Friday, December 28, 2012

Hair Raising Day

I've been growing my hair out for Locks of Love. I went to get my unruly mane trimmed today to spur its growth and keep it healthy. When it was brushed out and measured, I had right at the required 10 inches without it being too short, so I went ahead and had it cut. I'm still adjusting. I feel lighter, and free.
Since this was an in the moment thing, I don't have fancy before and afters. I handed Nix my phone and had her make quick shots.
Here is the before. Please keep in mind I thought I was going to have it done. It had just been in a ponytail seconds before and is wilder than what I normally let it be. Okay, here goes

And now for the after. I'm not ready to change my profile picture yet, but I do like it. 

This will probably be the last time I donate. The grays are creeping in, and the time it takes to mess with it all are both major deterrents now. I think I'll leave the hair growing to Nix from now on. I wonder how long it will take for me to stop doing a double take at my own reflection. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Unintentional Traditions

When our daughter was tiny and not to be trusted with things that break, I bought this:

This is the wonderful Fisher Price Little People Manger. Mine looks a little different because it is a much older model, and somehow the white fluffy lamb from the set was swapped out for the black sheep from either the farm or Noah's Ark. Several years ago I handed down our vast Little People collection to a family friend, but the manger stayed with us. This is also why there are less animals with it than in years past.
I really thought that at this point in our lives that we would have a "real" nativity again, but I think the kids would rebel. They still love this set. They can touch them , pick them up, and add their various stuffed animals and littlest pet shops to attend the party. Again, aren't we past this phase? Nope.
I am pretty sure that this will be our nativity scene for the foreseeable future. I'm okay with that. I have decided that it is a great illustration for how accessible Jesus' birth made God to us all. One of my friends' little girl steals borrows the baby Jesus each year from their's and carries him in her purse or pocket, and wants to cuddle him in bed each night. How cute is that?! I love the symbolism of having Jesus with us at all times. It is a simple, kind of silly, example that opens the way to explaining Christ's love for us and how we can carry Him with us always.
In case I don't post again,
Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 14, 2012

We are about to do science(ish)

Tonight was Nix's science fair. Do you remember when science fairs were all baking soda volcanoes and potato clocks? Ah, the good old days. Now you read about kids advancing cancer research and what not. It has gotten a bit out of hand, but what else is new, right?
Nix and her two partners based their project on the theory that a teenage girl's self esteem would be positively affected by seeing retouched pictures of herself in they same vein as what they do to models in magazines. The idea was spawned out of Nix's hatred of school picture day. Since I work with a photographer on photo editing, she knows what a difference it can make. You make a picture of a girl when she is at her most awkward age, skin messed up, and still learning what to do with girl hair, and then you wonder why she has a poor self image.
To sum up the results, the girls who said that they're self image was affected by pictures they see of women in the media had an increase in their self esteem after seeing their own pictures altered. Also, many of the girls were shocked to see themselves significantly altered in the last phase of the experiment. It actually made a few girls sympathetic to models who have their own images manipulated on a regular basis.
The board turned out fantastic. The girls picked a great color theme with lots of sparkle, and chose a peacock mascot named Monty to really draw the eye. It seemed to be getting a lot of attention from students and parents tonight.

Nix learned several non-science lessons.
1. In the end, the flash and show of the project board counts more than the work. The teacher warned them of as much when they started. I've done a tiny bit of research and I'm not sure this philosophy extends beyond our school and might explain why they do not have a good track record at regionals. There is just a touch of irony to all of this since her project is about getting girls to stop looking at the falsely perfect images and feeling bad about themselves.
2. For better or worse, you will know your partners a lot better by the end. Sometimes good friends make for good work partners and sometimes it is a disaster. For the most part, she got the better end of that, but there were certainly moments.
3. Find each member's strength and use it. If someone isn't pulling their weight, work around them and find something that occupies them.
4. Sometimes good work gets overlooked because a person doesn't know how to present it. Other times, mediocre work gets praised because it is in a pretty package. It was their goal to have both the solid work and the shiny package  for this project.
5. If you tell a waitress that you just won a spot in the regional science fair, she will give you free dessert.
That is right, they won! The school gets to pick 10 projects out of the 200+ to go, and their's was one of them. We are proud and a little stressed that it still isn't over for us, but mostly proud.
Last night I was a little on edge with all the last minute putting together and in my late night loopiness I started a poem that I want to edit and little and post here as a reminder of all the fun.

'Twas the night before the science fair, and all through the place,
people were stressing and giving new lines to my face. 
No one was nestled or snug in their beds, 
while visions of data floated through their heads. 
While I in my flannel and her still in tights,
 organize papers and tried not to have fights.
 When up in the office there arose such a clatter,
 I sprang from the couch to see what was a matter.
Away up the staircase I flew in a flash,
Stubbed a toe on the doorframe and gave my knee quite a bash 
The dew on the forehead of the young teenaged girl
 told me immediately trouble soon would unfurl. 
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, 
but a finished display board and nary a tear. 
With a little blue peacock whose feathers were thick,
I knew in a moment that it would just do the trick.

Alright, that is enough for now. If they make it past regionals in February maybe  I'll add 3 stanzas and throw in a song and dance to go with it. No promises though. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

In sickness and in sickness

OR "Why there will be no photo card from us this year"
This has been a terrible Fall for our house health wise. Rocky and I got some of the earliest cases of flu this year. True it was not confirmed flu, but if your entire body hurts from your hair to your toes, you run a fever for a week, and have no energy for two, chances are good that it was the flu. Then, we went to what we have affectionately deemed "The Corn Maze of Death". The entire house was sick from that one. Rocky had one of his worst breathing episodes ever. Most recently we were hit with the plague. Actually, plague is not strong enough a word for this stomach virus. They have a cure for the actual plague now. For the stomach virus you wait for that hour to come where you are pretty sure death doesn't feel as bad, and then when that passes you set fire to everything you touched in the past week praying that you have killed it with fire. Okay, I'm a bit melodramatic, but I'm still in recovery. Unfortunately, Rocky and I broke the vow of in sickness and in health by getting it at the same time (hence the title). We were very lucky that my parents were in town for Nix's dance recital. I shudder to think what would have happened if they had not been here. I'm pretty sure that they were not as happy to be here as we were to have them, and I pray that good deed does go unpunished. How many times can you have a house guest, sleep or hide for most of their visit, and still end up with a frige full of food, clean laundry for everyone, and a house better than they found it?
Anyway, we are all mending once again and hoping that 2013 is a much healthier year. I was ever so slightly tempted to make a family Christmas picture this year anyway, but then I thought about the image of us in our sick clothes on people's mantles and reason prevailed. IF I send out cards I will promise two things. 1. I will wait until the house is totally well. If you think of a Mary when you see my card, I don't want it to be Typhoid Mary (or Mary Magdalene, but let's not go there). 2. It will not be a glitter bomb. I love, love, love getting Christmas cards and enjoy how different each one is from the next, but I have learned that there are certain people, whom I love and adore, whose cards I open over the trash can because I know the excessive glitter is coming. The cards are pretty, and I don't get upset by it. I'm just saying that a little "this contains 3.7 oz of glitter" on the envelope might be nice.
So, to sum up, we are better, and if you don't get a card from me this year it isn't because you didn't make the cut this time around, it is just because I love you too much to send an envelope that has been licked in my house.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I don't think that means...

If you did not automatically finish the rest of the sentence in my title then you have clearly not watched The Princess Bride enough times. I suggest you do something about that.
 Now on to the actual post.
A trend has been going around the middle school that really has Nix bugged. It is a silly little hand signal that the populars are throwing out in the hallways and pictures. She really just wanted to know what it meant. Because I did not have a very nice track record with middle school girls myself, I was a bit harsh and suggested she google "pathetic white girls trying to look cool throwing gang signs". Interestingly enough, that search resulted in the answer.
(my deepest apologies, but I thought an example was needed)

The girls think it means "what up". However, that is not what the international community sees it as. What use to be a "V for victory" and then became the "peace" sign, when done with the back of your hand facing out is actually pretty close to giving someone the middle finger in the UK, a few of it's former lands, and Italy. I personally found it an interesting story. The Brits were at war with the French (as usual in that day) and were using longbow men kind of sniper style. The French said that they were going to march in and cut their fingers off so they could no longer pull back a bow. The British started showing French their fingers backhanded as a niner-niner . There are more colorful ways of putting it, but I think you get my drift.
Now the girls at the school have added having their thumb out as they put up the backwards peace. Having grown up in the 'hood (Jackson folks may insert a laugh here, GA peeps- really compared to here it was rough) I was taught to never flash a sign you didn't know the meaning of. You might be singing "C is for Cookie", but to a gang member you are showing support for the Crips, and that is just not smart. So, know your signs or keep your hands in your pockets. The sign they are throwing is known as the sign for the Vice Lords, a nasty little latin gang that I don't think they actually want to be affiliated with.
The other reason you don't just randomly pick gestures is because there is a little thing called sign language. They have named pretty much every regular gesture out there. They are lucky with this one because it just means "3" sideways. (maybe their maturity level?) I have a friend who had a sign her family used for "bathroom" that turned out to mean something I can't even type without blushing.
I have told Nix that she should use her judgement as to if this is a trend she wanted to participate in or not, and that I appreciate her wisdom in seeking a meaning before joining in. It is probably safe to assume that much like her choice in not displaying the symbol of Nuclear Disarmament, she will not be throwing out any signs any time soon.
Lynn- shooting down seemingly harmless teenage trends and raising a kid who questions the origins of everything.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

What did I say?

My dyslexia is working overtime tonight. Sometimes it does that when I'm sick or tired or sick and tired. The whole house is sick due to a very bad trip to a corn maze. What is in that dust cloud of death that hovers over those things? I've had the least amount of illness, which means that I've also had the most amount of work. I've scheduled a crash for Saturday morning, but in the mean time my dyslexia is taking advantage of my exhaustion. I was trying to read Facebook updates but after I mistakenly thought Dr. Kelly was telling the world about her odd bowel movements instead of a shopping trip (pop turned into poop, it's an honest mistake), and I replied to a friend in some sort of odd code that only made sense to other dyslexics (thank goodness she is), I decided to give up. Then I decided to blog about it. Sometimes reading all wonky makes life funny, sometimes it makes it frustrating, but it always makes life an adventure.
Last week when JD's spelling test came home there was a section where you had to pick the word in the sentence that was spelled wrong and then spell it right. It took me at least three read throughs to find even one. He is in the third grade, and the odds are good that I would fail his spelling test. Can you spell humbling? I can, with the help of spell check. JD had trouble with it too. Thank goodness he has Rocky to help him. He saw the problem with "We road down the street" with barely a glance.
There are two points to this post.
1. We are carefully monitoring JD's reading. I'm praying he hasn't inherited my fun little quirk.
2. Even when you are dyslexic and even when you are having a bad day, you can still write. I credit technology. I hate to think about how many things auto correct has grabbed, but I made it through, and even if there are still mistakes, I got my thoughts across. That is a win.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nix is a ginger!

I guess since JD got his own post about his Halloween costume, then it is only right that Nix get one too. Usually she turns last season's ballet recital costume into something. We've had a great couple of years with it fitting into something awesome. This year's didn't lend itself to anything fun. Since JD decided on Doctor Who, Nix picked Amy Pond. She is really more of a Rose fan, but we already had most of the needed items for Amy hanging in the closet. Here is what we were going for.

The details:
red hair
leather jacket
long red scarf
plaid flannel type shirt
black tank top
brightly painted fingernails
The only thing of that list that we didn't already have was the red hair. Since most of the costume is just regular clothes, Nix wanted to dye her hair to make it really official. She is 13 and not at all fussy when it comes to hair and makeup, so I decided to grant her request. I took to the internet to find out how to very temporarily dye her hair. The short answer is that there isn't one. I got warned off Koolade by a lot of people. We went to Sally and found a product called Jazzing. It seemed to be exactly what we needed. It washes out in 1 or 2 shampoos. The problem is that after letting it set you are suppose to shampoo it. That is shampoo #1, and guess what, it all came out. Supposedly if you have light hair it works much better, but on brown hair it did nothing. I should have known when I got a drop on the carpet and it wiped right up that it wasn't going to work. So, at 9 last night I made a quick trip to the drug store and bought a 28 day dye. It worked great. We are doing all the wrong things (not using the color booster, put it on wet hair, not washing with the dye friendly shampoo...) so it shouldn't last more than a couple of weeks at most...I hope.
Here is a split screen to show you how close we came.
We added a few minor details. Her nails are TARDIS blue, she is wearing the TARDIS necklace her uncle sent, and she has on a wedding ring, because Amy is after all a happily married woman. As she headed off to school today I reminded her not to fall for any guys dressed like the Doctor, but to look for the one dressed like a Roman solider (it's a very sweet story line thing). I also reminded her that Amy is referred to as "the girl who waited", because I'm her mom and it's not often I can sneak in that message in a fun geeky way. Tonight she'll add some hash marks to the back of her hands and arms (also a specific show reference). The school tends to frown on writing on yourself, so she thought it best to hold off on that little detail.
Each year her school picks a special cause and allows kids to come in costume on Halloween if they donate to that cause. This year they picked the Red Cross. It is great when you can do something fun and help others at the same time. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Doctor (JD) Who

If your 8 year old son came to you and said that he wanted to be a doctor and dress like one for Halloween, you'd probably be thinking about surgical masks and scrubs, but not in my house. This year we introduced JD to the British sci-fi classic Doctor Who. We started with the modern versions. Although he did enjoy David Tennant, he found Matt Smith to be all possible definitions of awesome. It's not a big surprise. Smith's Doctor is charmingly goofy, much like my boy. So, I set about deciding how to turn JD into a mini Doctor.
Things needed from top to bottom:
1 red fez- no tassel (it is a rarely seen prop but an identifier)
1 bow tie (JD wanted red)
1 set of suspenders (also red)
1 slightly mismatched dress shirt
1 brown tweet jacket with elbow patches
1 pair of slightly short dark pants with cuffs
1 pair of dark socks and shoes
1 sonic screwdriver
All together it looks something like this:

We already had the pants, socks, shoes, and a blue and red striped dress shirt I found cheap at a consignment sale. The bow tie and suspenders were fairly easy as well. The site Dapper Lads had both and got them to me quickly. Think Geek has sonic screwdrivers. It was on JD's Christmas list, so we agreed that it could arrive a couple of months early. As it turns out my brother had already purchased one for him at Dragon*Con this year and, always wanting to support the next generation of geeks, he agreed to ship to him early.
Now comes the hard parts. The jacket and the fez.
The jacket turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. All it took was hitting the kid consignment stores and looking in the girl's section. I found this gem for $6.

Note the flower, metal buttons with rhinestones, and girly pockets. One seam ripper and a pair of pliers later, and we had one ungirly jacket. I found some wooden buttons to replace the old ones. There was some debate about switching which side of the coat the buttons went on, but that seemed like overkill. For the elbow patches I used simple brown iron on patches cut down to size.
The fez was really the only part I had to work for. Plain red kid sized fezs ( fez?,fezes?, fezon?, fezi?) are hard to come by in suitable costume price range. So, I googled it, and then ended up melding a few ideas together to come out with one that isn't perfect, but will do for Halloween.
The best help was found here. I ended up hand sewing the whole thing using the heavy duty needle that I use to sew ribbons onto Nix's ballet pointe shoes. I also didn't want trim or tassel, so the top is glued in to the inside of the fez instead of sewn to the outside. Like I said, not perfect, but workable. Here are a few fun action shots of that work.

And the finished product along with Nix who decided to be Amy Ponds, the doctor's traveling companion. We found all the parts to her costume in either her closet of mine. We threw in some hash marks on her arm, but not a lot because Silence is not often found in our home. We are temporarily dying her hair red tonight to make it more official. I'm a bit nervous about how that is going to go. The perfect accent to her costume also came from the uncle as an early Christmas present. It is a TARDIS necklace that really brings the whole thing together.

We got to try it out at a church thing Sunday night. JD was a huge hit with the teens and young adult crowd. He even had a few requests for pictures. The kids his age had no idea who he was dressed as, but that didn't phase him one bit. He told me that it was his favorite show, and 11 was his favorite doctor, so he wasn't going to let other kids not understanding keep him from being what he wanted to be. How did I get such a self confident kid?  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mom jeans: fashion horror or family friendly

I was recently shocked to learn that I wear mom jeans. Can you imagine? A married woman, in her mid thirties, with children no less, wearing mom jeans. Oh the horror, or so the informative blog article told me. It seems the tides have turned and Old Navy and Gap jeans are no longer cutting it. There were pictures of a woman trying on various jeans, and indeed her posterior did look much better in the clubbing at 2 am jeans (that's the opposite of mom jeans, right?). Why should I care how my rear view is perceived by strangers? I want to look nice for my husband, I want to present myself as well groomed, but I am not looking to attract attention with my derriere. What kind of person is looking any way?  Do I really want to encourage this behavior?
One Sunday I was having a really bad ugly day. My hair would not do what I wanted, my clothes looked wrong, and makeup wasn't helping. In hindsight, I know it was my attitude of the day and not reality, but I felt hideous. We were running late for church and Rocky was trying to get me out the door. Almost to tears I said, "I'm just trying to look attractive."
He replied in a mockingly accusatory tone, "Who are you trying to attract?"
"Good. Done. Get in the car."
That exchange changed my life. I now dress for comfort, to be pretty, and to present my best self, but never to be "attractive". If my best self is being sat on, than I've got bigger problems than mom jeans.
Out of curiosity I looked to see what these magic jeans would cost. What is the price on a glorious gluteus maximus ? The top two picks were between $98 and $198. Seriously? What kind of mother spends $200 on jeans just because the $25 ones at Old Navy have wide set long pockets? I need that width. I put my phone in my back pocket. I won't even pay full price for Old Navy Jeans!
I have decided that I am very content with my mom jeans. The sagging, the long zippers, and the dreaded pockets that elongate my back side are a badge of honor. They tell the world that my family come before fashion. My bottom is not more important than my bottom line. If you don't like the way it looks then stop looking. I am comfortable!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Jewish Pajamas

We finally caved and turned our heat on for the nights this week, the bathroom space heater reappeared, and it is fuzzy socks and flannel pajamas time, too. I love having a nice (ish) pair of matching flannel pajamas. It makes them seem less ho-hum when there are little ice skating penguins on them. Since I am terribly hard to shop for otherwise, fuzzy warm things often appear for me under the Christmas tree. Last year I managed to actually make up a wish list for myself, which resulted in me not getting pajamas. I hit the after Christmas sales and got a great bargain on the only pair left in my size. After I got them home I realized that I had bought myself Hanukkah jammies. It's not like they have menorahs and Dreidels on them, but they are blue with white snowflakes that form doves. As I wondered if it was okay for a Baptist to wear Jewish PJ's, Rocky tried to tell me that articles of clothing do not have a religious affiliation. I had three words for him. Mormon. Temple. Apparel. Argument won, or at least left confused, which is sort of like winning.
Then the whole debate started of whether or not colors could be co-oped by a group. Obviously, since breast cancer is pink, the answer is yes.
After we settled that I was right, I decided to back up my thoughts with facts. Christmas colors are red to symbolize the blood of Christ and green to represent the everlasting love of God (evergreen- everlasting...). Blue is for vigilance, truth and loyalty, perseverance and justice. White covers peace and honesty. Those are the colors used on the flag of Israel, traditional prayer shawls, and as the colors of Hanukkah. An argument might could be made against Christmas colors (Constantine, pagans, the Saturnalia festival...), but the Hanukkah colors are pretty solid.
So, there you go. Useless fact of the day learned. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on my Jewish pajamas.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

To Toss or Not to Toss

For the last day and a half this has been on my kitchen counter. (try to ignore the silly pumpkin in the background)

I'm not going to say who left it there because, although I do know who left this mess, all of us have issues cleaning up after ourselves. Usually we stay on the side of clutter and not actual trash. The jello crosses that line. It should have been thrown out right away. Everyone in the house is old enough to know better. I could have just tossed it myself when I first noticed it before dinner last night, but I was curious to see if the guilty party would take care of it, or if anyone else in my house would take notice and toss it. It is becoming a monument to a bigger problem.
If I ask one of the kids to clean off the table then more often than not they only clean off the part they feel responsible for with the excuse that is rest of it is "not my mess." I've been trying to stress that if I only cleaned up my own mess then we'd be living in a trashed house very quickly.
I have decided that tonight I am going to gather the family around the old jello to talk about our messy ways. I haven't decided yet how exactly we are going to fix the problem, but something has to change. I have decided that I will not be the one to throw out the jello. I'm very curious to see who does and how long it takes.

Friday, October 05, 2012


I've posted everyday this week, so there was no way I was going to skip today. I just had to update you all about the big meeting. I am completely and totally in awe of how my whole day has unfolded. All week I have been readying myself to break down walls and instead found that the doors were already wide open. I was worried about feeling alone in the fight and I arrived to find an unexpected friend there to sit next to me. Instead of the feared half hour brush off, I got a two hour planning meeting filled with joy.
It didn't stop there. After the meeting I ran into a great source of hope. Then I was met with a great resource. Finally, I found confirmation that this was the right road for me to be on. All unplanned, all unexpected, all a great blessing. In all my years I have never seen mountains move like this.
There is so much work to be done and I'm sure a lot of stumbling ahead, but wow, what a start!
The other thing I wanted to share was that I found out why. What do I have that would put me here? It is simply, time. I have the time to put into this. I have the time to work on it. I have the time to learn and grow and hunt down what is needed. Far too often, and especially with this, the very people who need the ministry are the ones given the responsibility of creating it. We forget that the very reason for starting this is so that they can, for once, not have to fight and work and schedule. We wouldn't dream of asking the hungry to create a soup kitchen. Why, oh why, do we expect families with special needs to create their own program? Sure we need their help to get it right, and their input and assistance is invaluable, but it can not be on their shoulders. It has to land on someone who has time.
Thank you all for praying! I saw them working. I need them to continue.
For our next mountain moving project, please pray that the eyes, hearts, and minds of my church's congregation are open to this. The church has to embrace it for this to work. They are loving and welcoming people. I just need them to recognize that to the fullest extent.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Happy Re-birth Day!

It is that time of year again. I like to think that I show my faith regularly to all of you, but today is special. Today marks the day that I realized I sin like everyone else, and that my sin keeps me away from God. Thirty-one years ago, for the first time, I cried out for forgiveness and mercy, and I accepted that Jesus had died for that very reason. He traded places with me that day, and now I know that in spite of my sins and failures, when I stand in judgement before God, my slate will be clean because Jesus paid it all. It was the best day of my life by far, and easily the best decision I have ever made.
I am so very thankful that the adults in my life at the time did not brush me off or give me silly answers to my questions. I was just a few days from the 5th birthday. At that age people are usually still telling children pretty little stories that make angels sound like fairies and God is all double rainbows. There was so much talk of Heaven and eternity in my house because my grandfather was very literally on his deathbed. I remember sitting in church and the preacher giving a sermon from John 3. It wasn't the usual 3:16 that got me. It was Nicodemus asking Jesus, "What do I do?" My ears perked up because that was the biggest question on my mind. The simple and yet powerful answer was, "You must be born again." I felt like someone had finally answered the question that had been burning in me since VBS that year. It was a question I didn't even know how to ask. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be "born again" I figured that she bore me the first time she'd probably know how to redo it. She asked me the important stuff.

Do you know that you sin (do stuff that isn't perfect and that hurts God)?

Do you understand that we can't be close to God because of those bad things?

Do you get that Jesus took our punishment for us by dying on the cross?

Would you like to be closer to God, have Him help you through life and move you through the Holy Spirit?

That was Jesus' gift to us and all we have to do is accept the present by praying. We tell God that we know we have done wrong and that our actions are what stand between us and Him. We don't want that roadblock any more. Thank Him for sending Jesus to take your punishment and tell Him that you are accepting that gift of unconditional love. There is no magic to it, no special words, no dance to learn or special hats to wear. You just agree and accept. Welcome the Holy Spirit into your life and watch Him work on you like He works on me.
After I accepted Christ as my personal saviour, my parents took me to the hospital and parked our car under the window of my grandfather's room. I was too young to be allowed up, so my mom went to tell him. My grandfather who was in the final days of lung cancer got up out of his bed and waved to me with joy and excitement that I will never forget. It was the last time I saw him. He died very peacefully just 5 days later. He died knowing that our separation was temporary and that I was taken care of. So, you see, my salvation was a present for him too. God's timing for me was perfect, and that is why I never question a 4 year old who says they want to be saved. I just tell them how it works.

(Sorry Mom, I'm going to try to stop making posts that make you cry. And thanks for answering my questions truthfully even though it wasn't the easy thing to do.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Since the start of October my facebook feed has been bombarded with posts about how October is (fill in the blank) awareness month. After about the 6th different topic I started wondering how aware I was expected to be, so I googled it. All total, I found at least 65 different topic that we are suppose to take note of this month alone. My favorites are the conflicting ones. For example this is vegetarian awareness month and also national pork month. greens with bacon in them?
I'm having a Princess Bride moment with the awareness. "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." To become aware of something means that before today you were unaware of it. Of all the many, many topics I saw listed today the only one I had to look up was Rett Syndrome.
There were several topics, aside from the pork thing, that included me.
Dyslexia- aware of that one since childhood
Bullying- in high school I wore a Hard Rock Cafe shirt from the planet Vulcan, trust me I'm aware
Squirrels- saw one on the way to take the kid to school today
Cyber Security- my passwords are so complicated even I can't figure them out
Diarrhea- 3 words "Welcome to Moe's!" and I'm all caught up
Sarcastic- I'm sure no ones knows about sarcasm!
So, here is my request, if you want to post about your favorite thing to be aware of, please share one fact about said topic that most people would not have been aware of.
This is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Did you know that roughly 90% of women who prenatal testing shows to be caring a child with this syndrome will elect to abort the baby? Furthermore, there are foreign countries now pushing this as a "cure". Because death is so much more evolved than when we sent children to live in an asylum (sarcasm, in case you weren't aware).
It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that only 5-10% of women who get breast cancer have genetic predisposition to it? That is a fact that will wake a girl like me up.
And finally, it is Emotional Awareness Month. Scientists have discovered that emotions are contagious and that you can alter your mood by simply altering your facial expression. So, smile and fake it until you make it is a real thing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Unintentional Project (aka why I need your prayers)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a Facebook status that said, "Sometimes God sends opportunity to knock gently on your door, and other times He sends it to break down your door and drag you out by your heels while you scream 'You've got the wrong guy!" The latter would be a more accurate description of where I am right now.
It all started last year when a friend innocently asked me to read over a plan she had for starting a ministry at her church for children with special needs. While reading it I learned about the surprisingly large number of families who don't attend church because a member of that family doesn't fit the mold of a typical kid. There is a whole group of people, being unintentionally snubbed and that's not okay. You can find her plan on her blog Just a Little Muchier Muchness. It is pretty straightforward. There is nothing difficult about it. It just takes people willing to help.
Once I saw this need it was pretty hard to ignore, so I went to the leaders at my church with a good "you should do something about this attitude". This is not what happened, but it felt like they were looking back at me with smirks saying, "You are right. SOMEONE should do something". In the mean time we got a new children's minister, VBS came around, and there was the Awana's kick off. Then out of no where (ha!) I had, not 1, but 3 different families with different special needs children ask me where I went to church. Two of these are people I only know casually and never just run into them. I felt like God had decided that since I wasn't working to open the door, He was going to kick it down on me. ME? The girl who doesn't teach children because she is afraid of runny noses and kids who don't listen. Is He crazy? I am not in any way qualified. And then those words that haunt me flood into my mind. "God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called."
I'm telling you all this because I have a meeting Friday morning with the children's pastor about getting the ball rolling. I am terrified. I'm worried that I'll mess up. I'm worried that I'm in over my head, which I totally am. But, most of all, I am terrified that my life is about to take a major change, and even though it is certainly for the glory of God, I'm not great with change, especially when it is out of my comfort zone.
I summed it up to my friend with every pregnancy cliché. I'm so excited, wait I'm going to throw up, shouldn't I have known more than this before I started, this is all your fault, is there a "What to expect" for this, pray for us!!!
Do not miss read this. I am excited about this. I am ready to get to work. It just feels a bit like waiting in line for a rollercoaster, and since the line is where I usually chicken out, I'm having to remind myself regularly why I am here. The kids, the families, and most of all, the moms who need someone from the outside to for once understand and do something to help.
So, yeah, here I am, standing in the need of prayer, hoping to help, and much more willing than I was a year ago.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Mommy the killer of dreams

My title is overly dramatic, but it is gray and rainy today which tends to bring out the melancholy in me.
When Nix was 6 I decided it was high time I started living vicariously through her, and put her in ballet classes. Luck for me and my inner child, she loved it. As the years have gone by she has gotten pretty good, made nice friends, and I've become rather attached to my fellow dance moms (they are nothing like the ones on tv). I was a little afraid that getting pointe shoes would put an end to her dancing. She isn't big on pain, and those things can be murder. Instead, it brought her to a new level of enjoyment. She wasn't that little girl in the pink tutu twirling to her own beat any more. Now she is a graceful young woman leaping with beauty. Up until this last Spring, ballet has just been a hobby, but after a taste of the spotlight this Spring, she wanted more.

Being a good supportive mother, I sought outside advice. I was informed by people who would know that Nix did indeed have all the raw tools needed to become a professional ballet dancer. The next step was looking into what it would take. I did my homework, and realized that if she was serious, we needed to get a move on. As a first step, I took her to some outside eyes to be evaluated. It was an eye opener for Nix. She actually did pretty well. It boiled down to, yes you can be a professional, but you need to increase the number of hours you dance per week, and sharpen your skills. In other words, her hobby needed to become her job. It was humbling and sobering for her.
She spent the weekend in deep reflection. I told her that she had the better part of the year to decide, but I could see that she wasn't going to let it sit. More than anything she wanted me to pull the mom card and tell her what to do, but I refused. I explained that it wasn't my place to tell her what to do with her adult life. It was my job to give her the tools to decide for herself. Boy, that was hard! I prayed, she prayed, we all prayed together. Last night after she was in bed and her lights had been out for awhile, she came down and wanted to talk. She told me that she is not going to stop dancing and loves ballet, but she no longer feels like it should be her career path. It is something she finds joy in, and if it became her job she would have to set aside joy for perfection. Professional ballet dancers will tell you that the joy is in the perfection, and since that isn't true for her, even though she has what it takes on the outside, she doesn't have what it takes on the inside.
She was a little sad, as was I. I am certain she has made the right choice. It just means she made her first adult decision about her life. She got realistic about "what I want to be when I grow up", and a little piece of her childhood slipped away.
I keep telling myself that I was supportive and was doing my best to give her every advantage in pursuing her dreams, but in doing so I killed her dream, and that hurts a little. I feel like I broke her, or at least the little girl part of her. I'm glad that she doesn't want to quit entirely, that would have been too much. I'm looking forward to her getting back to dancing for fun this week. It will take a lot of stress out of it for both of us.
Maybe her next career choice will be something that can wait to die until her junior year of college like a regular kid.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Clothes can also unmake the man

Last night Nix and her fellow 8th grade band members were invited to play with her future high school's band at a football game. She had a great time and met some really fun kids, but she was nestled into the band bubble. I had a chance to venture out and get a broader look at her future classmates. I wanted to make pictures of some of what I saw to post, but Rocky cautioned that the worst of it might qualify as child pornography. Let's just say, it was breast cancer awareness night, and I guarantee that no one left that stadium without being aware of breasts, and trust me when I tell you, it had nothing to do with everyone wearing pink.
Rumor has it that the "in crowd" can be pretty tough. As with every other high school in America since public school began, a lot of getting in with the in crowd revolves around what you wear. More specifically, the labels on what you wear and how little coverage you can get away with.
Now here's the funny twist. I realized I was sitting there making judgements about these kids, their intelligence, their extra curricular actives, their lack of parental supervision, etc. This brought me to a few conclusions. First of all, I don't want my daughter projecting the stereotypes that these kids were. Partly because the assumptions would be wrong, but also for her own personal safety.
Have you caught the irony yet? At least I think it is irony. That silly Alanis Morisette song about irony has clouded my ability to accurately spot it. Anyway, I was using clothes to judge the kids who will be judging my kid based on her geeky shirts and Old Navy jeans.
So here is the painful truth. We all make snap judgements based on first impressions, and although it is possible to overcome that, it takes time and effort from both sides. I'm sure there were some really nice, smart kids in the cool section, but they were excellent at camouflage. My daughter seems to be projecting a geeky good girl with over protective parents. I'm good with that, and she seems pretty happy with that, too. I think she is going to be just fine.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Orange Shoe Saga (part 2)

Earlier this year I was in one of my favorite stores and saw a pretty orange sweater, the kind you wear over a sleeveless shirt when it is hot outside but cold inside because the restaurant association got together and decided that 65 was the ideal temperature for dining. I didn't buy it at the time because what did I need with an orange sweater. It's not like I was going to go out and buy orange shoes.
After I lost my mind and actually did buy orange shoes I went back to the store, which was naturally sold out of the orange sweater. I continue to look around in hopes of finding something awesome like the gray dress I also didn't buy earlier this year. Instead of what I was looking for I found a white flower print dress, and guess what color the flowers were- orange! The right orange. Unbelievably the dress was on the sale rack for a mere $10 and was in my size (that never happens).

Now that I have a pretty dress to go with my shoes all that is left is to wear them in public. I tried it all on the other day and Rocky did that cartoon wolf bit where his eyes bugged out and his jaw hit the floor. This should be encouraging to me, but instead I suddenly got very self conscience. Although I am no longer the shy low self esteem girl who felt like an ugly duckling, I also don't feel like the head turning type. I like blending in, and there is nothing about orange shoes and this flowery dresses that blends. I've had two chances to wear this outfit and have chickened out both times.
For over a week I have been thinking that it was my lacking closet keeping me from strutting in these shoes, but it has really been me. Owning orange shoes has not made me an orange shoe girl. They say that the clothes make the man, but as it turns out, you have to be a certain type of personality to wear the clothes in the first place.
I will wear these shoes in public one day, but I'm not sure when that day will come. I want to say that it will be next Sunday, but I really don't know if I am brave enough. I'm pretty sure that there are a good number of people who think I am crazy and totally over thinking all of this, but for a girl like me this is a bit like deciding to go sky diving when you are afraid of heights.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Orange Shoe Paradox (part 1)

I had a few minutes to kill the other day and spent those few minutes in a shoe store. Since I am too (let's say) frugal to pay full price on shoes, I go back to the clearance section. There sits, in my size, an over the top pair of orange shoes. They are so pretty. But, alas, I do not buy orange shoes. I buy black, brown, white, or some variation there of. Once, ten years ago, I bought a deep red pair that went perfectly with several thing I already owned. This is how much I don't buy orange shoes. So, I made a picture of them and walked out bemoaning the fact that I will never be an orange shoe girl.

Today, I walked back into that store and bought those shoes. As an added bonus, they were more deeply discounted than before and are now the cheapest pair of non-flip flops that I own. They are the most girly, fancy, pretty things in my closet.
Now comes the part where I wear them. Because I am not an orange shoe girl, I have no orange shoe clothes. I have a couple of things that other people might would wear with them, but I'm not that daring.
These shoes are revealing a lot more to me about my own personality, fears, and insecurities than I would have ever thought possible. I thought just buying them was going to be my major leap, but as it turns out, wearing them is becoming an even bigger challenge.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not just clean, extra clean (language)

JD is taking a drama camp this summer (his idea). After the first day he was thrilled with the class but not happy with his part in the end of the week show. One of his lines read, "Oh, to heck with it!" He did not want to say "that word". Then HE explains to ME that even though "heck" isn't a bad word, it is used in place of "hell", which is bad when you use it wrong, therefore they mean the same thing and even if you aren't saying the real bad word, the bad meaning is still there. (Wow!) I advised him to decide for himself, and then talk with his drama teacher. That is exactly what he did. She was very understanding (thank you Miss Cindi!) and let him change the line to, "Oh, I give up!" I was very impressed with his conviction and the follow through. It was one of those moments where your kid behaves better than you've thought to teach them to be.
As it turns out, JD has some very strong feelings about bad words. He is annoyed that the "a word" should just mean donkey, but people made it bad. My favorite quote was when he said, "I find the 'j-a word' deeply offensive to my name." Then he asked me why people use those words and why they put them on tv. I had no answer for him.
I'll leave you with these words of JD wisdom: If you mean poop then say poop instead of the "s word", but if you don't mean poop, use a different word that has the right meaning.
Words have meanings. Use them the right way, or don't use them at all.
And now we have all been schooled by an 8 year old.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Relaxation Gone Wrong

I was stressed and having trouble unwinding from the day. It had been one of those days where I couldn't stop myself from alphabetizing something that probably could have existed in the state it was in without the world ending. For those of you who are scratching your head because you have never been overcome by the need for ABC order, it is just my brain's way of working out a lack of order in things I can not control by inflicting order on trivial things that I can control. It isn't as crazy as it sounds, I promise.
Anyway, I was on Pinterest (shocker) browsing through the "pets" section as a way of relaxing. That board is filled with adorable fuzziness. I was starting to feel very mello as I gazed at tiny kitties, fluffy bunnies, and other assorted squee worthy animals. Then it all went wrong. Someone had pinned a refrigerator under the heading of pets. Next came a shoe, a wedding invitation, and by the time I scrolled down to the furniture made from palettes, I was more stressed than when I started. I was exasperated within minutes.
This has taught me that on days I need order, it is a bad idea to look at the public boards. Also, that some people should not be allowed to pin things unsupervised. I wonder if I could get a job fixing wrongly categorized pins for Pinterest? That would be relaxing. Maybe I am as crazy as I sound after all.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Question and a Plea

JD had his end of school year awards the other day. We are very proud because his "everybody gets a trophy" prize was for being the nicest and most caring student. It is always nice to hear your child's good character is their defining characteristic. However, after it was announced, one of the kids pipes up and says, "He could also get skinniest kid because look how skinny he is." I don't know if the kid was trying to be mean or if he just has no manners. The teacher put a stop to it by saying, "Yeah, and you're short, so be quiet." That didn't really sit right with me, and I'm wondering if it seems off to you? On the one hand, I'm glad she stopped the boy from teasing my son, but on the other, I don't feel right about her fighting fire with fire. I noticed that she wasn't shy about jokingly telling all the parents what the different kids' faults were. She said nothing but good things about my kid, and some of the other boys were obvious handfuls, but do you point that out in front of everyone? It hasn't been a secret that this has not been our favorite year, but it is over as of next week. Beyond making sure he doesn't have her again next year (she is also moving up a grade), should I say anything?
Now for my plea. Many people see "skinny" as a compliment. I understand that, however, for me, it was used repeatedly as an insult when I was a child and even occasionally in a mean spirited fashion as an adult. I'd like to ask you all to think twice before commenting on another person's weight. If you wouldn't say it to an overweight person, don't say it to a thin person. For example:
"Oh, you are always so thin, I just hate you!", tends to be a socially acceptable phrase.
Now let's turn it around:
"Oh, you are always so fat, I just hate you!"
You can probably see how that one is wrong, and would probably get you slapped.
Just make sure you really know a person before you make any kind of comment on their weight, and no one gets hurt.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Guy in the Powder Blue Tuxedo

Nix is being inducted to the Junior Beta Club this evening. I'm very proud of her achievement. Now I just have to figure out what to wear. I wish these things came with picture instructions. I'm fairly sure the geek shirt and jeans I am currently wearing won't cut it, but do I go full dress and heels? At times like this I am reminder of a great old family story.
My mother's cousin is a trail lawyer. Early in his career, he informed his client that he needed to dress nice for court. When he arrived at the courthouse he spotted his client immediately because he was the guy in the powder blue tuxedo. Since then, he has learned to be much more specific in his instructions.
My mom always says that you don't want to be the guy in the overalls or the guy in the powder blue tuxedo, which is really just a silly way to say, "Dress to the middle".
I'm not good at this. I've never pulled a full tuxedo moment, but I do tend to err on the side of fancy. If someone is going to look at me funny, I'd rather them think I just came from working in an office instead of working in a corn field.
Nothing makes me more anxious than the term "business casual". What does that even mean for a woman? For a guy it means khakis and a polo shirt, but that is too casual and not enough business when you are a girl. It's like "semi-formal". All that means is guys get to wear a regular suit, but girls still have to wear something formal with maybe a short hemline. How is that fair?
For tonight I've settled on a somewhat casual black dress with no jewelry, and low heel sandals. It is a little dressy, but when I'm not being a geek, I like to pretend to be fancy.
Update: Nailed it! I totally fit in. Well, in dress anyway.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Let's Stop Pretending

This week the state of Georgia will be administering standardized tests to public school children. My daughter Nix will have to take a test for reading, one for language arts, two for math, and a social studies test. These tests are how the government determines if any child is being "left behind". This means that the teachers and administration are very stressed right now.
This year, Social Studies is focusing on Asia and Africa, and so the standards on the test reflect that. There is one problem. The test they will be given was written in 2008. Four years have passed in the most politically unstable continent on Earth. Nix's teacher is now faced with having to educate the children on the current governments in Africa, as well as the way things were 4 years ago. Not to worry though, because the test includes a short paragraph before each section of questions and as long as the children read it, they will know how to answer the questions. I might be wrong here, but couldn't anyone with a basic reading level read the paragraph and know how to answer the questions? Doesn't that make it another reading test instead of a social studies test? Now explain to me how this stress on the teacher and the students, for what is basically a redundant test, educates my child.
I really hate these tests. Part of it stems from my own test taking anxieties, but the main reason is because of all the crazy stress the school, as a whole, is under. Walking into that building right now feels like I'm walking into Azkaban. All the color has drained out of everything. The school has emailed and robo-called me to remind me to feed my child and make her go to sleep every night, as opposed to every other day when I starve her and play loud music all night. The teachers are helping by loading her up with homework. I'm curious to see if her Spanish teacher continues to give homework all week because no one cares if her students are meeting those standards.
I know that teachers everywhere will hate this idea, but it seems to me that you'd find out a lot more about how well the schools are doing their job if we tested the teachers instead of the students. I know it would be less stressful.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

When I Grow Up

Every so often, I like to ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up. It is usually great insight. Today's talk was no exception.
In the past, JD has wanted to be a policeman/firefighter, a vet, a teacher, and a preacher. Today he added ninja or a spy to that list. He thinks the CIA might be cool, but doesn't really want to have to shoot people, which is why he'd prefer a ninja. He is pretty sure that dead people would not gross him out. In an odd sort of way, the activities he picked to participate in this summer do kind of line up with that. He will be continuing his Hapkido training and going to a day camp for drama. At the top of the list for spy training are defend yourself and pretending to be someone you're not. We may have a Cody Banks on our hands by Fall.
Nix is a bit tougher. She doesn't like to make decisions, so when asked she usually says that she doesn't know. The few I have gotten out of her are chef, fashion designer, and maybe a lawyer, just not a criminal one. Today she added FBI agent to the list. To be more specific, she'd like to work in the white collar crimes division. I wonder if that would change if I told her real art thieves don't look like Neal Caffrey? Then she fessed up that what she'd really like to do is have a job like MacGyver, but she knows that is more of a fantasy job than an actual occupation. However, she feels that, as long as she isn't a field agent, the FBI would be great. She just knows for certain that anything in the medical field is out and is certain that she could not handle dead bodies.
I can't wait to see what they turn out to be when they grow up. At one time, I too wanted to be a spy. I gave serious thought to being a narc, but my parents told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to ever be a police officer. Funny thing about being the type to want to serve and protect, you tend to also obey your parents. Instead, I fell back on the choice I made in second grade. I have a vivid memory of telling my teacher that I wanted to be a mom when I grew up. It was a good pick.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Mythological 8

I went shopping today for clothes, which is always frustrating. I want to meet the person they design clothes for these days. Apparently, she is a size 8, is 5'7", 135 pounds, a 34C with a 25 inch waste. Her shoes size is an 8 regular, and when it says "one sizes fits all" it means her. I have never met this alleged person and doubt I ever will.
The problem I am having right now is due to the assumption that anyone under a size 6 must want to dress like a teenager, and kind of a trashy one at that. I am down to Old Navy, because all of their clothes look the same regardless of size, and H&M because they still use European sizing. I am having to become a pro at layering. I want one store that is reasonably priced (sorry Ann Taylor), carries clothes smaller than a 6, and looks like something I should be wearing in this stage of life. It could be like Lane Bryant but for the oddly tiny.
I can see it now, one piece swimsuits, calf length skirts, and lower case v necks. It would be glorious. We could call it Dot because it is the opposite of Dash, and because I like to blame the entire Kardashian family for necklines dropping to where waistlines use to be and waistlines becoming hip lines. It might not be their fault, but whenever I get a chance blame the downfall of society on them, I take it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pinning Peeves

I was exploring around Pinterest today and found these great tips for people starting out or who maybe aren't well versed on the ins and outs of the internet. If you fall into that category, please check out Positively Splendid for 5 tips on doing it right.
I have a 5 tips of my own to help us all enjoy pinning without annoying our friends.

  • Be careful how you categorize your boards and what you pin to them. When I am scrolling through the food section, I don't want to see a girl in a dress, DIY projects don't need to be on the humor page (unless there is something really funny about what you made), and be extra careful what you pin to a board with a "kids" theme. Everyone is going to slip up from time to time, just don't make it a habit.

  • Do not be spammy with promotions. If I see the custom wall mural pins one more time I am going to scream. Stick it on the product page once where we can all ignore it, not on the geek page, the DIY page, the home decor page, and on and on. If you have a great idea, other people will repin it and spread the word. When the only name on a repeated pin is yours, we know you are just self promoting and ignore you.

  • Post pretty fashion and things you'd like to wear or wish you could wear on the Women's Apparel board. This is not a place to pin underwear models. Let's help Victoria keep her secret a little better, shall we. The rest of the world doesn't need to know what you are "so wearing" under your prom dress.

  • Do not post nudity. It is one of the few things they ask from us when we signed up for our account. Consider it a never nude website. I know you think it is "artistic", but naked is naked, and it is on the do not pin list. Some of us like to look at the photography page for actual photography, not porn. If that is your thing, you have the rest of the internet available to you, please leave this one little area for the rest of us.

  • Be mindful of how much you link your account to other social media. Sometimes you find something awesome that you want to also share on Facebook or Twitter, and that is fine. All I'm asking is that you not post every single thing you pin on all your other social networks as well. If people want to follow your pins, they will follow them. Don't force us to see them just because we are FB friends.
This has been PSA on how not to be annoying on Pinterest. You can see my boards under the user name Rixie4
Now it's your turn. Let it all out. What do other pinners do that drives you nuts on this most wonderful of websites?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Political Update

      Since my post about the online piracy legislation, it has been semi-killed, meaning they reserve the right to tweak it and push it through at another time when the world isn't paying as much attention. There are still 56 members of Congress that have their names attached to either SOPA or PIPA. Here is a handy website listing those people.
       Like a good little voter, I researched where the people in my district stood and wrote letters. The bad news is that I had to write two letters expressing disappointment. Both of my senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson were cosponsors. The day after the protests, Chambliss pulled his name from the bill and sent me a form letter letting me know that he had come to understand that it was flawed and not going to fix the intended problem (score one for the protest. Isakson, however, is still attached and sent me a form email with the same old line of how it will only effect foreign websites. It made me mad, not because I am so wrapped up in this particular bill, but because it shows a lack of understanding about the modern world, the people in it, and also because I looked at the amount of money his campaign received from the entertainment industry.
     On to the good news. My congressman, Tom Graves, was against it before it was popular to be against it. I wrote him an encouragement email thanking him for taking the time to understand the repercussions. He also sent me a form email in reply. Here is the good part of what it said.
            "While I believe it is essential that U.S. copyright laws are upheld, this should not come at the expense of technological innovation that should be encouraged, and not prematurely stifled. I also have concerns that in today's rapidly changing Internet, individuals who willingly violate U.S. copyright law will find new technology to commit these acts at a much faster pace, only making SOPA ineffective in eliminating copyright infringement.
             More importantly, each American's right to free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution must be protected, and I believe SOPA's sweeping authority to block websites, as we see in China, encroaches upon that right and sets a dangerously precedent."
Wow! It's like he actually read the bill or something. Imagine that.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Day Offline

I spent yesterday offline. It was not easy. At times, it was down right frustrating. In addition to the SOPA issue, I've been seeing all these articles about internet addiction, and it had me curious.
I should note that I did allow myself 3 email checks spaced out through the day since it is the way teachers and some other important people primarily communicate with me. I checked for important messages and left the rest. This taught me that I get way too many junk emails that I need to unsubscribe from. I guess since they usually trickle in through the day, I never noticed how many there were.
I also found out that I have gotten really use to having knowledge at my fingertips at all times. Several times I had to resist the urge to ask Rocky something, knowing he'd look it up online. Someone called me and asked me a question that I had to answer with, "I don't know." That one hurt. I knew how to find out, I could have answered the question in 30 seconds or less, but it involved the internet, so I had to let someone else do the search. The answer was the first thing I looked up this morning when I went back online. Easter is April 8th this year, just in case you were wondering.
The strangest part of going offline was how isolated I felt. I talked to people on the phone, I was even face to face social with a few people, but still I felt like there was a wall between me and the rest of the world. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It was an unexpected weird sort of anxiety. I think it was that anxiety that kept me from being more productive. I had thought that going offline for the day would increase the time I had to do other things, but it really didn't.
All in all, I am very glad I did it. I do think I will do it again soon. I also think I need to curb daily usage a bit. I'm going to continue to limit the number of times I check my email, and turn off my phone alerts. It has been an enlightening experiment.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SOPA Explained (sort of)

If you read many blogs or follow any blogger types on twitter or are just a fan of the internet, then you may have heard some rumblings about something called "SOPA". That stands for "Stop Online Piracy Act". The name sounds fantastic. I work for a photographer who has to deal with piracy. Ending it would make life easier. After all, are we all against internet theft? Of course we are. But wait!
When was the last time our government came up with a simple direct answer to a problem with no unintended bad consequences? Yeah. That is kind of what I figured. So, I went digging for information. It wasn't easy finding an even handed article explaining what SOPA is. This one at CNET was the best I could find. It is at least the clearest one I have read.
I read the whole thing and gleaned a few things out of it, and then I asked Rocky what the rest of it meant. He started on a list of "simple" ways that he could get around it all. I understood none of what he said.
This is what it boils down to. If you read the article and understand it all then you probably know ways around each and every road block they want to throw at you. If you read the article, your eyes kind of glaze over, and you are pretty sure that some of those words have been made up to confuse you, then the internet as you know it will end, or at least get a lot more complicated. In addition to that, there is wording in this that not only encourages your internet provider to track your usage, it requires them to monitor it. Because it is so broad in the wording, one person could post a YouTube clip on Facebook that is not licensed and not only would that person get shut down, but YouTube and Facebook as a whole could get shut down. People who support the bill reply with, "They wouldn't do that. It is an extreme example to scare people. To that I say, yes it is an extreme example meant to scare, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. The federal government will be given the legal authority to do that. Whether or not they exercise that power is not the point. The point is that instead of stopping piracy, this bill will become the first big step in United States internet censorship.
I think it is important to mention that this is not a Republican or Democrat thing. This is one of the most bipartisan bills on the floor right now. It is also contested by both sides. I encourage you to read the article I linked to. Hunt for what you understand and judge for yourself.
Next Wednesday several websites will be going dark in protest of the bill. Don't panic! They will be back Thursday.