Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kid's Huge Surprise

I mentioned last week on my FB wall that I was sneaking around, participating in the planning of a super-duper fun surprise. Now I can finally reveal what the surprise was :o)

Grandpa Rolfe (Kev's dad) and I conspired together for the kid's BIG Christmas gift this year... a few months early. We decided it would be super-awesome to a.) get them all brand new bikes (which none of them have ever had before) and b. give them to them now, rather than at Christmas time when they can't really use them. We decided to be sneaky and give them to them today, on the last day of school. That part was a little tricky so the bikes were purchased and parked in daughter #3's dining room in town for the last week, and I brought them home today while Kev took Ruth out for lunch. I hid them in the garage and when the kids got home from school, Kev took them all out for ice cream to celebrate the last day of school, while I attached the giant gift tags and lined them up in the driveway.


Kev forgot to honk when he was coming down the driveway so I wasn't able to get out there fast enough to get video. I didn't even know they were home until I heard the squealing and screaming, lol.  Kev said they nearly flew out of the van while it was still moving.  It's safe to say, they LOVE their Christmas in June gifts. 

Thank you Len, you made 4 little monkey people very very happy.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Government Can!

I'm probably one of the last Christian bloggers in the world to discover Tim Hawkins, but boy oh boy is this guy FUNNY.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Let's Have a Picnic (table)!

Are you in the market for a new picnic table? Well if you are, and you're local (Kitchener/Waterloo-Woodstock-London) have I got great news for you!

My future son-in-law Joost DeWit is a fine furniture builder (in his spare time) and he's now offering these fantastic custom built picnic tables for sale. We have one on order ourselves, and the word is, more orders are coming in as well! We already own a gorgeous cd stand (5' tall, big enough to hold a gigantic library of music) and one of our other daughters owns a lovely night stand that Joost has built, and I highly recommend him for your custom built furniture needs.  He takes great care and precision in his pieces, and once you see the finished product, you'll be a return customer, no question about it.

Check out Joost's ad on kijiji.ca and shoot him a message if you're local and would like one of these fine picnic tables.  Great furniture, great prices. You can't beat that!
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

More Fun Than a Vuvuzela Tied in a Slipknot...

I have a fun new t-shirt in store that I just had to brag about here, even though I have a store blog just for this purpose. Yep, it's going here today because... well because it's my blog and I can pretty much do whatever I want here :o) Now, without further delay:


Not only is Remote Guy funny (click thru, zoom in and read the 5 star ratings and the fine print at the bottom) but it's also 100% customizable and ready for you to add a name to be featured in his very own TV show, "Remote Guy"!   Although, Remote Guy is not actually on tv but in front of the tv, it's still quite a show, nevertheless. 

If you have a Remote Guy in your house (is lord over the remote, can operate it like a musician handles an instrument), this is the perfect birthday, anniversary, Father's Day, Christmas or just because gift, ever!  Afterall, shouldn't every Remote Guy be the star of his own show?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Liberty FAIL

As my usual readers here likely already know, Liberty University has issued a statement regarding their investigation into the background claims of Ergun Caner, and have relieved him of his role of Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. They have however, offered (and he has accepted) to keep him on as a professor. In a nutshell, they claim in their statement that Caner "made factual statements that are self-contradictory". You can read the full statement here.

And now, my thoughts. In no particular order:

So then, the 4 person committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner did in fact lie like a rug about his background of being a jihadist, growing up in primarily Muslim countries, trained to do that which was done on 9/11, learned English by watching the Dukes of Hazard in some far away country (a year before it even went on the air), believed Christians hated him, is an expert on Islam, blah blah blah... and yet they offered him a job on faculty for another year, as a professor.  As one friend questioned "professor of what, Lying 101?"  No question at all that he's quite skilled in lying, but I wonder how many parents really want a skilled liar shaping the minds of their kids that they send off to Liberty?  Apparently, Liberty has no problem with it.

And what about us as Christians, do we have a problem with it?  According to Elmer Towns (School of Religion dean) when he told Christianity Today just last month, what Caner has done is: “not an ethical issue, it’s not a moral issue. We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage.”

So if I am to understand this correctly, lying your face off about your background is not an ethical or a moral issue.  What's more, is that LU gives faculty a certain amount of "theological leverage".  What exactly does theological leverage mean?  Does it mean they permit faculty to lie about who they are, if it means that gives them an edge, and/or brings up the enrollment numbers for the school?  Now to be fair to Elmer Towns, at the time he said this the investigation into Caner's claims by Liberty hadn't yet taken place, so I suppose it's possible he didn't know (when he said that) that Caner was a liar.  So it's possible he meant something else with his statements.  Or... maybe he did know.  Maybe everyone there knew, and figured what the hey, it sounds good, it's exciting, it drives up the enrollment number$, lets just give him a little of that "theological leverage" and look the other way.  No one will ever find out anyway, right?  Wink wink, nudge nudge.

I can't help but remind readers it was also Elmer Towns who said, in this same article in Christianity Today: "We don't see any way that bloggers will damage Liberty" as well as "The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court".

The thing is, it wasn't any Christian blogger that was looking to harm Liberty.  We just wanted truth, integrity and honesty.  A reasonable expectation considering Caner's position of authority in a Christian school. What's more, the arguments of the bloggers do in fact stand up in court, since it was the court documents themselves that proved Caner's stories about his background to be monumentally false.  This is pure speculation here on my part, but you just really have to wonder who, and how many people at Liberty knew all along that Caner had made all this stuff up, and who really didn't believe anyone would ever find out. 

It's outrageous to assume Caner was hired on with NO background checks or verification whatsoever.  It's equally outrageous to believe he was hired on with folks in full knowledge of his phoney background, but hired anyway.  Obviously however, one of the two definitely happened, and it's damaging to Liberty either way you slice it, and bloggers had nothing to do with it, except to uncover it.  The fault of this nasty mess lays squarely at the feet of Caner, and those who put him in position at Liberty. (And while I'm sure there are honest, decent folks at Liberty who would never in a million years consider doing what Caner has done, it does make me wonder who else is on staff there, that either never had a thorough background check or who was hired knowingly, with phoney credentials.  Precedent has been set here, so it's hard not to wonder what else is going on down there.)

Since this news broke, I've seen a lot of comments.  One such comment was along the lines of "would the powers that be at Liberty be as gracious with a student who was busted lying about his work?"  That's a very good question.  Would they give him a slap on the wrist and a passing grade too?  Isn't this the same as rewarding liars without any genuine consequence?

Another comment I've read was "no one really expected him to be fired or anything".  Well, you can count me among those that DID expect him to be fired on the spot, and should have been. Even more, he should have also been under church discipline by his own church, as well. 

Let's keep in mind his position and his history here.  This is a man who is in a leadership/authority position over many many young people in a Christian school.  For years now, he's being going all over the place at a wide variety of speaking and teaching engagements LYING about who he is.  Not "misstatements", not "discprencies over dates", not "factual statements that were self-contradictory".  No, he's been purposely and intentionally lying for years about who he is. By virtue of accountability and integrity (are we not Christians? Do we not live by honesty and truthfulness before the Lord?) he SHOULD have been fired on the spot, and maybe even a letter sent out to Liberty students apologzing for having a fraud on staff.  Now don't get me wrong, I do NOT want his wife and children to suffer financially as a result of his lies, but if Liberty actually did the right thing, and they did end up suffering, the blame again would lay squarely at the feet of Ergun Caner, and no one else. 

Consider for a moment your workplace (secular or Christian, doesn't matter).  Consider what your direct superiors would do to you, if they found out today that you lied to get the job, lied to keep the job and were in fact not at all who you claimed to be, all the while representing that company or organization.  Do you think you'd still have a job tomorrow?  Likely not, unless... maybe you knew things about the boss or the company and they were afraid you'd disclose that information.  In most cases though, in most all places of employment, you'd be out the door with a big fat "see ya later, loser" send off.  And you'd deserve it.

Frankly, I'm just sick and tired of the politics and the headgames and the wordplay far too often found among Christians. Earlier this evening I read a post at aomin.org that defined this kind of nonsense as "weasel words". I found that to be a most apt description indeed.   This news has gone national, it has made it's way into the secular, mainstream media and non-Christians are watching and listening and seeing how we Christians handle things like this. Not only is it all wrong, it's an embarassment and most importantly of all it brings shame to the name of Christ.  That part makes me feel just sick in my heart.

So in a nutshell: Liberty FAIL. 
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Devastation after earthquake in Toronto

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Miley, Earthquakes, Twitter and a Pudding Face

I have about a million and seven things on my mind today, so this is yet another mishmashery of stuffage. Here we go, in no particular order:

• It seems the more Miley Cyrus says and does stupid, immature things, the more people hop on google and search for her name. Some of them are landing here. Someone left a really good comment there yesterday, you should read it.

• As the school year comes to a close next Tuesday (how is it even possible this school year is over already?) I have a lot of thoughts about public school, homeschooling, how the kids all did their first year in PS, and the end of my HS days.  More on that later on, it sorta chokes me up a little bit.

• This post here on modest summer dressing for girls, continues after three years to be one of my most popular posts ever. I even re-read it every year, for my own personal use.

• My dear friend Rosemarie wrote a really good post about women and apologetics.  I highly recommend both men and women read it.  Rosemarie has an insight into things that always blesses and challenges my thinking. 

• Tomorrow, June 25 marks my 6th blogiversary.  In some ways it's weird I've been blogging for 6 years, and in other ways it seems like just yesterday.  I've said a lot of things in 6 years. Some helpful, some a waste of everyone's time, some funny, some sad. Will I still be blogging in another 6 years? No idea. Probably. Happy bloggy-versary, to me.

• Yesterday, southern Ontario had both an earthquake and a tornado.  While still shaking and watching the stuff on my desk jump around during the earthquake, I logged into twitter. Having gone through many earthquakes in CA and WA, I knew what it was even though I was in a sort of dis-belief state for a few seconds, since Ontario is not well-known for earthquake activity.   Even as I'm logging into twitter, I'm laughing at myself for doing it. The funny thing was, thousands of other people were doing exactly the same thing, as the #earthquake tweet stream was refreshing faster than I could keep up.  I laughed at them too, and was inspired to create this fun TweetQuake design. I had to, it was too funny.  I wonder what the odds are, or how common it is to have both an earthquake and a tornado on the same day?  It would have been nervously-hilarious had it happened on May 21, 2011 when good old Harold Camping has predicted the end of all things as we know them. I feel sorry for poor old Mr. Camping. He's extremely delusional.

• Yesterday on FB my sister, my cousin and myself took a little trip down memory lane to our childhood, millions of years ago.  It was funny and I was reminded of some of the really dumb things I did as a child.  I was also accused of being a pudding faced kidnapper.  It's all true. I was a wretched child and deserved every butt-whippin' I got. I probably needed a few more that I didn't get.

I think I had more stuff to write about today but I'm on a mission, with a deadline.  I'm doing sneaky things today for a super-huge surprise for... someone... next week.  Today I implement part 2 of my multiple part plan, and I have to be out of here in... well, now. 

