Sunday, July 31, 2011


It came with a magnificent thunder clap, rolling down across the arid hills in a giant mass of billowing clouds. The kids and I were on our way home from running errands when the first drops hit my little Corolla's windshield.  Soon, the rain was streaking across the windows.

"Mommy, what's that?!!"  Xander asked in amazement.  Now, remember, the child is almost 3 years old.

"It's rain, honey,"  I answered.

"It's on our windows!  And on the trees!  And on the street!  And on the house!  And on the other car! And ..."  We kept driving, marveling at this miraculous substance that was covering the world around us.

Soon, Sophie said, "Mom, you see that lake?"

"What lake?"

"That lake.  By the library."

" ... That's a puddle, Soph."

My poor kids, raised in the desert.  Still, we exulted in the rain as it came, and when we got home, the kids changed into their swimsuits to explore the 'river' outside our house.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Mommy Vending Machine

Scott left today for a conference.  He'll be gone several days, and as I watched him pack I felt (I have to be honest here), not a small amount of jealousy.  He'll be staying in a swanky hotel.  He'll be eating catered meals.  He'll be having adult conversation.  He'll be driving alone in the car.

The last time I was alone in the car I kept glancing into the back seat, paranoid about why the kids were so quiet back there.  I've only spent one night away from my kids, which means that I haven't slept in or not made breakfast for somebody (What cereal do you want, honey?  Sorry, we don't have that cereal.  How about this one?  Oh, wait, we're out of milk.... how about yogurt?  Hold on ... there's only plain yogurt.  How about toast?  You like toast, right?  What?  You wanted me to cut your toast into squares?  I thought you said triangles ... ) in four and a half years.

Sometimes I feel like I'm a human vending machine.  I have buttons for 'I'm hungry', 'I'm tired', 'I'm bored', 'I'm scared / sad / overwhelmed / frustrated', 'I have to go potty'.

I'm pretty sure my kids have a Pavlovian response to my voice.  Really.  They'll be perfectly fine and peaceful with their daddy until I walk into the room, and then it's "Mommy, I'm huuuuuungry!"  You'd think they hadn't eaten in a week.

Case in point:  I was in a program at church last week.  Scott sat in the audience with the kids as I waited in the wings to go up on stage.  As soon as I was on stage and had been speaking for about 30 seconds, both kids had the sudden urge to go pee.  Now how do you explain that?  Uh huh.  Pavlov.

But you know, right in the middle of my jealousy as I watched Scott tuck his book in next to his laptop power cord, as I was picturing myself in the snowy white hotel bed, alone, a queer pang shot through my stomach.  The thought of being away from my babies was unbearable, even as I fantasized about it.

That's the crazy thing about mothering, to me.  You're like this great big mommy lion laying on the savanna, with your cubs climbing all over you and annoying the heck out of you.  They bite your ears, pounce on your tail, want to be fed constantly, and are always wandering away, requiring you to go chasing after them.  But then the moment they are threatened, some primal instinct rises up within you and you'd give your life for those cubs.

So as much as I say I need 'Me Time', in reality the thought of it scares me.  And if I force myself to go away for a while,  I can't help feeling the constant pulling beneath the surface of my heartstrings towards my babies.  Blessed relief comes only when I am finally reunited with them, hug my sweet girl and tousle Xander's hair.

I'm going to a women's conference in the Fall.  Without husband or kids.  I can't say I'm not apprehensive!  Pray for me.

Media Monday - 'Big Brother' Week 3

Ok, folks, 'Netflix Movie Monday' has officially been renamed to 'Media Monday'.  Since Netflix's prices are going up, we're scaling back on our subscription to their service.  Plus, I do watch many shows online, and on Hulu.

All right, moving on to last week's Big Brother...

Sunday, July 17 - Food Competition, Nomination Ceremony
The house guests pair up with their partners in giant ant costumes to compete to see who will have to be a 'Have Not' for the week and live on slop.  Kalia gets hurt and they have to call in the waaaam-bulance, um, I mean, the medic.  But she's ok.  Lawon just squished her.

Jordan gets a lot of pressure from her alliance to put up Cassie and Shelly on the block, mostly because Cassie intimidates all the girls in the house because she's so.  sinking.  gorgeous.  But Jordan nominates Adam and Dominic for the block.  Go Jordan!  Maybe she does have some game, after all ... or maybe it's Jeff behind the scenes.

On a side note, I'm getting more respect for Dominic the more I see him play the game.  He's a pretty sharp guy.  We'll see how he does on Wednesday's Veto Competition ...

Wednesday, July 20 - Veto Competition and Veto Ceremony
We see Porsche and Rachel having a we-hate-Cassie fest.  They're just jealous.  Meanwhile, Danielle is working her little charms on Dominic ... I can't tell if he's on to her or not.  At this point, it looks like he's getting played.  Careful, Dom!

At the Veto Competition, Dominic, Adam, Jeff, Jordan and Brachel compete to see who can stick gumballs into the shape of the veto symbol.  Rachel gets all snarky with Jordan, and after Dom wins power of veto (shoot, now they're going to put up Cassie), Jeff dons his shining armor to defend his lady love.  He says, "Someone has to set her straight,"  and he's got that right, because we all know Brendan sure won't.  Rachel goes to pout/hide/cry in the bushes (literally), while Brendan tries to coax her out.  Dys-func-tion!

At this point I'm crossing my fingers that Jordan will back door Brachel, but does she do it?  Nooooo, she puts up Cassie and Shelly instead (darn it, Jordan, that just cost you the game!)  I can understand she wanted to keep Brendan and Rachel because they are a strong team to have in your alliance, to win competitions ... but they win competitions.  Which means they'll be impossible to get out later on.

Thursday, July 21 - Live Eviction Ceremony, Head of Household Competition
Cassie hits the ground running HARD to work her angles and stay in the game.  I'm liking her better every minute, especially when she calls Rachel out.  I've never seen anyone stand up to Rachel like that.  Go Cassie!!!  Pleasepleaseplease don't vote her out, people ...

But of course, she's sent packing, by a unanimous vote.  BOOOOOO.  There's nobody I really want to root for anymore!  Cassie, I'm sorry sister, but some girls just can't stand it when someone else is prettier.

Speaking of 'some girls' (ahem), Rachel wins HoH (again) in the new Head of Household Competition.  Woop dee flippin doo.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


One of the things I never quite got over in the village, even though we lived there for a little under a decade, was the nudity.  

Little boys running by in packs with their tallywackers flopping proudly would make me cringe a little on the inside, every time.  As they squatted in the dirt to pick up some stick or stone, I would covertly watch as their junk hung lower ... and lower ... but never quite grazed the ground.  Once I saw a toddler heading across the soccer field, letting lose a stream that watered the ground in front of him like a sprinkler as he ran.  

I always tried not to stare.  But when a nekkid boy (no matter how young), is in front of you, your eyes aren't drawn to his face.  Trust me.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Friends - Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands

We all have different experiences when we live in a different country.  On Fridays, I share the experiences, memories and pictures from others living across cultures.

Do you want to contribute?  Email me a picture accompanied by a short description / story / poem / whatever inspires you! I'll put it up!

Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands
Micah (American)

I want to tell you about a humble man. This man’s name is Mr. Simon. He is called Mr., because in the Solomon Islands, “Mr.” signifies that he is or was a school teacher. He is old… so old, that I could tell even carrying a light object with both hands for any length of time was hard. He is 87 to be exact. And it just so happens that 14 years before I was born, at the age of 55, this man – this Mr. Simon – began a great work. He began it at the age at which my parents finished it.

When (you see) the blind, titanic faith of a man who above all else in his life sought after God’s word; a man who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind, and with every fiber of his fading strength; when you see this man – this humble, quiet, old man, I’ll tell you that his name is Mr. Simon.

Thanks, Micah, for this beautiful character portrait of Mr. Simon!  If YOU have a submission, send it my way and you could see it here soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Water Spout

I heard the drum as I was fetching back water from the village rain tanks.  From the lagoon side of the island came shouting, and the quick steady thump of a stick on an upturned 5 gallon bucket.  Some kids playing at the island version of jacks under a nearby tree dropped their pebbles and headed towards the commotion.  Curious, I left my bottles at the foot of our front stairs and joined the flow of people towards the lagoon. 

When I emerged from the close sitting huts, I found half the village gathered at the tide line, looking out across the still water.  Two more had joined the solitary drum now, and a woman a few huts down hauled a sheet of corrugated roofing onto the open sand and began to beat on it. 

"What's going on?"  I asked the closest pikini.  She picked at her belly button for a minute, standing stork legged in the sand, then pointed with her free hand out into the lagoon. 

Following her finger, I saw what had captured the village's attention.  There were four water spouts dancing across the glossy water.  Fascinated, I watched as the long columns of water snaked slowly towards land, undulating with a fierce, powerful grace. 

"But why are people beating the drums?"  I asked, confused. 

The girl looked at me with wide eyes, and I realized for the first time that she was afraid.  "Because the noise scares away the evil spirits," she answered.  By now, women all up and down the beach were beating on upturned buckets, logs, and sheet metal, clapping sticks together, and generally making noise with anything they could. 

One of the water spouts had broken away from the rest and made land several hundred yards from the village.  Now the drumming became frantic, and I heard a few people chanting prayers from the old island religion.  "Go away, spirits.  Don't come to this village." 

Suddenly cries broke out from people up the beach, and I strained to see what was happening.  "Daviti!"  I heard someone shout.  It was the way the islanders said my father's name. 

I looked and saw my dad walking up the beach, towards the water spout.  The villagers all clumped together where the huts ended, but Dad kept walking across the empty expanse of sand.  The murmurings grew increasingly fearful as he headed straight towards the swirling wind, which had now morphed into a dust devil on dry land. 

He approached it, his lava lava flapping back against his legs, seeming to shrink as he neared the towering whirlwind.  And still he went on.  And the drums beat an inexorable rhythm.  Until at last he reached the swirling column of sand and debris.  The village held a collective breath as my father stepped into the whirlwind. 

And suddenly it was gone.  Vanished in a trembling moment when it seemed the very foundations of the island shook. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Netflix Movie Monday (or not) - Big Brother

It's Monday, and time for what I've been calling, 'Netflix Movie Monday', where I review a movie I found, streaming, on Netflix that I found interesting or entertaining.  However.  Netflix, long considered a customer-friendly little company that looked out for the little guy, recently turned all big corporation on us and hiked its rates up 60%.  Not cool, Netflix.  Not cool at all.

In protest I just might change the name of this segment to, 'Media Monday'.  Or not, we'll see.

Ok, on to Big Brother, everybody's favorite summer obsession.  

Sunday, July 10 - Food Competition, Nomination Ceremony

The veterans are already working it.  Evil Dick works his magic on Porsche, and she totally falls for it (seems to me like she has some daddy issues).  She tells ED that the vets have not only her vote, but Keith's as well.  And then goes and tells Keith about the whole conversation.  Um, Porsche, have you watched Big Brother?  You gotta keep your mouth shut to make it in this game.  

Keith totally freaks out and goes on a paranoid tirade, accusing Kahlua Kalia and Porsche of being flippers and sellouts to the veterans.  Not a smooth move, Keith.  Apparently you haven't ever watched BB, either.  

The house guests compete to stay off of slop for the week.  Keith bounces on his house guests to squeeze milk from their costumes, and also perhaps to practice his lady skills.  Nasty.  

Rachel decides to put up Porsche and Keith on the block during the nomination ceremony.  "... for strategy.  Welcome to Big Brother, guys," she says.  Just a liiiiitle condescending.  

Wednesday, July 13 - Veto Competition and Ceremony

Right off the bat, Porsche is hurt by her nomination.  She can't see that this is giving her the Golden Key and a free ride for the next few weeks.  She goes to cry about it on her bed.  Poor widdle thing.  

Dick gets called to the Diary Room, and never reemerges.  All the house guests are freaking out, especially Danielle although she's trying to hide it.  Then Rachel gets called to the Diary Room, and comes back with an announcement to read.  Apparently Dick quit the game for personal reasons.  Que the wail of 'NOOOOO!!!!!' echoing in living rooms across America.  And I was so looking forward to watching him all summer!  

Since Danielle lost her partner, BB gives here the first Golden Key.  She and the rest of the veterans go up to the HoH room to pout about it.  Jeff becomes the hero with a super awesome pep talk, "We've gotta knuckle up like Rocky!"  Cool.  Way cool.  

Porsche gets over her pouting spell and realizes that she's actually in a good position.  She decides to throw the veto competition.  Keith is confident he won't get voted off.  He decides to throw the veto competition.  They're both tools.  

Brachel win the Veto Competition, and keep the nominations the same.  They're actually not that annoying this season.  With ED gone, I just might root for them (???).  

Cassie hasn't been much of a player, but the camera sure does love to pan over to her lurking in the background.  She gets a ton more air time than, say, Shelly.  I think BB's just giving the male fans a little eye candy.  She is gorgeous.  

Thursday, July 14 - Live Eviction and Head of Household Competition

Brachel have a little lover's quarrel.  Rachel keeps calling, "Bookie Bear!!!" across the yard, and Brendan gets his panties in a wad.  He's like, "Come on, Rachel, I'm ready to go to bed," and drags her off to the HoH room so that she can watch him pout.  Can you say, 'dysfunction junction'?!  She's all, "I love you..." and he stares moodily into the fish tank (the FISH tank), and ignores her.  Apparently Brendan wants to be taken seriously since he's going to be a doctor (a professional), and having your fiance call you, 'Bookie Bear' goes against that aim.  In reality, he just didn't like Rachel teaming up with other house guests to tease him.  They are so co-dependent.  Maybe I won't root for them.  

The veterans work their magic on the rest of the house guests to garner the votes needed tonight.  I have to give it to them, they can play the game!  It's fun to watch.  

In a surprise twist, Kalia votes to evict Keith (joining Porsche and Shelly to flip against the newbies).  You shouldn't have gone all crazy on her, Keith.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  Especially in Big Brother.  Haven't you watched the show??

Brendan and Jeff throw the HoH competition and give Jordan the win.  Which leaves me to wonder, how was it again that she won her season?  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Words Carelessly Uttered

"You live in the Pacific.  You should know how to spell, 'Australia'."  This from an Aussie teacher.  I can still remember the sarcasm.  Her underlying message, as I perceived it, was, 'You ethnocentric American child.  Make a little effort, why don't you.'  Now, I'm sure she didn't mean to communicate anything more nefarious than basic frustration.  But to my sensitive heart, the words cut.

There are other times I can remember when a few words carelessly uttered pierced me.

"You are so flighty."

"You shouldn't need your mother."

"Haoki mai!  Haoki mai!"

"I've realized you are less mature than I am."

As painful as those words were to hear, and as long lasting as their impact has been, I know that I've done the same to others.  While teaching, I am ashamed to say, I can remember a few instances where my words caused the wide-eyed, injured stare.  I've seen it in my husband's eyes.  My children's.  Some friends.  And some people who used to be friends.

As I pray for grace and the ability to control this tongue of mine, that can and has set forests aflame, I have to also pray for grace and forgiveness towards others whose words have done the same to me.

For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.  Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.  Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.  So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.    
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, the veryworld of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.  For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  (James 3)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Friends

Sometimes I come across pictures of other people who lived overseas.  They always make me curious.  What was their experience like?  Was it different from mine?  Even families who lived in the Solomons at the same time as we did, but in different villages than ours, have experiences that vastly differ from my own.  Heck, I'd venture to guess that in some instances, the four of us Gentry kids all came away with uniquely individual perceptions of events.

This curiosity of mine, coupled with the fact that my blog is sadly lacking in the photography department, has inspired me to create a new segment:  Friday Friends.

I am sending out the plea to anyone who has in the past, or is currently living TCK (in a culture other than their own), to send me a picture accompanied by a short (a few sentences to a few paragraphs), description of the shot.  I will post the pics here on my blog on Fridays.

1.  You can email me your pictures, or Facebook message them to me.
2.  Please include where you are from (originally, like what your passport says), and where the pic was taken.
3.  Include when the pic was taken.
4.  If you only have the picture in hard copy, just take a picture of it with your digital camera or phone, and I can post that.

I can't wait to see what you share!!!

To show you what I'm talking about, here's an old pic of mine:

Bontazi Island, PNG

This was the 'village living' part of our missionary training.  You see the fish windsock in the background?  We found out later that the villagers thought it was where we kept our ancestors (usually they are kept in weapons that are passed down through the generations, but hey, white people are weird like that).

We lived here isolated for three months.  Upon returning back to the missionary base camp, my dad asked what had been going on in the world while we were away.  The reply he got was, "Nazi Germany fell and the Berlin Wall was torn down."  Can you imagine?!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Wantok.  It's an island word that means, quite literally, 'one talk'.  In a nation where languages differ from island to island, wantok is the word used to describe someone from your place.  Someone who speaks your language.  Someone who shares 'one talk' with you.

A wantok is obligated to give food and shelter when you show up at their door.  If your wantok is driving the city bus, everyone else might have to pay, but you won't.  If a wantok has a need, you fill it.  You might not be related, but you're family.

Here in the States, we just celebrated Independence Day.  Of all the words in the English language, I think that one describes us best:  Independent.  Our national mantra is, "No thanks, I can do it myself."  We live sometimes hundreds of miles away from family, don't know our neighbor's names, and build high walls around our properties to ensure our privacy.  We go from living in isolated homes, to driving in insulated cars.  And then when we get out of the cars, we flip open the cell phones so we won't have to look at or talk to anyone.  Independent.

I recently got a friend request from a Luaniua islander on Facebook.  As I sat drinking my morning cup of coffee, his status update popped up on my newsfeed:  'Goodnight all'.  Smiling at the irony of being online simultaneously with someone half way around the world, I posted, 'Polaoi.  It's morning here in America.'  Polaoi means 'goodnight' in Luaniua language.

This comment by me provoked an ensuing conversation as people wrote in, curious as to why an American was commenting on his status.  In reply, he simply explained, 'She's a wantok.'  

That word arrested me.  The unquestioning, immediate, enveloping acceptance brought tears to my eyes.  I had forgotten what it was to belong not only to a nuclear family, but to an entire community.  To live in a place with no walls, where every cook fire is open to you at meal time, to always be surrounded by protecting and watchful eyes.

And I miss it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Netflix Movie Monday (or not) - Big Brother

Happy Monday everybody!  Usually on Mondays I try to bring you a movie that I have watched, streaming, on Netflix, that I found interesting, insightful or entertaining in some way.  However, for the next month or so, I will not be watching many movies o'the evenings.  Why, you ask?  Because three nights a week will be taken up with my yearly guilty pleasure:  'Big Brother'.

With the games and cash prize of 'Survivor', and the snarkiness and drama of 'Real World', 'Big Brother' has been my summer indulgence for several years now.  Even Scott watches it with me.  As well as half my small group.  (And I predict the rest will start watching, if only just to be able to understand what the heck we're all talking about).  So I'll be taking a hiatus from writing movie reviews on Mondays, and will be posting my weekly impressions of BB, instead.  Also, since I watch all my TV shows online, and BB airs on Sundays (as well as Wednesdays and Thursdays), my Monday posts won't include Sunday night's episodes.

This year BB surprised us (or did it?  Since we know to expect the unexpected... ) with not one, not two, but three twists on the very first night.  Twist numero uno was that the house guests would be playing in pairs this season.  The second twist was that three dynamic duos from previous seasons are returning to the house to compete (more on that later).  Lastly, each house guest who survives the block will get the 'Golden Ticket', which will prevent them from both being nominated in the future, and competing in competitions.

Ok, here's my take on the new house guests and their partners:

Heavy Metal Dude and Mama's Boy:
Adam is the token old guy.  Wore a shirt with the naked girl silhouette truckers use on their bumper flaps for his first interview (real classy), and likes to make guttural screams while flashing the 'rock on' sign.
Dominic is a pretty boy who loves to ride motorcycles ... who still lives at home.  His mommy was crying (like, sobbing) when he said 'goodbye' to go into the BB house.  He's not too happy about being Adam's wife for the season.

