Not suitable for the yearbook?

May 3, 2013 on 3:04 pm | In abortion, education, family, morality, motherhood, parenting, public school | No Comments

Once again, our public school system proves just how much it worries about the wrong things.

Just like any other high school student, Caitlin Tiller of Trinity, North Carolina was excited to take her official senior portrait in the summer of 2012.

That year, Wheatmore High School students were allowed to be photographed with a prop of their choice. Their only directions: “Bring something that represents you and helped you achieve something.” For Tiller, then a 17-year-old junior, it was a no-brainer: She brought her 3-month old son, Leelin.

“I picked my son because he’s helped me be a better person,” Tiller told Yahoo! Shine. “By having him, I grew up quickly but I learned how to be responsible.”

Although Tiller didn’t tell anyone that she was planning to bring Leelin, the photo shoot, which took place in the school cafeteria, went smoothly. “Lots of kids were there and the photographer thought Leelin was so cute. Everyone was asking to hold him,” says Tiller.

An entire year went by and Tiller graduated in December, six months before her official graduation date on June 7, 2013, in order to enter Randolph Community College in January. Tiller, now 18, is currently studying to become a medical assistant.

On April 12, two days before the yearbooks went to press, Tiller received a call from the school’s yearbook adviser. “She said I had to take a different photo because the one I took promoted teen pregnancy,” said Tiller. “They called on my son’s birthday so I said I wasn’t available and besides, I choose Leelin because he represented what I’ve achieved in life. I said if Leelin can’t be in the photo, then I won’t be either. The adviser said, ‘That’s your choice. Then you won’t be in the yearbook’ and hung up on me.”

Tiller’s mom Karen called the principal at Wheatmore High School. “He told her that it was the yearbook adviser’s decision, not his,” says Tiller. So Karen called the school board. “They just told her no but didn’t explain why,” said Tiller. “Then my mom got mad and called the news station.” On Wednesday, Tiller went public with her story on a local TV station.

In an email to Yahoo! Shine, Donald E. Andrews, the Superintendent of Randolph County Schools wrote: “The practice at Wheatmore High School regarding yearbook pictures for seniors has been to include only graduating students in the senior section, and to permit family members and friends to be featured with our seniors in the ad section of the yearbook.  We offered this option to Ms. Tiller.  We regret that this practice was not made clearer to her earlier in the yearbook development process and we will do a better job going forward with explaining our yearbook practices.

Tiller, who works a part-time job at a local McDonald’s to support Leelin with the help of his father, doesn’t deny that her pregnancy is controversial. “It was weird to go to school as the only pregnant student and walk around campus with a big stomach,” she says. “I see the school’s point: That if other parents see the photo, they’ll call and complain. But I’m proud of my decision to have Leelin. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I don’t want other teens going through pregnancy to feel ashamed or alone.”

So let me get this straight…a teenager gets pregnant. That’s hardly surprising any more, despite decades of Planned Parenthood pushing sex ed in our public schools. This teen though decides to make the tough, even publicly embarrassing decision to not quietly pay someone to scrape her baby out of her womb before he’s born, but instead carries the child to term, gives birth to him, and begins to parent him, without dropping out of school. She even manages to graduate early, and enroll in community college.

It’s a sure bet that some of her non-pregnant classmates didn’t graduate (with only a 69% graduation rate, that’s a given), and others are not currently pursuing any higher education. But Caitlin Tiller, with her unplanned pregnancy carried through rather than ended as thought it never happened, and her steps toward building a healthy future for herself and her son, oh, she might be a bad example. Because teens are considered smart enough and mature enough to get condoms and the Plan B abortaficient without parental consent, but too stupid and immature to see Kaitlin as what she is, an example of a very tough situation bravely faced.

Idiots. All of them. Especially the moronic adviser in charge of Wheatmore’s school yearbook. Yes, Amy Stewart, I’m looking at you. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

What were you thinking?

July 5, 2012 on 11:41 pm | In children, daily life, military, motherhood, parenting | No Comments

Last month, in a celebration full of meaning and pageantry, Eldest Son received his USAF pilot wings. He also received his “drop,” the assignment he hoped for: Flying C-130s. Even the base he has been assigned to–Little Rock, Arkansas–was his and his wife’s first choice (command actually has the pilots list their first five choices, and if possible they will be given one of those choices).

C-130s are a vital part of both war efforts and humanitarian missions, including stateside firefighting. His flying will include a range of activities, and it’s pretty certain he’ll be in the air a lot.

So, all is good in Eldest Son’s world, and I am very happy for him indeed.

Today, (which coincidentally is Eldest Son’s birthday) a relative who shall remain nameless sent me this email:

Thursday, July 5, 2012 12:22 AM
From: d——–
To: e——

G——- mentioned this to me earlier today:

4 crewmen dead in C-130 air-tanker crash, military says

Jul. 3, 2012 12:05 PM
Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Air Force C-130 tankers will resume firefighting flights Tuesday after the crash of another tanker plane over the weekend that left four crew members dead and two others seriously injured, the military said.

The crash of one of the specially equipped C-130s Sunday while fighting a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota prompted officials to ground the seven remaining planes in the fleet.

The C-130 was from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., and was carrying a crew of six…

The article goes on to give details of  the C-130′s crew and the role of C-130s in firefighting. “G” who “mentioned this earlier” is a mutual friend who said nothing to me, probably because he has better sense than to talk about a C-130 crash with the mother of a C-130 pilot.

Exactly what is the sender trying to say in emailing me this news story? That what my son is doing is incredibly dangerous? I know that. I’ve known that since Eldest Son first said he wanted to join the military. The sender knows that I am well aware of the risks–we have had conversations about it. Is the sender implying that my son is going to be killed like these poor C-130 crewmen? I don’t get easily rattled, and the news story did not make me more fearful for Eldest Son, but it did depress the heck out of me. He’s about to begin SERE training, and the last thing I need to be thinking about is the inherent risks of his job. The email sender initially was not supportive of my son’s choice to be in the military at all. Is this some passive aggressive way to say “See, I told you it was a crappy career choice?”

I can’t get my head around the insensitivity of the email; at best it’s unthinkingly cruel, at worst it’s deliberately malicious. Perhaps it’s the former; maybe the sender is just too lacking in empathy to realize how brutal it is to rub a mother’s face in the fact that her son’s career involves life-threatening risks. Whatever the motive behind the email, reading it made me realize (not for the first time) that I can not trust the sender to be aware of nor concerned with my feelings.

I am really not looking forward to the emails I receive when Youngest Son pursues his career goal of becoming a policeman.


Protecting his family

June 19, 2012 on 9:50 pm | In children, crime, family, morality, parenting | No Comments

Some people really do need killing.

Hearing his 5-year-old daughter crying from behind a barn, a father ran and discovered the unthinkable: A man molesting her. The father pulled the man off his daughter, authorities say, and started pummeling him to death with his fists.

…In declining to indict the 23-year-old father in the June 9 killing of Jesus Mora Flores, a Lavaca County grand jury reached the same conclusion as investigators and many of the father’s neighbors: He was authorized to use deadly force to protect his daughter.

…Flores’ death is only the sixth homicide the Lavaca County Sheriff’s Office has investigated in the last eight years. Shiner residents boast their squeaky-clean image on a highway welcome sign: “The Cleanest Little City in Texas.”

At Werner’s Restaurant, customer Gail Allen said she didn’t want to speak for the whole town, though her comments echoed what others said.

“The father has gone through enough,” said Allen, 59, who has nine grandchildren. “The little girl is going to be traumatized for life, and the father, too, for what happened. He was protecting his family. Any parent would do that.”

My only question is how many other children suffered at Flores’ hands before he picked the wrong family to mess with? As horrible as the memory of this entire event will be for this family, at least they’ve prevented anyone else from being harmed by a monster. In a sane world, anyone who molests a child would be dealt with as swiftly and finally as Flores.

Tan like a mummy

May 2, 2012 on 10:50 pm | In children, daily life, health, lunacy, motherhood, parenting | No Comments

When I saw this, I admit, I thought it was some kind of Onion spoof.

But no, it’s real. Really stupid too.

A New Jersey woman arrested for allegedly putting her 5-year-old daughter in a tanning booth says it was all a big misunderstanding.

Patricia Krentcil, 44, told NBC’s local New York affiliate that she took her daughter with her to a local tanning salon but that the child was not exposed to the booth’s synthetic UV rays.

