Posted by: Genny Colby | May 16, 2014

Frozen Frenzy

I am guessing, seeing as you are reading my blog, that you don’t live under a rock, or shun all technology.  So I am also guessing you have heard of Disney’s latest movie, Frozen.  Who knew it was going to be THIS BIG?  Seriously.  Who would have guessed that this movie would be everywhere?  Those of us with young kids, girls especially, are used to princess talk.  We are used to singing Disney songs over and over and over and over.  But wow, Frozen is really blowing everything out of the water!

I admit it, I was excited when I saw the previews for this one.  And I love Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel (or Adele Nazeem if you’d like) so I was in just for them!  I took our then almost 5-year-old daughter on Thanksgiving for a little mommy/daughter time to see the new Disney movie Frozen.  She loved it, thought Elsa was AMAZING, Olaf was so funny, and Anna was awesome.  She told daddy all about it when we got home, talked more about it over the next couple of days, but she really is/was a Rapunzel girl.

Then in December, we walked through the gates and stood looking down at Main Street in Disney World.  As it was her 5th birthday trip, we did make this trip “All About the Princesses”.  We had meals planned to meet the Princesses, as well as her own special princess transformation at the Bibidi Bobidi Boutique.  I had planned to be sure to meet as many princesses as possible.  (Pintrest/the blogosphere is awesome for how to plan a princess themed trip!).  From the moment we walked into Magic Kingdom, my daughter asked me when she could meet Rapunzel, so that became my one big goal…make sure she met Rapunzel.  We found out she was only available in Magic Kingdom, at the Princess Fairy Tale Hall.  But we did get to meet her…and it is one of the things my daughter still talks about.  “Mom, I got to hold Rapunzel’s HAIR!”

In all my planning, there had been no mention that Anna and Elsa were actually already IN the parks for autographs and photographs.  The movie had only been out about 2 weeks when we went to Disney World.  Generally speaking it takes a little longer to get that oh-so-important “Character in the Park” status.  So, we were surprised when we stepped out of a princess themed breakfast in Epcot’s Norway to see a sign (and a slight line) forming to meet the newest Princesses in the Disney ‘verse.  We were sixth in the line, though it was still an hour to wait until the meet-and-greet opened.  I asked my daughter and hubby what they wanted to do…wait in line or go explore.  Both thought we should wait.  I admit, I was really hesitant…wait an hour?  really?  There was so much we could do in that hour.  But my monkey was sure this what she wanted to do and since this was her birthday trip (and her brother was snoozing in the stroller), wait we would!

Luckily, not much in Epcot was really open yet, so there was not a lot else we could have done.  And hubby took the two kids to wander and check things out, see some sites, while I waited and chatted in line with other parents doing the same thing.  This is when I learned that the line could reach as long as 2-3 hours for a wait…not including this hour prior to the start time itself.  This did put things into perspective for me…maybe it wasn’t so bad!  And really, it wasn’t.  There was a cute gift shop that had tons of Frozen merchandise.  In hindsight, I kind of wish we had bought more since now it can be impossible to find!  And my monkey got to meet Anna and Elsa.  She was so happy.    And we still go to enjoy our day at Epcot without missing out of anything because we were stuck in line.    I also appreciate it more now as well, as I realize how polite, how patient, how kind, how friendly everyone waiting in line to meet these newest princesses were to everyone else waiting in line.  We actually had fun chatting, sharing Disney stories, suggestions of things to do, places to eat.

Do a quick search for Frozen merchandise, and you will see that it is almost impossible to find right now.  Disney can hardly keep it in stock!  Look at any Disney Blog and you will see that the wait times for a meet-and-greet with these two alone can be up to 5 hours long!  And now DisneyWorld has started a new process of guiding guests back to FantasyLand to their meet-and-greet spot at the rope drop because the crowd was so unruly as parents pushed/shoved/trampled anyone and anything in their way to get back and in line for this meet-and-greet.  Really?  This is supposed to be the “Happiest Place on Earth”.  I get it, if you don’t get in line, if your child does not get to meet their favorite princesses, it will make Disney NOT the happiest place on Earth, at least for a moment.  But running, pushing, trampling, basically teaching your child that “hey, as long as we get there first, it doesn’t matter HOW we got here or who we had to step on to get here, we got there first!”   Is that really the message you want to give your kids?  Take some time and read the comments on Facebook on the Disney Store page.  They way some parents are going on you would think an Elsa dress will cure world hunger..or cancer…or provide world peace.

Now, could Disney do more to help with this frenzy?  Sure, but honestly, I don’t think they were quite expecting this phenomenon.  No other princess has exploded into popularity the way Anna and Elsa have.  They are working, so I hear, to build a better spot for them at Norway in Epcot.  They do allow fast passes to this meet-and-greet (which are snapped up faster than you can FROZ…EN – too late).  But I am sure there are other things they could do.  Like have these two (and Rapunzel please!) be a part of the Princess Breakfast at the Akerhouse in Norway and Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom.  Both of these are great opportunities for families to meet and get pictures/autographs with the princesses.   I am sure there are other ideas…and I would guess that Disney is currently working to put these in place.  They are there to make money after all, and Frozen  is raking it in!  I will give Disney credit though, they are not going to just throw something together, they will make plans, figure out as many of things that can go wrong as possible, and try to plan for that as well.

At the end of the day, as the parent, we have to set expectations.   I am not going to fault anyone who is willing to wait in a line for 5 hours to meet a character.  That is a personal and family choice as to how to spend your vacation.  But if you are willing to make that sacrifice (because you WILL sacrifice other parts of your vacation including rides, treats, other character meet-and-greet opportunities) then you better have a positive attitude about it.  Don’t get nasty, or rude, or confrontational with cast members or other guests, simply because you choose to stand in that line.  Don’t ruin the magic and the experience for those in line with you, or those who are passing by enjoying their day in Disney World.  Everyone is there for the same reason…because Disney is magical.  Doesn’t matter if you are 2, 7, 12, 18, 22, 52, or 92.  There is magic there.  Is it going to be perfect?  No.  Is it going to be crowded?  Heck yes!  But you have to expect that. Be prepared for that.  And always remember…there are a million kids watching you whether you realize it or not.  What example do you want to set?  What image do you want to present to the world?  At the end of the day, when you walk through the gates back to your car/hotel room…what are you going to take with you?

Posted by: Genny Colby | May 9, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…

Well this weekend looks to be a good one to curl up on the couch, under a blanket, with a good book!  Luckily, I have a few waiting for me!

This week I finished the first compilation book for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 8.  It was so awesome to return to the world of Buffy and the Scooby Gang.  And everyone is back, though in various states of “all right” months after the destruction of Sunnydale and the awakening of Slayer Powers in all Potential Slayers.  Each of our faves is trying to find their way in this new world, to figure out the aspects of relationships, and how to move forward.  And even IF to move forward.    The writers took great steps to make sure the voice of these characters came through, even if it was a bit choppy at times.  The graphics are amazing and very lifelike, which really did help bring these stories to life.  If I can’t have Buffy on TV…I will take it on this format!  Can’t wait to dive in to the second of four compilation books.

 

I also finished I’ve Got You Under  my skin by Mary Higgins Clark.  I love her books.  They are a nice dose of simple mystery, light romance, and just plain fun.  Sometimes you just need something light and easy and fun to read.  This was it.  Television producer Laurie Moran has lived with the tragedy of her husband’s murder, and the threat made on her life and her sons as the shooter ran away for the past 5 years.  Her father, a former police officer, retired to ensure their safety.  Now 5 years later, Laurie is taking on a new reality show…featuring unsolved crimes/murders.  The first case revolves around the death of a rich woman on the night of a big graduation party for her daughter and 3 of her daughter’s friends.  For 20 years these young women have lived under the suspicion of her death and have each faced struggles with finding her direction.  They all agree to come back, for a nice hefty sum of money, to re-enact parts of that fateful event, hoping to find answers and closure.  The cast of characters is large enough that there is suspicion to be hand by many parties.  In the end, the truth is revealed and Laurie finally learns who shot her husband and why.  It was a nice read.  It kept me engaged.  The characters, for the most part, were interesting and developed.  But there seemed to be a lot of “red herrings” so that the reader could say “well, he has motive, but he is obviously not the killer”.  This one was not as suspenseful as others and the epilogue to wrap it all seemed just a little too tidy.  In all honesty, it felt like two really good short stories that got combined into one book, instead of seeing if either could have been more developed on their own.  But still a nice break from anything really thought intense.

 

Now I am reading Buffy, Season 8, Volume 2 and I picked up Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hr Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Volume 2    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Time to put on some comfy, relaxing clothes and snuggle in for a read on this cold weekend in May.  And throw the kids some goldfish crackers or fruit twists every once in a while so they leave me in peace to read.

 

What are YOU reading this weekend?

