.

Like most parents of teenagers, we’ve had conversations about alcohol and how it impairs judgment. About how it impairs your ability to see that you’re impaired. This is true whether you’re underage or of age.

We’ve also discussed rape. Many people think that these are difficult conversation. To me they’re not. They’re actually easy because there’s no grey area, it’s a simple matter of right and wrong.

But when you take rape out of the realm of the hypothetical and into an actual allegation, an actual arrest; when it involves friends on both sides of the equation, what the hell do you say then? This is something, as a parent, that you have to acknowledge that you will never, ever make right. On any level.

That day one of the things I wanted him to know was that the friendship he had with this boy was real. I personally met this boy and his family and found them all to be friendly and fun and personable. Now he’s accused of rape. How could my son wrap his head around this when I can’t? I wanted PurDude to know that people are complex, not all good or all bad. Whatever happened here, good people can do bad things, even horrendous things that can change the course of their lives. And others’ lives. That doesn’t mean that the friendship wasn’t real. I needed to validate my son’s period of mourning. Because he truly is mourning the loss of a friendship.

Of course my son grew up knowing about consequences. If I had a penny for every time I’ve said “there are consequences to your behavior” I’d be rich.

If there was a rape, there will be consequences. If there was underage drinking, there will be consequences. If the party wasn’t sanctioned, there will be consequences. Many of these charges are disputable but, again, I’m not going there.

Consequences are not always fair. There’s collateral damage too, and my son and his friends could well be just that. They could end up not being a fraternity. They could end up without a place to live. Their personal reputations could be called into question. They will forever be associated with this incident. The way they felt about their school, their frat, their friendships and themselves has changed. How do I help him make sense of this?

I can’t. I can only tell him that when you’re caught up in circumstances beyond your control, what you do from then on is who you are. Your understanding of how to negotiate life, your character, your strength, all are built on the foundation of these hardships.

There have been many conversations since that first one, we’ve video chatted in order to see his face as we try to support him through this time. There are texts and calls as he continues to try to: focus on class work, interview with the campus investigator and with the attorney hired for the frat, come to terms with the loss of a friendship, actively support the family of the alleged victim, as he goes through the university trial and sanctions, struggles with the details as they become public, deals with the media presence at his front door, the limbo that is his life for the forseeable future.

But all through that first night, as I grappled with that to say to him next, how to best help him pick up the pieces and try to form his life and his self image into some semblance of a whole picture again; as I decided to fly down there, then acknowledged that this instinct had to be suppressed, I came to terms with a truth. This is his to deal with. He can and he will because he is equipped.

Much later that night, just as I was putting my head down to try to catch a minute of sleep, I picked up my phone and, with tears in my eyes, texted my son:

I love you. I’m very proud of you. Always.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Use Your Words: Behind Closed Doors

Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist: no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

Use Your Words blogging challenge | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

I’m using: behind closed doors ~ positively ~ admire ~ fresh
They were submitted by: Searching for Sanity.

I enjoy watching television. I know that many people don’t watch, but there are quite a few shows on these days that I really like. I don’t watch daytime TV but in the evening, when chores are done, dinner has been served, the dishwasher is running and my laptop is open to about 12 pages at once, the TV goes on. It’s the time of day for relaxing and unwinding, letting someone else amuse me for a few hours.

The days of three major channels is long gone. The days of cable just being for movies is long gone. There are so many channels and such a large variety of options that there always seems to be something fresh and new to watch. Mystery (both true stories and fiction) and dance have always been favorites. I admire the guts and determination of the participants on Dancing With The Stars.

I love comedy (only the funny ones, not the stupid ones). And I am positively in awe at the level of creativity on HGTV and, of course on the Food Network.

Triple Layer Cookie Bars | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #bake

Triple Layer Cookie Bars
Triple Layer Cookie Bars | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #bake

What does NOT amuse me, what actually causes me stress, is the flip side. Some of the other dreck (crap) that causes my jaw to drop as I flip through the channels.

What goes on behind closed doors is decidedly not staying behind closed doors. I am actually stressed and distressed when I see people making an ass of themselves on TV (and that goes double for on social media too). All that keeps going through my head is “oy, what do your poor mothers think?”

Yes, as we reach a new high in program options, we have reached a new “reality TV” low as well. I can happily live the rest of my life without ever seeing:

*Women flipping tables in a restaurant, talking behind each others’ back and pulling each others’ hair.

*A show that puts two naked strangers (a man and a woman) into the woods to . . . well . . . I really don’t know what they’re there to do.

*Gypsies who spend their day trying to wear a gaudier outfit than their neighbor.

*Teenager who have babies, then spend an hour a week on TV fighting with their baby-daddies in front of their kid.

*Sex Sent Me To The ER. Yes, that’s the name of a show. Apparently to these people pride is nothing but a group of lions.

*A show about weird obsessions where someone spends a half hour explaining why she eats deodorant.

*Cheap people explaining the extremes they go to in order to save money, like washing and reusing old rags instead of purchasing toilet paper and the whole family sharing bath water.

*Fat Guys in the Woods. Although I’ve never seen this show, just knowing that there’s a show by this name is causing me shpilkes (anxiety).

What I want to know is when reality became so . . . unreal. If this is reality, I choose fiction.

Links to the other Use Your Words posts:

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Triple Layer Cookie Bars
Printable Recipe
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
¼ cup quick oats
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 TBSP flour
*Grease an 8 X 11 baking dish.
*Cream the butter, margarine and both sugars. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Carefully mix in the flour, baking soda and salt.
*Divide the dough into thirds (approximately, it doesn’t have to be exact) and place in separate bowls. To one, add the baking cocoa and white chocolate chips. To another, add the peanut butter and quick oats. To the last, add the flour and chocolate chips.
*Spread the peanut butter dough into the prepared dish. It’s easiest to spread if you slightly moisten your fingers and use them to even it out.
*Wrap the chocolate dough and the chocolate chip dough separately in plastic wrap. Place all 3 in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Unwrap the chocolate dough, leave on the plastic wrap, top with a piece of wax paper and roll out to approximately the size of your baking dish. Place over the peanut butter dough in the dish. It doesn’t have to fit exactly but trim any ends that are longer than the dish.
*Either roll out the chocolate chip dough in the same way and place on top of the chocolate dough, or just dollop it on top. If dolloping, use small scoops and gently press down so the dough isn’t a lot thicker in some areas than others.
*Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the center is set and the top is golden brown.
*Cool completely. Cut into squares.