Thursday, April 26, 2012

Someone's Daughter

This is a somewhat serious topic, one that has been weighing heavy on my heart since yesterday. As I was driving home from the store with my little girl, Evie, in the back seat, I started listening to a radio program that really touched me in a new way. It was about India, the sex trade and the little babies that are born into the brothels daily; uncared for, unloved and never touched, they are born into prostitution. The sex trafficking is a huge industry worldwide, one that is hidden from society. Young girls are taken and forced to work long hours where they are raped and beaten daily for little or no pay. Many women stay in these situations because they feel it is the only way they can support their children and family back home; others are trapped and if they try to run away, the corrupt police system in the country will capture them and return them for a monetary reward. Many of these women suffer with STDs and of course pregnancies. I never really thought about what happened to the kids that are born in these brothels until yesterday.

I spent part of the afternoon at Babies R Us, buying a bumbo chair and some other“developmental toys” for my baby girl. I love her so much that I feel that she deserves and needs all the gadgets this store has to offer! My husband and I get so much joy when we introduce her to all these new little things. One smile from her means the world.

Until I had a child, I never understood the excitement of watching all the little changes that occur as the days go by. I clearly remember the moment at about six weeks when I was changing her diaper and suddenly she looked me in the eye and smiled AT me! Last night was one of those moments. As I was doing the dishes, I placed her on a towel in the center of the kitchen floor behind me. When I turned around, she was flipping over on her tummy! I was so excited that I stopped what I was doing and grabbed my phone to capture this developmental milestone! After several failed attempts, my little Evie successfully flipped completely on her stomach. She looked so weak and helpless as she struggled to pull herself up. I cheered her on. I kissed her, picked her up and was so proud. I sent the video to family. My husband and I talked about it for the rest of the night.

As I lay in bed that night, my thoughts suddenly went to those dark, dirty brothels I heard about earlier in the day on the radio. How many innocent, helpless “Evies” were rolling over on their tummies for the first time without anyone cheering them on? How many were left in corners, uncared for, unloved, not picked up once during the day? Even worse, I heard that many kids are drugged, stuffed in locked closets and under bed while their mothers “work” next to them. Until I had my precious daughter, the human trafficking problem never hit me like this. I can actually picture the little, defenseless girls trapped in these conditions. The face that comes to my mind: my little daughter. Who is it that you picture in your mind?

My heart is heavy. What can I do, so far away? I know that this human trafficking problem in not just an international one. This problem is happening all over the United States. Young girls are coerced into this industry and trapped. What can we do?

  For the next few days, the non-profit “Forgo” is sending all their contributions to an organization called Freeset. Having been to India a few years ago, I visited this firsthand and saw the lives of the women transformed as they were given another option other than prostitution to make a living. Freeset teaches women skills and then they work, making bags to earn money for their families. They work in a loving, safe environment and their children are taken care of.
For more information, grab your phone and visit to learn how to make a small sacrifice that can make a huge difference.

The face of my little girl haunts me. It may not be MY daughter, but it is someone’s daughter.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Read the Fine Print

Read the fine print. That is the lesson I learned recently after purchasing a Groupon for a six hour wine tour in a limo. I thought, What better way to celebrate our seven-year anniversary!?! So I paid the $50 per person, made the appointment and excitedly anticipated the romantic day.  
Well, the day finally arrived. We dropped our daughter off at Grandma and Grandpa's house for the day, and the two of us drove off for a memorable, relaxing day in whimsical wine country! It was a gorgeous Saturday morning. We pulled up to the MAX station, where we were instructed to meet the limo. We parked and waited..and waited…and waited.
 “Do you see a limo anywhere?” We both scanned the area. No limo. Suddenly, in the corner of the lot, we noticed a massive black bus. It seemed to be pulsating from the high energy dance music pumping from its speakers. “Could that be it?” asked John. 
No. This couldn't be it. This is a party bus! The company is called “fiesta limos.”
 LIMO. Long. Black. Chic. Romantic.
“Wine tour?” the driver of the bus asks us.
“Uh, yeah,” I answer apprehensively.
 “Well hop on!” he turns up the dance music even louder.
 We enter the party bus and take a seat on the black vinyl benches that are built into the perimeter of the red velvet walls. In front of us stands a tall, steel pole. Yes. A pole for dancing.
All of a sudden a strobe light pops on. 
It is 10:00 am. I just finished my second cup of coffee. We are ready to party.

During the next fifteen minutes, 14 more people enthusiastically enter the bus. A group of four women in their 50s, clearly on a much-anticipated “girls day out", make themselves comfortable in the back.  As soon as the bus gets going, the other wine tasters pop open a bottle of champagne to make mimosas. 
The images of a quiet ride through the vineyards, sipping vino together alone, suddenly vanish. These people clearly had other intentions. Let's just say it was clear that they weren't here to just "taste" fermented grapes and educate themselves on the whole wine-making process. 
 Our party bus weaves throughout the rolling hills of wine country. We stop at Ponzi, then Skol Blossomer, and enjoy a leisurely tasting at Erath. All the wineries have their charm, but with each stop the bus becomes louder and louder. The atmosphere heats up and people suddenly become really friendly.  
 John and I do our tasting. We learn about tannins, chat with the wine makers, and learn the optimal temperatures to store various wines. We even have lunch outside at a cute little sandwich shop by Argyle winery. 

However, the other members in the party bus seem to be doing shots with the wine. They barely nibble on some cheese, and there is a continuous flow of alcohol in between each stop. Friendly becomes obnoxious very soon. 
On the way home, John and I are clearly the only sober ones. He has his arm around me. I  try to make some nostalgic comments, "Seven years ago today we were walking down the aisle...." What? He can't hear me over the base. 
Suddenly, I sense a shadow fall over me. I turn my head around and the 50-year-old women in the black stretch pants in the back of the bus is pole dancing; her booty bounces like an overstuffed couch in my face. A guy in his early 30s slides provocatively up to the pole to take his turn after the enthusiastic prompting of his entourage. 
I try to pretend as if it not happening. "yeah, sweetie, seven years..." 
Suddenly I realize that it is impossible to pretend to ignore what is going on in front of us. I turn my head and look John in the eyes. "I'm so sorry this turned out this way. This is not the romantic, seven year celebration I envisioned for us when I planned this." 
 He just looks at me and laughs. “It will certainly be one we will look back and talk about! You know "us." Some of our best memories together have been the situations that didn't turn out like they were supposed to." 
I’m so glad that I have a husband who has such a great sense of humor.
 "And believe it or not, I'm actually kind of amused." He takes my hand and we do our best to enjoy the entertainment. 
Yes, happy seven years. 
Bring on seventy more.