Thursday, May 31, 2012

The American Dream

NPR is running a series right now on the American dream and, more importantly, how the American dream is- for all intents and purposes- dead.  The idea that you can graduate from high school, go onto earn your college degree, land a good paying job, meet/fall in love/marry someone, buy a house in a safe neighborhood, have children, provide for those children while still being able to afford to take a family vacation once a year and then retire before you're too old to enjoy retirement is just not a reality for the majority of people anymore. 

I know it's not a reality for our family.

I was lucky enough to go to college, but am now saddled with so much student loan debt it barely seems worth it some days... we have access to a wonderful school for Eva to attend, but it consumes over one third of Jason's entire annual salary to send her there... there are tons of houses to be purchased in this market, but we'd have no way of saving up $30,000 for the required down payment... we have health insurance, but it's truly just catastrophic coverage, putting us one medical emergency away from being destitute...  and we're the fortunate ones!  We are the middle class that so many Americans aspire to.  How sad that not only has the true American dream died, but what has crept in is a cheap replacement- a feeling of being relieved if you aren't unemployed and homeless.  People shouldn't just pray they don't end up with no place to work or live, we should be outraged that we're bailing out corporate bankers while someone working 40 hours a week at minimum wage cannot afford an apartment in any state in the country!  We should be livid that millionaires are being given tax breaks while our public school systems are so shamefully under-performing that in less than a generation all of the brightest minds in our country will only be here via immigration, not birth!

I don't know how to fix the current situation, but I believe with all my heart that it's not through more tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.  Trickle down economics is the greatest lie this country was ever fed and it amazes me that with all the data available, people still believe it works.  It doesn't. It never did and it never will.     

Click through the photos below to get an idea of just how sad a situation our nation is in:   

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We've Gone International

Not sure how it happened, but after almost 2 years of having this blog, we finally have page views from overseas.  The picture below shows where the viewers are from (yes, Google tracks all, knows all, sees all....)  Obviously 99% of you who visit are from the USA but the light green color over the huge expanse in Eurasia and the little blip down at the bottom of Africa mean that some of you are from Russia and South Africa.

I don't know how you found your way here... maybe I know someone on Facebook studying abroad... maybe you're doing some cultural learnings on America for make great the glorious nation of Kazakhstan... either way, as long as you're not here to rip of my beauteous family photos then feel free to stay :-)

That stolen blog family photos showing up overseas thing really does happen- Proof here!

Happy Wednesday

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

I didn't whip out my big girl camera this weekend while up north, except to take some storm photos, but that doesn't mean I wasn't clicking away with my iPhone :-)

Eva dinner = strawberries, pineapple, carrots and dip, tomatoes and organic smoked pork chops from the farmers market :)


We had horrible storms all weekend up north.  It sort of ruined our time up there for the Memorial Day holiday because we were stuck inside most of the time and on constant mental alert both nights as 60+ mph winds ripped through the campground.

We were fortunate enough to not have any damage to our camper and I was able to snap some photos of the storm as it came our way.  The first photos are of the sky to one direction and then I turned around and took the others, you can see just how dark the sky was getting within a matter of seconds.

Happy Memorial Day

Friday, May 25, 2012

Eva's Book Review- May

We've been so busy lately I almost forgot about our book review!  We had no theme this month, but I always try to add at least one award winning or classic book into the mix; there are so many children's book out there that having some sort of guide is very helpful and I find 99% of the time we really like the books that have won awards or that are still in wide circulation after 50+ years. 

1. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
This book is not only an award winner but also a classic- bonus!  Winner of the Caldecott Honor in 1949 it's the story of a little girl and her mother as they go blueberry picking.  It's in all black and white, which Eva wasn't overly thrilled with at first, but it involves both the little girl and the mom running into a baby bear and a mama bear in the field, so Eva stayed interested.  We also took the chance to talk about onomatopoeia, as the author uses them to describe the berries as Sal drops them in her bucket.  Very cute book, both Eva and I highly recommend it.

P.S. Is it just me or were other people expecting Sal to be a little boy based off of the name and the illustration on the cover??!

2. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman & Caroline Binch
This book is so wonderful.  It's about a girl named Grace who loves to read and has a great imagination.  She wants to try out for the part of Peter Pan in her school play but is discouraged when her classmates tell her she can't because she's a girl and she's black.  With encouragement from her Nana she tries out and wins the part and wows everyone with her performance.  Eva loves this book and will make comments such as, "the boys don't know that girls are the betterest (that's "better-est", as in the very best, for those of you who don't speak Eva) and girls can do lots and lots of things."

3. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
This is another fantastic book.  Stellaluna is a baby fruit bat whose world is turned upside down when her mom is attacked and she falls into a birds nest.  Her new family is caring, but they make her act like a bird, not a bat.  It's a nice children's introduction to being the same or different from other people in your life and how you can be close to people who may look very different.  Eva doesn't quite get the deepness of the story yet and is more concerned that bats "fly at night and can be scary" but hey, can't except my 4 year old to be as advanced as I sometimes want ;-)

We had tons more books that we read this month but I'm saving some of them up for different themed months... up next in June? Native American books - stayed tuned!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

25 Things I’ve Learned In My 20s

25 Things I’ve Learned In My 20s
(stolen from

1. You can’t date a jerk and expect to turn them into a good person. Jerks are fully committed to being unpleasant. Those brief moments of tenderness they give you are designed to trip you up and give you false hope. It’s best to stay away altogether.
2. The rumors are true: your metabolism does slow down as you get older! That means if you’re still eating whatever you want, there’s a good chance you’ll start to gain an awkward amount of weight. It won’t be too drastic but your clothes will start to hang differently on your body and you’ll feel an overall feeling of unattractiveness. Start to be conscious of what you eat and strive to live a healthier lifestyle if you want to get your teen body back. (Let’s be real though, that might not ever come back.)

3. You’re going to lose touch with a lot of your friends. With some people, it will be expected but with others it will feel like a punch to the stomach. No friendship is truly safe in your twenties. You’re undergoing so many personal and professional changes that there’s bound to be some casualties along the way. Don’t worry though. You’ll end up with the ones that matter. If someone’s no longer in your life, it’s for a reason.

4. You’ll be jealous of everyone who’s more successful than you. That’s okay. Just transfer that jealousy into something productive, like working really hard so you can one day eclipse them and make them feel jealous of YOU.

5. You’ll question every decision you make and never feel completely certain that you made the right choice. It’s pointless to wonder though. You’re here now so you might as well make it be the right decision.

6. You’re going to give your heart to a few people who don’t deserve it. Then, one day you’ll come to your senses and ask them to give it back.

7. You’ll see your parents get older. You’ll come home during Christmas break and see new lines developing on their faces. One day it’ll just hit you that your parents are old and going to die. There’s nothing you can do about it, besides treat them with kindness and visit as much as your budget permits.

8. You’ll have a boss who makes you feel like you’re nothing. It doesn’t have to be in a Devil Wears Prada way. The cruelty can be much more subtle. Don’t let them get to you though. They have no idea who the hell you really are and you’re probably going to have their job someday so…

9. Doing drugs is fun until it’s not, until it starts affecting your life in negative ways and leaves you feeling guilty and wrecked. If that happens, you should stop doing them.

10. You’re going to puke in public. It’s fine. No one cares. Just puke.

11. You’ll know how to make twenty dollars last an entire week because you spent almost all of your paycheck on groceries at Whole Foods and drunk cab rides. This lesson in frugality will serve you well.

12. You’re going to betray your convictions. You’re going to feel shame. You’re going to continue to put yourself in situations that aren’t good for you. And then, slowly but surely, it will become less frequent. It might not ever go away completely but it won’t be as bad. In the meantime, stop shame spiraling about it. It gets you nowhere.

13. Loving yourself is hard. Hating yourself is harder.

14. You’re going to hook up with someone who you would never touch in the daylight sober. Just don’t freak out too much about it. Consider it to be your good deed for the day.

15. You’re going to have people in your life who are toxic. They may say that they love you, they may say that they have your back, but they don’t. Get rid of them.

16. You’ll have moments with someone that are so intense, it’ll feel like you’ve been electrocuted back to life. You’ll hold on to these moments for a long time. They’ll give you hope when you’re going through the motions.

17. You’ll always care about your first love. That doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes you human. When relationships end, it’s not so cut and dry. You carry everyone you’ve ever loved into every relationship thereafter.

18. You’ll enter your twenties as a fashion disaster and (hopefully) leave them looking fantastic. If you don’t know how to put yourself together by then, I really don’t know what to tell you.

19. You’ll realize that the Internet can be a cruel son of a bitch but, you know,

20. So much of what you think matters doesn’t actually matter at all. It’s kind of rude. Like, thanks for making me believe in things that are ultimately so inconsequential, you jerk.

21. You’ll treat someone terribly. Whether it to be a lover or your friend, there’ll be someone whose feelings you take for granted. We focus too much on whether or not someone is hurting us. The reality is that we might actually be the one who’s hurting someone.

22. Doing “grown-up things” doesn’t make you a grown up. Shopping for housewares, buying a plant, embracing domesticity — these things don’t create maturity. If you’re still a baby who hasn’t figured things out, you’ll remain a baby, no matter how many times you pay your rent on time.

23. Don’t force yourself into loving anyone. If it’s not working in the beginning, it’s probably not going to work ever.

24. You are so lucky to have everything that you have. Stop crying about an unreturned text message and get some perspective.

25. Don’t go too long without having sex. Ever.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gymnastics Show

Eva had her first annual spring show at her gymnastics school this past weekend.  It was so much fun watching how much she has progressed at TCT- so happy we found it and we'll be staying for years to come!

Eva and her BFF Sadie (they go to school and gymnastics together)

Reverse flip, this is actually an insanely cool move to watch fully- she flips forward and then from sheer strength reverses and pulls herself back through her arms!

Getting her trophy


Friday, May 18, 2012


Oh hey there! Come here often? You. Yes, you- reading right now. Well you must because we're up to eleven thousand views :-)

Thanks and have a wonderful weekend!

Gay Marriage

As the gay marriage debate rages here in Minnesota- we have a proposed amendment to our constitution on the ballot this November that would define marriage as only between one man and one woman- and across the nation as a whole, I feel the need, as a Christian, to weigh in.  I say "as a Christian" because as an under 30 year old, college educated, Democrat I'm statistically very likely to be in favor of gay rights.  But as a Christian?  That's where I break from the norm.  Sadly, most people who proclaim themselves Christian are the first to condemn gay marriage.  To me, this is not only a horrible distortion of Jesus' message of love and acceptance but a distortion of the Bible itself as a literary source.

Let us begin with the main reason for a Christian's opposition to gay marriage, the "traditional" marriage argument.  Sorry to break it to you, but there is no such thing- at least that we would actually want to enforce- as traditional, Biblical marriage.  Women in Biblical times where seen as property and only valuable insofar as they were virgins who were able to produce children. Widow? You're screwed. Prisoner of war? You're screwed. Raped? You're really screwed.  The picture below highlights the absurdities of sexual relationships the Bible considers acceptable- take some time to fully read it! (click on it to enlarge for easier reading)

Okay so there is no such thing as "traditional marriage" in the Biblical sense. Is there a 1950s era mom, dad, 3 kids, white picket fence driving a Chevy sense of traditional marriage? Sure.  But that is far too relative, recent, and individualized to say that it must be the norm for all.  Interracial marriage was seen as an unacceptable as recently as 50 years ago, and I hope we can all look back and see the absurdity of that.   

Now to the Bible as a piece of literature, since that's what it is.  Is it divinely inspired? Yes. But God has no typewriter in Heaven, he did not physically write the Bible, man did, and what's more important is that man translated the Bible over and over again, from language to language.  And things are always bound to get lost (or added...) in translation. 

"The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another."

The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should read atypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul's writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.

Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay "unnatural" hullabaloo rests on a MISTRANSLATION."

The Biblically versed among you may be shouting at the computer monitor, "But wait! Leviticus tells us that for a man to lay with another man is an 'abomination!'"  To that I would say, Leviticus is the Old Testament.  Old Testament Jews were obsessed with rituals and cleanliness.  Were gay people impure in their eyes? Sure. But so too was anyone with a tattoo, a woman who wore pants, anyone who ate pork, a man who touched a woman while she was menstruating... the list goes on and on and I think we can all agree they were extreme and have no place in 2012.  "Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart."    The way modern day Christians go on and on about it you'd think all Jesus spent his time preaching about was homosexuality, right? Wrong.  There is not one single example of Jesus speaking about homosexuality in the Bible, not one.

So my fellow Christians, I beg you, to do as Jesus commanded and look inside your heart and be honest about the true reason you may oppose gay marriage.  Is it because it grosses you out? Scares you? Makes you think more people will become gay?  None of those reasons are founded in Christian love.  And if we do not have the love of Jesus Christ in our hearts, what are we?  We are not truly Christians at all.  How sad to think you would turn away from the greatest commandment of all- to love one another- because you were so concerned with what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes that you voted hatred into law...

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another... that together you may with one voice glorify God... Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you. ~ Romans 15:5-7


My Blackberry decided to run out on me a few weeks ago. This made me both sad, since I lost all of my photos and contacts, but it gave me the chance to cash in on my early upgrade option at Sprint and finally get the awe inspiring iPhone4S.

So now I don't have to carry a phone and a camera with me everywhere I go; the camera in the iPhone4S is awesome!  Here are just a few I've snapped over the last two weeks- some just raw and some finished with different effects through instagram.

working on her wall walkers