I love to walk cemeteries. It doesn’t matter where I travel, I make it a point to find a local cemetery and walk through the graves. I read the names, touch the tombstones and spend some time contemplating the lives beneath my feet. Taking time for the dead fills me with a sense of renewed purpose and resolve.
My visit to Bellingham, Washington’s Bayview Cemetery was no different. The grounds are kept in perfect condition. A creek splits the property in two. And rumors abound about two graves. I went to visit both rumor-riddled graves and found so much more. I encountered the most moving tribute and the most poignant children’s cemetery I have ever seen.
Bayview Cemetery filled me with the hope and fight I needed to complete my second book. If you are ever in northern Washington, I encourage you to walk this cemetery. Then, share with me how it inspired your actions!
Thanks to designer, Greg Simanson, the new cover hints to the stone witch that plays a heavy role in the story. Not wanting to crush the imagination of readers, we kept her face hidden in the hood of her cloak.
Here’s the book description:
In author Jennifer L. Hotes’ YA thriller novel, Josie Jameson and the Stone Witch, readers meet a teen that’s been struggling since childhood to fill the shoes of her dead mother. Josie is a caregiver to her little brother, a confidante to her grieving dad, and the backbone of her tight-knit group of friends.
But always being the strong, responsible one has taken its toll on Josie, now fourteen. After stumbling upon the grave of a witch, she’s been plagued with nightmares, dark visions, and fainting spells that leave her feeling like a freak. And then suddenly her faulty heart gives out and for 5.4 seconds Josie is technically dead.
The second book in the Stone Witch series takes readers along with Josie who, with the help of her friends and clinging to the final memories of her mother, must face the challenges of her future as the past battles for her soul. Will she be strong enough to face her fate?
The last few weeks have been emotionally bankrupting for me. In an effort to change my attitude and overall energy, I shook up my work routine. Now, I start the day with a half-hour sketch session. I get my creative juices going, something for which there is no right or wrong way, and after that, dive into work!
I don’t know if it’s the shake up of the routine, the creative pursuit or both, but after three days, I’m feeling great. No matter what obstacles come up after the sketch session, I find it easier to remain upbeat and optimistic. It’s been a gentle reminder f to nurture all sides of myself in order to thrive. I hope you’ll follow me on Instagram and Twitter where I’ll continue my experiment called #dailysketch.
It began with a simple readout from a body fat measuring scale. It was week seven of my self-imposed weight loss regimen and as I stood on the scale, feeling healthier than I had in years, my body fat remained exactly the same as it had before my thirty-pound weight loss. The paper slip the scale spit out claimed that I’d lost muscle mass, not body fat that week, three pounds of it.
I shook with frustration. How could this be true? I’d stepped up my weight loss efforts in the weeks prior adding strength training to my cardio. Running 2.5 miles in the morning, doing bursts of weight training throughout the day, and enjoying a 2 mile walk after supper, I’d never been more health-conscious in my adult life. Paired with a diet that excluded carbs and totaled one-third of my normal daily calories, my pants were loosening, my energy was up and yet, the paper slip said I’d lost 3.0 pounds of muscle mass that week. Not fat. The woman that weighed me shook her head and said, “Oh, those numbers change dramatically. I’ve seen them flip flop in a week. Take heart.” Oh, did I mention that at the beginning of this program my metabolic age was sixty? And on this week’s read out – having shed thirty pounds and reducing my blood pressure to teenage levels it still said I was a metabolic sixty years of age. Driving home, I sulked, but then somewhere past the halfway point, my depression calcified into anger.
Home again, I pushed work to the side and dove into the interwebs. I googled, “body fat scales” and read review after review. My favorite was one woman’s assessment, ‘Body fat scales are misogynistic ***holes. They don’t recognize that women can actually have muscles.’ My pulse raced with love for this woman who outed the fat scale industry. Hells yeah, they’re misogynists! Feeling satisfied as though I’d eaten half a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, I closed my computer to work in earnest.
As I sketched, my mind replayed the review. Could objects be misogynistic? I rubbed my shoulder where my bra cut into my arm meat and grumbled. Well, bras definitely hate women. There’s a reason women burned them in the 1960s. No, it wasn’t a political statement, they were done wearing torture devices. Bras are expensive, too, robbing women of their hard-earned (don’t get me started on wage inequality) money. They cut into armpits and shoulders. Oprah lied when she said a properly-sized bra is the best investment a woman can make. Bah. I say, let them hang low and wobble to and fro. Did you realize that bras originally began in ancient Greece? Women bound their breasts tight to their ribs to appear more like men. Sounds like the origins of a truly woman-detesting object, doesn’t it?
Airplane seats freaking hate women also. All a woman has to do is sit in one and compare where the curvatures hit, then visually compare it to a neighboring man to see what I’m complaining about. The curve before the headrest hits women at the worst possible place, the back of our heads! If we actually try to rest our heads, they bob around in the chair void which results in an instant headache. If we try to keep our heads from falling into the seat void for the entirety of a flight, we’ll be thanked with shoulder and neck fatigue. Suckage, any way you measure it.
Hair salon sinks. They really really don’t like women. Similar to airplane seats, it stems from the difference in height between men and women. My stylist makes me sit on a booster seat when he washes my hair. It’s demeaning. I feel like Lily Tomlin in the Incredible Shrinking Woman as my legs dangle off the ground and my stylist urges me to, “sit up as tall as you can.” Even with the booster, my head barely reaches the sink bowl. Salon sinks should be designed for the gender that spends the most time there, women! We visit the salon 10:1 over men (yes, I made up this statistic) and deserve furniture that makes us feel comfortable.
Ear buds. I tried to research if anyone had conducted some sort of scientific study of men’s ear hole size versus women’s, but surprisingly found none. But, I know that 99% of ear buds hurt. It’s like twisting a gumball into my ear cavity and then afterward, my ears ache. If this bothers you, I found a company that’s designing ear buds just for women. They rock. Their product is called Yurbuds and I’ve included the Amazon link here.
Finally, no list of misogynist objects would be complete without the television remote. It’s not just the size of the thing that matters, though television remotes are grossly oversized for my diminutive hands, it’s the mosaic of buttons across the face that somehow leave me feeling like remotes hate women. There are the color-coded buttons, unreadable fonts, menus, sub-menus, batteries that fail. I suspect that remote designers have morphed futuristic technology into the plastics, look for a story about it in the Huffington Post soon. The plastic remote exterior senses the Y chromosome and is programmed to pause or exit instead of select for all women. In frustration, female users will toss the remote to a man so he can rescue us. Knights in shining armor? No. It’s a conspiracy baby.
As I go about my week, I’m sure I’ll come across more woman-hating objects and add them. In the meantime, tell me what I’ve missed in the comments section.
As always, I marvel at the cleverness and savvy of my readers. We’re adding high heels, top shelf at the grocery store, tight jar lids and car visors to the list. Keep it coming brilliant readers.
High heels - I can’t make this stuff up. Research always makes the most interesting content. Look at that! High heels were meant for men AND women. The trend led us to the expression, ‘well-heeled.’ Dang.
Car visors – Author, Ina Zajac, pointed out that the visors in our cars are all but worthless to women who tend to be shorter than male drivers. Car manufacturers take note. Add an extension for female drivers please. I have to point out that in spite of this design flaw, we’re still superior behind the wheel. (wink!)
It’s been a little over five weeks since you became a father. Warmest congratulations to you and Ashley! The world already knows what a clever boy he is to make his entrance on the date that echoes your jersey number, but as an old veteran of parenthood, I wanted to speed up your learning curve as you navigate the first year of Rayden’s life.
My husband and I are raising two girls, 11 and 17. We didn’t have family around us as we struggled through those first weeks of babyhood. Eyes wide in shock, two days after our first baby was born the nurse nudged us out the door with a smile and a wave, “You’re ready to go home,” and I really wondered if we were.
Lesson One: Don’t Mock Other Parents
Lord have mercy! That ten minute drive home was our first endurance test. The other cars sped and juked around us like they were playing MarioKart. With our new baby tucked into the backseat, we’d never felt more vulnerable. I don’t think we went over twenty miles per hour on that drive. Holding my hand over the baby’s chest, I remember asking God to forgive me for all the times I mocked drivers that hung a “Baby on Board!” sign in their rearview window.
Lesson Two: Three Really is the Magic Number
In the days that followed we learned the ugly truth no one tells you about newborns. Their internal clocks are flipped. Nights are days and days are nights. In a coherent moment one of us, probably my husband, remembered our pediatrician telling us that newborns can learn any new routine in three days. Dr. Eichner told us that if we kept our baby up for 30 minutes before the last feeding of the night and repeated this for three nights in a row, the baby’s internal clock would switch. As you know by now, a half hour of wakefulness for newborns is code for crying. Reluctantly, we obeyed. We played Chopin and walked with the baby, jiggling her when she nodded off. She cried. And we cried. But on that third night the magic happened. She slept. Yes, Chopin is ruined forever for me, but she slept.
