Author Archives: Joshua Jarman

She’sWrite: Telling My Story for One Billion Rising’s Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Thursday, Feb 14th, 2013 by

If you haven’t guessed, She’sWrite is a dear, personal friend of mine. I am so proud of her for sharing this story, and I’m grateful that she’s let me share it with you here. — Tara

I remember the moment he slapped me. If I listen hard enough, I can still hear the ringing in my ears. We both just stared at each other, shocked that he’d actually hit me.

I’d never been hit before. I was never in any teenage catfights, nor school yard tussles at recess. Come to think of it, the last time I’d gotten hit was as a boundary-pushing kid and it came in the form of a spanking from my dad.

But here he was, my angry, big, glowering boyfriend. And my cheek was on fire. How the hell did I get here? My boyfriend just hit me. How did I become this girl?

 *      *      *      *

We started dating when I was a freshman in college. That first year was a whirlwind of college fun. We laughed, partied, and did all the stupid things that college kids do. Then came year two. The year that I realized he was an alcoholic, the year that I also met some of his other demons.

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She’sWrite: Talking About Race With My Biracial 5 Year Old

Monday, Jan 21st, 2013 by

I’m always grateful to today’s guest columnist She’sWrite for letting me publish her posts here on Go West. But I’m particularly happy to be able to share this one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

It’s interesting being a parent of biracial children in that like with most things with motherhood, I’m fumbling around in the dark.

Photo by Scott Ableman on Flickr.Digging through my 5-year-old son’s backpack, I ran across a worksheet on Martin Luther King, Jr.  Curious, I asked him what he learned about King in school.

He told me that white people used to not let brown people do things and King made a lot of white people mad because he was helping the brown people.

Hmmm. Well, kinda.

Since my husband is a blond-haired blue-eyed Norwegian and I am a black girl from Kansas, I’m always curious as to how our biracial kids perceive themselves when it comes to race. So the conversation began on this day as it has many times before:

“Do you know any brown people?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes and pointed at the chocolate side of my hand. “You.”

“Do you know any white people?”

He smiled: “Daddy!”

“Right.” And then I waited. I waited because usually at this point in the conversation, he gives me a glimpse into his curious little mind.

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Practical Advice on How to Talk With Your Kids About the Newton Massacre

Tuesday, Dec 18th, 2012 by

I’ve wanted to write about the tragedy in Newton, but honestly, my thoughts are such a jumble that I feel like I have nothing useful or original to share. So I want to thank my friend Melanie at She’sWrite for allowing me to re-post her column from yesterday, featuring some valuable advice from a family physician.

Today was the first of the funerals. The beginning of seeing the heartbreakingly small caskets as families start laying to rest 20 innocent young children and six brave adults.

Photo by One-Speed Photography on Flickr.We’re all still shocked that the unfathomable has happened in Newtown, Conn. As parents, many of us have been stumbling through talks with our kids about this massacre. On the afternoon of the shooting, my son’s school sent out a link with advice on how to handle this.

It was generally helpful, but like many of the stories and other links out there, it was largely in broad strokes rooted in the recommendations from the American Psychological Association: Talk with your child, make them feel safe, look out for signs of stress or anxiety, take a break from the news, take care of yourself.

So I wondered what my friend Dr. Deborah Gilboa had to say. She’s an ubermom of four who is a family physician and travels the world giving presentations on parenting. She’s smart, nonjudgmental and is filled with commonsense advice.

Dr. G, as she’s called, says to first start trying to process your feelings as an adult. Work on your own horror and anxiety over this because you don’t want to lay all of those heavy emotions on your children.

She also completely agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids under age 7 don’t need to hear about the tragedy.

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She’sWrite: OK, I Gained HOW Much Weight?!?!

Wednesday, Aug 15th, 2012 by

I’ve got a bad hangover. A cruise hangover. It’s not a headache situation, but more of a belly situation that’s hanging over my jeans. I gained a bunch of weight while on my recent vacation, a five-day cruise.

It’s impressive really when you think about it. In five days, FIVE I gained…. (drumroll) 9 pounds. That’s more than my children weighed when they were born. I started off the cruise trying to be good, but that lasted about 45 minutes because of the all-eat-til-you-drop options. Just trying to navigate through the different parts of the ship you had smells of fried chicken, pizza, French fries, jerked chicken,  barbecue, oh it was endless.

And so was my gorging. Not to mention the alcohol consumption. I am proud ashamed to say that I’ve perfected the art of maintaining a nice wine buzz throughout the day and into the night without acting like an idiot or waking up with a headache. There is something kinda cool about being able to perpetually walk around with a glass of wine in your hand at any time of day and no eyebrows are raised.

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She’sWrite: Preschool Graduation – More than Just Poop & Circumstance?

Thursday, Jul 12th, 2012 by

I have crossed another milestone as a parent. My firstborn has graduated … From preschool.

I remember before I had kids, I thought, sheesh, what’s up with all of these graduations? Preschool, Kindergarten, sixth grade, eighth grade and finally high school??? I have had two graduations: High school and college.

But then I got the notice that our daycare was having a ceremony for all the kids who were going to start kindergarten in the fall. I stopped rolling my eyes about preschool graduation and now, I found myself getting excited.

Hubby got off work early so we could attend the Friday evening event.  Logan was so excited, he could not stop jumping up and down. The school even gave him a red cap and gown to borrow, which was cute. Silly? Yes, but really very cute.

Then the kids put on a program for the parents. Of course this meant all of us parents had to squat on those impossibly small kiddie chairs. Seriously, why bother offering us a place to sit when only half of my butt fits on the seat?

I digress. Back to the program … All of the songs I’ve been hearing around the house about Johnny working with hammers or apples and bananas or sharks and dinosaurs, now I got to hear them in stereo and with the appropriate hand movements.

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She’sWrite: Getting Ready for Kindergarten (I’m So Not Ready)

Thursday, May 10th, 2012 by

I’m preparing my entry into the scary world of elementary school. Logan starts kindergarten in the fall, but there’s already been registration, Parents Night and class screenings. Oh. My.

Photo by hakaider on Flickr.A lot of the activities (rightfully) focus on getting the kids ready. But what about me? I’m not talking about the usual “my baby is growing up” wistful feelings most moms have. I’m talking about all of the crap you have to do before you ship them off. I’m so not ready.

The school year is four months away still and I’m already ready to be done. First there was registration, which required form after form after form to be filled out, not to mention the immunization records, the physicals, eye exams, dental exams, proof of residency, vial of blood… OK, clearly kidding on the last one.

On the day of registration I came with my mountain of papers and seeing how I didn’t have some of the required paperwork for proof of residency, I brought a copy of our mortgage. The entire, 11×14 cumbersome packet. One of the PTA volunteers had to help me thumb through the reams of paper to find the information that qualified our family of residents of our quaint burb.

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She’sWrite: Nuggets of Truth in the ‘Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful’ Piece

Wednesday, Apr 11th, 2012 by

Many have gotten their knickers in a bunch over journalist Samantha Brick’s piece about the downsides of being a pretty girl.  Namely, she says other women are mean to her because they’re jealous.

Samantha Brick wrote a column for Britain’s Daily Mail that there are downsides to being pretty. Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail. Naturally, this has sparked a firestorm of criticism, mostly aimed at if she’s hot or not. Some of the comments are downright ugly. But she touches on something that I’ve seen happen.

Sure there’s plenty of upsides to being pretty. It can make it easier to get past the velvet ropes life offers, but like everything there can be challenges. For example, some attractive women have a hard time being taken seriously by male co-workers unless they present the (and I hate to use the term) bitchy exterior.

