Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Heat Is On.

This one time, we drove three and a half hours to the Texas Hill Country for the weekend.
Arent' we so cute and excited?!
We had reservations for 2 nights at this family campground with a pool and a bunch of activities for the kids. We were so excited! We'd heard about the water slides at the campground and we wanted to go "float the river". (That's "go tubing" for the non-Texans.)

Reading material: check.

Brit Nicole Pandora station: check.
The best 3 lbs I carry: check.
We set up the pop-up camper in 102º (feels like 104º) of pure Central Texas heat. My Spouse, like a solid Dad, did most of the work and drank the least amount of water. Dude got so ill from heat exhaustion.

No trees, Kids. No shade.
No joke. Actual heat exhaustion: extreme thirst, fatigue, confusion, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat...the whole thing. The puppers, too! After he rested a while and drank a little water, the girls and I went to get him some Gatorade. He was so loopy he didn't even know where we were. Blessed assurance.
In case you missed it: I'm the good Spouse who leaves my husband passed out in a hot camper to go ride in the cool car.

We got a treat, too. :) Yah, Dad! We are on our way! Hurrying to save you!

 We got back to learn that the dog was feeling the ill effects of the heat, too. About the time that Spouse woke up, the pup threw up on him. Awesome. He drank the Gatorade and got to feeling a little better. We were all getting excited to float the river, but the AC was not cooling the camper very well. It was blowing cool and all, but this...

We cackled at the ridiculousness of the situation. There were spots in the camper that, if you sat real still, you could feel the cool air blowing. It was hilarious.

Before you ask, "Why didn't you go get in the pool or go to the river, Dummies?" A couple of reasons: the pool was about a third of the size it should have been for the number of sites at this campground. Packed full of people. Packed. Eww. The river, too. My pictures weren't good enough to post, but the river was so full of tubes and people, they were not even moving! I'm not kidding. It was a human dam. In addition, parts of the Guadalupe River do not allow cans on the river, but the section where we were allowed cans. Our drive-bys did not reveal a very family-friendly situation. Then, there was the puppers. It was not cool enough to leave him in the camper.

There was this one time, we drove three and a half hours to the hill country for the weekend. We stayed  5 whole hours and then loaded every.thing.back.up. and went home.

Cause here's why: If you can't take the heat, get out of Central Texas in a pop-up camper with an AC that can not compete with a country state that has its own sun.

How's your weekend?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Solstice & the Swimsuit

"Summer afternoon--summer afternoon; to me those have always been 
two of the most beautiful words in the English language." --Henry James.

Yes, Mr. James. Just yes. 
{Good Summer.}
{Photo credit: My Spouse.}

Today is the first official day of Summer. The Summer Solstice. Listen. We have been on unofficial summer mode for a good 5 weeks. Judge not. We love us some summer time over here.
<Singing Kenny Chesney's "Sweet Summertime">

Summer means water: beach, pool, lake, a river, water park, water hose, watermelon- whatever. It gets hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch in a good bit of this country, so it's a good idea to have a means of cooling off if you are going to be outside for 42 seconds.
<Singing Brad Paisley's "Water">

If you are a summer-loving person, this undoubtedly also means Swimsuit Season. 
Eek! Swimsuit Season.
Two words that cause a lot of women and dads and preachers to develop dyspepsia. 

Recently, the former White Power Ranger, Jessica Rey, gave a talk on the "Evolution of the Bikini". She is now an entrepreneur and modest swimsuit designer asking the question, "Who Says It Has To Be Itsy Bitsy?" This video has been sent to me several times this week, likely because I have mentioned on occasion how we are at war in the fight for purity for our kids and ourselves. We are. 

She is articulate and adorbies and God-honoring and worth your time.
Spot on.

Then, I've got this little article about embracing bikini season and our imperfect bodies floating around in my head, too. So, I'm struggling. And, this makes sense cause I'm a girl. A girl who is also at war with her thighs.

Do you see my plight here? Fighting thigh spread and purity and a man's prefrontal cortex!? On the same poolside?! {Thigh spread: Sit down, thighs spread. Stand up, they don't.}

