Sherin Mathews

Sherin-Mathews-Missing-Toddler-Texas.jpgI imagine myself traveling to India with the intent of expanding my two-person family. I would do it in a heartbeat.

I imagine seeing a beautiful girl with a dim, but present, sparkle in her eye. She is not speaking, but I feel her speaking to me. I imagine myself feeling I am her mother.

I imagine she has never known the love every child should know. I imagine she is hungry, sad, and weary.

I imagine bringing her to my home, and giving her love and nourishment for her body, soul, and spirit.

I imagine struggles because she is malnourished, frustrated because she cannot communicate, and tired of being passed from home to home. I imagine myself feeling similarly frustrated at times, but overwhelmingly blessed by her.

Here are the things I cannot imagine.

I cannot imagine purposely causing harm to her for any reason under any circumstances.

I cannot imagine putting her by a tree in an area with coyotes at any time during the day. I cannot imagine letting her do anything unsupervised in an area with coyotes.

I cannot imagine punishing her for not drinking milk.

I cannot imagine letting her out of the house for any reason at 3AM.

I cannot imagine not calling the police (my family, my friends, and anyone else I could call) immediately upon the realization she was missing or possibly hurt.

I cannot imagine waiting five hours or five minutes to call the police.

I cannot imagine leaving the area in my car, even to look for her.

I cannot imagine doing laundry when she was missing because I can hardly imagine breathing.

I cannot imagine not cooperating with every police or FBI officer and every search party to find her. I cannot imagine not leading those search parties myself.

I cannot imagine withholding information about her location nor can I imagine lying about what I’ve done or not done to her, accidentally or deliberately.

I cannot imagine not imploring Acura’s Navigation system to track the GPS information and AT&T to do the same with the phone of anyone who might have harmed my daughter.

I cannot imagine 10 days passing and not being honest about the circumstances.

And, I speak for many people when I say this last part, I cannot imagine ever forgetting about this little girl. As long as she is missing, we will continue fighting for her to be found. We will never stop until she is found.

My prayer for you, Sherin with the sparkle in her eyes, is that you are peaceful for the first time in your life. You deserved better from our world, I’m sorry you have not had that. I do hope you have that now, wherever you are.

#SherinMathews

 

 

Dallas – are we #DallasStrong? Next step #Shavon

I use the hashtags with intended respect to the movement “Dallas Strong” and the memory of 13-year old Shavon Randle. 1499120394-21972030_14990282510_r

Yesterday marked the anniversary of a horrific crime in Dallas that united a nation in abject disgust. A blue president joined a red president to grieve the abominable nature of shootings targeting our brave men and women in the Dallas Police Department and Dart Police. Twitter was filled with people expressing sympathy through #DallasStrong. Our police chief and mayor focused on unity through peaceful and productive reactions, not incendiary ones. As a result, the city stayed calm.

I am a single mom and supporting my son alone. We will be “diner” people for the rest of my life, though I hope he will have the option of five-star restaurants, if he should choose them. One reason we will be “diner” people is my desire to pick up the check of first responders I see. Paying 20 dollars for 2 Lunch Enchilada plates at El Arroyo for two female DPD that protect this city? Nothing.

My fervent prayer is that our DPD and Dart police officers realize how much this city not only supports them, but will not tolerate crimes against them. Do we expect the DPD and Dart Police to operate fairly and justly? Absolutely. Every life matters.

So, why do I mention Shavon? Because it’s time to protect the next group that needs protection – our children.

Dallas, let’s be truly #DallasStrong. Let’s be a city that calls out the fact that every person implicated in the July 2017 horrific Dallas crime detailed here is a person of color that is or is under the age of 30.

Children are not born criminals and/or drug dealers. Poverty, fear, and desperation are the birth parents of drug dealers and criminals. Cities allowing and tolerating socioeconomic, especially health and education, segregation and inequality are the birth parents of drug dealers. Ignorance, apathy, and insouciance are the birth parents of criminals. Children, like Shavon, have one job: take full advantage of the education afforded to you.