Posted by: Genny Colby | May 2, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…

After a lengthy pause…during which I read quite a few books…I am hoping back on the wagon with my blog!  Instead of going through every book that I have been reading this past few weeks, let’s just pick up where we are right now.

I am now working my way through Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer via graphic novels.  Oh how I love Buffy and the Scooby Gang!  It is a very different type of story, since it is in graphic novel, not a format I typically read.  But also because it all happens after the destruction of Sunnyvale and the spell Buffy had Willow cast to allow all potential slayers to have their powers, be slayers.  Of course, many come together to train, learn, fight the good fight with Buffy and company.  Some are working with others who may have less than altruistic agendas, and of course, the big bad(s) are just all coming out of the woodwork!  Giles is working to restore the Watchers’s Council.  And Buffy, she is just trying to figure out how to lead them all…even if all she wanted was a bit of a normal life.  All our faves are back, but all are in very different degrees of acceptance of this new way of life.  Over all I really enjoy the story, the art work and the format.   It is a bit tough at points to hear the voices of those I loved so much on TV come through on the printed page, but as the books go on I am finding that they are finding that groove more and more.    If I can’t have Buffy on TV, at least I can have it in print…and not some cheesey novel that was written in the “Buffy verse” but real Buffy stories written/approved by Joss Whedon and those that held Buffy so dear for so long.  Thanks to my awesome hubby for this amazing collection to keep my Buffy obsession happy and fed!

I am also going to start the latest Mary Higgins Clark, I’ve Got You Under My Skin.  This is one of those easy, just for fun, not a lot of thought or pressure kind of books that are wonderful for sitting outside under the shade while the kids run around playing, enjoying the spring afternoon.  Just what I am in the mood for as spring fever is hitting and hitting hard these days!

I am also happy to say I am currently 4 books ahead of my goal of 65 books for the year.  I am optimistic I can keep that up and maybe even go above my goal this year.  And since I don’t include all the books I read with my kids…that’s not too shabby for a busy, full-time, stay at home, homeschooling momma!

Happy reading!

Posted by: Genny Colby | April 30, 2014

Why I Became a Teacher

I loved school.  Sure there were days it didn’t always seem so; especially in High School when I didn’t want to go, or with classes that just kicked my butt (I’m talking to you, Chemistry, Econ, and Algebra II).  But looking back, my memories are filled with admiration and longing for the adventure which was school.  I would be a professional student if I didn’t think people would look at me funny, or if I thought I could afford such a lifestyle!  I love to learn, I love to read,  I love to research, and oddly enough, I enjoy writing papers.  So, where did this love of school come from?  Am I just a freak?  Well, probably a little bit (and those who know me would claim for other reasons)… but I can pinpoint one moment in time where a dream was planted; to one day become a teacher.

Kindergarten.  Yes, kindergarten.  Just about the first day, really.  I walked into my new classroom, found a chair with my name on it, and fell in love with my teacher.  Mrs. Julie Garfoot.  I came home from school that day and announced to anyone who was in earshot that I would be a teacher when I grew up.

Although, I have had many other wonderful teachers who made an impression on me (and those with whom I would as soon forget) – none of them will ever hold a candle to Mrs. Garfoot.  She was amazing.  Yes, I know, it was kindergarten, which in those days meant learning our ABC’s, playing with blocks, how to color inside the lines, and how to sit and work quietly at our spots (something I always struggled with).  Mrs. Garfoot was to me what my future had in store.

Why, you might ask?  The answer is simple, she made learning fun.  She made me laugh, she made me feel successful, and loved, and safe to try new things.  She allowed me to spread my wings, give something new a go, and cheered me on all the way.  She was there to help me when I struggled.  She ensured our days were filled with songs, stories, and games.  She inspired me to learn, no question was left unanswered, and she had a love for teaching which never went unnoticed.  On no occasion did I feel like something was out of reach; only that I had to work a little harder, stretch a little farther, in order to grasp the furthest of stars.

When I look back on my years of school, and how my school experiences shaped who I was, who I wanted to be, and most importantly, the kind of teacher I wanted to be… Mrs. Garfoot is always first and foremost present in my mind.  Whatever else came after, she was my first teacher, and made school such a positive experience for me.  I credit her with starting me on a life-long path which has loved learning, and given school as a means to fulfill that emotion.  She is the reason why I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher.  And why I wanted to give all of my students the same wonderfully amazing start to their education as she provided me.

