Before God takes you to the next level, he needs to separate you! Do you ever wonder why you “don’t fit in” or “why you were put in a situation you never ask for”? God is calling you to do something great. I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but he needs you to be focused on him and not the noise around you. He needs you to rely solely on him. He needs you to hear his voice and not the voice of everyone around you. God separates us for three reasons! (Isaiah 41:10) He wants to give us the tools for our destiny. 1. You’re not alone, you’ve been separated! 2. He wants you to clearly know his voice. (Proverbs 3:5-6) He wants to put us in a season where he can teach us now to know his voice and hear it. 3. To mold us in his image. When you make wine, you first need to crush the grapes. You crush those grapes and press them, but by doing so you are changing them into something totally different than what they started out as. God does that to us. He will press us and send us into intense situations to mold us into his image. Paul tells in Romans 5:1-5 that, “we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance. Perserverance builds character, and character builds hope. , character; and character, hope.”
Some of us have lost touch with the Fruit’s of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23 there is a list of 9 Fruit’s of the Holy Spirit that each of us were given:
When I was sent to prison, I learned that I needed to work on a few of these on the list. Other items on the list, I was able to show other’s and what it looked like to be kind, gentle and have joy and love in their lives. I had a roommate once tell me that she was jealous because I had so many people that truly loved and cared about me. She didn’t know what that felt like. It made me so sad because that is the same sentiment that many people in prison have. They are so far detached from their family, friends and loved ones that people have stopped caring all together once they end up in a place like that. People would ask me why I was always so happy. I heard the expression before that “sometimes people don’t like you because your gifts and calling agitate their demons.” I can say I believe that to be 100% true. People will purposely try to tick you off or rain on your parade to see you miserable. Rebuke that noise in Jesus name and send it back where it came from! You have every right to be happy and at peace. As God starts to elevate you, you will start to see these fruits grow inside of you. You’re going to want to spend more time with him, you’re going to want to please him. You are going to start to see your interests change. There are going to be friends that you’ve had for years that are no longer going to be able to be in this new season of your life. There is a song by Hillsong that explains about the grapes to wine and how God will press us into something better. Are you willing to allow God to use you and make new wine out of you?
Words and Music by Brooke Ligertwood
VERSE 1: In the crushing In the pressing You are making new wine In the soil I now surrender You are breaking new ground
PRE-CHORUS: So I yield to You and to Your careful hand When I trust You I don’t need to understand
CHORUS: Make me Your vessel Make me an offering Make me whatever You want me to be I came here with nothing But all You have given me Jesus bring new wine out of me
VERSE 2: In the crushing In the pressing You are making new wine In the soil I now surrender You are breaking new ground
VERSE TAG: You are breaking new ground
BRIDGE: Where there is new wine There is new power There is new freedom The Kingdom is here I lay down my old flames To carry Your new fire today
I don’t like this date and I wish it never happened. Unfortunately, none of us were given the power to go back in time and change things. We can only move forward as best as we can and hope not only us, but others learn from our mistakes. They never said goodbye. Every time they ever left our house, they would tell us goodbye. Today, they didn’t do that. They left and never said a word. Never told us they were leaving, Nothing. It was a little after 6:00 pm when our youngest son told us they left. SH’s dad called and told him he had to get home to do chores and feed their dog. He wanted to know what was taking them so long, and SH told him that they needed to help get NA home because he drank too much. Drank without asking permission, drank by stealing something that wasn’t his. They all trespassed after leaving several times and not having permission to return. They left NA’s parents’ house after his mom, dad and sister were with them. DG drove them back to our house to get their cars. He let them leave to drive home. CH was with them and let them leave to go home. We saw them. All of us from 4:00 pm until a little after 6pm saw them and no one was drinking during that time frame. Remember SH, CH and our youngest son without our permission was at a convenience store. The clerk there and anyone else who might have seen them didn’t report them being intoxicated. My guess is that they did go there though to throw away trash they had at our house because there were no signs of anything when we or NA’s dad were there earlier. From the point that they left our house, we were told that they reached out to NM’s parents to see if he could go to SH’s house for dinner that night. After several requests my lawyer did NOT request phone records from NM’s phone or his parent’s phones. We were told NM called, but we have some family members or told us that they actually stopped at the house that day to ask permission. The stepdad was asked this question during the premilitary hearing and the mom was seen mouthing, “say no” as he testified on the stand. I asked to get copies of the video recording in the court room that day, but that was ignored too. My requests were ignored and thought irrelevant, I guess. Two people saw her mouth these words. So did they stop at their house and by doing so then would have shifted the blame off us and onto them. Hmmm. My phone rang at about 7:30pm. It was SH’s mom. I couldn’t understand her, she was crying. She asked me who was in SH’s car when they left our house. I told her I only knew of NM. She thought my older son was with them as well as NA because their book bags were thrown on the street and found. I kept asking her what happened. She said there was an accident. No one would tell me anything. Some lady got on the phone, and I gave her NM’s parents information to call them. Why wasn’t anyone telling me what happened? I went online to where you can look up 911 calls. There it was. A single vehicle accident on the road 1 minute from where SH lives. My knees buckled, county 50 had been called. County 50 is the coroner’s office. Please God, tell me that this is wrong. Later, NM’s mom called to tell me what happened. My poor baby boy was there. I don’t think he was every really the same after this day. How do you spend a whole day with people that are now no longer here? Just like that? How do you explain that to a 10-year-old? How am I going to call my older son and tell him? He’s at camp hours away. I was asked to go pick her daughter at work. I called DG’s mom and told her what happened so she could tell DG. I asked if she would go with me to get LM, NM’s sister from work. Do you know how difficult it is to drive 30 minutes in a car with a girl asking questions that you had answers to but couldn’t tell her? That was her parent’s place to tell her. We pulled in the driveway, and she ran inside. We all stood outside and waiting. Me, my husband, my youngest son, DG and his mom. I can’t get the scream out of my head. I wanted to puke, I wanted to run upstairs and grab her and hug her. Why did this happen? How? They weren’t drinking. They weren’t drunk. We stayed the rest of the night until very late. Other relatives were already there. We would spend the next several days with the families. All of us just wanted to be together and to try to make sense of this. How do you wreck a car on a road that you have lived off of your entire life? How do you wreck a car on a road one minute from your house? How do you drive almost 40 minutes from our house to this location and wreck? If you were drinking, they could’ve wrecked the car way before this. During one of many visits to SH’s house, the dad told me that apparently, they stopped at a convenience store down close to where they live. A friend of theirs saw SH and talked to him there. This never was investigated so again, no evidence now for us. No one wanted to question the parents or people associated with them. It was wrong to question them and make them look like they were at fault. Apparently, juries don’t like that. I was told anyway. Apparently, a red truck was seen speeding away from the scene. I can bring this up later in another post. It was brought up in court that they were text and snap chatting during the time of the accident. The 911 call went in at 7:11pm. They were text and snap chatting to a girl right up to the time of the accident. She wanted to testify. It was argued on side bar for almost an hour. Anything that pointed away from us, from me was argued. The judge would agree on the DA’s side. This was an unfortunate accident, but according to the DA someone had to pay. That someone became me.
