I guess I really was feeling in a rut. I’m still working as a lactation consultant but have added something new. The opportunity presented itself and I jumped at it. I am now training to become a sexual assault forensic examiner (S.A.F.E.) or as it will soon be called in Maryland, a forensic nurse examiner (F.N.E.). After 20 years of concentrating on childbirth and breastfeeding issues I now have to learn the anatomy of the woman who has not just recently given birth, plus children and males (who also, sadly, get sexually abused). The human body is amazing in its variety and to learn to recognize abnormal signs of abuse I must first learn to recognize normal variations in genitalia. I’ll be learning to do speculum exams in teen clinics and with a GYN who sees mostly menopausal women. I don’t have a clue where I will see normal children. I’m going to see if I can hook up with a pediatric urologist who does surgery. I can’t imagine subjecting an awake child to an intimate exam that isn’t for their benefit but rather for that of the learner. Perhaps some parents will give me permission to observe for training just before surgery commences but after the child is asleep. Luckily I am well known in my community, as a women and children’s advocate so won’t put people off thinking I’m a nut case.

I’m so excited to be doing this. It is something new (I love to study) and it is important work. I’ve learned that in Baltimore the addition of nurses as trained S.A.F.E.s in Emergency Rooms has dramatically increased the conviction rate of offenders. My training period will likely be 6 months or more. I just started last week. I have a job once the training is done, in the same hospital where I presently work. I’ll be on call in a rotation with others in the group to provide 24/7 coverage but only actually go to the ER if a sexual assault case is brought in.

My other big, big news is my oldest son is getting married Jan 4, 2003 to a WONDERFUL young lady who also has a wonderful fraternal twin sister and a super mom. I’m gaining 3 new women in my previously male dominated family and I love them all. The wedding will have a Renaissance theme. Both my other kids will be attendants. My little neighbor may be the flower girl. Her mother used to babysit the future groom. I’m taking on the botanicals so am busy harvesting and drying herbs for “strewing” and decorations. I’m also thinking about favors, maybe candles with pressed flowers glued/waxed on or homemade paper with imbedded flower petals. Then there is the bouquet! Meghan wants ivy and daisies, perhaps in the Tussie Mussy form. The girls will all have Renaissance style braids and I’m looking at beading interspersed with individual hyacinth blooms thingies to weave through their hair. (stolen straight from the “In Style Bride” summer 2002 magazine. The girl’s dresses are long with an empire waist and Juliet Sleeves. They are in jewel tones, amethyst, blue, green and burgundy plus one in black. “The girls” include 1 natural redhead (my future DIL), one strawberry blond (her twin), one blond, one brunettes and one with henna colored hair (my dear daughter). Meghan’s dress looks very much like the fairy queen in the Lord of the Rings movie.

Oh the girl in black is the “best man”. She is my son’s long-term best friend and the natural choice. Her dress will be the same cut as all the other girls but in black to match the tuxedos of the men. This is a fun bit of déjà vu for me as at my wedding we had a female usher who was a friend of then to be husband but someone I didn’t yet know. They were good friends, he wanted her in the wedding but it didn’t make sense to have her be a bridesmaid as we really didn’t know each other. Carol dressed in a long black, sequined dress and stood with all the other ushers who wore black tuxes. It was wonderful and we are all friends now although really, I don’t see her nearly often enough

1/19/03 The bride and groom are on their honeymoon in Wales. A picture of them can be seen on wertperch's gallery. The wedding was wonderful; small and what the kids wanted.