23 February 2009

Update on Elsa's riding

First I just want to say thanks for all the comments about my baby sadness. You are all so sweet.

I have kind of been slacking on blogging the past two weeks. The friday after I made the post about Elsa not wanting to trott we made some progress. I got a great tip from Stacie to get a book about it or look something up on you-tube. Well, on fridays (Since I've been home with the girls) we usually go to the library for story time and so while I was there I found a cute book about riding horses.

Then on the way out to lessons I was trying to convince Elsa that it's "Fun" to trott and not scary. She was complaining about her tummy hurting when she did it. So I told her to put her hand on her belly and cough. This way she could feel how her muscles flex. Then it struck me that tummy muscles do the same thing when you laugh. I told her to try it again except laugh really big this time. Well, she tried it........ I worked on convincing her that she just needed to laugh while she trotted, but she just kind of looked at me like an idiot.

Well, lessons started (We got good ole Kasper) and things were going all dandy. Then it was time to trott!!! She got all scared and worried......but I just kind of started anyway. I told her we gotta try it and then we can quit if it's scary (just like the other times) This time, about half way through I looked at her and started laughing and said "you're doing it" and all of a sudden she started laughing her head off. It was WAY funny. I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy and proud of her. It got to the point that I had to tell her not to laugh so loud. It was great and she just wanted to trott over and over again after that ;) Yay! It was one of those "moments" for me....I'm not sure if Elsa thought it was as cool as I did.

After lessons, just to drag the "moment" out, we went upstairs to their little cafè and got some hot cocoa and watched the "big girls" ride on the HUGE horses. It was great!

Then last friday it was "theory lessons" again. So we spent the time in the stalls practicing how to saddle and "tränsla" um......I'm not sure what that's called in English. It's the put-the-bridle-thing on the horses part :) I got a few pics from that friday. The light colored on is Jolly-Bob and the darker brown one is Kasper (Kasper is our favorite).

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17 February 2009

BABIES


Anyone that knows me well knows that I've been longing to have that baby number three for quite a few months now. Well, I have an announcement to make!!! Yes....it's true, I'm not pregnant :( It has become painfully obvious to me that there is no Baby Ferrin number three on the way, not any time soon anyway. I've been putting on the charm and I've tried to convince Thad that it's just what we need. It isn't working though. Without naming anyone, it is extra saddening since FOUR of my close friends are pregnant. I doubt that an opportunity like this will come again. Besides blaming Thaddeus, I have myself to blame. It is no secret that if we had planned things out better then we could have joined the trend. Thaddeus nicely reminded me today when I whined once more that all the other soon to be parents have houses and steady incomes. With us moving across the world and no jobs secured once we get there....plus we've got two wonderful girls already to provide for, I guess I shouldn't be shocked by his unwaivering answer.

Oh sadness, sadness, sadness.
At least I have pictures from when the girls were babies. For the time being I can still hold the girls and cuddle them, although Kajsa is quite fiesty and I'm only allowed to kiss her when she says I can. Elsa, on the other hand, has sworn on her life that she'll never move out and I can hug her as much as I like :) I guess one good thing that comes of this is how VERY thankful I am to be in the "little kids" stage of parenting. Sure, at times it can be a huge pain. I find myself holding on to these moments and hoping that this isn't the last time I get to experience them. When the girls wake up at night and want to sleep with us I often think of the fact that these years are going to pass fast and soon they won't want to come and cuddle us. So I lay there and breathe in the smell of their hair and try and memorize how it feels to craddle them. More sadness! I better stop this post now before I ruin our new laptop with too much moisture. Read more!

16 February 2009

I kicked Thad out!!!

Hahaha I'm just kidding, although, not entirely.

Thaddeus, bless his soul, has a lot more to say than he'd like to admit. When I made this blog I tried to get him to participate but I failed. Now, however, it seems like it would be easier if we had seperate blogs since I mostely just update about the family. Thaddeus, on the other hand, actually has "stuff" going on inside of his brain and actually has intelligent words to write. So, to make it easier for our rare readers we though we'd seperate for your convenience. Click here to get to Thad's blog! For future reference it will be on the right hand side along with all of the other friends/family. Read more!

15 February 2009

Happy Late Love Day.

I really like what this article has to say about love. Some of you know (hint hint Stacie) that I have some strong opinions about the topic of love. So I'm just going to copy and paste and share what I thought were some wise words.

http://www.daylightatheism.org/2009/02/love-is-no-sin.html

Love Is No Sin

In Second Corinthians, the Bible contains a widely cited teaching against interfaith relationships:

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? ...Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." (6:14-17)

Entire sites are devoted to this passage; the cited one says sternly, "If you are involved in a relationship with an unbeliever, and are not married, I would urge you to think very seriously about ending this relationship. God's Word must be obeyed."

