...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer Vacation: Day 1

Today is the first day of summer vacation for my husband and my high schoolers (my poor, sad, younger children still have a week of school).

So, we thought we'd get a quick project out of the way this morning.

We recently removed some trees from our yard and had borrowed my parents truck so we could cart their sorry carcasses off to the dump.  And while had my parent's truck readily available, we decided to take out a stump that is in an inconvenient spot as well.

No problem, we've removed stumps before.

The trio got to work first thing this morning before it got hot.

But the stump didn't want to play.

It has put down enough roots to save it from a tornado, a landslide, an earthquake, and a zombie apocalypse.

But my crew didn't quit (as I watched them from inside the house where I was working because not all of us get the summer off).  They kept at it.

And kept at it.

And kept at it.

And they're still keeping at it because the stupid thing won't go away.  They've axed, they've chain sawed, they've pried and pushed and dug.  But so far, it's the stump that's laughing.

And then, one big effort brought with it a sudden wetness.

That's right.  Come to find out someone planted this tree right on top of a water line.  Like right on it. Right.  On.  It.

Which means this project now involves plumbing (which just may be the bane of my husband's existence).

The teenagers are exhausted.  My sweetheart is still at it.  And off I go to help now that I can.

Can't wait to see what day 2 bring us.

(No, Universe, that was sarcasm.  This is already enough excitement for one summer.)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Our dog is the king of our flock of chickens

This is our dog, Finn (looks all regal doesn't he).

And these are our chickens (and also my feet).

Our girls are pretty happy, and they get plenty of love and attention from the family (I would never have guessed that mealworms would be a beloved item around our house...but everyone loves the chance to feed a handful to these voracious ladies).

During the day, we often let our little flock roam our backyard.  They explore things and peck at things and regularly get startled by a noise or an unexpected plant (seriously).  Then they run their squawky selves back to their coop as fast as their skinny legs will carry them and chat about the danger before venturing out again.  It's mildly comical. 

Finn, for the most part, just watches their antics from a distance.  I've long thought he kind of loved them (he's been highly fascinated with them since they joined the household), but my children began to think otherwise.  I started to get occasional reports from my kidlets that Finn was chasing the chickens in the yard.

Well, we can't have that, so I started paying close attention.

Sure enough, I encountered several occasions where the dog did, in fact, chase the chickens.

But not in the way I originally imagined it.

Through my observations, I have come to learn that Finn is, in all truth, the king of this flock of hens.  And so, he manages his subjects which in this case means that he keeps them safe and controlled by maneuvering the group so that they stay happily contained in the yard and not too far from their home.

So, if the ladies wander further from their coop than Finn deems appropriate, he takes action and gently guides them back home.  He stays close to his harem, and he does NOT like it if others intervene with the gals.  He also reminds his ladies to stay together (safety in numbers you know), so if one hen wanders off he carefully drives her back to the group so she knows she isn't alone.  

It's like an episode of Nature right in my own backyard.

I knew Brittany Spaniels were a breed of bird dog, I guess I just didn't realize exactly what that could entail.

Finn:  Chicken Monarch Extraordinaire  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Talking Porn at Church

So on Sunday, Josh and I gave a lesson on fighting pornography to the adults and youth in our ward.

Now, generally speaking, "hey we give a lesson in church" is not exactly cause for a blog post.

However, this happens to be a topic that I feel really strongly about.  Pornography has assaulted the lives of numerous people that I care about -- incredible people, I might add -- and probably more that I don't even know about.

So I'm gonna share a bit in case it can maybe benefit someone else.

In March, Josh and I attended the Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference in Salt Lake.
Sounds like a SUPER FUN event, right?  Let's go downtown and spend the whole day talking about the evils of pornography.

Actually, it was REALLY great.    Now, if you missed the conference but are interested in learning what we learned, don't fret, UCAP has posted videos of many of the presentations online so you can watch them for yourself.  The speakers were awesome with fabulous insights. We learned a lot and it really opened our eyes even more to the dangers of pornography and the way it can ruin lives and families.

My favorite thing I learned at the UCAP conference came in the first presentation I heard where the speaker said, "Sex is not bad, and porn is not sex."  I love that.  Sex is not bad, and porn is not sex...because sex is about connection and engagement and relationship -- and porn is about bodies on a screen.  Porn is Satan's hollow, twisted substitute for something pure a beautiful.

Like almost every family, we've had experiences with pornography.  I'm not going to go into the details, but I had a 7-year-old son who first encountered porn by accidentally mistyping a web address on a school computer.  Also, just a couple weeks ago, despite all of our filtering software and parental controls, we had a pop-up ad that included some pornographic images come up on a cell phone when one of our kids was playing a game.  This nasty stuff is everywhere, and its something we need to be very aware of.

However, just because pornography is a prevalent evil does not mean we are powerless to fight it. We can protect our families and teach our children how to be safe from its insidious grasp.  One of the sessions we attended at the conference addressed exactly that topic and it was GREAT!

We learned that a lot of the things that we do as a family are in line with what experts suggest.  We also learned we have plenty of room to improve, and we were reminded there is no 100% safeguard out there.  However, some of the things we have done to protect our family from the onslaught of porn include:

*we use parental controls and filtering software -- our favorite is Open DNS (it's free) which we added directly to our router to protect anything connected to our wifi

*ALL of our family devices are password protected so that kids can't just get on the computer/internet any time they like (I'm gonna be honest, sometimes this is really inconvenient for the parents involved, but it's something we are willing to deal with)

*we do not provide our children with individual cell phones -- we have one kid cell phone that is shared between our children so if someone has to stay late or has an event they get to use the phone (this one is bordering on cruelty if you ask our kids)

*our kid's phone is OLD which means it CANNOT send or receive pictures which I LOVE (sexting is real, and can be a horrible entry into the world of porn)

*our poor, picked-on kids are required to turn in their devices every night at 9pm -- and if a device is NOT turned in they lose it for a period of time (see, I said, we're jerks)

*Outside of our family computer (which is always available for homework etc), we don't have constant internet access on any device -- we put in the wifi code on weekends, but not on school days (see...jerks!)

Anyway, those are some of the big ticket items.  Like I said, this is some of what we do, but it isn't a perfect solution (because nothing is and every family is different).  I'd love it if you'd share some of the things that have worked for your family.

The BIG most important piece, though, is that when you are taking hold of the issue and doing what you can to address it and protect the people you love, that is NOT nothing.  There is power in that, and those efforts count.

Also, if you are someone or if you love someone who has been ensnared by pornography, please know that you are not alone.  I'll fight with you.  I'll support you as you work to get free.  And I don't think less of you because you are battling a problem -- guess what, we all are even if they come in different forms.

Anyway,  a couple of my VERY FAVORITE resources

https://www.overcomingpornography.org/  This website has TONS of great information and helps for overcoming and avoiding pornography.  It is a religious site, but I love that it focuses on hope and God's love for us and His desire to help us.

On the same site, this video is my absolute favorite for families.  This is what we teach our kids to do when they are exposed to pornography (because we know it is not a question of "if" but of "when" they will see this garbage).

At the UCAP conference, I was introduced to the work of a man named Matt Fradd who is a huge fighter in the battle against porn.  I've since read several of his books and I really appreciate his personal insights and point of view.  I think his work is a great resource.  Apparently, he also has a podcast on this subject.  I haven't listened to it, but it could be a good support as well.

Anyway, that's enough.

The point is, pornography is evil.  It will do everything possible to sink its teeth into you and not let go.  Keep it away from your family, do all that you can to inform and protect your children.  And if it has grabbed onto people that you care about, don't judge and degrade them, support and encourage them instead.  This is not an easy battle and they need all the support they can get.  Celebrate the wins, and help them grow -- and I'll bet you money they'll do the same for you when you are struggling.

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