“I tan, she doesn’t tan,” Krentcil said. “I’m in the booth, she’s in the room. That’s all there is to it.”

Krentcil, of Nutley, N.J., was arrested last week, and charged Tuesday with felony child endangerment. She was released on a $25,000 bond and is due in court Wednesday.

“It’s like taking your daughter to go food shopping,” Krentcil said. “There’s tons of moms that bring their children in.”

Police, though, say Krentcil put her daughter in an upright tanning booth.

New Jersey state law prohibits children under the age of 14 from tanning booths. Children between the ages of 14 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult.

Police were alerted by school officials, who say Krentcil’s daughter showed up for school with what appeared to be a sunburn, then told classmates she “went tanning with Mommy.”

Rich Krentcil, the girl’s father, told NBC the teacher misinterpreted his daughter.

“This whole big thing happened, and everyone got involved,” he said. “It was 85 degrees outside, she got sunburned. That’s it. That’s all that happened.”

No. No it is not like taking a child grocery shopping…unless you tan like you eat, daily, which would explain Krencil’s skin being the color and texture of leather.

Actually, most of the leather items I have (including riding boots and a saddle) are lighter in color, and I daresay less weathered.

Obviously, Krentcil has taught her child that this kind of excessive tanning is “normal.” Most little girls want to imitate their moms. It is perfectly understandable that her daughter would want to do what mom does (just as little girls in Kretcil’s food shopping example want to push the cart and put groceries in it). And it’s perfectly understandable that a woman who has tanned herself the color of Diet Coke on purpose would find nothing wrong in putting her kid under the UV lamps. I find it impossible though to give credence to the explanation (gardening sunburn?!) of a woman whose own self image is so distorted that she has turned her own skin into cowhide.

Not the most egregious example of crappy parenting by a long shot, but it isn’t smart, nor healthy for the kid. Maybe all this attention will clue in someone (apparently not her husband who is backing up her cockamamie sunburn story) close to her to get her help so that she can stop the obsessive tanning before she ends up looking like this:



Vita brevis

May 2, 2012 on 10:16 am | In children, daily life, employment, parenting, unemployment | No Comments

Thankfully, Mr. Random Thoughts still has his job, though any sense of security in it has been severely rattled. By nature more of a pessimist than an optimist, it is not easy for him to look past the panic a layoff engenders, and see what possibilities there might be in such a dreaded thing. Could there be an upside to nearly losing one’s job? Might it open one’s eyes to possibilities previously unconsidered? This is not a train of thought Mr. Random Thoughts willingly rides. And so it becomes easier for both of us to focus on the fear of losing his job, and to bemoan my own lack of full time employment, and to lament the economic uncertainty of these days in general.

Then I read about little Avery Canahuati.

Avery Canahuati, a baby who inspired countless readers as she raised awareness while struggling with a rare disease, has died. Her father Michael wrote of his daughter’s passing on the blog he and his wife had created for her, “Avery’s Bucket List.” The blog, written in Avery’s voice, encourages readers to share the story and to raise awareness about spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). …her parents decided to create the bucket list to make the most of her time alive and to spread awareness on the rare disease with no treatment yet.

“We can watch her die, or we can let her live,” her father Michael said. “And through letting her live we’re going to try and educate other people about this so they don’t have to go through it too.”

At 5-months-old Avery was able to scratch many items off her bucket list: The girl got her first kiss, a tattoo (temporary), her first trip to a baseball game, and other milestones aimed at spreading SMA awareness and encouraging parents to get screened for the SMA gene.

I think it’s safe to say that Avery has left more of an lasting impact on the world after only a few short months of life than some folks will do in 80+ years.

The difference seems to be a focus on others rather than self. That’s what Avery’s parents managed to have. They knew she was not destined to grow up–that every single day brought them one day closer to losing her. They chose not to focus on that excruciating fact, but instead to celebrate each day with their daughter. Avery’s parents adored their precious daughter, but her illness did not make them selfish. It made them look beyond themselves. It made them care more about others, and they allowed their personal tragedy to be a means of reaching out to others. .

That, frankly, is amazing. Human beings are by nature self-centered. Pain, particularly emotional pain, can make us even more so. The willingness to find purpose in the midst of pain, well, that is something special indeed.