Have a nice day, and thank you for reading for the last six years. You can send gifts of dark Belgian chocolate, if you like.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Yep, we had an earthquake today.  What's more, like any reasonably educated adult, I did the first thing that anyone would do: I logged into twitter real quick to find out as many details about it as possible! I wasn't even 100% sure in the beginning of the shaking that it really was an earthquake, since southern Ontario is most definitely not know for earthquakes.  When I saw others in Ontario tweeting it too, I knew for sure. So there you have it folks - the modern day protocol for earthquake saftey: tweet, then take cover! :o)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dangerous Freedom

Christians have a unique and a challenging obligation. We are to go and proclaim the gospel. For some of us that means months or years of planning and training and heading overseas.  For others it means being an active and involved member of a local community group of some kind.  For others it might be lived out through street evangelism, formal debates on key Christian doctrines or even structured homeschooling with a Christ-centered curriculum.  There are many many ways to "go and proclaim the gospel" and each of us follows where the Lord leads in doing that.  I know a lot of Christians and every one of them lives this joyous and wonderful obligation out in a slightly different way, depending on their gifts and talents and where the Lord has led them.

I know that most people reading my blog have also recently read about David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi and the Acts17 Apologetics crew being arrested in Dearborn Michigan last weeked at the Arab Festival.  If you have not yet read about this, go here and catch yourself up.  In short, their "crime" was sharing the gospel with those who asked. You read that correctly.  On US soil, 3 brothers and a sister in Christ were detained by the police, had their personal belongings confiscated and spent some time in a jail cell, for nothing more than attempting to share the gospel in a public place.  No doubt in my mind, there will be a lawsuit coming, and mainstream media will eventually catch up to this story. 

North American culture has changed, is changing and is not at all what it was when people of my age were growing up.  I haven't studied it out but I would suggest my generation is the first generation to see so many freedoms and moral issues get tossed out the window, in just one generation of Americans.  Like many of my fellow Americans I'm sure, I have said outloud "I never thought I'd live to see this happen on US soil".  I have a feeling I will be tempted to say it many more times before my lifetime is over.

While I absolutely believe in the sovereignty of God in all things (including the moral decay in the politics of North American culture), I also believe He expects us, His people, to stand up, speak up and do what is right, at all times.  I watched David Wood's video here yesterday and thought what a profound quote he was wearing on his t-shirt.  Being a t-shirt graphic designer, I was very impressed and inspired.  The quote from Thomas Jefferson:

"I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery" is one that many many US soldiers understand all too well.  In a very real and physical way they put their own safety, well-being and even their lives on the line to fight for the freedoms we so enjoy.  It is and should come as no surprise at all to any Christian that God intentionally inspired the writers of Scripture to write about the Christian faith in terms that includes the words battle, war, warrior, soldier, etc.  Words that military personal are quite familiar with, but that far too many North American Christians don't even begin to grasp as we sit on our comfy couches with our digital remote controlling our HD tvs and entertain ourselves into foo-foo land.  Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying a little foo-foo now and then, but I think as we all watch the way things change on the social, moral and political landscape we're going to become very familiar, unwillingly, with the terms of war that our military is already so familiar with.

This matters to me.  It matters a lot.  It matters what kind of world my kids will live in as adults, and what part I had to play in the way things turned out.  It sure isn't much, but being inspired by David Wood's t-shirt quote, I created that design you see up above there and posted it in my zazzle shop today.  You can get yours here (it comes in a bazillion styles, colors and options for men, women, babies and kids), wear it loud and wear it often and when people ask you "what's up with that?" it'll be a great conversation starter about what matters, what we're losing in the way of freedoms, and what kind of world we're all leaving for our kids.  If you don't want to buy the t-shirt, feel free to grab that image and use it on your blog, site, or whatever.  Just stand up and be counted. Make some noise, show you care, do something.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

New Fun in Store

Super cool and super fun Concert Ticket birthday party invitations!
(They also come in pink for girls, and yellow for general)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Sale!

Say hello to summer AND savings! Save $10 on any order over $10 by using the coupon code SQGLVRPKIPTIGOJORVTT at checkout.

Valid through June 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm PT
so shop now and don't miss this deal!

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Prayers Appreciated

My mom is going in for a hip replacement surgery this morning, and she's a little nervous about the whole procedure. Please pray for her peace, and for wisdom for her surgical and medical team, and a quick recovery for her.


I just talked to my mom, and though she's a bit groggy still, she's fairly certain she's been run over by a bulldozer. Yes, her sense of humor is still intact. They've had her up on the edge of the bed, but not walking yet. That will likely be tomorrow. Thank you for those who have prayed and will continue to keep her in prayer as she recovers.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Friday, June 18, 2010

Digital Friends - batteries not included

I'm taking an unscheduled break this morning from my usual spellbinding morning routine (laundry, cleaning the bathroom, etc.) to blog about something that struck me as both funny and a stinging social commentary on so many of us.

One my FB friends wrote this as her status update:

"quite likes the way you can 'hide' peoples status reports from your feed so you don't have to read about their riveting lives"

I read that and laughed. Oh yes, I've hidden people's status updates from my feed as well, for various reasons. Generally it's for constant obscenities and profanity. Not all my FB 'friends' are Christians, but they're people I care deeply about so they are on my friends list. You probably have hidden status updates from certain people too... maybe you've even hid mine!

What I found so profound about this comment above is how true it really is.  For some reason there are bazillions of people that honestly think the world wants to know about every single detail of their lives. Like, cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry, and eating a bowl of cereal or walking the cat, or giving the llama a bath.  Okay I'll admit it, if someone had a llama and bathed him, I might find that interesting.  An attached video would be a bonus, but only because it's rather out of the ordinary.

