Thursday, February 24, 2011

"WHY do you know that?"

Driving with Sara the other day and she says, "those cars are stupid looking".

"Huh?, what?", looking up from my iPhone and glancing around. Then I spot it. "Oh the Nissan Cube?"

"Yah, they are just dumb. They look stupid. Except maybe the back window. That part is kind of cool how it wraps around. They look like they should be in a cartoon."

"Oh, yeah like Roger Rabbit."

"Or like that guy that does Cranium and Cadoo, you know it would fit in there..."


"...but then it would have to be the colors that match those colors, that would be cool..."


"...if it was in those colors."

"Pink, and blue and yellow."

"But not blue like Ally's new car. It would have to be that same blue like he uses."

"Baseman. Like a grayer blue, bright but not too bright."


"What, what?"

"What do you keep saying?"


"You keep saying it, what are you saying?"



"That's his name."

"Who's name?"

"The guy that designed the packaging for Cranium. His name is Gary Baseman."

"WHY do you know that?"

"Because he's a famous illustrator"

"But how do you KNOW that? WHO knows that?"

"I said he was famous. He's done a lot of magazine covers too."

"But why would you know that? No one just knows those things."

"I do."

"You're weird."

Monday, February 21, 2011

You don't LOOK Mormon

I am Gay. I know, not much of a shocker there, huh? I mean I work really hard to look this gay. The hair, the clothes. Not just any 41 year old woman can pull off a Justin Bieber haircut.

I am Mormon. Ok that one may be a shocker. I mean I don't look Mormon. I think it's kind of amusing. When I say I am from Utah, the most usual response is "how did you stand it with all those Mormons?".

It seems funny to me that people automatically think the two are mutually exclusive. You are gay so you can't possibly be Mormon, let alone have friends and family who are, right? Um, no. Wrong. I am gay, my brother is Mormon (or LDS for those of you not cool enough to say Mormon), my nieces and nephews are Mormon and yes, believe it or not some of my best friends are Mormon. Wow. Who woulda' thunk it? Love and acceptance from people who are fundamentally opposed to my lifestyle? Yep. What can I say, I have awesome people around me who love me just because they know I am a great person. No really I am. I'm one of those people that opens doors for old people, says thank you always and until my wife broke me of the habit (after explaining to me "this isn't Utah") I would pull over and offer my help to anyone on the side of the road.

"But how can you be Mormon, isn't your church against gay people?". Well, ya. It does get a little sticky there. You see being Mormon to me stopped being about my standing in the church and more about just my belief system a long time ago.

When I first came out about 15 years ago or so I had a really hard time. I was attending church regularly and was planning on going through the temple. I really love my church. It was actually during a meeting with my bishop where he explained that in order for me to go through the temple I had to be completely and utterly honest — with myself and with God. After much soul searching and anguish I decided that if I was to be honest with myself then I had to admit that I was gay.

Believe me I didn't want to be. I spent years denying it. I squashed it down, I denied it to myself, my family and my friends as over and over again they would ask me, assure me they would be OK with it. I would say no every time. I was so far in denial. I just wanted to be married in the temple and pop out 3 or 4 kids and live a nice quiet life. If I had done that it would have been Hell. Because I would have denied who I am as a person. I would have lost myself and never found the true happiness that comes from loving someone completely — mind, body and soul.

So technically I can now be excommunicated for admitting I am gay. Not that I was hiding it, I just stopped going to church so it never came up, as far as I know I am still on church record. Doesn't matter to me. Doesn't mean I won't still tell people I'm Mormon. I still believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yes, I believe in Joseph Smith. I'm totally down with there being a prophet in modern times. I think it's cool. I think Teancum was the first Rambo. I think garments are awesome and I'm bummed I never get to wear them. I'm totally going to practice family home evening with my kids. So regardless of what people say or believe, in my heart I am Mormon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Don't let go of that balloon!

Spent last weekend in Santa Maria with my sisters and brother-in-law David (who is soooo full of awesome it's just an honor to be in his company). I did an engagement photo shoot with my cousin Stacey, who is gorgeous by the way, so it was almost too easy to make them look great.

We left early Saturday morning for the trip. I got up about 6:00. Knowing Sara the way I do I know better than to wake her that early, so I put my headphones on, played some Train while I woke up. I was feeling kind of weird, kinda tired, but excited to go on our trip.

Finally got Sara up and her grumpy butt out of the house by 9:00, which by the way, is a miracle. We decided to stop at my sister Audrey's house in Santa Barbara to meet her new boyfriend Mike. By the time we got there I was tired and feeling wierder.

"I shoulda got some coffee", I said to Sara.

"Told ya", she replied a little too smugly.

Whatever. We get inside and I meet Mike. He seems like a really nice guy. I was excited to see my sis. I always get excited to see my little sisters. I love them. What can I say?

After visiting for a while we take off to head up to my sister Bev's house in Santa Maria. As we are leaving Sara says to me, "Can I tell you something without you getting mad?"

"Probably not, so just don't tell me."

"Why can't you just take it in the manner I mean it, not as a put down?"

"Because I can't, so unless it's life threatening, don't tell me".

"Well I'm going to tell you anyways", she declares, "you keep interrupting people. You interrupted Audrey like 5 times, and Mike too. He probably thinks you're rude".

"I did?"


"Oh, I'm feeling kind of manic today", I grumbled, then proceeded to pout for at least 40 more miles. Cuz, yeah I don't like to be told when I do something wrong. I really don't take criticism well. And I do try really hard not to interrupt people when they are talking, but sometimes I just get carried away. Like that day.

So we finally make it to Bev's house and 5 minutes later Audrey walks in, she must drive REALLY fast because I know I was doing over 70 and left at least 15 minutes before her! We all decide to go hang out at a winery to do some wine tasting. My sisters like the wine, I like the pretty girls that go wine tasting and Sara likes hanging out with David and his complete and utter awesomeness. We hop in the car and head out. We are chatting away as we drive to the vineyard. We get out of the car and as we are walking in Sara grabs my hand and says to me, "babe what is wrong with you today?"

I'm like, "what?"

"You're all over the place, up, down, up. You're like a balloon that someone blew up and then let it go."

She was right. That was exactly how I was. I just couldn't even out. My moods were all over the place. I was waffling between manic and comatose. I was like the poster child for a bi-polar episode. But machine gun style. I was a living, breathing, walking roller coaster of moods. "The doctor changed my meds around, I think my body doesn't know what to do?"

We went in to the winery and I made my way outside to sit with David and and my dog-nephew Carson. The girls got their wine and we all sat and enjoyed the weather. I worked on staying calm and trying to get myself under control. I knew I had a photo shoot in a couple hours and I was worried that I was going to blow it. What if I was too scattered to do my job correctly? Lucky for me I had three amazing assistants (and David) who helped by holding light reflectors, suggesting poses, catching awkward looks or angles and generally just kept me grounded.Bev even scooped dog poo out of the way with a rock. That's going above and beyond! The photo shoot went off perfectly. The couple looked amazing and didn't think twice about following our suggestions or guidance.

Afterwords we went to dinner and had pizza and beer. I got a tiny bit tipsy, so I cut myself off quickly. I learned the hard way that psych meds and alcohol don't mix. We hung out, spent way too much time trying to figure out how to get the Wii to work so we could preview the pics I had shot that day, until I realized, duh, I shoot in RAW, we couldn't see them anyway. Oops. Then we watched some MMA action, me and David yelling at the TV like a couple nuts. But it was fun. It's always fun with my family.

Sunday I woke up and I knew that it was over. At least for now. I was stabilized. Completely and utterly wore out — bruised and swollen knees, aching legs and dog tired aside, at least for the time being I was just feeling normal. Well as close to normal as I ever get.

  This is my brother-in-law David. He is just full of the awesome.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Where the Hell is Iowa?

Texting with my cousin the other night and I tell her, "Move out here I need a cohort in crime."

She replied back that it was too expensive and she is really liking her new place in Georgia. She moved there recently from West Virginia and so far likes it a lot. Of course I had to agree with her. California is really an expensive place to live. The cost of living is ridiculous. I told her we would like to move someday after we have kids.

"Where to, Utah?", she asked.

"Probably", I replied. "Or wherever I get a job. Or decide to go. Maybe Oregon?"

"Too rainy", she declared.

"Oh yeah, West Virginia?"

"NOOOOOOO", she texted vehemently.

"Oh yah, my kids would have accents then huh?"

"That would be the least of your worries", she groused. Her recent life in West Virginia still fresh in her mind.

"How far away would I be from you?"

"8-10 hour drive"

"Oh, well I can fly to Georgia faster than that, so never mind. How about Iowa?" I asked innocently.

"Who the HELL moves to IOWA!??!!??", she hollered. (yes, I'm sure that's what it was. I know because I speak text fluently).

"Missy!", I replied indignantly and kinda proud that I knew someone who moved to Iowa.

"Wait, WHERE is Iowa?", she asked.

"Uh, somewhere in the middle? I hear it's pretty", I answer vaguely while I rack my brain trying to pull up a mental map and figure out where Iowa is.

I really just can't place it. Not surprised considering I flunked Geography in high school. Yes, Pat Kent flunked me. Big ole F. Thanks Pat. It's now officially YOUR fault I have no idea where Iowa is.

Ok, yes, I know, it really isn't Pat's fault. She did her best. I was a little hard to handle. Uh, hello, ADD girl right here. So I'm sure I deserved the flunking. The push-ups in front of class, standing on my tiptoes for two hours and getting locked in a closet with my desk, we may need to speak about Pat. Was that really necessary? What? It was? OK. Fine. You win.

Now fast forward to later that same evening when I am recounting this text with Sara and she's laughing at me and my cousin's antics. Then she looks all adorable and says, "babe, I don't know where it is either". Now we are cracking up. So we start trying to decide where it could be.

"Next to Minnesota?", she ponders.

"No, that's too high up. I think it's like farm country so that's like in the middle. But not totally cuz then it would be like, Kansas. It's not Kansas. It's Iowa."

"Oh, well isn't it above Utah?"

"No, dork that's IDAHO"

"Oh, next to Idaho?"

"I'm pretty sure that is Wyoming and Montana. One's on top of the other", confused about which is which. I did mention my mad skills in geography, right?

Finally, we gave up. Too lazy to open the laptop and look we decided to just ask Missy where the hell Iowa is, anyway.

Then today I was telling Loretta at work about it and she said, "where is Iowa?" and it hit me. NO ONE KNOWS WHERE IOWA IS!

Like seriously. It's a secret, hidden state that you've only heard of but never seen. Like a leprechaun or unicorn.

The mysterious and magical Iowa enchants and beckons you, while somehow staying mystical and hidden. It may in fact be an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. It could!

There may be an Iowanian version of Sherri sitting there right now living an idyllic Iowa life: watching the sun go down over a perfect Iowa landscape as her kids play in the front yard, Sara making lemonade and chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. Iowa Sherri strums her guitar, perfectly and completely in tune I must add, the whole time smiling in the knowledge that her secret is safe. After all, no one knows where Iowa is.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Adoption sucks my will to live

Pretty sure I brought this up before, but just in case you aren't following along: we are in the process of adopting kids from the California foster system. It's called Fost/Adopt. We are using a private adoption agency instead of going directly through the county. We chose this route specifically because that means we get to choose kids from all of California, not just those in Riverside county where we live. It's taken us a year to get to this point which is where our homestudy is done and we are now waiting to be matched with kids.

The waiting is the hardest thing. Well almost as hard as when you find a kid you are interested in and you start to get excited thinking, these might be the ones. You tell yourself not to get your hopes up, but you do anyway, you just can't help it. Then you find out they were matched with another family. Yours just wasn't good enough. So you start wondering why? Why are we not good enough? Is it because the Social Workers think I'm not going to be a good enough mother? 'cause I think I am. I think I'm gonna be an excellent mother. I love kids. I mean seriously LOVE them. I would rather chill with kids and watch cartoons than hang with adults and make adult conversation most times. Kids are simpler, and they love me. No joke. Sara gets frustrated, "kids LOVE Sherri and I'm the one that does crafts with them and plays games. It's just because she's like a giant cartoon character". Well, she kind of has a point there. But seriously kids love me. And cats. Which is creepy because I hate cats and they will seek me out and rub all over me. Cats are creepy. Most kids aren't. Unless they are eating boogers. That creeps me out. I always tell them to put it back. That usually confuses them. No, I'm serious, put it BACK!

Ok, so wanna know my secret to making kids like me without even trying? I listen to them. That's it. I listen. Kids always have something to say. They want to be heard. So I try to get down on their level and just let them talk to me. And I look them straight in the eye and listen. Seems so simple. But if you watch other adults around kids they usually are so busy with their own lives they barely hear the constant chatter coming from the kids so I listen. When Jordyn tells me about what she did in school, I listen attentively and ask questions, Jerzi explains the wrong that was committed against her by her cousin Gavin I listen and sympathize. Mr.Jett explains his boo boo and it upsets him deeply, so I get a Sponge Bob band-aid and tuck him up next to me on the couch and we snuggle and watch Bob and Patrick do crazy underwater things in that pineapple under the sea.

Olivia likes to drape herself across my lap like i'm her personal lazy boy recliner, long legs dangling back and forth she looks earnestly in my eyes and tells me all about how they are working on the bar exercises in gymnastics and it's hard. Emily comes up and tries to tell me a very complicated story, involving lots of pausing and thinking as she get's her thoughts in order and perhaps chages directions a couple times, but she gets it out and I listen all the way through, then repeat back what she said and with a firm nod of her head and a little jutting out of her hip, she smiles triumphantly and runs off. Macks takes my hand and looks up at me with the most endearing big brown eyes ever and asks me a question. I answer earnestly and she smiles, holds my hand for a few more minutes than runs off to join her sisters in chaos, umm I mean fun. Marissa is my shining light, she's a little beacon of smiles. She smiles at me. She never stops smiling at me. Just sits and smiles at me and calls me Sara. Which I don't mind. I think it's cute. She has my favorite smile. She can call me anything she wants.

Mags is serious, very, very serious and oh my God she reminds me of myself at that age. Intelligent and needing challenge, unfocused at times, other times with laser focus. She talks to me very seriously. We talk about books and reading. She tells me about some books she has read and I ask her if she has read this one or that one. She explains the plot and the characters in details. She talks to me about her gymnastics and shows me her report card. She craves acknowledgment as she looks for me through the window after every fall from the bar and I smile at her encouragingly and give her thumbs up. She tells me later, "I kept falling off". I told her "so, you got right back up and tried again, that was awesome!" Then there is little Kai. Who could not love this little boy and his adorable laugh when his Nana grabs him and tickles him. He chuckles from his soul and lights up the room.

Tessa isn't sure what to think about me, our relationship is very new. But she's coming around, Caleb tells me he loves me in sign language because he just can't say the words yet, but I tell him I love him too and shower him with kisses while he squirms in his Missy's arms. I'm lucky to have had such great kids in my life. I miss them severely when I can't see them, which is just another heartbreak I get to endure. I wonder if I will ever get to have my own kids to love, every day. My own that can't be taken away from me. I want forever kids. Not just ones on loan that get taken back after you have fallen completely and utterly in love with them. That's why we didn't do foster care. Couldn't stand the idea of losing the kids after getting attached to them. Totally get that. It sucks. But so does this adoption thing. The waiting and the unknowing suck. If we make it through and get our family I may feel differently, but right now. I'm not a fan of the system. 28,000 children in the foster care system in LA county alone. 700 of which are up for adoption. And here we wait. Yeah, it sucks.

Just me and my Psychiatrist

"So how have you been?", she asked.
"Any issues?"
"Any lows?
"No more than normal. A few, but manageable"
"Right now"
"Any thoughts of hurting yourself?"
"Nope, not recently"
"How about highs?"
"Yeah a few"
"What were those like?"
"ummm, just, you know, UP, but nothing like manic, or illegal", I shrugged my shoulders and laughed.
"Well, that's good", she smiled.

And that is how a session with my Doctor generally goes now. Then she asked what I've been up to, I told her I was training for a 5k and I may not survive it. We discussed the reasons, and I told her I decided to get my body and my mind in shape finally. She smiled and seemed genuinely happy with my answers. She asked for my advice on how I ate, what did I avoid. She's really nice. My last doctor never looked up from the prescription pad, just asked a few questions about side effects and answered a lengthy call. Then handed me my prescriptions for a 3 month supply and I was out the door.

I always found it kind of ironic that a Doctor will diagnose you with PTSD, Bi-polar presenting (which is a oblique way of saying your Bi-polar but your lows are so low that your baseline would be a normal person's low and your high's would be a normal person's baseline, I can't even get Bi-polar right apparently), severe clinical depression, then send you out the door with enough drugs to commit a very effective and painless suicide. Interesting. Not that I've thought about it. Much. Just saying. Some things are dumb.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


My cousin Jennifer is on a weight loss journey. I have become her sensei in this journey. She texts me what she is planning to eat and I approve or deny it. I offer suggestions. I chastise her when she chooses french fries over a side salad. I encourage her when she doesn't. I try to walk a fine line between encouraging and hard-ass. I think I channel Jillian Michaels a bit too much.

She is really struggling with the food thing.

She said to me "I'm starving".

I told her "no, you're not".

"1200 calories isn't enough food", she complained.

"It's plenty of food", I responded, getting a little frustrated. "If you make the right choices".

Later that night I was talking to Sara about it, telling her how hard it was for my cousin. "Was it that hard for me?, I asked. "I don't remember it being that hard".

"Well of course not, babe, you don't care about food"

"I don't?"

"No, if you didn't have to eat, you wouldn't", she responded. "It would be cereal for dinner every night".

That's true. Food is fuel. It's something I put in my body to make it stop being hungry. Don't get me wrong, I do like to go out every so often and have a nice meal. And by nice meal I don't mean a fancy shmancy expensive meal, I'm wayyyy to cheap for that.

I love Bonzai burritos from Wahoo's. I enjoy the Turkey Burger at BJ's. I like pizza and beer with my sisters. But yeah, if it's just a once a month or once every couple of months thing, I'm fine with that. I like to go out just for the social interaction. The food is secondary. I just don't care that much.

Eating is a comfort thing. When I am depressed I want to eat comfort food. Which for me is anything my grandma used to make. It reminds me of her and makes me happy that she taught me to cook. I only make grandma's meatloaf. If you don't like ketchup on your meatloaf, too bad. That's the way grandma made it and that's the way I make it. I do use turkey burger now, and I'm likely to add veggies to it, to make it more filling and less fattening. I also bought (I mean Santa brought me) a special meatloaf pan where the grease drains out the bottom. Eating can still be a comfort and healthy at the same time.

Like pasta? Healthy it up, use turkey burger or no meat at all, add veggies to the sauce, I use spinach, mushrooms and zucchini in mine, that way you get filled up on the veggies and tend to eat less of the pasta. Try the low carb pastas. If you can stand them. I can't. So I eat regular pasta, just not a lot of it.

I have a rule. It's number one on the list. It's Jennifer's do or die by the hand of Sherri rule. NEVER, EVER let fried food past your lips. EVER. This doesn't mean you will never eat a french fry again. Just not right now. Not while you are on this weight loss journey. You want it to work? Put down the fried food and run away!

Rule number two: If it's fat, it will turn to fat. So put down the mayo, the ranch dressing. Say no to butter and thick sauces more than likely made with butter. I have a thing with cheese. I don't eat it. Why? Think of it on nachos. When it's all melty and gooey and GREASY. What do you think that grease is doing? Going straight to your ass, taking up residence in your thighs and mocking you with it's gooeyness. Screw you cheese, I don't need you. And if I do eat it, I'll take a string cheese in my lunch. It's made from skim milk, it's fun to peel it and gives you something to do to trick your mind into thinking you are eating a lot.

Rule three: Sugar is bad. Bad, bad, bad. I avoid refined sugars, like the kind found in donuts and cookies and pie, and, and, and, yeah all that good stuff. Natural sugars can be bad too and are found in really good things. But come on, you just can't avoid ALL of it. I tried. I truly did. But dammit if I don't get at least one glass of milk a day people will die! 

Rule four: Carbs are evil. Plain old evil. Like straight out of the devil's ass bad. They suck. But they taste so freaking good. Keep them to a minimum. That's all I can say because I just can't NOT eat carbs. I eat pita with hummus almost daily. I use sandwich thins for my veggie burgers. I try not to eat toast. Try. I love me some carbs. But I don't sit down and demolish a whole loaf of french bread with butter the way I used to. So, see progress?

I could go on and on and on. I'm kind of obsessive about what I do and don't eat. I've loosened up a little lately, but that doesn't mean Jennifer can. Oh no, she better put that candy bar down. I'm watching you Jen!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Culture of Foster Care Shared Through Art

Explore and Share the Culture of Foster Care through the Community Art Project by the Foster Care Alumni of America

People in and from the foster care system are sharing their observations, insights and lessons on postcards. Amazing and powerful, check it out here: