Monthly Archives: June 2014

How come, my fellow Americans?

How come we can all unite as one for a sports team?  How come we can forget about our differences and laugh with, talk to complete strangers during the Olympics, the World Cup or a big college rivalry football game?   How is it we can smile at, high-five and even hug total strangers in the bar where we’re watching the game, then riot in the streets after the game, in either victory or defeat, harming or destroying each other’s cars, businesses and fellow fans?

How can so many of us share the bond of sporting yellow ribbon magnets on our cars – solidarity in supporting our troops – yet ignore that ribbon on another’s car in traffic, and wrongly cut them off or call them all kinds of nasty names because they are not driving the way you want them to?

In an airport we can walk up to a complete stranger wearing a military uniform, shake hands and thank him or her for their service with a warm smile.  How can we completely forget about that swell of gratitude and blessings for that soldier who is willing to die for us and then yell at an airport employee 15 minutes later for something completely out of their control, like delays due to weather?

How can we all be united, excited, together in these things one minute and then go right back you vs. me, us against them, do unto others before they do unto me – in traffic, in the grocery store, in politics and even on the playground?

How come we decide to ignore what we have in common and refuse to see or acknowledge the humanity, the worth, the Jesus in each other?

Controversial Gun Safety Ad That Shows Boys Playing with Vibrators

Evidently this new ad for gun safety is shocking and offensive to some. I was surprised by it because I would not have thought of that, but I think it’s brilliant!  I don’t take offense; in my opinion, lessons are learned best with a little humor and feeling uncomfortable.  I don’t know which mom’s face I love more!  The hubs brought up a good question: “I wonder what they told the two boy actors the items they were fighting with were called.”

And maybe that’s one of the things that is offending viewers, that the boys should not be handling those items.  But that is the entire point of the ad.  Where do we keep our vibrators?  In our nightstands.  Where do many gun owners keep their guns?  Loaded and in their nightstands so they can grab it quickly in the night if they hear an intruder.  Would this ad be more or less shocking and offensive if the two boys were playing with loaded guns going off instead of them turning on the vibrators?

Sometimes you need to shock and offend people to get their attention when lives are at stake. Children die in homes with guns every day in this country and it’s for 1 of 2 reasons: ignorance or carelessness.

If people live in your house or visit your house who are ignorant of proper gun handling safety than you CANNOT be careless about following proper gun storage!  It is your responsibility as a gun owner to know how to properly and safely handle and store your guns and to keep them away from those who don’t.  And if you, the gun owner, are careless enough to be ignorant of proper gun handling and storage safety, than you need to educate yourself or turn in your guns!

On the YouTube page of EVOLVE, the creators of this controversial gun safety ad, their tag line reads, “IT’S THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, NOT THE RIGHT TO BE A DUMBASS.”  I agree.  People are dying in “accidental” shootings because of dumbass gun owners.  Let’s all do our job and be responsible if we choose to own guns.  Thank you.

Another reason the hubs and I have stayed together

Two years ago, I did a monthlong series called, 31 Reasons The Hubs and I Have Lasted 17 Years.  I posted a new one every day during the month of July.  It was fun, it was hard and, sometimes, it was embarrassing.  But experience – the good, the bad and the ugly – can only help each other when we share it. A few months ago, I came up with another reason and jotted it down quickly to share later.  I just found it, so I’m sharing now before I lose it again.  😉

There can be no hiding physically or emotionally.  We have to be able to bare who we are to each other.  We not only have to be comfortable enough to ask for what we want and need, we also have to accept and not judge each other for asking.  We listen and then do – willingly.

The hubs shaved my legs when I could no longer reach them around my pregnant belly.  When I get the stomach flu, and it’s coming out both ends, he comes into the bathroom with me, pulls my hair back into a ponytail, wipes my face with a wet cloth, holds a glass of water with a straw in it in front of my face so I can drink and have something to throw up instead of dry heaving.  Granted, he pulls his undershirt up over his mouth and nose b/c it is not the sweetest smelling place to be right then, but he’s there.  And I’m over worrying about him smelling my poop or seeing me at my worst.

