Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Girl Who Heard Demons book review

Full disclosure: Jeanette Rallison is one of my favorite authors. She is also one of my favorite humans. So yes, I was predisposed to like her latest YA novel, The Girl Who Heard Demons. BUT. She had some tough competition for my attention. I homeschool. I obsess over Korean dramas. And I love my sleep. Mmmmm, sleeeeep.

But what was I doing last Sunday night? Watching a Kdrama? Nope. Sleeping? NOPE. I was reading this fantastic book because I couldn't put it down. WHAT ARE THE DEMONS TELLING YOU, ADELLE!? I MUST KNOW!

The premise: Shy Adelle Hansen hears demons but she's determined to make friends at her new high school by keeping her ability secret. When she overhears supernatural voices celebrating the impending death of the school quarterback, Levi Anderson, she knows she has to do something to prevent it. However, the demons aren't the ones plotting; they're just celebrating the chaos, and Adelle must contend with earthly forces as well if she wants to preserve Levi's life.
Handsome, popular Levi doesn't appreciate Adelle's self-appointed role of guardian angel. As Adelle battles to keep him safe, she'll have to protect her heart too. Can she do both?

As pure entertainment, this book gets the work done. The slithering, whispering demons are creepy. The mystery pulled me through. The romance was swoon-worthy. Jeanette builds tension like a pro. If you're looking for pure, fun escapism, The Girl Who Heard Demons will do that for you in spades.
But the reasons I loved this book go deeper than the joy of a good diversion. There's some underlying depth and messaging that I really loved. Some ideas that Jeanette put pictures to in a way that stuck with me.

For example, our heroine, Adelle must go to a high school party despite her clear reluctance to do so. As she's there, she's forced to navigate a room full of invisible demons whispering in the ears of unwary high schoolers. Adelle notes how the more these kids abuse drugs and alcohol, the more power they give the demons. The scene is played out so beautifully, that visually, I could see it all clearly. It took me back to similar situations when I was a teenager -- with similar behaviors and consequences. But at the same time, it never came off as preachy. Adelle wasn't judging her peers so much as wishing she could warn them -- like someone who sees an impending car crash but can do nothing to prevent it. 

Jeanette also touches on some universal themes, like the unfairness of life and what, if any, purpose we have for being here, as well as the consequences of free will. I can't go much into those without giving plot points away but suffice it to say, for those who like so
me depth in their afternoon reading, this book will get you thinking. It's one I plan to hand over to my kids when they're a little older in the hopes that it will spark some good discussions.

**potential spoiler**

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One aspect of the novel that I really liked is how the demons weren't the *real* villains of the book. They were more like a consequence of bad decisions. You knew who was bad because they were heavy with demons. This explores in a very real way how our choices have consequences and how free will is a wonderful gift but also a great responsibility that shouldn't be treated casually. 

Like I said -- this book will get you thinking.




Monday, April 25, 2016

Love Letter to Public School Moms

I homeschool my kids and often, when other moms discover this fact about me, they remark on how patient/smart/great/brave I must be. They often observe that they don't have the skills/fortitude/time to do what I do.
While I appreciate the love and I really WISH it were all reality, I must speak some truth here today, even if it reveals that I'm less than the educational version of Martha Stewart (pre-prison stint -- ain't nobody got anything on post-prison Martha).

I've been thinking for awhile that my public school mom friends are being much too hard on themselves. Maybe it's the curse of motherhood -- that evil inner voice that makes us feel like whatever decision we make for our children is the wrong one. Maybe I make homeschooling look more glamorous than it is (because I knew you were stopping by so I got it together for that one hour). Maybe, because you see so many other amazing moms doing the things you're doing, it makes it all seem ... less amazing.

Whatever it is, here's the truth.

On bad homeschool days, I sometimes sit in front of my laptop and visit school websites, fantasizing about stuffing my children into their hallowed, brick walls for a few hours. Just a few. I promise I'll come back for them... I make sure to do this in plain sight of the kids so they know they done made Mommy mad. But every time I get close to giving up, I think about all the work I'd have to do if we went the public school route and frankly, I'm too lazy.

