I’m a statistic…  I’m a victim of sexual child abuse. This statement somehow sounds so cold. My abuser was a neighbor… no one suspected him. I don’t know how many children he abused. Back in the early fifties, there was really no accurate count of the number of pedophiles in our country. It was really taboo to speak of such things.

At least now, sexual abuse is a  much more acceptable subject and is even an encouraged discussion among parents to children. But we have so much more work to do, if we wish to eradicate all child abuse and sex trafficking in our country. I believe that there is hope – but we need to get parents, educators and legislators all on board to improve the statistics. That’s right… it happens, most often right under our noses. And Utah (where I currently live) ranks a D when it comes to stopping sex trafficking of minors. No young, innocent girl wakes up one morning and says, “Gee, I think I’ll be a prostitute when I grow up.”

Most young girls, who are, are being forced into this profession ( I don’t like using that word) Rather than prostitute, let’s use the term “sex slave” – since many of these young girls are the product of kidnapping and methodical grooming. They are often treated worse than animals.

People, this just has to stop! Recently an observant Delta flight attendant noticed a peculiar and uncomfortable situation on her plane. Before landing, she contacted the authorities and a man who had been on her plane was arrested for kidnapping the three young people traveling with him… IT CAN BE STOPPED!

I have struggled with image my entire life… never really feeling pretty. It’s been a constant inner battle. The evening that I was asked to share my abuse story publicly –  the first time in my 64 years… I found myself asking HB for affirmation to try to dispell my negatives: “Honey, does my hair look okay? And what about my eyes… do thy look really bad… all puffy and gross?” It was in those moments that I stopped and connected the dots. This goes back to years of my feelings of worthlessness and guilt. I felt like I was being abused all over again by this neighbor.

I copied a photo to show this high school group… it was taken shortly after the abuse began. “It’s our secret… just between us. Remember, don’t tell anyone!” Les would say. So for 38 years I was silent. I did begin to avoid him whenever he came to our home after I reached age nine or 10. But I can still smell the cigarettes on his hands and see his yellow crooked teeth in my mind….

It’s so different looking at my young me and realizing how innocent I truly was.

me 2

I look back at photos of me when I graduated from Denver University. I wasn’t ugly – and yet I felt ugly, dirty and guilty.

me 3

It’s easy to hide behind a mask when you’ve been sexually wounded- physically, emotionally and psychologically. I spent much of my adult life doing just that. It wasn’t until I met  HB, my best friend… the person I finally felt completely safe with, whom I could finally share my abuse story with. He held me close and let me sob. I’m not sure how long. But I do know he was there for me. It’s very difficult to allow people into this ugly world. But once I did, I was able to begin my healing and forgiving process. Therapy definitely helped.

As I said earlier, I finally, after all these years, shared my story publicly for the first time. It was another cathartic moment. The tears flowed freely, but once I was finished, I felt some more of my burden lifted.

You may ask, how can I help? If you’re a Utah resident here is a link: Raise The Grade

We each have a voice. I would suggest we use it – for it can be a powerful tool against this evil! As always, I welcome any comments.


the story teller

by jani on March 20, 2013

As a grandma, there aren’t too many more satisfying moments than story telling with your grandchildren. I love to tell stories. Each quiet moment spent with my adorable grandchildren, becomes yet another opportunity to share experiences through oral language. It’s just a part of me. I listened to my grandma’s stories – and still never tire of my mom’s. She always has something… some bit of wisdom,  to pass on to me. And, I in turn, I hope to do the same with my little ones.

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to play (babysit is such an inadequate word!) six of my grandsons. We had such a wonderful time together – but the best memory is snuggling up in the big king-sized bed surrounded by these darling boys and sharing our love, and of course, stories!

My son and daughter-in-law brought back this small treasure from their trip to Santa Fe. They told me it reminded them of me. They could envision me surrounded by my fourteen (and I’m sure that number will increase) grandchildren telling stories as the Native Puebloans have done, from generation to generation. I was so touched that I wanted to share this with my readers.

story 8

How could I not enjoy this lovely family and their handsome boys?… my wonderful grandsons!

chris family 1Isn’t this such a great tradition of the Puebloan culture – gathering their children around the elders as they share the same stories that they had heard from their youngest years? This is such an important way to preserve our heritage!