The thing is, so many of the things I see online are just... othersameness.  They're other because it's someone else doing them but they sameness because it's the same stuff we all do everyday.  We all have our coffee, work out (lol, okay, not all of us work out), hate Mondays, walk the dog, go to school, watch movies, go out to dinner, etc.  Reading about other people doing the same thing I'm doing is actually rather boring to me but I have a hunch that maybe part of the reason so many people do it, is because on a deeper level somewhere, they just want someone to know they exist, and care about what they're doing. We are afterall created by God to be social creatures. We thrive on social interaction and we suffer when we're without it. Basic human development 101.

In this weird world we live in, we've exchanged face to face socialization with digital buddies from all around the world, and the thing lacking in that is genuine friendship.  It's sad really, because you can have 500 FB friends (although I'm not sure why you'd want to) but at the end of the day, how many of those people would genuinely be there when the bottom of your world falls out? If your spouse gets sick, you lose your job, the water pipe in the basement breaks, or any one of the bazillion things that could happen where you'd really benefit from a helping hand from a real friend, and maybe even a smile, hug, or a reassuring talk over a cup of coffee in the kitchen? Truth be told, I think we all know it's a tiny fraction (if any at all, really) of those 500 "friends" that would literally be at your door saying "how can I help?"  Granted, some FB users only add people they do know in real life (friends, family, church family, etc.) and for those folks the whole social networking thing is being used in a different and good way.  But that isn't the case for most people online, and genuine friendship is tossed aside in favor of having a gigantic "friends" list. Personally, it bugs the snot out of me that we call total strangers "friends". It blurs the line and now there's a whole new generation of young people that honestly could not give you the real definition of the word.

I want someone to go out on the street and test this theory of mine.  Do an "on the street interview"  (record it on video!) with every person under the age of 20 that walks by, and ask them to define "friend".  I'd bet a 6 pack of cinnabons the vast majority of them would include some kind of reference to people online, whom they've never met, never will meet, and wouldn't even know them if they fell from the sky and landed on their heads. (Caryn, I know you're reading, and I volunteer you for this job. :o)

The reason I found the above status update funny, is because right before I read I posted on twitter:

"Working on 3 diff custom projects today, plus running errands, plus setting up the pool, plus chores around the house, plus coffee. Lots."

I know, earthshattering, isn't it? :o)  The thing is, I know there are 250ish people following me on twitter that honestly don't give a rip about what I'm doing today. Frankly, I don't even know most of the people who follow me. I don't even know why they do, but that's another blog post.  I also know there are a few who do care though, and that tweet was for them. At least that's what I like to believe, but maybe I'm just as guilty as the next person in thinking there are total strangers out there that are itching to know if I'm having coffee today? Well, the answer is "duh, hello?"

I just wonder how deeply we're all affected by the whole digital friend era, without even realizing what we've let ourselves get sucked into? Okay, now it's time to clean the bathroom.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Screaming, Repenting, Rejoicing and a Vuvuzela too!

You know, life is funny sometimes. You can be going along thinking you're all together and on the right track and then *BLAMMO* something happens that catches you completely off guard, and your reaction is not at all what you'd thought it might be. I confess, I am not a big fan of blammo, and it shows up more often than I like. Biff and Ka-pow are almost as bad. Here is an example (sort of) of this and some other stuff on my mind this evening:

Saturday night when I crawled into bed, I was all set for a good night's sleep and then off to church Sunday morning. I turned over to get comfy and who shows up, but Blammo, Biff and Ka-pow, all at the same time, in my lower back.  I'm not really sure what I did but I did something and the pain was unlike anything I've ever felt, aside from natural childbirth.  It was like that all night and all day Sunday, and it finally subsided Monday and today I'm pretty much back to normal, minus a little twinge now and again.  On Sunday whenever I'd move a certain way it was "back FAIL" and the pain was so intense I couldn't help but scream. I did a lot of not moving on Sunday (as much as I was able, anyway), and at some point I told Kev "I'll be better when the screaming stops".  I don't know about anyone but me, but I know all my dignity goes completely out the window when I'm experiencing excruciating pain.  Oh I sure try to remain cool and focused, but it never quite works out that way. 

I prayed quite a bit and asked others to pray too, and I trusted that in His time God would be merciful and take the pain away.  He did exactly that, and when He did it occured to me that for so many (far too many than I like to think about) the eternal screaming will never stop. Those who enter into eternity seperated from God will be held accountable and pay for their own sins, forever.  Now I confess I don't quite grasp what it would be like to spend an enternity seperate from God, suffering under the torment of the price of my own sin - that I loved and enjoyed so much in life.  My mind just cannot get around that one, but it's a reality for those who reject Christ and glory in their own selfish desires. That's really a scary thought.

Last evening I received some information that I was in no way expecting and it blew me out of the water.  Minus all the gory details of the massively long story here was the scenario:
There is a rather nasty and untrue article about me on the web and it's been there for years. The author has been asked at least 3-4 times that I'm aware of (by myself and others that know it's untrue and unkind), to remove it and he refuses each time.  Many years ago I responded to the article with "my side" of the whole deal and I recently offered to remove all my responses if the author would in kind, remove the article.  The whole thing was just dumb to begin with as all it was, was a disagreement that should have been layed to rest ages ago.  In any event, the author responded to my request and agree to the mutual removal of content with some conditions.  The first condition was that I provide a public apology to him, and the second was that I offer up my pastor's contact info.

