Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gotta Get the Hell Up Outta here

I really didn't expect to come back from the American Baptist Biennial in Puerto Rico with enough material for multiple blog posts, but interestingly, that's what happened. Possible posts include:
  • "How Disappointing"
  • "Ten Things I Learned in Puerto Rico"
  • "They Don't Need Me Anymore"
  • "If You Were a Big Deal, You'd Understand"
The title of this post is from a memorable episode in the convention center during which a colleague, with a microphone, announced the closing time of the exhibit hall and finished with an inappropriate but hilarious instruction to all the good Baptists in attendance that
"You ain't got to go home but you gotta get the hell up outta here."
In the end, "getting the hell up outta here," is exactly what I wanted to do after seven days in Puerto Rico.

Let me forewarn you that this post is likely to be politically incorrect, and for that I apologize. Since going to work for the American Baptists and learning more about issues of social justice, I've really tried to see things from a Christian perspective: no judgements, we're all created in the image of God, demonstrate God's love by being the hands and feet of Christ, etc. But my time in Puerto Rico put my best efforts to the test.

Let me sum it up this way:

The natural beauty of Puerto Rico was matched only by the 
ugliness of nearly everything touched by man.

Yes, I know that's harsh, but so was the condition of this place which has so much potential to be amazing. 

After leaving San Juan, the location of the Biennial, I had plans to go sight-seeing for a couple days with three colleagues. We started with a visit to El Yunque National Forest, home of a spectacular rainforest and beautiful waterfalls. The ride took a few hours and along the way, our tour guide, a coworker who is a native of PR, took too many many back roads. This allowed us to see "the real Puerto Rico," and to be truthful, I wish I hadn't.

The Puerto Rico I saw on these back roads, and even along the highways, was one of stark ugliness. Deserted houses, closed up shops, graffitied buildings, abandoned boats and cars, rusted metal fences, stray dogs and cats, garbage, food vendors on the streets, and condom shops. Several condom shops. My hopes rested on the island of Culebra where we were headed that evening for a two night stay.

We arrived on Culebra around 8:30 p.m. after a 90 minute ferry ride through a thunderstorm. Even in the dark I could see that my image of Puerto Rico was not likely to change. During the five minute walk from the ferry to our inn I was shocked by more of the same: garbage, abandoned shops, unkempt lawns and homes, wandering dogs, cats, and chickens, etc. Even our room, while clean, was in a state of disrepair with chipped walls, leaking ceilings, and torn bedding.

The next day we headed to Flamenco Beach, considered the most beautiful in Culebra. And it was stunning. The bluest, clearest water I've ever seen was set against a backdrop of lush greenery. The ocean floor was smooth as silk and the water was warm and inviting. Its beauty made the other sights that much more depressing. All I could think about were the possibilities for this amazing little island. It should have been a place with delightful shops, restaurants, tour operators, and inns; so much potential disregarded.

I am fully aware that I looked at Puerto Rico through the eyes of an upper middle class, spoiled American. And I know the potential I saw in these places of beauty might not financially possible for many of the people who live there. It's even possible that the things I think are important or see value in just aren't appreciated by everyone everywhere (Although I find it hard to believe someone could think differently than me). Putting aside trendy shops and upscale eateries, however, I cannot comprehend failing to care for what is already there. For lacking pride in what you have.

I'm sure I'm missing something here. I know someone out there could (and would very much like to) educate me on the economic realities that result in the way things are. And being the good Christian that I'm trying to be, I'd like to hear it. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Mediocre Christian

Yesterday I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the American Baptist Churches USA Biennial. Judson Press, where I work, is the publishing ministry for the denomination. This will be my fourth Biennial and while it's a great deal of work (we set up and staff the bookstore for the event), I must confess to enjoying it...and not just because it gets me out of the house and away from the kids.

What I like most about the Biennial is the opportunity to meet so many who live out their faith, not only on Sunday mornings, but each and every day. Some are in full time ministry, but others are simply dedicated Christians who take seriously the call to be the hands and feet of Christ. It's pretty easy to feel inferior when surrounded by so many "Good Christians." And, I'm even more in awe of those "Dangerous Christians" who "speak till justice wakes," who dare to make a difference through their faith and their actions.

When I think of the sacrifice, dedication, and unwavering faith of many friends, colleagues, Judson Press authors, and those whom I will hear speak and preach at events like these, I feel I should wear a name tag, introducing myself as a "Mediocre Christian."

