I Should Have Known Better

I am not new to internet message forums.  I think the first experience I really had with them was back when I was planning my wedding, so about eight years, on and off, that I’ve been part of various online communities. I am all too familiar with trolls and liars and weirdos–I actually remember the first trolling post I ever read (yes, it was *that* bizarre, and no, I’m not going to share what it was!) back on my wedding planning forum when I was still in college.

I actually took a break from message boards for a while after that, not because of trolls or anything, but just because I hadn’t found anything I was really interested in.  That is, until right before I got pregnant with Turkey, and stumbled upon Babycenter.  I’ve been a member there for over six years now (although that relationship is about to end, which is a whole other story), and I’ve seen more than my share of weird stuff there.  Fake triplet pregnancies, fake kidnapping stories, fake infant loss stories (what kind of person does that?!?), mixed in with the usual drama-seekers and pot-stirrers.  I never have become an active poster on any of the handful of boards I read on that website, mostly because there is so much drama out there.  A site like Babycenter makes it easy to remember that the person on the other end of the message could be a middle-age pervert, a bored teenager, or a mom with a hormonal imbalance.  I’ve learned to hold myself back from all that garbage, probably for the best.  Sure, I read my favorite boards, when I’m looking for specific parenting information, to keep up with certain posters, or just for a little entertainment (I can get sucked in with the best of them!), but very rarely post anything myself.

I have one other forum that I’m more active on.  I still don’t post a lot–with four children five and under, who has time?  I do read it whenever I get the chance, though, and I’ve come to know most of the regular posters quite well.  I’ve been a member there since just after Moose was born, and lurked for a while prior to that, so it’s probably been three years or so that I’ve gotten to know these women.  I guess I let my guard down a little more there, maybe because it’s a Christian mom’s forum (although it’s not solely populated by Christian women), maybe because it’s a smaller community, I don’t know, but I find myself trusting people there a little more, and assuming that people aren’t who they say they are a little less.

Big mistake.

There is one particular poster there who joined a few months after I did.  She has been very open with the community about her struggles with breast cancer, and her prognosis has not been good.  Not good at all. It’s a particularly heart-wrenching tale because she’s only 30 (just a year older than me!), and has two children, one close in age to Turkey, and one somewhere between Bunny and Moose.  My heart has broken for her as I’ve read updates–every doctor appointment, every round of treatment–because they had finally told her she had less than a year to live.  

The women of the forum have really banded together to support her.  Several of them have met her in person, have cooked meals for her and her family, one had even talked with her about adopting her children after her passing.  Other women who couldn’t meet her sent gifts, whether small things like a scrapbook page or a scarf to cover her hair loss, or larger things like gift cards.  It was heart-warming to see the way Christian women can take care of each other.

So, after all this display of Christian compassion, it comes out yesterday that this woman is perhaps not as sick as she said.  Maybe has had cancer, but to a lesser extent, maybe hasn’t had it at all.  Details are sketchyt, but several women, who I trust (as much as I trust anyone online at this point!), and who have met her and spent time with her, are calling her out on inconsistencies, and downright lies, in her story. So, we know, based on visits from other women and photos posted, that she’s not a bored teenager, not a middle-aged pervert, but quite possibly an unstable woman, and heaven only knows what affect this is having on her children. She has refused to respond, has actually deleted a lot of her old posts on the forum, and has basically disappeared.  Of course, the forum moderator deleted the threads dealing with this topic as soon as they came up, so the people “in the know” haven’t been allowed to share their knowledge, unless it’s via PM.  

I am thankful that I did not send any money or gifts to her (even on this forum, I’m not that naive!), and of course I do not regret time in prayer for her and her family, but I can’t help but think that I could have been making better use of my prayer time had I known the truth.  I am annoyed at how emotionally involved I allowed myself to get in this thing, and that I shed tears for her, thinking about how she must feel knowing she was very soon going to be leaving two children behind.  I mean, it’s been over a year, maybe closer to two, that I’ve been thinking about and praying for her.  And it was last fall, around Thanksgiving, that she shared the worst news the doctors had given her.  That’s a long time to put up such a ruse. I have a hard time believing that so many Christian women got together and came up with a scheme to discredit someone just for kicks.  It stands to reason far more that the one is at fault, rather than the many.  Either way, someone has been lying, and in a big and terrible way. It just goes to remind me that you never know who you’re dealing with online.

Lesson learned.

Go for the Gold!

I decided to plan one small lesson for each weekday the Olympics are on.  Some days are a little more in depth than others, but for the most part, I decided to keep it short and sweet, because this is Turkey and Bunny’s first school experience, and because it was hard to find stuff (especially about China) that wouldn’t go right over the heads of four and five year olds!  The Olympics starting on a Friday is a little awkward, since we’ll only have one day of “lessons” before the weekend, but nothing like easing into something slowly, right?

One thing I’m doing that I’m really excited about is events pictograms.  I printed off the official pictogram for each event, and I’ve put them in groups of five, so for seven days (I think that’s right) we’ll have a brief overview of five sports.  I’m going to try to coordinate at least some of the big events with the days they’ll be on, but we’ll have to see how that works out.