As adults, we have many jobs. At the local level, one of the most important jobs we have is making certain that every child is given the best start we can given him/her.

These alleged criminals were Shavon’s age. What did Dallas do to help them achieve good health? good educations? good homes? SAFE homes? SAFE schools? SAFE communities? Conjecture here, but I’m guessing their “jobs” as children were not strictly focusing on school. Take a look.

According to city-data.com, here is a comparison between crime stats in Highland Park (a small community in Dallas county with excellent schools) and Lancaster (Shavon’s community) in relation to the US average. What you will notice is primarily two-fold. First, notice the stark contrasts between these numbers (there are no stats for Lancaster in 2014 or 2015). Second, this is key, notice that the trend in HP and the US is a decrease. It’s not so for Lancaster.

HP Stats – 2013-2015

HP

Lancaster Stats – 2011-2013

Lancaster

Next step in #DallasStrong is being stronger. There is strength in being honest about what we are not doing well, as we saw last year. Our brave men and women in blue needed our support. 2017 – we are failing our children, Dallas. We need to be honest, get #DallasStrong, and step up. One of the best ways to step up? VOTE. Inform yourself about candidates supporting a stronger public school system with better pay for teachers, better security (not armed security), etc. Support candidates fighting for healthcare for all, not just those who can afford it. Support anyone trying to pull people up, instead of kicking them when they are down. Volunteer and get involved in educating all Dallas’ kiddos – not just your own.

A better start for our kids. Shavon deserved it. Her family deserved it.

#DallasStrong – the new chapter. All of Dallas’ children deserve it.

 

I don’t want to #StandWith anymore

Common threads amongst the aggressors include feelings of anger, ostracism, discrimination, pain. We should have no question, we now know for sure – these feelings can lead some to despair and even acts of violence. One week later and this world has another #StandWith. What are we doing to each other?
Obama said he feels his words are inadequate. Well, I am one person and not POTUS. I do not know how we fix these issues and my words are definitely inadequate (by the way, his weren’t…best speech I’ve heard in a long time). I’m gonna give it a whirl anyway.
Could we start with basic awareness (including rational thought/reaction) and compassion toward our fellow brothers and sisters as a large part of our collective action?
I have gone back to Alex (Parkland surgeon and DPD officer)’s words so many times in the past week: “we are all pink on the inside.” Yes and we all bleed when we are injured. Both the victims AND the people who hurt them. Actual blood that will lead to the end of a life in too many cases. Is it worth it?
There will always be bloodshed. Today, we bleed with Nice. Last Friday with Dallas. What city gets the next hashtag? With which city will we #StandWith when the sun breaks next Friday morning?
Perhaps it’s a small step in the minds of many, and that’s fine with me. Why don’t we all commit to basic awareness (/rational thought) about how our daily actions (and words) affect those around us? Why don’t we balance that rational thought with a rather heavy dose of compassion for humanity? A politician preaching segregation or exclusion of a group of people will not lead to “more safety” for you. Neither will huge arsenals of weapons. We know this from our collective history.
There is little else to try, so maybe try this. Why don’t you start today – be the change you wish to see in your neighbors, enemies, politicians? You show them what you want from this world. Invite. Include. Incorporate. Make certain that you do not fall victim to prejudice, fear, or propaganda. Use your knowledge of history, your belief in the goodness of the majority of humanity.
Maybe we wouldn’t need #StandWith anymore.

Birthday Wish to all of you

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but it’s not what ships are built for.”

Today is my birthday. In the past 10 years of my life, I cannot believe the “outside of the harbor” choices I’ve made. Ironically enough, given the quote’s nautical nature, I do not consider “moving across an ocean” to be one of the most trans-formative choices.

