Thursday, July 31, 2008

Haunted buildings and other things

Some recent developments:

The Arkansas State Capitol building is apparently haunted.

Queen Victoria apparently had a 50-inch waist.

I apparently have pink eye and can't wear my contacts for a week. This is the longest I've gone without wearing contacts since I first got them in 7th grade.

A church in our former hometown of Baytown had a drawing to give away $150 in gas. And you know what? That won't even fill up my tank.

"Breaking Dawn," the fourth book in the Twilight series, will be released at midnight tomorrow night. Julia and I devoured the first three (I did censor a couple of parts of Eclipse for her, which she didn't mind -- once I told her what they were about.) Julia wants to attend the release party at the Little Rock Barnes & Noble, but I'm leaning toward sticking closer to home and going to a tamer release party at one of the local libraries. The B&N party will be complete with a costume contest and I think a bookstore full of vampires might be a bit much for a 9-year-old, no matter how much she loves the books.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

We're Not Gonna Take It

There's a new radio station in Little Rock that plays "oldies," which means music I liked in junior high and high school. Other than insulting me by calling the music of my youth "oldies," I like this station. They play stuff other '80s stations seem to have forgotten about. The '80s station in Houston, for example, thinks the only thing John Mellencamp ever recorded was "Hurts So Good." Drove me nuts.

So last night I was listening to this station in the car and heard Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." Remember this song? It was the "Hey, let's all rebel against our oppressive parents" teen anthem of the '80s. Remember always cranking this song up when it came on back then? Remember how empowering and liberating it felt to belt it out at the top of our lungs? Because, yeah! We weren't gonna take it!

Looking back, does anyone know exactly what it was we weren't going to take anymore? Our parents paying the bills? Having pretty much no responsibilities other than school and maybe a part-time job? Exactly how was it that we were being oppressed? Was it enough to cause us to want to ditch our parents to follow the wisdom of the guy in that photo up there -- a guy who looks like a meth-addicted Ronald McDonald in drag?

Maybe some psychic should have told us that by the time we would hit our mid-30s, gas prices would soar to the stratosphere and we would be spending $160 to fill up our Suburbans. Now THAT'S something to rebel against.

I say we all move back in with our parents.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Speaking of...speaking

A postscript to my commentary on the Twilight series. Another reason I appreciate these books is because they feature teenagers who can speak. Eloquently.

I'm not knocking the teens I know in real life. Most of them have an admirable grasp of the English language. But if you've ever seen the monosyllabic morons who star on shows such as "The Hills," (not to say I don't love that show) you understand my frustration. Here's a dialogue sample from "The Hills."

Monosyllabic Moron #1: (flipping hair) "I was"
Monosyllabic Moron #2: (flipping hair) "I mean... I know!"

The really sad thing is that the above conversation could serve as a major plot turning point in the show.

Meanwhile, Edward and Bella -- the hero and heroine of the Twilight series -- actually know how to talk. There are lots of reasons to crush on the dark, brooding, dashing Edward, but he had me at "unequivocally."

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The Twilight series is all the rage, and since I manage to steer clear of things that are "all the rage" (except for that Hannah Montana concert I went to last winter), the Twilight series nearly passed me by.

Then I got sucked in.

Bella Swan is a new girl to the town of Forks, Washington. At the town's tiny high school, she meets a guy and falls in love. But there's a minor problem: He's a vampire.

I've never been into vampire fiction. I've known people who are into it, and they're kinda...well, you know, weird. But, even though it concerns vampires, Twilight is a sweet love story about two teenagers who have no real hope of a future together, but fall deeply in love anyway.

So what challenges do Bella and Edward face? Let's see. He constantly fights the urge to kill her and suck all the blood out of her body. Hey, it's a vampire thing. But he also deeply loves her and does everything he can to protect her from anything that could hurt her -- including himself.

Another problem is that Edward does not age. But Bella, as a human, will. In 50 years, she'll look like an old lady who scored herself a young hot guy. It's one of the weird aspects of having a mortal/immortal relationship.

Edward does not eat, sleep or have a beating heart. But I'm telling you, I don't know when I've had such a crush on a fictional character. Stephenie Meyer's description of him makes me think having a vampire boyfriend wouldn't be so bad. (If I weren't already married. And if vampires even EXISTED.)