Story Collage 2

The  timing of this just seems so perfect, as I am anxiously anticipating this week’s Story @ Home 2013 conference in Salt Lake City. A very special thank you to Oh Sweet Basil for offering this conference giveaway, that I was lucky enough to win! I look forward to sharing many of the things I will learn with my family, loved ones – and you, my readers!

What are your favorite ways to share your stories with your children and grandchildren? Do you always try to include some moral principle or educating moment, as you share? As always, I welcome your comments! 


cherry pine nut cookies

by jani on February 13, 2013

Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d dedicate this post to my loving companion of almost 30 years, HB! This recipe is a team effort… my idea… HB makes it! It works for us.  We love cooking with toasted pine nuts and add them to many of our recipes;  they just enhance the flavors.

cherry pinenut cookies 7


  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (toast in oven for 12 minutes at 325F degrees or until golden brown)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries
  • 2-4 Tbsp drained maraschino cherry syrup
  • 1  stick of unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In electric mixer beat butter, salt, sugar, honey, cherry juice, flour in that order. Fold in chilled toasted pine nuts and chopped cherries. Roll into balls (a little over an inch in diameter). Chill for 5 minutes in freezer. Dip fork into cold water and flatten each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

cherry pinenut cookies 1


cherry pinenut cookies 2


cherry pinenut cookies 3

HB was a bachelor in 1983 –  I was a widow with four young children. We met, fell in love and were engaged within three weeks of meeting. Three months later we were married. He became instant husband and daddy to four little munchkins! It truly is a fairy tale romance and we are more in love today than we were on our wedding day, May 28, 1983!

our wedding

I hope you enjoy these wonderful cookies. They are easy to make and taste scrump-dee-a-lishous!

This is for all you romantics in the world. Wishes do come true… and they can happen to you! Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my readers… and Honey Brent, I love you!


hallmark valentine’s {giveaway}

by jani on February 1, 2013

I’m so happy to share another great giveaway from our friends at Hallmark. They always have just the perfect card or gift for those special occasions when we celebrate the wonderful family and friends in our lives.

hallmark valentine 1

We generally think of Valentine’s Day as a time for romance – a chance to tell our sweethearts how much they mean to us (and vice versa!) And while that’s certainly true, love comes in many forms – none of which is greater than the love a mother has for her child. Parents show (and tell) their kids how much they mean year-round, but Valentine’s Day provides a special opportunity to shower little ones with notes of adoration and share gifts they’ll love now and treasure for a lifetime.

So, what will one of my lucky readers be receiving for this fun Valentine’s Day Giveaway? 

  •   Until We Hug Again: Miss a special child? Record your voice into a cuddly Until We Hug Again bunny or bear and they’ll be able to hear your words each time they give the plush a hug. These also make great gifts for grandparents or aunts and uncles who want to send their voice to a beloved child across the miles.
  •    Special Delivery Card Presenters for KidsThese cute critters and characters  have Valentine messages tucked inside. After a child removes the valentine, he or she can keep this little friend around to store little reminders of how much they’re loved.
  •    Justin Bieber Valentine’s Day GreetingsHe’s a Valentine to millions and with these greetings featuring the Biebs, you can wish Happy Valentine’s day to your own superstar.

Just fill out the Rafflecoptor at the bottom of this post and enter to win. Once the winner is chosen, just let me know if you’d like the bunny or bear, and the owl or the Winnie the Pooh card holder. We’re here to please!

Three darling Justin Bieber cards for those very special Bieber fans. You know who they are. Is your daughter or granddaughter making wall collages with Justin? I remember my collages of the Beatles. My mom said quit when I got to the ceiling. But, it was oh-so-cool!

hallmark valentine 2

This adorable felt owl card holder for all the valentines your little one well be receiving! How cute is this for keeping their cards all in one neat spot! And not to worry for your young sons – there is also a Winnie The Pooh card holder.

hallmark valentine 3

Meet the cutest, most cuddly bunny for that special child who will adore  hearing your personal message of love to brighten her day. There is also a darling bear that you can choose for your son or grandson in lieu of the pink bunny. Just let me know once Rafflecoptor has chosen the winner.

hallmark valentine 6

This is such a perfect gift for celebrating one of my favorite holidays.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Valentine’s Day and good luck to each of you!

*Disclosure: Thanks to Hallmark for providing me with  a Valentine’s Day Until We Hug Again and Greetings pack to review and one for this giveaway. The ideas and content are my own.