Token Black Guy and Stripper Chick:
Ok, she's not a stripper.  She's a 'VIP Hostess', whatever that means.  Apparently it's an opulent lifestyle, because she felt the need to lie and tell the other house guests she is a student.  Kinda ugly, but I like her fashion sense.  She'll be playing the 'sex kitten' card, and we'll probably see the cat claws come out from this one before the season's over.  Oh, and she even has a stripper name.  Porsche.
Keith keeps talking about how he's an ordained deacon.  Also the size of his female house guests' boobies.  He picks Porsche because he's into blondes, and I predict he's gonna get played.

Black Carrie Bradshaw and Flamboyant Gay Guy:
Kalia (think, 'Kahlua') is a sex and relationship writer.  She's a schemer, and might have played a really good game, but I have a feeling some of the returning (more experienced) house guests will soon get her number.  Her strategy is to fly under the radar, and is upset because she has one of the loudest partners in the house.
Lawon (like 'Levon', with a speech impediment), is supposedly a sharp dressing gay guy.  I think his clothes are ugly.  And he's more of a cartoonish stereotype than an real person so far.

The Model and The Mom:
My favorite couple!  Cassie is a down-to-earth model, who seems pretty savvy and understated.  Shelly is a tough but kind hearted mom.  They both love the outdoors, fishing and hunting.  They're both pretty smart, and seem to have similar strategies (they threw the first HoH competition so as not to appear a threat).  I hope they don't get voted out too quickly.

Up against these is three sets of returning house guests:

Jeff and Jordan:
America's favorite couple.  They really do almost make my teeth hurt sometimes, they're so stinking cute and sweet.  Part of me wants them off early, because they already dominated one game.

Dick and Danielle:
He's back!  I was hoping we'd get to see more of Evil Dick this season.  He's one of my favorite BB house guests ever, he says whatever's on his mind, and is a tough competitor.  How can someone so nasty be so endearing at the same time?  Danielle's still not talking to her dad (if she'd sat any further away from him in the Diary Room, she would have fallen off the bench), but I've got mad respect for the understated way she plays the game.  They almost won the first HoH competition.  Unfortunately, that honor went to ...

Rachel and Brendon:
Oh.  My.  Gosh.  Do we have to listen to that laugh for another entire summer?  Brachel is like the cockroach on Wall-E that just can't get squished.  Oh well, we know for sure now that there will be some drama in this summer's Big Brother house!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What Happens In the Dark

It was dark.  I was having a flirt fest under the eves of the church with another girl and two local boys.  Just the typical harmless fun shared by teenagers worldwide - laughing, sideways looks, lots of posturing by the boys.  Ostensibly, we were preparing the music sheets for tomorrow night's choir practice.  In reality, we were just stealing a few moments away from prying adult eyes, in this society where males and females kept strictly apart most of the time.

One of the boys was the son of a trusted local translator.  His dad was my father's friend.  There was something about him that I didn't quite trust - a shifty eye, something in the set of his mouth, or the way he carried himself.  Little rumors hinted around the well as girls gathered to draw water and gossip.  But I accepted him into my sphere because his family was trusted.  So he could be.  Right?

There in the dark, under the deeper shadows of the sheltering church, I felt a hand snake out and grab my breast.  And the stars fell from the sky.

Unable to breathe, I backed towards the low outer wall of the church.  "Hey, where are you going?" he called, mockingly.  I couldn't form a word.  "Come back," he called.  But I fled.

Did you know that in the United States, 33% of girls and 14% of boys are sexually molested by the time they reach the age of 18?  Approximately three quarters of reported cases of child sexual abuse are committed by either a family member or someone the child knows.  It happens in the dark, under cover and away from eyes that would protect the victim and expose the evil.

So I ask you today:  inform  yourself.  Turn on the light in your relationships, and don't be afraid to let it shine deeply into the darkness.

Here are some signs that a child might be a victim of sexual abuse (taken from

  • Waking up during the night sweating, screaming or shaking with nightmares. 
  • Masturbating excessively. 
  • Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys, and pets. 
  • Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement, or exhibiting symptoms of genital infections such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease. 
  • Having symptoms indicating evidence of physical traumas to the genital or anal area. 
  • Beginning wetting the bed. 
  • Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems, including unexplained gagging. 
  • Showing unusual fear of a certain place or location. 
  • Developing frequent unexplained health problems. 
  • Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets. 
  • Having unexplained periods of panic, which may be flashbacks from the abuse. 
  • Regressing to behaviors too young for the stage of development they already achieved. 
  • Initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors. 
  • Indicating a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person. 
  • Engaging in self-mutilations, such as sticking themselves with pins or cutting themselves. 
  • Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change.
  • Asking an unusual amount of questions about human sexuality.

As hard as it may be to think someone you love could be sexually molesting a child, it is critically important that you champion the helpless and innocent.  Here are some warning signs to look for in a potential abuser (taken from

  • Misses or ignores social cues about others’ personal or sexual limits and boundaries 
  • Often has a "special" child friend, maybe a different one from year to year 
  • Spends most of his/her spare time with children and shows little interest in spending time with someone their own age 
  • Encourages silence and secrets in children 
Sexual Interactions
  • Links sexuality and aggression in language or behavior, e.g. sexualized threats or insults, like “whore” or “slut” 
  • Makes fun of children's body parts, describes children with sexual words like “stud” or “sexy” or talks again and again about the sexual activities of children or teens 
  • Masturbates so often that it gets in the way of important day-to-day activities 
  • Has an interest in sexual fantasies involving children and seems unclear about what's appropriate with children 
  • Looks at child pornography or downloads/views Internet pornography and is not willing to show whether children are involved 
  • Asks adult partners to dress or act like a child or teen during sexual activity 
Personal Safety/Responsibility:
  • Has been known to make poor decisions while misusing drugs or alcohol 
  • Justifies behavior, defends poor choices or harmful acts; blames others to refuse responsibility for behaviors 
  • Minimizes hurtful or harmful behaviors when confronted; denies harmfulness of actions or words despite a clear negative impact 

And lastly, if you suspect a child may have been or is currently being sexually molested, don't hesitate. Call and report it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Perils of Skinny Dipping

Donning our swimsuits, my sister and I took a swim last night.  Just the two of us.  The water was warm silk around us, lit fluorescent blue by the underwater light.  Our legs cast wavey shadows across the bottom as we floated, suspended on inflatable pool toys.  It felt illicit, luxurious, and as we edged towards the shallow end to get out, shoulders hunched down against the cool night air, something tugged at the back of my memory. 
"I feel like we've done this before," I said to my sister.

"You're right ... " she replied, thinking.  And then, "Oh, yeah!  Remember that time when we swam naked?  And you ... " 

I groaned.  "Don't remind me."

We were still just kids.  Our afternoon play had meandered down to the beach, and we were casting around for something to do.  We walked along, kicking at mounds of sand, when it came to me.

"Hey, Anna, let's swim naked!"  I thought it was a fabulous idea.  Most of the kids our age stripped down to get in the ocean.  We didn't, due to our Western bred modesty.  But the beach was deserted at the moment, and I was itching for some danger and excitement. 

She wasn't too sure at first, but I managed to convince her (like I always did), and a few minutes later we were poised at the edge of the waves, nervously checking all around to ensure nobody saw us.  On the count of three, we both dropped our lava lavas, and raced into the waves.  The thrill of it went immediately to my head, and my world instantly became sharpened.  The sun shone with piercing brightness.  The warm ocean enveloped my entire body in its welcoming folds.  It was an exhilarating freedom to swim through the waves with no hindering clothes to remind you that you didn't belong there. 

When it was time to get out, we edged towards the shore, keeping our shoulders under the friendly waves for as long as we could.  Finally we were crouched low in two feet of water, and there was nothing for it but to bite the bullet and sprint for our lava lavas.  On one accord we jumped up and ran, dripping, towards the two colorful mounds that were our clothes.  Anna grabbed hers and immediately wrapped it around herself.  Safe!

I snatched mine up from the sand, and horror dawned as I realized where I had dropped it.  In my exuberance to embrace the liberality of swimming without clothes, I hadn't looked down when I shed my hindering lava lava.  There, beneath the bright folds of cloth, was a gigantic, warm, soft brown pile of ... poop. 

My world slowed down into horrified stop motion impressions.  There was the lava lava.  There was the poop.  There was the poop on my lava lava.  There I was, standing naked on the beach with poop on my lava lava. 

My only option was retreat.  I fled back into the water, and sat there scrubbing furiously while my sister laughed her butt off at me from the shore.