When I first heard this I laughed, because I thought it was a joke.  That would be like Ergun Caner demanding an apology from James White, for James posting the truth about him. Indeed, its laughable and would be laughable if such an apology were to be asked for.  Ergun Caner may be prone to embellishing on his past but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I don't think even he is that arrogant to ever ask for such a thing.

When I realized the request for an apology wasn't a joke, I was angry.  Then I was REALLY angry and the first thought I had was "how DARE he ask me to apologize, I did nothing to apologize for and he knows it".  Thankfully, I was in the right place at the right time and was able to talk to a friend and be completely honest and admit I was toying with the idea of blowing a gasket.   I was immediately reminded of a few things that I really needed to hear, and the first was - how dare YOU say how dare he, when you know your own pitiful attempts at repentance and seeking forgiveness and walking straight before the Lord are not nearly what they should be 100% of the time? Oh ouch, that one hurt, but it was so true.  Rather than have a "how dare you" attitude I need to have an eager attitude to be ready to forgive, genuinely forgive someone who wrongs me.  We all have our besetting sins, and we all want to be forgiven when we blow it, myself included.  Now this person isn't asking me for forgiveness (by any stretch) but maybe the Holy Spirit will work on his heart and maybe someday he will ask for my forgiveness.  I need to be honestly ready to genuinely forgive him.  That's a lot easier said than done, but it's the right thing to do, and what I aim for.  Even if this person never comes and confesses his sin and askes me to forgive him, I still need to have a godly attitude about it all instead of a how-dare-you attitude.  That was a real eye opener for me.  I have SO far to go, to be where I know I should be.

Also last night I had the very unique priviledge of hearing a man preach I've never heard of, or heard before.  The man's name is David Platt, and he's the young pastor of The Church at Brook Hills. You may know him, or know of him.  You may have also heard his evangelism message last night as the final message live streamed at the SBC Annual Pastor's Meeting.  I say it was a unique thing because a.) I don't have any affiliation to the SBC and I would not normally watch or listen or pay much attention to what goes on there and b.) after having dial up for the last 8 years I have never had the opportunity to live stream any kind of video message, even if I wanted to.  However, some friends were looking forward to hearing his message and so I decided to tune in as well.  Unfortunately, I do not have unlimited data on my wireless high speed, but I simply could not stop watching and listening.  His message was so spot on, so moving, so deeply convicting that I had to watch the whole thing, even if it did cost me 1/4 of my data use for the month (and the month just started, so I'm in trouble here).  If you click that link above for the pastor's meeting, it gives you the option to watch the archives, but I clicked it and it didn't want to cooperate.  I'll update if/when I find a link to share for you to listen to this incredible message.

Last but not least...

Love them or hate them, I don't care who you are or what color your socks are, VUVUZELA is a fun word to say.  Go ahead, say it outloud right now: voo-voo-ZAY-luh.  Yep, go ahead and say it again, no one's listening. See, now wasn't that fun?  Personally, I don't really have an attachment one way or another but I love the word and know that if I were in South African culture, I'd have one and I'd use it liberally.  Are they really as annoying as many claim?  Well, I'm not really sure but I suppose 10 thousand of them being blown at the same time for hours on end... just might cause violent tendencies in certain people.  I know some of the sportscasters and sports writers for major newspapers are already about to snap.  In any case, I went ahead and had a little vuvuzela fun of my own tonight, for the vuvuzela fans.  I just wrote that twice because it's as fun to write as it is to say. No other reason, but I'm about to do it again: GO HERE to get your vuvuzela t-shirt today!

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Father's Day Goodies

See this fun shirt here?  Well, this shirt and other Super Grandpa shirts and gifts are selling well in the last few days at Reflections cafepress. While that might sound pretty good, it's actually not as good as I would hope.  See, these items are selling through the cafepress marketplace, instead of through my Reflections cafepress shop.   That didn't used to be an issue with cafepress shopkeepers until last year when cafepress changed the game.  They have new rules now for marketplace listings.  They get to set their own  prices for the merchandise listed there (which are quite often much different than the shopkeeper's price) and they keep a HUGE percentage of the comission on the designer's work, for having your items listed in their marketplace.  The only reason any designer even still has their designs in the cafepress marketplace is in hopes of letting a potential customer know what's available via their shop.  None of the cafepress shopkeepers WANT to give up their commission, but like any other advertising method, it costs.  I just wish the folks buying this fun design for Father's Day gifts, would actually purchase through my shop, instead.  My prices are different (in many cases, much lower!) than the marketplace, and the designer (me) actually gets paid for the design, rather than a tiny percentage.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

For the Birds

Yesterday was one of those very rare days around here. For about 3 hours, I was the only one home. Just me and the dog, and the cats. It was very quiet (the tv is never on when I'm the only one here), and it was a gorgeously mild spring day, so the windows were all open.

I was sitting at my desk when I heard a single "chirp".  I thought nothing of it, since the cherry tree is right next to the window and birds are always in it.  A few minutes later I heard that single "chirp" again.  I thought it sounded a little unusual, but never got up to investigate. Then again a few minutes later I heard it again.  This time I stood up to walk to the window to see who might be visiting the yard, when I saw this. A beautiful Rose Breasted Grosbeak sitting on the windowsill next to the oranges we have out for the Orioles.  Not just sitting on there, but periodically pecking on the glass.  I didn't dare walk over to the window for a better picture, since I didn't want to scare him away.  He ended up flying away a few minutes later but that was a real treat to have him visit the yard, it's the first time I've seen this bird this year.

