Why I Plan to Spy on My Kids

The other day I found out that the pre-teen daughter of a friend of mine was the victim of cyber-bullying.

Police have been called, there are possible criminal charges, the police will be talking to school officials. And yes, it’s that bad.

Without going into much detail, I will tell you this pre-teen bully not only caused great emotional and psychological pain to this girl and her family, but she also manipulated online postings so that there is the possibility of opening the victim up to sexual predators, including giving out her home location.

This is a serious situation.

The bully used to be good friends with the victim. I don’t know what caused the falling out, but I know this isn’t the way to handle it. I also know that the is the first generation of young kids having to deal with this kind of danger, which makes us the first generation of parents having to deal with it in younger kids.

So what can you do?

Well, every family & situation is different, but I’ll tell you what we are doing, plan to do, and how we are approaching it with our kids.

#1 – mobile devices are charged overnight in our bedroom. We started this when our oldest got her iPad at age six. She will grow up with this being the normal way things are.

#2 – the security on said mobile devices will be locked down very tightly, gradually lessening said security as they get older. I have to give my husband credit for this one. He has her iPad locked down with incredible security. She basically cannot communicate with anyone, even within games or apps, without our permission.

#3 – we have told her now that we will read her messages later. We explained why (age appropriately). We talk about bullies, bad people, and safety. We talk about how our #1 job is keeping her safe. We tell her that we don’t want to read private things, but sometimes we might have to just to make sure she’s safe. She will grow up with this as a normal, loving thing for her parents to do.

#4 – we plan to mount the giant flatscreen monitor for our computer on the wall. In the living room. It won’t be the most attractive setup, but there will be no hiding what you are doing online. We have an open floor plan, and this set up will allow that screen to be seen from all four common areas of our house. Our children are still young, and we plan to do this within the year, again making it something they will grow up with, something “normal”.

You may notice a common theme here. We are not waiting until they are older. We are not waiting until something bad happens. We are instituting rules now, when the girls are young, when the rules don’t even really apply to them yet, so that they will grow up understanding that these actions are normal and we are doing them because we love them and want to keep them safe.

In fact, my oldest has been asking for a Kids YouTube account lately so she can post videos. Yesterday she came up with the idea of it being a joint account, with only me having the password, so that I have to approve anything she posts, and screen any comments before she sees them. Her idea. Because us screening her computer & tablet activity is so “normal” to her that it’s not a big deal. Still haven’t decided though.

I would love to find a really good program that blocks inappropriate content as well, but I have yet to find one. I’ve found ones that send you reports (after it’s too late), or ones that block way too much (sorry for locking you out of all of Google, husband), but none with a good balance for families. Which I think is ridiculous because many employers have great systems that block sites and messages based on specific key words, but I have yet to find a similar one for families. If you know of any, please comment below. I’m sure my readers would love to know as well.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

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Why We’re Done with Vaccines

So, I have a lot to say about the immunization standards in our country right now, so this will be a very brief statement of where we are for our kids. Elaboration will have to come later.

We started out getting most routine vaccines for our oldest. We opted out of a few (which I’ll go into in a later post). And then came her 12 month vaccines. She had a skin reaction in the form of a total body rash and we took her back to the pediatrician. He said the rash wasn’t related to the vaccine at all, and insisted it was a reaction to a recent “serious viral illness”.

Except… she hadn’t been sick. Not so much as a sniffle. But she had had a set of vaccines.

Can we report it?* We asked. No, was the answer. Why? Because this reaction’s not been noted before. Can we be the first? No. Why? Because this hasn’t been noted before.

Do you the kind of circular logic there? If no one can report a reaction for the first time, it never gets reported.

We continued to opt out of the same vaccines we always had, and staggered the rest.

Fast forward six years. Our younger daughter goes in for her 12 month vaccines. Because of older sister’s reaction, I request to stagger each one.

Good thing we did. She had the exact same reaction, in the exact same timing as her older sister did.

Because I insisted on staggering hers, we now know it was the pertussis vaccine that caused the reaction in both girls.

See, that’s one of the other problems. Giving so many vaccines at once means there’s often no way to know for sure which vaccine causes which reactions.