**Note: This works for changes in sleeping arrangements, feeding routines, etc.
Lesson Three: You and Ashley Came First
The other piece of advice Dr. Eichner gave us was this, “Your baby joined your family. The two of you came first. Don’t forget that” He reminded us to keep doing what we loved and bring the baby along. Well, we loved hiking, traveling and eating at restaurants – all cringe-worthy activities to attempt with a newborn and we did them. Yes, some of our adventures had to be cut short because of a diaper blow out, but most were wildly successful. Dr. Eichner was right. The babies joined our family and made delightful additions.
So, in the weeks to come when you feel like your house has become a bunker, remind yourself to get out with baby and breathe the fresh air.
Lesson Four: Don’t Wait to Travel with Rayden
Back to the travel, Mr. Sherman. Travel with Rayden now, next month and throughout next year’s football season. Don’t wait to introduce him to planes, trains and cars. I’ve seen the parents that waited until their child was a year old, they’ve been seated next to me struggling to keep their child seated, belted and content. Our kids have been traveling on planes since they were five months old. To this day they are complimented by the flight attendants for their exceptional behavior. They grew up learning how to travel and it shows.
Lesson Five: Start Reading to Rayden Today
Don’t wait to share books with your son. Make reading a daily habit and have fun with it for heaven’s sake. Find books that are colorful and rhyme. Do your craziest, funniest voices and make grand facial expressions as you read to Rayden because you’ll bring language to life for your son. The result? You are raising a boy that will love reading his whole life.
Two of my favorites are Ezra Jack Keats’, A Snowy Day and Sandra Boyton’s, Barnyard Dance. To this day, I can still repeat them by heart.
Lesson Five: Your Instincts Are Perfect!
You are a cerebral man. Stanford doesn’t abide anything but brilliance. So, I’m pretty sure you’ve purchased your fair share of books about raising babies, you’ve maybe even bought that minefield of self-diagnosis, The Mayo Clinic Handbook, but I’m here to tell you, your instincts are perfect. The instruction books, online sites and even the Mayo Clinic Handbook have a place, they do. But, your gut knows when something’s not quite right. Listen to it. Check your resources only to give weight to your hunch, that’s fine. But, we all we need. Yes, the Seahawks’ saying even applies to parenthood.
Lesson Six: When You’ve Made it Six Weeks, Things Get Exponentially Easier
Six weeks is a miracle in the development of babies. Maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing. At six weeks new parents have a handle on the everyday routine. That leads to feeling confident and relaxed. Then maybe, baby responds, becoming more relaxed himself. I’m not sure. But I do know that at six weeks, babies smile. They giggle. They explore the world with hungry eyes. It makes us fall in love with them all over again.
So, in closing, enjoy this time. I’m sure tells you this, but the years fly by. I can’t believe my first-born will be going off to college next year when I can still remember the milky smell of her onesie like it was only yesterday. Embrace each day and savor the blessing of your new, bigger, family.
Jennifer L. Hotes is a Seattle author and illustrator. Mother to two daughters, she is the surrogate mother to the four teens in her first mystery novel, Four Rubbings. Jennifer volunteers time with Providence Hospice of Seattle to raise money for grieving and bereaved children. Even though her sixth grader squirms, she hugs and kisses her everyday.
It’s International Women’s Day. Though I’m happy that we received a Sunday in March, I can’t help but notice that even in this, our holiday, we’re receiving less than men. It’s also the day we set the clocks forward an hour. Yes, #InternationalWomensDay is one hour less than every other day of the year. (insert grumbling and mild cursing here)
This week I was talking with my teen daughter about women’s issues. My kid is bright, artistic and a science nut. I call her a hybrid. She worked hard on her final project for a stage craft class. The next day in the final minutes of her presentation, she was asked to grade herself. She gave herself 22 out of 25 points. The class erupted in argument and she finally upped the score to 23. My cheeks burned pink as she relayed the story.
I know from my days as a psych major at the University of Washington that studies show females tend to under-score themselves in these situations and men give themselves a more generous grade. My daughter must’ve sensed a preaching coming on, because she said, “I could’ve done more. It’s not perfect, Mom. It’s not.”
This, coming from a girl that speaks out about sexism daily. No matter who is within ear shot, she argues when someone says, “Oh, you’re such a girl,” (actually the phrase is cruder and involves genitalia.) She will point out how women have the babies, and that fact alone proves we are genetically stronger than men. Nature chose women to have the babies because we were the gender that could handle it. Boom.
