I May Never Blog on a Leap Year Again…

…Or I might. Who’s to say? They’re just not that common and who knows what I’ll be doing four years from now. I think there’s something really charming about leap years. It reminds us that our human sense of timing just isn’t quite right. Obviously our calendar is the best one we have (hence why we’ve stuck by it for so long) and it works out pretty well, but every four years we’re reminded that it’s not quite perfect.

I’m not sure where this tradition started but apparently February 29th is the day for any ladies out there who so desire to propose to their men. However, get ready for a long engagement if you do just so because it’s said to be bad luck to get married in a leap year. Sorry, everybody who is planning their wedding right now.

There’s also something called a “leap second”. It’s when you count down from ten and jump in the air. No, that’s not true but I don’t really understand the real definition.

Did you also know it’s Ja Rule’s birthday? Well it is. He’s what is known as “a leaper”. Man, what an informative blog.

In other news, yesterday I went on a cultural field trip to the Chilliwack Museum.

Housed in former City Hall.

It might be the smallest public museum I’ve ever been to. In fact, I’ve been in private museums that are larger. But the volunteer staff were friendly, I learned a little more about this place I live in, and it was a unique couple of hours spent with a good friend.

I caught a fish in the room where they explained about the Fraser River.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a grey afternoon and $3.

Any big plans for this once-in-four-years day? Any women out there planning to pop the question?


The Bachelor Goes to Switzerland

We are almost at the end of this magical journey. Or, as Ben calls it, “incredible journey.” Ben, the book was better. Frankly, I’m ready to say good-bye and good riddance to all of these ridiculous folks. But first some thoughts on last night:

  • Switzerland looks beautiful and like a wonderful place to visit. Looking at the beautiful scenery is the best part of this episode
  • Ben says that the more he gets to know the women, the more lost he feels. That just doesn’t sound right to me. If you are getting to know someone and you feel lost, that doesn’t seem like you have much of a future together. In my experience, falling in love makes you feel like a better version of yourself.
  • Ben is suddenly saying that he’s worried about Courtney and how she’s acted. If that’s true, how come he didn’t do anything when the other women were still around? How come he wasn’t respectful towards them when they tried to express their concerns?

Surprise! It's a helicopter! (I do not own this image.)

  • Three dates with three women. Nicki gets the first one.
  • Ben looks so much more bundled up than Nicki! Guy can’t handle the cold apparently.
  • They hop on a helicopter (naturally) and fly over a glacier (cool). Their relationship is “going to new heights”. Yep, someone actually said that.
  • Nicki says Ben makes her feel safe? How does he make her feel safer while in the helicopter? Is he secretly a helicopter pilot? Did he pack parachutes? No, Nicki, Ben is not making you safer here.
  • I feel repetitive here but I have to say it again: Ben’s hair is just so bad. It looks really dull and lank on this date in particular. I think he could be so much more attractive with a short hair cut!
  • Throughout the date, Ben seems disengaged and uninterested when Nicki speaks. His answers are short and meaningless.
  • They high five when they sit down to their romantic dinner. Yeah, this isn’t ending in engagement.
  • This episode is what I like to call “the ickiest episode”. It’s the one where they try and make you think it’s okay that the bachelor spends the night with three different women. It’s not. Moral issues aside (because I obviously have different standards than Ben and these women), I’m sure Ben has a pretty good idea who he’s keeping at the end and so I think it’s downright wrong to lead these other women on by being intimate with them. This was especially apparent with Nicki, who keeps telling Ben she loves him, is talking about their future, having kids and he seems blatantly uninterested. If Ben was truly a decent guy he would not have even offered the “fantasy suite” to Nicki but would have been honest right there and then and sent her home.
  • Also, it icks me out that Chris Harrison apparently sets up the fantasy suite for them and then sends them an invitation. If someone’s got to offer this, shouldn’t it be Ben?

This is kind of a creeper shot, eh? (I do not own this image.)

  • The next date is Lindzi’s. Ben seems way more into Lindzi than Nicki. I counted at least three times where he says he loves her.
  • They have an “adrenaline date” and it just seems cheesy at this point. If you’re really about to get engaged, shouldn’t you be spending your time talking and figuring out if marriage is the right step?
  • A Swiss man tells them they need to be mentally strong. This guy seemed awesome. He wishes them good luck, as if that’s what they need, not strong ropes, while they rappel down a cliffside.
  • Of course rappelling off a cliff is compared to a relationship. Somehow.
  • As with so many of the adrenaline dates, this has very little real danger to it. The ropes are not going to break. No one is going to die on The Bachelor. Also, they’re not rappelling or jumping so much as being slowly lowered.
  • Ben wears a bow tie to dinner. To be clear, I think some men can pull off a bow tie and look quite debonair. Ben is not one of those men.
  • Lindzi is beautiful and always looks good although I wish she would switch to a darker lipstick.
  • Ben looks happy when Lindzi tells him she’s falling in love. That’s a nice switch from his usual non-expressive reaction.

They do look cute together. (I do not own this image.)

  • Next up: Courtney.
  • Personal opinion: I do not like men in camel-hair coats. I think Ben’s coat on this date looks kind of feminine.
  • They take a train to a town called Wengen where they have a picnic. I hate to admit I agree with Ben and Courtney, but I also think trains are romantic. Peter and I took a train on our honeymoon and it was lovely. This date was my favourite of the three because it was the most normal.
  • Ben is a little goofier, a little more comfortable with Courtney.
  • Ben does seem concerned about Courtney’s action but I’m disappointed that he doesn’t push for more answers from her. She talks over him and gives the same kind of answers that she gave before. She admits that the situation brought out the worst in her but I don’t know if she learned enough from it to be better in her interactions in the future.
  • They have dinner in a wine cellar?
  • Ben says he’s not concerned that Courtney is fake. You should be, Buddy.

The “surprise” of the episode was the return of Kacie after she was sent home last week. Does someone make a “surprise” return every season? Kacie says she doesn’t know what happened and she wants answers. I think that’s legit, especially since Ben has not given very great good-byes to some of the girls. I’m not necessarily someone who demands a lot of closure in relationships but I know it’s very important to some people. Ben explains that their backgrounds were too far apart, that he didn’t see her in the end. Kacies says,”It’s nice to have answers but it doesn’t make it any better” and that’s the problem with so-called closure. It doesn’t really change the outcome. That said, I hope it helped her and that she’s been able to move on. I hope she stays close to her family and follows the values they’ve laid out for her.

