Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Please, Keep It To Yourself

You know, these women who post their "post-baby" pics days or weeks after giving birth and showing this near-perfect, toned body, really just make me want to scream.  Why, because I'm jealous? Not hardly, my days of flat, toned abs are long gone and I know it.  Then, is it because they're usually half-naked? Well that's not the real reason but yeah it does make me annoyed they think they need to take their clothes off to get attention (thanks pop-culture, you're doing an awesome job there, keep it up, we don't have enough problems yet with sexual exploitation of women and girls).

No, it makes me angry because it's just NOT reality.  Granted, there is a slim (and by slim I mean fraction of a fraction of a half of a percent) number of women who can go through 9 months of pregnancy and 4 days or 3 weeks after giving birth, have what appears to be a completely toned, pre-baby body.  Unless of course, they're professional trainers who take ZERO time to let their body recover naturally and beat themselves up to get back into pre-pregnancy condition.  And those women, are even a smaller fraction of a fraction of women who's post-baby bodies look great.

The reality of it is, pregnancy is quite physically devastating to a woman's body (and I don't mean that in a creepy way, it's merely a medical fact for the vast majority of women).  You gain weight and as a side bonus you get stretch-marks (and contrary to popular claims, no, you cannot get rid of them completely, especially the great big monsters that look like you literally unzipped yourself to crawl out), skin discolorations, back pain, hip pain, abdominal muscle degeneration (and the more babies you have, the worse it gets and nothing short of an abdominoplasty - where they actually sew your abs back together because they cannot go back where they belong on their own, will fix it) and more. (Not all women have all these preggo-related things but all women have at least some of them, and some women have even more than I've mentioned)

By the time that baby comes along, your body needs rest, recuperation and proper nutrition to even begin to think about cooperating with you on squats & such.  Even then, for most normal, human women, it takes quite a while and a LOT of hard work, to get back into shape.  And even then your body doesn't really look the same as it once did.  Your hips are wider, your stretch marks are still there, and so on.

The biggest reason it makes me want to scream, seeing these kinds of pics, is because it sends the most unrealistic message that YOU TOO can look like "this".  Well, unless you're that person, NO YOU CAN'T. Your body is entirely different, your lifestyle, abilities, disabilities, routine, home life, etc. Plus, if you happen to be one of the millions of women with very non-elastic skin, you'll have those stretch-marks forever, no matter how much lotion or how many vitamin e ointments you used.

Women have a hard enough time in our culture trying NOT to feel like they have to conform to this standard or that standard, and dealing with the FAKE standard of beauty or sex-appeal shoved in our faces by the media/entertainment industries.  For those women who's bodies bounced back and look great 4 days after Junior came along: yay for you, that's awesome.  Do the rest of us a favor though and keep your clothes on, and don't show off.  Realize you're the exception to the rule and what you're really doing is making a lot of women have even MORE body-image and self-confidence issues than they already had.  Sure, you may inspire someone here or there, and while that's great, the bigger message you're sending is "if you don't look like this, there is something wrong with you, or you're making excuses".  Yes, I am in fact referring in part to Maria Kang, but she's not the only one doing this now.  Narcissistic post-preggo selfies seem to be on the upswing.

I know I don't speak for all women, and I know some will disagree with me on this. That's fine. But I also know I DO in fact speak for A LOT of women, because it's a topic of discussion among almost all moms/new moms and always has been.  I've had 7 babies and had this discussion with other new moms after each of them.  I'm also a grandma to 3 beautiful people and have had the same discussion with my daughters after the birth of their babies.  I can assure you, new mommies struggling with the shock of what pregnancy did to their bodies do NOT need this kind of added garbage to deal with. They need reality, and to be educated on what it really takes to get back into shape.  And to know that they will never look like "this" because they were never "that" to begin with.  They can however become the most fit THEM, no matter what that looks like on the outside.

Rant over.  You are free to leave now.  Assuming you stuck around for the entire lecture.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let's Talk About Why It's So Creepy to Talk About Sex

On Monday, during my routine stops between FB and twitter, I spotted a link to a post by Matt Walsh entitled "Married men: your porn habit is an adultery habit".  I knew as soon as I read the title, exactly what it was going to say.  What I didn't know what how well it was going to be said.  If you have not had the opportunity yet, I would strongly encourage you to read it.  From where I sit, Matt nails it straight to the wall.

However, this is really more about it being the post I did NOT want to write.  For many reasons.  First, it requires a LOT of thorough research and proper link-backs to write a blog post worth reading.  I used to do that every single day and to be honest with you, my life is a lot easier not doing that anymore. I design all day long and it's a peaceful, solitary, rewarding thing.  Blogging takes a lot more time and mental dedication.   Second, it's a subject that makes me want just go all old-school and slap the living snot out everyone guilty and/or by association, condoning and supporting of the sexual exploitation of women (and children).  Now, that's not very nice or Christ-like, is it precious?  No, it's not but it's the button this subject pushes.  Third, it's a subject (you know, the S word?) that I don't want to talk about because a.) I'm old and stuck in my ways, b.) I'm a female Christian blogger and we don't talk about that stuff (right?) and c.) sex is dirty and makes you go blind.  Anyway, that's what someone's grandma once told them and since grandma's know everything, it must be true.

As today progressed though, I couldn't stop thinking about a couple of different things associated with Walsh's post.  I'm going to ignore the secondary thing for now, but I want to focus on the first thing that stood out for me.

First though, before I begin on this point I want to make it perfectly clear that the very issue of pornography is so unbelievably prevalent in modern society that it seems like you cannot avoid it no matter how careful and guarded you are. IT. IS. EVERYWHERE.  From news, to music vids, tv, movies, gaming, social media, etc.  It's literally, everywhere.  If you're among the blessed who haven't seen it, heard about it, read about it or who's kids are asking about it, you're wrapped in a glorious bubble that might be sparing you from the filth but is also essentially sticking your head in the sand.  Dangerous ground friends, especially if you have kids growing up in our digital world where this trash is around every stinking corner.  I find it disturbingly alarming how frequent my husband and I have conversations these days about the seeming increase in porn, child rape (I don't call it child porn because that's not what it is, as "porn" is legal between consenting adults and child rape is, well, child rape by evil, wicked people, period), overt sexual exploitation of younger and younger boys and girls and how the they're are connected, and the direction our culture is headed.  It's horrifying, and maddening, and enraging but it's where we are in society.  I'm not even entirely sure how we got here (I do have a theory but that's a different subject all together) but we are here and now as parents and Christians and responsible, law abiding citizens of this rock we call Earth, we have to do whatever we can to protect, speak out, stand up, and TAKE a stand for what's good and right and all that awesome stuff.  All that being said, I make no claims about being any kind of professional, scholar or anything else along those lines.  I'm just a mom, that pays attention to what's going on, and these are my observations from where I sit.

Okay then, the #1 thing that stood out to me from Walsh's article: How to Deal With It.  I must warn you, I'm a Christian so this comes from a Christian, Biblical worldview. It is also my opinion only, and I realize I could be way off the mark but I don't think I am.  Your mileage may vary, as your convictions, traditions and education may vary wildly from my own.

