Monday, November 14, 2016

Not a Housewife

I've struggled with how to explain my work situation.  I am asked my occupation constantly, mostly by medical people, but also for financial reasons.  I'm in this weird sort-of disabled category where I don't feel like I can fairly refer to myself as disabled, but I'm not exactly abled either.  I used to say that I was unemployed or that I don't work, but I felt like that didn't give a good picture of what's really going on.  So I've started saying that I am unable to work or that I am unemployed due to disability.  And something weird has been happening that I find hilarious and offensive all at the same time.

They write down "housewife."  

The first time it happened I was a bit shocked.  I corrected the form before signing it, and I told Greg about it and we had a good laugh.  Because if I am a housewife, I am the worst one in the history of the profession.  I consider myself a great success if I buy groceries, cook dinner, and do a load of laundry ALL IN THE SAME WEEK.

Being a housewife is an actual thing.  It has responsibilities.  It's hard work.  And there is no way on earth that I would choose that over having a job.  Because I hate it, and I'm terrible at it, and I find it unbelievably soul-draining and have I mentioned I'm awful at it?

And I'm not one.  I'm not a housewife for the same reason that I'm not an accountant.  Because I can't cook and clean and run all of the errands and make my home lovely anymore than I can sit at a computer doing accounting.

And I'm offended because I don't think they would do this if I was a man.  I don't think they would put down "househusband" if that's even an option on their list.  They would probably choose none, or unemployed, or disabled, or whatever the actual correct option is.  But because I'm a woman, even when I say that I am unemployed due to disability, that somehow equates to being a housewife.  Which is really offensive to actual housewives who are being compared to me.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Something Awesome (Uterus Edition)



My sister made this.  She got sick of me procrastinating on the facebook announcement.
You may have heard that Greg and I are having a baby.  In February (hopefully) or possibly March (in which case I may be a tad bit grumpy).  And we joke about it and we're excited about, but truthfully I can't express what my heart has been through in getting to this point.  Because, you see, we waited a long time for this baby.  And that's why I still have a hard time believing that this is actually happening.  But the evidence is pretty clear.  And everything looks great.  And now I have to figure out what to do with a newborn.  I hear they poop a lot.

Here are some of the highlights so far.  Because we already hit our deductible back in June (thanks to my neck) and because I begged REALLY HARD, I got a lot of early ultrasounds.  I understood fetal development as well as most people, and yet I was constantly amazed at new things that I learned and saw.  Maybe you will be too.  It's super incredible, and given the complexities of dna, it's amazing that any of us are born with the correct number of limbs.


 I was so proud of this little blob.  I was convinced that there would be nothing in there, that this was all some terrible joke my body was playing on me.  (I took a total of seven pregnancy tests and had two blood tests, but was still not convinced.)  We immediately saw the blob, with the whole middle section blinking as one big heartbeat.  This was at six weeks, and that little blob was about the size of a grain of rice, yet it had a heartbeat.  So crazy.

At this point, I was terrified of something going wrong.  I spent a lot of my days desperately praying for this tiny baby to be ok.  And then thanking God that it existed at all.  And then back to panicking.  Greg only understood a little bit.  He's one of those irritatingly logical people who simply chooses not to worry until there's something to worry about it.  Wouldn't that be nice?

I also started experiencing excessive feelings.  I cried at the grocery store, and at Target, and at home on my bed for hours on end over anything at all.  I'm normally the type of person who cries about once every six months.  Books and movies don't make me cry.  Sad puppies don't make me cry.  So this has been a bit of an adjustment, although half the time Greg thinks it's hilarious.  I was also a bit, um, ragey at times.  So if at some point in the past four months you noticed the rageyness...sorry about that.

This was at eight weeks, and the baby was about 1/2 inch long.  We got to hear the heartbeat this time, and we could see its little arm flippers.  I started to trust that it was safe and switched to a weekly rather than daily panic schedule.

This is also when I had what I called morning sickness.  For about two weeks, for a couple hours a day, I felt ever-so-slightly queasy.  And then occasionally, for about 30 seconds, I felt like I was about to throw up.  But I never did.  And it went away around nine weeks.  I know that all of the women who had real morning sickness hate me a little bit right now, but this saved me.  Because vomiting with a neck injury is a special sort of hell.  I had the stomach flu a couple years ago and threw up a total of three or four times but it hurt my neck so much that I basically spent a week wishing a meteor would crush me and end my suffering.  So if there's one pregnancy symptom I could skip, I am VERY glad it was this.

This one was at eleven weeks.  We could hear the heartbeat and see the arms and legs - almost proportional now!  And then it stretched out - arms above its head and both legs stretched as far as they could.  And then we saw one leg kick a couple times.

It blows my mind that this little creature that didn't even exist three months ago, that is only two inches long, can move and kick and put its thumb in its mouth.  How is that even possible?  How can a baby with so far to go already appear so very human?

And I feel the need to explain, just in case, that that's a leg.  I know it looks like my baby has a gigantic penis.  As far as we know, it won't actually be breaking any world records.

So now I'm sixteen weeks.  And in about a month we'll get to find out the sex.  And I can hardly believe that this is all happening.  I'm anxiously waiting to be able to feel it moving, and hoping it happens soon.  And guys, this baby is never going to have a name.  We're going to be the people arguing over names in the hospital so that we can fill out the birth certificate.  We're going to end up calling it First, or Noname, or Placeholder.  But we're going to love little Placeholder so very much that it won't matter, right?




Friday, September 2, 2016

August book reviews and other excuses

So...this is where I would review the books I read in August, except I didn't read any.  The shame!  Basically, my neck has been extra crappy this month and it's really hard to get comfortable enough to read anything.  Also I tend to fall asleep a lot, due to a certain unnamed abdominal parasite.  So I read a few chapters of the book I've been working on since mid-July and I read the relevant chapter of the pregnancy book I like and that's it.  I hate not reading because it's like losing a piece of my personality, so I am making every effort to read a few good books in September.  I will hopefully finish Seeing and read The Fall so that Baylee and I can watch season 2 of the show.  I have too many good books waiting - must read all the books!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

June & July Book Reviews

Ah - so behind on book reviews!  Combining June and July so that I can be caught up!


Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is the story of a woman kidnapped as a college student and held prisoner in a shed.  She gets pregnant and has a child.  The book begins on his fifth birthday and is told from his perspective.  The readers see the ways that the mother tried to protect him from her captor, the ways that she lied to him to make their situation easier to bear, and her desperation as he becomes more curious and harder to manage in their tiny space.

Although told by the child, who doesn't understand these things, we find out how she's been treated all this time, how she has tried over and over to escape and been unable to, and how she hides the constant abuse from her young son.

This book is well thought-out.  Donoghue manages to convey a multitude of information through the voice of a young child who doesn't really understand it.  She shows us his shortcomings as a result of being raised in a small room with no knowledge of the outside world.  We see his mother who, with no resources at her disposal, did her very best to care for her child and make sure that he would one day have a normal life.



Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

I read this book a while ago - as a teenager, probably.  It's the story of a young girl with an abusive father who decides to find a family for herself and all of the terrible situations she has to deal with along the way.  What I didn't remember is that the book is set in the 1960's and also deals with race issues and Ellen's own prejudice learned from her community that she slowly overcomes throughout the story.

It's a decent book but not especially interesting.  I don't find it very realistic, although the character of Ellen is detailed and fun to read.








The Strain by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

This book is the first in a trilogy, and also a tv series directed by Guillermo del Toro.  The book is written so visually that I actually thought I'd seen it before in a movie, but I think that's just because del Toro writes that way as a screenwriter.

This is the least cheesy vampire story I've ever found.  It describes the vampirism as a virus carried by tiny worms that pass from one host to another through the blood.  The infection begins at the airport, brought from Europe by a very old and powerful vampire, and is rapidly spread throughout New York City.

The main characters are a man from the CDC trying to contain the infection, a rat catcher who finds evidence of the vampires underground and helps to find their nest, and an old man who has hunted vampires after the Holocaust and recognizes the signs of them.

The book is large but so fast-paced.  I read it in just a few days and I'm now waiting for the second one to show up.




The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This seems to be the month of books that are also movies that I haven't seen.  This book tells the story of a young girl and her African-American nanny who run away together for their own safety.  They find a place to stay with three women who teach them about bees and about life.  It's not as sappy as it sounds.

The story takes place in the 1960's and deals with the treatment of African Americans (surprise, it was crappy) the main character's treatment by her father (also crappy) and her journey to find out more about her dead mother.

I really loved this book, although I can't pinpoint the reason.  It's very rich with the culture of the small family it focuses on.  The characters are not stereotypes, they are individuals.  And not everything has an easy or happy solution; there are problems that can never be solved and just have to be survived.  The three women teach the girl how to survive those things and how to forgive herself for the things she can never change.



A Member of the Family by Cesar Millan

This book had a lot of helpful information, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting.  Cesar describes how to find a rescue dog that's compatible or how to find a puppy and how to bring that dog into the family.  He talks about common problems, the most likely culprit being a high energy dog in a low energy household.  And he deals with the entire lifespan of the dog, talks about his rehabilitation center, and how dogs interact with families.  I found is less helpful as a resource than I thought I would, as a large portion was about his personal story and that of his family.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Paranoid Ramblings about Pokémon

This post is a response to the article "The truth about Pokemon" by Ryan Schwanbeck.  The blue indented portions are quotations from the article (I've included almost every word).  The rest is my response.  He lists several links, which I did not copy.  You can check his original article if you're interested in them.

Disclaimers:
  • I competed in debate in college and sometimes I have nowhere for that debating energy to go and if I don't do something with it, it hurts people.
  • I am a Christian.  I am not criticizing Ryan's Christian beliefs, or his desire to protect the children in his church, I AM criticizing the way he's going about it.
  • I don't play Pokemon Go, but my husband does.  We've been going on long walks every evening to catch Pokemon, and I've watched him playing the game.  I'm not interested in playing it, but it makes me really angry when people criticize things they don't really understand, and it makes me even angrier when Christians pretend they're doing it "for Jesus."
  • I don't have children, but I used to be one.  I remember how angry it made me when adults would criticize something I cared about without really understanding it.  It made me lose all respect for them.



Dear Friends,I feel urged to warn you about Pokemon. The Bible says to “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6Pokemon has started making quite the stir lately with its newly released app Pokemon Go. Many people are wondering how to approach this topic. When issues like this arise it is our due diligence as leaders to research, pray, search God’s Word and seek God for direction so we can protect those we are leading and our kids. A general rule of thumb is that if something is not bringing me closer to Jesus then I may not need it in my life and “when you are in doubt, throw it out.”
How about, "when in doubt, find out more" or "when in doubt, don't pass judgement on things you don't understand"?  Do you actually have the expectation that your children not be involved in anything that doesn't bring them closer to Jesus?  So your kids aren't allowed to ride scooters, or watch cartoons, or play sports?  The question isn't whether anyone needs Pokemon in their life, but whether it's acceptable for children (and adults) who want to play the game to do so, or whether they should be afraid for their souls.
Please watch this unbiased video from the Miami Police Department to understand what the game is and what the obvious dangers are.
The most practical case that Pokemon-go can be a very dangerous game for kids is the fact that the Pokemon characters can be in someone’s house, a strangers backyard, a dangerous neighborhood, in or around water, or in the street. This can lead children into dangerous places without even thinking or tempt them to trespass….and plenty are! 
There are hot spots for Pokemon to gather and these spots never change. This means that people targeting children for abuse or kidnap can hang around these hot spots as children flock in.
There are day time Pokemon and night time Pokemon. More points are awarded for the night Pokemon. This suggests to children to be out during the night hours.
I'm going to call this the "responsible parenting" response.  Just like you teach a small child not to run into the street after a loose ball, you have to teach your kids not to trespass on private property, enter the homes of strangers, go into water without permission, leave your neighborhood, or go outside at night by themselves.  The reason Pokemon Go is dangerous is because it encourages kids to go outside and explore.  They're way more likely to be hurt while out in the neighborhood than sitting in your basement playing video games, but does that mean we should discourage it?  Teach your kids to use common sense, be aware of their surroundings, ask permission, and trust their instincts.  Better yet, GO OUTSIDE WITH YOUR KIDS.  You get to keep an eye on them, they feel like their parents care about something that interests them, and you might even meet some of your neighbors.

The "hot spots" are areas that people commonly go, like restaurants, churches, and parks.  If the child molesters haven't figured out to target those areas, I don't think Pokemon is going to make a big difference.

There's a misconception that a Pokemon will be inside someone's house, unreachable from the outside, causing kids to enter private property.  Unless you're talking about mansions, that's not how the game works.  You can catch Pokemon from about half a block away, so you can stand on the sidewalk and catch a Pokemon inside the house on either side of the street.  Also, here's an idea:  if there does happen to be a Pokemon inside a stranger's house, go with your kid, knock on the front door, explain the situation, and ask if you can come inside and catch it.  Make friends!

People have died in car accidents while playing.One kid in Dallas stepped on a copper head and was bit while playing.There are so many stories of people getting injured, killed, breaking laws, disturbing people’s homes or business, etc. Would a good or even neutral thing cause so much harm? Is it worth spending our time and attention on something that has so much potential for danger and tendencies to be idolized?
People die in car accidents while texting.  Does that mean texting is evil?  Cars kill tons of people every year, does that mean cars are evil?    Children are hurt by boiling water on a regular basis, is water evil, or just the act of heating it?  The problem is not with the thing itself, it's with the people using it.  We're going to see a lot more "Don't Pokemon and Drive" signs along the interstate, because people are fools with no regard for their own mortality.

Your kids might make some new friends, get some exercise, and have fun.  If you get involved with their lives a little and talk to them about the game, you might have fun too.  You can teach them lessons about how to use their phones responsibly while staying aware of their surroundings, and how to stay away from dangerous people, and how to respect private property.  Furthermore, most of the Pokemon players getting themselves into these terrible situations are adults, not children.

Pokemon means pocket monster.
That's nice.  There's a job-hunting site called monster.com.  Your point is??

Read some of the Pokemon’s attributes and what they can do “scorching, heating, stomping, anti-gravity, ultra-dimensional, taunting, use of poison, use of claws and biting, breaking opponents bones, reading minds, teleportation, inducing headaches, consumes people’s dreams, hypnosis, confusion.” Sound like any activity that we see demons do in the Bible?“Is Pokemon dangerous?  Potentially, yes it is.  It conditions the child who plays the game into accepting occult and evolutionary principles.  Haunter can hypnotize, eat a person’s dreams, and drain their energy.  Abra reads minds.  Kadabra emits negative energy that harms others.  Gastly induces sleep. Gengar laughs at peoples’ fright.  Nidoran uses poison.  The Psychic type of Pokemon are among the strongest in the game.  Charmander, Haunter, Ivysaur, Kadabra, and many more evolve.  The children are taught to use these creatures to do their will by invoking colored energy cards, fights, and commands. Much of it is reminiscent of occult and eastern mysticism.” (https://carm.org/what-is-pokemon)
I'm going to call this the "imagination paranoia" category.  Here's why it's demons that do those scary, supernatural things in the Bible:  because real, physical creatures can't do them.  They're supernatural.  So that creates all of this crossover where people's imaginations and the things that come from them are related to demons and witchcraft.  We saw the same thing with Harry Potter.  Harry Potter is a story about good versus evil, and it's VERY black and white.  Yet some Christians condemned it because there were good witches and they did spells.  Spells, by the way, that weren't real, in a world with mystical creatures like dragons and werewolves, just to make it clear that it's all fantasy.

Does it teach children to believe in evolution?  Sure, in the same way that a caterpillar turns into a butterfly or a child grows into an adult.  Does it teach children witchcraft or demon-worship?  Excuse me while I rescue my eyeballs...they seem to have rolled into the back of my head.

The creator of Pokemon, Satoshi Tajiri, is a professed satanist and made Pokemon for children to interact with demons. Tajiri stated in an interview that the game represents an attack against his Christian parents and stated that the games inspire Satanism.(Revision on 7/21/16: I understand that there are mixed articles on the statements made by the creator. It seems that there are mixed feelings to what was actually said in the interview in regards to Pokemon being anti-Christian. Although the creator may not have deliberately stated that Pokemon is anti-Christian that does not null and void the point that Pokemon is very much like occult practices.  We can see with multiple points and various resources that Pokemon, through many aspects, represents a dark side that is dangerous for children.)
Pokemon characters represent different demons. I highly encourage you to read this article of a former witch doctor that is now a follower of Jesus and how he discovered the resemblance of each Pokemon to that of demons he knew.
The author did add a correction to this statement, which is a half-apology, as you can see.  He should have begged the forgiveness of all of his readers for his shoddy research.  Here's the Snopes article debunking that interview.  It was a work of fiction, meant to be humorous, and is in no way true.  This shows me that the author is so determined to demonize a game that he doesn't really care about the truth.  Rather than writing a balanced, thoughtful article about the potential benefits and dangers of the game, he went the witch-hunt route.

The whole idea that Pokemon is somehow linked to the occult is laughable.  Go find a witch or satanist and ask them what they think of Pokemon, ok?  My guess is that they don't sit around as a coven playing the game together for occult practice.  While you're there, maybe you can convert them to Christianity.  +2 Jesus points!!

As for linking the characters to demons, this is an easy thing to do.  Have you seen those "what vegetable are you?" quizzes on the internet?  It's human nature to categorize things and look for similarities.  That doesn't mean I'm a cucumber.

Some reports link a Pokemon TV episode to child suicide.An episode of Pokemon anime had a unique scene that caused seizures in hundreds of children and accounts of kids vomiting blood. New York Times reported that its techniques of colored lights that flash alternatively cause tension in children that link to seizures.
While tragic, these things are mistakes, not intentional.  It doesn't speak to the intent behind the franchise, but rather the miscalculations of the artists and writers creating the show.  The game placed a bunch of Pokemon inside the Holocaust museum, which is highly inappropriate.  Not evil, just an embarrassing oversight.

A lot of trusted, major news outlets are saying that this game is a bit dark, erie, and dangerous. CNN even says that “It’s very 6th sense.” (Kind of sounds like looking into the spiritual realm.) This article even states that people have used this to lure people in and rob them and one girl found a dead body while playing.
I actually have no idea where this "dark, eerie, and dangerous" thing comes into play.  You catch little creatures, most of them are pretty cute, and you train them and help them grow and then you fight other little creatures.  We've talked to more of our neighbors since this game came out than in the year and a half that we've lived here.  We even had a conversation with some teenage boys in a park, and they're not people we'd normally interact with.

One girl found a dead body.  Have you watched the news?  Joggers find dead bodies practically on a daily basis.  Better stop jogging.

Luring people in and robbing them - every piece of technology in existence can be used to hurt people in some way.  It's not the technology's fault, it's the robber/rapist/murderer's fault.  We should be aware of these things when they happen, and we should always be cautious, but it doesn't mean we can't use Craigslist or respond to an online job posting.

I could go on and on and on with a lot more articles on how this game links to many dark things; however, I think you get the point. In conclusion, I think we can all see the practical dangers as well as the spiritual links to occult practices. I heard one of my pastor friends in children’s ministry say “The enemy is a coward so he targets our children.” We cannot pretend that the enemy does not go after children also. We teach children at our church that “there is no such thing as a junior Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is there to not only protect our children but use them to advance God’s Kingdom as well.
Let's not teach our kids that to be Christian is to be paranoid, suspicious of every bit of the world we live in.  Let's teach them to use their brains to analyze the good and bad in a situation.  Let's teach them to be courageous,  and not fear everything the secular culture has to offer.  We need Christians who aren't so stuck-up and separate from the world that they are no longer relevant.  If you're concerned about a new cultural phenomenon, don't just read a bunch of articles about it, read the book!  Play the game!  Go to the concert!  Experience it for yourself and make up your own mind.  Talk to your children about it.  Don't just assume that they'll be unknowingly converted to satanism if you don't stop them from taking part in something new.

It's good to be skeptical.  But it's not good to add rules to Christianity based on fear.  Christians can't read Harry Potter.  Christians can't play Pokemon.  Christians can't use incense.  These rules are arbitrary, based on misunderstandings, and frankly they make us look silly.  There are far bigger things going on with your children than this game, and if you don't know that, you need to talk to them some more.  Kids are dealing with real issues.  Use this game as an opportunity to connect with them and teach them some important life lessons.  Don't use it to harm your relationship and make yourself look even more out of touch.  Let them have fun.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Orlando

I want to say something.  Before we get past the scarcely-observed mourning period for a tragedy like this and jump straight into the blaming and name-calling.  Before we get so entrenched in our own ideas that we stop listening to everyone around us (or maybe it's already too late).  Before we get sick of hearing about it and just want it to blow over.

What I want to say is this:  let's try listening to each other.  I know that people who have different political opinions are annoying.  I know that the media appeals to people who share its ideals and offends everyone else.  But try to find someone who has an opinion different than yours and try listening to them for just a second.  Try to find a reasonable person who thinks differently than you do.  Someone whose voice doesn't grate on your ears.  Someone who doesn't make wild accusations and insults.  Someone who is calm, and logical, and thoughtful, and careful.  Find someone who doesn't just regurgitate your own opinion back at you.

From what I've heard, a young man legally purchased two assault rifles and killed 50 people with them.  Maybe gun control is a discussion we should be having.  And we have to find the balance between keeping people safe and still respecting their constitutional rights.  And that's not a balance we'll ever find if we fight to the death over our opinion rather than looking at a compromise.

That young man was Muslim.  Not all Muslims believe it's ok to kill people who disagree with them, but we've seen over the past years that a shocking number of people are using Islam to justify murder.  There are organizations created and run by Muslims seeking to draw our attention to this huge problem.  Their families were killed by radical Muslim groups, their countries were destroyed by them, and they want the rest of the world to pay attention.  Check out The Clarion Project if you want to learn more.  It is not racist or Islamophobic to say this, so pay attention to the difference.  There's a lot of racist crap out there.  There's a lot of fear of Islam that's unfounded.  But when groups of Muslims are telling us that we should be worried about this, maybe we should listen.

I've seen a lot of comments about how love is more powerful than hate, we just need to love, more love less hate, etc.  And I agree.  But sometimes love means doing the hard things, and pointing out the problems, and fighting to find solutions.  Love doesn't mean ignoring issues and plastering over bullet wounds with flowers and hope.  Love means not letting the ones you love be less than who they should be.  Love is hard, you guys.  So let's love these victims, and their families, and the rest of our country enough to not be flippant about these issues.  Let's really talk about them.  Let's take the time to wonder whether we could be wrong, whether we're looking at it backwards, whether there's something we're missing.  Let's be loving towards the people who disagree with us and try to understand where they're coming from.  That's real love.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

May Book Review

I read Dracula by Bram Stoker, and I LOVED it.

My book is not this pretty.

The first chapter gave me goosebumps.  It's so creepy and fast-paced that I was completely hooked.  The book is pretty long (almost 500 pages) and more difficult to read than most of the books published today, but it's really worth it.  I read Frankenstein a few years ago and found it pretty dull.  Some books are classics because they're old, not because they're good.  This isn't one of those.

The entire story is written through journal entries, letters, telegrams, and newspaper articles.  Stoker uses the voices of three main characters and a few smaller ones throughout, and develops their relationships along with the plot.

This book is surprisingly funny.  There are jokes between the characters, but more often private jokes between the author and the readers.  And to be honest, I found the historically-accurate sexism pretty hilarious.  At one point all of the men decide not to share the information about Dracula with one of the women because she seems to be very pale and weak at the time.  Meanwhile, she's being sucked dry by Dracula every night and nearly dies because they blamed the situation on her femininity instead of realizing what was really happening.

They also made a big deal out of taking Winchesters with them to hunt Dracula and that made me especially happy.  It's like Bram Stoker made an inside joke that didn't even exist yet.

I enjoyed the return to vampires as scary, evil, demonic creatures.  I don't really appreciate the fuzzy, sparkly, friendly vampires in current literature.  The vampires were basically demons that took over people's bodies when they died.  So Dracula wasn't himself, he has been killed by a vampire and become one of them.  In killing the vampires, their real, human souls were put to rest.  The killing of the vampires was appropriately gruesome, unlike in Buffy, where a slight jab with a stick turns them into a pile of dust.

This book also introduced Van Helsing.  I had no idea that the character got his start in this book.  He was frustrating to read because Stoker takes his accents seriously, but he was a sympathetic, funny character.

And that's it - I only read this one book in May.