Friday, January 25, 2013

Jury Duty

I'll be honest, I didn't really like myself today.  I was impatient, self-pitying, and overly critical of myself and others- all of the things I'm sure men can't stand about the female species.  As I tried to put my finger on what had gotten my panties in such a knot, I realized it wasn't just one thing.  It has been several little things piling up, culminating with this suffocating inversion.  It feels like the pressure cookers I used to see my mom cook with when I was a kid-  boiling and building pressure until the steam has no other choice than to come out whistling wildly.  A few weeks ago when I needed a break, I explained to Dennis that at the end of the day, he gets to clock out and leave the office.  Mothers, on the other hand, never really get to "clock out."  Even when our spouses are home, we're always "at the office."  I guess I've just been at the office too long.  But really, there's no good excuse.

I realized I never wrote about my participation in jury duty so I thought that would be a good thing to help me unwind and let the steam escape a little.  Writing usually does that for me.

Our county has an interesting way of summoning jurors.  Once we are summoned, we must call in every evening for a full month to see if we are needed the following day.  I was summoned and then selected to sit in on a jury for a what was a somewhat high-profile case for this area.

It was fascinating, to say the least, and I was grateful to have been able to have participated in what lies at the heart of the American dream: the right to an impartial jury.

Listening to the prosecution and the defense banter back and forth, almost like two children arguing over a toy firetruck, was fascinating.  The most intriguing part was when the defendant, who was representing himself, testified on his own behalf.  He had to act as both the attorney and as the witness simultaneously, so he would pose a question in second person, and then answer his own questions in first person.

What was the most unsettling for me was feeling myself sway back and forth as each side presented their case.  I knew what they were doing- it was the art of persuasion and manipulation at it's finest- and yet I felt powerless against it.  Surely both attorneys had been schooled extensively on persuading a jury and yet there I was, feeling like mental putty in their hands as they spoke.  It was mind-spinning and completely exhausting.  The one thing each of the jurors said each morning was how utterly drained they felt when they went to bed at night.

It was interesting to see the bond that the jurors formed over the course of the trial.  We were given strict instructions that we were not to discuss the case with each other or with anyone else until after deliberation.  What was more interesting, was trying to come up with conversation with 11 other perfect strangers when we were forbidden to discuss the one thing that had brought us all together.  We spent several hours together, literally locked up in the jurors room as we waited out delays of every type, and they all turned out to be lovely people.  I was sad when it was all over, knowing I would likely never see any of my juror friends again.

It wasn't until we were given our instructions by the judge on our deliberation that I felt my stomach tie up in a knot.  This man's future was lying in our hands- 12 inexperienced people, practically plucked off the street- who had to take this information and render a verdict on this man's fate.

After three and a half hours of deliberation, we found the defendant "not guilty," almost entirely based on reasonable doubt.

We were forbidden as jurors to do any research on the defendant or the case until after the verdict was rendered.  We could only use the information given to us in the courtroom, in the form of testimonies and evidence, to reach our verdict.  As I've learned more about the case and the defendant, I've struggled as I've wondered if we did the right thing.  And yet I know that that one tiny phrase, "beyond reasonable doubt" is what makes our criminal justice system so great- so American.  Even though I have serious doubts about whether or not he was truly innocent of the crime, he was protected under the shield of reasonable doubt.  And I suppose that's the way it should be.

What an amazing criminal justice system we have here in the United States.   Such incredible trust they place on the lay citizens who comprise the jury.  This trust is what I think makes our country so unique.  In other countries I've lived in, you either knew or you didn't- you were either of importance or you were of little consequence.  And yet here were people from all different backgrounds, educations (or lack of), and socioeconomic statuses, coming together for a common purpose.  With each passing year, I find myself more and more proud to call myself an American.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Evolution

I just found this post I had written last May but never posted.  It's astounding to me to see the athleticism of my little Lauren.  She has mastered puzzles, roller blades, and anything else that involves fine or gross motor skills.  

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And who said Darwinism is a hoax?  I think he could have bypassed the Galapagos and done his studies in my house to develop his theories on evolution. 


March 2012 017-1
And this little girl can hold her own quite well in a brawl, I tell you.
Age when they learned to open a door
Camden: 2 1/2
Luke: 18 months
Lauren, in Houdini-like fashion, learns to open doors with child locks: 2 1/2

Age when they begin to eat only the marshmallows in Lucky Charms and throw out the rest:
Camden: 2 1/2
Luke: 10 months
Lauren: I'm embarrassed to say- let's just say, much too early and I'm a bad mom for giving them to her at that age.

Age when they begin giving Mom orders on how to do their hair
Camden: 7 (I'm not sure he even noticed he had hair before then)
Luke: 3
Lauren: 2

The first time riding a two-wheel scooter:
Camden: 4
Luke: 3
Lauren decides to bypass the scooter and go for the roller-blades: 2 1/2

 At this rate, it's a little scary to think what lies in store for us with Calista...