Sorry, that I haven’t posted as often as I should be. This next piece is very difficult for me, so I need to make sure that the words that I write, express the right things. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I’ve been with all of the support that I’ve received from my blog. I’ve known who has supported me through this entire ordeal, but to see people I don’t know has been uplifting. As I continue to post and provide the story in my own words to you, the reader I need you to know something. I’m worried and afraid. From the time that all of this came out after the arrest, the victim’s families have been relentless. They have contacted the DA, probation, now parole, and anyone they can to spew lies to hoping for someone to believe them. Unfortunately for someone like me, victims have a lot of sway due to law in Pennsylvania giving them a “Bill of Rights”. (https://www.pccd.pa.gov/Victim-Services/Documents/Bill%20of%20Rights.pdf#:~:text=Passed%20by%20the%20Pennsylvania%20Legislature%20in%201976%2Cthe%20Pennsylvania,of%20crime%20support%20a%20program%20to%20benefittheir%20victims.) I completely get it, and if I was on that side of the fence, I would want protection and rights too. The problem occurs when some take advantage of it for their own gain. So much so that my attorney at the time had to send a letter to the DA’s office asking for the one mother to be investigated for infringing on my due process by not allowing witnesses to talk be questioned. Also, by threatening them in various ways if they did. I have the letter my attorney sent; however, nothing was ever done about it. She went on to then purchase roundtrip airfare for DG’s sister to fly home. When he was questioned about it in court, he got irate with my lawyer stating, “it was none of his damn business”. Until the Judge told him he had to respond, to which he said, “yes”. The two mother’s purchased lavish gifts for some, including engraved watches and paid for graduation parties for at least two of them. That was laughed off by the DA/Judge because they didn’t’ get to do this with their own children. No! That’s not ok, they were witnesses in a criminal investigation. NO ONE should have been able to have access to witnesses let alone buy them off. (This was all recorded in court by the court stenographer). They were all hanging out, exchanging stories I’m sure, and attending gatherings together. When I was originally arraigned. I was told to not have ANY contact with the victim’s, their families, directly or indirectly. The only information the lawyer was given at the time was a paper with initials on it. No names. So, some of the people I had no idea who they actually were. (The DA will claim that I did and basically make it seem like i was playing dumb). I honestly didn’t know who some of them were, even after receiving actual names. Remember CS, how I told you the guys stopped hanging around him because he was smoking weed? Well, I was friends well most all of these people on Facebook. Most either by this point blocked me or I blocked them. However, since there were some, I wasn’t sure if I did miss one or two. One of the boy’s parents posted a picture on Facebook and I commented on it. I then started chatting with her on messenger. I don’t recall the exact conversation, but it eventually ended with me asking if they’d be willing to talk to my lawyer. I was wrong about this person 1000% and the entire thing was bait. Dummy me took it. Next thing I know we were back in court to have to now report to pretrial probation. Unfortunately for my husband, he did too even though he did nothing wrong. I was the one that conversed with her. The argument however was that we had no idea WHO the victims were because we never received a list from the DA’s office. They didn’t care. So, when we reported to the probation office, they asked what happened. She asked me who the victims were so they could update their system. I explained to them that we didn’t know. She asked if we had the list, they gave us. We said, that’s the problem. We never received it. She looked online and through the paperwork. She said, you are correct. There is NOT a list anywhere. She said how where you supposed to know who not to talk to? EXACTLY!!! Nevertheless, we both stayed on pre-trial probation until the actual trial/sentencing. This then opened the door for the one mother to find anything possible to snag me on, hoping I’d end up in jail pre-trial. I closed down my social media pages so there would be no issues there. I provided proof of doing so to my probation officer. I’m sitting at work one day and get a call from my PO that I need to come in asap. There’s a problem. She knew it was BS. I still had to leave work and go in to address the problem though. Someone from my lawyer’s office met me there. Apparently, in messenger there was an email chain that included this one mom. At one time, I was part of this chain as well since back then were all friends. Another person used this old message chain and somehow tagged this mom with it. Well, she said I was contacting her. You could clearly see the message didn’t come from me. We have no idea how or why it occurred, but it was resolved that IT WAS NOT ME. That evidently ticked her off, because then not long after I get called again. This time by my PO’s supervisor. I have to come in for an administrative hearing. This was in front of the Judge. Someone went to great lengths to actually set up another Facebook account with my name. The problem was that it wasn’t spelled correctly, there was no photos and no friends attached to it. My Facebook was still showing as turned off. I had several people go in and try to look to see if I was showing up on their friends lists etc. I wasn’t. They had no proof where this new page came from. Again, my PO knew that it was garbage because heck someone with my same name in another state could have started setting up a page. I would have gotten no benefit from opening another page. You can’t see much if people have their privacy set to certain things. My lawyer and PO even said that I could have had better luck just using someone else’s page to go on and be nosey. The Judge ignored it. What we did find out though is that the other victim’s family has a relative that works in the probation office. I immediately brought that to my PO’s attention and my lawyers. Technically in my opinion my probation then should have been transferred to somewhere else to be handled. No one cared. When I was finally sentenced and sent to jail to start my prison sentence, they no longer had access to me. They weren’t satisfied with the fact that I was already behind bars. Instead, they decided to now go after my oldest son. It started by stating that he showed up at some address where her son was at this particular day. She said that my son pulled up and got out of the car and threatened her son that if his mom didn’t back off that he would hurt or kill him. (I can’t recall which, but she claimed he threatened to harm her son). She filed a protection order against my son to stay away from the entire family, not be within so many feet, etc. Of course, she then made sure that it was published in the paper by her news reporter friend at the time. My husband and son showed up to court and was told to basically accept it and move on. She had no proof he said this, no witnesses, no proof her son was at this house or that my son showed up at this house. We had proof that in fact it was impossible for my son to be there because he was with my husband and my in-law’s eating crabs. Prior to that he was working. After receiving his PFA, a few weeks or so later he went to a high school football game. Next thing he knew, he received a call from the High School resource officer that she was claiming he followed her son around the stadium, stalking him, harassing him, etc. She was trying to get him arrested for violating the PFA. The resource officer called us because he wanted us to know that he already contacted the DA’s office. Why? he went in and pulled the video footage for the entire evening. He said that our son arrived at the stadium, walked over to the bleachers, sat down, talked to some friends and left. Her son was nowhere in sight! She would never be held accountable for filing false reports. They didn’t care. Just take the lumps and move on. The paper wouldn’t rescind the story because, “people don’t want to know the truth.” Remember, I told you that before? Well, here it is. They eventually stopped bothering us. The PFA ended when her kids graduated school. My best friend, who WAS her sister made sure that the Judge, DA and anyone who listens knows that this lady is NO LONGER her sister. She wanted to be sure that her and her family weren’t somehow included in that PFA. My best friend has stood by us even to this day. She even made sure to call my current parole officer to let him know who she was and filled him in on some of the details she felt they needed to know. Every day, I would pray for everyone involved in this entire situation. Why? When you let stuff like this fester in you, and you don’t forgive people, you are the one that suffers. You forgive for yourself, so that you can have peace. Otherwise, not forgiving is like getting up and drinking poison hoping that someone else gets sick from it.