He also tried to paint my toenails for me when I was pregnant, again because I could not reach them.  It was such a struggle for his giant man hands to grasp the tiny nail polish brush and he ended up painting not only my nails but the entire top knuckle of each toe.  But that’s OK!  He tried, because I asked.  Although he finally sent me to get a pedicure from a salon after seeing the job he did, that wasn’t his 1st response.

We are not afraid to ask for, or even demand, what we need from each other:

Don’t try to fix it, just listen to me.

Hold me.

Leave me alone right now.

Tell me I’m not screwing up our child.

Hand me that wrench.

For the love of all that is holy, pick up your (insert whatever it is they leave around).  

Help me.

What are you afraid to show your spouse?  What are you afraid to ask of them?  How would you react if they showed you their’s?  How would you react if if they asked of you the same thing?  Would you judge?  Or would you marvel at the courage and strength it took for them to do that, accept them and love them even more for trusting you with it?  Why not give them the opportunity to accept all of you?

Once a Camper, Now a Leader

It’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) week and, as usual, I am weepy.  I know, no different than any other day, right?  It’s amazing to see how all the kids are growing!  Babies and toddlers of volunteers that I took care of in the nursery are now elementary-aged campers. Campers I once taught are now counselors.

B is volunteering for the 1st time this year because he is too old to be a camper.  *sniff, sniff*  It made me so proud to see him interact with and lead his campers today!  I’m running the audio and video in the main room and all the campers come through that room 3 times a day.

One of the other volunteers in this room said to me, “I saw your son.  He seems to have such and energy for and love of music and dance.  I’m surprised he didn’t volunteer to be up on stage this year.  Didn’t he choreograph and teach a song last year?”  Proud mama moment!  He did do that last year and really enjoyed it, so I was also surprised that he did not select Music as his 1st volunteer choice.  Instead, he chose to be a crew leader.

For years, B’s crew leaders had such a positive impact on him.  None of them were “too cool” for younger kids, to talk about God or to sing, dance and do crafts.  They were all genuinely interested in their campers as individuals and cared about their enjoyment and safety. B wanted a chance to be that for others.

Most of the kids are divided into groups by age/grade except those with allergies. They are all put together, kindergarten through 5th grade, with 2 adults who are knowledgable of food allergies and comfortable administering Epi Pens.  Under the 2 adults are 6 crew leaders, each responsible for 3 – 5 kids.

Due to his allergies, B was a camper in this group.  Although he’s always felt informed and confident regarding his allergies, he saw other campers who weren’t.  It can be scary being left with strangers for a few hours for any kid but add in a special need and they may worry about being away from their parents.  After all, no one is as vigilant as your own mom and dad.  B felt he could do the most good in the allergy group.  “Knowing that I’ve been a camper with allergies might make them feel more comfortable, Mom,” he said.  *sniff, sniff*

It’s so stinking adorable to see him interact with his kids!  Sitting in a circle with his new charges and getting to know them as they arrive, holding hands as they all move from one room to another, taking one of them to the restroom, carrying around all their crafts they’ve made so nothing happens to them before the parents pick their kids up.  I love and hate to see him grow up and be so responsible!

I’m glad I can hide my weepy self in the A/V booth all week!  😉

"Wish Me Away"

I watched a heartbreaking and inspiring documentary last year, Wish Me Away.  It follows Chely Wright, country music star, on her two year journey to come out as a lesbian.  And not only come out to her millions of conservative, Christian country music fans, but also to her friends and family.

Chely was speaking with her spiritual advisor,
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, regarding her fears of how her fans will react to her coming out.  It was an honest and realistic conversation acknowledging that some people who live for Jesus may not respond to her news as Jesus would, with acceptance and love.  Some would respond with judgement and condemnation, believing she was a sinner and would go to Hell.  He said, “There’s nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.”