I learned a new language (something one can do anywhere). I changed my career path (you can also do this where you are, and consider that applicable to all below). Together, my parents and I mended conflicts well before it was too late (today, they are two of my closest, most treasured relationships). I maintained a healthy physical lifestyle and weight, which wasn’t easy when I couldn’t walk. I published a book. I became “Aunt LaLa” to the Ayres Little Men and added a new family (my “Henry” carries their family name). I gave my hair to make wigs for children with cancer…four times. I faced, and continue to face, my fears (crippling stage fright and fear of heights). I watched marvelous sunrises in gratitude and walked through challenging sunsets in humility. On this day in 2011, I converted to Catholicism, which was the single-most authentic decision I have ever made.

Perhaps, some of the most trans-formative trips out of the harbor are those we simultaneously fear and welcome? Though we are afraid, we know we truly have to go – into the vast, seemingly-unending expanse. Someone calls and says, “I have the perfect job for you, but it’s in Lichtenstein” or someone writes you an email and begs, “Can you please take in this rescue dog?” or even “Marry me, my love?” Life changes in one … Augenblick.

One of mine happened on January 22, 2016 when I saw and heard a strong heartbeat from a machine in Bern, Switzerland. It took me about a second to process that was his (Christopher Henry) heartbeat. Sometimes, I guess, that second is all it takes to pick up the anchor and set sail. Fear be damned. Best decision I ever made, pulling up that anchor.

I know it’s tough and scary. Many times in the past 10 years, my ship has ventured out into the sea only to return battered and bruised. Heartbroken. Sea voyages can be treacherous and arduous. There are literal ups and downs that either propel you forward or crush you. It’s difficult to leave the comforts of a tranquil and serene harbor. Ah…but, that’s not what ships are built for.

I like to imagine wisdom from my four grandparents, as I push away from the harbor each time. They have four simple rules for each journey.

“Be bold, Lulabelle.”

                                                                 “Be authentic, Sweet Girl.”

                                    “Be brave, Granddotta!”

                             “Be peaceful, Princess Wawie.”

 You can do it, too.

Be bold. Be authentic. Be brave! Be peaceful.

Gossip

It’s 4:05 here in Dallas. This is a city of big hair, big heels, and big diamonds. It’s also a city of big talkers.

Gossip is a sport here and one’s prowess is currency in social settings. In fact, it is not uncommon for the response to “I am from Dallas” to be “that’s where people stab you in the back.” (Side note: Native Dallasites don’t care if you stab us in the back because our scar tissue was fully formed by age 10. We can’t feel a thing.)

I don’t like that reputation, but I’ll tell you…even in 2016? Just like the Cowboys, the Dallas theme song, and that stupid stereotype that everyone rides around on a horse, this city’s fixation on gossip is not going anywhere.

Because Dallas loves it sports and gossip is truly a pastime here. How much do I know? How much can I insinuate? Who will come with me on this gossip train? Hey, is it possible for us to take this grain of truth and turn it into a loaf of bread? Could I actually destroy another person’s life with it?

Gossip is not new to my family. Oddly enough, we seem destined to be the foder of gossip for reasons that continue to baffle me because I find us all to be fairly decent individuals.

I know I knew I wanted a different life. One led by the wisdom from the sages…do my words pass easily through the three gates? Are the kind? Are they true? Are the necessary?

I got away from this city’s “big” to find mountains that don’t gossip and lakes that don’t plunge knives in my back…or heart. I cannot imagine a better decision as I sit awake at 4:33 pondering “why?”

As a child, gossip made me angry. As an adult, I find it pathetic. Gossip is the mark of people too bored, unhappy, or insecure to make their own lives shine.

Me? I’m not interested in football or Dallas’ other favorite sport.

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Guest blogger: Kelley Ayres, “The bird”

I don’t mean “the bird,” like what Cooper shows me with his middle finger, ALL the time. No, he doesn’t know he’s doing it, but he likes to point things out that way. He also shows me “the bird” when he is counting in that awkward way 4-year olds do.

Cooper loves to make up stories. The problem is, he doesn’t give his audience the genre. There is no warning of the ficticious nature of his stories. In fact, most of this child’s creativity is channeled through these stories, highly embellished with varying integrated elements that I am sure the “average child” could not create, ever!

So, it is late in the afternoon on New Year’s Day. I am cleaning up the kitchen (for the 5th or 6th time since breakfast). I am pretty sure I had been through 6 dog-pee towels and 3 brooms to the floor. I had done at least 2 loads of laundry, washing all sheets and pillows since Wyatt woke up sick on New Year’s Eve. Chris has left for the night to go watch the Baylor Bowl game with his friend, Craig. Craig is a story for later. Let’s just say . . . my kids love him!

I hear Cooper yell, “There’s a bird in the house!”

I continue to scrub the dried egg on the stove. I’m thinking, “Oh, yay, I’m about to get a fun story!”

“There it is again!” Coop says.

Come on Coop, make this one good! Is it Batman or Superman. I mean, make it mystical and fun. Maybe it’s a Toucan or a Flamingo. But, sadly, nothing more.

Time passed. About 30-minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I catch what appears to be a bird a bird flying across the family room! “There IS a bird in our house!”

Very matter-of-factly Cooper says, “I said there was a bird in the house.” Well, sweet boy, 75% of what you say is make-believe! So, it is confirmed that Cooper does sometimes tell the truth.

Wyatt, sick and so tired, flips out. I open all of the back doors and send Wyatt to the shower. Cooper and I follow the bird, as it soars across the room. He is determined to get the bird, chasing it around in complete hysterics. I text Chris that there is a bird in the house. I’ve always known that he is the world’s best problem solver. However, his brilliant reply is, “open some windows.” I do believe my reply said, “Duh!”

The bird goes up the stairs. After slamming the doors to the boys rooms, I turn on the playroom light, but hit the fan button. The bird, on one of the blades, enjoys a nice merry-go-round. It finally falls of the fan and flutters back down stairs.

Realizing how long Wyatt has been in the shower, I go check on him. Before I leave, I tell Cooper, “the bird is right there on the middle pendant. See it? Follow it with your eyes. If it flies out one of the doors, close all of the doors so it won’t come back in.”

“Got it, I’m the bird watcher.”

I head back to help Wyatt get toweled off. As he sits on my bathroom floor in tears, we both hear:

“BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!”

I run back to the family room, only to see Cooper with his arms out wide like only a hero would celebrate! “The bird flew out and so I made the doors go BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” So proud.

Til next time . . . attempting a lesson on beginning our “made-up” stories with “once upon a time . . . .”

Guest blogger: Kelley Ayres, “A Typical Day in the Life of a Mother of Two Boys”

I’m really pleased to offer you a great blog post from my talented sister-in-law, Kelley Ayres. I thoroughly enjoy her descriptions of everyday life experiences, she has a wonderful way with words. This was particularly entertaining. Thanks for sharing it with my readers, Kel Kel. Enjoy!

Bit of back story for non-Dallasites: “Gaylord” in Grapevine is a huge Oprylandesque structure and Kel was taking her little, sick-as-dogs guys to enjoy some post-Christmas fun as a getaway treat.

**

Our Gaylord Experience!  So far . . .

So, we head out of our neighborhood and I pull into Preston/Royal for green tea for the road.
Cooper says, “Mom, I forgot my ipad (Leapfrog).”
Wyatt replies, “Well, that doesn’t concern me. Does it concern you, mom?”

We head out to get on LBJ. You got it, totally backed up. The boys don’t understand why the traffic jam does not appear on navigation.
Wyatt, “Why are all these trucks on this road. We’d go a lot faster if they weren’t.”