Mother’s Day long passed, and we were getting excited as a family to go away. We decided to take the boys on a cruise to the Bahamas. I was also excited, because one of the stops was in Cape Canaveral, FL which meant that while others would be rushing off the boat to shop, I was going to see my friend Chris. Her and I have known each other before my husband, and I were a couple. We lost touch for a while, but then when I was working on the other side of Lancaster County, I ended up finding out that she was living close by. We met up for lunch and haven’t lost touch since. Our Cruise was going to be out of Baltimore for 7 days, June 7-14th. School was going to be out; we took off work. Everything was planned. We had another friend taking us to the airport and had arranged to make sure the dogs were taken care of. While we were on this trip, one of the many conversations we had with our older son was the fact that when we got back things were going to be changing regarding his friends coming over. Again, if you remember we went from the occasional sleepover and stop in, to them stopping by whenever they wanted. I would come out of my bedroom and there would be a kid lurking around with my son. I just didn’t like not knowing that someone was in my house without me knowing about it. I mean, what if I was half dressed? I didn’t make a habit of that, since we had sons, but you understand what I mean. We explained to him that, “this has got to stop”. Enough was enough. We felt taken advantage of and couldn’t figure out why they were clamoring to come over so often. I also, didn’t care for the fact that NM’s mom wanted to blow up my phone looking for her son that she couldn’t find. I had asked my son several times about this, because something just wasn’t sitting right with me. I had this feeling in my gut that something wasn’t right, but Stephen just said I was being overly dramatic. What I later found out was that this poor boy was afraid to go home. He was bouncing between our home and his aunt’s home, so he didn’t have to face his step father. From what I was told by family members, firsthand was that a few nights before this incident that I’ll get to later happened, his stepfather beat him with a 2×4. I don’t see anything wrong with spanking a child on the rear end but beating a kid with a 2×4 isn’t punishment. NM confided in my son and told him this. He tried to bring it up when he was on the stand but of course the DA shut it down immediately. No one wanted to paint the parents in any sort of bad light in front of the jury. Unfortunately, had we all known that this was one of many reasons that he didn’t want to go home and liked staying where he was loved, could laugh and feel safe, well There was even a time after we were arrested that two of NM’s sisters were not speaking to their mother. They went in front of the original judge and told him that they were not associated with her and were going to be testifying on our behalf. Some of the evidence that we received came from both of them during that time. The evidence that they provided to us, I will disclose later. Right before we went on this beautiful vacation, our oldest son fell in love. It just so happened that this girl’s father and SH’s father were cousins. NM’s aunt and I are best friends. This is a fact that no one ever knew and would barely come out. He spent a lot of our cruise trying to Facebook message or Facebook call her. We seemed to become instant friends with her parents and remain friends with them to this day. If I did something so terrible, would the family members like the cousin, great aunt/uncle of one boy and the aunt/uncle/cousin and numerous other relatives want to even talk to me? From the day that this all happened, instead all of them rallied around us and tore the case apart. Uncovering the lies, defending us when we didn’t even know about it. There was a time when I recall being at this girl’s graduation party. (My son’s new girlfriend). One of her dad’s aunts came up to him and apologized to him. She said, and I overheard it, so I know I wasn’t hearing incorrectly, she said, “I have found out a lot more about this case that I knew before and I’m sorry for the way I acted. I wish I would have known all of this before it was too late.” I don’t know who told her, how she found out, but someone set her record straight. This has happened continuously for us. I just wish that everyone that could see between the lies and crack were one of the twelve on the jury.
I thought this was an appropriate post for the beginning of the new year. Over the holiday, I heard this from someone one else. I can’t claim it as my own. A teacher walked into her classroom and passed out a paper to each of her students. On the paper was a small black dot. The rest of the paper was blank. She said, this is a quiz. I’d like each of you to write about what you see. After the quiz was over, she read the papers and what each student had written. She addressed the class. She said, “I gave each of you the same task. All of you wrote about the black dot on the page, but no one wrote about the white paper. We do this in life. We tend to focus on the blemish only and not the good that comes from it or all of the positive things that our life has provided. We only focus on what went wrong.” This struck me to want to tell you the good things. The things that no one seemed to want to talk about. I did share a great deal of the good things that happened to me while I was incarcerated. Aside from that, my life has always been pretty good because I have a great family, wonderful husband, I was blessed with beautiful sons and friends that love and believe in me. One of the things that would occur when these boys would stay over, was in the mornings we would make breakfast. I remember this one day in particular with NM woke up and asked if he could cook everyone toads in the hole. I think everyone calls them something different, but it’s basically toast with a hole in the middle of it and an egg cracked in the hole. You cook it until the eggs cooked and then serve them. This gave him so much joy to be able to cook for everyone and show off his cooking skills. DG never seemed to have a girlfriend. One time, he showed up at the house with a blow-up doll. I was embarrassed for him. I didn’t think it was appropriate to bring this, but then it was funny. It was DG. Always the jokester and trying to make everyone laugh. One of the things that SH would do every single time he left was he would stop and say to my husband and I, “thanks for having me over”. This phrase still lingers with me to this day. One of the other things that the DA wanted to try to make an issue out of, was the fact that they all called me “Momma Jods”. I didn’t ask them to, but I suppose it was better than the alternative that NM called his mom which was “The Warden”. When I went to jail/prison anyone younger than me automatically called me Mom, Mommy (which seemed to be a Spanish thing), Momma T, etc. So, this was obviously more a sign of respect rather than calling me Mrs. X. I wasn’t any different to those there than I was with these young gentlemen. I wasn’t serving them alcohol either obviously. One example that occurred while I was at Cambridge was my roommate came in and said that a young girl was looking for me that she had a question. My roommate was shocked because she said, “am I finding out something new about you?” I said, “I’m not sure, it depends on what she wants.” I went out and here she wanted to know who the artist was that sang a particular song. Apparently, It got out that I had a wide genre of music on my tablet. Also, that I was pretty good at naming the title of the song and the artist. I’m sorry if that shocked anyone, but I got this honestly from my parents. They both have/had a love of music. My dad used to get frustrated with me because I knew the words to songs more than my math homework. It was silly things like this though that helped me develop a rapport with other inmates and not get my ass kicked. I believe that these young men also respected me because I respected them and treated them respectfully and didn’t treat them like children. If this is the black dot on my white paper. I’m sorry.