There are three books in the series with the fourth, "Breaking Dawn," due out on Aug.2. (Happy birthday to me!) I've just finished the second, "New Moon." Both are gripping and have unexpected twists and turns throughout. (Although "New Moon" will completely rip your heart out a couple of chapters in.)

And I'm not the only one with a crush on Edward. Some women at church my age and older are pretty much loopy over him.

If you feel silly reading about teenage vampire love, consider this conversation I had with one of our elders' wives at church tonight.

K: (Asking if I have heard of a book she had heard about somewhere, which I hadn't.)

Me: I'm too embarrassed to tell you what I'm reading right now.

K: (rolling her eyes) Oh, well, I'm reading Twilight.

Me: That's what I'm reading!

Ha ha!

On another note, ACU camps were GREAT last week. I was asked what we do with Jenna during that time. ACU camps provide excellent childcare, free of charge, for children of camp volunteers. She got to play with babysitters all day. Julia did this for years until she was old enough for the youngest camp. During Kadesh, which has a more hectic schedule than the middle-school camp we did last week, the babysitters will even bathe your kids and put them to bed for you. This is really the only summer youth group activity I can participate in 100%, and it's because ACU camps provide top-notch childcare so I don't have to worry about my kids. It's another reason we love ACU camps!

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Abilene update

I don't have much computer time this week because we are busy with a week of ACU Leadership Camps. This is the first year Julia is old enough for Learning to Lead, so she is staying in a different dorm than ours for the first time. We see her in the Campus Center every once in a while and she seems to be having a great time. We usually work Kadesh, the high school camp (which we LOVE), but it's not the same week as Learning to Lead. So this week we are working MPulse, which is the middle school camp. We've been having so much fun and I'm reminded again of how much I hate that middle schoolers tend to get a bad rap, because they are actually a lot of fun to hang out with.

There's also a day camp for the younger ones called KidQuest, which Julia graduated from last summer.

Just a plug for ACU camps -- the are the most highly organized camps we've ever been a part of (and we've experienced quite a few camps). The curriculum is outstanding and the staff has such an incredible heart for teaching kids of all ages (there are camps from entering first grade to entering college) how to be like Christ. So if any of you ever wonder whe we disappear to Abilene every summer, this is why!

On another note, I bought the raved-about "Twilight" to read on the way here. Julia stole it from me and before I knew it, she was 100 pages ahead of me in the book. We've both finished it, and now she wants to read the rest of the books in the series. My question for you Twilight fans is this: Are the next two books appropriate for a 9-year-old to read? The first one got a tad scary and violent at the end, but she didn't seem bothered by it. (She's also read the Harry Potter and Inkheart series, which have a little violence in them. She says violence in fantasy books doesn't scare her because she knows it could never happen. When I tried giving her "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" last year, however, she brought it back to me after a few days and said "No, thanks." I had forgotten about the graphic lynching scene. I still feel bad about that one.)

I'll review Twilight when we get home and I have time to think. :)

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Helicopter Parenting

Interesting article in this month's O magazine about helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents are the parents who "hover" -- who remain overinvolved in their children's lives even after their kids reach adulthood. Some examples from the story:

- The mother who drives three hours every week to her son's college to do his laundry.

- Moms who contact their children's prospective employers to put in a good word.

- The mom who shares bank accounts with her 24- and 22-year-old sons so she can monitor their spending.

- And my favorite: A young woman who landed a prestigious job right out of college had a birthday coming up. So her mom called her daughter's boss and asked if a cake could be delivered to her daughter while her co-workers sang "Happy Birthday" to her. The boss said, "This is Wall Street. We don't really do that here."

As ridiculous as these may sound, I believe most parents have the potential to hover. Of course we want our kids to succeed and make good decisions, so it's tempting to hold their hands well into their adult lives to make sure they get where we think they need to go.

But what is going to happen to these kids who have everything done for them? I think helicopter parents are unwittingly setting their kids up to ultimately fail.

The truth is that the moment our children are born, we as parents begin the gradual process of letting go. It only gets harder as they get older, but good parenting is preparing our kids for adulthood, and then sending them out into the real world to make their own decisions -- good and bad. I think one of the most essential things we can do as parents is let go.

We all have mental checklists of things we want to do and not do as parents. A new one on my list is "don't hover."

And another one: "Teach the kids how to do laundry before they graduate from high school."