It's not just Christianity where this problem arises. I recently got an e-mail from a Muslim woman asking my advice about marrying her ex-Muslim, now atheist, boyfriend:

i wouldn't mind sacrificing anything for him...

here's my problem: in islam, we CANNOT marry a non believer. Its forbidden. If i do marry him it's gonna be a life long sin. thats the deal.

...im not sure what to do... unless he converts (or i do) none of us could be together.

We may cite holy wars and inquisitions, but this is a far more common, and more often overlooked, way in which religion causes harm: it divides people who could otherwise be happy together. This is most visible in the case of gay marriage, where tyrannical religious bigots are intruding into the lives and relationships of others. But it does almost as much harm within relationships, where religious people are forced to break off relationships with the ones they love because of beliefs which teach them that their love is a sin.

This problem almost always arises in the fundamentalist faiths which teach that theirs is the only true way and that all other beliefs bring only misery and unhappiness in life. A believer who marries an atheist, or a theist of another sect, would discover the falsehood of this teaching and undermine the basis of their belief, so it's little wonder that these sects would want to keep their members isolated and relating only to each other.

That this teaching is so common speaks to the fearful, self-negating, and anti-humanistic outlook on the world that so many religions hold. Any faith that demands its members subordinate love to dogma is denying one of the basic elements which make us human. True love, the kind that views another's welfare as of equal importance to one's own, is the most uplifting and powerful emotion of which the human mind is capable, and the fact that it keeps arising, despite these unjust rules, is testament to its power.

If two people have real and serious differences of opinion on subjects that could harm their relationship, then it's probably best that they stay apart. But if they're committed to being together and willing to compromise to overcome those differences, then that should be their choice to make. (Since every couple has their differences, it's the intent to bridge those gaps that's by far the most important thing.) A blanket ban on interfaith dating, however, is a cruel and unjustifiable law born out of fear. People should be happy together, and nothing takes precedence over that - particularly not bowing to the whims of imaginary dictators. If anything can be called "sin", then lying, cheating or harming others are the only acts that can or should qualify. The genuine love that people feel for each other is not a sin and never can be, and any religion which says otherwise is a false and wicked creed that does not deserve our allegiance.


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14 February 2009

A follow-up on Free Speech

Reposted from: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-despite-these-riots-i-stand-by-what-i-wrote-1608059.html

The answer to the problems of free speech is always more free speech


Last week, I wrote an article defending free speech for everyone – and in response there have been riots, death threats, and the arrest of an editor who published the article.

Here's how it happened. My column reported on a startling development at the United Nations. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has always had the job of investigating governments who forcibly take the fundamental human right to free speech from their citizens with violence. But in the past year, a coalition of religious fundamentalist states has successfully fought to change her job description. Now, she has to report on "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets." Instead of defending free speech, she must now oppose it...


I argued this was a symbol of how religious fundamentalists – of all stripes – have been progressively stripping away the right to freely discuss their faiths. They claim religious ideas are unique and cannot be discussed freely; instead, they must be "respected" – by which they mean unchallenged. So now, whenever anyone on the UN Human Rights Council tries to discuss the stoning of "adulterous" women, the hanging of gay people, or the marrying off of ten year old girls to grandfathers, they are silenced by the chair on the grounds these are "religious" issues, and it is "offensive" to talk about them.

This trend is not confined to the UN. It has spread deep into democratic countries. Whenever I have reported on immoral acts by religious fanatics – Catholic, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim – I am accused of "prejudice", and I am not alone. But my only "prejudice" is in favour of individuals being able to choose to live their lives, their way, without intimidation. That means choosing religion, or rejecting it, as they wish, after hearing an honest, open argument.

A religious idea is just an idea somebody had a long time ago, and claimed to have received from God. It does not have a different status to other ideas; it is not surrounded by an electric fence none of us can pass.

That's why I wrote: "All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don't respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don't respect the idea that we should follow a "Prophet" who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him. I don't respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don't respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. When you demand "respect", you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade."

An Indian newspaper called The Statesman – one of the oldest and most venerable dailies in the country – thought this accorded with the rich Indian tradition of secularism, and reprinted the article. That night, four thousand Islamic fundamentalists began to riot outside their offices, calling for me, the editor, and the publisher to be arrested – or worse. They brought Central Calcutta to a standstill. A typical supporter of the riots, Abdus Subhan, said he was "prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to protect the honour of the Prophet" and I should be sent "to hell if he chooses not to respect any religion or religious symbol? He has no liberty to vilify or blaspheme any religion or its icons on grounds of freedom of speech."

Then, two days ago, the editor and publisher were indeed arrested. They have been charged – in the world's largest democracy, with a constitution supposedly guaranteeing a right to free speech – with "deliberately acting with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings". I am told I too will be arrested if I go to Calcutta.

What should an honest defender of free speech say in this position? Every word I wrote was true. I believe the right to openly discuss religion, and follow the facts wherever they lead us, is one of the most precious on earth – especially in a democracy of a billion people riven with streaks of fanaticism from a minority of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. So I cannot and will not apologize.

I did not write a sectarian attack on any particular religion of the kind that could lead to a rerun of India's hellish anti-Muslim or anti-Sikh pogroms, but rather a principled critique of all religions who try to forcibly silence their critics. The right to free speech I am defending protects Muslims as much as everyone else. I passionately support their right to say anything they want – as long as I too have the right to respond.

It's worth going through the arguments put forward by the rioting fundamentalists, because they will keep recurring in the twenty-first century as secularism is assaulted again and again. They said I had upset "the harmony" of India, and it could only be restored by my arrest. But this is a lop-sided vision of "harmony". It would mean that religious fundamentalists are free to say whatever they want – and the rest of us have to shut up and agree.

The protestors said I deliberately set out to "offend" them, and I am supposed to say that, no, no offence was intended. But the honest truth is more complicated. Offending fundamentalists isn't my goal – but if it is an inevitable side-effect of defending human rights, so be it. If fanatics who believe Muslim women should be imprisoned in their homes and gay people should be killed are insulted by my arguments, I don't resile from it. Nothing worth saying is inoffensive to everyone.

You do not have a right to be ring-fenced from offence. Every day, I am offended – not least by ancient religious texts filled with hate-speech. But I am glad, because I know that the price of taking offence is that I can give it too, if that is where the facts lead me. But again, the protestors propose a lop-sided world. They do not propose to stop voicing their own heinously offensive views about women's rights or homosexuality, but we have to shut up and take it – or we are the ones being "insulting".

It's also worth going through the arguments of the Western defenders of these protestors, because they too aren't going away. Already I have had e-mails and bloggers saying I was "asking for it" by writing a "needlessly provocative" article. When there is a disagreement and one side uses violence, it is a reassuring rhetorical stance to claim both sides are in the wrong, and you take a happy position somewhere in the middle. But is this true? I wrote an article defending human rights, and stating simple facts. Fanatics want to arrest or kill me for it. Is there equivalence here?

The argument that I was "asking for it" seems a little like saying a woman wearing a short skirt is "asking" to be raped. Or, as Salman Rushdie wrote when he received far, far worse threats simply for writing a novel (and a masterpiece at that): "When Osip Mandelstam wrote his poem against Stalin, did he ‘know what he was doing' and so deserve his death? When the students filled Tiananmen Square to ask for freedom, were they not also, and knowingly, asking for the murderous repression that resulted? When Terry Waite was taken hostage, hadn't he been ‘asking for it'?" When fanatics threaten violence against people who simply use words, you should not blame the victim.

These events are also a reminder of why it is so important to try to let the oxygen of rationality into religious debates – and introduce doubt. Voltaire – one of the great anti-clericalists – said: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." If you can be made to believe the absurd notion that an invisible deity dictated The Eternal Unchanging Truth to a specific person at a specific time in history and anyone who questions this is Evil, then you can easily be made to demand the death of journalists and free women and homosexuals who question that Truth. But if they have a moment of doubt – if there is a single nagging question at the back of their minds – then they are more likely to hesitate. That's why these ideas must be challenged at their core, using words and reason.

But the fundamentalists are determined not to allow those rational ideas to be heard – because at some level they know they will persuade for many people, especially children and teenagers in the slow process of being indoctrinated.

If, after all the discussion and all the facts about how contradictory and periodically vile their ‘holy' texts are, religious people still choose fanatical faith, I passionately defend their right to articulate it. Free speech is for the stupid and the wicked and the wrong – whether it is fanatics or the racist Geert Wilders – just as much as for the rational and the right. All I say is that they do not have the right to force it on other people or silence the other side. In this respect, Wilders resembles the Islamists he professes to despise: he wants to ban the Koran. Fine. Let him make his argument. He discredits himself by speaking such ugly nonsense.

The solution to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people will say terrible things – is always and irreducibly more free speech. If you don't like what a person says, argue back. Make a better case. Persuade people. The best way to discredit a bad argument is to let people hear it. I recently interviewed the pseudo-historian David Irving, and simply quoting his crazy arguments did far more harm to him than any Austrian jail sentence for Holocaust Denial.

Please do not imagine that if you defend these rioters, you are defending ordinary Muslims. If we allow fanatics to silence all questioning voices, the primary victims today will be Muslim women, Muslim gay people, and the many good and honourable Muslim men who support them. Imagine what Britain would look like now if everybody who offered dissenting thoughts about Christianity in the seventeenth century and since was intimidated into silence by the mobs and tyrants who wanted to preserve the most literalist and fanatical readings of the Bible. Imagine how women and gay people would live.

You can see this if you compare my experience to that of journalists living under religious-Islamist regimes. Because generations of British people sought to create a secular space, when I went to the police, they offered total protection. When they go to the police, they are handed over to the fanatics – or charged for their "crimes." They are people like Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the young Afghan journalism student who was sentenced to death for downloading a report on women's rights. They are people like the staff of Zanan, one of Iran's leading reform-minded women's magazines, who have been told they will be jailed if they carry on publishing. They are people like the 27-year old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman who has been seized, jailed and tortured in Egypt for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah law.

It would be a betrayal of them – and the tens of thousands of journalists like them – to apologize for what I wrote. Yes, if we speak out now, there will be turbulence and threats, and some people may get hurt. But if we fall silent – if we leave the basic human values of free speech, feminism and gay rights undefended in the face of violent religious mobs – then many, many more people will be hurt in the long term. Today, we have to use our right to criticise religion – or lose it.

~Johann Hari

Postscript: If you are appalled by the erosion of secularism across the world and want to do something about it, there are a number of organizations you can join, volunteer for or donate to.

Some good places to start are the National Secular Society, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason, or – if you want the money to go specifically to work in India – the International Humanist and Ethical Union. (Mark your donation as for their India branch.)

Even donating a few hours or a few pounds can really make a difference to defending people subject to religious oppression – by providing them with legal help, education materials, and lobbying for changes in the law.

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06 February 2009

Elsa on Apollo

So it was Elsa's fourth lesson today. I've somehow forgotten to write that they're actually ponies, not horses. I think they're pretty big ponies though. The horses they've got there are LARGE. I'd probably even be afraid to ride them. Anyway, Thad and Kajsa came along to take pics. The lighting, motion and distance was NOT optimal...... So I'm sorry to say, but this is the very best un-fuzzy picture that we have :) We did get a little clip of the real deal though. Elsa is riding Apollo this time (not that it matters at all, it's just fun to include). Apollo was a little mischievous while we were trying to get him all ready to ride. At one point I was worried he was going to eat me. Turns out he was nice when it came to riding, whew. Elsa still doesn't like to trott.....infact she HATES it. We're not quite sure how do handle this dilema yet. Today we had quite a lot of time to learn how, but she refused. Grrrrrrrrrr. I'm going to try and build her up so it won't be the same thing next week. Any ideas on how to help her not be afraid?

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Jo-ology

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Yesterday the girls and I had a Jo day. Even though they don't remember her, I think Elsa is a bit like Jo every now and then. Elsa's face lit up when I reminded her about how Jo always had her make-up handy in her purse with a little mirror and everything. Oh, how I wish she'd be there when we came back :( The girls would just LOVE her sooooooo much. Here is our "artwork" dedicated to Jo and to everyone that misses her.

Oh, and then there's our pet. We caught this little guy outside about a month ago. I actually thought it was dead and picked it up to show the girls, but turns out he/she was alive. So we took it inside thinking we'd take care of it untill spring comes. I didn't really think it'd live this long. But it's made it so far and we take it out every now and then and let it crawl around on us and fly around. Read more!

LEK-O-BUS LANDET

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This wednesday the girls and I packed a lunch and headed to Gothenburg to meet up with the cousins at Lekobuslandet. Wow! What a place. It was sooooo much fun, and the best part is that the adults were welcome to play as well. It was HUGE. I got pictures of everyone except for Jonatan, he was busy playing just about the whole time. Natanael and Kajsa were both Pippi Longstocking for the day....as you can see by the pig tails ;)

When we came home Elsa and Kajsa both said they want to have their b-day party there. Actually, that isn't such a bad idea since we'll be about a week away from moving and HOPEFULLY the house will be empty come April.

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A slide can never be too long!


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This is Johanna showing off her walk. She's an early bird, she's been walking for a while now and she's not even one yet!

Tack Shirley, Jonatan, Natanael och Johanna för en ROLIG lekdag!
Vi gör gärna om det igen, snart :)
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03 February 2009

Give me some Kajsa Lovin'


Here are a few pics of Kajsa being cute at the park. Isn't she just a doll? But be aware, pictures can fool.........She does get a bit crazy at times though as you can see in the video below. Sorry to all you non Swedish speaking people. It probably won't be as funny. This is Kajsa's version of "Vi komma, vi komma från Pepparkakeland" This video is from about a week ago at another park. Anyway, enjoy our spunky Kajsa :)
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