Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa Claus: to Believe or Not?

When I was little, I think I believed in Santa Claus. I'm not really sure. I think I kind of knew all along that Santa Claus was really just my parents. They never said anything, but from the time I could read (age 4), I could recognize my mom's handwriting and realized that the tags on the Christmas gifts that were all from Santa Claus were written by her hand. I remember that as being my first clue. But I also remember overhearing conversations about Christmas that included things like what they should do for the stockings (aren't stockings also Santa's territory?) and just the commercials for Christmas on TV. Why would all that stuff need to be advertised if you just ask Santa for what you want? So I'm pretty sure that I had it all figured out at a pretty young age as I don't actually remember believing in him completely or what it felt like when I "found out" that he wasn't real.

My oldest child is seven. He is actually a very bright and imaginative seven-year-old, and I suspect that somewhere in there, he knows Santa is not real. It just doesn't logically make sense--going around the whole world in one night delivering gifts to millions of children, etc. But he is also still such an innocent boy. He still likes playing with toys that younger kids like playing with (he is very into Buzz Lightyear and we had a hard time finding a big enough Buzz Lightyear costume for him for Halloween--he was the only Buzz Lightyear at his whole school, as witnessed in the Halloween parade), and he likes to watch preschool shows on TV (think Nick, Jr. shows like Ni Hao Kai Lan). Yesterday we went to see Santa at the city's event, and he was very nervous and shy about sitting on Santa's lap. And let me tell you, that Santa did a fantastic job of making it seem real--he listened carefully when I called my children by name, commented to them how much they'd grown in the last year, asked how they liked their gifts from last year, etc. He really played it up.

Well, my seven-year-old really wants a Phineas and Ferb Lego set for Christmas. I have researched this--no such thing exists. I did find some instructional sites online on how to create the character from that show out of ordinary Legos, but there is not one such set in existence. My son is adamant that he will be getting this set for Christmas since he wrote it in a letter to Santa and asked Santa himself for it. I've told him that there is no such set and it will be impossible to get, but he is convinced that Santa can do anything and that Phineas and Ferb Lego set will be there under the tree Christmas morning.

So how far do you let the Santa fantasy go? Is it time to break the news to him, should I just let him be big time disappointed on Christmas morning and that will break it to him that there is no such thing as Santa Claus? I am torn between what to do about this. I keep trying to convince him to ask for something else, but he will not budge.

What would you do? What do you do with regard to Santa in your family?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Freedom or Security?

Last week I posted a quip on my Facebook wall asking the question what people thought of the TSA's new pat down procedures and the full body X-ray scanners. I posted this article as the jumping off point and then let people talk about what they thought.

I never really added what I though to the equation, I just let people write what they thought.

So here is my exact thought: I feel that we are trading personal freedoms away in the name of security. I don't believe these new procedures make us any more secure. In fact, I think it is a huge step in the wrong direction. What's next, mandated strip-searching everyone? But I couldn't really express in words the reasons I felt this way, I just knew that I felt like another freedom in this free country was being taken away for the sake of something else (in this case, a false sense of security). I had one friend who commented and gave very good reasons for all that she thought, and I'd like to quote her:

I think both methods are too intrusive and invasive. I was just listening to an interview on NPR and the interviewee asserted that most of the terror plots regarding planes have been averted because of police and detective work NOT these scans. The metal detectors are fine, but a full-body scan or intrusive body pat, not appropriate for me or my children. Also those machines are extremely costly. I have to question the cost-effectiveness of it...

3 years ago, my family visited Israel for 6 weeks. They are far more security conscious that we in the U.S. Their airport security is excellent, far better than our U.S., very efficient and fast AND doesn't include intrusive body scans or full-down body pats for the majority of passengers.

What do we tell our kids now? I've steadily taught my children over the last several years that no one is supposed to touch their bodies in the manner that those full-body pats do. Now imagine telling your kids that they have to undergo such an invasive search. Absolutely inappropriate.

Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that these full-body scans or searches truly make us safer as passengers on airplanes.

If we had conclusive evidence that the technology had caught X-amount of terrorists, then we could discuss this, but until that is shown conclusively, I find that it violates my personal liberties in ways that I am not willing to forgo, despite talk that it makes me more secure...

I already agree to metal detector scan and a body pat, if warranted. I do not agree to have my naked body on a picture or have someone give me a full body pat. Nor do I agree to my children being subjected to that. I have the right to protect my family's modesty as a I see fit. I also have the right to fly.

I am being forced by the government to give up this part of my privacy in the name of unproven and unsubstantiated technology that purports to protect my safety in order to see my parents or my in-laws. That is a violation of my liberty to see them as I would choose. We have means in place. Let's spend the money on more policemen, improving the F.B.I. , better communication between federal agencies.

She put everything I was thinking so eloquently and had support to back up her claims, like having actually been to Israel and witnessing firsthand their security system in place. Words I wanted to speak but didn't know.

Then I found this article in a political magazine, the Week, to which my husband and I subscribe. Since this magazine tends to be very liberal and many of the views in it are views I disagree with (we got it as a gift subscription and read it with half-interest each time we receive one), I was surprised to see that the author was on the same side of an issue as I was. Since I can't find an online link to the article, I will quote it in its entirety here, and I hope you stick around to read it, because it wasn't very long and it was quite good.

Airport screening: Security gets personal

At airports, the backlash has begun, said Dan Gillmor in Salon.com. The Transportation Security Administration has begun widespread use of its new, full-body imaging devices, and "it's freaking people out." Pilots are rebelling against passing through the scanners several times a day, and some bloggers have named Nov. 24 "National Opt-Out Day," to encourage travelers to demand a body search instead of passing through the scanning machines. Some travelers say the ghostly images of bodies that the scanners produces is an invasion of privacy; indeed, "the scanner images of children would qualify as child porn in other circumstances." Others question the TSA's assurance that the scanners' low does of radiation will be safe for frequent travelers and pilots. If you think the imaging is intrusive, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune, just try opting for the "enhanced pat down." TSA agents will aggressively feel around breasts, buttocks, and crotches. "If we don't say no when they want to inspect and handle our private parts, when will we?"

The TSA is not out to humiliate anyone, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in USA Today. Even after thwarted attempts at airborne terrorism by the Underwear Bomber and the Shoe Bomber, U.S. intelligence reports that al Qaida and its allies are plotting to strike at aviation targets "and are constantly adapting their tactics for doing so." All images of passengers' bodies will be viewed only by a TSA officer behind a walled-off enclosure, and that officer will never interact with the passenger. "We face a determined enemy," and to prevent another terrorism atrocity, sacrifices must be made.

There are sacrifices, and then there are sacrifices, said Jeffrey Goldberg in TheAtlantic.com. To see what it's like, I recently opted for the pat down at T.F. Green International Airport in Providence. An agent snapped on latex gloves, and ran his hands up my thighs, over my buttocks, and then between my legs. It was very weird--and pointless. Both the pat down and the scanner machines would not detect plastic explosives or weapons that a terrorist could insert into his or her body cavities--which al Qaida suicide bombers have already done. To really keep terrorists off planes, the TSA should take the Israelis' lead, and focus on "learning the identity and background of each passenger." Viewing naked images of us, or groping around in our crotches, is "meaningless security theater."

I found it interesting that both my friend on Facebook and the author in this article compare the security to the Israeli airport and talk about how we should pattern ours after theirs. I also thought it interesting the idea of "learning the identity and background of each passenger" because that makes so much sense! I mean, the majority of us are ho-hum people with regular boring lives and nothing to hide, so why not do background checks and things like that to find out about the passengers. Then people with questionable backgrounds or intents to fly (even the intent to fly could be helpful, I think), could be looked at more in depth. It just seems like such an invasion of privacy and removal of personal freedom in the name of security.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apparently, I'm a Nazi

This link will take you to a place called Yahoo Answers where I answered a specific question on whether or not you should address it if you walk in on your child masturbating or viewing pornography. I was the ONLY person on there who said that masturbation and pornography are wrong and my child shouldn't be doing that, so of course I would talk to them about it, despite the fact it might make me or them feel uncomfortable (the point of the question was that such a talk might make your child or you feel uncomfortable and it would be better to just ignore the whole thing). But since I've always been taught in the Church that these things are wrong and are actually sexual perversions, I said as much in my answer.

Her question was based off some Dr. Phil show where the 11-year-old had googled "naked people" and the parents were concerned about it. Same thing. If my 11-year-old was googling images of naked people, I would be concerned because that is pornography, even if mild.

And her response to me saying this?

She says, "You're a Nazi. I feel terribly sorry for your kids. Also, don't tell ME what good parenting is. I didn't ask, because I already know. Thank you. " (I simply said that good parents would talk to their kids about something they believe is wrong even though it makes them uncomfortable.)

I've seen many similar questions dealing with pornography and masturbation and other sexual perversions. It surprises me and disgusts me that most people think it's okay and right to experiment in such ways and that anybody who says it's wrong is immediately called up for being too strict or "like a Nazi."

Well, I guess I'll be a Nazi then. Though I'm not sure the Nazis had a position one way or the other on masturbation and pornography. But I'd prefer to teach my children what's right and hope they make good choices and then correct them when they don't make a good choice. Hopefully that will lead them the right way.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ah, the Moments of Motherhood

So you know those moments? Those moments when you realize that only a mother would have to deal with such a thing?

I had one of those moment the other night.

We went to Disney on Ice last night. During the performance, my 4-year-old came up to me and kept showing me his index finger. I thought he was telling me something was number one or that he wanted me to help him with something in one second. Finally, he really shoved the finger right up by my eyes and I could see a dark spot on the tip.

Turns out, he had picked his nose and there was no tissue anywhere to wipe it on. Usually, I have a stock of tissue, but I brought only what I needed in my pocket so I wouldn't have to bring my purse in.

So what do you do when confronted with such a situation? I did the only thing I thought I could do--I grabbed his hand and pulled him down as far under the seat at I could and had him wipe it back there on the floor.