I love this time of year, and this is just one reason.  This morning I heard the unmistakable high pitched chirps of a Cedar Waxwing, so when I looked out the window, sure enough there were a pair in the Highbush cranberry bushes having themselves a nice breakfast on the berries.  Of course I didn't have my camera in hand, so while standing there watching them, my face only a foot away from the hummingbird feeder, the female hummingbird came up and had herself a rather lengthy drink.  Its been a long time since I got a good pic of a hummingbird, so maybe I'll give that a shot today.  I love my birdies :o)

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dear Middle Aged

It's been a very long time since I subscribed to a daily, local newspaper. I suppose part of that is due to the fact that newsgathering online is just so much more quick and convenient.  Although, when you read the news online, there really is something missing that you can only get with sitting down in the evening and reading the local paper.  I do miss that, and I think I'd like to bring that back into my daily routine.

I suppose I was a teenager when I started looking forward to the daily paper in my hometown.  I could quickly and easily check the local theater and see what was playing, read the births, marriages and death notices, skim through the letters to the editor and see what was on the minds of locals, check to see what Garfield and The Family Circus were up to, and always check in with Dear Abby.

Since I don't read the daily paper anymore, I'm not even sure Dear Abby is still a feature or what kind of advice she might be giving these days, but back in the days of my teenage years she was one smart lady.  So often I'd read the letters and they could have been letters written by me, or my friends, or someone I knew.  It was quite often rather uncanny to me to realize that complete strangers were dealing with situations exactly like my own, or those of people I knew.  Dear Abby's advice was always really good, full of wisdom and compassion but firm when it came to doing the right thing.  She was very pro-family, anti-nonsense and always advised young people to respect their parents, teachers and those older than they were.  She also always advised teenage girls that staying pure was a very good thing and never to do things because they felt pressure to do them. I loved Dear Abby, and that she stood for what was right.

I thought about her daily column the other day when I was taking laundry out of the dryer.  Every once in a while in the middle of doing some sort of every day thing (or when I say something and I hear my mom's voice come out of my own mouth) I get this sort of bizarre flash like a neon sign in my head that reads "Hey Carla - You're Middle Aged!"  It's not as if I don't know it, or that I sit around thinking about it, but every once in a while that fact hits me and if I were entirely honest, I'd admit it feels pretty bizarre. I don't mind being middle aged, but saying that I am suddenly makes me feel strange, if that makes any sense at all. That was the thought I had while unloading the dryer. Now that I've finally made it to "middle aged" it sometimes feels like I have this giant treasure chest full of good advice I've been given over the years, that just wants to spill out.

What caused me to think of Dear Abby as I was being Laundry Princess, was a little tidbit of advice I'd heard years ago about cleaning your dryer's lint screen.  Apparently, if you use dryer sheets or fabric softener, the residue from those things can build up on your lint screen and can actually cause your dryer to overheat from being clogged up, and start a dryer fire.  The test to determine if your lint screen needs a good cleaning is to run some water over it (from the tap) and if it runs off instead of running through the screen, it's time for a good soap and water cleaning.  I don't use those products (I use dryer balls from the dollar store, and they work just fine) so that's not an issue for me, but I remember when I first heard about it how surprised I was.  I'd never thought about it, and never realized how dangerous that could be, but I was sure glad someone took the time to pass along that advice.  It's probably saved countless dryer fires as a result.

I got to thinking after that, how many times I've heard great advice from people and I never bothered to pass it on, either because I'd forgot about it and just stored it away for personal use later one, or any other number of reasons.  I suppose if I tried, really sat down and examined all areas of marriage, motherhood, homemaking, cooking, gardening, and other practical areas that us moms engage in all the time, I could come up with a ton of advice I've gleaned over the years from those who are older, smarter and more experienced in those areas than I am.  The thing is, I always feel like I'm so busy living the advice to ever bother to express it.  Every once in a while one of the kids (or Kev) will say "why do you do it that way?" when I've done something that seems odd or unusual to them.

The dryer balls are a perfect example.  Just this afternoon I unloaded a pile of towels out of the dryer then tossed the dryer balls back into the machine.  Kev was standing there and looked at me real funny and asked why I did that.  He had no idea that I use those, and when he'd seen them out of the dryer he thought they were a kid's toy, and never gave it a second thought.  When he saw me toss it back into the dryer, he later confessed he thought I was a nutter, and wondered why I was throwing toys in the dryer! I had to explain to him what they are and what they do, and then it all made sense - but prior to that he had no idea.

There are so many little things like that.  Some are practical, some are way-of-life types of things, some are just using wisdom in relationships with your spouse or children.

On the practical: for removing crayon marks from walls and wallpaper without ruining the paint or paper, spray a small amount of WD-40 on a clean rag and gently rub.  It comes off like magic.  To clean the WD-40 off the wall, use a small amount of soap and water (a drop of dish soap works fine) and wipe the area down, then wipe again with a cloth moistened with plain water.

On way-of-life: when babies first begin to eat solid foods, always introduce veggies before you introduce fruits.  Fruits are naturally sweeter and if you introduce those first, they will develop a "sweet-first" appetite. By contrast, if you introduce veggies first, and a wide variety of them, they will develop a more "healthy-first" appetite.  Now I've never studied this out, but I did it this way with all my kids and they all have a good appetite for healthy foods (minus the teen-junk-food-years that we all go through).  I've also seen and known kids who always get and always have sweets, and that's all they seem to ever really want. A very unhealthy appetite that will always catch up with you later in life.  Usually in the form of love handles, cellulite and much more serious health problems such as tooth decay and heart trouble.

On wisdom for mommies: Never force your child to clean his plate.  If a child is hungry they will eat.  If he isn't, all you're doing is creating a huge stress factor for yourself and the child and turning the dinner table into a battle ground that the whole family has to endure.  Kids are generally more hungry during a growing spurt, so give them a bit more food.  When they're going through a phase of not being very hungry, give them smaller portions and don't freak out on them if they don't eat it all. Never ever ever make food, a source of power/control.  Studies suggest (and it sure makes sense when you think about it) that this can be a direct cause of eating disorders for many people, when they get older. (I made the mistake of doing the whole "clean your plate!" thing with my second oldest daughter, only because I was a young mom and didn't know better back then. I still regret it to this day.  I've never done that with any of the other kids and they all have perfectly normal appetites and are healthy kids, praise God.)

On wisdom for wives: marriage is hard work and you'd be wise to make more plans for your marriage, than your wedding.  Have you ever known anyone who spent a year or more planning for their wedding?  I think we all have.  While nice weddings don't just happen, and they do require a lot of planning and details to look after, there are many young women who genuinely put more effort into that one perfect fairy-tale day, than they ever do considering the fact that once it's over, the real work begins. You have to learn how to peacefully and happily get along with someone who may have quirky little habits that you weren't aware of.  You may have some quirky little habits of your own that could quite easily drive him a little crazy. There's the whole sharing-space thing, financial planning, family budgeting, child-rearing, family schedules, education, and about 92 billion other things that will come up through the years that you likely never once imagined while you were picking out the perfect colored flowers for your wedding bouquet.  So plan the wonderful wedding, it will be a beautiful day to remember when the clothes dryer dies, the microwave dies, and the car wont start all on the same day you woke up with the flu and the youngest just puked all the way down the hall, and you're the only one there to clean it up.  Those days will come (and more often than you think) and you'll want to be ready for them, as much as you were ready to walk down the aisle in your stunning gown.

Now, advice being a lot like opinions (and we all know what they say about those - they're a lot like armpits, and some really stink) this advice may or may not work or sit well with you, personally. It has however worked for me, and if in some small way I can pass it on and make someone else's life a little easier for it, then that makes me happy.

I'd like to hear from you too.  Either in the comments or on your own blog, if you'd like to share some advice (in any area) that was given to you, that really helped or made your life easier in some way.  If you decide to blog a little advice post for your readers, please do leave a link in the comments?

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Award Winner

For those who read my twitter and/or FB, you've already seen this so you can just ignore this post. :o)

I was honored to receive a Today's Best Award today for this Backyard Barbeque Birthday design at Birthday Sweeties (that was a custom request just yesterday). The invitation is completely customizable so that you can add all your backyard fun information for your upcoming event.

As always, I submitted this kid-friendly design to the panel of kids to make sure it was a backyard they would enjoy visiting, before I posted it for others.  I'm very grateful to my panel of quality control experts, and the nice folkses at zazzle for choosing one of my designs, from the bazillions that get uploaded every single day.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Friday, June 4, 2010

Status Report for June

Sitting... in the same place as always, at my messy desk. I have no idea what it is about flat surfaces in my house that causes them to become clutter magnets, but that's the way it is.

Thinking... about how cool it is that my new shop Birthday Sweeties received nearly 700 visits today. I don't think any of my sites over the last 13 years of having sites/shops/blogs have ever received that many visits in a single day.  I'm almost convinced it's a glitch and the site counter just spazzed out.

Saying... "why look, it's bedtime!" and wondering how many times in 27 years of being a mom I have said that.

Enjoying... immensely, highspeed internet access, still.  It's been almost 2 months and the novelty has most certainly not wore off yet.  I can do what I enjoy doing and it takes me a fraction of the time.  This has freed me up to spend more time OFF line, and that's also a very good thing.

Doing... better at my weight loss attempt.  As of today, the grand total of weight loss after a.) using the elliptical daily, b.) giving up cafe mochas from Tim Hortons and c.) giving up my nightly snack of cheetos... 3.5 pounds!  It's not a lot, but I noticed yesterday my favorite shorts feel baggy.  I still have a way to go to reach my goal, but this is very encouraging.

Voices of the True Woman MovementReading... nothing at the moment, but I did just get a new book and plan to begin reading that on Monday.  Click that image to see the book I'm about to read.

Deciding... on what to do with all the STUFF I'm getting rid of as I clean my house room to room and prepare for moving next year.  Yard sale? Give it away? Throw it away? kijiji?  I'm not sure yet, but I already have a potential buyer for some of my homeschooling text books, so that's awesome. 

Disturbed... by the way FOX news homepage has turned into the softcore porn page that it has.  There is so much skin in the pics there, it just makes me sick.  I miss the days when they didn't have all the boob shots and sex articles. 

Wishing... for a long, hot summer, as the weather people keep saying we're in for.  I sure hope it's true.  We didn't really have much of a summer last year, so I'm looking forward to being totally miserable in the stifling heat and humidity, lol. Yep, I'm a freak!

Thinking... about what it means to become a softy as you get older. I definitely notice it in myself, and I have a few friends who are about the same age as myself who are feeling it too.  Becoming a softy is a really good thing, as it allows you to feel more, care more, think deeper and pray harder.

Trying... a new item in my daily diet.  Instead of the "protein bars" I usually buy for a quick snack during the day, I bought a box of Kashi bars instead to see how I like them.  Nutritionally, they're better for you.  They cost less per bar, and they have more flavors, so I hope I do like them.  Today's treat was the cherry dark chocolate chewy granola bar.  It was pretty good, and the bonus is that I feel good using these as a snack alternative.

Pleased... with how well all the kids have adjusted to being in public school this year, after being homeschooled their whole lives.  School ends for them in a few weeks, and they're all doing those fun end-of-the-year projects in their classrooms and bringing home some things that have been at school all year long.  It's so strange that the school year is almost over. Ruth did amazingly awesome her first school year being the only homeschool student, and she's already finished many of her textbooks.  We'll close out the year for her after next week.  Next fall will be very strange indeed, with all of them in public school and it just being me and the animals home during the day.