Dang. So I figured I'd just give you a few of my personal momisms and girlisms and my best internal hypocrisies about the dreadful/beloved swimsuits. This little list might just give you whiplash, so brace yourself. I doubt I'll take the time to organize it, or it would never get published.
  • You need to know: I'm so schizophrenic about this. My views have changed over the years and are directly related, I'm sure, to my own insecurities. Meaning, I've absolutely spoken out against the appropriateness of the bikini when really I was just bitter that my body would have been inappropriate in a bikini. Legalism and insecurity usually hold hands.
  • Power Ranger Jessica is on point with that science of the prefrontal cortex. We have to know this. This isn't about men being creepers or pervs or anything other than XY chromosomes with good vision.
  • If I believe that, and I believe that as a Christian and a wife and a friend, I have a responsibility in how I treat another person's brain function, this would require action on my part. (Comma much?)
  • This isn't solely about a bikini to me. This is about the heart. What is the intention with the bikini? What is the intention with the skirt, the shorts, the jeans? This changes how we carry ourselves in any given situation. 
  • I have seen with my own eyes a young girl conduct herself quite sensually wearing a very modest, youth minister-approved covered one-piece swimsuit. I have also seen a young lady (and been) in a bikini and conduct herself (myself) with respect. Again, it's a heart issue. I know you have similar stories.
  • Switching gears: I like to get a tan. Period. This is not a secret. Of course, a two-piece bathing suit helps in this situation. That said, even in my most fit seasons, when I have worn a bikini, I have NEVER felt comfortable in it. Never. Could this be because I wouldn't feel comfortable running around in public in my underclothes? Ughhhh!!
  • This is just another situation in which we need to just be intentional. Be intentional. Think about the company you'll be in, the activities you'll be doing. One piece bathing suits at the water parks, Kids. If a group of girls are going to be at the pool tanning and just laying around and all your parts are covered, I don't really have a problem with a bikini. If you are going with a coed group to play volleyball and whatnot, perhaps a tankini or one-piece would be best. Are y'all tracking with me here?
  • I would love to not draw hard lines here, but let me just say there are some of your parts that ALWAYS need to be covered up. Always. For instance: 
    • Breasts. All of them. The whole things. Cleavage and all, bikini or not. 
    • The crack of your rear end. This low biz is deeesgusting. There is a reason you can't see your own rear end. No one else needs to see that junk either. 
    • With all sensitivity and directness, let me include the "spare tire", "back cleavage", striae. Listen. I'm not judging the cellulite or the stretch marks (except my own!). If having babies means stretch marks for you, well, babies rule so Stretch, Skin, Stretch! Just have a little self respect and save the bikini for uber-private situations and rock the tankini otherwise. 
    • Be sensible, People. We don't have perfect bodies, I know, but just do the best you can with what you've got. We all need to be thankful for our bodies and do the best we can with it. 
  • We need to come to happy place with our bodies. Being in a place of satisfaction with our appearance doesn't mean we have to "flaunt it if you got it". At the end of the day, I don't want to be remembered for how good or bad I look in a bathing suit. I want to be remembered for the evidence of Jesus in me. 
I don't really see us all coming to agreement on every little point here, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I'd really love to hear the male perspective.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Straight Talk About The Talk- Part 4

For a few weeks, we've been covering this area of 'The Talk' with our kids and teens. In Part 1, we covered the Littles. Pray early and often. Part 2 was about purity and marriage. This is big. The war against biblical marriage is raging furiously. Engage in this battle and enlist your kids to support marriage. Part 3 took us to learning to set goals for the future and just look ahead.
{{ }}
Talk Media - This is multifaceted and I'm working hard not to be all over the place here. Failing.

Television, movies, music, print ads, internet, etc... they are all a part of that war against purity. I am all for censorship. Do not think that your child doesn't understand the innuendos. This is just ridiculous.  (Remember, the title says "Straight Talk".)

This doesn't necessarily mean censor forever.  At an appropriate age, discuss media messages with your child. Have conversations in light of God's Word, sharing a biblical worldview and your personal values. The point is, don't think they aren't internally processing the images--whether they mention them to you or not, they are processing.

Do not put a TV or computer in your kid's bedroom. This is a no-brainer to me. Please don't tell me that your kid is the one kid in America who would never choose to watch sketch on TV. When your son is channel surfing one day (maybe not today, but one day) he will see some breasts or cleavage and he will. slow. the. clicker. down.
I've recently heard of a family that requires iPods to be used in common areas of the house. I love this. We have allowed them to be used in the girls' bedrooms and they bring them to us at night, but I like this even better. We have discussed keeping iPods limited to downstairs, but haven't pulled the trigger just yet. It's time.

Media includes communications, such as phones and texting.
When I asked high school students for one piece of advice for me to give to parents of younger kids, the Number One response is, "Don't let them get a cell phone!"

No joke. High schoolers are seeing the problems of cell phones in their own lives. Just delay it as long as possible. I know it is convenient for your teen/preteen to have a phone, but parenting isn't always convenient. You had practices after school and went to friend's houses without a cell phone, little Junior can, too.
Also, texting is not required for the phone to work. Don't be afraid to shut it down. Seriously, other parents will applaud your willingness to take a stand, and likely follow suit. Be a trend setter! :)

On the subject of media, we have to talk social media. For starters, can we all agree that allowing your child to lie in order to get a Facebook or whatnot is not helpful to anyone? It's just not.
If you allow your teen to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) you should have an account, too, and your teen should be required to friend you. Also, be aware that teens also have accounts with pseudonyms that parents aren't aware of. Have access to all computers and devices and check them often. It has nothing to do with not trusting them. At the end of the day, God has entrusted us with these precious ones and we have to be willing to fight for them and with them in the battle of purity.

Stay in the know on current trends in social networking and be a part of it. Y'all parents who are saying "Oh, I'm just not that computer savvy" or "I don't do the whole Facebook thing."--I don't know... That seems noble and all, but  I don't think it's wise, unless you are keeping your whole family away from all social media, too. And, that's great, if you are! Rock on. I support you from the other side!
Otherwise, you need follow CNET on Twitter. They post a lot of good reviews about trending apps and whatnot. Also, they are a good consumer resource on all things techy.

Again, it's not about trusting YOUR kids, it's about understanding that our kids are a target! There is a multibillion dollar porn industry that would love nothing more than to get my girls hooked.
[The porn industry sees us all in 3 categories: target (never exposed), bait (exposed, maybe curious), hooked]. This is the real deal. Get an internet filter on your computer! Net Nanny, Safe Eyes, something!

At the end of the day, you are the parent. I've said it before, you know your kid. Nothing I say here should do anything but empower you and maybe give you ideas about ways to navigate this better. If you've got ideas, let's hear 'em! Don't be greedy with your good stuff! Share!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Straight Talk About The Talk- Part 3

I know y'all have been on the edge of your seat. *grin*

Here's Part 3 of 4!

We've been talking about The Talk for a few weeks. You can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2, if you need to.

Talk Goals - When I was a traveling relationship educator (read: sex ed teacher), I was shocked at how many students had no clue how to set goals. We need to teach our children to keep their eyes on the prize! We need to use opportunities to teach them about delayed gratification. We can't always get what we want when we want it. This is completely contrary to the "Click Now" mentality our kids are saturated with! Allow your child the satisfaction of saving money for a new game, even if you can and want to buy it for them. Wait for things to go on sale. When you have to wait for something, talk about how great it is to have a fun experience after having to wait for a while.
Once these goals are set, it really will help you in many areas. For instance, your son sets a goal of lettering in high school basketball. Wonderful! In order to do that, grades will need to be just so, practices and conditioning will have to be priority, as well as other team responsibilities. 
This is usually a good time to discuss things that can derail your goals: an unintended pregnancy, a DUI, major distraction that causes grades to drop, etc. You get the idea. Then, when the question comes up about entering into 'relationship' with a girl, you revert back to the goals. Does being in a dating relationship help you achieve the goal of lettering in basketball? Let's talk about it. Often, he will talk himself right into the friend-zone. Boom.

Talk Consequences- Let's get the physical stuff out of the way, since that is the focus of the proponents of a Comprehensive Sex Ed approach, i.e. the abortion biz folks over at Planned Parenthood. 

So often, the only worrisome consequence of premarital sex is pregnancy. We have to teach our teens that pregnancy is NOT the worst thing that could happen. A baby is not a punishment! 

Depending on your teen, head on over to the CDC website, and see for yourself. If you are really brave, Google "gonorrhea" or "syphilis". (Graphic. Sad. Reality.) They can handle it.
Discuss real consequences. Don't wait for high school health class. You do it first! 

True story: A mom and I were discussing this and I suggested that she show her 14 year old daughter some of the CDC information and maybe some photos. Mom tells me that her daughter would be too squeamish and embarrassed to see the photos. My thought, "Wait. Didn't she watch Hunger Games?" That's a very violent, graphic movie! Hasn't this child seen PG-13 (possibly R) movies? We make concessions in the name of entertainment, and then get all concerned about damaging their innocent little eyes about the truth!? Honestly.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the movie. Don't hear that. My point is that this concern just doesn't jive. 

Physical consequences aside, share your heart's desire for your child with your child. Dig into the emotional side. I often say to my girls, "Girls, I don't want what is good for you. I want what is best for you. God wants even better than that for you." 
Waiting is always best. Always. There are emotional consequences attached to sex outside of marriage that no CDC photo can touch, emotional pain that no contraceptive or barrier can protect you from. 

You know your kid. You know how she is wired. You know what is going to connect. 

Trust yourself. Have the hard conversations.
Go for it.

Up next: All things Media. Media gets a post all on its own.