In fact, for years we had blamed the MMR vaccine on my oldest’s reaction, since statistically that vaccine has the most reported reactions. Just a numbers game.

But we were wrong. Same reaction, same timing, same family, and the only vaccine that was the same was the pertussis.

Now we know.

My oldest has a lot of weird… quirks with her body ever since then. Unexplained rashes, extremely sensitive skin, food sensitivities, the list goes on.

Every time something new pops up I wonder if I did that to her. The sad & scary thing is because of the way vaccines are administered we will never know for sure.

So far, nothing has been serious, but I can’t help but wonder if we will find something later, some unexplainable medical issue that she has no family history of. I suppose only time will tell.

So for now, we are done with vaccines. I want to be clear that I am not anti-vaccine at all. But I do believe in being cautious and diligent, and I have a lot of problems with the way immunizations are handled in our country. A lot.

Will we never ever get another vaccine? I don’t know. It’s a constant reviewing of the risk / benefit for my children, and there is a very real possibility that may change in the future. But for now… we’re done.

Tell me, have you opted out of any vaccines? or had any reactions, big or small?

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How we Became Homeschoolers

I never saw myself as one to homeschool, truth be told. I loved my public school experience (K-12), and my public university experience (B.A.). Both of my parents worked for the public school system. For us, it was a great experience.

homeschoolingGrowing up, I had quite a few friends who went to private Christian schools, and a couple of friends who were homeschooled, and they all did well, so it’s not like either of those options were ever off the table for me.

My husband was homeschooled most of his schooldays though, so when we had our oldest, homeschooling was definitely on the table. In fact, for us public school, private school (Christian or secular), and homeschool were all on equal footing.

But if I’m being honest, when I pictured it, I saw us sending our kids to public school, just like I did. I envisioned them having the same great experience I did.

Things don’t always work out like we hope.

The school district where we lived was a large one, by my standards anyway (over 4000 students in just the four high schools alone – not counting elementary or middle schools). We had friends with older kids who went there, who praised all the resources available, but lamented being “just a number”, complained that most of the staff didn’t have a clue who they were, and said if you weren’t the best of the best or the worst of the worst… you were nobody.

Having gone to a small rural school (roughly 500 in the one high school when I graduated), this wasn’t exactly what I saw for my kids. But… we recognized that there are good things and bad things to everything, and so I still planned on sending my kids there, albeit with a little reservation.

Fast forward a few years. Since I was working full time out of the home at the time, my oldest daughter attended a private Montessori preschool while I was at work, where she thrived. Her preschool went thru Kindergarten, and after discussing with her teachers (whom she had been with for two years already), the director, and her pediatrician, we decided to start her in Kindergarten a year early. All parties involved were in agreement: she was more than ready, not just academically, but socially & emotionally as well.

She finished kindergarten with flying colors, top student in her class, and by her teachers’ words one of the most mature as well, despite being the youngest in her class.

In February of her kindergarten year, I contacted the local school to start planning her enrollment there (I can be an anxious planner like that). They told me she would have to repeat kindergarten.

{{ blink, blink, blink }}

I explained that she was enrolled in a certified kindergarten program in the same state and was doing well. If she finished that satisfactorily, why couldn’t she continue on to first grade?

They said she was too young.

{{ blink, blink, blink }}

I offered to have her tested. They refused. I offered to bring her in for an assessment / interview. They refused.

Keep in mind I verified that our state mandates that schools have a provision for allowing students to skip a grade, although it doesn’t say how hard or easy a district has to make it on parents.

They insisted she was too young to handle first grade, and refused to budge. I fought with the administration (school secretary, principal, superintendent, and eventually involved the entire school board) for four months before giving up, after they told me they would allow her to enroll in first grade, but only half a day (because a child so young surely couldn’t handle a full day of school). I asked what happened when she fell behind because all the other students were going a full day. Well, then she’d have to drop down to kindergarten or repeat first grade. What they’d actually done was found a way to agree to let her advance to first grade now, while all but ensuring she would fall back and still end up in their age-based little box.

Essentially the district insists that all students fit into a narrow box of what a child can do at what age. My husband and I decided we didn’t want  our kids to attend a school that had such a narrow definition of what a child could do, nor did we feel comfortable sending our kids to a school whose administration was so unwilling to work with parents.

Praise the Lord everything else fell into place to make this possible. I had been miserable at my job for months, our family business was taking off, I was due with our second child at the end of the school year, and then two weeks before I gave birth my company announced my job was being transferred two states away. All of those big things, combined with a thousand little things, told us God was leading us toward me being a stay-at-home-mom and homeschooling our children.

That was nearly two years ago, and while the journey hasn’t always been easy, I am repeatedly reminded that this was absolutely the best choice for our daughter.

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Easter 2016 Events in Greater Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio

Easter Egg Hunt
hosted by Cincy 4 Kids
March 25-26
time & location TBD

Easter Celebration
Saturday March 26
10am – 2pm EST
Cincinnati Zoo

Easter Eggstravaganza
Saturday, March 26
time TBD
Central Baptist Church
7645 Winton Road

Walton, Kentucky

Country Easter Down on the Farm
Saturday, March 19
10am – 2pm EST
Benton Family Farms

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How I Teach Diversity in My Home (gender)

Last night while driving around with my 7 year old in the car, she asked me if I could talk in a man’s voice. Since my vocal range extends from mezzo-soprano down to tenor, I obliged. She giggled, then declared that I sounded so much like a man I can go in the men’s bathroom.

I laughed, then said “I can not! Just because I can sound like a man when I want doesn’t make me a man!”. Giggles from both of us.

Then we talked, lightheartedly (she is only seven, you know). We talked about how having a deep voice doesn’t make a woman a man, I told her about falsetto voices, and how having a high voice doesn’t make a man a woman.

I asked her if Papaw was a woman because his favorite color was pink. An exuberant “No!” was her reply.

Was Ms. Kristi a man because she cut her hair really short? “No!”

And on and on. Examples from both genders about how just because you look a certain way, like certain things, or even act a certain way, that doesn’t define whether you are a man or a woman.

God made men to be men, and women to be women. I glossed over our different parts.

Then we talked about how awesome it is that there are a million different ways to be a man, but that men are still men, no matter what they’re doing on the outside. And we talked about how there are a million different ways to be a woman, no matter what women are doing on the outside.

And isn’t it awesome that God made each of us different, so that there are a million different ways to be who we are, while still being the man or woman He made us to be?

She didn’t realize the gravity of our conversation, but it was not lost on me. Our society has gone mad, and too many of our population have accepted the ridiculous notion that gender, or race, or age, or whatever are no longer absolutes. I think (hope?) what the people who support such notions just don’t seem to understand is that by allowing this relative, flexible version of “truth” permeate our society, we are also losing the diversity fight. Yes, I said losing.

We are feeding into, growing, and further stigmatizing gender roles when we tell a woman with masculine tendencies that perhaps she should consider the idea that she isn’t a woman at all, perhaps she is a mistake, wrong gender in the wrong body. When we tell an effeminate man that since he isn’t very masculine it’s likely he may very well be a mistake, a woman trapped in a man’s body we rip away the dignity of who he is. Instead of celebrating the million ways to be a man or a woman, we are more & more funneling people into gender categories.

On the surface, this idea that if we feel a certain way, especially if we identify a certain way, we must be that… well, on the surface that sounds like an amazing, accepting, loving idea.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll see how sad and hurtful it is to tell someone that if you don’t identify with how I see men, then the “truth” is you’re really not a man.

How much more accepting, and loving, and truly diverse of a society would we be if instead we said: “there are a million ways to be a man, and we accept you as a man, as you are”?

I choose to teach my kids diversity is accepting people the way they are, not encouraging them to pretend to be something they aren’t, not telling them God made a mistake when He made them, not telling them they’ll be happier if they let us cut their bodies apart, but just as they are, right now.

That’s how I teach diversity in my home.

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Doritos: Preferred by Humans of All Ages

By now you’ve probably seen the Doritos Super Bowl commercial. If not, I’ve linked it for you below.

What you may or may not have heard is that NARAL, one of the pro-abortion camp’s most prominent groups, didn’t like it.

Doritos_tweetSo, let’s talk about this for a minute, let’s break down the stupidity of this tweet.

antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses

It’s true. From day one pro-life advocates have argued, correctly, that a baby conceived between two humans and carried in a human mother is indeed human. I’m not exactly sure how you can humanize something that is clearly, factually, scientifically, biologically already a human, or why this would be a bad thing.

It would be akin to someone complaining about a Purina commercial because the dogs were portrayed a little too “canine”.

Of course, I suppose if you have worked tirelessly to dehumanize this class of humans, the idea of someone trying to confirm their humanity in  such a public way might anger you. But it doesn’t change the fact that a human “fetus” is in fact human. It’s a fact, not an opinion. Fact. Scientific fact.

** side note** found out today that the ultrasound used in the commercial is the actual ultrasound (plus some animation magic) of the creator’s youngest child. The human boy’s name is Freddy. NARAL’s probably gonna have a fit if they find out this filmmaker had the nerve to humanize that “fetus” by naming it.

dads as clueless

I’ve asked several people their opinion of the dad in this video. Not one said they saw him as clueless. The words most used were “funny” and “hungry”. One person expounded on their view of him as funny by saying he seemed like a jokester. So, a guy who likes to have fun. Not one person said anything that even remotely came close to him lacking intelligence.

I find it interesting that NARAL is trying to call Doritos out as being sexist by saying they thought the dad was portrayed as clueless, yet in my very informal polling, they are the only ones who think that. Seems to me like perhaps they are the ones with a bit of prejudice in that regard.

moms as uptight

Again, I took the same informal poll of people’s opinion of the mom in this video. Not one came anywhere close to “uptight”. Most common responses were “pregnant” and “frustrated”. Well, I suppose frustrated might come a tiny bit close to being uptight. Tiny bit. But if any of you have ever been in your last weeks of pregnancy, you may recall a tad bit of stress, possibly some anxiety that might put you a bit on edge and a little more ready to react to your jokester husband’s antics. I think it’s sexist to conclude that such reactions are “uptight”, and find it funny that again it is NARAL who is making the prejudices against it.


So there you have it folks. One of the most prominent pro-abortion groups in America doesn’t understand the fundamental scientific fact that a human baby is in fact human, and assumes jokester dads are clueless and hugely pregnant moms are uptight. What an idiotic, sexist statement.

Presidential Candidate Opinion: Hillary Clinton

Just… no.

Hillary Clinton

First of all, the fact that she is currently being investigated for everything from security leaks to public corruption by our own federal government makes me completely bewildered that she would dare to run for any office at this point, let alone President. Personally, even if I did think she would make a great President (I don’t), I couldn’t in good conscience vote for her until this investigation was complete. These are very serious allegations, and so far evidence appears to be pointing to her guilt. Not understanding security clearance of communications is not someone you want to be in charge of the country. Someone guilty of public corruption is not someone I would want to be in the top office. In my opinion, it’s absolutely ridiculous that she’s even running during these investigations, and I would seriously have to question anyone who was aware of this and still chose to vote for her.

But down to the issues. Okay, issue.

For me, the fact that she is pro-abortion is an immediate ‘no’ vote. But not only is she pro-abortion, she is one of the most extreme supporters of abortion that I have heard of in recent years.

Lastly, there’s the whole Benghazi issue. Again, some very serious allegations here.

At this point, I honestly don’t even feel the need to look at the rest of her record or issues. These three things are so serious, and cast her in such a negative light, that there is no reason for me to even consider her as a serious candidate.

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Presidential Candidate Opinion: Ted Cruz

Oh, Mr. Cruz.

You were once one of my top picks. Tied for second in my eyes.

And then Iowa happened.

Iowa state flag
Iowa state flag

Your campaign lied to voters to sway caucus-goers to leave Ben Carson and side with you, CNN has refuted your claims that campaign workers were just relaying publicly reported news, and now we have time-stamped voicemails showing that your campaign was calling caucus workers after both CNN and the Carson campaign stated publicly that he was in fact staying on the campaign trail.

It’s dirty politics. Politics as usual, yes, but that’s not exactly what we’re looking for this time around.

I agree with you on so many issues, but this dirty trick and the continued lies trying to justify it, have left a bad taste in my mouth.

And then I find out about the mailer controversy, and that while you claim to support first responders you refused to support the Zadroga Act… you’re falling farther and farther down my list of choices.

You are no longer anywhere near the top of my list Mr. Cruz, not when there are several very well qualified candidates still in the running.


For those who are interested, Dr. Ben Carson is currently my top pick, with Mr. Marco Rubio my second choice.

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What I Wish Abortion Supporters Knew about Pro-Lifers

More than anything, I wish abortion supporters knew that we love them.

Yes, we love the babies we are trying to protect. But we love the moms too. Our movement is founded on and infused with love and respect for all life, including yours.

Whether you have had an abortion, thought about it, or support the legal right to it, we love you.

I wish you fully understood our side of the story. I wish you could see yourselves with the loving eyes thru which we see you.

I wish you really heard what we are saying, and what we hear when you speak.

I think sometimes the fact that you don’t is our own fault. Sometimes we become so passionate about the tiny little helpless ones that our passion comes out in ways that are less than becoming. Or as is so often the case whatever the topic, big or small, passion is often interpreted as anger or hate. But it’s not. I promise you that.

I am passionate about saving babies. But I am also passionate about loving everyone involved, the best that I can, the best way I know how. I wish you knew that.

I wish you knew that when you tell us abortion should be readily available because many of those children would otherwise be born into poverty, that we believe being poor doesn’t make you less worthy of life, that wealth doesn’t make your life any better. We don’t believe poverty, or the possibility of poverty, should equal a death sentence for anyone.

I wish you knew that when you tell us abortion should be readily available because many of those children would otherwise be born into abuse situations, that while it also breaks our hearts, we also believe people can rise above abuse situations, can break the cycle, can live wonderfully fulfilling lives past terrible periods in their lives, have value, can lead happy lives, and can make the world a better place. We don’t believe abuse, or the possibility of abuse, should equal a death sentence for anyone.

I wish you knew that when you tell us abortion should be readily available because many of those children would otherwise be born into neglect, that we believe those children deserve a chance to overcome their beginnings, and that we believe a neglected child can grow into an amazing influential person that can change this world for the better. We believe that child can teach every one of us how to be better parents, better people. We don’t believe neglect, or the possibility of neglect, should equal a death sentence for anyone.

I wish you knew that when you tell us a woman shouldn’t be forced to have a baby because she can’t handle being a mother right now, that we don’t believe you. We don’t believe she is too weak or incapable. We believe that she is strong, she is capable, she can do this. We believe in every woman and her ability to do hard things and come out better for it.

I wish you knew that when you tell us a woman shouldn’t have to put her career on hold because of a baby, that we agree with you. But we hold accountable those who are guilty of pregnancy and maternal discrimination in the workplace, not the innocent life she is considering ending. We believe that baby is evidence of and a reason for fighting workplace discrimination, not an inconvenience to be discarded. We believe working women can fight the fight, do hard things, be a mom, and have a successful career.

I wish you knew when you tell us that baby probably won’t be loved, that we don’t believe you. We believe everyone, if given the chance, will experience love in their lifetime. Because someone is not feeling loved right now does not mean they will never be loved. Beyond that, we believe our Creator loves each and every one of us more than we can imagine. Each and every baby is loved. We believe everyone deserves the chance to feel love, even if it’s not right now.  We believe that not feeling loved, or the possibility of not experiencing love right away, shouldn’t equal a death sentence for anyone.

I wish you knew that when we say we think abortion clinics should be held to higher medical standards, we say it out of love. Things like doorways wide enough for an ambulance gurney to fit, at least one doctor with admitting privileges at a local hospital, well, we believe these are safety issues for anyone having any type of surgery. What we’re trying to say is that if you do decide to go thru with the abortion, we at least want you to come out alive & well. We believe that making a choice we disagree with shouldn’t come with a heightened risk of medical complications, just to make it easier or cheaper. We value your life more than convenience or money.

I wish you knew how much we loved you and how much we want good things for you.

And yes, for your baby too.

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