  • I go to church regularly...unless something else comes up
  • I would require my children to go to church...but I'm not up for the fight
  • I read the Bible...when soul searching and in need of encouragement
  • I taught Sunday school...until I had to confess that there were children in my class who knew more than I did
  • I taught Sunday school...until I had to confess that I don't really like connect with kids
  • I pray...but I often fall asleep before I finish
  • I pray...but I wonder, if God knows best, are my prayers necessary or helpful?
  • I claim to be a Christian...but I try to keep my faith out of my blog posts because I don't want to lose readers
My shortcomings as a Christian are top of mind these days as I marvel at the faith of three women I know. If anyone had a completely understandable excuse for being a mediocre Christian or even a skeptical one, it would be these ladies. Each of them has experienced what I would describe as Hell on Earth.

My friend Ann whom I've blogged about a couple times, is in the process of recovering from her second surgery for brain cancer in the past eight years. This follows the bone marrow transplant she required about two years ago. Yet through it all, her faith has never wavered. One mutual friend, an atheist, admitted that only Ann, her faith, and the miracle of her life causes her to even consider the possibility that there is a God.

A second friend, Cathie, finds herself in the final stages of an ugly divorce, more than two years after her husband walked out on her and their three girls, the youngest of whom was less than a month old at the time. This dedicated, stay-at-home mom is now trying to sell her home to move to one she can better afford while working on renewing her teaching certification in order to get a job to better support her family. All this is happening while her 38-year-old handicapped brother lies in the hospital, breathing with the help of a ventilator after pneumonia rendered him unable to breath a few weeks ago.

But Cathie sees nothing but goodness everywhere she looks. The phone call that comes just when she needs an encouraging word. An act of kindness by a neighbor. A tree that falls in the opposite direction from her house. She credits God's hand in all of this and has never uttered "Why me?" or expressed the anger that most of us would rightly feel.

Then there's Janet Perez Eckles, a new Judson Press author. Janet came to this country from Bolivia, got a college education, married, had three boys. And then at age 32 she lost her eyesight completely. And suffered financial devastation. And endured her husband's infidelity. And experienced the incomprehensible anguish of her youngest son's murder and the acquittal of the man responsible. But does Janet shake her fist and turn away from God and her faith? No. Instead she encourages women to kick up their heels with a book titled Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God's Fiesta.

I am inspired and encouraged by these women. I strive to reach the level of faith that sustains them. And I find comfort in the knowledge that God loves me, even in my mediocrity.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Shore Thing

I just enjoyed my first summer 2011 weekend at the Shore and I have to tell you that each year it feels more like coming home. Whether in Avalon, Ocean City,  or my childhood "home" of Long Beach Island, I'm struck by the overwhelming sense that there's nowhere else I'd rather be. For years I joined my mom and sister in chiding my dad for never wanting to travel further than Barnegat Bay, but as the years have passed, I must confess that the Jersey Shore has become my happiest place on earth.

I can't claim that New Jersey beaches are more beautiful than others. I won't try to convince you the water is clearer or more blue. The sunsets there are no more special than yours. It's not the food or amusements or entertainment. It's just that the Shore is home, and I suppose as I get older, home becomes more important to me.

From this past weekend I want to forever etch in my memory:
  • The size of Abby's smile when catching the perfect wave on her boogie board
  • Her sand drip castles
  • Jumping the waves with Ian and friends
  • Digging for sand crabs
  • The perfect ocean breeze 
I never want to forget the satisfying exhaustion and feeling in your chest after a day spent diving under, jumping over, and crashing through the waves. I never want to be too old to float on my back, toes up in the air, as the swells carry me. I never want to sit out with the other grown-ups who claim the water is just too cold. No, I want to be the 80-year-old grinning after a dip. I want to be the 60+-year-old with a smile as big as Abby's when he catches the perfect wave.

I know at some point Ian and his friends will decide they're too mature to dig holes in the sand and instead they will start "digging" girls. I know Abby will soon be too embarrassed to lay her beach towel next to mom and dad's. I know that in the blink of an eye both of my children will be heading off to summer jobs, and then college, leaving Rob and I alone. Then we will smile at the grandparent holding the hand of their grandchild as she toddles for the first time to the water's edge, knowing that day too is not far off.

You know sentimentality is not my thing. You know I'm usually counting down the days till the kids move out. But there's something about this place that makes me want to stop time. To freeze everything as it is today. The kids. The friends. The smiles and laughter and love. The memories that seem so much sweeter because they were made at the Shore.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things that Make You Go "Hmmm," Part 2

I thought as we head into the weekend I'd keep it light. I've got some heavy topics in mind, like prayer and faith, and greeting cards, but they can wait. The sun is shining after a night of crazy storms and I'm headed to the beach this weekend. Life is good.

So here we are with my second volume of "Things that Make You Go Hmmm," compliments of the occasionally head-scratching, wacky requests I read in my daily emails from HARO - Help a Reporter Out. If you're not familiar with HARO, it features requests from authors, reporters, bloggers, radio & tv producers, etc. looking for experts or specific types of individuals to interview for a story. So, without further ado...

Things that Make You Go "Hmmm"
  1. Need someone who can confirm the veracity of turd burgers (gives new meaning to "this burger takes like sh*t")
  2. Guys: Where Do You Poop? (hint, wherever you find the newspaper)
  3. Looking for women whose parents bought them egg freezing as graduation gifts (because a new car is so overrated)
  4. Keeping kids learnign (sic) during summer (maybe whoever typed this should keep learning over the summer, too)
  5. Cooking Virgins (at first I  honestly thought that they meant cooking virgins...for eating)
  6. Can a Neat Freak Marry a Slob? (yes, but the marriage could be messy)
  7. What makes a good mother? (duh. wine.)
  8. Casting Professional Chefs - Must Be Divorced (cause nothing will kill a marriage faster than having a spouse who can cook
  9. Does the number of vasectomies increase during March Madness? (sounds like one of those research projects the government should spend a few millions on)
  10. Creative ways to remember your pregnancy (pretty sure the kid will be a constant reminder...)
  11. People who dig holes (I personally dig rock solid abs)
  12. Needs Tips on How to Have Quiet Sex in an Apt Bldg Setting (find a particularly lousy partner?)
  13. How to raise clean kids (I'd like the person who knows the answer to call me)
  14. Did U wear more than 10 wedding dresses at your wedding? (seriously?)
  15. Do you eat metal, baking soda, paper, glue, chalk or dirt? (I used to eat paste and boogers, do they count?)
If you think you have it in you to provide answers to these types of questions and many more normal ones, I encourage you to subscribe to Help a Reporter Out. Good stuff!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Ankle or a Wiener?

In the spirit of Congressman Weiner, let's talk about body parts, shall we? Let me begin by telling all you men out there that your wiener is not the highlight of your physicality. Want to show me your six-pack abs; I'm all in. But quite frankly, your wiener is not particularly pleasant to look at. Now that we have that out of the way, let's evaluate some other parts of the body.

Like ankles.

I particularly admire nice ankles on other women. They catch my eye. I think this is because 1) I don't have great ankles and we always want what we don't have, and 2) great ankles are rare. My colleague Jen has great ankles. So does my friend Ellen whom I haven't seen in a couple years. If when I think of Ellen I think of her ankles, you know they are something special.

The other thing about great ankles is that you're either born with them or you're not. As far as I know, there's no ankle augmentation or "anklesuction" surgery available. Even working out doesn't particularly sculpt your ankles. 

Ankles stand in sharp contrast to the body parts most people are drawn to. You know the ones. Ears, knees, elbows. And of course, there are a few who are also strangely attracted to chests and behinds I have a female friend who admits only when drinking that she's a boob girl. And I know a few men who fall into this category as well. The trouble with chests and tushes is all the elective stuff you can have done to them. I just don't think that should count.

So let's take a poll. Name the part of the body you most admire on those of the opposite sex and those of the same sex. I know you men will claim you don't check out other men, but you know that's crap, so 'fess up already. This should be fun!

Monday, June 13, 2011

If You Think Reentry is Tough on Astronauts...

Comparatively, this is a breeze
You've probably heard of prisoner reentry and space shuttle reentry, but are you familiar with the challenges of college student reentry? If you ask any parent of a college student who's returned home for the summer, most likely they will be happy to lie down on your couch for an hour, perhaps with a box of tissues, and share their personal joy...and pain. 

The "reentry process" was recently mentioned in a conversation with a friend whose oldest daughter just returned home from her first year at Carnegie Mellon. I suggested the topic would make for a great blog post and she very quickly expressed enthusiasm for the idea, perhaps because it would be cathartic and cost a lot less than a session of professional counseling. With that introduction out of the way, I'm pleased to share the angst and frustration of my friend, Christine (and I must say it's nice when the frustration and angst belong to someone other than me).

Reentry, or What They Don’t Tell You 
When Your Kid Goes Off to College

I have three lovely daughters.  They range in age from 19 to 10 (the one in the middle is 14).  Last year, my eldest graduated from high school. After a grueling year of applications and anxiety, she packed up and went off to college in Pittsburgh.  I heard a lot at the time from friends who had sent their oldest (or their youngest or their only) off to college and knew all about the feelings of sadness (or euphoria) one was supposed to experience when the fledgling left the nest. To tell you the truth, in August, when we dropped her at her campus and helped her carry boxes and bags up to her fourth floor dorm room, I was relieved.  I was relieved that she had made it to college and that she was happy to be going where she was going.  I was also relieved that one less female personality was going to be clashing with the other female personalities in my house for the next nine months.  Imagine reducing the PMS tension by 25%, or 33% if you discount the fact that my youngest has yet to reach puberty! Oh, we saw her several times during the year. I was always happy to see her, but it is easy to treat someone as a guest when you know that in 48 hours they are flying back to their own place. 

What I didn’t realize was what it would mean to have her come back for the summer.  Your friends don’t tell you about that.

I picked her up a month ago and brought her home. It was great to see her again and to see the stress of finals lifted from her shoulders. She had a job lined up and a brief vacation and seemed for all intents and purposes a young adult ready to blossom. I forgot momentarily that she is also still a daughter and an older sister and, as much as it pains me to say it, a teenager. Within days of her return, old patterns began reasserting themselves. There were the kid fights, such as grappling for control over electronics, clothes and shoes and whether or not it is appropriate for a fourteen year old to get her hair done for a dance.  And there were the parental challenges. For example, does she really think she gets to tell me which car I can drive? I operate under the impression that having my name on the title gives me some rights, but she begs to differ. And is it unreasonable to expect some help with dishes or errands or running her sisters around, now that she is back in my house, eating my food and invariably at the end of the day slumping on my couch with the remote to my television in her hand?

I realized at some point in the last week that we are back to fighting the same teenage battles, just without the same rules. What do you hang over the head of a 19 year old with an attitude? Can I say she can’t take the car when she has a job she needs to drive to? Can I tell her she can’t invite ten friends over at 11 p.m. on a Friday because I have an early morning appointment the next day? When she is managing to lose her temper with everyone in the house, do I really resort to the “Who do you think pays your tuition?” threat?   The truth is, she is a good person, with the potential to be a great person. But she is still a kid and still my daughter and still living under my roof, for the summer at least. 

Any ideas on how to find a new equilibrium?  Success stories are welcome.  Failures are appreciated if related with a sense of humor. We can always learn from the mistakes of others, especially if they are entertaining.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Definitely Not Too Cool for School

I came to a disturbing realization this past Saturday at 4:03 p.m., and here it is: I am no longer cool. Just using the word "cool" means I'm not cool.

Here's how this all came down. On Saturday afternoon I had a brief conversation with my summer referee/chauffeur/lunch maker/clothing folder, a.k.a. baby sitter (Juliana). Truth be told, I barely know this young woman. I shook her hand once in church, but that's about it. She came highly recommended, however, and I figure if she's one of our church girls she must be okay. Really, if you're a bank robber, terrorist, or serial killer and you go to our church, I'll probably hire you without a second thought. But I digress.

During this brief conversation in which I asked Juliana about her recent 2 1/2 week long trip to Europe (must be nice), I thought I was being my usual charming and funny self.  Quick witted, relatable, cool.  And yet, as sweet as this young woman seems to be, and how she kindly laughed at all the right times, I hung up with the distinct impression that I am, in fact, no longer cool or relatable. In fact, I've become someone you humor by nodding, smiling, and walking away thinking, "what the hell was that?" Basically, I'm your great aunt Josephine.

This is particularly painful for me given that I only recently admitted that I am no longer a college student. But even though I confessed to being past my prime where hooking up, keggers, and all nighters are concerned, I still thought I was very cool. In fact, I had every intention of being the mom all the kids think is awesome:.
"Abby, you're so lucky. I wish I had your mom. She's way cool and so funny and has great hair."
"Wow, Ian, your mom is hot and really fun. Let's hang out at your house!"
But, the reality is that they're thinking:
"It's sad how your mom tries so hard to be relevant and entertaining. You must be embarrassed, dude. Want to hang at my house?"
 "Abby, does your mom know those clothes went out of style like, decades ago? And geez, why doesn't she color her hair more often? And why is she always nagging you about your bedroom? Tell her to chill already."
I should have known this was coming. I've been watching my husband try to be cool with kids for years, and I've been embarrassed for him. Sorry, to tell you this way, hon. He attempts to work his charm on the little kiddies and even they don't seem to find him amusing. The older ones just ignore him altogether. I personally have no interest in engaging the young uns, but I thought I had it going on where tweens and teens are concerned.

I have no idea what to do with this newfound realization. Do I dye my hair more frequently, update my wardrobe, read tween and teen blogs to get the lingo down? Or do I just keep quiet and hope I'm not embarrassing my kids too much? You know how much I struggle with keeping quiet.

Advice, anyone?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Angry Bibliophiles and Power-Drunk Ushers Converge at Paul Simon Concert

What you are about to read is not fiction.
And, it is not a story for the weak of heart. 

The evening started out well enough. A dressing-doused Caesar salad followed by a gourmet white pizza brimming with olive oil was sure to offer up the challenge my stomach was looking for while sitting through my first Paul Simon concert. Little did I know that my stomach was to be the least of my issues that fateful night.

As my husband and I arrived at our unusually good seats in the ancient Merriam Theater in Philadelphia, I was surprised to find our neighboring concert goers reading. And not killing time on nifty electronic devices, but reading actual bound, printed material. The woman was engrossed in one of the Stieg Larsson books, while her husband was digesting a tropical fish magazine. There were additional books under their seats, because, really, you don't want to run out of reading material at a concert.

Our reading neighbors were visibly displeased to have to stand up and let us in to take our seats. If you've ever been to the Merriam Theater, you know that when it was built the average American stood just 4' 8" tall and weighed only 97 pounds. Hence, sitting comfortably in ones seat is challenging enough, not to mention getting in and out of them. Still, our kindly neighbors, despite being in the end seats, did not actually step aside to let us in but rather had us slide past them, making intimate contact in the process. This was our first sign of what was to come.

Here is a quick sequence of events that followed:
  • 8:31 p.m. - I am blessed with have no wireless service in the theater so Ian texts Rob to say he doesn't feel well. Rob takes lesson from his insensitive wife and tells Ian to take a Tums and lie down. This translates into "There's no way in hell we're leaving this concert early because you ate a bunch of crap and have a stomach ache."
  • 8:42 p.m. - Rob's cell phone vibrates with a a call from an unfamiliar but clearly local number. Concert neighbor lady (CNL) offers disgusted look.
  • 8:43 p.m. - Cell phone "rings" again with same number. Responsible parents suddenly realize it is probably the phone number of the house where Abby is hanging out with friends.
  • 8:44 p.m. - Rob apologizes to mean CNL who requires him to practically crawl over her to get out of his seat, leave the theater, and check his phone message.
  • 8:56 p.m. - Kim wonders where Rob is. Should she go look for him and endure the wrath of CNL? She stays to listen to a couple more songs.
  • 9:01 p.m. - Rob still has not returned to his seat.
  • 9:03 p.m. - Kim decides Abby must have been involved in a tragic playdate accident and Rob is in a state of shock and unable to return to his seat. She braces herself for the evil eye of CNL while apologizing profusely for needing to get up and out.
  • 9:04 p.m. - CNL actually appears to be deliberating whether to let Kim pass. Again, husband/concert neighbor man (CNM) in aisle seat refuses to step into the aisle to let Kim by. Kim feels CNM's junk in her trunk. Kim considers beating the snot out of CNL and CNM.
  • 9:05 p.m.- Kim finds Rob clearly conscious and standing in the back of the theater where he was hiding out from watching the concert to avoid irritating CNM and CNL.
At this point we were prepared to give up our excellent and ridiculously pricey seats to enjoy the remainder of the concert from the back of the theater where we wouldn't bother anyone. But then we hadn't accounted for the league of power-drunken ushers.
  • 9:08 p.m. - Usher 1 tells us we must return to our seats. Kim mumbles something about him needing to tell that to our psychotic concert neighbors.We make our way toward our row but are in no mood to proceed past the evil gatekeepers. We stand in aisle, pretending to dance so we look like we wanted to be there instead of seeming afraid of the angry bibliophiles.
  • 9:09 p.m. - Usher 2 frantically tells us we must sit down. Kim points to dancing lady in aisle closer to the stage and suggests if she can be there, we can too.
  • 9:12 p.m. - Usher 2 returns, angrily telling us we must sit down. Feeling rebellious, Kim and Rob ignore him. Now irate, Usher 2 decides to punish the row in front of us by shining a flashlight on them, looking for the illegal smart phone picture taker.
  • 9:18 p.m. - Usher 2 has had enough. He insists we return to our seats immediately. Not wanting to be tossed from the theater, Kim pushes past CNL and CNM, stepping on their fat feet as hard as she can. Rob suggests to Usher 2 that he was causing much more of a distraction with his directives than we were causing by standing there. This makes no difference to Usher 2.
  • 9:20 p.m. - New ushers come by with what appears to be security. They remove smart phone picture taker lady and her date from their seats.
  • 9:50 p.m. - Kim and Rob leave theater and Kim vows to expose power-hungry Merriam Theater ushers on Twitter and Facebook. 
Oh, in case you're wondering:
  1. Abby had called to say she was sleeping at a different friend's house.
  2. Paul Simon is short.
  3. Paul Simon is old.
  4. Paul Simon still rocks.
  5. Paul Simon's band was fantastic.
  6. Kim did not follow CNL and CNM to their cars to steal their reading material and deliver an ass-whooping (though she desperately wanted to).
  7. At home we found Ian was feeling well enough to still be up playing video games.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Time to Self-Censor or Keep Being Me?