You hear that, mom friends? You think I'm so exceptional because I homeschool but one of the "pros" on my pro's list is LAZINESS. 

In my house, we all roll out of bed most mornings around 9 a.m., toddle down to a leisurely breakfast and then get around to doing some learning. On good days -- when they do what I want the first time I ask -- we're done by lunch or shortly after. Then we play. Or they play and I watch Korean dramas on the iPad, only looking up long enough to yell, "Don't hit your brother!" or "Don't fart on your sister!" or, as everyone sobs, "You guys all deserve each other."

You public school moms get your kids ready, teeth brushed, homework in the backpack, lunches arranged and everyone moderately coherent by what? Like 7 or 8 a.m.? And then? I see you. I see you volunteering in the classrooms. I see you doing the PTA thing. Working at the fundraiser. Gathering all those box tops. Doing the homework at the dinner table every night. Going the extra mile and getting the glitter markers for the book fair project.

I see you meeting with the teachers. I see you waiting in the carpool line for twenty  minutes and then taking another ten to crawl your car down the road because the 7 year olds keep darting off the sidewalk. I see you decorating classrooms for parties and donating school supplies and adjusting your cupcake recipe because one kid in the class is gluten intolerant.

I see you. You're working just as hard as I am to make sure your kids get a great education. Our school day may look different but our hearts are the same.

You amaze me. That's why I never know what to say when you tell me you don't have what it takes to homeschool. Perhaps you don't want to homeschool. And that's okay. We all have our different paths and I know for a lot of families, public schooling is the best option. Own that choice and be proud of it. Know that if you care about your child's education; if you involve yourself in it -- they'll do great. Please don't say you're not enough, because when you do, it breaks my heart. I want to grab you by the shoulders and shake you and say, "Are you kidding me!? I didn't put pants on today and when I tried to explain what an obtuse triangle was to my 9 year old I realized -- mid explanation -- that I had no idea what an obtuse triangle was, so we had to YouTube it while he laughed at me." 

I plan to homeschool for the foreseeable future. I know it won't be an easy road. However-- and here's the big secret -- I know public schooling isn't easy either. Not if I plan to be like you. Not if I want to make sure my kids do well. Not if I volunteer on the PTA or in the classroom. Not if I keep up on their homework and help them go the extra mile on that science fair project. We're going about it in different ways, but ultimately we all have the same goal. We want what's best for our kids. And since kids come in a million different colors, then so, too, can their education. Don't assume because someone else's path is different, your path is wrong.

And if you have any leftover gluten-free cupcakes, bring 'em on over. Chances are I just had another homeschool-related meltdown and could use a treat.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Power of Swear Words

Griffin comes running into the kitchen. "Mom! Mom! AJ said a swear word!"

Considering nicknaming Griffin "Eyebrows"
"Really? Which one?" I ask, trying to determine how serious the offense is.

He pauses, his eyes two large pools of fear and excitement. "Do you want me to say it?" he whispers.

I open my mouth to say, "No, of course I don't! Just give me a hint." But then I have one of those moments - where you realize some long and winding, monumental life truth in a split second.

And it went a little something like this:

Why couldn't he say the word? I mean, he wasn't swearing. Not technically. He was informing me on the details of an incident. So why did my heart constrict with fear at the idea that he might ACTUALLY say the word after I asked him to BASICALLY say the word?

Which led to the next question: why do words hold so much power? I know in an abstract way they do in fact, hold power. Telling someone they're ugly versus pretty. Describing a beautiful poem. And of course, we all know those people who constantly swear. One such man literally gave me a headache after he used the "F" word as an adjective before every noun.
Keep the hands above the belt line, buddy.

But that's not a single word. That's words combined together to create messages. So if Griffin says this one word to me in this situation, what is the word's power?

I decided: Only what I give it.

And that's the key, I thought. Because if I make him FEAR words, instead of RESPECT them, then what am I teaching him? Life is all about choices and I want my kids to choose not to swear because they have better ways to communicate, not because they're afraid I'll yell at them.

Is that why teenagers love to swear? Because they've been so afraid to speak these words, so trained to fear them, that they find this verbal rebellion empowering?

It reminded me of a friendly argument I had with someone a few years ago. I yelled out something with a substitute swear word - I think my exact wording was "freaking A," directed toward a driver that had cut me off so abruptly, I almost crashed.

This friend gave me a hard time for "swearing." I corrected him that this was not swearing and though he agreed I wasn't using the really harsh words, it was still bad language. So I asked him, what SHOULD I say? What would be okay to yell out in that situation?

He thought about it before finally coming up with his answer. "Nothing."

"Nothing?" I asked. "You think, when I'm upset, I should say nothing?"

"Yes," he said, explaining that if you're yelling out an actual swear word or a substitute one, you're still being vulgar and rude.

"So I should never express any negative emotion ever?" I asked.

He responded with some version of the "if you don't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything at all" cliche.

Which -- in general -- I agree with. But I happen to be the "fallible" variety of human and so, what I think is best case scenario and what I live day-to-day, are two entirely different things.

Then I thought of all the  moms I know who are so vigilant about keeping their children's mouths clean. One such mom had a swear jar and it was full of coins.

I was smug when I saw it, thinking "Wow, that jar is really full! Her kids must have some mouths on them." Thinking, "I'm so glad I never have that problem with MY kids."

Until I found out her "swear" words included "stupid," "butt" and "shut-up." I don't even stop my kids from saying "crap" most days.

So which word costs a penny and which one costs a quarter? Wait - don't answer that.
At the time, the discovery sent me into a shame-spiral wherein I questioned every parenting decision I'd ever made. I seriously, seriously considered joining the "butt is a bad word" bandwagon.

But I'm a pick-your-battles kind of parent and I spend enough time ragging on my kids for not sharing their toys, making messes, or not eating properly. ("It doesn't matter that Mommy's not eating her carrots, you still have to eat YOURS.")

I wondered if this mom had already mastered all that stuff and cleaning up her kids' language was just the last thing on her to-do list before they were perfectly polished, ready for the shelves.

Or, more likely, she just has way more energy than I do.

I think this mom is a great mom and her swear jar is a great idea. For her.

Truer words...
But for me, here, down in the dirt, in the trenches of life -- this living stuff is hard work. And sometimes you just have to scream about it. The idea of never saying anything negative is so . . . suffocating. Silencing.

I don't want to silence or suffocate my children.

All these thoughts flew through my mind in a split second. I met Griffin's eye and said, "Yes. Go ahead and say it."

And he did. And it was kind of anti-climactic after the burst of inspiration that preceded it.

I'm HOPING he learned that it's not the WORD that holds power, but the intention behind it.

I want to teach my children to be civilized, respectful members of society. I want to teach them to reach deep into our language when expressing themselves, to treat words like crayons, coloring their interactions with bright and vibrant expressions.

I want to tell them: "Swear words are shortcuts of communication - ugly, dirty shortcuts. Let's take the long way, the scenic route. But still - words are just words. Don't be afraid of them. There will be times in your life when nothing says it like the 'F' word.

...Once you're an adult and out of this house, of course."






Tuesday, April 23, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Teeth Whitening Made Easy!

My sister-in-law (?) - she's the sister of my sister's husband - what is that called?? Anyway, the wonderful and brilliant Aimee Peterson is attending SUU and as part of a marketing class, had to make a commercial. She needs to get as many page views on this baby as possible because if she doesn't ... uh ... I actually don't know what happens if she doesn't get enough page views.

But it's a funny commercial and you're reading this blog right now because you're trying to kill some time so just watch it, would ya? And quit all the complaining.

--

From Aimee:

For a marketing assignment at SUU, I had to create a one minute commercial promoting and using a product.  I chose to do Plus White 5 Minute Premier Speed Whitening Gel. I started thinking up this idea because I feel like the funny commercials are the ones that stick in people's minds more easily than ones that just shove the product in your face. I tried to keep the jokes fun and applicable to lots of people (because who hasn't felt something like that at some point?), yet still relevant to the product itself in the end. Hopefully you enjoy it :)
 

http://youtu.be/rY8Uin4_XJ8

(Grr, it's not letting me embed the video so you're going to have exercise your fingers a bit and click on the link.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Seatbelts and Life Lessons

Uh, Mom? Yer doing it wrong.
Whilst I was driving my small brood of minions around, my daughter, AJ attempted to unbuckle her seatbelt. UNBUCKLE. HER. SEATBELT!!! She'd dropped a doll and wanted to retrieve it.

If I'm looking at things from her side, this is all very straightforward. "I dropped the doll and I'd like it back."

But from the front seat, the perspective was: we are looking at certain death over here. Because it is GUARANTEED that at some point in that 30 second period of time when her tiny body is not strapped to her seat, we will end up in a HORRIFIC car crash. Guaranteed.

So I scream at her not to unbuckle. Short of breath, I try to explain as quickly as I can, while her hand hovers over the release button, that if she were to unbuckle, she'd be putting her life in danger. Griffin gave me an assist with a line about how the cops would see her and arrest her.

The momentary crises was averted but a moment later, her hands resting safely in her lap, AJ asked why being unbuckled meant death.

I told her, as I have many times before, that if we were to crash into another car and she wasn't buckled, she could get very, very hurt.

"I know, Mommy," she said, annoyed. "But WHEN are we going to crash?"

When?

That was a good question. In her entire life, the entire time I'd been safely securing her in this carseat or that; making sure she was always buckled in, we hadn't actually NEEDED to be buckled in. Even during the course of Griffin's life, there had never been so much as a fender-bender.
For the children of diplomats and rappers.

Which led me to ponder the deeper meaning here.

I have this superpower. Actually, it's more the opposite of a superpower. A debilitating crutch. And that super-crutch is FEAR. When I'm with my kids, wherever we are, whatever we're doing, I can SEE all the gruesome ways they could potentially die.

"Griffin!" I yell. "Don't ride your bike so close to the curb!" -- Because if you fall at just the right angle, you'll tip over, spill off your bike and break your neck.

"AJ!" I holler. "Don't run ahead of Mommy!" -- Because there could be a pedophile just ahead and if I lose sight of you in the crowd for even a SECOND, you could be gone forever.

"Kids!" I shout. "Don't hover over Hazel like that!" -- Because, although you're all laughing and Hazel is loving the attention, if one of you loses your balance and tips forward, you could crush her tiny little chest.

And all of that is magnified when I'm driving with them. Semi-trucks losing a wheel and tumbling over on top of us; speeding cars cutting us off, sending us spinning into the barricades; the van just ahead slamming on its breaks, causing a five car pile-up.

There's a reason I drive 20 MPH, next to the shoulder.

And then. AND THEN. When I'm trying to fall asleep at night, my mind goes through my day, pointing out to me all the "near misses;" dwelling on all the potentially horrible things that COULD'VE happened, but didn't.

I know I'm not alone in this. I've talked to some of yous. You're paranoia runs just as deep and wide as mine.

Wait!! His toes are still exposed!
I've accepted my super-crutch. I know I will live with it until I'm finally convinced that each child of mine can take care of his or herself with no supervision. (So forever.) But I still wonder why. Why am I cursed with this endless paranoia?

Is it simply motherly intuition? Every time I screeched at the top of my lungs, clutching my chest as Griffin jumped off a swing and landed safely on his feet as my husband rolled his eyes, was I seeing what WOULD'VE happened had I not engaged in said screeching and chest clutching?

Or have I been raised in a culture of terror, where news programs feed off of human fascination with the macabre, continually splashing the details of horrific crimes and car crashes across the screen before moving on to the weather?

Did I simply watch one too many Lifetime Original Movies?

I don't have the answers to these questions. And I suspect I won't for several years, at least. But even though I'm in a constant state of near-terror, I don't want my kids to be.

I was thinking about the tragic bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday. I could've driven safely to the event, each child strapped into their carseats. I could've wheeled them over to the finish line in their strollers, never letting them out of my sight for even a moment. I even could have made sure the snacks I packed were of the healthy variety.

But there's no way I could've protected them from that explosion. No amount of preparing or protecting would've changed what happened.

So yesterday, I let AJ jump on the bed - even though we all know what happened to those little monkeys.

And the other day, when we went on a hike with friends, I let Griffin run ahead, climbing up the steep dirt path and crawling through the rocks, dancing near the bottom of a gentle waterfall all by himself. Even though he could've tripped and gone rolling down the mountain, been impaled by a stray tree branch or perhaps somehow drowned in the two inches of water in the creek that ran alongside us.

Is the neighbor across the street spying on us?
Though I did scream bloody murder when, on the trek back to the car, he got too far ahead and too close to the road. (Baby steps, people. Baby steps.)

Front seat AND no seatbelt!? For shame!
I'll never stop trying to protect my kids, stop trying to keep them safe. But there's a point when you have to come to terms with the fact that we're all human, temporal, and that nothing is permanent.

Maybe if I can truly come to terms with that, I'll spend a little less energy worrying and a little more enjoying what time I do have with my family.

Monday, April 1, 2013

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool?

So I've been thinking about homeschooling my kids.

This is only funny to people who know me really, really well. Because me? Not the best teacher. I'm too impatient and easily distracted (bird!). And I barely graduated high school. Like one-point-less-on-my-GPA-and-I-woulda-been-repeating-senior-year barely.

Which is why, when the subject of home-schooling ever came up, I'd give some variation of the "I'm sure it's great for you but it wouldn't work for me" answer.

But for the past year, I feel like I've kept getting nudged in that direction, as if a deer were gently pressing it's nose against my back to lead me down a certain mountain path. Nothing too aggressive. Wouldn't want to spook me.

Yes, to answer your unspoken question, some of my reasons are politically motivated. I ain't loving what I'm hearing about Common Core and it's apparent predilection for indoctrination. And the data-mining? Yikes! The rampant political correctness that leads to home-made lunches being inspected and taken way or young boys being expelled for making gun-fingers? Yeesh!

Those problems, however, are abstract for me. I haven't seen much of that going on at Alta View Elementary, where Griffin is attending Kindergarten. In fact, so far I LOVE Alta View. They've been every thing I hoped and dreamed an elementary school could be. And I'm so excited for him to start Spanish Immersion next year.

But ... nudge, nudge ... I saw this great article about why doctors and lawyers are turning to homeschooling and I've looked at some curriculum options they have and did you know that on average, home-schooled kids test considerably higher on standardized tests than their public school counterparts?

So to get that deer's nose off my back, I really thought about what was preventing me from homeschooling. Then I really analyzed how valid those concerns were.

1. The stigma: If I pull my kids out of school, what will the neighbors think!? *bites nails* To this the deer says, if that's your only reason, grow a backbone. No one knows what's best for your kids better than you. If you're deciding your kids' fate based on what other people think you should do, you'll end up exhausted and your kids will end up in therapy.

2. TIME! I ain't gonna lie. I have often DREAMED of the day when my kids are in school and I have seven blissful hours (minus the commute) all to myself! When I had a job, this seemed like the end goal - a waiting game. If I could make it to those years, my job would be a cake-walk compared to the nightmare of juggling work and kids 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But then I got laid off so ... now I just want the free time to do laundry in peace, without being screamed at every five minutes.

The deer says first off, in about eighteen years, I'll have all the free time I could possibly want and that time will go faster than I could ever imagine. He (she? The deer has not revealed it's gender and I'm too polite to look) also says between the commuting and school-related errand-running, how much time am I saving? Plus a little research revealed that home schooling doesn't take seven hours, like public schooling. You can generally get all the work done in four hours. And then PLAY for the rest of the DAY!

Plus, I hate to admit this because it makes me sound so clingy, but the idea of Griffin being gone ALL DAY at school every day breaks my heart. It just doesn't feel natural that he should spend nearly HALF his childhood in a classroom. Add to that the homework that he'll have to do once he finally gets home, and when do I get to hang with my kid!? Maybe it wouldn't be like that in first grade, but I intend to push him to do his academic best, to take the hard classes, to excel on every assignment. So that mudslide of homework is definitely in our future.

Times that by the other two kids I got here and the potential time away from them doesn't feel so luxurious anymore.

3. The smarts: Do I think I'm as smart and capable as a teacher, someone who has gone to college and studied how to impart knowledge and wisdom to the masses? Er, no. Could I walk into a classroom of 30 kids and teach them the multiplication tables? Er, no. But, the deer nudges, could I teach MY kids the multiplication tables, one on one, using their strengths and individual learning styles to their advantage? That's not so crazy. In fact, I wonder if a mom could do as good a job if not better than a teacher if she only has her own children to teach, rather than a full classroom of kids with different learning styles and abilities.

But could I be consistent? Could I follow through and be fair and find a way to get my kids to sit still and pay attention when they need to? Because, I don't know if you've ever seen me in church, but so far, I can't even get my kids to sit still for an hour once a week, let alone four hours every day. And how do I set up a classroom in my house? And keep track of the schoolwork?

The deer tells me the answers I seek are on Pinterest.

4.The social factor: It's like currency - being able to talk to people, fit in with different groups, make friends. People who have good social skills are much happier and more successful than those who don't know how to navigate the culture around them. So it stands to reason that if I keep my kids in my living room all day every day -- their only interaction with the outside world a quick peek through a dusty window before I catch them and scream at them to GET AWAY! GET AWAY from the window before you see something out there I can't protect you from!! -- then maybe I'm severely handicapping them in a fast-moving and competitive world.

The deer reminds me - kids who homeschool are entitled to attend and participate in all the activities available at their local school. Wanna tryout for the play? Sure. Join the basketball team? Go ahead. And apparently, these homeschoolers stick together - you can participate in homeschool co-ops where you teach along with other families; do field trips together; form special clubs. Also, the deer nudges, because you're spending so much less time getting the learning in, you have more time to take them out in the world, to sign them up for activities, sports, field trips, visits to the senior center or soup kitchens.

And, the deer points out -- how does putting children in a room with a bunch of kids their own age make them more socially adept? Wouldn't a child who is exposed to people from lots of different age brackets, lots of different backgrounds and experiences, be more prepared to enter different situations? And isn't it true that when you group kids by age, peer pressure becomes considerably more intense?

5. Now the deer knows he's winning because my next question is: What if it's fun? What if I enjoy teaching my children; watching them learn and grow? Finding what excites them and following that? Discovering their strengths and how to magnify them; figuring out their weaknesses and how to minimize them. I mentioned before that I wasn't great at school. But the reason wasn't that I was stupid - I just fell through the cracks, got lost in the shuffle. What if that happened to one of my kids and they never got close to realizing their potential? What if this was a second chance for me to learn alongside them all the things I missed as I was stumbling through my own education?

The deer nods his head wisely.
Ermergherd! I lerv learning!

BUT. But Griffin loves school. He only goes for three hours a day and is in a fairly protected environment, but still. Loves.

And I think AJ would have just as much fun making new friends and running circles around her future teachers. For all the scary news stories and dire warnings, for all the information about how America's children keep falling behind the rest of the world, is public school really that bad? Especially in suburban Utah where I'm guaranteed an army of involved moms who are just as concerned about giving their kids a good education as I am?

Maybe I'm over-analyzing the public school system. Maybe I'm romanticizing homeschooling. I'm still researching and considering and hemming and hawing. At this point, it really could go either way.

It will be interesting to see where we end up.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

When You're So Worried about the Girls, You Forget about the Boys

Have you seen it? The horribly offensive video of the YM teen boys talking about what they look for in girls? If you've seen the video, then you have surely read the irate blog about it.

I read the blog. Read the comments. Watched the video. Read the blog and comments again. Watched the video again. And my reaction from beginning to end was an unwavering REALLY!?

REALLY, Miss McGregor, THIS is our problem? A couple of sweet boys saying that they like girls who are fun and nice and like to try new things? Boys who say girls that let it all hang out make them uncomfortable and a little sad for said girls?

^THIS^ is our problem and not this?: Steubenville, Sexting, STD's, Pregnancy, Underage Drinking, Teen Depression and Suicide, Child Sex Trafficking, Hollywood's pedophilia problem and I could go on and on... (Seriously - click the links.)

REALLY!?

First off, I think the blog writer tips her hand when she refers to her Young Women memories as "vivid if not disturbing." Not completely unbiased, methinks.

McGregor was careful to not put the blame for the video on the boys in it (though she undermines that when she refers to them as "pimply teenage boys" - cruel and unnecessary). She also excuses them their ignorance because of their youth and inexperience. A point I find funny since she admits in the piece that she's reached the ripe old age of 23.

Her real complaint with the video - a video that was made privately by a ward to be used only for that ward and not distributed as church doctrine and taught in classrooms across the country - can be summed up with this quote from her:


"[The young men] only know what they've been told. And that's the problem. This is what they have been told. The ideal woman must be modest - not because Heavenly Father has required it, but because it makes him 'uncomfortable.' Another conversation could be started in relation to this; why does it make him uncomfortable? Maybe because woman have been overly-sexualized by both the Church and society, and it seems that 'sexually aroused' can now be defined as 'uncomfortable'..."

Uh... really? Were we watching the same video? First off, the boys outright say that they think girls who dress modestly are sending the message that they honor their standards - so you know, doing what Heavenly Father requires. Also, I didn't see any nefarious shadows just out of camera range whispering to the young boys, telling them what to say. But if someone has told them they should look for girls who are "happy," "confident with who they are" and "don't let their standards go for anything" ... AWESOME.  I've been telling my son the same thing.

And newsflash, McGregor - it's not the Church and society that sexualizes girls. It's chemistry. That whole evolutionary mating thing. If a girl puts the goods on display, a boy will react chemically to it, whether he wants to or not. Now a boy who has been taught to keep it in his pants may experience some discomfort because he may be feeling things he knows he shouldn't. Hence the averted gaze the one boy mentions. Hence the not wanting to be around girls like that, the other boy mentions.  

But my main issue with McGregor is all the personal baggage she throws at this. Girl could fill a truck with it. I'm sorry you had a rough time in Young Women's. I'm sorry the boys did not come a-running even though you were everything you thought you should be. But they didn't come a-running for me either. Yet I'm not MAD at anyone about it. And if anything, I credit my Young Women days as saving me from making some really bad decisions during those formative years when I might have otherwise done anything to get that attention. 

I know (assume, anyway) McGregor's intentions are pure. She knows how impressionable she was as a youth and worries that other young girls watching a video like this might take away the wrong message from it. Because she did.

But I didn't.

If I'd seen this while I was in Young Women's, I would've heaved a big sigh of relief. Because boys like this? They don't go around advertising these thoughts in the high school hallways. Do you know which boys DO advertise their thoughts in the hallways? The pervs. Seriously. If you want to talk about vivid and disturbing memories, I could close my eyes and go back to those uncomfortable days when I had to walk by the school gym after boys PE let out. Construction workers could learn a thing or two, is all I'm saying.

So a girl starts to believe that she is only the sum total of her body parts and if you like the attention, highlight it. If you don't, cover yourself up and keep your head down. That's the message girls are getting with or without the Church. With or without this video.

My take and McGregor's take are a matter of differing opinions and that's cool. We can disagree. We have different takes on what was intended with this video and what the reaction from girls would be. I personally believe that some people will get offended by anything. That some people should let their teen years go and focus on the future. Some people should take a couple of sweet boys at face value and not assign generations of misogyny to them.

Speaking of those boys. In all this hemming and hawing and biting our knuckles and worrying about those fragile teen girls and their delicate feelings, did anyone ask about what message BOYS would take away from all of this?

I can tell you, after the blog, the comments, the firestorm -- the message is very clear: SHUT UP! No one wants to hear from you. How DARE you say you want to marry a woman who cooks. How DARE you say you find immodesty unattractive. How DARE you objectify us by saying you don't want to objectify us. You want kids!? Huh? You want your wife to take care of them!?!?! Who do you think you are having an opinion on how we turn out. (Nevermind that girls are allowed to speak freely on the subject of their future husband's possible characteristics.)

I imagine these boys, the ones in the video, going to school after all this hoopla and being teased; teased for opening their hearts and giving girls a look inside, and it makes me so mad. Because, after this, if someone comes up to one of these boys and says "what kind of girl do you want to marry?", do you think he'll give an honest answer? Not if you've done your job, Miss McGregor. He'll either keep his mouth shut or spit out some politically correct nonsense. If his little sister comes up to him in booty shorts and a chest-bearing shirt, will he tell her he thinks it's immodest? Not if you've done your job, Miss McGregor. He doesn't want to objectify her in anyway by noticing what she's wearing.

I'm all for girl power. But there comes a point when you're no longer building one gender up - you're just tearing the other one down. I know everyone was so careful to say that their outrage was not focused on the boys - it was on the people who made the video. But who made the video? Do you know? No. Who was in the video? Do you know? Yes. So it doesn't matter what you SAY because the end result is these boys are the face of the Church's "misogyny." The symbol of how we tear our girls down by EXPECTING things of them.

(Additionally, I don't get the logic from people who agreed with what the boys thought but didn't like the idea of girls behaving better because they're trying to impress the boys instead of doing it for Heavenly Father. If a girl is living her life to impress boys, she's living her life to impress boys. So wouldn't you rather put the RIGHT kind of boys in front of her?)

I'd begun this blog with the intention of poking fun at the ridiculousness of everyone's upset over a well-intentioned video exercise. As someone who on occasion makes a church-related video for my lessons, I'd be horrified to have something that I meant to be harmless taken so wildly out of context. But as I wrote and thought and wrote some more, I couldn't be lighthearted. I couldn't make jokes.

Because I find this whole uproar so sad. I wish I could give these boys an apology for what they're being put through. I wish I could assure them, and boys like them, that they did nothing wrong. I wish I could gather up all my female sisters and sit them down and say, "Let's pick our battles, ladies. Let's fight the REAL ones. Let's not see hurt where no hurt was intended. Let's not protect our girls from feelings they haven't even had yet. Let's not misinterpret a simple video about what boys look for in girls and turn that into an argument about the very essence of the male-female dynamic in the Church."

In summation, I close with this comment from one of the boys in the video (left on the YouTube page where the video was posted):

"Hey, my name is Tanner Clegg, I was the young man in the movie with the blue shirt and long hair. I don't want to cause any contention here, but I don't understand what you are coming from. The goal of the video was to help the girls understand that they are all beautiful princesses, and shouldn't ever settle for anything less. Trying to show them that they don't need to be immodest etc. to be attractive. Trying to show them that they are pure, have virtue. Not sitting back being selfish."

Wow. Good thing you called them out, Miss McGregor. Wouldn't want boys like this to believe that kind of thinking is okay.