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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Terrifying

So I was just sitting here after a shift at work, sipping a glass of wine and surfing Facebook, when I saw a video that someone had shared.
It was one of those "social media experiments" where some young fella lures a young girl somewhere to show how easy it is to get kids nowadays into unsafe situations. Now, I have seen a couple of these, and I was feeling pretty happy-go-lucky tonight and didn't feel like watching anything that would freak me out.
But for some reason I clicked the stupid link:
http://www.sunnyskyz.com/happy-videos/2895/He-Picks-Up-A-Teenage-Girl-On-Facebook-But-Watch-What-Happens-When-Her-Parents-Find-Out

So I was about to close it at the point when he's about to meet the first girl - but then her dad jumped out, which shocked me - and I forgot. I ended up watching it, even those these videos tend to do nothing but depress me (I mean, shit like this happens every day - it IS depressing.)

But when it came to the last girl, and her parents are yelling at her, the mother's words really struck me. She was yelling at her daughter about how they had watched videos together, and read news articles, and discussed this sort of thing. It took me aback, as those are exactly the sorts of things I would do with my own kids to warn and teach them of these dangers.

And yet this girl still did it. She was educated by her parents as to the dangers of strangers through social media, and she GOT INTO AN UNMARKED VAN WITH A STRANGER.

More than any video showing me how many kids still do this, that mother's words terrified me. Because if she did all that, how am I supposed to get through to my own kids. If showing them, talking to them, warning them, TEACHING THEM, doesn't make it clear...what are parents supposed to do?

Social media and technology are the unfortunate ways of the future, so one can't cut their kids off - they'll need that knowledge and savvy to navigate their futures. I mean, at what age should kids be having their own FB pages?? I know people with young kids who let them have their own social networking page already, but is that just handing pedophiles a key to your front door? If you educate the snot out of your child, but peer pressure and the age-old desire to just feel WANTED can drive them to still let a complete stranger into their homes, is the answer is just to simply remove their ability to make such decisions? No cellphones, iPods, social media pages? And while that removes the ability to communicate, does it also castrate their tech-skills? Will it prevent them from succeeding?

It was Uncle Ben who said that "with great power, comes great responsibility." Peter Parker was a 15-year old genius, and yet it still cost his uncle's life to drill into him the reality of his situation. How are 12-year-old girls that are bombarded with daily images of a perfect body, boyfriend, and breasts supposed to fight the urge to chat with someone who finally makes them feel SEEN? My kids are 6 and 8 and they BOTH have classmates with their own phones, iPods, etc. If every kid in class has their own phone number and youTube account, is ostracizing them (by not allowing devices, etc) the equivalent of the peer-pressure they inevitably receive already??

I'm sure I'm not the only parent to think these things (Jeebus, I hope I'm not...) so I would love your thoughts. It's too complex a problem for a simple solution, unless we can gather all the pedophiles and banish them to a hellish island, in which case, yes, let's do that:)
What do you guys think? Ban the electronics and social media? Educate and educate, and then just hope for the best? Force yourself into every aspect of your child's life? Cause I'm about there...

How about you??

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Catchup

I've been able to actually do a decent amount of reading (for me) considering the kids are now off school for the year!
I borrowed a couple of books from the library recently - both were fantastic!
One was Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. This is the debut from the author, and I'm happy to discover that there are more in the series! It was a surprisingly fun read, and I quite enjoyed the author's version of what happened after Dorothy left Oz. The novel follows high-schooler Amy Gumm as she finds herself in Oz and given the challenge of accomplishing several gruesome tasks, the final being to kill Oz's brutal dictator: Dorothy. It was a fun one, sort of Buffy - meets - Fairuza Balk's Return to Oz - meets - The Outsiders. The second one has been put on hold at the library:)
I also borrowed Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill, as I'm a sucker for pretty much any celtic/fae story. This one was a lovely read, ripe with Irish slang and a dreadfully mischevous version of the Fae. Kate McDaid is a twenty-something city girl looking to improve her love life and career, when she inherits a mysterious set of instructions from a witch of a Great Aunt who died over a century earlier. To inherit, she must fulfill instructions to reconnect the modern people with the forgotten Fae, putting herself through paparazzi hell - and possibly ending humanity. O'Neill's writing allows for a quick read, and this one was charming.
I devoured Longbourn by Jo Baker. I had picked it up at a recent library booksale, as I'd had my eye on the title since its release awhile back. I love me some Austen, so naturally, I was curious about this one. Baker is an excellent writer, and I loved her "version" of Pride and Prejudice from the POV of the servants. Her story runs parallel to Austen's P&P as it follows the Bennet's young servant Sarah, and her life during Austen's famous story. It is obvious Baker researched extensively, as the reader is given in-depth glimpses into the gritty world of a servant in the early nineteenth-century, with blistered hands and pre-dawn work for all! For fans of P&P, or Austenian work in general, Longbourn will be a welcome addition to your bookshelf.
I also snapped up Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time at Costco, as it
was one of her newer ones that I hadn't read yet. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, then you know I am a huge Picoult fan. This one however, was on a whole new level. I always seem to immediately get sucked into her novels, and Leaving Time was no exception. It really surprised me how much I enjoyed all the detailed information about elephants! So before I knew it, I was so involved in the characters and the elephants, Picoult did her usual rug-pulling-left-hook-U-turn and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I ended up sitting up in bed, bleary-eyed and wired, until FOUR IN THE MORNING. FOUR! And it all ended with me crying over fictional characters, then reluctantly looking at the clock, then almost crying over the time. I haven't read through the night since The Great Time-Traveller's Wife All-Nighter of 2005. Seriously, I never do it - it takes me days to recover, so it is a real testament to Picoult and this book especially. Her books always involve controversial topics, and this one actually had a couple. It tackled the topic of elephants in captivity, as well as the topic of psychic phenomenon. I think another big draw for me was the fact that there was no courtroom scene(s). Picoult's novels usually contain the involvement of a lawyer, but this one didn't! (Admittedly, those are my least favorite scenes in her novels, well-done as they are.) The absence of it was a pleasant surprise, and added to my overall enjoyment of this one. All in all, I can't say anymore. Just go get it and read it. But clear your schedule, first!
After THAT, I needed to change gears, so I am currently reading The Faery Reel, a short story collection edited by the formidable Datlow and Windling. I'm only a short way through it, but quite enjoying the diversity of stories so far.

Having this little bit of extra time has been great for my sanity too, as it's given me more time to write. I'm slowly making headway on the Norse faerytale I've been working on for awhile. When I don't write enough, I find I get a bit "twitchy," so really it's been good for me and anyone who is around me, lol.

Hope this summer is bringing you plenty of time to devour some good books, or do whatever it is that makes you...you.

Cheers,
Kel

Monday, June 15, 2015

Our May

Evan  playing at the Calgry Suzuki Strings Festival
Since my last post, we've had some fun here in the Komm house. The kids both had a bunch of concerts and festivals to wrap up. As always, they never fail to amaze me with their gifts (that they certainly did not inherit from me!)
Ella playing with the ESFRS












It was nice to go to Calgary for the weekend for Evan's festival, as we had a chance to check out the Spark center (their science center) which was free admission with our family's membership to OUR city's science center. Yay! I love free stuff!!


More dino robotics!


Science is so cool:)
Dino robotics at the Spark Center

Family shot!
The kids also had their annual year end school concert, again at the Winspear. As always, it was incredible. This year was a lot of fun, as it featured Canadian and Movie music, so it was a lot of great, familiar music.
Quite the show!
Sibling love:)


May ended with the kids and I taking in Eek Fest in St. Albert. It's the only little con I've taken them to, as it's been nice and quiet, now 2 years in a row but they still get to see people in costume, great booths, and fun extras. This year there was an entire arena of Lego, so they both just loved that area. There was a little corner of another arena with "zombie" shotting, which Evan and I did and that was pretty fun:) I love seeing all the artisans at cons, so this one wasn't as fun for me because it is so small, but I love seeing the kids have such a great time.
Indiana Jones and Princess Merida:)