In his article, Walsh linked to this study on the Psychology Today website written by Kevin B. Skinner, Ph.D. entitled "Is Porn Really Destroying 500,000 Marriages Annually?" After a brief skim of his bio, I already like this guy.  Why?  Because perspective is everything (while still subjective of course, but it most definitely gives you a broader view) and because he and his wife have seven daughters and one son.  My own husband Kevin and I, have six daughters and one son.  When you're giving 150% raising responsible, respectable, compassionate human beings, it matters what you see, what you see happening around you and how you prepare them to enter into adulthood equipped to be awesome and wonderful.  Of course all parents make mistakes and have blind spots but you goal is still the same.  In any event, this man writes in his article something that my own hubby and I have talked about.  

In his article linked he says "The problem is individuals, couples, and our society does not know how to deal with porn yet. It has entered our lives and our homes like a tsunami and we are ill-prepared to talk about it in a meaningful way."

The statement that we are ill-prepared to talk about it is what really stood out to me and begs the question WHY?  I believe I have the answer to that, but those who reject the words of God in Scripture will totally blow this out of the water no matter how much sense it makes, and trust me, IT'S THE ONLY THING that does make sense. To me, anyway.

It absolutely goes against our God-created nature to talk about it with or in front of anyone, that is not the person we share that ONE act of intimacy with.  It isn't because someone's freaky, misguided grandma made up some story about going blind, or because we're ashamed of  how much we like physical intimacy or anything else like that.  It is simply because sex was designed by God to be the ultimate, intimate, uber-personal, special, protected,  private expression of love and commitment and one-ness between a husband and a wife.  It was designed, by God, to be private and shared between husband and wife, alone.  Those couples who have this kind of God-designed marital relationship know exactly what I'm talking about.  They know that they can talk about things between the two of them, and feel completely uninhibited.  They can tell each other what they like, what they don't like, their fears, their hopes, and more. These are people who, engaged in the most intimate form of expression of love toward their spouse, are not afraid to be themselves, no matter what kind of weird sounds that might include, or giggling, or anything else associated with what the physical act of intimacy inspires.  During this time of supreme intimacy, they expose their true selves to their spouse and that's the most brutally honest expression of personal trust and vulnerability rolled into one.  In short, it's sort of a magical, fantastic thing that no one else on the planet has except these two people, together. And no one else should ever know about, because it's the magic glue that holds these two people together.

Even kids, no matter what age they are when we attempt to have "the talk" with them feel uncomfortable and awkward about it.  Why is that?  Why are these very small or young people who have essentially zero life/societal influence feeling creepy when mom or dad has "the talk" with them about the birds and the bees?  Isn't it obvious?  It's an ultimately personal thing that feels so, so, so awkward being discussed with anyone what isn't actually the person you're being intimate with.  Of course as kids, they don't realize this yet, they just know, inwardly, somewhere deep down inside, it's not a subject they're comfortable with because it's so innately private and personal.  It was exactly designed this way, by God.  You don't even have to know that, or believe it, but it's the truth and almost all people are to some degree become uncomfortable by public discussion (or display) of such personal things.  Even the non-believers in this world will jokingly make the "get a room" comment when they see a couple displaying affection in a public place.  Why do they say that? Simple, because sex is supposed to be private.

We (society) can ignore this all we want, but the fact of the matter is, sex was never intended to be discussed at length (in news articles, blogs, church groups, etc.) or put on public display by moronic pop stars or the porn industry.  Sinful culture has corrupted it, made it public consumption and no matter if you reject it's original purpose, reject God and reject propriety, there is still something deep inside of most people (who have not seared their own hearts) that tells them it's a hush-hush thing.  That "thing" is the truth about what sexual intimacy was designed for.  Sadly and ironically, now we (as a culture) have to discuss it and do so in a meaningful way, because so many have taken what God intended for good, and turned it into a cheap, disposable, unimportant commodity to be traded on the open market.  Somehow, God willing, we have to elevate it once again to that beautiful, wonderful, magical, silly, hilarious, private, intimate expression of oneness between husband and wife that no one else on the planet gets to know about but is that sacred thing we only reveal our true selves to, with the one person we've vowed to remain with until death do us part.

Frankly, I do not believe things will get better, but instead they will get worse.  I do believe some God fearing couples and parents will take a strong, pro-active stand for themselves and their kids (and thankfully, produce awesome young adults who in turn, take a strong stand against sexual deviancy), but the more our culture slips gleefully into depravity and away from God, the more depraved things we'll all see. It's already quite evident in 2013, if you just read the news from around the world.

Bottom line is simply this: you cannot change the wicked, evil world.  You can however change you, influence those under your care and stand for what is good, pure, lovely and right.  You can do that, and if you do, you'll inspire others to do the same.  You'll also be a lifeline for those who are struggling with this wickedness and you may even be operative in changing or saving someone's life for the glory of God.

Individual people can make a difference, and they're doing it all the time.  Don't let the headlines fool you into thinking otherwise.  

(I'll be honest in closing and admit that I am reluctant to post this because I know there are all kinds of people with all kinds of different opinions that will vehemently disagree with me, and possibly be very nasty about it. It's happened before, and I don't look forward to it in the least.  I will go ahead and post it though, because I want to encourage other moms and dads and younger folks that might be reading. This subject is not going to go away, so we have to equip ourselves on how to best deal with it.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gary Ridgeway - The Green River Killer: Because I Was There

Yesterday I read a post on FB that said this: "Ten years ago today, Green River Killer Gary Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 murders. We found our coverage from that day, and from a 1984 story on the killing spree. What message would you send to Gary Ridgway?" - KIRO 7 Eyewitness News

As I read that, I was first transported back to when the story broke, far and removed from the Pacific Northwest (Bremerton, specifically) where I grew up (now living in Ontario Canada), and then secondly transported back to the time in my mid teens when I lived there, played there, partied there and had friends there.


Over the years I've come to realize that not everyone knows who Gary Ridgway is.  Not everyone has heard of the Green River killer, although at the time he was actively murdering girls in my area, I would have just naturally assumed everyone knew who he was.  Since he dominated the local news almost every night (and since I was young and didn't really understand how things worked) I assumed everyone was hearing about it, everyone knew, and everyone cared.  Again, I was young and I assumed quite wrongly.


By now though, pretty much everyone has heard of The Green River Killer.  There have been countless articles, essays, research papers, books, websites and even movies that have documented who he was (and is) and what he did.


I remember the first thing I did when I heard the story that the Green River Killer had been finally caught, was scour the news articles for what kind of vehicle he drove.  In fact I remember saying to my husband how creepy it might be if he turned out to be the "creepy truck guy".The reason for that was, during the early 80's while I was the same age as many of his victims and living in the same general area, there was a lot of rumor about a "creepy looking older guy" in a dark colored truck, driving slowly past girls walking home from the movies, home from wherever.  It wasn't just rumor, as myself and my friends actually saw this creepy guy more than a few times ourselves.  At first we just joked about it but the more we saw him (maybe 4-5 times) the more we wondered why he was creeping around and never actually talked to anyone.  None of us ever knew anyone that had actually talked to Creepy Truck guy, as he eventually came to be known.  Oddly enough, he disappeared as suddenly as he first appeared. That would have been sometime in 1982 or early 1983.  I never heard any of my friends mention him after that time. If questioned, I'm fairly certainly I wouldn't be able to identify him as he always seemed to be in the shadows with either a ball cap on, or dark glasses.  Just part of the reason we all called him "creepy".


As it turns out, the actual Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, drove a 1977 black Ford F-150, which has been connected to some of his victims.  Needless to say when I read that in the news reports that were coming out in the early days of Gary Ridgway's arrest and investigation, my blood literally ran cold.  Was he ever actually in Kitsap County trolling for victims? I honestly don't know.  He's never admitted to it (as far as I know) and there's never been any connection to him and a missing/dead girl from my county (as far as I know) but the simple fact that a creepy looking older guy was seen in a dark colored truck was pretty much enough for me to believe it was entirely possible it could have been him.  I can almost guarantee there are other women in my age range who remember "Creepy Truck guy" from back in those days, that always wondered who he really was.  Maybe they asked themselves the same questions I did, such as: did he ever get on the Seattle/Bremerton ferry and just cruise around looking for someone in a new area?  Did he ever hurt anyone from our area, that was never identified?  I pray this is not the case, but anyone who grew up in Bremerton/Port Orchard/Silverdale back in the day, knows how common it was to hop on the boat and head over to Seattle.  Folks in Seattle did the exact same thing, pretty much every day of the week.  


When my oldest daughter was born in 1983, there was still a lot of talk among myself and my friends about who he really was.  He was a cop, a former cop, a private investigator, maybe even an investigative reporter or some sort of professional that had first hand, intimate knowledge with how crimes are investigated.  We reasoned, that was the only way he had been able to get away with it for so long.  Everyone spent time speculating on who the Green River Killer was and most of us were wrong.  Unless they were speculating that he was a creepy loser working at a truck painting place (I can almost guarantee you, no one guessed that) they were dead wrong.  As it turned out, that's what he did for a living.  He had no working knowledge of law enforcement or criminal investigation at all.  He just managed to slip through the cracks in a perfectly diabolical way that so many other monsters do.  For a time.


Another part of the reason I was so curious as to what kind of vehicle Ridgway drove, was because of a couple of books I had read sometime during the time he was active in his murder spree. Because I have always been fascinated by true crime, the criminal mind, why they do what they do and how law enforcement catches them, I've always leaned toward reading true crime books.  I cannot recall the name of one of them I had read during that time, but the other was The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule. It was a true crime book about another local monster by the name of Ted Bundy. Both books were about him, and in one of them there were pictures of his victims.  In the collage of pictures in one of those books was a picture of a girl I was sure I knew, sure I went to elementary school with.  As it turned out, it wasn't the same girl I thought it was but the uncanny resemblance sure made me wonder if he'd ever simply got on the ferry and made the trip over to my town just like so many people did all the time.  Even before he was finally arrested and the pieces of his evil puzzle were put together, I recall the account of the older sister of a friend telling us how one day at the track behind the high school while the girls were doing cheerleading practice, they noticed a really handsome guy, arm in a cast, smiling, leaning against his VW bug that was parked not too far from the track.  The high school girls felt kind of creeped out that he just stood there for a while, smiling and watching them. That would have been in 1973 or 1974 and it wasn't discovered until later, that the fake cast and the VW bug is exactly what Bundy drove and used to lure some of his victims.  I'll never forget learning that for the first time, years after hearing about the creepy handsome guy in a cast near the high school.  I think I read that paragraph 10 times before I had to put the book down and wonder if Bundy was actually trolling around my little town during those years.  I'd like to believe that it was just a coincidence, and that he never came to my town.  Handsome young men driving VW bugs was a pretty common sight back in that day, so it could have been a completely innocent coincidence, for sure.  

All of that was a very long time ago.  Bundy is gone, Ridgway is locked up for the rest of his life and neither of them can hurt anyone else ever again.  So what message would I send Ridgway today, KIRO 7 asks?  It's almost like asking what message you would send to a stinking pile of manure. Even that sort of feels like an insult to manure.

But because I am a Christian and I know Christ forgives even the most wretched, wicked, vile sinners, I know that if Ridgway sought Him out and genuinely repented of his sins against God and man, he would be forgiven.  It wouldn't remove what he did, it wouldn't remove the consequence of his actions, and it wouldn't bring those poor girls back and reunite them with their families but it would reconcile his soul to God.  On the flip side, if Ridgway chooses not to repent of what he's done, he will be judged by the Highest Judge of all, with holy and righteous judgement and the sentence will not be a cushy life in jail, but eternal damnation, fully aware every moment for the rest of eternity what it's like to sin against God and man. As horrific as it was whatever Ridgway put his victims through, his pain and suffering will be much worse, and will never end. Ever.  I know most people would say they hope Ridgway never repents and never seeks forgiveness because God's righteous, eternal judgement is what they'd like to see him suffer.  I can completely understand that.

Even as a Christian who believes in forgiveness and second chances, when genuine monsters walk and live and work among us, we tend to feel an urgency for God's justice, swift and immediate to wipe them out and keep the rest of us safe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Fat Kid Halloween Letter

By now, unless you've been under a rock somewhere, you've probably already heard/read about the brilliant lady in North Dakota who plans on handing out candy to the thin kids on Halloween tomorrow night, but to the kids she determines to be "moderately obese", she will hand them this letter.

Much has already been said about this letter and the woman who wrote it (anonymously, but calls herself Cheryl when she phoned into a radio station to explain why she's so awesome and helpful to her village) and the way social media picks up on things and flings them to every possible corner of the planet and back again within seconds, much more will be said, I'm sure.  So why am I adding my voice to the mix?  Because when I first read about this letter this morning I got so angry I couldn't stop thinking about it.

So I've decided to write my own letter.  Here it is:



Happy Halloween and
Happy Holidays Cheryl of the Village!

You are probably wondering why I'm writing to you since I don't even know you, you don't know me and this all seems rather out of the blue.  Well, allow me to explain.

You see, part of me thinks your letter was actually a hoax, a brilliant, modern, 2013 social media "trick" for Halloween this year.  Now if that is the case, it worked like a charm but already sort of made pretty much everyone hate you for being so mean.. or so they thought.  So if it was a hoax, a "trick" instead of a treat, then it sort of worked but also sort of backfired in spades.

However, if it wasn't meant as a joke and you were serious, you better start packing now, or think very carefully about actually doing this.  You may not have read the reactions of people on several sites today but I have, and they're just WAITING for their kid to come away from your house with this letter.  Do you know what your village people are planning to do to your house?  I do, because they're all talking about it.  TP'ing your house, egging your house, bricks, rocks and whatever else through the windows, coming up to your door and punching you in the face and all kinds of other rotten, aweful illegal things.  But you know what the most ironic thing is?  YOU have angered them to this kind of reaction with your letter.  Really bad move, Cheryl.

You see, I think if you really cared about overweight kids, you'd be able to come up with 101 different things to hand out on Halloween instead of candy, for ALL the kids who come to your door.  Or, you could have just blogged something (like I am, it totally works) or ranted on FB or whatever.  But instead, you've totally and completely ticked off thousands and thousands of people by threatening to hurt their kids feelings by handing the thin kid the chocolate bar, and handing the heavier kid a stupid piece of paper.  I question if you were ever a.) a kid and b.) went trick or treating or c.) gave any genuine thought to how this would be so upsetting to a little kid on Halloween.    I find it a little hard to believe there are super-creepy people that would do this but then again, there are people that do much worse to little kids all the time.  I'm still hoping that your letter was a hoax and you're not really this much of a meanie.

I do have to wonder though, what kind of medical background you have there in your village that qualifies you to diagnose someone by a 10 second look through the door as being moderately obese.  Are you a doctor? A clairvoyant?  Do you realize that some kids are heavier than others because they are just built that way, and maybe do in fact eat healthy food on a regular basis?  Of course there are chubby kids and chubby parents too but do these kids really deserve to be humiliated at your doorstep on Halloween night?

In any event Cheryl, since your "Halloween fat kid letter" (that's what folks are calling it, not me) has hit the web, you're famous now, even though most people have no idea who you really are.  So, if you still plan to hand out this letter, let me suggest you begin packing now, since you'll need to move to another city.  The world is literally watching your village there and waiting to see what happens tomorrow night.  I've read many comments from people who live there and work there who have already said "she'd better not, or she'll be sorry".  They said other stuff too.  Really mean stuff, really vulgar stuff that I'm not going to repeat but trust me, it's BAD.

I wish you all the best tomorrow night, and seriously hope you change your mind.
Sincerely,
Carla

P.S. My jack-o-lantern is cooler than yours, and I'm handing out candy and Florida's Naturals Halloween fruit snack packets to ALL the kids who knock on my door.  It's the responsibility of their parents to ration out their candy, not mine.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teens, Cams, Sexual Predators and Digital Culture

This is one of those subjects that burns at my heart, but one that I don't even know where to begin to address it.  Let me start by saying this: I am 100% unqualified in a professional capacity to counsel or otherwise advise anyone on this subject and yet merely by the virtue of being a mom, I believe I am 100% qualified to have an opinion on it, and say *something* about it.  Fair enough?  I think so.

So where do we begin? I guess I'll begin with stating the obvious in that I'm a Christian so I'm going to address this from that worldview.  However, how I see it or how you see it doesn't change what it is. Or, how it affects our kids.  Yes, my kids and YOUR kids - and if you think your kids aren't affected by this, don't talk about it, or haven't known someone personally who was/is affected by it, you've probably got your head in the sand (or they just haven't told you, which is entirely possible).

The other day I had a conversation with my oldest daughter about this, and she shared with me how it breaks her heart as well that this is going on.  Fact is, it has been going on, for a lot longer than most parents have any clue about.  What exactly am I talking about?

- Teen girl gets an email with a nude pic of herself attached and a threat that reads something like "send me a nude video or more pics or I'll post this on your FB". Mr. Sick Pig emailer has hacked her system and she feels pressured to comply with his request.

- Teen (and pre-teen) girls posting nude selfies on so-called anon forums for kicks and grins and (hopefully) positive feedback. The more positive feedback she gets, the more she posts.

- Teen boys and girls partying, drinking, drugs, sexual activity (either consensual or not) taking place and being either recorded or phone pics taken then spread around the school.  As I'm sure you've read or heard of by now, in some cases the humiliation of having those kinds of images out there is more than the girl can bear, and she ends up taking her own life.

Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons are just two of the more well known cases where the disastrous mix of teens, cams, sex, digital culture and humiliation was just too much for these poor girls to handle.   Of all the ones we do hear about in the news, I always wonder how many more there are, that never come forward.  I suspect the number would be shockingly high.

During my conversation about this the other day with my daughter she mentioned that for some of these girls, such as the ones who post nude selfies, it's a matter of exploring their sexuality.  I certainly can't disagree with that.  Being a teenager is like having an alien take over your brain sometimes.  One minute you feel like a little kid and the next thing you know there are things on your chest or hair in places there was never hair before.  It's confusing and complex and weird and awesome and scary and all of the above.  Suddenly you aren't really you anymore, you're a new you and you're almost certain you have no idea who you really are.  It's been a long time since I've been a teenager, but that part of it I remember quite clearly.  I also remember it lasting for at least a couple of years, maybe longer.

Yet, when I was a teenager, the world was different.  Praise God above that we didn't have a digital world to play around in because if we did, we would have done the exact same things teenagers do now in that world.  We just did other dumb things and made other poor choices, in other areas.  For most of us, thankfully, there isn't any digital record of it, being shared over and over and over online, that will almost literally, never go away.

When I think of this and when I have conversations about this with hubby or the kids, the same sort of bullet points come up so here they are, in no particular order:

• We live in a sex-saturated culture and it's getting worse almost every day.  Everyone knows that, everyone sees it, but the affect it's having on this generation of kids is utterly devastating.  They are being desensitized every single day to the overt, graphic sexuality and nudity they see online, in video games, music videos, awards shows (oh, hi Miley, hi Rihanna, hi Lady Gaga, here's some pants and a top, I know you're not used to them but try them on anyway) and movies.  The message it sends to teenage girls is this one: You can get all the attention you desire, if you just take your clothes off and sexually exploit yourself. Do it often, and get more and more graphic and you'll have more and more attention.  The message it sends to teen boys is this one: Girls/Women are just things, objects to be enjoyed, used, and tossed aside when the next pretty one comes along. They're not human beings and they don't deserve any respect at all.  People say we live in a "rape-culture".  The sexual abuse, exploitation, degradation and objectification of women is not only tolerated, it's trivialized and even accepted or celebrated.  I believe a HUGE part of the reason this mindset exists has everything to do with what is being seen by our young men and women in culture.  As the old saying goes: "Garbage in - Garbage out".

• The internet is a great place for a bazillion different reasons and it's not going away.  It's also a dark, deceitful, wicked playground for some of the most depraved minds you could ever imagine.  There are things going on online, right now, right this very minute, that you would not believe even if you saw if for yourself. If you did see it for yourself, you would have nightmares and a broken heart.  There are files being shared, videos and pictures being viewed, and meetings being set up between innocent kids and sexual predators, right this very minute. There are girls being lied to, boys being lied to, boys watching videos, men scrolling through slideshows and much, much more.  There are live-cams up and running right now, being viewed by thousands and thousands of men... fathers, husbands, cops, priests, teachers, coaches, Sunday school teachers and mothers too.  Some of the most unimaginable violence and abuse is taking place online, right now, this very moment.  Most of us adults know this, even though we choose not to think about it and would never in a million years participate in it.  Most kids know it too, sadly.  Most of us will never see it, accidentally click on it, or venture into that world but some DO. Some kids, and some adults.  Some are curious, some don't believe it's real, some can't help but share with friends, and some feel an urge, a lure, and end up getting sucked into this evil and depraved world only to end up yet another victim or abuser.  I only wish I were exaggerating but the truth is, there are a lot more sex abuse victims out there than most of us realize.  One of the best things you can ever do for yourself and your family is find a good web-filter and install it on every desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, ipod and anything else in your house that connects to the internet.  It doesn't stop all the garbage from coming through but it stops most of it, and that matters.

• Talk to your kids about sex, sexuality, nudity, integrity, self-worth, respect, and who and what they want to be known for.  I know, for a lot of parents (and pretty much every teen on the planet) this is a horrifically uncomfortable subject to bring up with your kids but it's also one of the most IMPORTANT topics of conversation you'll ever have with them.  Just as important as talking with them, listen to them.  They've probably already seen things you didn't even know existed, or at the very least heard about them.  They might have questions, and they might have some really uncomfortable questions that make you feel unbelievably awkward but it's better they ask you, than ask some idiot that will give them an equally idiotic answer. Let's just be honest here, the world has no shortage of idiots, and idiotic ideals and worldviews.  If you're the one talking to your kids and listening to your kids and giving them the wisdom and genuine information they need to make the right choices, you're one step ahead of the idiocy out there.  I only wish as a younger mom I was more comfortable with this subject.  I wasn't, and I didn't talk to my older girls or listen to them the way I should have.  I tried, but I know I dropped the ball and I will not make that mistake with the younger ones.  Yes it's still a very awkward and uncomfortable subject but it's critical to be there for them.

I said I would address this from a Christian worldview and that can be easily summed up by my belief that the Bible is true, and declares that every person is created in the image of God.  That first fact alone dictates that people deserve respect. They do not deserve to be used, abused, mistreated as objects or callously disregarded. As for the sex-saturated/obsessed culture, it's rather heartbreaking that our society has taken what was created by God as the ultimate expression of love and commitment between a husband and wife, and made it a marketing tool, and so trivial that even 10 year kids don't even flinch when they see a naked popstar on a wrecking ball in a music video.  The very fact that the human race keeps going is proof enough that we are in fact, sexual beings.  However, that was meant to be a treasured thing, a private thing, a personal thing that you share with your spouse and your spouse alone.  The one thing you and your spouse have that is so personal between you two, that it's like this awesome magic secret that only you two share.  Sex was never supposed to be out there for the world to see, and when it is (and it is, in spades) all it does is cheapen it, trivialize it, and pervert it.

How you as a parent choose to approach this subject with your kids may differ considerably from mine.  At the very least though, I implore you to not ignore this, or think that your kids aren't affected by it.  One way I've read for parents to bring this up with their kids that makes a lot of sense to me is to ask them certain questions.  Such as "Do you know who Amanda Todd is?" (or, there may be, sadly, another girl or a boy in your local area that is more commonly known, or has been in the news, so you might want to ask them if they know who that person is), and go from there.  Most kids (like a lot of adults) have heard things, read things, and seen things that may or may not be accurate and may or may not have all the facts.  Do some research on this yourself and then bring it up with your teens.  Ask them how they feel about it.  Ask them what their friends say and how they feel about that, or what they might do if someone like Amanda was their friend.  Whatever you do, give them the freedom to share their thoughts and the tools to make good choices if and when they're ever in a situation where that wisdom is needed.

Being a good parent has never been easy, and it feels a lot harder now in the current culture but we have to stay on top of these things so our kids never have to suffer through the pain, humiliation and despair that we read about other kids going through. Our kids are precious, and the next generation. Even one victimized kid, is one too many.

If you have thoughts to share on this subject, please feel welcome to leave a comment.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Here I Stand - Just to be Crystal Clear

In the last few weeks there have been what seems like an onslaught of news items and comments about things in social media on social issue-type things that have made me want to blog more than once on each of them. Honestly, the comments I've read have made me want to go into full-on rant mode and verbally annihilate the most outlandish, stupid, illogical views but to say that out loud makes me a meanie and intolerant and all that junk we keep reading about. So, to keep it a little more concise, I'll just list them as I think of them and let you all know where I stand on them.  Your mileage will definitely vary since a.) I'm old (49 at the end of the year), and think like an old person, b.) I think most people are too stinking self-absorbed and just need to seriously shut up, go home  and get over themselves and c.) I'm a Christian and therefore all my opinions are 1.utterly invalid, no questions asked 2. antiquated (see a. "old person) and 3. prudish, Victorian and some other stupid label that someone came up with to make themselves feel all puffed up/modern/progressive). I'm sure I'll have more opportunity down the road to expand this list but for now, this is what we have...  so here we go:

(and these are in no particular order really, just off the top of my head - oh - and there will be grammatical errors because I'm not an English major or grammar cop, for the most part)

BULLYING

Bullying is wrong, wicked, cruel, mean, ugly, malicious and vile.  I hate it as much as anyone else hates it and wish it didn't exist in our culture. Bullying in 2013 has taken on a new face, in that it's a 24/7 issue as a result of social media and the result can FAR TOO OFTEN be fatal, terminal, and forever. In my day, this kind of garbage stopped when you left the school yard but that's totally different now, as we all know.  That in and of itself, breaks my heart for the kids who feel like there's no escape from it.  That being said, PLEASE, let's stop labeling every minor disagreement, varying opinion or culture clash as bullying - because all that does is water down what real harassment, intimidation and bullying is.  Stop using "bullying" as a buzzword to further the agenda of whatever issue you're on about.  It's not accurate and it's not fair to those who are genuine victims of this garbage.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

Oh man.  There aren't enough words, or enough hours in the day for me to take this topic on.  Men who exploit women for financial and sexual satisfaction, women who exploit themselves for financial and emotional satisfaction and women who are so so so blind as to believe they're actually somehow "empowered" whenever they flash their girl-bits out there for all the world to see. Yes Miley, and all the other girls/young ladies out there, I'm talking to you, directly. The irrational and illogical and just plain insanity of that idea is like declaring the sky is green and the grass is blue and genuinely believing it, ALL THE WHILE, the very same people (sinful men who would just as soon bed you and walk away without ever once considering you as a thinking, feeling, rational human being) that you are trying to sway to your way of thinking are just laughing at you while getting turned on at your stupid choices to take off your clothes and show yourself.  YES, they're laughing at you.  You're feeding their depravity and they love it, and want more.  You're also serving up a feast to the rape-culture.  Think about that for a minute. Or more.

SAFETY-FIRST

Matt Walsh nailed it this week in his post about why your kid might be a "lazy wuss"  Not exactly the words I'd use but he exposed the insanity for what it is.  You can't whine and moan about how schools are not letting your kids do this, that and the other and then have a royal conniption fit when your kid gets hurt on the playground and file a lawsuit against the school district.  You cannot tie the school's hands then moan and groan because their hands are tied!  Ugh...

Okay, that's all I've got for now.  No question about it, I'll have more later because lately, I find myself getting more and more ticked off at all kinds of stupidity, immorality and blithering illogical ridiculousness.

If I've touched on anything you'd like to discuss further, I'm totally open to that.  Leave me a comment and let's talk about it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Status Report: September 2013

Okay then, it's been a whole two months since I wrote up a status report.  A lot has gone on in those two months but today I'm only posting a single train of thought instead of my usual list.  Here it is:

Feeling... extraordinarily frustrated by the whole "rape culture"/exploitative/sexist attitude among so so so many people. And knowing, knowing that unless each and every one of them out there who has this twisted and ungodly idea of who/what a woman is bows before the Lord God and acknowledges Him for who He is, and that every single person is created in His image, and that He expects a certain level of propriety, discretion, honor and modesty among His creation, this type of thinking will NEVER end. It will only get worse.

Loaded statement, huh?  Well, there are plenty of symptoms of all this in the media almost every single day. More and more all the time, to be sure, as our culture continues to slip down the slope of pushing the envelope and shoving God further and further away.  My husband and I had a pretty long conversation about this the other morning and he asked the question "why should we expect any of this to change, if we (culture) refuse to honor God and see His creation the way He sees it?"  The sad answer is, we can't.  And it won't.  If we're all just a complicated blob of atoms that evolved out of the slime pit, there cannot exist a single, set, standard of morality or respect for fellow human beings.  No rules. Or just mine, or just yours, or just the other guy's.  But know this, the other guy's rules are going to trample all over yours, and mine over his and so on.  If there isn't ONE set standard, anything goes.