May God comfort the Canahuatis and bring them peace and renewed purpose during what is certainly the most painful time of their lives.

Avery Canahuati


Decisions decisions…

March 25, 2012 on 11:45 pm | In children, Christianity, education, family, motherhood, parenting, public school, teaching | 3 Comments

Yougest Son has a decision to make.

He’s been attending a ridiculously high priced private school, which provides appropriately elevated academics, arts and sports. Each year his continued attendance is predicated on receiving a generous scholarship. Without that, there is simply no way we can afford the tuition.

As he’s progressed through the past three years at this school, he’s grown wiser as well as smarter. He sees the affluence around him which our family does not share, and the behavior it breeds in some of his peers. And that bothers him. A lot.

Youngest Son, like his brother before him (who also attended this school) tends to see things in black and white. Good and bad. Yes or no. There is very little middle ground in his ethos. In some ways this is a wonderful thing; his moral compass is so strongly fixed that it renders unnecessary most restrictions I might put upon his behavior. In other ways it is problematic though. He can be very judgmental of his peers and of those in authority who fail to meet his exacting standards.

As a result, in his eyes the flaws in this private school often outweigh the benefits.

That this school (though less than most public schools) has students who engage in premarital sex disgusts him far more than the academic experiences delight him. A mid-year trip to San Francisco with the wind ensemble? Nothing compared to the fact that one of the girls he knows admitted to sleeping with her boyfriend of the moment. When another student speaks at an assembly about her chronic drug use (after repeated inpatient treatment, she’s 8 months sober) he is considerably annoyed; by his standards she should have been expelled the first time she was caught.

On one hand, I’m relieved that he’s repelled by rather than intrigued by poor life choices. On the other hand, there’s a fine line between righteous indignation and a lack of grace for those who are weak. I’m not sure (not having seen the things he shares with me firsthand) whether the school really is turning a blind eye to bad behavior or simply trying (albeit in a fumbling manner) to encourage the kids to make better choices by hearing from their fallen peers.

I am sure the administrator’s refusal to hire me (or even interview me) for available teaching positions in the past has helped poison the well for Youngest Son. He’s a loyal kid. He knows how unhappy I was to be overlooked, and that they hired a younger, less experienced and less educated teacher for the last English position did not escape his notice.

Thing is, this school is by far the best available in our area.

And the scholarship Youngest Son received for next year is unexpectedly generous: 50% of the tuition cost.

I thought he’d take that news as confirmation that he’s meant to continue his education there, but he was not excited. Instead, he was somewhat dismayed. I think  he hoped the decision would be made for him by an insufficient amount of scholarship money. And that tells me that a significant part of him wants to go somewhere else. Where, he has no idea, but he thinks the grass must be greener elsewhere…or at least the other students won’t come from homes six times the size of ours.

It would be easy to nudge him one way or the other. Economically, not having to pay another dollar for uniforms, textbooks, or extracurricular opportunities is attractive. I have student loans to pay off from my own education, and no prospect of full time employment.

Spiritually and socially, I don’t want him in public school. It has always been my goal to put all four of my kids through 12 years of private school education, though Younger Daughter endured (and I use that word deliberately) one year of public school, and Older Son coped with two years.

I had hoped either of them would have some wisdom to share with their little brother as he tries to decide what to do next. Stay or go?

Whatever they’ve said, he’s still wrestling with the decision. I think perhaps attending the local public school for a day might help inform his decision somewhat. Or not. It’s hard to say.

This parenting stuff does not get any easier, even after 25 years and four children.

Driven by our desires…or not

March 4, 2012 on 10:30 pm | In abortion, celebrity, Christianity, entertainment industry, ethics, faith, family, Homosexuality, morality, parenting, religion | No Comments

I wasn’t going to write about this, because it was obvious to me that Kirk Cameron was only being used to stir controversy. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to warrant discussion.

I’m not sure why Kirk was on Piers Morgan’s show in the first place (perhaps to promote his upcoming documentary “Monumental,”) but I’d bet real money that nobody said to him, “Come on our show and answer our questions about homosexuality and abortion.” It’s obvious from Kirk’s body language that the questions weren’t anticipated by him, and that he was a little uncomfortable with the direction the interview took.