I picked 1 Corinthians 9:24 (“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.”  Oh, and they’ve already asked what the verse is, since I wrote it on our poster board in the school room, and also already asked what it means–I think I’m in trouble!) for our memory verse for the week (well, technically two weeks, I guess).  So, the Friday of the Opening Ceremonies, I’ll introduce that.  We’ll then review it every day, and hopefully they’ll be able to memorize it…it’s not the shortest verse, but it’s not too long, either.  We may also have a “family olympics” but I haven’t figured out what that will involve yet.

The rest of the Olympics will go as follows:

August 8–Learn the Olympic Motto and Olympic Oath, and what they mean.

August 11–Map the torch relay, color a picture of the torch.

August 12–Learn about Chinese numbers one through ten, practice writing them.

August 12–Color the Chinese flag, learn some basic facts about the country (population, size, etc.), go over the first set of events pictograms.

August 13–Color the Olympic flag, learn what the rings stand for and why they’re the colors they are, second set of pictograms.

August 15–Learn about the first Olympic mascot, and what it teaches us about China, color a mascot picture, third set of pictograms.

August 18–Second mascot, fourth set of pictograms.

August 19–Third mascot, fifth set of pictograms.

August 20–Fourth mascot, sixth set of pictograms.

August 21–Fifth mascot, seventh set of pictograms.

August 22–(Last weekday of the Olympics) Learn how to write our names in Chinese, make gold medals.

I know the “lessons” are pretty short, but it’s mostly for fun–we’re not even starting our school year until the Tuesday after Labor Day!  I hope I’ve planned appropriate things for their age levels… will they come away having learned something?  I sure hope so, because I had a blast planning it!

A Pioneer Woman I’m Not

I’ve decided to venture into the world of vegetable gardening this year. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not because of rising fuel and food costs–with all the money I’ve sunk into the blasted thing so far, I could probably do a full week’s worth of grocery shopping. No, I did it for two reasons. 1.) I’ve always liked the idea of gardening. It’s some kind of primitive thing I guess–tilling the land, growing something for my family to eat. The whole hard labor followed by the fruits of my labor thing. And also B.) I thought it would be a good learning experience for my children to see how something grows from seed (or seedling in a lot of cases) to a vegetable bearing plant.

So, aside from the effort that went into digging the rows for the garden, (I had no idea that what is I guess is a clay based soil would be so hard to dig through and so heavy!), and the lugging around 40 pound sacks of topsoil, there are many gardening struggles I was previously unaware of. For example, I am familiar with the concept of drought. I’ve heard about it on the news since I was a kid, read about it in the Little House books, etc., etc. I know that too little rain is a big problem for farmers. I had never considered, however, the problem of too much rain. As it is right now, I appear to be down one cucumber and two broccoli plants because of flooding. It also remains to be seen how many of the carrot and radish seeds may have been washed away. Part of this is, I’m sure, due to poor drainage and a bad slope in the backyard, but I think it’s also partly just that there has been so darn much rain the last few weeks, and plants only need so much water. Lesson learned.

Problem two, which I had considered, but kind of brushed off as not a threat–something eating my plants. Bigger threat than I anticipated. Not only did something (rabbit? skunk? bird?) have the nerve to go after on of my beautiful and amazing smelling basil plants, it apparently had no taste at all, and decided that the basil was no good, leaving the poor leaves to wilt on the ground. And it wasn’t enough to take just one leaf, but whatever it was took every leaf off of one plant. I was really looking forward to fresh pesto, too…

The third problem, which was actually the first one I ran into, was also not something unfamiliar to me, but something I certainly wasn’t expecting in late April–a late season frost. The only things that survived that calamity were the broccoli that can’t hold up to rain, celery, and the onion sets. I suppose I should have known better, but I was eager to plant, and in my defense, my experiences with living down here so far have suggested that late April is a great time for planting.

Problem four, which didn’t actually cause any damage, thankfully, but easily could have, was hail. Good thing for me, the hail was mostly pea sized, but I could see how quickly plants, especially small ones like my seedlings, could be flattened by hail.

Problem five–lack of sun. Now, I know there are some rays of light getting through, even with the crappy weather we’ve been having, but my plants are looking decidedly not green enough, so I’m guessing they’re lacking in the photosynthesis department. Both the plants and I have had enough clouds, thank you very much!

So where does that leave me? I’m just waiting for a plague of grasshoppers or a horde of hungry blackbirds (I read the Little House books a lot as a child, and I’ll admit, also as an adult!) to attack the garden next. I can’t really imagine what else could happen, but I’m sure if it can, I’ll find out about it soon enough. It’s really sobering to consider what trials farmers face–how many things can go wrong each year, and how much of it is completely out of their control. It makes me quite grateful that I don’t have to depend on the land for my survival, and that there are grocery stores and farmers markets where I can get all of the fresh produce I desire, without having to do the work or depend on the weather and wildlife to cooperate with me! I’m happy to have my little garden as a learning experience and pleasant diversion that gives me something fun to do outdoors.

To summarize what I’ve planted, even though I’ve already lost some of it–four broccoli plants, three cucumber plants, three jalepeno plants, three each summer squash and zucchini plants, three roma tomato and six beefsteak tomato plants, three celery plants, one cilantro, four basil, one set of onions (why are they called a set?) and an envelope each of carrot and radish seeds. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, and if I actually get any produce out of this garden this year at all!