Indeed, and anything does go.  For some classy examples, see Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at the VMA awards (and if you think that's bad, she's got a new video out where she's half naked, seductively licking a hammer and swinging on a wrecking ball - no - I am not making this up and no, I'm not going to link to it), see the student led "rape chant" at St. Mary's University in Nova Scotia where they all joined in happily and chanted together about non-consensual sex with underage girls and see the brilliant Texas sign shop owner who created such beautiful imagery of a helpless woman bound and gagged for a truck tailgate mural.  I'll tell you, nothing says "I respect women and they are created in the image of God, and I will honor them" more than that.  Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?  Honestly, I could go on and on and on about this all day.  I could list tons and tons of examples of both men and women in our culture who are directly responsible for the sexist, exploitative attitude that demeans, degrades, demoralizes and dehumanizes women.  But, you've probably already seen just as many examples as I have. You've seen/met/known/watched the men who eat it all up, laugh at the raunchy jokes, watch things they shouldn't be watching and make sexist remarks about women.  You've also seen/met/known/watched the women who take off their clothes (and/or prance around on stage like some nutcase - because the mantra says it's okay to "own your sexuality, sister!"), or who volunteer to be the model for the abducted woman mural in Texas) only to be exploited for profit by those very same men - the men who actually laugh at them because they willingly sell themselves this way. While these women are under the horrifically wrong impression that they're somehow empowered or owning their sexuality, all they're doing in the long run is feeding the sexist, degrading attitude that these sinful men already have, that women are nothing more than objects, toys, items to be used.  And just for the record, I have no issue at all with women feeling free to flop and pop and twerk or whatever she wants to do - I just believe she should do it in her bedroom with her husband where none of us can see it.  For that matter, he can flop and twerk too, as long as I don't have to see it.   This is the way God intended human sexuality to be, fun, pleasurable, to bring husband and wife super close, super intimate, as one.

The only solution is God's creation humbling themselves, on their sinful faces before Him and repenting, and having their hearts and minds changed. I know that's not the solution most are looking for.  I also know that's not what most will do. Because most will want to keep doing whatever it is that they want to do.  Problem is, so will the sexist, immoral, raunchy people who keep doing what they want to do no matter who it offends, who it degrades or who it dehumanizes because... everyone's operating by their own set of standards and morals (or lack thereof).  I also know that's why it will only get worse and that's what is so frustrating.

In closing I will say, I am SO glad that God gave me an honorable husband. He's certainly not perfect and he knows it, but he's solid on this point, loves God, and is determined our son will never be one of those men out there chanting vulgar things, putting sexist murals on his truck or grinding around with a half naked young woman for the world to see.  I know there are a lot of dedicated parents out there raising decent girls and honorable boys, and my hat is off to you.  The world they're headed into is a lot more publicly decadent and depraved than the one we all grew up in.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Can We Pick Something Else?

Okay so... right off the top, I think this is going to annoy a lot of people. I hope they'll all look past that and see what I'm actually saying, and why I'm saying it before they just let themselves be annoyed.

For as long as I can remember, Christians have used the parallel of cancer, to sin.  It's perfectly reasonable and perfectly understandable since our Holy Scriptures refer to sin as a disease that if left unchecked will grow and spread and invade and destroy you.  I do not disagree with this at all.  I also believe it's an important thing to remind the household of faith and the unbeliever as well.  Sin simply MUST be dealt with or it will be the undoing of a person. Exactly the same way a physical cancer works.

Here's my problem with that.  I know more about cancer than I ever wanted to know.  Over the last 20 years I have lost my grandpa, grand-father-in-law, step-dad, uncle and step-grand-father-in-law to cancer.  My former father-in-law, former sister-in-law have both battled cancer and so far, God willing, have come out victorious but not at all without very visible battle scars.  I am also a cancer-widow myself.  I'm also the mother of 4 little kids who are cancer orphans and I saw what cancer did to their precious little lives, and the long term result.  Lung cancer, liver cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer.  I know more about all of them than one person (not in the medical field) should ever really know.  I know more about the treatments, side affects, physical/psychological/emotional/spiritual affects, than I honestly ever thought I would.

I know, and I understand and I agree that sin should be compared to such a horrific, invasive, devastating thing such as cancer, and yet at the same time, every single time I see it phrase that way it feels like an invisible hand ripping off a deep, not-yet-fully-healed-and-never-really-will-be-while-on-this-earth scab and pouring salt into the wound.

I know it will never change, and it probably shouldn't.  We should always be as horrified at our own sin as we should be so fearful and apprehensive about cancer.  Always.  No exceptions, ever.  I know that Biblical, eternal truths should never be watered down to spare anyone's "feelings".  I'm the last person on the planet that would advocate that.

Sometimes though, I secretly wish folks would compare it to mold, or rotten teeth, or a creepy, thorny, stinky, invasive lawn weed or something less personal for me.  I'm also sure I'm not the only cancer-widow (or widower) that feels this way, we just don't like to say it out loud because it upsets people and we don't really want to do that.

No response is needed, really. Just a random thought I've had for the last 20 years that I've never really expressed before.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our New Home

I've been meaning to blog about this ever since we moved in almost 3 weeks about but I've been so busy with so many things, I didn't really have time until now.  But now that I have time, it doesn't feel right telling how happy I am in our new home until I clarify some things about our old home.  I'll keep that part as short as possible. (Just proofread it, the "short" part didn't happen so read it if you like, skip it if you want)  Here we go:


A week after Christmas 2001, we were informed the house we were renting was being sold, and we had until March 15th to find a new place.  We decided as soon as the holidays were over and we started putting away decorations, we'd start packing too and start looking so that's what we did.  Four weeks later I came down with the worst case of mononucleosis the medical community has ever seen. Ever. In the history of all medical communities ever, worldwide.  Well, it sure felt like it anyway, and I was literally down for the count.  I tried to pack/clean/look for rentals but it was mostly on Kevin as I couldn't get up for longer than 30 minutes at the most without feeling like I was going to die.  So on his days off he'd scour the rentals and make appointments and we'd go look.  Nothing, nothing and again a whole lot of nothing.  We were getting down to the wire and finally had one last place to look at out in the middle of nowhere.  It was a great big farm house on a great big piece of property, about 40 minutes away from where we were living at the time.

So, we went, we looked, we really liked, and the owner said he'd get back to us, as another couple was coming to look as well.  A few days later (and one week before we had to be out of our current place) the owner called, said we had first right of refusal but the place was ours if we wanted it.  Kevin talked to him, I was laying on the couch, dying from mono.  He said "yes, we'll take it and thank you".  I screamed, thanked the Lord for His provision, then fell asleep.

No question about it, the Lord was gracious to give us a place to live just in the nick of time, and we were tremendously thankful.  I want to make sure I say that, because then things got a wee bit hairy over the next few years and I've constantly struggled with feeling like I am not thankful, or grateful.

The first few years we lived there, we really lived there.  We used toilets and door knobs and showers and electrical outlets and locks and cupboards and things that had not really been used in a long time (former owner lived there alone for many years, and never replaced a lot of things), so they quickly wore out just from being old, and being used.  The new owner that we rented from did replace things as they wore out but that stopped after about 5 years after we lived there.  We'd tell him things were not working and they just never got fixed (or at least not by him - a lot of things we just fixed the best we could, or rigged them to work, or in many cases just wrote it off, and made do) so we just lived in a very broken house.