I’m also absolutely certain that this interview was geared to fit an agenda, the agenda being to stir controversy. It’s an election year, and anything that can be used to polarize voters–particularly sexual and religious issues–will be used. Look,  Conservative Christians are homophobic! They must be exposed, mocked (and never elected to office)!

It’s a bit unfortunate that Kirk got drawn into such a discussion, but he’s capable of dealing with the fallout. Not that GLAAD can do anything substantive to him anyway; his professional life is not dependent upon their good graces. And his personal life, well, they can’t begin to fathom the kind of man he is.

I can though. Youngest Son went to elementary school for six years with the Camerons’  eldest son and considered him a close friend. Thus I came to know Kirk and his wife Chelsea personally, to spend enough time with them that I could deeply appreciate the kind of people and the kind of parents they are.

Honestly, Kirk is an anomaly in Hollywood. He’s the sort of celebrity who is antithetical in every way to everything Hollywood embraces.

He’s actively involved in outright evangelism.

His  2008 indie movie Fireproof cost $500,000 to make (spare change in the world of multi-million dollar films) and yet earned $33 million.

He, his wife and their six children (yes, six, four of them adopted) do not spend their summers on some remote island or a European getaway, but at a SoCal camp they run for terminally ill children.

The Camerons are absolutely nothing that Hollywood admires nor aspires to.

How dare they have beliefs that don’t echo those of the liberal entertainment industry?

And how dare Kirk answer direct questions about his beliefs by calmly stating those beliefs?

Piers Morgan asked him what he’d say if one of his sons told him he was gay. Kirk answered that he’d tell his child, “Just because you feel one way doesn’t mean you should act on everything you feel.”

That is the most succinct answer to the “I can’t help myself” argument I’ve ever heard. When it comes to any behavior–any behavior whatsoever–either you control it or it controls you. How many times do we hear “I can’t help it, it’s what I want.”  Or, “It makes me happy so I’m going to do it.”

How many marriages are destroyed under that rationale?

How many children are hurt?

For that matter, how many children are aborted…but that’s a whole other issue.

Our society’s greatest problem is the “follow your desires” mentality that pervades ever aspect of our culture. Whether it’s demanding contraceptive protection so one can have an unrestricted sex life, or access to abortion on demand. Whether it’s leaving your wife and kids to shack up with one of your own students, or perpetrating sexual acts on children, the excuse is always–ALWAYS–I’m just doing what makes me happy.

And that’s all that matters, right? Doing what feels good to you?

Morgan asked Kirk what he thought of homosexuality in general, and Kirk’s answer was,  “I think that it’s unnatural, I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”

Thing is, he’s right. Biologically, homosexuality is an aberrant behavior. It runs counter to the survival of our species which is biologically designed to perpetuate via male-female sexual relations. We can choose to change the construct of the biological family and scientifically intervene in the reproductive process, but the fact is, human beings were designed (regardless of whether you believe God was the designer or not) to be created and nurtured to adulthood by a pair of parents, one male and one female.Wanting to circumvent this biological norm, wanting to create a baby in a lab environment, use a surrogate woman’s womb, and hand the result to two men or two women to raise as “their child,” only underscores how abnormal and unnatural that altered construct is–it can not exist in nature.

And no matter how many people yell “we’re born this way,” there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support that claim. In fact, homosexual behavior is no different than any other destructive behavior, borne out of a damaged psyche, an effort to find physical relief for emotional wounds.

In nearly five decades of life, I’ve never met a homosexual who grew up having a healthy, loving relationship with both parents in an intact, two parent home. Quite the contrary. I have met a considerable number of homosexual men and women, gotten to know them well enough to hear about their various upbringings, and every single homosexual I’ve ever met has come from a destructive, damaging home environment. Sometimes it’s been emotional abuse, sometimes it’s been an absent/non-existent parent, sometimes it’s been subtle or outright physical abuse, but in every single case it’s left a wound that won’t heal, and left a person who is damaged, unable to form a normal intimate bond with the opposite sex.

The liberal left can deny this all they want, and insist that being homosexual is somehow the new normal, but that is the cruelest cut of all. It is no better than telling an alcoholic, “Go ahead, have another beer. You can’t help the urge to drink. You were born that way.”

(Note: I use the term “homosexual” to refer to both men and women pursuing same-sex intimate relationships.)

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