Friday, October 30, 2009

In The News: Gardasil Researcher Drops A Bombshell

A couple of years ago, I wrote about my concerns with the Gardasil vaccine: Shoot First... ask questions later? In that post I noted some of my concerns, one of which being:

Am I confident enough in just 5 years of studies to allow my daughter to be used as a test case in Ontario? (Twenty years from now the girls being immunized today, will be for the most part, nameles research stats - except for the ones that had serious adverse reactions, and their names along with their ages and every other documentable detail about them, will be well known among at least the medical community - and they'll be filed into the "extremely rare" side affects category)

Imagine then my non-surprise when I read the headline yesterday that said

"Gardasil Researcher Drops A Bombshell"

According to this article, lead US researcher Dr. Diane Harper (director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri and a consultant to the World Health Organization) while giving an address in Reston VA earlier this month at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination was quoted as saying

"There have been no efficacy trials in girls under 15 years" and regarding the JAMA report on safety of the vaccine was quoted as saying "The rate of serious adverse events [from the vaccine] is greater than the incidence rate of cervical cancer."

Just two months ago Dr. Harper told CBS news "enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent." (source)

According to this article:

To date, 15,037 girls have officially reported adverse side effects from Gardasil to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). These adverse reactions include Guilliane Barre, lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots, brain inflammation and many others. The CDC acknowledges that there have been 44 reported deaths.

So in just three short years, a drug that has not been yet proven effective at reducing the rate of cervical cancer, (according to this article, Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil, studied only a small group of girls under 16 who had been vaccinated, but did not follow them long enough to conclude sufficient presence of effective HPV antibodies) a drug that many parents are giving their girls permission to get, has already claimed the lives of 44. That's more than one fatality a month, every month for the last 3 years, since the drug was introduced to the public. I'd be willing to wager not one of the parents of one of those girls who died, had any idea the potential serious side affects were that serious, and were assured that the serious side affects were rare. I suppose out of the estimated millions of vaccines given that only 44 deaths is considered rare, but there are 44 families that quite likely don't see it that way.

I believe the concerns I raised two years ago were quite valid, in light of the information now coming out.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's All About Sex

I'd like to clarify something I wrote at twitter today. That 140 limit doesn't allow for a lot of clarity sometimes. Before I do that however, let me preface this by saying this is not a slam against anyone's favorite Christian blogger. This is a legitimate concern that has been a concern for a few years now as I see the increase of sexual images and sexual language and content being used in society in general, but even moreso (language, anyway) among Christians and Christian ministry.

Sex sells, and we all know it. Sex gets attention, and we all know that too. I know full well that simply using the word sex in this post, is going to generate much more traffic than the average post, because people are actively and constantly looking for sex and this post will just be another that shows up in the search results that people will click on. Meh. Sorry to disappoint.

Sex is everywhere, from sitcoms to movies, video games to sidebar ads all over the web, tv commercials and magazine ads. No matter where you go or what you're doing, sex and sexual images are being shoved in your face, in your spouse's face, your fiance, your kids, your parents, and even your dog. While leaving the grocery store parking lot the other day, I stopped to check for oncoming traffic, and on the telephone poll right at the entrance to the lot, was an ad stapled to the poll. I don't know what the ad was for (the ad copy was unreadable) but the backdrop of the ad was a very well endowed woman with the skimpiest undergarments on that you could get away with, without it being full frontal nudity. I've seen this ad before, and everything in me wanted to fly out of the van and rip that trash off that poll. I probably should have. I just might, the next time I'm there. If it prevents one kid's innocent eyes from seeing that image, then it's worthwhile to do. The only 2 people on the planet that should ever see that much skin on that woman are her husband and her doctor. Not little kids walking down the sidewalk, for crying out loud.

Point being, sex is literally everywhere and everything about that is SO wrong. It would seem as an attempted answer to this topic being shoved in our faces, that even many Christian churches and ministries have taken up the sex-theme and are even becoming known by this topic. Someone mentions this or that ministry or pastor, and someone else is first to say "oh yes, the guy obsessed with sex talk?" Some have commented (and I would be one to agree) that when a Christian ministry is known for their in-your-face and over-the-top approach to teaching on sex, something is very wrong.

I fully understand that there is a very twisted message being given to young people about sex. Likewise, I understand the desire for older, Christian people to want to make certain that these younger people have the right message and the right understanding about marital intimacy. That's what prompted my first tweet on this today:

"Curious, are blogs the place to teach Biblical values on sex and marriage? Or, should this be taught in a different venue?"

I firmly believe this topic of intimacy should be taught and discussed in a private setting. Maybe I'm old fashioned, maybe I just think private things should remain private things, but every time I see an open, graphic (and they always get graphic) conversation online about sexual matters, I wonder "how would his wife feel about him reading this lady's comments about sex?" I'll be totally honest and admit that I know right this minute there is possibly a man (who is not my husband) reading this and that makes me feel uncomfortable for his wife. I also know that if she is honest she will admit that she doesn't feel entirely comfortable about the whole thing either. There is a reason for this, and that reason is because this is a private, intimate matter and should stay that way. I believe deep down we all know this... yet, here it is, in our faces all the time. The lines have been blurred by the depraved and sinful culture we live and work and raise our kids in every day, and now we have to deal with that, somehow.

A few of the comments to that tweet led to my second response:

"Going off the last tweet, if it's ok to teach about sexual things via blogs, is there a Biblical precedent for making private things public?"

Some of the comments suggested that yes, it's entirely okay to teach Biblical truths in any setting. So I wonder outloud, is there a Biblical precedent for this (i.e., anyone in the early church engaging in public teachings & discussions about sex between husband and wife, or sex acts in general?), and if so, where? I've read my Bible and just in case I missed it I asked my husband and he said no, there is no such example given in Scripture for engaging in that sort of thing. I think this is important, since the Scriptures are our foundation on how to conduct ourselves both publicly and privately, and the last time I checked, blogging and tweeting is fairly public.

While I do not question the motives (of most) for wanting to do this, and I do not question the intent (I get it, I really do) I definitely question the method. While I've read some very well-written material on this important topic (Challies post today was very tactful I thought) I think we've (in many ways) contextualized ourselves out of sane, sound thinking and just jumped on the cultural bandwagon trying to use the vehicle and turn it around. Oh I know full well there are going to be people to testify that so and so preached this open and graphic message or posted this or that at their blog and it really turned their life around, and so on, but that still doesn't make the method Biblical, or appropriate. It's just us, latching on to what the culture is obessed with, when we have no Biblical standard for doing it.

I'm well aware that this position makes me out of touch, old fashioned, out-dated and probably even prudish. Oddly enough, I'm entirely okay with that. Just a suggestion but, maybe the answer to this is for those who are intent on addressing this to prayerfully consider addressing it in their local churches with the young men in a discipleship type of weekly meeting?

Just thinking outloud here. I don't pretend to have all the answers.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Taking Mercy for Granted?

For my family, this has been The Medical Year. In January I rushed Kev to the ER for an emergency appendectomy. In February I threw my back out shovelling snow and it took months to recover. In April I was present for the birth of my second grand daughter who was then rushed off to a different hospital for various concerns. Also in the spring, after just being diagnosed with terminal cancer, my uncle Merle passed away. There have been other medical concerns as well (including my running battle with IBS and the often debilitating attacks I get), right up to last week when Kev threw his back out at work and came home nearly unable to walk. The next two days showed some improvement but then yesterday he woke up barely able to walk. All the plans I had for Sunday went right out the window and Kev's needs became #1.

Since this has been a running theme all year, I've had a lot of opportunity to consider God's mercy. While a lot of people would take the position that maybe my family has had more than their share, I don't see it that way at all. Part of the reason I don't see it that way is due to something my first husband once said when someone asked him if he ever wondered "why me?" when diagnosed with terminal cancer. He responded that no, he wondered "why NOT me?" He went on to explain that no one is exempt from tragedy, sickness and death, and while it's a difficult thing to deal with, he was actually thankful for the diagnosis because it's what led him to his knees before God, and his faith in Christ. He never had time to mature in his Christianity, but he definitely understood God's divine orchestration in the events of our lives. I was surprised he answered the question this way and it really opened my eyes to what raw faith looks and sounds like.

As I've considered God's mercy over this last year, I've had some thoughts that some may consider extreme. I'm pretty sure most of us (myself included) don't really think about our lives this way on a day to day basis but here is the reality of it:

• it's purely by God's mercy that our hearts continue to beat each beat
• it's purely by God's mercy that we're able to take breath after breath, all day and all night long, day after day
• it's purely by God's mercy that we're able to get out of bed each morning and use our arms and legs
• it's purely by God's mercy that we're able to see, hear, taste, feel and smell

At any moment of any day, any one of these things could in fact cease to occur. When the moment comes, according to God's divine economy for for my life, one or more of these things will in fact no longer work the way they once did. If I make it through an entire day and was able to see the sunrise or sunset, hear someone say "I love you" (or even "he looked at me!), walk from one room to another, breath without difficulty, think clearly, and smell dinner cooking, I literally owe it all to God. In His mercy He allows me this freedom to function and to get through each day with these abilities intact.

I don't think most of us ever think of day to day living this way. I don't think most of us end the day thanking God that He allowed our hearts to beat, our eyes to work, and our hands to hold someone we love. I think most of us just take these things for granted and assume because they've always worked, that they always will. I think most of us would probably ask "why ME!?" were these things to stop functioning the way we've become accustomed to. I think most of us go through days, weeks months and maybe even years or lifetimes never really considering how fearfully and wonderfully made we truly are, and Who holds our very breath and beating heart in His hand.

The older we get, the more sickness, trials, tragedies and death we'll experience all around us. From friends, family members, church family, even celebrities passing away will cause us to realize we are in a generation that is indeed passing away, little by little. That's just the way it is. 2009 has sort of been a wake up call for me in the sense that I realize more acutely now that it is indeed God's mercy that I wake up every day, even with all the aches and pains and physical problems I have. I know they'll probably get worse the older I get, but the fact that I can still function day to day, and that my problems are not as bad as they could be, for now, is cause for me to thank God every day.

I never want to go another day taking that mercy for granted, and forgetting Who deserves all the thanks for it.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Investing in Time

Do you ever look at your kids and think about what your life was like at the age they are? I do that quite a bit, and have ever since my oldest was just a baby. I didn't start out doing it intentionally really, but one day when she was just a wee little thing, I had a memory of myself at about the same age. Those who know me know that I have a very unusual memory that goes back almost literally from the time I was born.

Since that first time I remembered myself at the same age, I've tried to do this intentionally for no other reason than to try to understand where they're coming from, a little better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The times it doesn't I think may be due to far too many "grown up stuff" clogging the pipes. Sometimes it's easy to remember life at a certain age, and other times the life experiences you've had since then cloud the view so much you really can't recall it.

I thought about all this the other day as my 6 yr old Ruth was sitting at the table working on her long vowel U page, in her phonics workbook. I remember learning the long vowel sounds, and doing the exact same kinds of exercises on worksheets that she does today. So, in a type of "this is where I am right now" post, "this is where I was then" at the ages my kids are now, starting with Ruth:


The year I turned 6 I was in kindergarten. I started school in September and turned 6 in December. Grandma took me down to the hair salon at JC Penney right before school and I got my first professional haircut. They called it a Pixie cut, and I hated it. There was a boy in my class that wore black leather shoes with buckles on them, and he was the fastest runner in the class. I'm not even sure I ever knew his real name, but everyone just called him Speedy.

The year I turned 9 I was in 1973. Entering the third grade that year, and in Mrs. McVicker's class. Mrs. McVicker always had lipstick on her teeth and she was one of those teachers that truly and genuinely loved children, and loved to teach. This was the year that my math-barrior came down and suddenly math made sense to me, and I began to love it. I started dividing fractions just for fun, and to see if I could do it.

The year I turned 10 was grade 4 and Mr. Kono's class. Mr. Kono had no business teaching children, but that's what he did for a living. This year I discovered how good I was on the monkey bar flips, and would walk up to the school on weekends just to practice. I had fancy ideas of becoming a gymnast and entering the Olympics. I never got got beyond the playground and the sawdust covered ground of the monkey bars.

The year I turned 12 was sixth grade and Mr. Lindberg's class. A lot of changes that year I wasn't very happy with. That was my first year with glasses (can you say John Denver?) and when the whole puberty thing began to occur. A boy named Ervin had a crush on me and to prove it, he chased me down the hall one day at lunch time and when he caught up with me he punched me in the stomach so hard it sent me to the floor. When asked by the principle (and made to apologize) why he did that, Ervin said "I dunno". I never saw Ervin after grade school, but I only hope his social skills improved.

The year I turned 19 I was a single mom living on my own working at the best authentic pizzaria in town. Life was hard, lonely and unsure, but I had the most adorable daughter in the universe and she was my source of joy every morning when I'd wake up (or when she would, whichever happened first). Being a mom at such a young age forced me to grow up in many ways I never even realized would happen. I learned how to keep a household budget that year, and to this day use the exact same formula for budgeting.

The year I turned 23 I was crazily-happily married to my highschool sweet heart, and had two adorably cute daughters. Having had our own business for a year, we packed everything we could fit into our car and stored the rest in his dad's basement and headed to Palm Springs to open up another business there. It was a wild adventure and the business went very well, but we both became desperately homesick after a year and moved back to Washington. The first house we looked at to rent, was the very same house he lived in until he was 6 years old. We rented it, and lived there for a year.

The year I turned 26 was one of the happiest years ever. My third daughter was born, we were now renting the house that I'd lived in from the ages of 13-18, and life was just real good. It would be the last year of happy-bliss-world, as the following year brought the diagnosis of terminal cancer for my late husband, and everything in our world changed forever.

retro memories in time
When I look back over the years at where I was then, and look at where my own kids are now, it really does bring to life the words in James when he says "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." (James 4:14) I remember each of those years of my life like it was yesterday, but realize how long ago it really was. While it 'seems like yesterday' for me, I also realize that in no time at all, all of my kids will be grown up and on their own and I'll be sitting here thinking "wow, where did that time go?". It really does zip by very very fast, especially when you're so busy living life.

It's easy for most mothers to look back and think "Oh I wish I could have done this differently" or "I wish I would have never made that choice" and beat themselves up for hard lessons they've learned as they've raised up their kids. The thing is, it's very hard work and very few of us ever do it without any big mistakes. Looking back and only seeing the things we could have or should have done differently is really just a losing deal, because they'll always stand out like a sore thumb and aside from hopefully learning from them, there is nothing we can do about them. When I look back over the last quarter century I like to look for the shining spots, the times I laughed so hard I cried and my face hurt, the times one of my kids did something so incredibly cool that I just wanted to squish them with hugs, and the times I have been so proud as they each made good decisions when making bad ones would have been so much easier. When I look back and realize I have been a mother now for more than half my life, in some ways that seems very strange to me, and in other ways it seems perfectly normal.

I turn 45 at the end of this year, and approaching this age has had a bit of a strange affect on my emotions. I find myself looking back a lot, and find myself not entirely comfortable with the fact that I am not a spring chicken any more. In my mind I guess I still feel like I did when I was 20, but my body is sending an entirely different message that starts out with "Dear Mrs. Middle Aged, welcome to the change of life and things not working the way they once did". I don't like those words, but that's what they say. It's been an awesomely incredible amazing 45 years (minus life's deepest sorrows that are inevitable), and if my vapor is up tomorrow, I can genuinely say it's been a blessed ride. If I get another 45, I'll look forward to being old too, and watching all my grandbabies grow up and start families of their own.

Either way, life is truly a vapor and we'd all do well to invest deeply in the lives of the people around us as much as humanly possible, while we're able. The legacy we leave behind will be determined by how we spent this fleeting time, so we would do well to make the best of it.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Pet Peeve Saturday

Okay I have lots of pet peeves. I guess I'm just one of those people that are easily annoyed by stupid things. For example:

• Transformers (the movie, and the sequel). So we rented it (the sequel) and watched it and enjoyed it (mostly for the special FX which are just so cool!) but the whole time just kept thinking "it's so wrong that this wasn't made for kids". See, kids would LOVE these movies, but you can't let them watch because of the stupid sexual innuendo and bad language (way more of that in the sequel, than the original). The thing is, it wasn't made for kids anyway, it was (both) made for kids who grew up playing with the Transformers toys and are now adults. So, they toss in some "adult" content and totally ruin a movie that could have made a fanstastic family movie. YET... and this is the most annoying thing of all - they STILL market the movie TO kids, and the movie merch TO kids.

• Breast Cancer awareness slogans that turn a very serious health concern into a sex theme, or a joke. Maybe you've seen them, maybe not, but being in graphic design these things cross my desk a lot. Slogans that say things like "don't let cancer steal second base" and "I'm running for the boobies". Trust me, those are the tame ones. Whatever knucklehead came up with these stupid slogans should be completely ashamed of themselves. But, I guarantee they're not, and making money off them. Things like that cause me to mourn the death of shame in our culture.

• Non-Calvinists that have absolute NO idea what Calvinists actually believe, yet choose to spout off and declare themselves well educated on the subject (and in reality only proving how little they actually do know in the first place). Then, even worse, blogging or tweeting or facebooking their messed up ideas as if they're factual, when all they are is warmed over, moldy, smelly, rotting strawmen that should have been burnt up years ago. Then, along comes another non-Calvinist making the same claim about his shiney wisdom on the subject and backing up his claims by saying something like "I know this because I read so-and-so's site and he knows!" when so-and-so is the person who blogged, tweeted or FB'd his messed up ideas. It's so annoying, and you can't just say "please shut up until you know what you're talking about" because thats mean and stuff. Yet, even when you tell them "look, you do NOT know what you're talking about" they still don't want to hear it. They have their man-made traditions and ideas and they've got a death grip on them that will not be broken.

There, I have vented and now I feel tons better. Sort of.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Store Stuff: New Stuff and FREE Shipping!

This is a crosspost from the store blog, but I had so much fun creating this new line I wanted to show it off here too! Plus, there's a free shipping deal in the works (ends Friday at midnight) and I didn't want my readers here to miss any free goodies. :-)

I've just added a brand new line at Reflections cafepress: Fun Books!

Family RecipesThese amazing notebooks are perfect for all kinds of uses.

Great for school, the office, home use (they make awesome little recipe notebooks because they lay flat when opened), sketch books (order yours with blank paper for sketch books) or just about any reason you'd want a notebook.

Christmas Fun BookGrab a Christmas book and use that for gift lists, card lists, Christmas party planning and more.

AutumnGrab an Autumn themed book and hand write your favorite Thanksgiving recipes in it! You can use them for traditional journalling, taking notes in school, address books, organizing your household budget, and so much more.

Pink Polka DotsPurchase as is, or contact me for absolutely free custom, personalization on the cover! I can add a name, a title, or whatever you like. Love the Ornate Fun Books and want to use one of those for wedding planning? I can easily add a custom title to that, complete with bride and groom's names and the wedding date! Gold Leaf Ornate Fun Book Love the Pink Hearts or Blue Polka Dots? It makes the perfect expectant mom journal, which can be personalized with baby's due date or any other information you like.

Looking for the perfect cat lover gift? I've got an adorable Kitty Fun Book too! Kitty Fun BookParticularly fond of the Recipe Fun Book? I can add your family name to the cover, and you've got your very own custom Fun Book. Handy, versatile, totally customizable and they make the perfect stocking stuffer too!

Product Info:

• Our Wire-O bound, 160 page journal has your choice of papers and measures 5" x 8", a handy on-the-go size to fit in your backpack. Get creative and let the muse flow.
• Back cover made of thin black flexible textured plastic, measures 16/1000" thick
• Front cover made of 12pt glossy paper, laminated for durability
• Filled with your choice of 60lb bookweight (24 lb bond) paper -- blank, dot grid, lined college-ruled, or a task journal.

To make the announcement of Amazing Fun Books even more amazing, check out this amazing free shipping offer just in time for Christmas shopping.

Use coupon code SHIP4FREE at checkout, and get your goodies shipped for free!

DETAILS: Order must be $40 or more, and this offer is valid only from Wednesday October 21, 2009, at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and ends on Friday October 23, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). Delivery address must be within the United States and cannot be a PO Box. All orders will be Economy shipping unless the order is not eligible for Economy shipping (e.g., order exceeds Economy weight restrictions). Coupon code must be entered at check out.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who Am I?

It's been a while since I've posted one of these, so here we go:

• I make some people very happy, while others cannot tolerate me.

• I come in a wide array of shapes and sizes.

• In certain situations, I am indespensible.

• I am probably in your home, right now whether you realize it or not.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anti-Abortion: Protesting the Protesters

UPDATED: Just for curiosity's sake, I've added a poll in the sidebar on this issue. The poll was open for one week and here are the results:

Should graphic images of aborted babies ever be used to raise awareness and promote education on the topic of abortion?

50% - YES - they show the truth for all to see
14% - NO - they're disgusting and upsetting for many people
35% - MAYBE - it depends on how they're used
0% - NOT SURE - I've never given it much thought

I took my adorably chubby nearly 6 month old granddaughter to her check up today, and was blessed to hold her, snuggle with her, kiss her soft little cheeks and see her face bloom into precious, toothless baby smiles. I absolutely love being around her, as she's such a fun, snuggly, lovey baby. Then, I came home and read this:

"Rob Rudnick would rather be flipped off than ignored. Driving a box truck with graphic, billboard-sized pictures of aborted human fetuses on it, he gets a lot of both. Rudnick, of Bend, Ore., was cruising Wheaton Way, Warren Avenue and Highway 303 on Monday afternoon as part of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Reproductive “Choice” Campaign. Rudnick, 55, said he would prefer a negative reaction than none at all." (source)

This was how the article started off. A news article in my hometown paper about a man and his anti-abortion organization protesting abortion, in my hometown of Bremerton WA. Not unlike any other small town, Bremerton has changed a lot since I was born there, grew up there and lived there into my early 30s.

As I read the article, none of it was really "news" to me. Anti-abortion protesters have been using graphic, real-life images of murdered babies for a long time, in an effort to get the message across that babies are PEOPLE, and even the tiniest ones deserve a chance at life, and do not deserve to be slaughtered in the womb. They've also met with monumental resistance from all sides - from the passively apathetic (ironically enough) to the aggressively pro-choice - as those who see the images are (rightly) horrified and offended. I believe both sides of this issue will agree that the images themselves are brutally difficult to look at. Most of the images used in this way are clearly recognizable as very small human body parts mixed in with some bloody tissue. Such is the case of the image used on the truck mentioned in the article linked above.

While the article itself isn't really "new" news, it was the comments that drew my attention. Again and again you'll read words like "offensive" "obscene" "gruesome" "disgusting" and "horrifying". Again, both sides will agree that the images themselves are desperately heartbreaking to see. However, the vast majority of people commenting on this article also bring with them a genuine anger toward the messengers of the anti-abortion movement. How DARE they drive that truck around town where kids can see it!? How DARE they shove those repulsive images in my face and force their views on me?! How DARE they violate my peaceful, blissfully ignorant lifestyle with those REAL and violently shocking images of what "pro-choice" really means?! Indeed, the majority of comments on this article are people up in arms that these images are being used. These are not people shocked and horrified that this is the end result of abortion - these are people shooting the messenger because they are personally offended by the images that shine a light on abortion's first line victims (baby is the target, but the medically documented evidence of both short and long term side affects both physical and psychological on the mother, are irrefutable. There are always at minimum, two key victims of abortion). If I live to be 1,000 years old, it will not cease to amaze me that people respond like this to the issue of abortion. Abortion clinics in their very neighborhoods are slaughtering babies all day long, and these are people more ticked off and infuriated that someone has the audacity to show pictures of it, than they are that the act is occuring in the first place.

One of the hoped-for goals of using images like this, is to shock people into realizing what abortion truly is. At the very end of one spectrum of "pro-choice" is a bio-medical waste bag filled with the body parts of a dead baby. That is a fact and there is no way around it. All kinds of liberals will come flying out of the woodwork to deny that this is true, but all their defenses and all their crowing about a woman's right to choose, it being her body, and blah blah blah, still doesn't put that baby back together and put him back into the safety and sanctity of his mother's womb where he is protected and allowed to grow to full term. No, while the liberal lunatics* are still railing on and on about "women's reproductive rights", trash bins are still filling up with these dead babies. The very ones used in anti-abortion campaign images, in an effort to wake people up from their insane stupor, and realize what we as a culture are doing. The two sides of this issue passionately disagree on it's effectiveness, while the one side says it will never work, and other side believe it to be a genuinely effective tool to educate at least some people, who may have not otherwise realized the seriousness and the reality of abortion.

This is where the story gets personal, for me. Subjective experiences being what they are, in my own case I can tell you that using graphic images of aborted babies does in fact work to educate people on the issue, and just very well may save a few innocent, precious tiny little lives, who cannot defend themselves and need someone else to stand up for them. I've briefly mentioned this before (on the old blog in 2006, here) but I never gave the details. I think the details are important.

It was either 1979 or 1980, and I was about 16 years old. My friend called me and said "I think I'm pregnant and I need to get an abortion". She might as well have said "I think I'm an alien and I'm going to grow wings out of my forehead and fly back to mother planet". The news of a potential pregnancy was shocking enough but to hear her say "abortion" was just completely foreign and mind-blowing to me. In my young mind this was a dark and scary and mysterious kind of thing that no one I ever knew actually did, but one of those things you heard about "other" girls doing, that made them not pregnant anymore. Somehow I didn't connect it to the reality that it was a procedure that ended the life of the baby, because even in 1979 the propaganda machine was in full motion to convince girls that while they may be "pregnant" according to the tests, it's not really a "baby" yet, so we shouldn't think of it that way. No one I knew really knew what an abortion was, or what it entailed, we just knew it was a frightening medical procedure that hurt, ended the pregnancy, and then was never talked about again, ever. In 1979 it was still a shameful thing to become pregnant outside of marriage, and it was even more shameful to ever discuss having an abortion. Our culture may have already been on the slippery slope to full-on liberalism, but at least we still knew what right and wrong was, even if we didn't follow it like we should have.

As far as I know, we didn't have an abortion clinic in Bremerton, so my friend wanted me to come with her to Seattle to a clinic she found in the phone book, and drive her home after the procedure. She was borrowing her mom's car and gave her some story about where we were going, and she didn't even care that I didn't have my driver's license. She'd already contacted the clinic and made the appointment, and they informed her that she had to have someone else drive her home, as she would be sedated and unable to drive. I very reluctantly agreed to go with her, not realizing what I was agreeing to. More than anything, she was my best friend and I knew I just needed to be there for her, even though I didn't honestly have a clue what she was doing. We boarded the ferry, sat in the car and cried the whole way there. As we drove up to the clinic and parked, there wasn't much talking, but we agreed I'd just wait in the car outside until she was done. What neither of us knew, was that there would be anti-abortion protesters outside the clinic that day.

While she was inside and I was waiting in the car trying to process in my own thoughts what she was doing, one of the protesters walked up to the car. I don't recall if it was a man or a woman, but they asked me if I was there to have an abortion. I said no, my friend was inside. They asked if I'd like to see some material they were handing out to the public and I said sure, and took a pamphlet. The protester walked away and I started reading the pamphlet. It was small, but it was loaded with the medical facts about the different kinds of abortions, and the complications common with each type of procedure. I couldn't believe what I was reading but at the same time I knew it was all real. With each section on the different types of abortions, there were pictures of the aborted baby to show the reader what the baby looked like after the specific procedure. Immediately my eyes welled with tears as I stared at the pictures of the dead babies. In my mind I went to memories of my neice and nephew when they were newborns and how soft they were, how sweet they smelled and how precious, innocent and defenseless they were. That was my only experience with babies at the time, and I looked at the pictures again of the babies in the pamphlet and just sat there in the car and wept, and wept. Those little boys would never wear adorably cute tiny little baseball caps, and those tiny little girls would never get to wear a pretty summer sundress and dance in the daisies. My heart felt like it was going to blow up out of my chest as I just sat there and cried for them. Suddenly it occured to me, what I was seeing in the pamphlet was exactly what was happening in the brick building right in front of me. Heartbreak turned into a frightening kind of fury, and to this day I'm stunned at the courage that filled me and my scrawny little 16 year old body.

I wiped my face, jumped out of the car and ran inside to the clinic. I didn't see my friend so I just called out her name. "Please!" I yelled, as loud as I could in the direction I thought the rooms were in, that she might be. "Please do NOT let them kill your baby, please get out of here before it's too late!! I'll help you, my mom will help you, you don't have to do this!!" It never even crossed my mind that there were other girls and women in that clinic, there for the very same reason my friend was. I never even really noticed them until I yelled that and someone started crying. I looked in the waiting room and it was packed. A girl was crying, most were just staring at me like I had 11 heads. Then it hit me that many of those girls and women in the waiting room that heard what I just said, were there to kill their babies too, even if they didn't realize that is what they were doing. I started crying again, and yelled for my friend again and begged her to come out. I guess it was their security that ushered me out of the building but my friend was right behind them, crying and following me to the car. She'd already been sedated but they had not yet performed the abortion. I drove us home, but I don't remember doing it. We got on the ferry and talked about all sorts of things pertaining to having a baby. Bottles, baths, poopy diapers, a baby's first steps, etc. She was scared, but when I showed her the pamphlet, she was even more disgusted that she almost did that to her baby. I promised her that as her best friend I would be there for her and the baby day or night. I would help her no matter what, and that she wouldn't have to be alone through it. I promised her my mom would help too (even though I had no idea how I was going to tell my mom that my best friend was pregnant!), and I just needed her to know that she didn't have to be alone through any of it, and that she had people who cared about her and would be there for her. I do remember at point in the car we laughed that I came running into the clinic like a nut, and screaming for her. She said all she heard was my voice calling her name, and she knew she had to leave. We were both surprised I wasn't arrested that day. That would have been an interesting phone call home, for sure.

The next day we spent hours talking about this, and how she would break the news to her mom, and then how I would break the news to my mom. Sadly, that day never came. What neither of us knew at the time was that mixed with the sedation she was given at the clinic, was a drug to dialate her cervix and induce labor to make it easier for the "doctor" to perform the abortion and her body to then react "naturally" to no longer being pregnant. She went into premature labor and the baby didn't make it, as she was very early in her pregnancy, about 7-8 weeks. This all happened nearly 30 years ago, and to this day I wish I would have been 10 minutes sooner rushing into that clinic. I didn't know, she didn't know, and we all learned a hard, heartbreaking lesson the hardest way possible. To add insult to injury, she received a detailed invoice in the mail about a month later that described everything they had done "for her" while in the clinic. The drugs used were listed, and that's how we found out why she really lost the baby.

This was my personal education into the topic of abortion, thanks entirely to an anti-abortion protester who used graphic images of aborted babies, in their material. I wasn't able to save my friend's baby that day, but it did open my eyes to what abortion really is, and I have been outspoken about it ever since. I am one person that can say YES, these images are offensive, obscene, repulsive, disgusting, awful and violent, and they WORK. Sadly, the pro-choice propaganda machine has been at full speed for many years, loudly and boldly trying to get us all to believe such nonsense as 'it's not really a baby'. All anyone has to do, is see the physical evidence for themselves to realize they've been lying all along.

While I agree with some of the commenters (on the article I referenced above) about not wanting your kids to see these images, I would rather they DO see them so that we can discuss it, and they can understand what abortion really is, rather than them never see it, and buy the lie that organizations such as Planned Parenthood want them to believe instead. I would much rather my kids know the truth about abortion, and that's the one thing pro-choice organizations do NOT want people to know.

It is an evil, twisted, sick culture we live in and it's not improving. Adults and children alike NEED to be armed with truth and facts, if they're going to make any kind of difference at all. I only wish we lived in a society that found it unthinkable to ever need these kinds of images to wake people up from their apathetic, delusional slumber.

In conclusion, there is a rather interesting irony to today's article I linked to. My local hometown newspaper now called the Kitsap Sun used to be called the Bremerton Sun. It was that same paper that I wrote a letter to the editor on this very issue, about two years after taking my friend to the abortion clinic in Seattle. The experience was so profound to me that I had to write about it and many friends suggested I submit it for publishing in the paper. With all the wisdom and passion of an eighteen year old girl, I poured out my heart to young readers like me, and begged them to educate themselves on what abortion really is, and to seek the alternatives. My letter was published, and within days my phone began to ring (my number was listed and I used my real name) and the folks calling me to respond to my letter had the same kinds of things to say to me, as the commenters in today's article. I was just the messenger and they verbally shot me with as many insults and degrading names as they could come up with.

As they say, the more things change, the more things stay the same. I don't know anything about this pro-life organization touring Bremerton right now, but if what they're doing opens the eyes of someone and in turn spares the life of one precious baby, it's worth all the nasty insults people can dream up. Maybe all those people shooting their mouths off (or their keyboards, as it were) against this sort of awareness campaign would like to volunteer as a part of a medical waste clean up crew in the local abortion clinic for a week. It's disturbing to think that even that, may not wake some people up to the fact that abortion is the slaughter of innocent children.

(*The dictionary defines a lunatic as someone who is marked by extreme recklessness, wildly unsound mind, foolishness and/or eccentricity. I believe that the behavior of anyone advocating a practice or a procedure that involves the invasion of the womb for the sole purpose to destroy the life growing inside, qualififes as the textbook definition of a lunatic.)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, October 12, 2009

Making Good Time

I'm not sure when I last logged into my bloglines account. It used to be at least 2-3 times a day, seeing "what's new" and what folks were blogging about. That was a long time ago however, as the last year or so I have tried to make better use of my time and found that in doing so, reading blogs has taken a back, back, back seat. There are still a few I read every week, but as I look over the stats of my bloglines numbers this morning I truly wonder where in the world I ever found the time to read so many blog posts every single day.

I have blogs set into different sections, and in the The Men section, there are 810 unread posts. In The Women section there are 130 unread posts, and T-shirt News has 170 lonely posts that wanted me to read them. I confess I did not just sit here and read them all, but instead marked them all as read, and cleaned the page.

It's been a gradual shift from daily blog reading to monthly blog reading (I think it's been about a month since I logged in to bloglines), but have found that it was a very positive move. Reading blogs and following topics, issues and conversations on blogs can be very addictive and entertaining, and in my case I found it also ate up a huge amount of my time that really could have been better spent elsewhere. Such as...

• Putting in a garden this past spring that eventually yielded some awesome carrots, beets, onions and tomatoes. I'll be serving some of those yummies today for Thanksgiving dinner.

• Targeting one room at a time in my home and completely overhauling it. Starting with basic cleaning, then tossing out stuff I never use, moving furniture, painting, repairing, etc. I've done one bedroom from floor to ceiling and after hanging some new curtains in there and getting an extra space hearter it will be complete. I've already begun the next room (the laundry/storage room) and have a good long way to go before that room is done! Next is the loft, which I'll be turning into a spare "rec room" for the kids. They don't know it yet, so that's going to be an awesome surprise for them.

• Spending more time on graphic design, which I absolutely love. At the suggestion of many I recently updated the custom design page of my main site.

While technology continues to march forward and we continue to have all kinds of nifty tools and toys and apps to do amazingly cool things, I've slowly begun to detach myself from most of all that and spend more time on happy homemaker type things. Being on dial up I can't do much anyway, and it just continues to become more and more complicated all the time. It's frustrating for sure, but it's good too in that I just walk away and find a project around the house to devote my time to.

giving thanks todayToday is Canadian Thanksgiving, and in just a short while, I'll be in the kitchen for a few hours, prepping stuffing, cooking beets, putting a turkey in the roaster and all sorts of other goodies. The fresh, homemade pumpkin pies are cooling in the fridge, and when I woke up this morning the sky was a bright blue, while the grass was sporting a fresh coat of sparkly frost. It's perfect Thanksgiving weather today (and perfect for taking a nice brisk walk after the meal later on!) and I have tons to be thankful for. Not the least of which, is unplugging (so to speak) and making more of an effort to not be sitting at my desk all day long being involved in this topic or that subject or one endless project after another. It hasn't been easy for me to tackle the issue of time management and begin to make better use of my time, but it was something I knew I needed to do, and thankfully I have made some progress in that area.

And with that, it's time to head to the kitchen.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marge Simpson Makes Cover of Playboy

That was the headline. While I can't speak for anyone else, this really makes me wonder about things.

It's always been an unsettling feeling in the first place, that some "cartoons" were created for adults. Maybe it's just me, but I automatically associate animated entertainment with childhood and the things that appeal to a child-like mind. When we buy or rent an animated movie for the kids I can sit and watch it with them and even enjoy it for what it's worth: children's entertainment. I have extremely large issues however when I hear adult style humor written into children's cartoons, or cartoons themselves that were never designed for children in the first place. Since the Simpsons first aired, plenty more animated shows have come along that were never designed for children, but 100% designed for the childish adult. While the visual appeals to the childlike mind, the audio is completely adult (and often disrespectful, offensive and crude humor) oriented. And these are hugely popular shows.

I remember when the Simpsons first came out and I watched the first episode. It was abundantly clear that it was a.) aimed at so-called adults and b.) going to be a hit with the terminally immature. When the older girls later started hearing about it from their friends at school who watched it (which always made me wonder what kind of genuinely idiotic parents these poor kids had) they always wanted to watch it because... they reasoned with me from their childlike perspective: it was a cartoon and all their friends were watching it. From a kid's perspective, that makes perfect sense. I mean, what kind of horrible, mean-spirited mom refuses to let her kids watch harmless cartoons, anyway!? I always had to explain to them (because kids have a hard time grasping that grown ups can actually be quite juvenile in their thinking - they just assume adults think in a mature, responsible way) that just because it was a cartoon, didn't mean it was created for children. As little girls, they couldn't understand how a cartoon could possibly be created that THEY couldn't watch. No matter how many times I tried to explain it, the whole "this is not a child's cartoon" concept went completely over their heads. As children, they couldn't understand the idea that someone might take something that appeals to children and use it to appeal to adults with childish minds. It was a whole age/maturity reversal thing. I might as well have told them to go out and get a job and pay all the bills. Of course that would have seemed purely ridiculous to them since it's the grown up who is supposed to have the job, not the kid.

I always wondered how many parents caved in and let their kids watch it, and let them be exposed to things well over their heads. I've hated the show and the concept of "adult animated entertainment" ever since that first episode.

Fast forward 20 years, and those same terminally immature adults that have enjoyed this show and probably let their kids grow up watching it are about to be exposed to a new side of Marge. No pun intended. Frankly, it's embarassing and shameful that people of my generation are the people that enjoy this idiocy and let their kids grow up with it. It may be even worse that a nude Marge Simpson in Playboy was done to purposely and intentionally attract a younger generation of "readers" to the magazine. According to the article linked above:

"Playboy said the cover and a three-page picture spread inside was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the "The Simpsons" and part of a plan to appeal to a younger generation of readers. Scott Flanders, the recently-hired chief executive of Playboy Enterprises, told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview that the Marge Simpson cover and centerfold was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It had never been done, and we thought it would be kind of hip, cool and unusual, Flanders told the newspaper. He said the magazine hoped to attract readers in their 20s compared to the average Playboy reader's age of 35."

It's as if there is an insidious drug being passed around that keeps the brain at a 3rd grade mentality on the one level, while the natural course of maturity takes place on other levels. This kind of sheer nonsense affirms the decision I made 20 years ago to NOT let my kids watch these kinds of "cartoons", despite all their protests and the fact that EVERY other kid at school watched the show, and I was quite likely the worst mom in the world for being so mean. Fact is, the very people that Playboy is now hoping to draw in as new readers, are the same people my older girls went to school with who grew up watching this "cartoon". No one would have imagined 20 years ago that a cartoon character would be used by Playboy to draw in younger subscribers, but here we are today and it's most certainly our reality in 2009.

Who will Playboy target ten or twenty years from now to attract an even younger audience, Strawberry Shortcake or Minnie Mouse? Just don't be too shocked when it happens, since this is just one more cultural boundary line that just disintegrated before our eyes.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Friday, October 9, 2009

From the Mail Bag: You're a Hater!

Well, I do get mail. Most of it is from folks who can assure me triple sales in 5 easy steps, or how to drive millions to my website, but I do get mail! Here's one that came through this week that was a little more personal:

God loves Obama, you hate Obama. You are just mean and cruel.

That's what the email said. I read it once, then read it again, then read a third time. Trying to figure out how in the world the sender of the email came to this conclusion. The email came through my main site which does in fact list my line of Anti-Obama bumperstickers, t-shirts, etc., so I had to conclude that based on purely that, the sender of the email assumed I hate Obama.

Allow me to just clear the air on this. I have no idea if the sender of that email will ever see this (nor do I have any reason to believe the email was a legit addy), but just in case anyone else comes to the same conclusion, I'd like to be able to point them to this post.

1. I am in fact, anti-Obama. However, what does that mean? Does that automatically mean that I am "mean and cruel" as the emailer suggests? Hardly. It's very simple in that it means I am 100% against his liberal worldview, liberal political view, liberal religious view, and liberal social issues view. While I have no doubt that some of his views on some things, somewhere, I might agree with him (like maybe cinnamon in hot cocoa, or opening Christmas presents only on Christmas morning) - for the most part and overall, I definitely stand on the other side of the fence, so to speak.

2. Being anti-Obama certainly does not mean that I hate him. In fact, I can't think of a single person that I could honestly say I hate, even though there are a few people in this world that I really dislike, a lot. Just a clashing personality thing, but I certainly don't hate them. Frankly, I think as a person, a parent and a fellow countryman, I'd probably have a lot in common with him and maybe even enjoy a conversation with him. He certainly seems like someone that would be fairly easy to get along with, and converse with.

3. I strongly believe in freedom of speech. I am by birth, a citizen of the United States of America, where I grew up understanding the precious right and responsibility of freedom of speech. While American citizens still have this right, I have every intention to use it responsibly when and where I think it's warranted. In the case of the Obama Presidential Administration, I believe it's warranted for those against his liberalism to speak up and let their voices be heard.

4. I strongly believe in the responsibility of Christians to declare truth against error. While I do not subscribe to any kind of social gospel nonsense, I do believe as Christians we have the responsibility to stand up and say "no, this is not right, not Biblical, and not pleasing to the Lord". We don't have to do it with gigantic banners and bullhorns, and we don't have to be offensive in our delivery (as unfortunately some Christians can be). We can do it with a simple bumpersticker, t-shirt, or coffee cup sitting on our desk at work.

So there you have it. I hope that clears the air on where I stand. I know that many others agree with me, since the anti-Obama merchandise is selling on a regular basis, all across the good ole US of A, to fellow Americans. Even to some Canadians. Go figure.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's What I Do


It's funny how things work out sometimes.

When I was a teenager, I did what a lot of teenage girls do. I talked on the phone too much, I spent Friday nights in the rain at the highschool football games, and I doodled all over the phonebook, my peechees and binders. I would create the most elaborate designs, sometimes spending days or even weeks adding to it. By the time I was done with the designs on my peechees and binders, friends at school always commented on how cool they were, and wanted me to design theirs too. That was a lot of work for a ballpoint pen, so I didn't do it too often, but I did customize a few binders in my day. I had all but forgotten that favorite hobby of yesteryear, until a few days ago.

One of my merchandise suppliers, has recently partnered with Avery, to offer fully customizable, personalized binders. When I heard this, I literally giggled out loud! One of the things I became known for in highschool a million years ago, is now available to me as a designer and I don't have to drain any pens to do it! Oh I was all over this news, and I've been busy creating some brand new, awesomely cool, fully customizable/personalized binders for my zazzle shop. The awesome thing is, you can add your own text (and color & text style) to any binder to make it uniquely personal, or remove the text completely and add your very own.

Here are a few samples:

Christmas Memories Nature Photography

Wedding Memories Binder Holiday Recipes Binder

You can see the full (and growing) collection right here. I plan to add some of those insanely intricate types of designs that I used to do by hand, very very soon! I have tons of ideas and only so much time in the day, so check back soon to see what's new in the Custom Binder department!


And to sweeten the deal just a little...

free shipping on any custom binder!To qualify, one or more binders must be purchased. The coupon code BINDERLAUNCH must be entered during checkout to receive the offer. The free shipping offer is for ground shipping to U.S. addresses only. Shipping charges will apply to oversized orders and orders being shipped on an expedited basis or outside the U.S. Offer is valid from October 6, 2009 through October 31, 2009 at 11:59pm PT. Your order must be placed during that time to qualify for this special offer.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thursday, October 1, 2009

UPDATED: Tongue Twister Challenge!

Happy October 1st everyone!

Just for fun, let's play a game. I have to warn you, it's a seriously challenging game. Ready?

Okay, here are the rules:

1. Say this tongue-twister outloud:

"The sixth sick sheik's sheep is sick"

2. Post an audio clip of yourself saying it.
3. Post the link to the clip in the comments (or at your blog, and link that in the comments).

I fully expect not a single link posted, but feel free to prove me wrong.

Okay..... GO!

UPDATE: And here is my stellar attempt!

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe