Why are some years so hard?

In my last blog, I asked “Why are some years so hard?”

This anniversary was probably one of the hardest I have faced in many years, and as the days march forward each one gets easier. Some wounds will just never heal, it’s as if you are carrying a box of puzzle pieces and they drop on the floor, scattered all over for you to pick back up and put back together again, unfortunately, when my life was shattered on the 17th of September 1984, no one provided a “How to” book for surviving the murder of sister. You just pick up the pieces and look to the horizon…

Vicki Lynne, Age 4

Vicki Lynne, Age 4

In the last week and a half, I have spent much of my time answering the hundreds of calls, texts, messages & emails that I have received. I continue to be so humbled by the outpouring of support from people who knew and loved Vicki, to people who have just been touched by her story. Until this war is over, there is a huge army still so willing to fight.

Very much to my surprise, the defense counsel filed their Reply Brief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, September 25, 2015. Honestly, I think I can count the number of times a defense team hasn’t asked for a delay in court over the course of this 31 year battle with one finger.

A few points I want to make sure everyone who reads this blog knows:

  1. Atwood’s innocence is NOT in question. He admitted to the crime in detail down to the last words she spoke as he took her life and his guilt has been upheld in court.
  2. This case has been to the United States Supreme Court twice. First on the automatic appeal, the second time on the Post Conviction Release. Both have been denied.
  3. The Writ of Habeas Corpus (this appeal) was started in March of 1998, 17 years ago. All claims in the initial habeas filing have been denied but these last claims of ineffective counsel & the famed claim that “he” suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I promise, I will expand more on the points above in the future, I just want to make sure that you, as the reader, are clear where we stand in this relentless fight. I will continue to keep the entire process that looms

before us updated here as the wheels of justice continue to turn… 

Tonight, as I look into the beautiful pink and blue sunset in the horizon, I hope, for my parents, my family,

friends and our army of supporters that things turn faster than they have the last 31 years.

Don’t forget Vicki Lynne… 

September 17, 2015

September. The start of fall, absolutely my favorite season, yet a time that holds my heart completely hostage. This year I would equate my emotions to that of a “soup sandwich”. I’ve wore my feelings on my sleeve and the battle in my mind has gotten the best of me more days than not. It’s a relentless war that started 31 years ago and still wages on as we continue our legal fight to bring justice for my sissy.

In reality, the middle of August is when I started to feel the spiral of emotions happen and in one conversation with Mackenzie, it’s as if the dam broke… 

I had kept telling myself my emotions were crazy because summer was coming to an end. (Is it possible to have a “summer hangover”?) We had a hectic but great time with family & friends, memories made and lots of miles traveled, with school starting it would come to an end. And then the reality of my talk with Mackenzie made me realize that what happened to me 5 years ago when our oldest, Madison, started 3rd grade was happening again. 

Why are some years so hard? 

Vicki Lynne 1984

Vicki Lynne 1984

Accepting things you can’t change or control and rationally asking your heart to work through them can be the single most difficult thing a person will ever do. I had to face the fact that my 8 year old daughter would be starting the 3rd grade, she’s the same age and grade as Vicki was when she was taken from us. Coupled with the fact that Mackenzie resembles Vicki not only in looks but personality, has stopped me in my tracks a thousands times, sometimes taking my breathe away. There isn’t a moment that I look at Mackenzie and don’t think about or see Vicki, from her freckled face and gapped tooth smile to her witty personality.

Can you imagine a fear that some days is almost paralyzing? Flashes of feelings from my childhood while telling my 42 year old mind everything will be ok is the toughest thing I have ever done. I feel as though I am telling myself every 5 minutes I can work through it because I have a two beautiful girls who are walking this world and I will do everything I can everyday to keep them safe. 

When Mady started 3rd grade, I did my best to keep it together. I cried every day for weeks as I left her at school, some days sobbing so uncontrollably in the school parking lot I couldn’t even drive. I still think Mady’s teacher is a saint, she was so patient and gracious when dealing with me, the ultimate crazy mom.