I think many people find it easy to blame teachers when students don’t succeed to some arbitrary satisfaction.  Or blame when entire schools don’t receive funding for programs, because of inadequate test results.  Or blame for the decrease in quality of our schools.  Blame is easy, but we must remember that teachers are who they are, not for the money, the popularity, or the style, but because they have the love of teaching.  Teachers are the ones who will have lasting impacts on the students they teach.  We need to celebrate the job they do, the connections they make, and recognize the life-long impact they have on each and every one of their students.

 

 

**This post was written for Teacher Appreciation Day, Tuesday May 6, 2014.  It was written as part of an online campaign connected with Webucater.com to celebrate teachers and the impact they can have on students.**

Posted by: Genny Colby | March 25, 2014

15 Random Reasons…

Why we are a homeschooling family.  Up until now we have always had the idea “we can still send her to kindergarten in the fall” but after much thought and discussion, we have realized that we always intended to home school our kids for the long haul.  But as a former classroom teacher, I had to really think about what that means and WHY.  I wanted to be sure I was doing it for my kids, and not for me.  There are a many reasons, some funny, some serious, some silly,  and some very real reasons why as one who does truly believe in our public schools would make this choice.  So, in no particular order…here are some of them…

1-We have the freedom to follow our kids interests, where ever they may take us.

2-We can move at their pace.  If they are “ahead” in one area, we can keep going.  If they are struggling with things, we can take the time to really make sure they understand the concepts before moving on.   Something many classroom teachers do not have the time or ability to do right now.

3-No teaching to a test.  Yes, as a homeschooling family my kids will need to take a few standardized tests (3, 5, 7, 9, 11, grades) but other than that, no testing.

4-Learning can and will be found in all areas of life, including field trips, community events, and volunteering. It can even happen on vacations!

5-I won’t have to get my kids up and moving in the morning.  We can move at our own pace.

6-There is and will be lots of time for play.  Kids learn the most through play, especially at the early ages, but even older kids need to play.  Everyone needs an outlet!

7-We will have time for extras like gymnastics, and dance, and swimming, and other sports that strike their interest.

8-No school car pick up lane!

9-No selling of random stuff to raise money for our schools.  I don’t mind supporting our schools and sometimes those candy bars are yummy, but we are putting too much  on the kids to raise money for their classrooms when they (and their teachers) should be focused on learning.

10-We can do school in our jammies any day we want!

11-We don’t have to stop a lesson, or a project simply because “it’s time to move on to the next thing” but we can explore and continue until WE are done.  The opposite is also true,  if we are struggling with a lesson or concept, we can simply set aside and come back to it later, or tomorrow, or next week.

12-We have greater control as to what our children are exposed to by others.  This includes language, books, movies, concepts we don’t feel ready or are appropriate for our kids at that age.

13-We can take breaks and go outside when ever we need it.  We can turn a trip to the park into an amazing learning adventure and they may not even know it.

14-Sick days? No problem.  Snow days?  Ah, no worries.  We can do school when ever it works for us.  Morning, afternoon, evening,  weekday or weekend.  As long as we hit the required number of days/hours in  a given year, we are good.  And we have a full year, not an academic year.  And since school at home looks very different from school in a traditional setting, this is not really all that difficult!

15-No worries about sending “forbidden” food in school lunches.  No worries that the lunches I send may be deemed “not nutritional enough”.  No worries about what my kids actually pick/do eat from the lunch program.

So there you go.   That is not to say that this includes ALL of our reasons, as there are many many more. But this gives you a little insight into some of the reasons.  As times goes by I will likely address some of the more influential ones in separate pieces.  If you are homeschooling family, what are some of your reasons to home school?  If you send your kids to school, what do you like about it?   Remember, there is not one right answer….just what is right for your family/child right now.

 

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 28, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…

I have found the next series that I just can’t put down and want to just read and read!  I have been looking for another book/series that captivates me this way so I am super excited.  What is it you may ask?  The Cousin’s War Series by Philippa Gregory.  The first book in this series is The White Queen which is set in during the War of the Roses.  As the Lancasters and Yorks fight over England, we see the world not through the eyes of the men, but the woman who actually had more power and influence than history gives them credit.  Yes, this is a piece of historical fiction and Ms Gregory I am sure takes great liberties with her story telling, but when you look at the choices made about marriages, it is not hard to see that power that a strong woman would have behind the king.  I will be the first to admit that I don’t know a great deal about this time period, but I am finding it fascinating.  And I  want to learn more it.  Always a good sign!

As Elizabeth rises to power as the wife of Edward, who as claimed the throne for the Yorks from the Lancasters, we see how influential a woman truly can be, as well as how limited her life was within the confines of the time.   As it is told from her point of view, we don’t get bogged down in endless details about campaigns, wins/losses, and political posturing.  What we do get is the story of a woman who will do anything and everything to protect her family, her children, and the legacy to which their father fought so hard to win.

This story is written well, with a great attention to detail.  Ms Gregory has obviously done her research as while I am sure she has taken many liberties with the story, she has also seemed to stay true to the facts as are known today, fleshing out ideas and theories and stories about those that history has either forgotten, or gave little attention.  Her style is easy to read, even if you are not overly familiar with the time frame.  The story flows well, though it may be nice to have more of a family tree than the bare basics as there are so  many siblings, half siblings, cousins, etc that are all interconnected.   This is a story that will grab you and take you back to 1400′s England.  Not always a pleasant time, but one filled with mystery, intrigue, deception, love, and plays for power.

And I finished it in under a week!  Which really goes to show how engaging it was, as I did not want to put it down!  Now on to the second book in the series, The Red Queen.  I am optimistic that I will read this one just as fast…as long as two small humans decide that mommy can stop and relax for 10 min some day!

The Red Queen (The Cousins' War, #2)

What books have captivated your attention?  What series did you find yourself lost in?  What are you reading this week?

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 26, 2014

Discrimination…It’s for Everyone!

As I am sure many of heard, Arizona is on the edge of, in my opinion, a very slippery slope with their newest legislation SB1062.  Under the guise as “freedom of religion” piece of legislation, it is opening the door to legal discrimination.  To start, I am still not sure why such legislation is required. We all have the freedom to our own religion, with very little fear of prosecution, as long as your religious practices do not harm others (abuse, etc).  But where this bill begins to cross the line is that is an open invitation to use one’s religion to make assumptions and judgments about others, and use that to deny them service, access to services, or access to the same opportunities as others in their community.

In essence, as long as the you can provide some sort of “religious basis” you can deny someone else a seat in your restaurant, a ride in your cab, a loan at your bank, or even a job.  This has been touted as an “anti gay/lesbian” bill.  And I do believe that this is this is the basis for such legislation even being written, but it really could and likely will if passed have larger consequences.  But first, it is important to note that any private establishment already reserves the right to deny any patron service or access to service based solely on the owners discretion.  Often times this is used to remove guests who are rude to the point of threatening, abusive, showing inappropriate behaviors or using offensive language, or is otherwise disturbing the business now or has repeatedly done so in the past.  AND Arizona does not currently recognize same-sex marriage/unions, and there are no legal protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.  So why this bill?  Well, it seems that those in the Conservative Right Wing have seen the writing on the wall…we as a human race are realizing that all people regardless of ANYTHING deserve the same rights and protections.  That simply being a human being is what allows us these rights and discrimination of any kind is wrong, unfair, and unjust.  Arizona legislators are trying to be “pro-active” to sending their state into the dark ages again.  It was not that long again that we separated people based on gender, and race.  Women have long fought, and still do, to be seen as equal to men.  We thought that those who were not “white” were less.  We did not allow those of other races to marry.  For the most part, we have seen that all these beliefs were false and have made moves to treat all as equal under the law.  Why is sexual orientation any different?

The push back on this legislation seems to have taken those in control of the Arizona legislature by surprise.  Though I can’t see why they should be surprised!  Many of them have even claimed that they don’t see this as a bill that allows discrimination (um, really)?  What fantasy world are they living in?  Basically they are giving anyone the right to deny someone access to a good or service based on some sort of assumption or loosely held belief.  It is not only those in the gay community that will face discrimination, but it can easily be extended to those who are divorced, who are single parents, who do not practice the same faith as the one providing the service, and I am sure the list goes on.    If you have not done so yet, this video of an Anderson Cooper interview sums it all up nicely and puts it all into perspective about how far-reaching this bill really could go.

Thankfully, there has been a lot of negative push back to the state of Arizona on this piece, though why it is taking so long for the Governor to veto it is beyond me.  It leads me to believe that she is really considering this a serious piece of legislation.  Which is almost as troubling as the bill itself.  All of these people were elected to serve the people of Arizona, not just those that voted for them or have the same beliefs/political ideology.  (This actually a complaint for any politician, regardless of level of office, or political affiliation…they forget they are supposed to be working for ALL, not just those that give them money).

Discrimination in a long, deeply rooted part of our country’s history.  I would hope that by 2014 we would be closer to moving further away from this instead of finding new ways to incorporate it into our society.  Our country was founded on the idea that everyone should have the freedom of/from religion.  No one is denying anyone’s right to have and practice a religion.  But to bring your religion into your work place…well that seems not only discriminatory, but also a really foolish business move.  And really, how does one’s beliefs affect anyone else?  Who are these people to pass judgement on others?  Please, correct me if I am wrong, but is it not a basic tenet of almost all religions to be kind, caring, and compassionate to others?  Is that not how people define being a “Christian”?  Today it seems that everyone seems to believe they have their right to the spiritual judge and jury for mankind.  Unless I am forgetting my Bible studies, I thought that there were already those of a “higher power” to make those calls.  Won’t we all have to answer for the choices that we have made when the time comes? (If you believe in afterlife/heaven/hell/etc.)

I can only hope that the rest of the country is closely watching the situation in Arizona.  Even if this bill is vetoed (as I sincerely hope it is) there are going to be consequences.  And those that matter most will be the companies that decide Arizona is not the environment to expand their businesses.  The organizations that  elect to take their work retreats/conventions/events to other locations.  Families will take their hard-earned vacation dollars elsewhere.  Unfortunately it will be the all mighty dollar that will eventually get our country from moving backwards in our attitudes to moving forward.

There are many that argue a full boycott of Arizona is not fair as there are many private citizens and many companies, business, employees who do not agree with this piece of legislation or in any form of discrimination.  And I agree that it is not fair to punish those that don’t agree with this situation, but how do you only patronize those business?  And how do you reward the state as a whole for electing these people into office and NOT holding them accountable.  I know that even those that did vote for these leaders may not agree with what is happening, but until you hold those in charge accountable and actively work to change things, make things better, it is unfortunately the dollar that it is the only weapon the rest of have to make our point.  We will not stand for discrimination of any kind.  We will not let people hide behind their religion in order to do so.  We are all in this together and only by putting those in positions of leadership that will represent us all, do what is best for us all, protect all of our rights, we will as country move ahead.

As Dr Seuss said… “A person is a person,  no matter how small”    I would suggest that we focus on the idea that a person is a person…and that should entitle them to equal treatment under the law.  That all the other stuff is not what matters.  That we treat all people with kindness, compassion, and respect is what matters.

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 22, 2014

What I am Reading Friday…oops! Saturday

I missed last week because I was well, reading!  So, in the last two weeks I finished 2 books…yay, on target for my one book a week.

The first one I finished was Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill.  Ms. Hill is the niece of current leader of the Church of Scientology, David Mascavige.  I am just going to say I have always found this “religion” to a little wonky, kind of out there, sort of hard to believe that people honestly believe some of what is supposed to be their core beliefs.  But hey, to each their own.  After reading this book I am even more sure that Mr Hubbard and those that have developed this “religion” from his science fiction/fantasy writing must have really enjoyed the 60′s.  Most of the beliefs of this so-called religion seemed to come from drug induced hallucinations.   Now, I am not saying that there isn’t some good…a strong sense of community is fine.  Splitting up families, having children raise children, and basically saying you are either with us or against us…those are very troubling aspects of a faith.  But what is more troubling, if even half of what Ms Hill writes is true and not the memories of a child filtered through feelings of loss and abandonment, then I can not see how anyone would want to be so devoted to this “church”. The whole set up from where you live, to the jobs you do, to education about your so-called faith seems all about power, control and beating everyone down into submission to do exactly as they are told to benefit those in power.  I know, not too unlike most religions, but this one is super scary.  From their “auditing” to their “security checks” to the fact that you can’t learn certain aspects of your religions origins until you have reached a certain level on the “bridge” has got to make most sane people wonder what in the heck they are hiding.

I am sure that the celebrities and those they refer to as “public Scientologists” see a very side of the “church”.  They are likely not as aware of all the inner workings, of all the restrictions on those members who live and breathe and bleed for this so-called “church”.

Ordinarily I take a “hey, what ever works for you/fills your spiritual need” approach when it comes to religion.  But Scientology seems less like a religion and more like a cult.  It was a good read.  Scary, terrifying actually that people believe all this, but still a very interesting look inside this “religion”.  I don’t normally read memoirs, mostly because I often find them rambling and uneven.  This one did at times seem to ramble on and then abruptly change topics or direction.  At times it was difficult to follow the flow of time, though in part that could be because time seems to move a different pace when you so immersed in the “church”.  Then you finally get to the end when Ms Hill and her husband are leaving the “church” and it all sorts of zooms along, ending so nice and tidy like, which I doubt it really is in real life.  Guess it makes for a better book…

The other book I read this week was The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.  A nice, easy, engaging story.  It captivated my attention, drew me into the characters, and I wanted to find out how it all connected.  It is, quite simply, the story of three woman living in a small community in Australia.

Cecilia, by all accounts, is the perfect “super mom”.  She just always seems to have it all together…but as usual, there is more brewing under the surface and when Cecilia finds out the secret her husband has been carrying around for years, she begins to question her whole world, her whole sense of self, and the life she has so carefully built.

Tess thinks she has a great life with a husband she loves, a son she adores, a cousin who is her best friend, and a successful business that allows them all to be together.  Then her husband makes a startling confession and she has to decide what to do now that her life has been turned upside/inside out.  She takes her son home to her mother’s for the week of Easter to try to make sense of this new information.

Rachel has been living the past 30 years, wondering what actually happened to her daughter all those years ago.  Who killed her and why…to the point that she has not really been living at all.  The only bright spot in her life is that of her grandson Jacob.  Rachel’s world is turned inside out when her son announces that they are moving to New York for two years, taking her beloved grandson away.

You know that the base of the book really is who killed Rachel’s daughter all those years ago and to be honest, the answer is not all that surprising based on how the book is laid out.  And it is less about who killed her and more about these three women.  Their lives, their loves, their choices.  I had expected their stories to be more intertwined then they were, especially that of Tess.  Her story really seemed more on the peripheral the other two, which is disappointing, as I found her to be the more interesting of the three women.

The story comes together all in a flurry as each reaches their final breaking point with the chaos of their lives.  Each handles it differently and to be honest, none of them seem very excited about the final outcome.  I think it speaks to life that it isn’t always about the dream, but about how you handle the reality.  At the end of there is a little epilogue which tries to tie up all the stories and what ifs of the many different characters.  This actually felt blah.  I know the author was trying to demonstrate that life is all about choices and we can never know which ones are the important ones, which ones will change the course of our lives dramatically.  But really it felt like a downer.

While the story engaged me as a reader, made me think a little, it was not what I would call deep.  The characters were fairly cookie cutter, the interactions between them pretty standard.  But it fits nicely into that “chick lit/beach read/something light and fun” category.  So perfect when you want something light, and fun, and quick.

Now onto something totally different!  I diving into the “Cousin’s War” series by Philippa Gregory, starting with The White Queen.  I am about 100 pages into the book and so far really enjoying the characters.  I don’t know a great deal about this time period (The War of the Roses) but the author does a good job of laying the ground work, but not getting bogged down in historical facts.  I have read other books by this author and enjoyed them a great deal so I am excited to get lost in this new series.

The White Queen (The Cousins' War, #1)

What are you reading this weekend?

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 21, 2014

Truth Time

I called my blog “Musings of a Stay-at-Home-Mom” because that is what I thought defined me.  Being a stay at home mom.  And in many ways it does.  But it is also not really the whole picture.  I don’t want to get into the whole “SAHM vs Working Mom” debate because honestly…why is it even a debate?  Does it matter who has it easier or harder?  Is there even a way to compare?  Can you compare difficulties between various working parents?  I would find it challenging to do so.  You can’t even compare on SAHM to another because we are all different.  Who we were before kids, who we became after kids, who we are today are all different.  To compare, or judge, or hold others to your own personal standards is ridiculous.  So, I am not going to do it.

In all honesty, this has been a rough week.  I have really been struggling with what I see as my role.  And I finally and truly realized…I am just trying to do too much.  So, now I need to sit down and focus on what my priorities really are…for where my family is today, where I am today.  5 years ago,  you could walk into my house at any moment and the kitchen would be clean, the bathrooms sparkling, the laundry washed, folded and put away.  My to-read stack, while always large and being added to, was also always getting tackled.  My craft projects were not in a perpetual state of “I really need to work on that…”  Today, well, all those things have changed and I have to change my attitude about them.  I have two kids, who are home full-time, so the house is pretty much always in a state of chaos on some level.  Toys, books, crayons, art work can always be found (and often tripped over!).  Laundry is always clean…just not always folded and put away.  The bathrooms are clean, but maybe not sparkling.  The kitchen is now connected to our main living space, so clutter and life is continually filling the counters.  And I have to learn to be okay with this new norm.  And if you come to play or visit, then you do too!

I am so lucky to have an amazing and supportive husband who often looks at me and says..”you can’t do it all.  We agreed your primary job was to be home with our kids.  To make sure they were getting what they need, the experiences we want them to have, and that they get to be kids for as long as possible”.  He is not worried that the laundry is waiting to be put away, or that the counter is stacked high with the monkey’s latest drawings.   And if I don’t feel like cooking dinner…he is always willing to pick something up on the way home or take us out.  He does not see it as my failing to do my job.

But I still have this idea that I need to make everything perfect for everyone all the time.  When I tell the hubby this his response is always “but what’s perfect?”   I stress about not doing enough around the house, not baking things from scratch the way I used to, not getting all the projects I want to done, not spending enough time DOING something with the kids, not being as prepared or focused on anything the way I used to be, before kids.  And this week it really came to a head as my daughter and I butted heads during our school time (oh yeah, now I need to be sure to give her the most perfect home school experience possible!).  I just can’t do it all, I can’t be “supermom”, I can just be me.  I can and will make mistakes.  I can and will feel like just letting them stay in their jammies and snuggle on the couch watching Chuggington (my son’s new fave show..which luckily his sister enjoys as well).  Some days school time will be watching an ant crawl across the patio and baking cookies.   And all that is okay.  No, better than ok. All that is ME and I am doing the best I can on any given day.  I have to stop worrying about looking like “supermom” and just be “mom” because that will be pretty super all on its own.

I got some of the best advice when I was pregnant with my first child from a co-worker. She told me to remember that my daughter had never had a mom before, had nothing to compare to, knew nothing else so all I had to do was love my child, spend time with her and be the best mom I could be….and that would be perfect.  Sometimes I really need to stop and remember this…instead of getting caught up in what it seems the blog-o-sphere, social media, and pintrest deems to be a “supermom”.

So now I will figure out what my priorities are…what is important to ME and my family.  I am going to focus on those 5-7 things and when the rest gets done…well it gets done.   And it will all get done.  Maybe not as often, or to the same level of perfection as it used, but it will all eventually get done.  And if it doesn’t…well then maybe it was not so important anyway.  But I am going to take the worry and stress as much as I can out of the day and just ENJOY life and those around me.

Posted by: Genny Colby | February 17, 2014

Why is this still an issue?

So this past week actress Ellen Page came out as gay.  An NFL hopeful, Michael Sam announced he was gay.  I applaud them both for having the desire to be open and honest with the public about who they are in their private lives.  Certainly they did not owe any of us to make such an announcement,  Nor should they need to feel the need to hide who they are from the world.  I love that by making public statements they are continuing to show that ones sexuality does not define who they are, what they can do, the roles they can play or their ability to be a part of a team.  That they are showing the world that being gay is just one more aspect of who someone is, rather than their defining attribute.

But here is my issue…why is this still necessary?  Why is this still news?  When we will get to the point in our society where someone’s sexuality is a non-issue?  Who has to come out and say “My name is Bob and I’m a heterosexual”.  Why do we still feel the need to decide someone’s worth based on his sexuality rather than his character?

The fear of a gay man checking out guys in the men’s locker room…really, you don’t think guys check each other out in general, regardless of sexuality?  Same goes for the women’s locker room.  Honestly, should we not be flattered that someone wanted to look at our fat butts instead of running away in terror?  The chances are, that is the most that will happen…if even that happens (because really, in the locker room most people just want to get in and out and avoid eye contact with anyone else as much as possible).

Worried someone may try to hit on you?  Well, wouldn’t that be nice…to have someone find you attractive enough and then be brave enough to even approach you!  You can always say, “thank you, but I’m married/in relationship/not interested”.

Worried someone is going to make your kid gay?  Seriously?  We don’t have enough to worry about with our kids we have to add something like this?  Should we be worried someone is going to make our kids heterosexual?

I will say again…what does anyone else do in their bedroom have to do what I do in mine?  Okay, you don’t want to see people making out in public…I have to admit that I would prefer not to see anything  in-depth either, regardless of the gender of the participants!  Some things are left better to the privacy of your home/car/office supply closet.

It’s funny, as we have been watching the Olympics this past week, we have been talking with our daughter about Russia, and some of the comments being made about Russia’s anti-gay legislation and she gets it.  She has said “Well, I don’t want to live there mommy.  I want to be able to marry who ever I want to and they wouldn’t let me.”  So maybe there is hope one day that one’s sexuality will not matter…it will only matter that we all find someone to love and who loves us in return.  Then maybe we can start to focus on issues that really matter…like hunger, abuse, and neglect.  And making chocolate not only tasty, but calorie free.

 

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