Mother’s Day weekend in 2015, my husband decided to go away to the beach with his sister and mom. I stayed home so they could enjoy their time together and bond. I decided that I wanted to try to surprise him and have some things outside taken care of before he got home on Sunday. I offered to pay my son and a few of his friends to help. One of these tasks was laying stones around our pool outside. Later these boys would testify that I never paid them, which I did, and the work wasn’t even completed 100%. From this incident, I learned to not pay until the job is completed. (Or at least only pay for the portion of work that was done). I had someplace that I needed to be later that day, my son and his friend NA were leaving to go to a minor league baseball game and the other boys of course wanted to get home to be with their mom’s. I ran to store to pick up some fried chicken and some “drinks”. I say “drinks” because this was twisted around to be beer, wine coolers, etc. No, this was my way of saying “something to drink”. I wasn’t able to say or show anything that NM or SH said or texted, but yet the DA allowed CH to testify that one this date that NM come downstairs and woke him up to tell him that I bought chicken and beer for everyone to drink. He claimed that when he came upstairs there was chicken and, in the garage, there was a fridge with beer in it. There may have been beer in that fridge, but I can assure that that I didn’t buy it for them or give it to them. The DA actually painted this picture for the jury that DG was riding around on my husband’s tractor with a beer in his hand mowing my grass. DG was in fact riding on the tractor. He had a radio flyer wagon hooked to it and was pulling around my younger son. They were also using the wagon to load items they were using for things they were completing for the yard. I mean let’s think about this, it’s Mother’s Day. Do you think that I was going to get kids drunk or even tipsy, then send them home to their moms? I knew I had to leave. I knew my son and his friend were going to a baseball game with his parents. I knew these other boys were going to be driving home. There were no photos of any of this happening. Other than the one that the DA was putting into everyone’s mind, all because a bunch of kids “said so”. Later that day, I did in fact go to my parent’s house because this was the day that my sister and brother-in-law announced they were pregnant with my nephew. The DA wanted to make it sound like this was an all-day affair that I was hosting. This really irritated my mother because she knew that I wasn’t around for the entire day. The bottom line in all of this mess is that we should not have been allowing these kids to be over as much as they were. The parents are the time didn’t seem to take any issue with it, the one parent asked if I was going to be adding their son as a dependent to our tax return. It was often, but it wasn’t excessive by any means. I just wish that it could have been property portrayed that they were at times coming to our home and then leaving to go to this other friend’s house that lived across in the other development. I knew that my son was there, but again I don’t know if these other boys told their parents that they were going there. I can understand that if they said they were going to our house, then as their parents I would expect them to be where they said they were going to be. I recall when my son first met NM and started hanging out with him. This boy’s mother would call my phone constantly. A few times, I would be out grocery shopping and she was asking why her son wasn’t answering the phone. She’d ask me if her son was at my house. It seemed clear to me that she had no clue where her son was, and he didn’t want to be found. I finally asked my son, “what is this kid’s deal?” I started to get the impression that something was going on with this kid that his mother was calling all the time asking about him, checking in on him, etc. I was getting frustrated because again, these were 16-17-year-old. I felt that if I needed to run to the store to get something, can’t kids this age be left alone? According to the DA, I was their babysitter, and their care was entrusted to me. I wasn’t aware that I was considered a babysitter or a caretaker, but hopefully all of you who are entrusted with the “care of someone else” take this into consideration so you aren’t found negligent down the line. I want to go over some definitions and explanations with all of you so you can keep this in context as we move forward in the story. I think that technically we can all agree that the legal definition of a child is anyone under the age of 18. So, when does a “child”, know right from wrong? I think again we can pretty much come to an average agreed conscience, but I decided to look. According to this NEWSWEEK article (https://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/ETHICS_TEXT/Chapter_2_Moral%20Development/Learning-Right-From-Wrong.htm#:~:text=To%20the%20legal%20system%2C%20the%20answer%20is%20clear%3A,so%20can%20be%20held%20responsible%20for%20their%20actions.): To the legal system, the answer is clear: children have the requisite moral sense–the ability to tell right from wrong–by age 7 to 15, depending on which state they live in, and so can be held responsible for their actions. If a minor commits a crime, they will not hesitate to “charge them as an adult” and say “he/she knew what he was doing”. In my case, they kept referring to these teens as minors (which they were), and how I corrupted them. How they got the impression that what they were doing was ok because of the time that I allowed it prior. They wanted to portray them as these young, helpless kids that didn’t know right from wrong. That I led them down this primrose path of destruction. You can’t have it both ways Mr. States Attorney’s everywhere! You can’t say that someone can be charged as an adult because it suits you to want to get a stronger penalty. You can’t say “they knew what they were doing and acted recklessly”, therefore we are charging them as an adult. Then you want to come back and when it suits you differently (ie: my case) and say that these was children, they were young and impressionable. They didn’t know, they weren’t adults. Where is the standard? Here is another fun fact, I bet many of you didn’t know. At least in the state of Pa, if a minor is 14 or older did you know that as their parent or guardian that you have NO say over their mental health? None, nada. When a minor needs to see a mental health specialist or have anything do to with mental health in general, if they are 14 or older as a parent you can’t sign for them, call for them, do anything on their behalf without their consent. (This was enacted in 2020 called Act 65 which replaced Act 147-https://www.paparentandfamilyalliance.org/mental-health faq#:~:text=In%20September%202020%2C%20PA%27s%20mental%20health%20consent%20law%2C,not%20be%20overridden%20by%20their%20parent%2Flegal%20guardian%27s%20refusal.) So again, if a “child” can make their own mental health decisions-aren’t we treating them in a way that shows that they have some sense of right and wrong? That they are mature enough to make certain decisions? Aren’t we also giving them keys and a license to drive a car? To get behind the wheel and make life changing decisions every day?
Pennsylvania definition of corruption of minors explained:
§ 6301. Corruption of minors.
(a) Offense defined.–
(1) (i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii), whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any act corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of any crime, or who knowingly assists or encourages such minor in violating his or her parole or any order of court, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(ii) Whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any course of conduct in violation of Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses) corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of an offense under Chapter 31 commits a felony of the third degree.
(2) Any person who knowingly aids, abets, entices or encourages a minor younger than 18 years of age to commit truancy commits a summary offense. Any person who violates this paragraph within one year of the date of a first conviction under this section commits a misdemeanor of the third degree. A conviction under this paragraph shall not, however, constitute a prohibition under section 6105 (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms).
(b) Adjudication of delinquency unnecessary.–A conviction under the provisions of this section may be had whether or not the jurisdiction of any juvenile court has attached or shall thereafter attach to such minor or whether or not such minor has been adjudicated a delinquent or shall thereafter be adjudicated a delinquent.
(c) Presumptions.–In trials and hearings upon charges of violating the provisions of this section, knowledge of the minor’s age and of the court’s orders and decrees concerning such minor shall be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary.
(d) Mistake as to age.–
(1) Whenever in this section the criminality of conduct depends upon the corruption of a minor whose actual age is under 16 years, it is no defense that the actor did not know the age of the minor or reasonably believed the minor to be older than 18 years.
(2) Whenever in this section the criminality of conduct depends upon the corruption of a minor whose actual age is 16 years or more but less than 18 years, it is a defense for the actor to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he reasonably believed the minor to be 18 years or older.
1978 Amendment. Act 104 added present section 6301. Former section 6301, relating to the same subject matter, was repealed November 28, 1973, P.L.341, No.117.
Cross References. Section 6301 is referred to in sections 3104, 6105, 9122.1, 9122.3 of this title; sections 5329, 6344 of Title 23 (Domestic Relations); sections 5552, 5920, 5985.1, 5993, 62A03, 9718.1, 9799.14 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure); section 6138 of Title 61 (Prisons and Parole); section 3113 of Title 63 (Professions and Occupations (State Licensed)).
I’m also pretty sure that stating, “they were already corrupt” isn’t a viable defense. What are your thoughts so far on all of this mess?
I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday. It was my first holiday home in 3 years. I couldn’t help but to reflect on friends I had made while in prison. Many still there and not coming home any time soon. I prayed that they would receive the normal holiday food which was actually pretty decent. It consisted of 2 clam shell containers. One full of turkey, stuffing and another vegetable. The other was filled with a roll and pie. The chow hall has been closed since covid hit, so they most likely walked in freezing temps to get their food. The process probably started early, by maybe 10:30 am because of the amount of people that would actually go get a tray that day. The real festivities wouldn’t begin though until later when friends who planned for weeks made food with commissary purchases and used their tray food to make a bigger and better meal. We’d make cheesecakes, fishcakes, macaroni and cheese or pasta salads. That was where the good food was. The stuff that the inmates concocted. Everyone for the most part was considerate of the phones. We wanted everyone who could at least try to call home. My holiday was much different this year and I’m blessed for it. When you’ve seen the other side, you can’t help but to reflect back and pray that those inside will someday be able to enjoy a day with their loved ones too. I spent some of my time looking though the stack of paperwork I saved about my case. I didn’t find the actual calendar because I had given that to my lawyer hoping he’d use it in court. I did however have a paper where I wrote down the dates and activities that I had given to him prior to show that we weren’t home as often as the criminal complaint stated. Looking back over it, makes me even more angry because I knew that we were NOT hosting parties and letting teens run amuck like we were being portrayed to be doing. I can’t provide a photocopy of the calendar because it contains people’s names on it. I am not putting ANYONE’s name out there for confidentiality reasons and will only be using initials like I explained before. In December of 2014 we spent 2 weekends at our cabin, one we spent at a friend’s home having dinner, and for New Year’s Eve we went to a friend’s house and stayed to watch fireworks at midnight. In January of 2015 we all were back and forth to the doctors with pneumonia and bronchitis. We weren’t allowing any non-family members over because we didn’t want them getting sick. As soon as one of us would feel better, another would get it. February 2015, it was cabin, a weekend with family/friends, we went out to eat with friends, the cabin, went to another friend’s home, then the 28th of Feb. we had a game night at our house with a bunch of friends. March 2015, we were at the cabin, then the high school had a Tarzan play and the football players were volunteers, the weekend after that we took our youngest to a birthday party (in the evening), then we went to a friend’s wedding, the final weekend of March we were at a friend’s house for a game night there. April of 2015, we spent three weekends at the cabin. May of 2015, we spent the weekend of the 2nd at the cabin and the weekend of the 22-25 we were at the cabin (I remember this weekend because we had my in law’s up and my husband cut his hand trying to pry frozen burgers apart.) June of 2015, on the 6th my friend’s husband had a surprise birthday party for her and then from June 7-14th we were on a family cruise. So again, if you are generating your own log of evidence this is a lot of time that we weren’t around. I haven’t done enough digging to see, but at one time I had Facebook posts printed out to accompany these dates as proof. For now, I can only hope that you’ll take my word for it. The time after that dreaded weekend at the cabin with the picture and the friends of DG that are now imaginary to him, we did see the guys over at the house at times. I do recall them coming over after the Tarzan play. It wasn’t all of them, but the core group came over. I remember because we went to the play and left but the guys had to stay afterwards to help. I am pretty sure that we allowed DG to drive my son’s truck to take them up there and then drive back. During the times that we did allow them to stay, they would come in w/ backpacks or small duffle bags that we assumed contained their clothing to change. The DA thought in his world that we should have again been patting them down and doing a TSA check of baggage before they were allowed in the basement. Like they say in the police world, “we had no probable cause to search their belongings”. Apparently, there was a few times when they did bring beer into the house when Steve and I were there. How? Our son told us that what they would do is hide the beer in the window wells of the basement window’s. They would then wait for us to go to sleep and then pass the beer through the window so that we wouldn’t know. This was a very thought-out plan, and we had NO idea. The DA also questioned these other boys about what they did with the empties and that we had to have seen the trash laying around. Unfortunately, I nor my husband went down to continuously “check” on them. These were 16,17-year-old boys. We were too trusting to think that they wouldn’t do such a thing. I suppose in my mind at least that this wasn’t something that I would have done. I am going to speak for myself only since this is my blog, but I pictured them down there doing what we intended the basement to be. Play video games, pool, air hockey, foosball, watch tv, etc. We even have a photo that was used later of 3 of them laughing playing video games. The issue brought up by the DA was that he couldn’t imagine that we didn’t hear the amount of noise coming from the basement. This is a man who has NO children and must not have had a childhood that was spent at overnights with friends. If you’re a parent or as a child yourself that either allowed sleepover’s or attended them yourself, they aren’t quiet. it’s one of the reasons why many parents don’t allow them. Was it noisy? Yes, to a degree. We had some rules about the noise. They could play the stereo to a volume that we could still hear the tv upstairs. After 10:00 pm, the stereo and/or tv volumes had to be turned down because we were going to bed. Sometimes it was sooner than that if it started working on our nerves. I wish I had the amount of text messages or phone calls that I made to our older son to “turn it down!” April 2015 rolled around and here is where I made the biggest mistake of my life. My son came to me and asked if I would be willing to go buy them some beer. Right now, I have a hard time even telling you this because after I committed to saying yes and did it, I regretted it. Did I ask any of their parents if this was ok? No, I didn’t. It was extremely dumb, stupid and reckless on my part on every level. I was by this point aware that some of the other boys were drinking, however. Again, I along with their parents were friends with them on different social medial platforms. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There was a ton of photos being posted on Twitter and Instagram of them drinking at different places and we had started to hear through people that we knew that the one boy would host barn parties. We later found out that one time there was so many cars that the neighbor complained about them parking on his property. I asked my attorney to question this person, but I guess for whatever reason he didn’t feel it was necessary to show that other parents had allowed this to happen. I’m not trying to justify my actions, but if I’m guilty of this then let’s put all the cards on the table. I even remember telling one of my friends that I agreed to do this. She wasn’t happy and told me that I should not have agreed to this. I agreed with her, and it was actually the one and only time that I purchased for them. I admitted this right out of the gate during trial. I didn’t try to hide it or justify it. I couldn’t, there was a receipt because I ended up paying part cash and part debit card. Some asked how they knew it was me that bought it and that they didn’t take my card and use it? I said that I was sure they had me on video, and I wasn’t trying to be deceitful. I figured that I would fess up and tell the truth. This evidence didn’t come out until later, I’m only telling you now for reference to it later. After this happened, things slowed down a little. We were getting tired of the noise that was occurring and I was tired of them wanting to always be at our house. One morning, our oldest sone came in our room to wake us up. It was urgent, we had to get up now! I said what is going on? He told us that DG came in the middle of the night banging on his bedroom window asking to be let in that the police were looking for him. I said Well why is he here and where is his parents? I was told that his mom was on the way over. When we got up, his mom was in fact there and he was sitting in her van. He was beat up pretty good and had black eyes and look horrible. He had been at a drinking party the night before, along with some of the other guys that our son hung out with. Apparently, an altercation took place there and a fight ensued. Later, charges were brought against DG, and I believe a few others. At the time when questioning started regarding my arrest, DG changed his story about 3 times. He also had these charges mysteriously disappear from his record. It was brough up during my trial briefly along with some other questions about an expensive airline ticket that was purchased for his sister to fly home from S. Dakota by one of the moms involved in my case. Yes, we found out later she was bribing witnesses. She purchased expensive watches and helped pay for graduation parties for them. It was brushed under the rug by the DA that they were doing this out of grief. I’m confused how witnesses were allowed to hang out and exchange testimonies and stories during a trial. However, much of this also took place within that almost 2-year period they waited to file charges. There was occasion when my neighbor’s daughter and her friend would come over and hang out with the guys. There was one instance that I recall sitting on the sofa and DG walks in. He comes in and there are like 3-4 girls with him. I said what’s going on. He has this smug look on his face, and I guess he thought I was going to be ok with him just showing up with guests of his own. I called my son upstairs and told him that they have to leave NOW! I also told DG that he can’t just show up whenever he wants and bring girls to my house. That wasn’t happening. This was about the time when we started making the rule that no one could just “show up” anymore. It was getting to be too much. At first it wasn’t bad because they would stop by, and it was occasional. It was clearly now becoming a habit and we didn’t like it. My husband and I were having conversations with our son that this, “had to stop”. We were tired of his friends showing up whenever without calling, now they were starting to try to bring people around that we didn’t know. So, then we noticed that they would now call to come pick up our son and then they would leave to go to either NA’s grandpa’s house or there was another group of friends that lived in the development across the street. I don’t know if they were telling their parents that they were coming to our house, then leaving to go to these other places. I knew that my son asked and where he was according to what he told me. What these other kids told their parents wasn’t my problem. It later became my problem however after they all wanted to deny any knowledge and make me the scapegoat. They all seemed to forget about the drunken fight and police charges against DG, they seemed to forget the time they were at NA’s grandpas, and he caught them drinking and called NA’s mom to come get them. I mean, I didn’t get a call that night telling me that my son was caught drinking at her father’s house. I’m sure none of the other parents were called either. Why? Because I’m sure she did what I did the first time I caught them. She probably gave them a talking to and said she wouldn’t say anything if it wouldn’t happen again. I don’t know for sure if that happened, but at this point I can only imagine. So how many other times where they caught and none of us did anything? All of us as parents, gave them grace and thought we handled it by talking to them and asking them to not do it again. So was I the only one, because it seems to me that a lot was happening, but no one was saying anything. I hear crickets…..
I had a very hard time sleeping last night. I didn’t realize how hard this was going to be for me to tell until I started telling it. I had been able to tuck all these little details away for almost 4 years and now bringing them back to the surface is triggering. I want to go back and fill in some gaps and to do a recap up to this point in the story. Again, all of this started the end of December 2014. This was what the police stated was when I we started allowing my son’s friends to come over on a “regular basis”. This entire timeline runs from December 24, 2014, to June 16, 2015, according to the complaint. That’s approximately 24 weekends. Out of those 24 weekends, depending on who you asked and when you asked, when questioned by the police, the DA and my lawyer during hearings, or how many times they wanted to change their answer for whom it suited. They stated that out of those 24 weekends that they came to our house maybe 6,7,8 times. Would you say then that the average of 7 times is a lot? (This includes the trip to the cabin). I’m going to shorten those 7 days down even further for you, something that I was unable to do since I didn’t testify, and therefore I’m not sure why my lawyer didn’t or wasn’t able to show this evidence during his questioning. I went back through my Facebook at the time and my pocket calendar. I have to go through the items that I saved (I have an entire one side of my desk full of evidence, paperwork, etc. regarding my case.) Out of these 7 or 8 days, I was able to trim that down even further to the number of times that my husband or I were home. I know that I have it written down if anyone wants an exact number, but for conversation purposes here, I’m going to say it was 3-4. The other times, I had posts on Facebook that I was either tagged in or tagged others as being in Baltimore with friends or a few times we took a trip up the cabin with our younger son. Last time I checked, you can’t be 2 places at once as much as sometimes we wish we could be. There was so much stuff that came out during trial that I found out sitting at the defense table that I had NO idea about. You think you know your kids; you think you have control over situations and well, that “I trust you until you give me a reason” philosophy went way out the window. What we found out was that when we would go to our cabin with our younger son, my oldest would finagle his way to stay home. My mom told me this was not a good idea, but I was trying to be trusting and explained how he was working, and how we had asked our neighbors to keep an eye on the house for cars or anything suspicious. Remember all of that? Yeah, boy was I wrong! I don’t know if I want to say here that he was having his friends over without permission or if I want to say that they bamboozled him into having them over. Again, if you recall before I brought up the dynamics of age and rank according to him being in the varsity football team and only being in 10th grade. Another item that we had in my discovery was a slew of text messages to my son from these boys in a group chat. One of the chats went something to the effect of, “We’re coming over”. To which my son replied, “You aren’t allowed, my mom said that no one is allowed over when they aren’t home.” To which NM replied, “I called your mom, and she said it was ok”. My son, “no you didn’t!”. NM said, “Nah, but we can just park somewhere else and sneak in the back and no one will know we were there”. So, whether they actually came this night, I’m not sure but they did on several other occasions. Again, I have these text messages, but kept being told that certain items we couldn’t present because of it being heresy or I don’t know but it was frustrating for me to sit there and be unable to defend myself with clear cut evidence that I possessed. The things that were taking place during these times when they unwelcomely entered our home was shocking. I’m confused how the DA could bring all of this into play and display it for the jury and all to see but yet I was unable to counter it showing that they came into the home uninvited, peer pressuring my son to let them in. This is one of the points when I feel that I just had a crappy lawyer! I want to tell you the good, the bad and ugly. I want to be 100% honest with you because I want you to understand how the DA and the police drew their conclusion to file these charges. (The beginning was the damn photo from the cabin, and the lies told by DG that the friends of his didn’t exist and they brought a tote of beer to the cabin in the back of the truck that I helped them pack-HUH? yeah, that part never happened but in his world it did). Prior to all of this taking place at the cabin, I recall a morning when I was sitting in our living room watching tv. The guys had just spent the night and were sleeping in the basement. My youngest son was the informant. He would go down there and come up and report to us what was happening. I think it was mostly because he wasn’t “allowed” down there according to my oldest. You know how it is, younger siblings are pains and embarrassing. This morning in particular, he comes up and reports to me that there is an open can of beer sitting downstairs. WHAT! I told him to go downstairs and wake them all up and to get their asses upstairs pronto! I can’t recall exactly who all was there this particular day. I know for sure that it was DG, my son and CH. They all come upstairs, scared to death and I started the line of questioning. Where it came from, who brought it, is there more…. DG fessed up and said that it was only 1 can (a pounder), that he stole from his house and brought over for them to share. They wanted to taste it and see what it was like. I said it tastes like shit doesn’t it! Should I have called their parents at this point? Looking back on everything and if I knew then what I know now, I would have most definitely called them. Instead, I gave them a talking to about it, told them that this was not acceptable and that I wasn’t happy about them bringing it into our home. I was mad! We did confirm that it was only 1 and of that can less than half had been consumed. We dumped it and threw it away. I told them that I would not discuss this with their parents if they promised they would never try something like this again. Thinking back to some of the dumb stuff you did as a kid, I think that you can understand why I chose this route. As a parent and again knowing what I know now, I’m angry that me then didn’t tell them. The real question though is, “would it have made a difference?” I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why. Along with them coming to our home the few times I was aware of, along with the other times we were unaware, these boys were doing this at up to 12-13 other locations. I was floored when my lawyer did bring this up during the trial. What were the locations you ask? They included a room above a store that one of their friend’s parents or grandparents owned, the basement of one of the other boys (a photo was shone to the mom, and she said she didn’t know-I guess it was ok for her to not know but not ok for me to not know. Also, this was only one photo that we had-how many other times?). There were going to some parks or outdoor areas. It was clear that this was something they did on a regular basis. What I wasn’t aware of was they were documenting their shenanigans on snapchat. I am not on snapchat, I’ve tried it and don’t understand it and chose not to use it to this day. It still seems to be a big social media outlet for the younger generation. My sons still use it. I don’t know if these other boys’ parents were friends with them on this platform. How many people that were friends with them on this platform saw their posts and said/did nothing? Again, the silence is deafening.
We put a lot of time, love, blood, sweat, tears and money into our cabin. It was something that we wanted to hopefully be able to treasure, make memories and pass down. Proverbs 19:21 tells us: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” I still pause to think that any of this was “his plan”, but I was able to grow my faith, share it with others and still share his word with others because of it. Perhaps, that was the plan all along. I just wish the stuff in between never had to happen. The evening when we all returned to the cabin after eating at the pizza shop, the kids wanted to build a campfire. It was Friday night and my husband, and I were tired from working all day. We built the fire, sat around for a little bit then my husband and I and our younger son decided to turn in. There wasn’t much that we felt the guys could get into because we were essentially in the middle of nowhere. They were old enough to be able to sit by a campfire alone and be responsible enough for it. At one point, my son came inside to ask if they could take a walk up the lane. I said that I guess it would be ok, but not to bother anyone else and to stay on the lane. They came back and said that apparently, they started talking to a group of people that were outside their camp. Here the one boy DG knew them, and they were friends of his family. How odd was that? They asked if it would be ok if they went back to their camp and sat around the fire with them. I said that if it was ok with them then it was ok with me. I asked if they would be back before 11ish and to make sure they went to bed and didn’t go anywhere else. (This is an interesting fact, because during my trial DG lied on the stand stating that they never met anyone and that he didn’t know them. This was just one of the first of many lies we caught him in). We later found out that while they were at this camp, the people there allowed them to drink. I’m not sure who drank, how much they drank, and if it was just beer or alcohol, etc. but they drank. I didn’t find this fact out until it appeared in my discovery packet along with the dumb decision to take that photo at the pizza shop. When everyone woke up the following morning, I had no clue that they were drinking the night before. I only knew that they went to visit friends of DG that they ran into at another camp close to ours. I was aware that CS woke up that morning sick on his stomach. I was told by my son that CS was vomiting and felt sick, but they thought maybe it was something they ate the night before. No one else was sick or looked hungover. The discovery also stated that the case of beer that was purchased at the pizza shop was what these boys drank that evening. That I bought it and provided it to them. (This was not true, but I had a group of kids at this point that I don’t know if they felt pressured by the DA to respond this way or if they were offered some leniency later to respond like this. I will never know. I will get the point later on what leniency I’m referring to). I don’t know if you want to be an armchair lawyer or not, but if you’re keeping notes on all of this, you’ll see why many people were frustrated by what happened in this case and why they get so frustrated at other cases too. I can play devil’s advocate here and say that I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, but hindsight is 20/20. How many parents allow or bring their kid’s friends along on vacations, or if you own a vacation home, allow them to come along? How many times have you been out with friends, at home, or someplace where alcohol was served, snapping photos? So, if you are out to eat and snap a photo and a beer happens to be sitting in front of your child, must we assume they were drinking? Of course not! Should I have allowed my son to carry that case of beer for me and then stupidly took a photo? NO! I also never thought that anyone would be dumb enough to think that I bought it for them, then said, “let’s commemorate the event for all to see”. Of course, let’s not forget that I posted this photo on Facebook at the time. I also was friends with all of these boys’ parents on Facebook at the time. I tagged them all in the photo. Did anyone object, question it or complain or take issue with it at the time? No! So, it’s not like I took the photo and then hid the fact. I’m confused then later how everyone acted like “they didn’t know” or “that it was shock”. Again, I’m not defending my actions, I’m just stating that you can’t acknowledge the post, like it and react to it, then tell the DA that you couldn’t believe this or that I did this, etc. If at this point, you had questions or concerns about what your child was doing, then why was I not asked at this point? I will tell you, because there was no concern. Am I the only confused at this point? (NOTE: none of this was made aware to us until almost 2 years later when the charges were filed, so up to this point again, no one brought any issues or concerns to our attention regarding this event or any event prior to this). After this trip to the cabin, we never saw CS again. It was after this that we were told about his possession and use of marijuana. We later started seeing him posting on snapchat where he was in possession of large amounts of it (more than personal consumption), and also using it. The DA, police and no one else found any concerns regarding this. His parents were friends with him on his social media and took no action or concern about these posts. So again, I was confused how they were blind to this but later decided to treat us like we were deplorable, stating “they didn’t know” or did they know and decide to not say anything? So, if that’s the case, all who knew or suspected and didn’t say anything then-are you not just as guilty? Because silence is just as loud.
So according to my discovery packet, the police claim that they based their investigation to starting in December 2014. That this was where things started to go sideways. I have to disagree, as well as many others who know us personally and some casually. Moving into our new home, my husband decided that he wanted to fill our basement with all the things that most men want to fill their basement with. Our basement was the entire width and length of our house, including the garage, which is usual. The first item he decided to purchase was a pool table. I remember this day like it was yesterday. He found the table on craigslist, talked to the person on the phone, and looked at several photos. The pool table was used, but it was in great condition. The folks selling it were moving and needed it gone. I can’t recall the exact price we paid, but we also then hired a pool table mover to go get it. We never saw the table in person but relied on the professional mover we hired to give us his honest opinion. He arrived and said that the table was in great shape, and he would be able to move it with no problems. We sent the owners of the table and the mover payment via Pay Pal. I never knew what went into moving a table like this, but the task was tedious. It was a slate top table that had to be disassembled, carefully packed and then was moved from Maryland to our home in Pennsylvania. The mover told my husband that it would be several hours for him to break the table down, pack it and then drive to our house and have it reassembled. He wasn’t kidding. This process took from early one afternoon and he never completed setting it up in our home until 4am the next day. I think my husband ended up calling off work because he wasn’t expecting it to take that long. Once it was set up and completed, it sat in the middle of our basement for everyone to admire like the leg lamp in The Christmas Story movie. The kids were given instructions on the felt top and the slate under it. It was “FRAGILE”. We didn’t want to put in the expense yet of carpet and drywall in the basement yet because when we bought the home there was some dampness issues that cost us a pretty penny to fix. We had to have a French drain put in, extra sump pump and have the grading around the house redone. Once that was completed, we were assured that the dampness and water issues were resolved. (Which we found to be true). Rather than risk it though, we decided to paint the floor and put those paint chip flecks down. We painted the cinder block walls and put an area rug down to make it cozy. We had no plans to proceed any further than that because there was no egress out of the basement. So, any additional construction was tabled. We would use it “as is” and enjoy it for what it was. We decided to allow this to be a space where my sons could go and hang out with their friends rather than hanging out in their bedrooms. The house we had was a rancher, and the only good place for them to gather was in the basement. It just wasn’t a great idea for them to have friends in their rooms because the rooms weren’t super big and also to me, they were “private” spaces. There is an age difference of just about 5 years between our oldest and youngest. They had a shared bathroom, and it just didn’t seem far for one or other to have to put up with someone else’s friends encroaching on their private space. My kids both were already huge Xbox fans, so my husband then decided to buy a big tv to keep in the basement to not only watch movies, but to play their games on. We didn’t run cable down there, but it was available for streaming movies and at that time we were still using DVD players. Streaming was just starting to get big and Netflix coming into play. This area was going to be a place where all of us could potentially enjoy just hanging out and relaxing. I have a big family and was hoping to be able to have my family over for gatherings where we could all sit comfortably in one room. Unfortunately, that never happened. We also, decided to set up a stereo system down there, a workout area. My son was working out on a regular basis because of football, as well as some of his football buddies. We had good intentions of also starting to work out, but the only exercise we got was buying the equipment and having it set up. Like most equipment, it sat in the basement and just “looked good”. During these winter months, it was cold, it was starting to snow, and the roads were getting icy at night. The slightest bit of moisture during the day, then turned into black ice once the sun went down. I can’t recall if I mentioned this before, but the area that we lived in was rural. Most of the friends that our son had lived on back roads and even to drive from their house to the school on a good day could take 20-30 mins. This was depending on how far down into the far reaches of the school district that you lived. I never realized how far some of the houses were in the district until we started dropping off and picking up our kids and their friends to their respective houses. We lived in a district that tended to offer 1–2-hour delays regularly because of the back road conditions and the fact that many would drift closed if the wind blew the right way after a storm. There were a few times when they guys would stop over to see our older son and it would start to snow. I recall one of the first times this happened, I was NOT comfortable with them trying to drive home. These were all kids that I considered to be decent drivers but had not yet driven in the ice or snow. I remember asking them to call their parents to see if it was ok if they stayed and headed out the following morning when it wasn’t icy. We had plenty of room for them to all sleep in the basement. We had sofas, and the floor. There was plenty to do, and I knew they wouldn’t be driving in the dark on icy roads. Some of the friends weren’t able to stay because it was wrestling season. There were if I recall, at least 2 friends that wrestled on a regular basis. They were wrestling with the Senior High now and therefore traveling to schools’ way outside our district to matches. For some of the matches, they would even go further outside the area to wrestle kids throughout the state depending on how far the school made it. I remember asking my son at one point about certain friends because I hadn’t seen them around lately. He had told me that (I’m going to use initials) DG and CS were wresting and unable to come over to hang out. When I say hangout, that didn’t mean spending the night always either. These friends would stop in to say hi to our son, they would stop in to see if he’d want to go with them to other places. So, by asking about them it was just because I hadn’t seen them at all and wanted to know if they were ok. You know how kids get mad at someone and stop talking so I was curious to see if something like that had occurred. Eventually, he told me that they stopped hanging out with CS. I said, “why?” He told me that he and the guys found out that CS was using pot and wanted nothing to do with him. They didn’t want their names being associated with him because of football. They had strict rules about codes of conduct, etc. and so by CS smoking, or whatever else he was doing with weed they didn’t want any parts of it. This made us very proud as his parents that they made this decision. I noticed that this kid no longer really played on the team, and I guess decided to strictly stick to wrestling. I’m not sure, because once he stopped coming around, he was no longer on my radar. I also had asked about another friends SH, and why I didn’t see too much of him. My son explained it to me this way, “SH has seasonal friends. When he plays baseball, he has baseball friends. When he wrestles, he has wrestling friends. When he plays football, he has football friends. I guess he doesn’t want to hang out with us when those other sports are going on”. I figured, if he was ok with it what could I say about it. I personally don’t care for rainy day friends. There did seem to be a core group of friends that he hung out with. They were SH, NM, NA, CH and DG. Anyone else, I couldn’t tell you who they were and if they stopped by it was once and not memorable. You know how you see maybe a friend of your kids once and then might never see them again. I figured maybe my kid decided they weren’t the kind of person they wanted to be friends with, maybe they were ok to hang out with in school and that was it. I didn’t ask. You can’t possibly know every person that your kid associates with. I can see if they are coming over to your house or if your kid was asking to spend the night there. If that wasn’t happening, then how would I know anything about them. Also, them spending one time at the house didn’t put them on our radar to ask why they never returned. I hope that doesn’t sound callus but once you don’t just think about. The kid I asked about was coming often, I had met his parents at football banquets and noticed when I didn’t see him again. We weren’t friends with that kids’ parents, and the extend of our conversations were if they ever dropped him off or if we would see them at games. Most of us were Facebook friends, to be able to share football posts and that sort of thing. Before CS stopped coming around though, we did decide to take the boys all to the cabin. I can’t recall the exact time when we took all of them, but I know that there was a time when you couldn’t even reach the cabin because the mud and muck was so bad that the road was impassable. We thought if we could convince our older son to come back to the cabin again that he’d change his mind and want to start coming with us again. We wanted him to see that we installed the internet now, there was a phone. We installed a TV antenna and was getting almost 30 channels not including the Roku to stream. We were still having the handymen up there doing some work for us. We were in the process of looking into replacing the roof to a metal one so it would no longer rot. One of the other silly but necessary tasks that these guys would do for us was they would refill our water tanks. There was no running water at the cabin. They had built these water holding tanks for us. One was to use at the shower, and one was to use at the sink in the kitchen. They would pump water into a tank they had on their trucks and then empty it by repumping it into our tank to fill them. The cost for this service? A case of beer or bottom shelf vodka. (I’m not joking). My husband and I weren’t (and still aren’t) big drinkers. We kept a small supply of wine cooler type drinks, a few beers and that was about it on hand in the fridge. There was even a time when my husband said to me about stopping this because it seemed to him that friends that we were having come stay were drinking it more than we were. He didn’t mean that to be ignorant, but it wasn’t benefiting us to buy it and keep it there. The beer that was there we ended up telling our handymen to take with them the next time they let themselves in to do work. Eventually there was some remaining cans that I gave to our one friend who went up to do some clean out after the crap hit the fan. We weren’t allowed to have any alcohol once we ended up on probation. My one friend and her husband went up because they lived relatively close to get that and some food we had up there. Back to having the guys to the cabin, I remember the day that we left and were packing up the vehicles for the trip up there. We loaded my car, which ended up not having a ton of room. We had our 2 dogs, my husbands, my youngest sons and my clothing, bedding, food, and dog food. We had bought my older son a truck because he was in the process of getting his license. He couldn’t drive but we allowed his friend DG to drive the truck that weekend. It was DG, our son, CH, CS and I think that was it. SH, NM, and NA couldn’t go because they had other plans with family, etc. CS going along, I’m pretty sure was before we knew about him playing Cheech and Chong. They guys loaded the bed of the truck up with their stuff. I told them to put the stuff in trash bags or totes in case it rained since the truck didn’t have a cap on it. I didn’t go through their stuff and inventory it before it was loaded. If you’re a parent or say that you would have, I call BS. That’s not something normal people do. What reason did I have to inventory their belongings? When we got to the cabin that Friday night, it was customary for us to go to a local pizza joint. To this day, we love this place. The food is delicious, and the prices are reasonable. We all went and ate at the restaurant. Before we left, I told my husband that we needed to pick up a case of beer for the handymen because they filled the water tanks for us. I preferred to get the beer because the closest liquor store wasn’t close at all. I also, didn’t want to be driving from our house there with booze. Here’s the first area where I messed up! We were leaving the restaurant and my husband was using the restroom before we left. (We owned an outhouse, so he wanted to go before we got back). I have bad knees and problems with my hip. I’ve mentioned this a few times in my posts. When I was walking out, I made the mistake of not only asking my older son to carry the case of beer but then we decided to take a quick picture of everyone outside the restaurant. It was one of those, “hurry up and get over here, I winna take a pic of all of you”. Well, they were belly aching about hurrying up and by this time my husband comes out and jumps in the back of the pic. My son was still holding the case of beer. Who would have thought that this would come back to haunt me?
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