I certainly don’t have the problem that Brick says she has due to her looks. I’m just your average brown-skinned girl, but I have a friend who is drop dead gorgeous. Stunning. Well, I’ve got a lot of them, but this one is particularly striking and she too has had problems with women.

I remember the first time she told me: “I have no girl friends.” I was surprised because she’s shoot-the-milk-out-your-nose funny, fiercely loyal and honest. But I gave her a good once over, her perfectly petite, yet curvy frame, glowing olive skin, thick healthy mane, piercingly green eyes, yaddayaddayadda you get the idea. I responded: I bet so.

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She’sWrite: Forgetting to Exercise My Right to Vote

Thursday, Mar 22nd, 2012 by

I looked at the clock. It was 6:55 p.m. on Tuesday, and I still hadn’t voted. Not because I was turned off by the candidates, the barrage of abusive political ads and empty promises.

I simply lost track of time.

I got up this morning, whirred around the house to get everyone ready for school.  The family headed out the door and I made a mental note to vote on the way home. I was pretty aware of the issues and who I wanted for what positions, so it wouldn’t take long.

Naturally after dropping off the kids, my mind was racing with different iterations of my To Do list: Buy diapers, return Ken’s email, check on Huffington Post piece, check my account balance, wash the boy’s clothes, I wonder if I’ll have time for a nap…

I got lost in the busyness of my day and didn’t vote. That is sad and shameful, but there is a bit of triumph in it. Bear with me as I explain.

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She’sWrite: Planes, Trains and a Step Ladder

Wednesday, Mar 7th, 2012 by

This weekend my 4-year-old son got to hang out with a few from the octogenarian set. Simply watching the way they talked with each other, it was clear they shared an understanding.  It was a deep, unabashed passion for the all powerful locomotive.

The High Wheeler Train Show is held every March at Harper College in Palatine.The first public railway came in 1803 in London and choo choos have been wowing kids and adults ever since. On Saturday, we went to the High Wheeler Train Show at Harper College in Palatine, where there were 23 detailed displays of moving trains.

The train cars ranged from being as small as a thumb drive to as tall as an iPad. They chugged along tracks that twisted through mountain tops, tunnels, the island of Sodor, a Hershey’s Chocolate-themed town and Legoland. They passed firefighters dousing a burning house, a Ferris wheel, log cabins and a parade through a German city equipped with revelers at a Biergarten.

The amount of detail that goes into these pieces is amazing. I love peering close to the displays to be surprised to find the most minute treasures. Like the woman in a bright pink dress who’s cooling off in a water tank or the two men playing a raucous round of checkers.  It’s also fun to talk to the train hobbyists because they’re ecstatic to share their love of trains. The model trains attract all kinds, creeds and ages.

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I Wonder What Happened: Kids Retailer Closes After Only Three Months

Tuesday, Feb 21st, 2012 by

You know, I kinda hate it when this happens. I go to a new store and fall in love, vow to frequent it because it’s local and then I fail to return. Next thing I know, it’s closing.

That’s what happened to the big-box styled children’s store WONDER! in suburban Deerfield. Except instead of it closing a year or two after opening its doors, it was a mere three months.

I was invited to a pre-opening of WONDER! and was awed by every square inch of its 135,000 square feet. It had everything a parent could want and more. I blogged about how it was Babies R Us, but with Whole Foods class.

But something went wrong. According to media reports, lawsuits were filed against the company and its owner Shane Christensen alleging unpaid bills that were in the tens of thousands. Then came the announcement about its closing.

I got yesterday’s statement from the company that said it couldn’t keep its doors open “due to balance sheet considerations that impacted dwindling product availability, technology systems, and planned improvements.”

I have to admit I WONDERed how such a seemingly costly store would stay afloat in this economy, but I was rooting for them. I wasn’t the only one, the village of Deerfield extended tax breaks for the company and at the time, a trustee even called it “the biggest thing to happen to the village this year.”

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