On Parenting Today

Parenting today seems to be constantly getting a bad rap. It seems like every day I am inundated with another article telling us exactly what we are doing wrong. All these articles seem to be shared by teachers and well meaning grandparents who somehow don't see the plank coming out of their own eye (of course that is another subject for probably not another day). Parents are made to sound like all we do these days is shove lollipops in our kids mouths while showering them with every toy toysrus offers, as they stare mindlessly at the tv/ipad all day. Yep, that's pretty much how myself and everyone I know are raising kids.

First, I want to address something that always seems to get under my skin. Do the grandparents of today not remember throwing gameboys and gamegears at us in the car? I remember playing my gameboy until the batteries inevitably died. I even had a light that strapped on to the screen to light it up at night. Or, on long trips, my parents would hook up a tv in the car for us to watch movies on while we drove. And I came from a family that was pretty strict about tv while I was growing up. But our generation never stared at screens, right? I'm not saying tv and ipads should be used all day long, but moderation people.

Around me, I see a lot of moms concerned about what their kids eat, what they put on their kids skin. I see moms caring about safety, while grandmas balk "how did our kids ever survive?!" That one ALWAYS gets to me. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know regulations and laws are passed because of those that didn't survive, not those that are fine. I see moms taking their kids on adventures and playing with their kids in the backyard. When was the last time you were at the library? The kids section is always busy.

Sure, kids today may not get to play out in the road as much. But people drive horribly fast through my neighborhood. Plus, we all fear cps being called on us for any sort of reason. It happens, trust me. One of my friend's had the cops called on her for her kid crying for too long. When she explained she was showering and her two year old was throwing a fit over her showering, the cops were like peace out. But still, calling the cops?! And that's not the only person I know who has pointlessly had cps called on them.

Parenting is hard. I am sure it was hard when I was a kid, just as I am sure it was hard when my parents were kids. Each generation of parenting has its own set of challenges. Maybe we should all take a deep breath and instead of constantly attacking "parents these days" maybe offer a helping hand. You know, use some of that advice you want to dish out on your own grandchildren. Or even just tell a parent they are doing a good job from time to time. Positivity goes a long way.

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Camping in Monterey Bay

I read an article the other day that talked about how most people find looking at friends vacation photos annoying and they wished people wouldn't share them on social media. That made me a bit sad. I love looking at my friends vacation photos. It's not like I go to their houses after their trips and they bust out the slide projector and give me a presentation of their trip. So if they didn't post them on social media, how would I be able to enjoy the trip with them? Then again, I love and value travel, so maybe that is why I like it so much. Who knows. Moving on...moving on to sharing my vacation photos with you ;)

We spent Friday through Monday camping in Monterey Bay at a KOA. The campground itself is kind of a mecca for children. Our campsite backed right up to the playground, which was perfect for the kids to go out and play whenever. There seemed to be a large number of girls around Isla's age at the campground, so it especially worked out well for her. 

On Saturday we went to an annual street fair in Santa Cruz that ended up being a bit of a let down and sort of lame. But we walked to a good coffee shop after, so win there. Then we took the kids to the boardwalk. It was crazy busy, but the kids had a good time. I took Isla on the ferris wheel. The views were spectacular, but I have to admit, when we were stopped at the very top and it was vibrating a bit, it made me sort of anxious. But the moving part, that was fun. Callum got to have ice cream two different times because the poor kid was confined to his stroller while we took turns taking the kids on rides. 

On Sunday we packed up and headed to the beach. It was fun. But going to the beach with a toddler is no easy feat. Callum kept running straight for the water and really didn't want to do anything else. He would play in the sand for a quick minute before beelining it straight for the water again. After he was good and tired out, I changed him, buckled him in his stroller and fed him snacks until we were ready to go. That made things a bit more peaceful! Connor and Isla were really into playing in the sand, which was fun. 

After the beach we headed back to the campground for some downtime, then made smores. Both Connor and Isla liked roasting the marshmallows, but only Isla would try (and said she liked) the smore. It reminds me of the first time we gave the kids smores. I was so excited and they hated the sticky mess that were the smores. This year, we gave one to Callum too. You can see the cute picture below where he is holding it above his head...just before he threw it on the ground. He had no interest in actually eating it. Oh well. 