We’re almost to our turn-off toward Grapevine, when I see two very low airplanes and point them out to the boys.
I say, “Where do you think they came from?”
Cooper, “Half-America!” (You can imagine the enthusiasm)
I reply, “South America?”
“Yes! Half-America!” (More enthusiasm)
(While hibernating in the germ-infested land of hacking, sneezing, and a whole lot of laundry, Wyatt ventured out into the world of “menu” on the car TV. He found some sort of nature landscapes that featured South America. To my complete satisfaction, they were fascinated and I was incredibly thankful for a break from Batman, Angry Birds, Injustice, Clash of Clans and Minecraft.)

So, we turn off onto Gaylord Road and as we approach the monstrosity of what is the Gaylord Hotel, Cooper says, “Mom, it’s bigger than me, Wyatt and YOU!”

We pull through valet, start to unload the back. I tell the boys how big they are and that they can carry their own bags (leaving me, still, with more than I can handle). The lady behind us shows Cooper how to wrap the straps around his neck to make it easier to carry! What?!?!

We walk through the lobby to find a swarm of orange and black OK State fans and I start to have an anxiety attack. They are waiting for their rooms, which are not ready. What craziness are we in for?

We get our room, which is ready, and we walk about 5 miles to get to it. I start to get a little upset when I realize what a good thing it is to be at the end of the hallway on the far end of the whole place. The fans will be trickling in past midnight and not bothering us! Phew!

We get situated and all the boys want to do is bound from bed to bed. We could have done this at home. At this point, I also realize that I forgot shoes, other than the snow boots I wore here.

After purchasing ICE tickets and Snow tickets at $100, we head that direction. I find a store with some cute flats, purchase them and wear them out, only to enter the world of FREEZING cold! At which point, I put my snow boots back on. Wyatt jumps on board for snow-tubing, Cooper follows but freaks out last-minute. I go up with him with a double-tube, sit on the freakin’ wet, cold fabric for this child and he decides he won’t do it. I say, “I’ll get you ice cream after dinner.” Guess what? Yup. The entire staff is cracking up.

We all put on massive blue coats like total champs and head into what must be 15-degree temperature! Wyatt about throws a fit, after being cold anyway and we scurry through in no more than 4-minutes flat! That was money well-spent!

Outside of ICE is a little stand with hot chocolate and Gigi’s cupcakes. I get the boys hot chocolate. Cooper takes a sip and spits it all over me. “I don’t like it!” I ask what on earth in a nice way and Cooper replies, “Sorry, Little Lady.” I clean up the best I can and we head back to the lobby to find seats by the fire in the lobby. Finally, we’re all happy and relaxed and could hang until dinner.

Wyatt is hungry well before dinner time so I go around the corner and grab some pretzels and use the restroom, at which point I realize I have been sporting a beautiful hot chocolate mole on my nose for at least an hour.

We look at four menus and Wyatt will only have pizza, so we go to the Italian restaurant and sit at a wonderful table by the fire. It is still pretty cold and so I ask Wyatt if he wants my sweater. “Yes!” Leaves me with a thin blouse to shiver through.

After being sick for 4 days, I think to myself how hard a glass of wine could hit me . . . so I opt out (I know most of you don’t believe me!)
You also won’t believe that I ordered a filet. I didn’t eat much of it but justified it based on the book I just read about genotypes. Beef is a superfood for mine! Yippee! I’m a hunter! Roar!

So, here we are. So happy to be in pj’s, cuddled in bed with ice cream, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and a cup of medicine Wyatt needs but won’t take. Cooper is still bouncing of the walls (with a chocolate ice cream mustache, like maybe he face-planted in a pile of mud)

The truth be told, this has been a blast! These boys crack me up. We have one “go with the flow” and one with very particular thoughts and expectations. It works out pretty well. If Cooper winds down, we will have a good night’s sleep and have some more fun in the morning.

They are arguing over who gets me in their bed. It really boils down to who’s kick hurts less and who’s nighttime behavior is less annoying. I’ll be sleeping with Cooper . . .

Stay tuned . . .