But, I felt like she was missing that secret dialogue, the one that we may not even be aware of ourselves. Women are raised to be modest, humble, unassuming and that works against us in self-grading as well as in our professions. I got on my apple crate and preached. She gave herself a modest grade to appear modest and humble in front of her classmates. That’s not okay. It’s one thing to be a perfectionist and admit there were flaws in her project. But, if she was to compare her work to her classmates, she’d have to give herself a higher score. She felt uncomfortable doing that. I don’t blame her there because I’ve got 45 years of social training working against me.
Today, I found this article about how bright girls struggle. I thought it was well-written and points out that bright girls are afraid to take risks. They are raised to believe their intelligence is innate and in that way, won’t grow. Boys are raised to see intelligence as something you earn by researching, testing, trying and failing. Intelligence is a continuous pursuit. In this one thing, I believe we need to mimic boys. Here’s the link to the article!
So, on today of all days, I think it’s time to roar, women. I think it is well past time that we push past our comfort zones and own our strengths. Not comfortable crowing about your strengths and achievements? Then, just try not to downplay or dismiss them. Maybe that’s why our holiday is an hour shorter than all the others? We’re changing ourselves from within, and that feat alone deserves an hour break.
Marshanne Mishoe is an author, wife and mother who makes her home just north of Atlanta, GA. Her new book called, “The Mind of a Child,” is a dual story line, with a woman who gets a job as an assistant teacher in a Special Needs classroom with absolutely no experience, leading to often comical results. The other part of the book tells the fictional story of a woman who has a Down Syndrome baby in 1940. The story delves into how the child’s disability affects his whole family, and the drastic step the family takes when they feel they have no options. This story is based on her grandmother’s life. But there were other family members who were also affected by this special child’s life. Read on.
Imagine being a little boy with a brother who has special needs? What if we are talking about 1940 when not much was known about the genetic ailment, eventually called, Down Syndrome?
Well this was my father’s life. He was older by two years than his brother, called “Bubba.” They were close in some ways because all they had was each other for friends. Their parents were loving but busy working and Dad and Bubba had to keep each other entertained.
Now imagine that you had grown very resentful of your brother, whose latest stunt involved man-handling your 10th birthday cake, tearing down the decorations and causing the guests to leave the party early. You were sick and tired of Bubba getting away with all sorts of bad behavior and you let your parents know about it.
Then, one day, your parents call you in and sit you down. They tearfully say that they have decided to send your only brother away, to a “school” for children like Bubba. How would you feel? This is where I have to make my best guess, because my father has never spoken to me or anyone else that I know of, about this very important happening in his childhood.
I imagine my father, as a 10-year-old boy, felt a mix of feelings. He probably felt scared about the change, he probably was curious about where his brother was going. He probably felt excitement to have the little pain-in-the-neck gone. But mostly, I imagine he felt guilt. Heavy guilt. Like the kind a child stuffs down so that he can put forth a brave face. He probably thought the impetus for the decision was his birthday party. And since it was his party, it had to be his fault.
I can imagine my father going with his parents to drop his brother off at the school, which was a five-hour car ride away from home, and wondering how his parents could just leave his brother there. Except for hospital stays, Bubba would never leave the school again. This could have made my father angry. And I can imagine his scared, tear-stained face in the rear window of the family car as they drove away, now as a family of only three.
Fast forward thirty or so years, and my dad is a grown man, of course, with a family of his own. He was paralyzed with fear when his first daughter was born looking so beat up, with a squished head. The doctors had to reassure him repeatedly that it was the forceps that caused this appearance and that his daughter was fine.
As his daughter grew, she would relish the visits from her grandparents. They lavished love and attention on her like no one else. But many times, during these visits, her grandparents and her father got very sad and had to make a mysterious trip to visit an uncle, with the mind of a child. Plead as she might, they never let her go with them. So now the daughter starts storing away misconceptions.
Finally, as an adult, the daughter realizes that this uncle has Down Syndrome. She even meets him, twice before his death.
My father’s birthday is February 26th, and he will be 79 years old. But I know, for a fact, although he has never told me, that he still thinks about and longs for that kid brother who suddenly went away.
——- Editor’s note——
“The Mind of a Child” is available now on Amazon.com. I’m putting it on my must read list and I hope you do the same!
Because #funfactfriday isn’t a thing yet, or least that I’m aware of, I hope this post starts a trend.
As I sat in my art loft working on edits to the second book in the Josie Jameson series, I thought about you the readers of Four Rubbings. I have a crate of research behind that first book, and I wanted to share some interesting facts, some of which you might already know, but a couple may surprise you! Some are about the book, but others are about me. (cringe) Soon though, Spring 2015, the new book in the series will be out which I’m dying to share with you.