Camping is always a bit of fun and stress all mixed together. The one thing I was bummed about, is I totally forgot to bring a book. I was disappointed because sitting by the trailer, with the playground in view, with a good book in my hand would have been perfect. Next time though, right?

^^ Connor and I on the front of a roller coaster. I was all annoyed because people kept cutting in line. ..that makes me sound so old! But then it worked out that we got to be in the front of the roller coaster. So I guess the line cutting was good?

^^ Digging a hole. He actually told me that I would have to help him pull out the buried treasure when he found it. Alas, it was never found. 

^^ My kids always love being buried in the sand and busting out. 

^^ Confined to the stroller...but when you get to eat all sorts of goodness, it's not so bad!

^^ I seem to be the only person in my family who enjoys a good crispy marshmallow that's been caught on fire. To each their own.

^^ It looks like he is playing keep away, but he is just gearing up to throw that thing!

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14 Years

^^ This picture, not 14 years ago...closer to 14 days, but actually a few less ;)

We watched part of our wedding video the other night. I was struck by just how young we were. And the cheesy grins on our faces totally made me smile. I also may or may not have gotten a laugh out of how much wedding styles have changed. That day not so long ago, yet somehow also so long ago, I am reminded how I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I thought I was getting a buddy, a best friend. And I was, but also, so much more. We've built a life together. And building that life requires a trust I've never known before. It requires sacrifice of self and dreams. But it also brings unimaginable joy, comfort and peace.

Ian, you have embraced my hippy endeavors, heck I even got you to try powdered toothpaste!, and my obsession with the crate and barrel warehouse. I give the thumbs up to the car restorations and coffee roasting. You keep me grounded and I make you a little more flighty. We sure keep life interesting, don't we? I wouldn't want it any other way and I wouldn't want to share life with anyone else. Thank you for the past 14 years. I look forward to the many, many more, living out both life's joys and challenges with you by my side.

And just for fun, one of my favorite anniversary memories is still eating our wedding cake after 10 years

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Known by our love

What I'm about to talk about is something very close to my heart. And like all closely held beliefs, it is one filled with thought and emotion. It is something I have thought long and hard about over the years.

Let me start with a little background about me and where my beliefs came from...after all, all of us are products (or reactions) of our environment. I was born into a pastor's family and raised in the church. I would consider my childhood a great one, filled with many life defining memories. As a teenager, my dad's job within his denomination changed and he became "a pastor to the pastors". Then, after college, I went to work for the same denomination as my dad. By my mid 20's, I found myself second guessing everything my childhood taught me about the church, about christians. I had been exposed to so many double lives. And the double standards so many had about drove me crazy. I felt about done with the church, but not done with Jesus. It was a very strange place to find myself  for a girl that was literally raised within the walls of the church. 

I was burnt out on church when we moved to Scotland. I actually consider our time at our church in Aberdeen one of great healing for me. From the first time we set foot in that church, everyone was genuinely welcoming, nice and incorporating. And that's how they were with every single person. That time really helped remind me what it means to be like Jesus. That we should incorporate others and not separate. That we should open our homes and churches, not create barriers. 

Unfortunately, my experience of inclusion hasn't been one many in mainstream American christianity have gone through. Mainstream christianity today in America is defined by what we don't believe in, or don't agree with. It's defined by exclusion. It's defined by hate. It's defined by us persecuting others. Isn't that ironic? The church has become known for the very things is should be against? I get that every church isn't out doing crazy things like the Westboro Baptist Church, but we do love to stand against certain causes/sins/walks of life much more angrily and hostile than we do towards others. 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  
John 13:35

We as a church don't even have the loving one another part down. We love watching an overly inflated preacher fail. Gossip and backstabbing are just normal parts of the church. Instead of helping everyone, many churches now only help those they deem worthy. Jesus must look at us and wonder where we got so far off track. 

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. 
Galatians 5:22-23

We, as followers of Christ, should be oozing the fruit of the spirit. Now, do we always get it right? Certainly not. But this is what we should be striving toward instead of taking mantras like "love the sinner, hate the sin" and making them part of our core values as a church. Which, how does one love and hate the same thing anyway? I even thought of it in the context of us not being able to love ourselves when we hate our belly/thighs/hair/nose/etc. How then would we ever be able to love another person yet HATE something they are doing? Hate is such a strong word. 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary had a couple definitions of hate that are quite eye opening. "Intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or a sense of injury." Or there's this one, "extreme dislike or disgust." Neither of those definitions go hand in hand with love, do they? And when did Christ call us to do something other than love others? I'm finding it hard to find where we are told to stand in hate toward people's sins...but not our own, of course, because the church is great at deciding who we will and won't forgive or accept in with open arms. 

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck our of your brother's eye. 
Matthew 7:5

I'm not claiming I get it right all the time, not even close. I certainly mess up. I am a sinner, saved by grace. But I do try to come in love. I try to put myself in the other person's shoes. I try to stand up for injustice. I remind myself that Jesus loves to give people second chances. And third. And fourth. And fifth. My beliefs are never a reason to cut someone out of my life. They aren't a reason to turn my back on someone. In fact, my beliefs should have just the opposite effect on me. 

I get that I am over simplifying a hugely complicated issue. Anything with humans and feelings and emotions involved is complicated. But I do know love wins every time. And I also know that my belief in Jesus Christ and my decision to walk in his image should never, never, never be a reason for division between me and someone else. 

Please know that I am aware there are legitimate reasons that we have to sever relationships with people. I get that. We should never allow physical abuse and emotional abuse to go on. Please don't think I am saying that. What I am saying is that as Christians, we should not allow our beliefs to get in the way of loving and accepting another person just because their beliefs are different than ours. 

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Father's Day

Thankfully no one was crazy sick on father's day, like mother's day, so the show went on as planned. On Saturday evening, my parents and brother came over for a bbq and swim time to hang out and celebrate my dad. On Sunday morning, we went to church, then went home and chilled for a few hours...put Callum down for a nap, did stuff around the house, etc. Then we went and took the annual father's day pictures before heading out to Ian's parents house for a bbq with his parents and brother's family.

Annual photos on various holidays are kind of becoming my favorite. They are an easy and fun way to watch everyone grow and change. Plus, I love watching their personalities shine through in the group shots. Cough, cough, hello Isla! I will definitely be taking these pictures and every other cheesy one out there until the kids flat our refuse to get in the shot...but then I'll give it time and restart the tradition, because we all know the stuff we find lame and corny as teenagers we totally love as parents ourselves!

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Cabazon Dinosaurs

I grew up in Arizona, but both my parents were from southern California. We made countless trips over to see my relatives and I remember always passing the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs and the weird ufo plam trees actually...which the palm trees are gone now. Anyway. I am sure we stopped at least once in my childhood, but I don't really remember. Given that these dinosaurs were such an iconic part of my childhood and that I am a sucker for roadside attractions, I knew we had to stop. I actually meant to stop with the kids on the way to Arizona, but somehow totally missed the dinosaurs, so we stopped on our way back instead. 

As I said, I am a sucker for roadside attractions. And my kids are suckers for gift shops, so we make a great combination. We hit up the gift shop first, which there ended up being a bigger one inside the museum, but you live and learn, as the kids had already each gotten something at the first gift shop so they were out of luck. After the gift shop, we went into the museum. Though there was a decent crowd at the dinosaurs, we were literally the only people that paid to get in the museum. And to be honest, the museum was way better than I expected. 

In the museum were a bunch of dinosaurs that you walked around and different facts about the various dinosaurs. There was also a huge sand pit, along with the main attraction of climbing to the top of the trex. Now the museum said to head inside first, which we didn't do, as I thought it was just a gift shop and we had already gone in the other one. We ended up going in on our way out. It had a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs to look at that were super cool. It also had some photo opportunities and a bouncing dino you could ride. 

^^ When we got to the top, Connor and Isla actually got freaked out. It was super windy up there. Callum loved it though. And later I got Connor to go back up with me and he enjoyed it a lot more the second time. 

^^ Isla checking out a few of the animatronic dinosaurs

I really enjoyed myself at the dinosaurs. Had I realized how nice the paid part was, I probably would have allotted us more time there. I also would have brought a snack or meal along, as there were a bunch of picnic tables inside and plenty of space for the kids to roam and play. Sometimes I wonder who loves some of this stuff more, me or the kids! 

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