Hope May was good to you too! 
Cheers,
Kelly


Friday, April 17, 2015

Another Day

My goodness, I've neglected you! It's so easy to let the things we love to do fall by the wayside when there are so many things that we must do. But I promise, I'll try to be more frequent:)

So, at the end of last year, I downloaded a new app to help organize my books and to prevent buying duplicates. I quite love it, but it made me realize how enormous my collection of books that I haven't read yet is getting. I decided to tackle it logically, and am going through and reading the books I've kept but not read yet, alphabetically. This has forced me to dig in a read the ones I keep putting off. And it's been great! I'm currently on the third book of The Tears of Artamon series by Sarah Ash. Each are really well-done, detailed, epic, dragon fantasies, though my typical need for something new is kicking in, so I'll be happy to finish the 3rd and begin something different.

Incredible fan art by Trev Murphy
at http://trevmurphy.com/
I'm super bummed out to be missing the Calgary Expo this year, as I just couldn't afford the expense (what with exploding cars, and such). I wasn't going to go see any celebrities, but I just love being able to walk around and see the art and meet the exhibitors, and see the cosplay. So sad:( Even more so since they announced last minute that Michonne is going to be there. THAT'S a celebrity I would spend my money meeting, dammit. Figures:(
At least I have friends going so they'll be keeping an eye out for me for new art from some of my favorite vendors.
That being said, I'm pretty excited to be taking the kids to EekFest
next month. This little con is family-friendly (and affordable!) and has devoted an entire hall to LEGO this year. My son is going to have an aneurysm when he sees that. Seriously.

Our puppy, Lennon<3
Well, I'm off to walk the dog. I have a rare day when I'm not working both jobs and actually have the time to walk him in daylight! Better get going before I get used to sitting down and doze off, lol.

Hope the day treats you well,
Kel

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Quiet Life

"I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small."
- Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail

When I first heard that line years ago, I loved it, but I didn't know if I could relate. Did I lead a small, quiet, insignificant existence in the vast scheme of this enormous world? Today I experienced a glimpse of what it was like for people who lead much more exciting lives, and I'm still reeling.

On my way to a town about 30 minutes outside my city, my car began to shake and emit an odd sound. I let off the gas to slow, and was promptly honked at and glared at by "inconvenienced" motorists. Before I knew it, the car let out an explosive belch, and copious amounts of smoke filled the air. In my rear view, I couldn't see anything but smoke. I quickly pulled over, as the cars behind me were blinded by the white smoke billowing from my hood.

Upon pulling over, the smoke continued, so I decided to open the hood and let it air out. It was at this moment I realized I wasn't going to get to the school I was scheduled at, in a timely fashion. Calling my boss, I got out and fiddled to open the hood. As my boss's daughter answered the phone, I lifted the hood to a flame-engulfed engine. I don't quite remember, but I may have cursed and hung up on the poor girl. (My apologies, PMK!) 

With visions of exploding vehicles in my head, I snatched my purse out of the passenger seat, and waddled into the knee-high snow to put some distance between me and the impending disaster. I called 911 and despite her varied questions, only seemed to be able to say, "my car is on fire!" I'm sure she thought I was just super capable.

At this point, I turned to see that 2 vehicles had pulled over, and both drivers were yelling at me to get further away, as it was on fire. 
"My car is on fire!" I agreed. Massive conversationalist, I am.
One man ran over wielding a small fire extinguisher, and he sprayed underneath the car. We managed to get the hood back up again, despite the heat, and he sprayed that sucker out. Well, mostly. It kept flaring up and smoking, but the fire department was on their way. The second motorist invited me to warm up in his car, as I was shaking. It wasn't just the cold, though. Pretty sure I was in shock. 
The firefighters arrived, and doused everything. They comforted now-in-full-blown-shock-me and then I was shuffled to a police officer's car, where we waited for the tow truck.
The constable eventually dropped me off at a nearby Husky station to wait for my husband. On our way to the tow truck yard, I told the hubby I'd point out where the car had taken it's final breath, only to find it and the tow truck still there. As we pulled up, another tow truck arrived, rushing to the driver's side of the first. As the ambulance arrived, we were told the poor driver had been clipped by a passing vehicle's side mirror while hooking up our car! And the dude that hit him drove off! And no one stopped to help him!
Sure enough, the same constable showed up ( I waved, stupidly) and eventually we were okay to go.
On our way home, I noticed it was only 10:02am. Felt like it had been a hellish day already. 
Honestly, I'm still a bit rattled. And I'm not sure why. I'm perfectly all right, my kids weren't with me, and I got everything out of the car without incident. Despite losing my only set of wheels, it could have been a lot worse. It made me realize my existence is small. This minor event spun me into repeated bouts of anxiety, and I can't imagine living every day with this kind of craziness. I totally get the line in that film now. Small. Really small. But valuable. 
Just want to send a few truly grateful thanks into the void: to the gentleman with the extinguisher, I can't thank you enough-you truly saved the day. To the guy who let me warm up in his SUV,  (Ryan-from edmonton-but-works-in-Spruce) thanks for your act of kindness. To the firefighters who were totally patient with my panic attack and shock, and to the Constable who waited with me and dropped me off, and didn't make me feel stupid when I had a full-blown panc attack, thanks will never be enough for all you do everyday. To the poor tow truck driver who had to go to the hospital for doing his job, thank you so much, and I am so very sorry that the world is full of people like whoever hit you. (But don't worry, karma will win in the end:)

I appreciate my small life sooo much more now. I will take my quiet existence over a loud, dramatic one any day.
ANY.
DAY.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pink Day

This past week, my kids' school promoted Pink Day, or Anti-Bullying Day, or Pink Shirt Day. Here in Canada, students (or everyone, really) wear a pink shirt (or anything pink) to show their support against bullying. It was begun a few years ago by two Nova Scotian teens who got their student body to all wear pink to rally with a male classmate who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. It has become a wonderful national symbol.
Now, my kids are very conscious of how they treat others--I've raised them to be so. As someone who was severely bullied, I wanted to make sure they not only treat others with respect, but also have the confidence to stand up against such treatment--to themselves or others.
With regards to my son, I'm not worried...yet. He's full of innocent confidence, and regularly points out to others, even strangers, if he feels someone is being mistreated. He does it so often, that when he was recently thanked for such an act, he couldn't remember the instance! I do feel, however, that such confidence will dissipate with time (and puberty) and it's something I'm going to have to watch for. Among inheriting my eyes, love of books, and outgoing nature, my son also inherited my nasty ability to let people walk all over me.
My daughter is who I'm watching with this right now. She is still so young, and still finding out so much about the nature of people. While she has no problem identifying when someone has been wronged, she has a problem expressing herself to them.
"I was bullied once at afterschool care, Mom," she told me the other day as we were discussing Pink Day.
"Oh, really? What happened?" I asked, (visions of my terror-filled days of being bullied running through my mind)
"I was coloring and a bigger girl came and took my markers."
"What did you say to her?"
"Nothing."
"Why not? You just let her take them?"
"Yes," she shrugged.
I'll admit, I was a little relieved. While my sweet little girl is a joy, she can also being a fiery ball of fury. Part of me is waiting for the phone call that someone wronged my girl, and she responded by laying them out. But I need her to know that her words are just as powerful (if not more so) than her fists.
"Maybe next time something like that happens, you should say something to the person," I suggest to her, "tell that person you were using those markers, and that you would be happy to share, but that maybe they should ask before taking something that someone is using." She did her super cute "stare-
up-and-to-the-left" that she does when she is absorbing new info, so I know it stuck.
I grew up with an older brother who had me boxing with him after supper every night, so I certainly knew how to use my fists, but I never became comfortable with using my words as weapons. I wish I had.
So cheers to Pink Day, and here's hoping that every day will become like Pink Day, where bullies are outed regularly, and the world finally understands that bullying--at any age, and with words or weapons--will not, and should not EVER be tolerated<3

-Kel

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Sad World

I recently had a melancholy day.
My morning was spent running various errands for various purposes. It seemed that every store and interaction I had involved someone who was ignorant, or self-involved, or just plain rude.

As someone who believes in good manners and positivity, it was disheartening for me. I continue to be flabbergasted by people who choose to live their lives in a way that slowly eats away at them. And I just feel pity for people who are so self-involved that they aren't even aware of their ignorance.

Example: In the line-up at the local Big Bad Grocery Store, the lady in front of me asks the cashier how long she is working today:
Cashier, dead-eyed: "10 hours."
Ingnorant Lady: "What!? That's crazy!"
Cashier shrugs: "Gotta pay the bills."
Ignorant Lady, as she pays with one of her myriad of credit cards from her Coach purse: "Well, that is just stupid. You should just find a better paying job with shorter hours."

I locked eyes with the cashier at this point, and shook my head, eyebrows raised. I mean, where the hell do people like this come from??

At the same store, my shopping cart and I were cornered by receiving boxes and bins, and the fellow unpacking product glanced at me briefly before sighing dramatically and moving his stuff. And we're not talking about a moody kid, either. Buddy was a manager. Middle-aged. After I thanked him as I passed, I received not a peep. He didn't even look at me.

At every other store I visited, the staff just seemed miserable. Is no one doing anything they enjoy anymore? Are we all just slaves to our debt? I just can't live my life like that. I mean, if the majority of our time is spent at our jobs, shouldn't that job give us some joy or sense of accomplishment? I know that it is hard to find joy in some jobs, but finding something, ANYTHING in even the most mundane tasks that can bring you some sense of joy just might save you.

Everyone has a bad day once in a while, but living every other day with purpose and passion should be everyone's goal. I mean, what's the point otherwise?

So I challenge you: live your life purposefully. Live it with passion. Find joy in anything. Hell, find joy in everything! Smile at strangers. Hug your friends more. Share your dreams. Ask about others' dreams. And love freely. Always, love.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Whoops...

Whoa. How have more than 2 months passed since I wrote on my blog?! I mean, I'm flabbergasted. Seriously.
So let's backtrack:

NaNoWriMo finished up without fanfare, I'm afraid. I only hit 31,007 words, as I stalled a bit once
my characters started doing things I didn't expect. This has certainly happened before with stories, but I was on a strict outline to meet my 50K and didn't allow myself the luxury of changing lanes on that. As a result, I let my MC run away with things to see where she would go, and I'm finding it very interesting. Unfortunately, exploring that went slowly, and I missed my goal. Ah, well. At least I didn't have the lowest word count among my trio, so I was treated to a lovely sushi dinner with my BFF's. Thanks, Shereney<3 And a massive congrats to my girl Chris, on surpassing 50K for the first time! You go, girl!

December brought a few things, including the usual craziness of Christmas and illnesses that bombard our house every year. Before that, though, we celebrated my son's 8th(!!!) birthday. He and his friends had a great time, I think. We had a party at the movie theater, where the kids got to play video games on the big screen. They took turns playing the game and running around the theater. Evan also asked for the chocolate-iest chocolatey chocolate cupcakes so I baked him chocolate-chip ones, filled with chocolate mouse, topped with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles. They were diabetes-inducing:) He also asked for donations instead of gifts for the 3rd year, and raised almost $300 for the Edmonton Humane Society. Was an awesome day!


I also had the opportunity to take my daughter to her first ballet! It was so much fun - she was super excited! We went with my Mom, so it was three generations of lovely ladies in our family. We saw the Nutcracker, and Ella just loved it. And the Alberta Ballet put on an incredible show, while the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra played beautifully.

We were very fortunate to have a plentiful holiday, with many gifts, friends, and family. Last years Christmas felt like it slipped right by, and I didn't want that again - I love Christmas! So this year we decorated loads, had gifts under the tree to tantalize the kids, and planned a big family dinner with my husband's family. It was a lovely few weeks:) What sucked was catching everyone's germs. I ended up with Strep throat, my sister-in-law got pneumonia, and the hubby's uncle caught some terrible flu/cold thing. Ah, the holidays.



I will leave you there for now, as 2015 is already bringing exciting things, and I don't want to bore you with a massive post;)

Cheers,
Kel