This is Ben's expression throughout his conversation with Kacie. It's the face he makes when someone is saying something he doesn't want to hear. He's made it a lot this season. Also, can this plaid-on-plaid trend die already?

Kacie, since she’s already there and everything, tells Ben that if he chooses Courtney in the end, he will have his heart broken. After she leaves, Ben says he’s confused and doesn’t know what to do but I think he will still choose Courtney. He hasn’t listened to any of the other warnings and red flags, why would he know.

And, just as I thought, he chooses Lindzi and Courtney to be his final two women. I was glad to see that he spent some time saying good-bye to Nicki and giving some reasons as to why he didn’t choose her. At least he learned something from Kacie.

Also featured in this episode was a sneak peek at Emily Maynard, our next Bachelorette. Emily was Brad’s pick on the previous season of The Bachelor but they have since broken up. She’s the first single mom to be featured as The Bachelorette. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to watching her season. Typically, The Bachelorette features less drama than The Bachelor, plus I kind of like Emily. She’s sweet and beautiful and although she’s obviously crazy (everyone on these shows is) she seems like a decent person. It’s easy to see why multiple men could fall in love with her, unlike our current Bachelor where I’m surprised any women have fallen in love with him. We’ll see what happens!

Oh, and the scene where Emily goes to watch the Titanic in 3D with Ashley and Ali made me laugh. They picked out fancy outfits, got their hair and make-up done to sit in an empty theatre wearing dorky glasses? And Ashley thinks Jack and Rose were the epitome of a perfect relationship? Maybe she hasn’t seen the ending of that movie?

Dictators and Censorship

I started working on this post a couple days ago and since then the Academy Awards have aired and that brought up something (sort of) related that I thought I would mention.

Most of you are probably aware that one of the “big moments” from last night’s award show was Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as his character from the movie The Dictator, on the red carpet, “accidentally” spilling “Kim Jong-Il’s” ashes on Ryan Seacrest. If you haven’t seen it, look anywhere on the internet. It’s all over the place right now. Obviously, it wasn’t an accident and Seacrest was specifically chosen to have this experience and ensure that it was televised. What I want to talk about though is the whole idea behind The Dictator, which seems to be making fun of extreme dictators, such as Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-Il. Okay, so I can freely admit that Kim Jong-Il made some hilarious claims. Apparently, he was the world’s best golfer. He was obsessed with Elvis Presley, he had lobsters air-lifted to him. That’s all ridiculous. You know what’s not ridiculous? The number of deaths men like Kim and Hussein and Mubarak are responsible for. The iron-fisted control they hold over thousands of people’s lives. They may seem ridiculous to us but there are people around the world giving up their lives to fight against men like this. Basic freedoms we take for granted every day are unheard of in countries ruled by dictators. So, no, I don’t think it’s appropriate to make a movie that trivializes these crimes. Sure, it’s comedy and we should be able to make fun of dictators and point out their foibles but I wonder how many people will go watch The Dictator and then switch the news off when more footage from Syria comes on? I think things like this movie encourage ignorance, encourage us in North America to turn a blind eye to the suffering of people around the world by reducing their problems to comedic soundbites.

What do you all think? Is there a place for movies like The Dictator? Is there anything we can learn from them? Will you watch it?

Moving along…

Palate cleanser! A shot from yesterday afternoon at Island 22.

I had the idea for this post after creating my top 100 children’s book list.

Ten Children’s Books Banned for Ridiculous Reasons

Unfortunately, books get censored all the time. Children’s books may be more susceptible to this than any other. Parents, teachers, and librarians all want to protect children. And that’s a good thing but it’s easy to take it too far.

This list was inspired by The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, an entry in my Top 100 Children’s Books list. From there I thought it would be fun to see what other great kids books had been banned and why. I was surprised to see how many books I’ve read that made it on various censorship lists.

Now, certain books, I understand.  I don’t support censorship at all, but not every book should be read by children. I can totally see why Lolita shouldn’t necessarily be read in a classroom. (That said, there’s a big difference between a grade 12 classroom and a grade 9 classroom. Or at least there should be.) Flowers in the Attic probably shouldn’t be taught in schools because of its themes of incest and poor writing. But it should be available and, I believe, parents should be the ones responsible for monitoring what their children read. When those kids are adults, they can decide if they want to read V.C. Andrews.

That said, some books have been banned for straight up ridiculous reasons. Here were my ten favourites:

1. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Reason for Censorship: Promotes pacifism

There has to be something seriously wrong with a society that doesn’t want to promote peace and flower-sniffing. This sweet little story about a bull that doesn’t want to participate in bullfights was published a few months before the Spanish Civil War but was still said to support a leftist agenda. Maybe it does, but the so-called leftist agenda depicted in this book is sitting under trees and enjoying nice days.

illustrated by Robert Lawson


2. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Reason for Censorship: Unfair to logging industry.

Somehow, I think logging has recovered from the blow dealt to it by Dr. Seuss. My favourite part of this whole controversy though was that someone named Terri Birkett wrote a book in response to The Lorax titled The Truax. It was published by The National Wood Flooring Manufactuer’s Association. Many of its reviews on Amazon use the word “appalling”.

3. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble – William Steig

Reason for Censorship: Depicts policemen as pigs

If you look at the cover of this book, you see Sylvester’s mother (who is a donkey) talking to a neighbour (who is a pig). The book is populated with anthropomorphic animals, some of whom have jobs. That said, I think it’s hilarious that the police men are pigs.  It’s quite possible Steig did that intentionally but I think it’s over most kids’ heads. I’d never heard a policeman called a pig until I went to university.

4. The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling (found in Just So Stories)

Reason for Censorship: Contains “99% violence”.

That’s a direct quote from somewhere on the internet, I just can’t remember where I found it. Instead, please enjoy this link and listen to a reading of The Elephant’s Child by Jack Nicholson. The story is pretty violent, I guess, and it depicts the elephant as getting revenge on adults so that’s bad.  99% is a little high though, there are a couple of scenes where he’s walking and eating stuff.

5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle.

Reason for Censorship: Confused with Communist author

This classic from my own childhood (as in I read it when I was a kid, not that I was a kid in 1967) could hardly be more innocent. It’s about animals who look at other animals. It teaches creatures and colours. But in 2010 someone in Texas confused Bill Martin Jr. with Bill Martin, who wrote a book called Ethical Marxism. Even if they were the same person, why would that matter?

6. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Reason for Censorship: The poem “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes” encourages messiness.

As if kids need to be taught how to be messy.

7. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (congrats, you made it on the list twice!)

Reason for Censorship: China

I don’t actually have much information about this outside of Wikipedia so I have to take it with a grain of salt. Apparently Green Eggs and Ham was banned in China due to its portrayal of Marxism. Am I missing something in my interpretation of Green Eggs and Ham?

8. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Reason for Censorship: Too depressing.

Yep, that’s right. World War Two was just too darn depressing. Unlike the rest of the books on this list, Anne Frank’s diary is a true story. She wasn’t just making up teenage angst, she was describing her day to day life. This entry actually makes me angry.

Along the same lines, I was surprised to see how many books out there have been banned from schools because they deal with “adolescent issues”. These are books by Judy Blume, Katherine Paterson, Robert Cormier. Books written for teenagers. Teenagers who experience “adolescent issues” and would probably appreciate knowing they aren’t alone in those experiences. Similar to this is Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor (another one on my top 100 list) being banned for its “harsh description of racism.” Oh, sorry, did we not portray the KKK nicely enough?

9. The Rabbits’ Wedding by Garth Williams

Reason for Censorship: Marriage between a white rabbit and a black rabbit.

This sweet little story was banned in Alabama (anybody surprised) because it was trying to brainwash children in to thinking inter-racial marriage was okay. Apparently. Williams’ has a couple of great quotes regarding this supposed controversy. “I was completely unaware that animals with white fur, such as white polar bears and white dogs and white rabbits, were considered blood relations of white beings. I was only aware that a white horse next to a black horse looks very picturesque.” He also describes his story as not for adults “who will not understand it, because it is only about a soft furry love and has no hidden message of hate.” I like this guy.

10. Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch

Reason for Censorship: Undermines authority of principals.

No one shall question the extreme and all-powerful principal! The principal is also the world’s best golfer!

(But seriously, I love Robert Munsch and I personally was further impressed by him when he admitted to his drug problems even when he didn’t have to. I was sad that some people turned against him because of that. Have you ever met a kid who didn’t like Munsch’s books?)

One more from Island 22.

An Open Confession of my Love for Thrift Stores

So, it’s snowing. Right now. It’s snowing. I am astonished.

This is the view from my window right now!

Anyway, that’s not what I was going to write about. What I wanted to say was this: I love thrift stores. I’m not going to hide it any more. Actually, I don’t know if I ever hid this.

If I had to come up with my top five favourite things about living here in the valley, the number of thrift stores would definitely be in that list. And not just thrift stores but good thrift stores. Thrift stores full of treasures. Thrift stores where things are actually cheaper than they would be new. Thrift stores that haven’t been picked over by hipsters.

When I was a kid, my family shopped at Value Village and MCC and other thrift stores. As a kid/teenager, that’s pretty much the height of embarrassment. At least it was for me. We had lots of new things too but we were not the wealthiest family and so thrift stores were frequently visited. Looking back, I don’t really know why I hated going to Value Village so much. Yes, there’s always that slight thrift store smell (you know what I’m talking about, right?) but you always wash your clothes first. My theory is that as a kid you define yourself by who else shops at the store you’re in. And at the Value Village on Fraser Street, those weren’t always the classiest of people. Living in Victoria, almost everybody I knew shopped at thrift stores and proclaimed it proudly. (This had the downside of making them more expensive). I didn’t know anyone who had brand new furniture. I was young and poor and paying for everything on my own and thrift stores made lots of sense. Plus, the older I get, the less I worry about defining myself by where I shop.

I get the sense that here in the valley thrift stores aren’t quite as cool as they were on the island. And I’m totally okay with that because it means they’re cheap and not too picked over. I love that they all seem to be run by elderly Mennonite women. I love that most of them are tax-free. I love the feeling of success I get when I find something awesome or just something I need.

These have been my favourite thrift store find in the valley so far.

Dressy shoes are awesome to find in thrift stores because they usually haven’t been worn much. And, if you’re like me, you won’t wear them much either so it’s not worth paying a hundred dollars for. Plus, I have very average-sized feet.

My most recent thrifting finds: a $5 cashmere sweater and a fifty cent scarf.

My home has benefited with new plates, a bright yellow vase, a crystal butter dish, and an extra baking sheet (making cookies with one baking sheet is a pain!)

I’ve also discovered that thrift stores are great places to look for cheap picture frames. I haven’t paid more than a dollar for one yet and I’ve been able to frame wedding photos and will be framing family photos once I get them printed.

I'm embarrassed that I took this picture of myself in my bathroom mirror but I love this scarf.

I could easily double the size of my scarf collection with trips to the thrift store. I like scarves. They keep my neck warm and they jazz up outfits!

In conclusion, thrift stores are great. If you visit Peter and I out here, we will take you to one. Probably MCC because it’s awesome and it doesn’t exist in Victoria. What have you guys find in thrift stores that you love?

Oh, and I took this picture Wednesday evening. The shot was Peter’s idea but I was the one who got my feet wet standing in a puddle. The sky was unbelievable that night.

On Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. If you’re not familiar with Lent, it is forty days leading up to Easter. It’s a sombre time of reflection and (traditionally) fasting. It’s a time in which to prepare yourself for Easter, which is a very sad and then an incredibly joyous time. I believe the original tradition behind this comes from the forty days which Jesus spent fasting in the dessert. Traditionally, people fast from meat or fat – that’s where the history of “Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras” began. People had to use up all their extravagant foods before Lent began. Trust me, nobody was flashing anybody in the Bible or the early church. Today, not that many churches observe Lent. I was surprised to discover this week that my own husband had never heard of Lent until he went to Bible school. Then again, the only reason I know about and observe Lent is because I’m some sort of pseudo-Anglican.