Problem solved. Next time I'll remember the tissues.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Proud Parent

Today we had parent-teacher conferences for both boys. Our oldest who is in second grade is excelling in all subjects and shows creativity and ingenuity in his work. Our younger son, in kindergarten, knows all his letter sounds and is beginning to read.

Of course we were glad to hear they were both doing well academically.

But the part that made me feel like I was truly doing a good job as a mom?

Both boys are respectful and polite and they are friends with everyone in the class, always nice to all the other kids.

That made me pause and think about how much effort parents put in these days to make their children top of their class and super talented. All the sports teams and classes they take and lessons they have. All the extra reading and making sure they are getting their homework done and keeping up with their schoolwork. But how often to parents focus on how kind their children are to others? Since bullying is a huge issue these days, probably not as much as they focus on their children succeeding academically.

So I thought about what was more important and decided that I would rather raise children who are polite and respectful and treat others with kindness.

*Mormonad from New Era Magazine issued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fast Food

*image courtesy Google images

Today I ran across this article on KSL.com about how fast food companies market to children. Since my husband works in the fast food industry and we can hardly get around eating fast food occasionally, I definitely have some opinions on it.

I don't understand why the media and society in general want to blame the fast food industry for the rise in obesity. I guess just by throwing food that is not so healthy out there as an option for people means those people become brainwashed and can't decide for themselves to avoid it? That children are targeted because they can physically drag their parents to the fast food places and make them buy the meals for them?

Recently, San Francisco banned Happy Meals with toys in them unless they had less than 600 calories. According to this chart, the biggest problem with most meals are the French fries, the sauces (like the caramel dip or ranch dressing or even the BBQ sauce) and the sodas. It seems like it wouldn't be very difficult to order a Happy Meal that is less than 600 calories--just get the apples and milk instead of soda and fries. But the very fact that such legislation was even passed annoys me.

I'm a parent. My children eat fast food on occasion. I'm not a huge fan of fast food and only do it in a crunch (like when traveling) or when I really can't stand the thought of cooking. But when I do, I tend to use the value menu and buy a bunch of one thing, like chicken nuggets, and then we come home and split those up between everyone and then cut up some fresh fruit and veggies to have on the side as well as some milk and that's our meal. I realize that not all parents do it, but that's the point.

It's up to the PARENTS to make of it what they will and forming a legislation to supposedly keep parents from buying fast food won't help. They will just buy the bigger regular meals instead or still buy the meal but without the toy. And personally, I like to have the option to treat my kids to a Happy Meal if I want to. It's rare that I ever do that, but on occasion, I do treat them. Sometimes we go on a mother-son date, or mother-daughter date, and that's what my kids want--a Happy Meal with a toy.

All I'm saying is that I am SO fed up with all the blaming. Almost all problems that children face these days stem from how they're being raised, not necessarily the world we live in. Yes, we have some really bad choices out there, so we teach our children the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and then we demonstrate it by making good choices ourselves.

And I'm married to a fast food man, yet still I've managed to only eat that stuff sparingly and have healthy, normal children.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Staying Home

I may not be the most positive person around, and I may complain a lot about my life, but there's one thing for certain--I definitely do love being able to stay home with my children and have that as my job, my career. It's the only thing I ever really dreamed of doing, and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

So tonight, when my daughter said her prayer at bedtime, and thanked Heavenly Father that "Mommy can stay home with us", my heart just melted. It's actually the second time she has said that in a prayer--the last time was in a family prayer over the weekend.

My children are very aware that I stay home with them while many of their peers have mothers who are gone a lot and have expressed to me gratitude that I am always there and completely available to them. I do have my hobbies and activities that keep me busy, but they are right when they say that I am always there, ready to help them out when they need it most. I never have a project or something that will keep me from them because it's something that needs to get done. They are my work, and I am grateful for that!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Separation of Church and State

What does that phrase really mean?

It does not appear in the Constitution. I would assume that it comes from the First Amendment, which prohibits government establishment of religion. I agree that any one religion should not be taught in the public schools as the right religion or the best religion. However, I feel that ignoring religion altogether will create entire generations of people who do not understand our roots and the foundation of our country, which, despite many people who say otherwise, began based on religious principles and the desire for religious freedom. That is to say, the freedom to practice whatever religion one decides.

In today's world, the first amendment seems to be taken to mean the freedom from religion.

I don't know about everyone else, but my religion is a big part of who I am. Most of my choices are founded in my religious beliefs, whether consciously or subconsciously. Many people base their decisions and their actions on their religious beliefs, or the lack thereof. I cannot separate my religious beliefs from who I am because I am my religion. It is the reason behind so much of how I view the world (all pessimism aside--my religion certainly doesn't teach that).

In conclusion, I guess what I'm getting at is the very idea of "separation of church and state" doesn't work, in the sense that a religious politician, or an anti-religious one, bases his or her decisions and platform on their beliefs, which stem from that. So the truth is that there really is no separation, as far as the individual is concerned.

What do you think?


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