    My newly teenage son, Ian, recently joined Facebook after claiming he never would because "it's stupid." I didn't think twice about giving him permission to join the world's 250 million Facebook users because 1) he's  a good kid and 2) he was willing to friend me and his dad, and our close friends, and the youth minister at church.

    Ian generally makes good decisions (as long as there's no kitchen stove involved), so his behavior on Facebook doesn't worry me. What concerns me is my behavior. In my mind I've been going back over my status updates, trying to recall if they were appropriate for him to see. For the most part, my updates are about food and trying to convince or guilt people into taking me to lunch (which never happens, by the way). But occasionally I might push the boundaries of what I would be comfortable with my child reading. The same is undoubtedly true of my blog for which he will now see direct links to new posts.

    All this has me thinking of how I've shielded Ian and Abby to this point in their young lives. And what I've realized is that I really haven't. I know parents who turn off the news when their kids are around to keep them from being worried or upset. I know some who never argue in front of the children, creating the illusion that marriages are always easy and carefree. Some won't be honest with their kids when mom or dad is angry, sad, anxious, or frustrated. Others tiptoe around the tough topics like body changes, feelings for the opposite sex, drinking, and drugs.

    While I don't think I've ever shared anything when the kids were too young to handle the subject (though that is certainly open for debate), I've definitely been open with Ian and Abby to such a degree that there's little they haven't heard. They've listened to the news since they were little and asked questions and shared their concerns in response. They've heard mom and dad argue once in a great while, and while it upsets Ian (nothing phases Abby), he's also been reassured that disagreements are a normal part of relationships and life and they don't mean divorce is imminent.

    Given my history of depression, I've been honest with my children about the source of my tears or sadness. I thinks it helps Ian to know I can relate when he "feels sad for no reason." And when they're driving me insane, I let them know exactly why I'm liable to snap at any moment if their behavior doesn't change immediately. As for the tough stuff, I especially enjoy being blunt and making them squirm. Recently Ian's eyes were very red after a night of little sleep. I told him they were red and asked if he was using drugs. Naturally he was mortified and actually burst into tears at the idea of me thinking such a thing. I laughed and told him it was my job to stay on top of this stuff. And regarding boys and girls and birds and bees, well I'm totally comfortable "going there" as well. Hey someone's got to do it (hint, hint, Rob).

    So why my concern with my Facebook updates or my blog? Because in addition to my honesty and candor, one thing I feel is of utmost importance is that I always try to set a good example for my children. I strive to:
    • Ttreat others with respect, consideration, and kindness
    • Live out my faith
    • Demonstrate the value of education (and a major love of reading!)
    • Commit to being physically fit
    • Value the gift of friendship
    • Honor my parents (while still acknowledging that my dad's driving stinks)
    • Help others, volunteer, be a good community citizen
    • Live life with a good attitude
    Do I fail miserably at some or all of these at one time or another? Absolutely. And quite often I fail spectacularly on Facebook and in my blog when I usually go for the laugh at the expense of being kind, respectful, positive, healthy, intelligent, or helpful. While my kids certainly know my sense of humor by now, I do wonder if I need to edit/monitor/watch my words now. Decisions, decisions, decisions...

    Please share your opinion on this topic. Do I self-censor or keep being me?