And to be completely honest, I truly thought this year, would be easier than what I experienced with Mady. Things are supposed to be smoother with your second child, right? It’s true for many things, not this… I’ve been prickly most days, and feel so blessed that my family, friends and co-workers have loved me without truly understanding the battle in my heart and mind. Mackenzie’s teacher has embraced her with a special heart that I’m not sure I could ever properly thank her for, and she is patient with me, the ultimate crazy mom. Fourteen days into the school year and I’ve cried every one, but am so thankful that I am in a position that I can grab a hug & kiss from Mackenzie anytime during the day. 

As far as the conversation I had with Mackenzie the middle of August, I will share that some day, but the dam it broke is meant to help heal emotions that I need to make peace with. Each day is a new beginning, and I will be stronger tomorrow.  “After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Our legal battle continues on, the defense has until September 25, to file their Reply Brief to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I will assume they will ask for an extension, and expect another delay, because one thing Atwood’s counsel has shown us is they are really good at delaying everything they can as many times as they can, buying a child murderer more time on our tax paying dime. Once the defense files their brief, we will wait to see if the 9th Circuit will hold a hearing in the matter, and that date. And the time continues to tick by as the fate of the man who took Vicki from us still fights the system while dragging us through hell.

31 years later, September 17th, the battle continues but we will win the war. 

Today, I hope that everyone who was touched by her life takes a moment to share a memory. This day will always be one to reflect on and honor the life of a very special freckled faced, blue eyed angel, my sissy. Don’t forget Vicki Lynne.

All “new” things Younique!

Younique just stepped up their game with eight amazing new products on September 1st!

Our Addiction Eye Shadow Palette’s! I’m obsessed with #1 & #2…

Addiction Eye Shadow Palette's

Moodstuck Opulence Lipstick’s in 15 colors! Fortunate is my FAV!!!!

Moodstuck Opulence Lipstick

Our new Precision Brow Liner & Gel! Two of the most sought after products I’ve had!

Brow Liner

Brow Gel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our new Touch Mineral Foundation & Concealer…

I never thought I would go back to a liquid foundation until now… honestly!

Touch Liquid Concealer

Touch Liquid Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our very own Tweezers & Angle Shadow/Sponge Brush.

TweezersAngle Shadow Brush

www.stephbrandt.com

#somuchmorethanmascara

Younique… #somuchmorethanmascara

Wow… what a MONTH it has been!!!!

I honestly am 110% in LOVE with our new 3D+ Fiber Lash Mascara. It is 100% better than our original formula and I would have NEVER thought that that would have been possible to improve on. I’ve been blasting my FB with funny one eyed selfies lately just showing off how much better it really is! Super curious if YOU will love this new enhanced mascara as much as me???? Go to www.stephbrandt.com and click on Eyes, 3D+, add to cart and check out… your “magic” mascara will be in your hot little hands in just a few days!!!Steph 3D+

August is a new month and in true Younique fashion they have continued to raise the bar with their Kudos! Each month they come up with a fun bundle of products & roll it out in a special offer and this month they brought something to our line that I am HEAD OVER HEEEEEEEELS in love with…. LIPSTICK!!! Who would have ever dreamed lipstick would make someone so happy… well, it has!!! Our Three for Me Bundle has your choice of Bronzer, one of our UH-Mazing liners, and Stuck Up lipstick!! You can snatch yours up on my site by clicking www.stephbrandt.com and going to Kudos!! It’s shipped right to your door in a few days!!!!August Kudos

But… what I really want to share is something that is empowering and inspiring to me… RIGHT NOW. TODAY. And will be a drive for me to support as I continue my build my dream with Younique. See, I had no idea that I would be a part of this when I joined last November, it was just about the mascara for me. Then it become more about ALL the products I was falling in love with and grew daily with the amazing friendships I was making with women all over the country. Then I learned that our founders had a dream to start a foundation and that THAT dream had become a reality far faster than they ever imagined… The Younique Foundation.

What is The Younique Foundation? It’s a foundation set up to help support and educate women who have been victim’s of sexual abuse or violence as a child or adult. It’s a retreat where women can come together to get the resources they need to start to heal.

When I learned that MY business & company was supporting The Younique Foundation, I sat back and cried…  I AM helping women who have survived the unthinkable. Just like me and my journey with the lose of my sissy to the unthinkable. Women I can inspire to heal and support others too… I AM doing something amazing with this journey that started just because of mascara…

Tonight, I am so very proud to be a part of Younique. I WILL Uplift. Validate. Empower. women in my life, I WILL share the dream, I WILL support this foundation and encourage every woman I know to do the same!

Want to help me do that?? Let’s talk about all the ways you can! #somuchmorethanmascara

 

3D+ Mascara and more!!!!

July 1, Younique made some UH-MAZING announcements!!! It was so exciting we actually broke the internet for some time… ok, well, maybe not the whole internet but it took about an hour for the video conference to take place because there were SO MANY excited ladies waiting to hear the Epic announcement, we broke something!!! HAHA!

Honestly, I LOVE our 3D Fiber Lash Mascara!!! I have wanted fake lashes for a long time but just couldn’t justify the time and expense, then I found the 3D Fiber Lash Mascara… and I signed up to sell it and the rest is history! Sooooo, on the 1st when Younique’s co-founder, Melanie Huscroft, announced they were rolling out an enhanced 3D+ I about fell out of my seat!!! How could they begin to improve on this amazing product????? Well… they have, and I’m stalking my post lady like crazy waiting for her to bring me my first one!! (I will probably need to do something nice for her… maybe she likes mascara too… )

new 3d plusThe new enhanced 3D+ will be available to the public July 15th BUT it you sign as a Presenter right now! Today! Ok, and maybe tomorrow too… well, probably for a few weeks you get not ONE BUT TWO 3D+ Mascaras in your presenters kit!!!! I swear I was jumping up and down screaming at my computer as Melanie was announcing it on our webinar!!!! Serious!!! Oh, and I will add that for a limited time with the TWO 3D+ Mascaras, they are offering FREE shipping on this purchase!!! Your own little mascara empire for $99!!! This may sound crazy, but MY mascara empire is taking Scott & I on an all expense paid cruise to Jamaica in October!!!!

There are so many things that I want to say about this company and my journey, (I promise you will hear more in blogs to come) but this company has been one of the most amazing leaps of faith I have ever ever taken. It has brought a fire and joy to my heart that I never knew was there… I brag that Younique’s missions statement is to UPLIFT, EMPOWER & VALIDATE women and this journey is far more than amazing mascara, all natural skin care products or incredible cosmetics, it’s also about sisterhood and success!!!

I promise to share my own pictures as soon as my sweet, awesome, mail lady brings me my very first 3D+ mascara!!! Until next time… here’s a quick little video on our “fiber lash effect” .. Younique Movement

 

2nd Annual Vicki Lynne Memorial Scholarship

Vicki Lynne 1984

Vicki Lynne 1984

Last Thursday, May 7th, another scholarship at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, AZ was given to a graduating senior in memory of my sister, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson.

It’s the second one we would give in her honor. Last years recipient, Anisa Jimenez, is such an amazing young woman, and I am so blessed that our families have grown very close over the last year. I have so much to share about her and will do so in a blog to come soon!

This year’s recipient was a young man. He is an aspiring engineer student and will attend the University of Arizona in the fall. His academic accomplishments, awards, leadership roles and community service spoke greatly about his drive and spirit. When my brother, Brian, saw that he played baseball it struck a sentimental place in his heart. My sister, Carie, loved his aspiration to become an engineer, it’s what my nephew would like to do do as well. So to say this candidate was chosen on his academic accomplishments alone would be untrue.

I called him the other day to ask permission to share about him on my blog. I was curious to talk to him, and honestly less than a minute into the conversation, it took a lot to hold back the tears. He started out by telling me that he and his sister went to Homer Davis Elementary, and that his mom taught 3rd grade there for a lot of years before going back into Special Education at another school within the Flowing Wells District. He said she had actually come to Homer Davis not long after Vicki had died. And, although, we have not made any requirements that a student attend FWSD from elementary school through high school to be awarded the scholarship in memory of Vicki, it blew me away that again this year we would unknowingly pick a recipient that had. He said that he had spoken to his mom about Vicki and shared his appreciation that we would believe in him to award him this scholarship in her memory.

My mom flew down to present the award to this years winner, Nathan Syers. We are honored to help such an amazing young individual again this year. We look forward to following you as you make your dreams come true!!

Here is a video of the presentation of the 2nd Annual Vicki Lynne Memorial Scholarship!

Thank you to all you who have helped our family this possible! I wish I could explain how deeply touched my heart is to honor Vicki in such a positive way and to help Nathan & Anisa make their dreams become their reality!

The last chapter…

An Opening Brief was filed by the defense in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit yesterday. 

The original file date was June 12, 2014 delayed to November 21, 2014, delayed again to March 12, 2015 and finally filed on May 11, 2015.  

It took almost 11 months to produce 99 pages arguing technicalities and reasons why Frank Atwood should not be put to death. Imagine the money the tax payers have spent in 333 days just for this brief? 

I am so relieved to have some sort of forward motion again…  for my parents, for my siblings, for my children, for my family, our friends… for our community.

But, I have to be completely honest here… I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that people actually get paid to defend a monster like Atwood. I know this may sound silly, but I can not imagine the time and man power it took to put together 99 pages of this crap!

And now… how many hours it will take the State of Arizona to rebut this…

On September 17,1984, Atwood hit my sissy with his car while she was riding her bike home from her best friends house. He drove with her in his car to the desert not far from our home and I can not fathom the fear she experienced on that ride. He sexually assaulted her. And, he didn’t kill her the first time, I know Vicki’s last words still haunt and puzzle him today… He would eventually bury her in a shallow grave in the desert… 207 days later only parts of her precious little body were found… placed in a small box and given to my parents to lay to rest. 

And more than 30 years later we are fighting him on technicalities. Nothing will change the fact that he brutally murdered this little girl in 1984. And I am confident that this brief will be the start of the last chapter in this book that has had no ending or justice for this beautiful little girl. 

Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, 4

Don’t forget Vicki Lynne.

Younique’s May Kudos and more!

It’s been 6 months since I joined Younique and what an incredible adventure it has been!!! To be honest, I signed up for the amazing Presenter’s Kit thinking I would enjoy the products and sell to a few family & friends! In the time since I joined, my amazing and fearless leader, Kelsey Stacey, has been an incredible mentor and support to my venture! She has brought together a great team of ladies, and the friendship’s that I continue to make will last a life time! I’ll brag about a few of them in blogs to come!!! 6 months later I have hit another promotion and can now call myself a Blue Status Presenter! May being the month of the Emerald, I am vying for the Green Status!!!! With all the great things happening within our company and with the support of my family & customers, I know I can!

Our customer kudo’s this month is a beautiful necklace with our mission statement “Uplift-Empower-Validate” engraved on it with the purchase of any of our amazing collections!

May's Customer Kudos is a reminder that we are a mission-based company. Purchase any collection and receive our Three Little Words necklace free. Www.hopeshautelashes.com

When the new collections were rolled out in March, I was so excited not only for the bundles that our corporate office put together but the new bags that come free with them… AMAZING!!!!! They have a pocket on the top for your brushes when you travel! My favorite is the About Face! I LOVE the BB Flawless & Mineral Concealer, they provide a great light-weight coverage! The Uplift Eye Serum is by far my favorite anti-aging serum, I even started putting it on my husband!

New Younique products! 6 new collection highlighting our new March releases! I can't even pick a favorite! And the new bags are money! Check them all out here: LashLoveSociety.com and inquire about how to get these half off or even free!

The other EXCITING news is we launched in Mexico on Cinco De Mayo!!!! We can now ship to our Latina customers and will welcome presenters this fall!!! This could be an amazing opportunity for anyone with a love for high quality cosmetics and a desire to have their own business!

https://www.youniqueproducts.com/RICHELESCHULTZ

This adds Mexico to this list of countries we are already shipping to: American Samoa, Australia, Canada, Guam, Fed. Islands of Micronesia, Puerto Rico, any military APO and/or NPO address, Palau, US Virgin Islands, United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

 

April 12th… 30 years later…

It’s hard to believe that time has gone by so quickly… 30 years is a long time, but this day is still as vivid in my mind as yesterday. My heart still aches the same it did that day… that pain will never go away.

I wrote the following a couple years ago and felt the need to re-share it again today. Thank you for those who continue to follow our case and support us as we fight for justice for my sissy.

Reflecting back on April 12, 1985

Today marks a significant anniversary in my life. It is a day that is forever etched in my mind, a day to reflect and a day to be thankful for.

On September 17, 1984, my 8 year old sister, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, disappeared from our neighborhood. She had gone on her bike to mail a birthday card to our Aunt Lori for our mom. When she didn’t come home, I road my bike to find her. At that time, being 11, there was no doubt in my mind that she had stopped off at a neighbors or was playing with kids from the neighborhood and had lost track of time. We lived in a community and time when you left the house, played outside & people watched out for each other. Kids didn’t just disappear, and if they did it happened on T.V. and not on your street, let alone to your sister.

Vicki had been gone 6 months, 26 days…. or 207 days total. 

April 12, 1985 was a friday, and I was sitting in Mr. Abrams 6th grade core class. When the door opened and one of the ladies from the office walked in, I knew she was there for me.  Mr. Abrams paused, looking down and then up at me. He squeaked out the the words that I needed to gather my things and go to the office.

I sat in the yellow polyester cushioned chair against the windows that looked down the sidewalk and out into the parking lot. I was 11, and trying to understand the world that I had been thrusted into so many months before. There, in the office of the junior high school, everyone was quiet, and working just as hard at keeping it together as they were trying to act like they were working.

I can not tell you how long I sat in that chair in the window, but I knew when I looked over my left shoulder and saw my parents walking down the sidewalk it’s as if the world stopped.

They had found my sister….

Today, 28 years, 6 months and 26 days later, I can close my eyes and remember that day. The warmth of the Arizona sun through the window in the office, the look first on Mr. Abrams face, then on that of my parents, and the feeling of despair by those who surrounded me.

There are no words to express how incredibly grateful I am for the man who went looking for his dog that day and stumbled upon her remains, for at least we could have closure and lay her to rest.

If I had a penny for every time I thanked him, and those who gave so unconditionally those months we searched for her I would have enough money to buy the world.

Today, I miss Vicki just the same as I have in the 28 1/2 years it has been since she was taken from us. And I appreciate how incredibly blessed I have been in my journey between here and there…

**Our family has set up a Vicki Lynne Memorial Scholarship Fund at Flowing Wells High School where I graduated, and Vicki would have. If you would like to make a donation in her memory, you can do so by sending a check to:

Flowing Wells Unified School District

Attention: Monique Mata

1556 W. Prince Road

Tucson, AZ 85705

Flowing Wells Tax Id # 86-6003684

Please make sure you indicate that the donation is for the

VICKI LYNNE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

I am also doing a fundraiser, Be-YOU-tiful Lashes for Vicki!!!! 100% of my proceeds will be given in her memory to a graduating senior at Flowing Wells High School in May!! If you haven’t tried our famous 3D Fiber Lash Mascara or LOVE all natural skin care & beauty products you will LOVE Younique!!! Click the link to shop!!!

www.youniqueproducts.com/SBrandt/party/1716475/view

Apache Lake, AZ, Vicki & I

Apache Lake, AZ, Vicki & I

April is all about the Eyes!!!

Who would have ever thought I would be “blogging” about make-up & skin care?

I can tell you I am actually surprised myself!!!

When I joined Younique in November 2014, I hadn’t even tried the 3D Fiber Lash Mascara. I had ordered it & a friend was leaving on vacation & bought it from me the day it arrived. I messaged Kelsey, who I had ordered it from & told her I had sold mine to a friend and needed another. We chatted about for a few minutes and then she asked if I knew they had more than just “magic” mascara??? I said, “No”.

About 30 minutes later I signed up to be a presenter, WHY NOT? $99 for $214 worth of makeup? I LOVE a good deal!!! I thought I would just sign up to sell to my family & close friends and get my make-up free!

My presenters kit came and then I was hooked…

What’s eye-some about April??? The Customer Kudos! The Easy on Your Eyes Bundle has 4 of our Moodstruck Mineral Pigment Powders, a set of the “magic” Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara and the Shine Eye Makeup Remover Cloths! It’s $99 worth of product for $74 (… you know 74 is my favorite number right? I wish I could take credit for setting this corporate price!)

11077289_10153124895891550_1272504842_n

Take a peek at this eye-mazing little deal on my site at

www.stephbrandt.com!

Do you have questions? You can reach me direct through my site or send me an email at stephanie@loveneverforgets.com

Have a fabu-LASH day!!!