The former owner let his dog pee on the carpets so ours did too.  We tried and tried and tried to break her of it but it was a losing battle.  I bought a carpet cleaner and at least once a week for the last 5-6 years I ran that thing through the living room and dining room.  It never got rid of the smell.  The roof had a leak which came through to the bathroom ceiling which caved in as a result.  That never got fixed.  Multiple doorknobs broke off and because they were ancient doors fitted with knobs when Moses was a kid, there was no way to run to the hardware store and buy new ones to replace them.  We rigged every one of them to close, without knobs and without key locks.  The water pipes froze one year and fried the plumbing to the downstairs shower, and that was never fixed.  Both toilets stopped flushing correctly and it got to the point that the upstairs toilet had to be plunged every single time it was used, for about the last 2-3 years.  The deck was falling apart, the balcony was rotted, siding had blown off in winter storms, the basement was filled with mold and constantly flooded (and had cracks and holes large enough for animals to come in, and they did), the garage doors were broken, one didn't shut all the way and birds would come in and nest in the insulated ceiling leaving a horrific mess. Some of the windows on the west side of the house (the cold side) had fallen into the rotted wood under them and left gaps where the wind would howl through. We sealed the gaps with duct tape, but the windows were never fixed either, just like all the other things that were never fixed. From about April through November the kitchen was filled with flies and gnats, and nothing ever got rid of them.  This is just the short list, I assure you.  At our lawyer's suggestion, before we moved out I went around the house, inside and out, from the basement to the top floor and took pictures of everything that was broken or damaged from normal wear and tear.  There are 47 pictures.  I will not post them for anyone to see but after I took them and scrolled through them I just wanted to cry when I realized what we had all become so used to.  If you were to see them, you would never believe a family actually lived there, but we did.

I don't know why our former landlord never bothered to fix any of these things.  I know we could have called someone and forced his hand, but we never did.  We just tolerated it and kept telling ourselves "soon, we'll find a house to buy and be done with this, forever". That day came on June 27, 2013.  Eleven years, three months and 14 days exactly after the day we moved in there.

Despite all of that, we had 11 years of birthdays, Christmas, new babies, Canada Day parties, pool parties and all sorts of other awesome family memories in that house (or in the huge yard) and we'll all remember those quite fondly.

So, all that being said... we're out of there and have a new house.  It's our house, and it's clean and smells nice.  The dog has almost been broken of her old habits and in 3 weeks has only had 5 accidents, instead of 2-3 per day like she used to.  She goes for walks twice a day and is learning quite well where the dog-toilet is.

In our new house, everything works like it's supposed to.  If you plug in the vacuum, the power doesn't go out.  The toilets flush, the showers work, the doors lock and the lights turn on by the switch.  I have a smaller kitchen but it's got tons of cupboard space for all my things, and we even have a kitchen table in there we all eat at.  All four burners on the stove work, the fridge doesn't leak and we even have a dishwasher!  Right now we're in the middle of a heatwave (it was 110 today, believe it or not) so there are a few flies here and there but nothing at all like out at the farm.

We've already had Father's Day (it was late, but we had it all the same), our Housewarming, and Ruth's birthday and our entire clan was here and there's more than enough room on our deck & back yard for everyone to spread out and be comfortable.  It's not the huge yard we had before and we had to get rid of the trampoline and the pool, but the pool will be replaced next summer since most of us are pretty much dying without it.  We're about a 5 minute walk from the Thames River, and the other day a bunch of us walked down there.  We were eaten alive by mosquitos but it was a nice walk and the entire river front is bordered by paved walking/biking trails.  Roller skates, here I come!

Now, I suspect most who would be reading all this have already seen the pics I've posted on FB but in case you haven't here's some brand new family memories in a house (okay they're all outside but that's okay, lol) that works, and one we're SUPER thankful for:

My new friend :-)

Our new back yard

Kev bbq-ing for Ruth's 10th birthday

Jordan and one of the party guests with Hailey

Party time on the patio!

Samuel, Joost, Jessica, Kev, Kim and more party-going :-)

A patio full of girlies

Cupcakes!

I think the cupcakes were a hit :-)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Status Report: June

Sitting... at my desk in the game room, for the very last time as it relates to typing out my monthly status report.  Next month, assuming I remember to post a July Status Report, I will be in our new house, sitting in a new place.

Feeling... super anxious in all the good ways.

Wishing... schools would not jam-pack all sorts of field trips and events into the month of June.  I don't know why they do this but they certainly don't take into consideration families with more than 1 kid.  In the last couple of weeks I've had upwards of 10 different field trip permission forms to fill out.  $5.00 for this one, $11.00 for that one, $4.00 for the other one, and on it goes.  Of course I don't have to give permission and pay for every single field trip but... I do, because I don't want the kids to miss out.  It's just ridiculously expensive planning for these June things.  It would be so much more manageable if the schools would stagger them throughout the year instead of stuffing them all into June.

Looking forward to... the feel of the new house/neighborhood.  For the first time yesterday, I went to the house by myself to move a van-load of items.  I parked, got out of the van and the quietness, the peacefulness of the neighborhood immediately struck me.  All I could hear were birds chirping, and lots of them.  Our new house is only two streets over from a grade school so when recess lets out, the sound of birds is mixed with the sound of squealing, giggling children.  Honestly, I don't know if there is a more pleasant sound-blend than kid-giggles and song birds singing.  I guess we could toss a bagpipe in there and it would be perfect.

Excited about... cupboards and counters.  I know, who gets excited about such a thing? ME!  In our current house, everyone is struck by how big the kitchen is in this ancient farm house.  What they don't have to try and deal with, is that in this kitchen there is 1 small counter (and 1 electrical outlet) and 1 food cupboard.  That's it.  I guess that was enough for busy moms preparing meals in the late 1880's when the house was built.  We've had to purchase 3 pantries, and 4 shelving units just to hold all the normal stuffs that go in kitchens.  In the new house, there's a huge counter, and tons of cupboard space for everything to go where it's supposed to go.  Yes, I'm excited about a neat and tidy kitchen!

Wishing (part 2)... someone would have told me about "hidden" costs when buying a home.  I mean, someone might have actually said something in passing about it, but I really wish someone would have sat me down and said "okay look, there's the down payment, PLUS there will be all these other costs that you need to budget for" and then listed them off one by one.  That would have been super-duper-awesomely helpful.  I probably should dedicate an entire post, all it's own, just to detail it out for someone else.

A little surprised by... the fact that June 2013 marks the 9th year I've had this blog.  Nine years of blogging.  I think I've probably said everything I ever wanted to in that nine years, and probably said some of those things more than once.

Well, that's about all I have for today.  I have a load of stuff that needs to go to the van so I'll sign off, and wish you a super-fantastic day!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Home Sweet Home - Almost

Well, our house closed today and for the first time, the kids were able to see the inside and see where the next chapter of our lives will be played out. The votes have been tallied and they all love the new house as much as we do! Kev used his cell phone to snap these pics so they're not the best quality in the world but I think the looks on the kids faces really says it all:

We got our keys!

Welcome Home!

I think Rachel approves... maybe?

Yep, we're good!

Jordan approves as well!

I don't know why Samuel's in the shower, but he seems right at home!


Ruth loves her new room!

Kevin Rolfe - happy first time homeowner :-)

Rachel, checking out the cat's room.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ethics 101: Monsters Among Us

We live in a sick and twisted and sometimes horrific world.  I think we all know that.  I also think that we do our best to make it an awesome place for our kids, and ourselves, despite what's really going on all around us.  The crimes and the exploitation and victimization that happen outside the four walls of our homes (and schools) we talk about but we keep outside and try to keep our own homes happy, peaceful, safe refuges from "that" stuff out there so our kids feel safe and protected.  We're parents, it's just what we do because we love our kids.

I'd like to bring your attention to one of these horrific things today by asking you to read THIS and then THIS and then THIS  In that order.  The first article is from the newspaper, the second from a local radio station and the third is their FB post today on the same case.  To summarize:

"The Thames Valley District School Board is defending an elementary school principal whose husband was convicted of child-porn possession, amid demands from parents to reverse a decision to transfer her. Linda Carswell has served as principal at Woodland Heights since 2007 and is now being moved to Stoney Creek."