Author, Jennifer L. Hotes visited and researched over forty cemeteries before writing the book. She’s visited another 20 since then.
The novel originally had five teens, but Hotes dropped one after a developmental edit. She’s keeping the fifth storyline tucked away for her first adult mystery which will be published in early 2016.
The elusive Bain McLaren is an Irish orphan with a Scottish name. She took her husband’s name when they married, but her adopted name was Bain O’Reilly.
As a University of Washington grad, the author knew early on she wanted to feature a few quirky UW campus locales in the book. Look for the reference to the medicinal herb garden in the pages.
The cat featured in Four Rubbings is a devon rex. It is a rare Celtic breed with even rarer curly fur and beloved for its batty ears.
Recently, the author found out that her grandfather professed to have faced Death – yes, in person. When Death came for his mother, Vincent Snezeck told Death to go away saying he needed her on earth a little longer.
This is the author’s third year of serving on the board for Providence Hospice of Seattle Foundation and her third year as chair of the organization’s annual luncheon. This was the first pediatric hospice in the northwest!
Her first paid job was stuffing envelopes for Cal State University Fresno. She was fourteen and got paid $800 for two weeks of work. This is where she picked up her rubberband shooting skills and obsession with Good-n-Plenty candy.
Most readers assume Four Rubbings is set in historic Lakesview Cemetery. Though it provided inspiration for the book, Lakefront Cemetery in the novel is an amalgam of many locations.
Hotes won an art contest in third grade, for her depiction of an Easter egg.
She won a writing award in fourth grade for a book based on the life of a fictional raccoon.
Heading to Arizona this week to watch Super Bowl XLIX? Well, I’ve got a packing guide to keep in mind as you fill that carry-on bag. Yes, there are some critical items you need to cram between your Seahawks jerseys, #12 flag and underwear in order to make the most of the trip.
Item #1 – Deodorant! (the stronger, the better) I’m a rabid Seahawks fan, but this game is shaping up to be a real nail biter. We’re playing a New England Patriots team that has everything to prove to the world as they step onto the field. Can they redeem themselves after #DeflateGate? I’m sure the team hopes to erase all doubt Sunday with a win. But, my Seahawks play with a chip on their shoulder every week. They approach every game of the season as a championship game. So, come Sunday, every down, these two teams are going to smash helmets and fight for yards. Swipe on two layers of that industrial-strength deodorant and smell like a daisy well into the fourth quarter, okay?
Item #2 – Air-pump. No really. You think I’m eluding to eleven underinflated balls, but not so! You’ve got to get to the big game, maybe on a shuttle, a bus, a car or bike. All these things have tires that can deflate. That might keep other fans from arriving at the gates on time, but not you. You’ll have planned ahead and packed an air-pump with you to handle flat tires. Way to go! Click here to link to Amazon.com and purchase NOW!
Item #3 – Disposable camera. Yes, most of us carry cell phones equipped with cameras these days, but technology can fail miserably when we need it most. This is a game for the ages, a bucket list opportunity, you’ll want to document this experience. Take a few minutes to buy a disposable camera at airport newsstand. It’s a fail-safe you won’t regret having.
Item #4 – Adult diapers. Consider wearing adult diapers to the big game. After all, it’s the freaking Super Bowl. You can’t slip away for ten minutes during the game because you’ll risk jinxing your team, or you’ll miss the turnover/play that crashes the internet. Halftime is also a no-go, because Katy Perry promises to deliver an eye-popping show. And if you don’t relieve yourself at some point during the game, then Monday you’ll be forking over a co-pay to some medical clinic to diagnose that burning bladder infection. Do what countless marathoners already do, and wear adult diapers. Yes, you’re welcome.
Item #5 – Instant portable phone charger. I’ve linked you to Amazon.com so you can add this handy item to your cart asap. It’s not only you that’s going to Super Bowl XLIX, every family member, friend, co-worker and frienemy you left behind is living vicariously through YOU. They’ll be texting hours before kickoff, I promise. I know this because I plan to pepper my own dad with texts the entire day. He’ll be sitting somewhere behind the goal posts and I’ll pester him for pics and updates. I’ll want to cyber-celebrate TDs and turnovers with him, and expect him to answer me at least a couple of times. Your batteries, like my dad’s, will drain fast. So, think ahead, and bring along an instant charger. Keep those lines of communication open and your acquaintances happy.
So, there they are, the five items you need to add to that suitcase. The weekend will fly by at lightening speed, but try to savor every moment. Travel safely home and if you happen to be a 12 like me, you better scream yourself hoarse on Sunday. Go Hawks!