Let me clarify. I consider myself a pretty non-denominational Christian and I’m really okay with that. I’ve been a regular attendee at five different churches, all of them different denominations. When we were kids and our family moved and was looking for a new church, my parents looked for two things: good preaching and good children’s ministries. I firmly believe that that’s how it should be done. (Well, obviously right now the children’s ministry doesn’t affect me personally. However, I do think a church should emphasize families and have programs/teaching in place to help them.) That’s how I’ve looked for churches since I’ve moved out on my own.I think there are many great denominations out there with many positives and a few negatives. I do think that when people become overly tied to a denomination, that’s dangerous. If you’re identifying yourself as an Anglican/Presbyterian/Baptist/whatever before you’re identifying yourself as a Christian, that’s not right.

Oh, right, back to my pseudo-Anglicanism. Like I said, my parents had a couple of criteria for looking for a new church and when I was a kid those criteria led us to start attending an Anglican church. (It’s this one and it’s really awesome.) I probably went to that church for about ten years. I went to Sunday School, I went to youth group, I was part of small groups, I taught Sunday School. I was baptized and then confirmed there. (I was also dedicated as a baby so I’ve really got my bases covered.) So in those ways, I’m an Anglican.

When I moved out on my own, I did some church hunting for a while. I visited a handful of different churches, including an Anglican one. And there I realized that I’m not actually that Anglican. Or at least, I realized that I’m not tied to the Anglican church indiscriminately. So I settled on a church where they preached the word of God and I felt welcomed. (It’s this one and it’s awesome.)

Anyway, this has all been a long and rather convoluted way to introduce the first day of Lent. One thing I do really appreciate (and sometimes miss) about the Anglican Church is its liturgical tradition. The collects and prayers and steady, consistent tradition found in the Book of Common Prayer is beautiful. Yes, praying your own words straight from your heart to God’s is beautiful too but sometimes we really need a place to start and the BCP is great for that. I’ve found it helpful when my mouth doesn’t know how to express what my heart feels or when I need to be reminded of good prayer/Bible reading habits. I think Lent falls into a similar category. It is by no means necessary and, depending on your attitude or motivation, it isn’t necessarily helpful. I’ve given up things for Lent and had varying degrees of “spiritual success”. In the last few years I haven’t really observed Lent.

I’ve thought about what I want to do this year and if there’s something I want to or should give up. Here’s the thing – giving things up simply for the sake of giving them up is not fasting. It’s dieting. This year I decided rather than giving something up, I would take something on and I’ve decided that thing is worship. Specifically, musical worship. I plan on dedicating a portion of each day to being at my piano and playing some music and worshipping my God.

What about you folks? Does anybody out there observe Lent? Love it? Hate it? Never heard of it?

In other news, I’m reading two really great books that I would recommend.

2666 by Roberto Bolano. Just started this one. It’s big but already very fascinating and I’m excited about it.

Letters to a Young Evangelical by Tony Campolo. I think it’s always great to think about what defines you and what you believe and why.

The Bachelor – Home Town Visits

Here we are already at the hometown dates! This is where Ben visits the families of his last four women – who are Kacie, Nicki, Lindzi, and Courtney. In any season I’ve watched, this is my favourite episode. It’s a little less formulaic, a little more to the practical side of a relationship.

Lindzi REALLY likes horses. (I do not own this image.)

Lindzi’s hometown of Ocala, Florida is the first stop. Here are some of my observations:

  • She likes horses. I mean, she really likes horses. This is one seriously horsey gal. I just don’t know if I see Ben loving horses as much as Lindzi does and I feel like Lindzi needs someone who shares this intense passion. (Haha, look at me, talking as if I know these people. Oh dear.)
  • Lindzi says they are on a horse farm. Isn’t the correct term a horse ranch? I feel like farm implies they will eat the horses.
  • They have a little picnic and it gets pretty windy. It draws attention to the fact that Lindzi’s bangs are too long. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a very pretty woman, but she needs to brush her bangs to the side, not straight down.
  • Ben licks his lips in a weird way before they kiss. I didn’t like it.
  • Lindzi introduces her dad as Sean and then Ben keeps calling him Harry. Why didn’t anyone correct him? That’s so embarrassing. That guarantees they can never get married.
  • Ben and Lindzi tell her parents about their first date at the San Francisco city hall and it turns out that her parents got married there. I find it strange that Lindzi didn’t know this. I know where my parents got married. Don’t most people? Especially girls?
  • Ben and Lindzi’s dad hit it off well; I got the feeling that Ben saw Sean as fulfilling a dad role in Ben’s own life. Her dad says he would be honoured to have Ben as a son-in-law. This is what he’s supposed to say in the context of this bizarre show but it still seems weird and completely wrong to me. Your only child has gone on a handful of dates with this guy you just met, while he was dating multiple other women, and you’re honoured? Be more protective of your children!
  • They have really odd wine glasses.

I can't tell if she's good or not. Anybody know? (I do not own this image.)

Next stop is Clarksville, Tennessee (I don’t know how to spell that state), Kacie’s home town.

  • It’s no surprise that Kacie is from a small town. She meets Ben on a field named after her grandfather (I noticed right away when we saw the field but Ben seemed surprised to learn this. Not very observant, mister. Minus 2 points.) She greets him with a baton twirling routine and a marching band.
  • Kacie shares with Ben how important her grandparents were to her and how they passed away only a short time apart. Ben’s reaction is completely emotionless, as if she just told him she was hungry or that she had broccoli for lunch. I was super unimpressed that he couldn’t come up with a single comment.
  • Kacie’s dad doesn’t drink. Ben is a winemaker. Uh oh.
  • Ben brings Kacie’s parents a gift that looks suspiciously like a bottle of wine in a bag. Why would he bring that after Kacie told him her dad doesn’t drink?
  • They all sit down to supper on one side of the table. I understand that it’s because of the cameras but it still made me laugh because it looks like they are recreating Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
  • Ben’s hair during this visit is the worst I’ve seen yet.
  • It’s hammered in that Kacie’s dad is skeptical, that he doesn’t take risks like going on the Bachelor. Kacie wants her parents to trust her decisions. Her dad says he wouldn’t be able to give his blessing at this point and I think that’s absolutely fair. He’s being honest and he clearly loves his daughter. He mentions that he doesn’t want to see either Kacie or Ben hurt.
  • I get the feeling that Kacie’s family has some sort of Christian background. Her dad urges her to make decisions prayerfully and both of her parents stress that they wouldn’t want the couple to move in together before marriage. I like this family.
  • Kacie’s dad tells Ben that if Kacie is not the one, Ben should tell her soon. I think this seals it that Kacie will go home soon. And, honestly, I’m glad. She seems sweet and young and like she got swept up in the emotion of The Bachelor but I don’t think she and Ben are at all well matched.

Have you figured out the theme of their relationship? (I do not own this image.)

Next up is Nicki’s home town of Fort Worth, Texas.

  • Did you all remember that Nicki is divorced? Let’s remind you a dozen times.
  • Look, I’m sure divorce is difficult and heartbreaking and it changes you as a person. However, I’m tired of The Bachelor treating divorce as something that automatically makes you a better person or more ready for marriage. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. It doesn’t make you a hero and it’s not equal to overcoming cancer or something like that. Let’s stop romanticizing divorce.
  • Also, Nicki says she worked hard at her marriage…for two years. Now I have no idea what the circumstances of that marriage or that divorce were (aside from the fact that she was quite young) and, frankly, it’s none of my business. But two years is not very long and it probably didn’t go bad right away.
  • Ben and Nicki pick out cowboy outfits? Have you figured out the theme to their relationship? That’s right! It’s dressing up like stereotypes!
  • All these families have such big houses. Don’t any poor girls go on The Bachelor?
  • Ben brings flowers to Nicki’s family. Should have brought those to Kacie’s, Ben.
  • What on earth would make Nicki think Ben would be a good dad? What possible evidence does she have in that direction? Is it because he has a dog? Good grief.
  • Nicki’s dad has some guilt over not protecting her more in her first marriage and it seems like he will be hesitant to bless this Bachelor union. Until maybe an hour later when he says they have his full support. Come on, Nicki’s dad! I expected better from you.
  • I don’t like the way Ben talks about Nicki. He says he likes the way Nicki makes him feel. Later on he says, “I have a good feeling about her ability to make me happy for the rest of my life.” What about your ability to make her happy, Ben? Relationships are all about putting the other person first. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ben is not ready for marriage.

Look how nice and normal! (I do not own this image.)

The most anticipated home town visit is saved for last – Scottsdale, Arizona and Courtney!

  • I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised with Courtney and I have to re-evaluate my assessment of her. Right off the bat, she says she regrets the way she treated the other girls. I wish she had said this to Ben, but it’s a step in the right direction. I think it’s quite possible that she got caught up in competitiveness and that she does not know how to get along with other women. I hope she’s able to talk to Ben/the other women about this.
  • Ben brings flowers and wine. Is that a sign?
  • Did anyone else think that Courtney’s sister looks like Ben’s sister?
  • Throughout the visit, Courtney’s smile and demeanour seem so much more natural than we’ve seen so far in the show. She’s clearly more comfortable here and she comes across so much better. Also, I’ve been annoyed by the sort of babyish voice she uses with Ben, but I noticed she used it with her mom too. It’s still annoying but it seems less manipulative now.
  • Courtney’s dad says marriage is a gamble with only a 50% success rate. I fully disagree. Marriage isn’t a gamble, you get back what you put in. In gambling you throw your dice or pick your cards and that’s it. In marriage, you work at it every day (some days it’s not work at all, some days it’s hard work) and you continually make the decision to do so.
  • I was sort of surprised to see that Courtney comes from a family where her parents are still married and her dad is in the picture. From the way she talked about her relationships, I wondered if there were issues with her dad. Teach me to jump to conclusions.
  • Courtney wants to tell Ben she loves him and she sets up a fake wedding to do so. It’s a little weird but Ben goes along with it completely which tells me a lot about how he feels about Courtney. She’s genuinely nervous as she tells Ben how she feels and I liked her for the first time.

The whole gang meets up in Los Angeles for another rose ceremony. Kacie does not receive a rose. I hope she realizes soon that this is the best thing possible. It was sad to watch her cry and blame herself. Honey, you are better off, I promise.

Next week: Switzerland!

God Loves Women

“It’s good to be out where others can see you, so you can’t be your ghastly, spoiled self. It forces you to act slightly more elegantly, and this improves your thoughts, and thereby the world.” – Anne Lamott

This quote from Lamott’s bookGrace (Eventually) made me laugh. Am I the only one who sees myself in this? I need to be out among people so I’m not my natural, ghastly self!

I’ve recommended the Mars Hill Real Marriage sermon series before but, hey, here I am recommending it again! I’m happy to say Mark Driscoll agrees with me about spouse/child priorities. Peter and I watched the Men and Marriage sermon and today I watched the next segment, titled “The Respectful Wife”. Part of me didn’t want to watch it. I didn’t want to listen to another sermon telling me to submit to my husband, to let him make decisions, to be a Proverbs 31 wife. But I did watch and I’m really glad I did.

In all honesty, I struggle with this. I believe in the Bible. I believe that it is God’s word and that it tells me how He wants me to live. I follow some instructions better than others but I still agree with them. What the Bible instructs me as a wife – that’s what I fight against, what I kick and rebel against.

I was born right smack in the middle of the ’80s. I have lived my whole life in a society where women have the right to vote, to own property, to take birth control. We’ve had a female Prime Minister, Governor-General, and Premier. I’m university-educated, as are the majority of my female friends. Sometimes I feel like the only place that tells me I’m not equal to a man is the church. So I struggle with this and I’ve cried over it and fought against it because I know that God values me. I know that God loves me and I don’t believe that God loves me less because I’m a woman. And, honestly, that isn’t what the Bible teaches. Unfortunately, it is sometimes what the church teaches.

The first time I heard a sermon on Ephesians 5 (that’s the chapter that contains this infamous verse: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”) I thought, “No way. I have to respect my husband if he decides we should be neo-Nazis?” Right there, that’s me making excuses – Peter is never going to put a swastika up in our house. But more realistically, what if he does something I don’t agree with? What if he advocates something that I believe is contrary to what God wants? That’s where I really appreciated Driscoll’s sermon. He makes a point of saying that a wife can disrespect her husband bynotspeaking out. My husband is not my god and if I confuse the two I do a great disservice to both. In fact, it’s a sin. Both Peter and I are instructed to submit to the Lord and my role as a wife is to help Peter do so. Now there’s that help, that Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.”Helper. There’s another word I’ve fought against. I’ve felt for a long time that this word makes me secondary to a man. As if Peter is the one out there conquering the world and I’m just along to carry his bags and bake cookies. Again, Driscoll’s sermon helped me here by pointing out that the Holy Spirit is given to us as a helper. (John 15:16) So why is a word that describes the Holy Spirit not good enough for me? Jesus isn’t talking about a servant here, he’s talking about a companion, someone who will change the disciple’s lives and enable them to do things they never could before. That’s awesome.

Let me quote the rest of that passage in Ephesians.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot of wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

That was read out at our wedding. It’s a beautiful and a hard passage.

Here’s what I have figured out: God loves me equally to how much he loves my husband or my brother or my father or the security guard at PriceSmart. My gender doesn’t come into the equation of how much God loves me. I am as valuable as any man. I can be a CEO, an astronaut, a parent, a politician. (Okay, I can’t be an astronaut or a politician but it isn’t my gender stopping me there.) All that said, my husband is the head of our household. This is what the Bible tells me so I know that it’s true. And I still struggle with that. I’m blessed to have a loving, God-fearing husband who desires the best for me. And, really, that’s what the Bible is talking about. Husbands are called to go so far as to die for their wives, just as Christ died for the church. That’s some major love right there.

I want to be clear that I don’t think the Bible advocates abusive relationships to any extent. At all. Being the head is not about control. My husband doesn’t tell me what to wear, what to write, or what to read. But you know what, if he asked me not to write about something or not to wear a certain skirt in public, I would listen to him. I respect his opinion and I think he knows what he’s talking about – that’s why I married him. I expect the same from him. He doesn’t cook much with tomatoes anymore because he knows I don’t like them. I respect his opinions because he doesn’t control me so when he does make suggestions, I know he’s thinking about what’s right for both of us. There is nowhere in the Bible that you are going to find excuses for a man hitting a woman, forcing himself on her, or degrading her. That isn’t what headship is about.

I really encourage you all, men and women, to listen to Mark Driscoll’s sermon. Even more so do I encourage you to read what the Bible says about marriage and about men and women. The Bible is not anti-women and I think many of us (myself included) need to learn how to balance being a feminist and being a woman of God. I firmly believe both roles can co-exist. I will continue to pray over this because it isn’t something to be solved as easily as listening to a sermon or reading a blog. I know that God loves me and I don’t think He minds at all that I bring this to Him.

Here’s another quote on marriage from Anne Lamott to end this.

“A good marriage is supposed to be one where each spouse secretly think he or she got the better deal” – Anne Lamott

P.S. All the Bible verses I quote are taken from the English Standard Version. Just so you know.

I thank God for my husband every single day.

100 Children’s Books I Think You Should Read

After this top 100 list from USA Today was brought to my attention by a friend and fellow writer, we complained together about its glaring omissions. It’s not a bad list but it’s missing so many obviously wonderful children’s books I suspect it’s sponsored by a certain publisher or bookseller. Thus I was inspired to create my own top 100 list. Obviously such a list, by definition, is incredibly subjective. I stuck to children’s books that I have actually read and enjoyed, books that shaped my own childhood and how I read and think now. If I mention any books in a series you can assume that I recommend the whole series (for example, I only mention Peter Rabbit but anything by Beatrix Potter belongs on this list). I tried to think in terms of ages 4 to 12ish and so some great books were cut from my original list as being too advanced (The Outsiders and To Kill a Mockingbird are examples). Some classics I deliberately left out. See if you can spot them. Let me know what you think I missed. Like I said, there’s nothing on this list that I haven’t read myself so no doubt there are more great books out there that I don’t know of. Tell me about them!

A section of the "Children's Shelf" in my little library

Oh, and I’m terrible at ranking things so this list is alphabetical.

1. Ace – Dick King-Smith

2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Judith Viorst

4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

5. Amelia Bedelia – Peggy Parish

6. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

7. A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond

8. Beezus and Ramona – Beverly Cleary

9. Big Bad Bruce – Bill Peet

10. Blueberries for Sal – Robert McCloskey

11. The Borrowers – Mary Norton

12. The Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson

13. Bunnicula – James Howe

14. The Caboose Who Got Loose – Bill Peet

15. Caps for Sale – Esphyr Slobodkina

16. The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss

17. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

18. Charlotte’s Web – E.B.White

19. Chicken Soup with Rice – Maurice Sendak

20. A Child’s Garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson

21. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Ian Fleming

22. The Chronicle of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

23. Chrysanthemum – Kevin Henkes

24. Corduroy – Don Freeman

25. The Cricket in Times Square – George Selden

26. Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl

27. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Willems

28. The Eleventh Hour – Graeme Base

29. Eloise – Kay Thompson

30. Emily of New Moon – L.M. Montgomery

31. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl

32. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew – Margaret Sidney

33. Frog and Toad are Friends – Arnold Lobel

34. From the Mixed-Up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler  – E.L. Konigsburg

35. The Gammage Cup – Carol Kendall

36. The Giver – Lois Lowry

37. The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein

38. The Happy Prince – Oscar Wilde

39. Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson

40. Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion

41. Henry Huggins – Beverly Cleary

42. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

43. A Hole is to Dig – Ruth Krauss

44. The House at Pooh Corner – A.A. Milne

45. In a People House – Theo LeSieg

46. The Incredibly Journey – Sheila Burnford

47. Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell

48. The Jolly Postman – Janet & Allan Ahlberg

49. Jonathan Cleaned Up – Then He Heard a Sound – Robert Munsch

50. Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling

51. Little Bear – Else Minarik

52. The Little Engine That Could – Watty Piper

53. The Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder

54. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

55. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

56. Love You Forever – Robert Munsch

57. Make Way for Ducklings – Robert McCloskey

58. Mary Poppins – P.L. Travers

59. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood – Howard Pyle

60. Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel -Virginia Lee Burton

61. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh – Robert C. O’Brien

62. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle – Betty MacDonald

63. Nate the Great – Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

64. Olivia – Ian Falconer

65. One Hundred and One Dalmations – Dodie Smith

66. The Paper Bag Princess – Robert Munsch

67. Peepo – Janet & Allan Ahlberg

68. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

69. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren

70. The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald

71. Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister

72. Red is Best – Kathy Stinson

73. The Red Tree – Shaun Tan

74. Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever – Richard Scarry

75. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry – Mildred Taylor

76. Roverandom – J.R.R. Tolkien

77. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

78. The Secret World of Og – Pierre Berton

79. Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar

80. The Sky is Falling – Kit Pearson

81. The Snowman – Raymond Briggs

82. The Stinky Cheese Man – Jon Scieszka

83. The Story About Ping – Marjorie Flack

84. The Story of Babar – Jean de Brunhoff

85. The Story of Doctor Doolittle – Hugh Lofting

86. The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf

87. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble – William Steig

88. The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter

89. Tikki Tikki Tembo – Arlene Mosel

90. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

91. The Trumpet of the Swan – E.B. White

92. The Twits – Roald Dahl

93. The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams

94. Walk Two Moons – Sharon Creech

95. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

96. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak

97. The Whingdingdilly – Bill Peet

98. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

99. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

100. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

A few of the above mentioned titles that I own.

My initial list exceeded 100 so let us take a moment of silence, please, for the books I had to cut.

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien, The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman, The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh, The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight, Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Dogger by Shirley Hughes, The Berenstain Bears by Stan & Jan Berenstain, and Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag.

They are all great books too and worth reading but in the end I had to go with the books that have lasted the longest and left deep impressions in my life.

Happy Things

I don’t really have a cohesive idea behind today’s post so I’m simply going to share some things that make me happy today.

This song by Emm Gryner that I can’t stop listening to. I heard an interview with her on CBC Radio 2 (my love for CBC 2 deserves and will get its own post) and the version I linked to is the one she performed live in the studio there. She’s a talented artist and way more prolific than I realized. She deserves to be better known, in my opinion

Married people Valentine’s Day.

I really do.

It’s simple, it’s low in expectation, and it just seems more fun to me. Peter and I had a Tuesday night commitment so we had a low key afternoon, made homemade pizza (a Valentine’s Day tradition) and went on with our lives.


Oooh, pretty!

That said, I still like special gestures. Another thing I like: having it both ways.

Peter doesn't get credit for this one.

Leftover pizza for breakfast. When my brother and I were kids we made up and frequently performed a song expressing our great love for pizza. I still sing in my head when I have pizza because I still love pizza that much. Hot, cold, homemade, takeout, I’ll eat it though the kind we make at home is my favourite.

Hot coffee and cold pizza is a beautiful combination.

Mini eggs. In fact, I love mini eggs so much that I question your grasp on reality and deliciousness if you don’t agree with me. I don’t know what they put in those little balls of crack but no imitation comes close. I also love that my husband knows just what to get me for Valentine’s Day.

Yeah, I ate the whole thing.

I learned to crochet on Monday (thanks to the talented and patient Nicole!) and it’s quickly becoming a new love. I can’t stop doing it. I’m super excited about the crafting possibilities that have opened up in my future. Here is my first attempt from Monday night:

How impressed are you all?

I photographed it with a beautiful book so it would look better. It was supposed to be a square but I was missing a step at the ends so it kind of turned into a triangle.

This is what I’m working on now:

I also have to express my love for downtown Mission. Peter and I were wandering through thrift stores there on Monday and, knowing that I would be learning to crochet that night, I thought I’d pick up some practice wool and crochet hooks. Seemed like a better idea than investing a lot of money into something I might end up sucking at. Well, the kind folks at the Hospital Thrift Store on First Avenue had trouble locating crochet hooks and then when they did, they decided they’d had them sitting around long enough and gave me a bunch for free! How sweet is that? Also, at the MCC Thrift store there, I scored a cashmere sweater for $5. So add downtown Mission and thrift stores to my list of happy things.

I’ve figured out why I’m excited about crocheting. I often feel that I lack practical skills. You know, the kind of skills that would come in handy in a pioneer-type/zombie apocalypse situation. Sure, I can write poetry, apply mascara, and bake yummy chocolate chip cookies but my survival skills are not that high. Now, I don’t really think crocheting qualifies as a survival skill but suddenly I have at my fingertips the possibility of making blankets, mittens, toques. Those are useful objects! Plus, I’m one step further on the way to becoming an awesome grandmother!

What makes you happy today?

Happy Fake Love Day aka Bachelor update!

What better way to celebrate a day of forced expressions of love than by watching The Bachelor? (Disclaimer: I’m a fan of love. I love romance. But I also firmly believe if you love someone you should tell them and show them that every day, not just the day Hallmark instructs you to. That said, I still have a special dinner in store for my man tonight.)

Okay, here we go. This week finds our gang in Belize, which I’ve heard is very nice and a beautiful place to go. There are six women left and much is made of the fact that next week come hometown dates, where the bachelor meets the families of four women. A natural step after one or two dates, right?

  • Ben wears too many tank tops in this episode. One tank top is too much. He wears more than one over the next hour. It does not look good.
  • Ben says he has feelings of love but isn’t ready to tell anyone. I question if those feelings are real. Why would he not want to express them? (Unless he were contractually obligated to keep his mouth shut.)
  • This episode will have three 1-on-1 dates without roses and one group date with a rose. Lindzi gets the first 1-on-1 date.
  • Ben wears a tank top on the date. They fly out in a helicopter (naturally.) to “The Blue Hole”.

    The Blue Hole. Sort of ominous, really cool. (I do not own this image.)

    •  This looks awesome to me. They jump from the low flying helicopter and swim around here until a boat picks them up. Very fun. Of course Lindzi freaks out, think she’s going to die. You know, because of how many people die on The Bachelor.
    • Ben kisses her to calm her down. That’s his only move and it’s getting old.
    • I like Lindzi but she really starts to annoy me as the date progresses. I lost count of how many times she compare relationships to jumping out of a helicopter. So many bad “falling in love” metaphors!
    • Lindzi says it’s sexy that Ben drives the boat but in the scene we see he is clearly not steering the boat as it pulls into the dock. So if he was driving the boat earlier, he had to hand over control because he doesn’t know how to dock a boat. That’s not that sexy.
    • Meanwhile, back at the ranch/mansion, Courtney explains to the other girls why a one-on-one date is owed to her. She claims that if she does not receive this date she will not accept a rose. Naturally, we all hope she won’t get a date. Naturally, she does.
    • Emily gets the second 1-on-1 date and has to board a plane by herself. We see her handing over a ticket to get on a little plane where she seems to be the only passenger (aside from the cameraman, of course).
    • Ben and Emily have a sweet date riding through town on bikes.

      How fun is this? (I do not own this image.)

      • This date seems the most like a real couple on a real vacation. They should be wearing helmets though.
      • They drink from coconuts and catch lobsters, which looks like more fun than I would have thought.
      • Courtney meanwhile is going on and on about how poorly Emily treated her. I don’t remember Emily doing anything that fits what Courtney describes. Courtney says she isn’t ready to bring Ben home. Her disappointment seems genuine but it’s so hard to tell with her. She just seems so manipulative.
      • Courtney gets that last 1-on-1 date card. Kacie gets sweary.
      • I don’t think Courtney’s wrong to demand more from her relationship with Ben. The guy’s put in zero effort with any of these girls. They may like to think he plans these dates for them but he doesn’t. He hasn’t opened up to any of them or shared how he feels. However, every time Courtney’s with Ben she tells him the spark is gone and it just feels like a ploy to make him tell her how much he likes her.
      • They visit a Mayan temple from 100 B.C. Are you allowed to just climb those?

        Are you allowed to do this? Date someone so terrible, I mean. (I do not own this image.)

        • You should not be allowed to climb those while comparing the temple steps to the steps in your pseudo-relationship. That should be a rule. I literally rolled my eyes when Courtney said this
        • Ben says he believes in soul mates and that he feels certain about Courtney. Friends, I don’t think we’re going to like the end of this season. Except that the rest of the girls are too good for Ben so I don’t want him to be with any of them. Is it wrong for me to hope he ends up single and thus grows up a little.
        • Meanwhile, Kacie is at home comparing Courtney to a black widow. But her analogies make me think she doesn’t know that a black widow is a type of spider.
        • Over dinner, Ben asks Courtney about her relationships with the rest of the girls. She says she has tried to get to know them and I wonder if she knows that’s not true or she thinks she really has made an effort
        • She says that she has lots of guy friends when Ben asks about her friends back home. I’m sorry, that’s a red flag to me. You don’t have to have a ton of girlfriends, but a woman who can’t name a single female friend? Do you think Courtney has real friendship with these “guy friends” or she likes having men around her because it builds up her confidence? I can’t help getting all pseudo-psychologist and wondering about her relationship with her father?
        • Rachel, Nicki, and Kacie are on the group date. One of them will get a rose. You guys, one of them will definitely take Ben home to meet her family! Squeal!
        • Ben wakes the girls up at 4am for their group date. I liked that. I would have no problem being woken up early in the morning by the guy I liked to spend a fun day together. Plus, I think seeing each other when you haven’t dressed up and done your hair or make-up is important too.
        • The girls scramble to get ready and I had to laugh at Rachel and Nicki hurrying to shave their legs in the bathroom. That would totally be me!

          Champagne in the morning! (I do not own this image.)

          •  They board a catamaran and Ben gets on their good side by serving champagne.
          • See that striped shirt Ben is wearing? He pulls that off to reveal another tank top.
          • They are going shark-diving. (Is that a real thing?) Rachel is scared of sharks; someone had to be. (Does anyone know what kind of sharks they swam with? They had really blunt noses and they looked big but not that fierce.)
          • Nicki and Kacie are excited and jump in together holding hands. It’s cute, they seem like they’re actually friends. Ben hangs back to go in with Rachel.
          • After swimming the group date returns to the house. Where the other girls are. That seems weird. They couldn’t spring for a second location? Did they just tell Emily and Lindzi and Courtney to stay inside?
          • Kacie tells Ben she’s falling in love with him and he doesn’t respond, just kisses her. Remember that song “It’s in his kiss”? (May not be the actual title.) where the singer says you’ll know how the guy feels by how he kisses? This reminds me of that song. It also reminds me how every time my dad heard that song on the radio he would tell me how incorrect that was and if a guy loves you, he’ll tell you. Kacie, however, is rewarded with the rose.
          • After which comes awkward silence.
          • Kacie and Nicki talk to Ben a little about Courtney and warn him that she doesn’t really care about him. He seems to take this more seriously than he did when Emily said the same things. Why? Because now he’s heard it from three women? Because he values Kacie and Nicki’s opinions more?
          • The rose ceremony occurs without a preceding cocktail party. I’m thankful for that. At this point, the cocktail parties seem boring and pointless.
          • I like Courtney’s dress and Rachel’s dress best.
          • I like the face Emily makes.

            Emily, I agree. (I do not own this image.)

            • Ben pulls Courtney aside to make sure she’s here “for the right reasons”. I have little hope that he’ll actually send her home. He’s far too smitten and willing to listen to whatever she says.
            • Ben gets rid of the blondes. Rachel, I’m not surprised, I didn’t see much of a connection there. I am surprised he kept Lindzi over Emily. He seemed to really like Emily when on their date. I quite Emily. She was the smartest and funniest one and the only one I think I’d want to hang out with in real life. I hope she goes home, gives herself a good shake and thanks God she got out of there.

            Next week, home town dates!

          Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! Give someone you love a hug and go buy yourself some chocolate! (Or buy it tomorrow, when it’s on sale!)