Many people are voicing their opinion on this. I've even commented at the latter two links  Some are defending the teacher, saying she shouldn't be held accountable for her husband's actions. Some are outraged they never knew anything about it, or that she's coming to their school in the fall.  Some are saying they've seen or been told this woman's husband visits her current grade school on a regular basis.  I read the news and listen to news radio every single day and I never even heard about it until today on a morning news show.

I want to know what you think.  If your child attended the school where this woman was the principle (and please, read the links first to get a better background), would you be the least bit concerned?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Justice for Tim Bosma

Not unlike the majority of southern Ontario, my mind this morning is once again on the Tim Bosma case.  If you're not yet familiar with who Tim is, a quick google search will give you all the information you need.

Ever since he was reported missing, I haven't been able to stop thinking about him, his wife, their situation and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.  It almost felt like an obsession but then it dawned on me why it's so riveting.  Not because of the scandalous aspects of the story, and not because of the controversy, and not because of the tons of wild speculation but simply because, the Bosma family is in many ways just like the Rolfe family.  I have no doubt that others who have been following this are thinking the same thing "that could have been our family".

Tim and Sharlene Bosma, with their baby girl
We did not know Tim Bosma or his family but they don't live that far from us.  From all I have read about who Tim was, he sounds a lot like my own husband.  He liked to joke around, tell stories, start water fights and adored his 2 year old daughter and their dog Ava.  He also loved the Lord and was a good provider for his family.  When I first read this about Tim, I thought "this sounds exactly like Kevin".  Not only does Tim sound familiar, but so do the circumstances of the Bosma's life.  They live out in the country, just like we do, and they sell things on kijiji, just like we do (I had placed an ad for firewood for sale, the very same day Tim offered to go with his would-be kidnappers to take a test drive of the truck he had for sale via kijiji).  Essentially, the Bosma family was a local, loving, Christian family who minded their own business, went to work, payed the bills and probably shopped at the same places we do.  Probably a lot like your family, and so many other ordinary, regular folks you meet and see every day.

Yesterday when the Hamilton Police service announced they had found Tim, deceased, I cried.  We had just left town after running some errands and seeing his MISSING poster in the bank lobby and on every telephone pole, and we were listening to the press conference on the car radio after they'd announced earlier there was a "significant development" in the case.  We were hoping for fantastic news, but we kind of suspected it was going to be the opposite.  An hour later, after our 14 yr old heard the rumor at school, she texted me to see if it was true.  Sadly I had to confirm for her that yes, it was true.  She didn't answer my text, but when all the kids came home yesterday from school they all mentioned it, and all had the same questions: "why??" and "who would do something so evil??"

Those are not easy questions to answer, as we all know there are many, many factors involved in such wickedness.  Primarily it's sin, and giving into it, but there are so many other things involved as well and in this case it could be one or more or complex layers of things.  It could be drugs, money, organized crime, or a crime of opportunity.  It *could* be any or none of those things.  The public doesn't know yet, as the investigation is ongoing and the only person they have in custody (Dellen Millard, who will be charged today with first degree murder) is apparently not talking, and is reported to plan to plead not guilty before the courts. How he can plead not guilty when Tim's truck was located at Millard's mother's house, in Millard's trailer, and it's being reported that Tim's remains were located at a farm not far from here owned by Millard is quite the mystery.  No doubt, more questions arise based on those details alone, and no doubt, investigators will soon provide answers.

This is the part of the story that takes a very modern twist.  As all of southern Ontario is speculating on the who, when, why, and where, many of them are doing it online via social media.  Hate-filled tweets on twitter (and in other places to be sure) are going up at record speed, directed toward Dellen Millard.  Completely understandable.  The sense of loathing we as a society feel toward those who hurt the innocent, is not unlike a mama-bear protecting her own.  Especially so, when the victim was a genuinely well-liked, "good guy".  More tweets are asking all the same questions we've privately discussed here in our game room.  Who else was involved? Why Tim? Did Dellen really do this, or was he someone's patsy? By all accounts from those who know the accused, he's a rather unassuming guy, no previous criminal record,  etc.  So the speculation online has been all over the map.  Then again, isn't it quite common when someone's been arrested and charged with a horrific, unthinkable crime, for those who knew the person to say "he was such a nice guy, I'm shocked".   We read it all the time.  Those who knew Dahmer, Ridgeway, Bundy, Gacy... many of them said the exact same thing, but we all know now, they were very good at concealing their evil from even those closest to them.  It is possible to be a genuine monster, and no one but your victims ever see it. Just ask Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry.

Because this case hits so close to home (just as it did when Tori Stafford went missing) I've been following it closely on twitter especially and have quickly come to realize that solving crime in our modern age has taken on a whole new aspect, and at lightning speed.  Due directly to the massive amount of people using social media, word of a missing person spreads like wildfire.  People care, and people who are complete strangers will stop what they're doing and help in whatever way they can.  Even the Hamilton Police services have repeatedly thanked the public and their quick involvement in social media outlets helping to spread the word, provide tips, and assist with the investigation that way.  I don't know if it's been confirmed yet but I have read in several places that it was directly due to a tip someone posted (and called in) online that led police to the arrest of Dellen Millard.  As soon as it was released to the public that the suspect has a particular tattoo on his wrist, tweets went out like crazy, and then someone recognized who that was.  This is where social media seriously rocks.  To be used in such a tremendously helpful way, is nothing short of amazing.

Where it can turn very dark, very quickly, is in all the wild, blood-thirsty speculation.  In a case like this, we all want justice and we all want it RIGHT NOW.  That zeal for justice can quickly over-shadow common sense and before you know it, all kinds of things (many inaccurate) are being plastered all over the internet.  People began to dig, and dig quickly in to any and all associates of Dellen Millard and suddenly several of the people associated with him via twitter and FB were being accused of being suspects.  People were finding personal, private things about these individuals and posting them over and over.  Being shared hundreds of times on FB and re-tweeted hundreds of times on twitter, and at least some of the accusations have already been ruled out by police and proven to be inaccurate.  Unfortunately, its too late to pull those messages back in.  I did see many people pleading for restraint, asking folks to verify before posting, and that sort of thing but once this kind of lynch-mod mentality starts, it rarely dies out quickly.  Again, the emotion of this kind of brutal case makes it completely understandable, even though it's wrong, and unfair toward those being accused.

In all the helpful ways social media has assisted police, I have no doubt they also now have a massive mountain of mis-information to sort through as well, also as a direct result of social media.  I do not envy the work of the detectives on this case, and my hat is off to them for the difficult, heartbreaking work they do to leave no stone unturned and bring justice to the Bosma family.  Tim is now home with the Lord, and sadly they can't bring him back, but they will do all they can to bring his killers to justice.  I have no question about that.

My heart is with Sharlene Bosma today.  I can't even imagine how she's processing this horrifying news, but from what I do know she has a lot of support from her family, church family, friends, and thousands and thousands of complete strangers just like me, praying for her.  We can't answer the question as to why this happened other than to say there is genuine evil in this world and often the innocent suffer because of it, but we can lift our prayers for the entire Bosma family that the Lord be merciful and bring them great comfort in this time of heartache and loss.

That, and at least earthly justice, for the unthinkable wrong done to Tim Bosma and his entire family.