Update since this post was originally written:

My little Calista has grown up immensely since this was written last May and it never ceases to amaze me how each child comes to earth with such different strengths and personalities.  Dennis and I have decided that while Calista hasn't leapt ahead like her sister did in terms of athletic abilities, she has proven to be more calculated in the things that she does.  She is one to quietly observe, analyze, weigh the risks and benefits, and then act- the first of my kids to show such deliberatness.  Such an incredible thing to observe.

Update

This post is really no more than an update on some of the things that have been going on around our house.   They are mostly random and probably mostly funny just to me and Dennis because we know our kids, but either way, I wanted to get them written down.

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The other day Luke was getting dressed for the day when he realized that all of his sweats (workout pants) were dirty and going to be laundered that day, leaving him only a pair of jeans to wear.  He was extremely irritated and he began hollering, "Mom, it's YOUR fault that my pants are all dirty!  I only like stretchy pants, not jeans!"  Where he came up with this being somehow my fault, I'll never know, but I explained that I only do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays and that  within a couple of hours he would have clean pants but to go ahead and just wear his jeans until then.  "I only like stretchy pants!" he said as he defiantly folded his arms across his chest.

I think I may have mentioned before that this kid has a stubborn streak as wide as the Grand Canyon... so he walked around the rest of the day in only his underwear.  Because of this little tantrum,  I decided I'd hold off on washing his batch of clothes until the very last to show him that his tantrums wouldn't get him very far. He was beyond indignant by the end of the day when Dennis got home.  According to him, I had made him walk around all day completely naked.

That evening in an effort to lighten things up, I began telling a make-believe story about a new superhero,  "Capitán Stretchy Pants," (said in the voice of Nacho Libre) who saved the world with the amazing stretch of his pants.  Amazingly, el capitán refused to wear any other pants, especially jeans, and would rather walk around in his underwear than be caught without his trusty stretchy pants.  Luke began giggling as he realized I was referencing him and his little tantrum from that morning.  By bedtime he was rolling around laughing and squealing, as I told of the adventures of el capitán catapulting dirty diapers and capturing bandidos with the amazing stretch of his pants.


Now Dennis has taken over telling the kids the stories of "Capitán Stretchy Pants," and since he apparently tells the stories better than I do, with more enthusiasm and a better accent, I have been banned from telling the stories because I'm "not as funny."  

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As babies, each of my kids have loved the song "You Are My Sunshine," so this has naturally become one of the songs that is sung to them every night.

One day as I was changing Calista's diaper when she was only about 14 months old, I was singing to her as I changed her.  At one point I sang, "You are my sun..." as I paused to reach over and grab something. 

To my complete surprise, she completed the phrase, "...shine."

I wasn't sure I had heard right so I sang the next line, "My only sun..."

"Shine!"

I was shocked since "momma" and "dadda" were the only two words in her vocabulary, or so I thought.  I Perhaps I had heard wrong so I sang the next line, "You make me hap..."

"Peee!"  she sang out with a wide toothy grin on her face."

I continued, "When skies are..."

"Gray!"  she sang out again.

We continued the rest of the song with her finishing the last syllable of each line.

I was shocked.  All along I had been singing to her, never realizing she was learning the words to the song. Who woulda thunk... my kids actually do listen to what I say every once in a while.

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The other night as Dennis was putting Lauren to bed, he asked her how her day had been.  With an overly dramatic sigh, she placed her hand on her forehead and theatrically said, "It's not easy being a princess, dad."

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Camden and Luke have acquired a new interest obsession with King Tut.  Apparently he's the flavor of the month, so to speak and it has been non-stop questions about him.  

One day Luke told me, "Mom, I can't wait to die."

"What?!  Why in the world would you say that?" I asked.

"Because dad told me that I probably won't be able to meet King Tut until after I die and we're all resurrected.... and I think that would be super duper cool.  But he is kinda cweepy so I don't know..."

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My parents visited us over Christmas and we had a wonderful time with them.  My kids absolutely adore my parents.  We had several fun half-day outings to a local pond, to visit an uncle and drink malts in his restored 1950's diner, and to enjoy the glory of Costco's hand-dipped almond bars.

My mom brought Mr. and Mrs. Santa suits along with hats and outfits for the kids to wear as well.  She told me one of the must-do's of her visit was to get a picture with the kids in their Santa suits.  Unfortunately my kids have developed a reflexive scream-n'-run reaction anytime they see a camera pulled out. 

So my mother paid them each a $5 to pose for the camera.  And then of course, they were full of all sorts of smiles and spirit of cooperation.  

And to think that when I was a kid, we'd get either a pull of our sideburns (we Hawkes girls were cursed with unfortunately long and unbecoming sideburns that came in very handy during times like this) or a not-so-gentle squeeze of the underarm (right in the sweet spot between the bicep and the tricep).  

Maybe if she had offered us MONEY, and $5 a piece at that, our pictures would have looked more like this:



and less like this: