Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Freedom? Are we really?

I'm going to use my "Miles Ahead" venue to discuss something that gave me pause when I read an email from the director of the company I work for today. It was a Thanksgiving message to everyone in the company. I must preface that this person is a white male and I believe he has a military background (although I can't be sure) or he could potentially have children who have served/are serving in the military.

The message started out benign enough, we should be thankful for our health and salute our military who are fighting on the front lines to fight for our freedom. Then it just got...well, I can't say I wasn't incensed by his description of the freedoms we have in the U.S.

"The freedom to live our lives the way we choose is quite possibly the greatest gift this Country has given us.  Thanksgiving is a dedicated time to reflect on our freedom to pursue love, happiness, creature comforts, joy of family, safety and the ability to worship as we please without fear of reprisal or government dictation." 

Is he blind to what is going on in this country? Do we really have these freedoms? In light of recent events in this country I have to ask are these statements true? Are we really and truly free to do these things without persecution or discrimination because of our race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

It is a fact that women in this country still don't get equal pay for equal work.Women in the work force are chastised and experience career detriment when they take time to have babies and tend to them. This country's maternity policies are ridiculous! Women who don't have family close by rarely receive the help and support they need with raising a baby. Especially single moms.

Racial profiling still goes on to where a young black man can't walk the streets for fear he may be shot down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no deigning that racism still exists in the U.S. and people confront it every day.

Voter ID laws exist where a person who can prove who he/she is and where he/she lives is still denied the right to vote! Is that freedom? To be prevented from voting in a democratic election? These voter ID laws by the way discriminate most against women, minorities and young people (read university students).

I don't have first hand experience with religious dealings, but I know of stories of Muslims in the U.S. being discriminated against for their beliefs. Where protests and heavy handed redirection have been employed in regards to the location of a Mosque. Other religions face their own forms of persecution should they not fit the Christian standard ubiquitous in this country. Plus, you are expected to have a religion and worship a God. 

A woman is not free to do what she wishes with her own body! I heard of a law passed (I forget the state) where if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant she is forced to keep the pregnancy. Medically necessary abortions where the mother's health is at stake are becoming more and more restrictive. Adoption options for adoptive parents can be limited and extremely expensive. Birth control is a constant fight with insurance companies. According to some laws women must buy additional insurance to be covered for standard health care procedures associated with women's health. Birth control, medically necessary abortion, pregnancy and birth of a baby, mammograms, pap smears. Not having equal access to health care? Is that freedom?

There is a perpetuating rape culture in this country. There is a story from University of Virginia about a woman getting gang rapped at a fraternity. THEY BLAMED ALCOHOL FOR THE ASSAULT! NO! It was the men who rapped her! A woman should be free to wear, act, and socialize however she desires without fear of assault or harassment.

A person is not free to die how they desire.

"...we will thank the Creator that has given us these gifts, pray for those voluntarily in harm’s way so we can continue to enjoy them and ask for help for all those around the world who look at the United States of America as the great beacon of freedom but find themselves oppressed and persecuted by their governments." 

I commend Mr. Director for his praise of our military and their sacrifice, but I have to ask, what is your definition of Freedom? Is it military freedom from the oppression of other governments? Well the U.S. may have that. But as far as these other freedoms you speak of Mr. Director, I think you need to think about that for a while. I am sure that the U.S. is far from the "beacon of freedom" to most other nations. We persecute anyone who tries to come into this country, i.e., immigration. When did that become a dirty word? 

I must also say I am not a religious person, I don't go to church and I don't pray to a God. I consider myself agnostic and put a lot of my faith in science and things that can be proven through evidence. So, that being said, I have never agreed with people who "witness" to me thanking "the Creator" or other deities for the glories and good fortune bestowed upon them.So, sometimes general messages like the one sent by Mr. Director that assume I pray or worship or have a similar faith as the purveyor often turn me off. I am not saying this is severe discrimination, but some consideration would be nice. Throughout life I have just shrugged these messages off and thought that the beliefs that people have are their own and it brings joy to their lives. So if it makes them happy so be it, just as long as they don't force it on me and they can understand (or maybe acknowledge) that my beliefs also make me happy.

Despite my criticism of this message from Mr. Director I must commend one of his final statements.

"Many criticize us because we bear open for all to see our disagreements and debates. But I submit that this openness is our strength and our love for freedom will, with the help of God, always bring us together when it counts the most."

And that is why I feel free to discuss my thoughts and concerns in this open forum. This is one freedom that I know not everyone feels comfortable exercising for fear of repercussions. But here, I do this to vent a little about my current frustrations with this country and to acknowledge there are problems that we must continue to fight to truly be free.

This Thanksgiving, I will be reflecting on the things that I am so fortunate to have and the love I am surrounded with. My health, my family's health, a warm home, loving pets, wonderful friends, a career, there are many. But I will also be reflecting on the oppression in this country and how there are people here who do not know true freedom and who fight against oppressors every day.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Halloween Time!

I love Halloween! And now that I have kids, it is another reason to get excited. When I asked Miles what he wanted to be for Halloween he said a puppy. Then I asked him what Alice should be and he said a kitty. Well naturally. He also said that Mommy and Daddy should be a house. I didn't take his suggestion on that one.
Me and some friends for our Halloween night out!

Aaron carving a pumpkin! We roasted the seeds and they were delicious!
So off to work I go on a puppy costume. I think it is turned out great, but Miles didn't want to try it on at all before Halloween, so I wasn't sure he would wear it, especially the mask. But he was excited to put it on when the time came and he wore it like a champ! He didn't even want to take the mask off. He wore it all throghout the party we went to and trick-or-treating. 
Miles and Daddy making a Play-Doh monster at the Stepping Stones Halloween party
Me and my little kitty cat
Miles and Murray playing with the monsters
Daddy and Alice listening to stories (or is Daddy telling them?)
Nana and Grandpa Sam came to the party too
Last year I made the poor kid go trick-or-treating with a fever. I was so excited to go and wanted him to be excited about it too. But when we got to the end of the block he said he wanted to come home. I was a little more sensitive this year. It seems like we all have fighting a cold and it hit all of us the week after Halloween but we were all healthy enough to participate in all the festivities.

Ready to Trick-or-Treat with Ruby Red Riding Hood
Our kitty cat in the wagon

Hanging with our friend Lego Batman!
Look at all the candy I got!
We have had really nice fall weather here, but it got cold on Halloween and Miles again got to the end of the block and wanted to go home because he got cold. Alice hung in there a little longer and we made it to a few more houses before we headed home. Our friends Ruby and Murray (and their Mommies) came to trick-or-treat with us. We have a great neighborhood for trick-or-treating.
Brother and sister laying in the leaf pile
Yay leaves!

The Great Pumpkin visited our house and left prizes. "Frozen" puzzles for Miles and Minnie Mouse slippers for Alice. But Miles didn't like his puzzles, he wanted Mickey Mouse slippers (where the heck do I find those?). This took me by surprise because he loves puzzles and he loves the movie "Frozen". He said it "was for girls" which really dejected me. I didn't think he was at the stage where he would be making those gender distinctions. I am doing my best to not reinforce gender stereotypes in our house and I want him to be himself and like whatever makes him happy. But alas he has other influences in his life that I can't control. He goes to daycare with all girls and may feel the need to differentiate himself in certain ways. Who knows!

Early in the fall we took a trip to Pappa's Pumpkin Patch in Bismarck with our friends Janelle and Ruby. It was actually pretty warm out and the mosquitoes were bad! They were bad all summer here and Pappa's Pumpkin Patch is right along the river, so they bothered us a bit. But we had fun anyway.
Pappa's pumpkin patch in Bismarck, Alice peeking through the window.
Miles peeking through the window, don't get stuck!
Me and my little pumpkin
Miles wouldn't stand by the scare crow to get is picture, but Alice did.
You can drive Sis.
The day after Halloween we went to Bismarck again to see Disney Junior Live show. It was a lot of fun! Miles loved it and sang along with the Jake and the Neverland Pirates songs. Alice sat well at the beginning of the show. But as expected it got a little long for her after intermission and she got antsy and needed to get up and move.

We are staying in Jamestown for Thanksgiving and Grandpa Sam and Nana Linda are joining us for dinner. I love having Thanksgiving in our home. Mostly because I have an awesome recipe for green bean casserole and I get to make it and keep all the leftovers! We hope everyone is having a great fall and are able to get out and hunt some ducks or dear or pheasants or whatever you like to hunt. Aaron has taken Miles with him a couple of times, but we don't want him to get too cold out there. Until next time, the Kross-Pearse household.
Sully's Birthday party in August. The Moms and their one-year-olds. It is hard to get Alice to sit still for a photo.
Alice being silly with the dog bowl on her head. That is probably dirt from the garden on her face. She also likes to wear Miles' underwear on her head!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer time, fun time!

Well, it's September and fall is coming on strong and without warning. We have had a fun filled summer. We have been going to the park regularly after day care and eating frozen treats. Miles keeps growing and I am going to have to get him all new pants for the fall because all his old ones are too short. Alice is adding more and more words to her vocabulary. Like "Minnie Mouse," "cheese"...she loves cheese, and "puppy". They are also starting to fight like siblings. Alice will swipe a toy from Miles, Miles will chase her and grab it back from her, then the crying on both parts begins.
I'd never steal my brother's toys. I love him too much.


We made our big trip to Florida in July and Miles had his first trip to Disney World. We went to the Hollywood Studios park and stayed at the Art of Animation resort. We had a magical time. Miles was amazed at the giant statues of the Lion King characters and The Little Mermaid characters that were along the walk way at the hotel. We had breakfast with the Disney Junior characters and the highlight was Jake!
Handy Manny and our Handy Man.

Can you see the excitement in his eyes? Either that or too much syrup on his Mickey Mouse waffles.


Sophia was really sweet.
Miles LOVED meeting Mater and Lightning McQueen! He was a little disappointed that we met all the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters except Donald. Well, maybe next time little guy.

Off to the races.
I think he was so amazed that this was a life sized Lightening McQueen.
Goofy doing the Hot Dog dance for us.

Pluto! He looks kind of like our dog Hayduke.

Jake again, we got to meet him twice. Miles gave him a very long (maybe a little too long) hug.

Mickey was amazed at how tall Aaron is. Taller than Goofy?

Minnie had her own private dressing room.
Aaron got to test out a speeder.
We watched Darth Vader battle some padawans.

Fun on the film canister slide in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play yard.

Army guy. Aaron didn't think there was a real person in this costume.

Ending a fun day with a Mickey Mouse cupcake. Delicious!

Oh Eric! This was just one of the statues at our hotel. This was one of the smaller ones.
Alice spent the day with Grandma and Grandpa Kross at the hotel. They played at the pool and took naps. It was a great day for them.

We then spent some time at Grandma and Grandpas house and Aaron and I went down to Delray Beach for my 20th High School Reunion. It was a fun party. I got to see and talk to a lot of people I hadn't seen in years. I wish it was longer. It felt like I needed more time to catch up with some people and there were old friends I didn't get a chance to talk to. Although, I did get to spend some quality time with a few good friends. Nicole who I have known since elementary school and Michelle who is always fun to reunite with.
Me and Coey. Love her.

All Jennifers in this Picture. We all graduated High School together.
We spent the rest of our Florida vacation at Grandma and Grandpa's house and went to the pool and the beach. Outdoor fun in the sun!
Alice having fun in the sand at the beach. Her first ocean beach experience.

Miles helping Grandma pick her prize pineapple.

The rest of our summer has been filled with spending as much time outside as possible. In North Dakota you need to soak up every minute of sunshine and warm weather because it doesn't last long. One of the things I realize I took for granted growing up in Florida. We have been going to the library a lot too and discovering new books. Although we have a ton of books in our home library, it is always fun to check out the different ones they have there.
We have been seeing lots of friend this summer too. We went to Fargo to celebrate our friend Justine's birthday. All our friends were there and we were excited to see how big Malory is getting. Before the party the Moms went garage sale shopping while the Dads took care of the little ones.
Alice and me with Malory and Justine. We couldn't get Alice to get her finger out of her nose.

After the birthday party we met up with out friends the Chouinards and went to a Red Hawks game. Aaron says "no more snow cones!" for the kids! WHAT! Ok, we will see if he can enforce that. Apparently Alice held on to her flavored ice chunk and it dripped all over his lap getting everyone all sticky. Well isn't that what baseball games are all about?

The next day the Chouinards stopped in Jamestown on their way back to Bismarck. We showed them the fun at the Buffalo and Frontier Village.
Matt, Michelle, Madeline, and Max

Hey Miles, let's roll down this hill!

We decided not to start preschool with Miles just yet. We thought we would give him another year to mature a little more. Since I have half days with him I am going to start working with him more on learning activities. I subscribed to the ABC Mouse program for a year. If anyone has experience with that let me know how you like it, or any other program.

Family at the Buffalo, we have been there lots this summer.
Labor Day weekend we visited Grandpa Sam and Nana at their farm. Aaron got in a dove hunt and we had 2 doves to grill for lunch appetizers. If you have never had a tender cooked dove, you need to, they are wonderful. (Jen also took in as much of the Simpsons Marathon as she could)
At the Buffalo with Grandpa Sam and Nana Linda
Alice eating fresh picked sweet corn at the farm.

 Aaron and I are also celebrated 7 years of marriage on September 2. I love this guy to the end of the earth.
Until next post, we all hope your summers have been just as fun.