WOW.  That was quite a statement that snowballed on me.  The more I thought about it, the more truth I felt in it, the more examples of it I remembered in this world.  Although they were specifically talking about a Christian fan base, I would extend this statement to many more religions, even to atheists.  How may people have been ridiculed, hurt or even killed in the name of someone’s god or for believing in the “wrong” god or for just believing in something/someone?

Lots of people talk to us about Jesus and tell us what Jesus thinks of our “sins”.  But how many of us are being Jesus?  How many of us see Jesus in each other?

In the documentary, people close to Chely were interviewed about gays both before Chely came out to them and then again after.  Two of those family members really stood out to me: her dad and her nephew.  Her father was raised in a church that taught him homosexuality was a sin, was of the devil.  Her nephew made jokes about gays and talked down to them.  I think it’s easier for folks to have those discriminating thoughts when they believe they don’t know any gay people.  And I say “believe” for a reason, because we all know at least one gay individual.  You may not know they’re gay because they haven’t come out or they haven’t come out to you, but you know gays.  Family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members.  It was eyeopening to these two male family members when homosexuality gained a face.  A face that they knew and loved.

Oprah asked Chely’s dad what changed in him about what being gay meant when Chely told him and he replied, “I knew her.  I knew her heart, I knew her soul, her whole life…I would tell others, ‘Don’t close the door; open your heart’.”  Chely’s nephew choked up on camera and said that he really regrets how he spoke about and treated gays before finding out about his aunt.

I’ll end this post with another quote from Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, “What I came to believe is that the GLBT Movement is like the Civil Rights Movement because discrimination is the denial of one’s right to be, to be who that person is.”

Law & Order Gave Me a Complex About Garages

Update to this blog post! I FINALLY found the episode that gave me my garage complex! I was wrong. It wasn’t on regular Law & Order; it was Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Season 2, Episode 9, “Shandeh”. Although L&O original is still my favorite show of all time, L&O: CI is my 2nd favorite. I love anything with @officialvincentdonofrio in it! LOVE that I can still watch every episode of my all-time favorite shows. Search for it, watch it, and learn your lesson!

Full disclosure: this is a story, one of many, about my crazy.  If you proceed, please do so with caution, an open mind and the relief that comes with knowing you’ll never be as messed up as me.  ;o)

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two, separate, yet equally important, groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.  These are their stories.  *DUN, DUN*”  love hearing those words!  Law & Order is one of my all-time favorite shows.  Rarely have I come across an episode from its 20 seasons that I have not seen multiple times.  And I’m not talking about Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent, Los Angeles nor UK; the original Law & Order.  Chris Noth was my favorite detective and I was so sad to see him leave.  L&O was kind enough to throw me a bone and bring him back in 1998 with the TV movie Exiled.  No assistant DA was better than Sam Watterston nor DA better than Steven Hill, IMHO.  I love that, on any given weekend, I can always find a L&O episode on some channel and I hope I always will.

But there’s this one episode…*shudders*…that has altered the way I behave when I enter and exit my garage.  In the beginning, a mom is in her minivan.  I believe she had just dropped off her kids at school or just finished grocery shopping while the kids were at at school.  Either way, she came home, used her automatic garage door opener and pulled into her garage.  She made 3 major mistakes: 1) her car doors were unlocked, 2) she wasn’t aware of her surroundings when she pulled into her driveway, and 3) she started exiting her car before the garage door closed behind her.  How many of you make one or all of these mistakes?

You know what happened to this suburban mom?  Two brutes were waiting for her to come home, one on either side of her garage.  As soon as her minivan entered the garage, they slipped in, too, before the door came down.  She started to step out of her van, unaware of the man behind her with a baseball bat.  He cracked her good!  She either fell back into her seat or he pushed her back in.  The other brute opened the sliding door of the van on the passenger side and the 2 men proceeded to beat her to death.  Why?

Her MIL (mother-in-law) took out a hit on her.  You see, the MIL was Jewish and although her DIL (daughter-in-law) had converted to Judaism when she got married, and was happily raising her children in the Jewish faith, she was not a “real” Jew in her MIL’s eyes.  The MIL heard rumors that her DIL was not happy and worried she would file for divorce.  The MIL had her DIL killed to get her out of the way so she could keep her grandchildren and her son, “real” Jews.  Puts some perspective on the relationships some of us have with our MILs, huh?  How many of you, like me, just thought, “Holy crap!  And I thought mine was bad/bat-shit crazy/mean!”

I saw that episode long before I ever had a home with a garage, but it stuck with me.  Anytime I am getting into or out of my car, at home or in public, I am aware of my surroundings.  When parked on a public street or in a public parking garage, I have 3 keys sticking out between my knuckles to use as knives if I’m attacked going towards or walking away from my car.

I scan the area as I approach my home garage.  When I pull in, I not only look in front of me so I don’t hit the back of the garage, but also watch my rear and side view mirrors until the garage door is completely closed, to make sure no one comes in.  You have to check those side mirrors, even move them down to see the floor, to make sure no one crawled in to avoid being seen!  My car doors are locked, and remain locked, until the garage door is completely closed.  Only then, after assuring that no one came in with me, do I unlock the doors and get out.

When I leave the house, I enter my garage and immediately lock the door behind me.  I get in my car and lock all the doors before I open the big door and drive out.  As that door slowly rolls up, I’m checking my mirrors for assailants!  After pulling out of the garage, I stay there and watch the door until it closes all the way, to make sure no one sneaks in; they might steal my stuff or lay in wait until I return.

One day, a couple of years ago, my dad came over.  He, B and I decided to run an errand and I was going to drive.  I opened the door to the garage and let B and my dad walk in ahead of me.  My dad innocently reached up and hit the garage door button on the wall, trying to be “helpful”.  He had no idea about my “garage crazy” so my full-on freak out reaction caught him completely by surprise.  I’m too embarrassed to describe it; use your imagination.  (I know what you’re thinking, “REALLY?!  You are too embarrassed to share something?!  I didn’t think that was possible.”)  I apologized to him and educated him on my garage procedures after I got the garage door back down, the three of us were securely locked in the car and I stopped hyperventilating.  I never told him why my procedures were in place, though.

I am laughing right now, wondering what all y’all must be thinking of me.  Whatever it is, remember this – I’ve never been attacked in my garage, so my crazy is working!  And I can guarantee you one thing: the next time you come home and pull into your garage, you’re going to think about that Law & Order episode, too.  *DUN, DUN*


President in a Bag – Martin Van Buren



B finished 5th grade in May and we are now into 6th grade – middle school!  How is that possible?  I don’t want to dwell on it…

He enjoyed creating Presidents in a Bag so much in 5th grade, we’re continuing it in 6th grade, as well.  We should; we only got through 7 presidents in 5th grade!  But we learned so much, went on lots of field trips and connected with homeschool families, including joining a co-op.  Onward and upward!

Here are the 5 items B chose to represent the life of our 8th president, Martin Van Buren:

  1. Symbols for the Democratic & Republican Parties, the Donkey & the Elephant –  One of Van Buren’s greatest contribution to politics was in developing our modern party system.
  2. Fences – Van Buren was possibly our first example of a typical politician.  He would listen to all sides of an issue, acknowledge the pros and cons of both but wasn’t fond of choosing sides.  The issue of slavery in the US was a perfect example of him “sitting on the fence”.  He didn’t want to take a stand for either the North nor the South, because the other would be upset with him and, therefore, not vote for him.  Later in life, however, he did choose a side, and supported Abraham Lincoln after The Civil War began.
  3. A Treasure Chest – After three years, Van Buren was finally successful in passing the Independent Treasury Act in 1840.  President Jackson had destroyed the Bank of the United States and the Independent Treasure Act kept federal money out of local banks.  This act was the beginning of our current Treasury Department.
  4. A Passport – Van Buren was the first president to travel outside of the US after his presidency.  He’s also the 1st president to be born in the United States, the first one not of British decent (he was Dutch) and the only president whose first language was not English (he spoke Dutch before he learned English).
  5. A Hotel Symbol – Van Buren grew up in Kinderhook, NY (the town on which The Legend of Sleepy Hallow was based) and his parents converted part of their house into a tavern.  The tavern was on the road to Albany, the capital of New York, so many guests were politicians.  Van Buren listened to all the political talk going on.  He came to like politics and the fancy attire of the wealthy visitors.

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#3 Thomas Jefferson
#4  James Madison
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams
#7 Andrew Jackson

I Don’t Get Miserable People

I don’t understand miserable people.  Are they incapable of being happy for others or do they just choose not to be?  I can understand lack of interest or flat out not giving a Fig Newton about somebody else’s life, but it’s the resentment of others’ happiness that I can’t comprehend.  And it’s satisfaction in others’ misfortune.  Why?  It is solely the old adage, “Misery loves company”?  Do they feel so alone in their misery, that they take comfort when others are experiencing pain, too?  Do they compare their misery to others – “Well, at least I’m not as bad as that person.”

I’ve never experienced misery.  I’ve been in some really dark places twice before: the two years after my rape and during an abusive relationship.  I experienced loneliness, helplessness and fear during those times, but never misery.  I do understand one thing about the miserables: being stuck.  I was stuck in my loneliness, helplessness and fear once.  Because as bad as it was, it was familiar.  It was the second time I’d been exposed to the worst behavior in a male and I worried that I might fall into a third such situation if I left that one.  But some wonderful friends showed me the other side was better than being stuck.

I have a miserable person in my life and sometimes, over the years, the misery spilled out and some not-so-nice words come out towards me.  Sometimes I’ve stood up to the person, sometimes I took the high road and remained silent.  Not giving the person any reaction, not allowing them the pleasure of getting a rise out of me is better.  It keeps the focus on their behavior instead of my reaction.  However, recently this person let their misery leak out on my son.  Really?!  An adult knows better than to do that to a child, but this person chose to do it anyway.  I guess sometimes misery can take over a person completely, leaving no room for love anymore.

I don’t get it but I have a hope for all miserable people – you may not be able to change your circumstances nor your past, but you can change, control, your reaction to it.  You can decide to do better, to be better, today.

President in a Bag – Andrew Jackson

We studied Andrew Jackson back in March and B took the picture of the items to represent his life.  However, during the recovery from my surgery, I never got it up on the blog.  So, here are the five things B selected to represent the life of our 7th president, Andrew Jackson:

  1. A Crab Mallet – This is acting as a judge’s gavel.  One of his many positions before becoming president was a judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court.
  2. A United States Postal Service Mailing Box – At the age of 13, Jackson entered The American Revolutionary War as a courier.  Only 2 other presidents, Washington and Lincoln, have been on more postage stamps than Jackson.
  3. A Pistol – The first attempted assassination on a sitting president was aimed at Jackson.  However, Richard Lawrence’s pistol misfired.  He pulled a second pistol on Jackson, but that misfired, too.  The pistol also represents the fact that Jackson is the only US president to kill a man in a duel.
  4. The $20 Bill – Jackson was the only president in US history to pay off the national debt (and he happens to be on the $20 bill).
  5. A Can of Beans – Growing up, my dad used to sing The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton to me all the time.  While studying Jackson, I sang it to B and he asked to hear the original.  He loves this YouTube version, acting out the song with LEGOs.  The can of beans (“…we took a little bacon and we took a little beans…”) represents Jackson’s victory against the British in The Battle of New Orleans.  Even thought the War of 1812 had ended the month before with the Treaty of Ghent, word had not reached New Orleans, yet.

Jackson Pinterest

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#3 Thomas Jefferson
#4  James Madison
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams

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