Needing... to cut this a little shorter than I intended, since Kev informed me it's movie night and time to put the first dvd in. We're watching The Road and Wolfman.  I hope they were worth renting.  The kids watched Toothfairy (with Duane Johnson) earlier, and it was very cute. Duane Johnson does really well in kid-friendly movies.

Thankful... it's Friday and I can sleep in tomorrow.  Yay, sleeping in rocks!

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dead Babies v. Dead Swans?

Headline: "Arrest made in swan killing" (source)

Allow me to go on the record here and be absolutely crystal clear:

I hate it, absolutely hate it with a furious passion, when people get all up in arms over the mistreatment or horrible killing of defenseless animals, but yet those same people sit silently by and say NOTHING, ever, about the horrendous act of abortion. For me, it's impossible to read an article like this and wonder, where are these groups and these voices for the precious, innocent, defenseless babies being brutally ripped apart and discarded like trash, every day?  For the most part, they are silent. That blows my mind.

While I certainly agree that animal cruelty should be punished by the fullest extent of the law (it's often the first step in what is later profiled in serial killers, it should NOT be taken lightly), I also believe those who slaughter innocent, defenseless babies in the womb should receive an even harsher sentence.  Oh I know it's legal, and that's just as disgusting. How did we get to this place where killing babies was legal and killing swans will land you in jail?

God forgive us our insanity, stupidity and heartlessness.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

It Started With a Lion

I've recently rediscovered an old passion/obsession.

For as long as I can remember I have loved to draw.  In the third grade the teacher gave us an art assignment and mine was to draw a bride in her wedding gown with as much detail as I could.  I remember spending what seemed like forever on that drawing, and putting in so much detail into how her arms were positioned, the way she held her bouquet, and the sweep of her gown.  I shaded, erased, smudged and drew so much my hand would ache and I'd have to take a break and shake out my hand. I finally finished my bride and turned her in.  I won some kind of (long forgotten) super-awesome award for that drawing, and I was so proud of my bride!

Not long after that I recall a time when I went to work with my mom when she worked an overtime night shift (back in the day when you could take your well-behaved kids to work and no one batted an eye), and I spent nearly the entire night drawing.  She started out as just an "anyone" lady, but by the time I was done she had somehow transformed into Jackie Onassis. I saved that drawing for many years, but like all the other drawings from my childhood, it was eventually discarded.

In the 5th grade I met a girl in school who inspired me in another direction.  She would draw this incredibly adorable lion using nothing but basic shapes: circles, squares and straight lines.  I used to watch her draw the lion and think "why not kitties, puppies and monkeys too?"  I started drawing my own animals (and later on stick kids with big round faces) using the same technique she did, and before long there were basic shapes animals and kids on everything from the phone book cover to my walls. Literally. For years, I drew them on anything I could get my hands on, and quite often other girls in school would have me draw them on their school folders.  Some of my best drawings were done on other people's items, and I never saw them again.

Like everyone else, I grew up and found new interests and then got married and had 900 kids and drawing was something I put away while I changed diapers, chased toddlers, did laundry, anwered the phone that never stopped ringing for teenage girls and planned grocery lists for the next 27 years (and counting).  I've gone back to it a few times but never with the passion I had for it so many years ago, primarily because I just don't have the time to invest like I did when I was 10.  You have a lot more time for "fun" when you're 10, than you do when you're 45, I assure you.

Somehow, and I'm not even sure where it came from or how it happened, that passion came back.  It might have come about as I've somewhat detached myself from all the nonsensical, controversial, Christian blogging junk (you know what I mean), and determined to spend more time focusing on things that fall into the "whatsoever is good" category.  I find myself in a much better mood much more of the time when I'm dwelling on things that make people smile, rather than focusing on things that make people anxious and concerned, and I like being in this place.

In any event, not too long ago I decided I wanted to revisit my old animal friends, but this time do it with photoshop for much cleaner lines and perfect circles. It started with the lion, just like it did when I was 10, and before long I had a giant collection of lions, giraffes, puppies, pigs, bunnies and more. I call it a passion but it may very well be an obsession as well, because just like when I was 10 I find myself completely engrossed in creating and not even realizing how much time has gone by. Just like when I was 10, it started with the lion then progressed into the other animals, then on to the kids and then onto the themed-kids such as princesses, baseball players pirates and tinkerbell-type fairies.  I've created so many of them that in part, my new shop Birthday Sweeties was to showcase them all.  The thing is, I'm not done.  The more I create, the more ideas I get and I now have a list a mile long (maybe 2) of projects to work on once I'm done with the current project.  Since I'm well past the age of 10, I make it a point to submit all my work to the Quality Control panel of Jordan, Rachel, Samuel and Ruth (ages 12, 11, 9 and 6) to make sure it passes the Kid Pleasing test.  Nothing gets published that doesn't pass, and much of what does get published is edited to include their suggestions.  A panel of 4 giggling kids is the general rule of thumb that it's passed the test. I like giggles, they make me smile. :-)

You can see all the new animals (Safari Babies, Woodland Babies, Barnyard Babies, Kitties, Penguins and Puppies) HERE, and all the new kids (now known as Twiggy Tots stick kids) HERE. Lord willing, there are lots more coming very soon, as well!

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but if you have a child's birthday coming up, take a look through the different categories at Birthday Sweeties for custom birthday party invitations, birthday cards, t-shirts, buttons, binders, magnets, mousepads and more.  You just might find something that inspires some precious giggles in your own house.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe