From Tracie

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Leslie And Lolly Make Stuff Up

We spent Saturday morning visiting a new show at the Orlando Repertory Theatre - Leslie And Lolly Make Stuff Up starring Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and Lolly Lardpop. It was amazing and so very funny. Leslie's name might sound familiar to you, because she is the Emmy-nominated voice and puppeteer behind Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street, but this weekend's show was all about Lolly.

Lolly is a candy-obsessed five year old. She has a huge imagination and an even bigger heart. Imagination is important to this show, because, as the title promises, Leslie and Lolly spend 50 minutes with the audience making stuff up. A fully interactive show, the kids are invited onto the stage to participate with singing, dancing, and creative ideas.

Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and Lolly Lardpop

During one of my favorite parts of the show, Leslie brings out a poster board and has one of the children write a number on it. From that number, she draws a character, while singing a song. It starts, "Have you ever drawn a blank while staring at a blank piece of paper? Gone into despair as you stare at the nothing that is there?" and continues with encouragement to draw on your inspiration to allow yourself create something that might just be great.

Leslie Carrara-Rudolph Art
Singing the poster board, and giving a pep talk about
imagination and creativity, after the show. 

As a writer, I completely related to the scary feeling of looking at a blank piece of paper (or as is often true in my case, a blank screen), and not knowing exactly where to start. I know that the cure to not having the perfect words is often to get all the imperfect words out of the way, and this was a great reminder for me. I know it is technically a kid song, but it is seriously going to be my new go-to song when I have writer's block.

Back to Leslie and the show, after drawing on the poster board, she lets the audience give ideas for names and other details for her drawing, and a story is born. That is what Leslie and Lolly Make Stuff Up is all about - imagining and believing. It is also full of very silly moments that had everyone laughing.

Tracie and Katarina with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and John DeHaas
Katarina, Tracie, Lolly Lardpop,
Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, and John B. DeHaas

Carrara-Rudolph and Lolly were accompanied on the piano by John B DeHaas during the performance. In between classic Lolly songs like, Meat Cookies, and one of the best two minute recaps of The Wizard of Oz (complete with voices) I've ever heard, other characters puppetted by Leslie came out to play. One of these characters, a lizard named Slax, is created from a dryer hose, a slipper, some gloves, a pair of pants, and a lot of imagination. It was great fun to see Leslie change from herself, into this jazzy, lounge lizard.

One of my favorite puppets was Granny Dot who, at almost 100 years old, is the oldest puppet character I've ever seen. On the way home from the show we were talking about how puppets are so often little kids, which is great, but it was nice to see a puppet who was an older character interacting with the kids from the audience. She even sings a song about embracing her age, and talks positively about the wrinkles on her face, calling them the map of her life. It was a great message of accepting and loving yourself exactly as you are, and Granny Dot even gives out some words of advice born from the wisdom of her years.

Katarina has grown up with Lolly's songs, but there were a lot of new ones in this show. Knowing her affinity for candy (something we most definitely have in common with Lolly), Katrina brought Lolly a rainbow loom cupcake with sprinkles, which Lolly immediately ate.

Leslie And Lolly Make Stuff Up with cupcake
Are you loving Leslie's Mr. Rogers t-shirt as much as I am?
It rocks my face off!

We first met Leslie about six years ago, when Katarina was five years old.

Katarina with Lolly Lardpop and Leslie

Our special friends Jason and Mary Hunt introduced us, so it was perfect to experience her show with them this weekend, and spend some time with them and Leslie after the show.

Jason Hunt, Mary Thompson Hunt, Katarina Nall, Lolly Lardpop, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, and John B. DeHaas
Jason Hunt, Mary Thompson Hunt, Katarina,
Lolly Lardpop, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, and John B. DeHaas

Leslie And Lolly Make Stuff Up is a great show for any age. There will be another performance on Sunday, July 26th at the Orlando Repertory Theatre as part of their 12th birthday celebration. You can find Lolly Lardpop on youtube, twitter, and facebook, where you can follow along with her adventures, and hopefully you can also catch her in a performance near you this year.

Blog Against Child Abuse July 2014 Edition

The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is a monthly event. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the serious issue of child abuse. All forms of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and verbal) are discussed.

Welcome to the Blog Against Child Abuse - July 2014 Edition!

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse Button

Advocacy & Awareness:
Roshni from Indian American Mom submitted Sexual Abuse And The Girl Child: An Indian Context

Roshni shares the story of a friend to bring awareness for the sexual abuse that happens, often unreported, behind closed doors in India and around the world.

- Tracie submitted What I Am Not Sharing On Social Media

A look at things I won't share on social media, even when, on the surface, they might seem to be a way to raise awareness about child abuse.

Nicolette from No Longer Silenced Movement submitted A Lifelong Journey

She wrote: "No matter where you come from or who you meet, everybody needs a hand sometimes, everybody feels pain, don’t assume because a current situation is good, that they didn’t endure darkness."

- Mike McBride from Child Abuse survivor submitted How We Make it Harder for Kids to Tell

I just want to jump up and down yelling, "Yes! Yes! YES!" after reading this post. The messages we send with our words about pedophiles can very well help to silence children. We need to provide them with a safe space to tell. 

Healing & Therapy:
Maggie Jay from Healing From Childhood Sexual Abuse submitted What We Think We Know

This is a wonderful reminder of how the small things we can do for one another can make a huge difference in their life and their healing. 

Mike McBride from Child Abuse Survivor submitted Permanent Victim Status

I love this look into what healing and overcoming and surviving look like in Mike's life. He perfectly captured the reasons why, in between everything else I share on my blog, I continue to write about child abuse. It isn't about being stuck in a victim mode.

- Kate from Kate Is Rising submitted A Little Slip of Sunshine

She wrote: "I have often noticed how when I give an accurate assessment/compliment to someone in person they almost always deny or reject it. I've done this as well, and have several times been told that I didn't know how to take a compliment. In deciding to give more honest compliments, to learn how to take a compliment graciously, and to try to come to believe them, I learned a lot about the struggles that we all go through in our own self-perceptions and how inaccurate and loving they can be. This post is my attempt to highlight this issue and to suggest a more loving and healing way to approach giving and receiving compliments."

- Kate from Kate Is Rising submitted Healing Quotes Littles 365-366

She wrote: "I have been using quotes for over fifteen years in my healing process. This post includes two quotes that I have been working on for some time; examining and rejecting the thoughts and beliefs that are negative, unloving, and the result of child sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. Rejecting the colonization of your mind by abusers is, to my way of thinking, a huge component of healing from child sexual abuse."

- Kate from Kate Is Rising submitted A Child Abused

She wrote: "This poem centered on that moment of being abused and it's aftermath; becoming more than one and my soul making the choice to continue life. I'm most proud of this poem than any other. I think that it describes exactly what our experience was like; becoming more than one and experiencing a devastating psychic wound that could have been insurmountable. In our survivorships, we all have so much to be proud of."

- Kate from Kate Is Rising submitted Angel Bending Low

She wrote: "I wrote this poem about my connection and belief in the impact of my guardian angel, Simon, in my life. I strongly believe that a connection to someone or something else is essential for everyone. I am strongly other-centered and have always been so, so perhaps my need for connection is all that stronger and I do believe that often that is true for survivors of child sexual abuse. Being willing to explore connections that are not dependent on other people has been instrumental in my healing from child sexual abuse. I believe that everyone has a guardian angel and when I was growing up it was an understood and accepted concept among the adults that I knew. This poem was my way of speaking about the healing and love that I receive from my connection."


The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the serious issue of child abuse and to share important posts with others who might not be frequent readers of an author's blog. There are so many wonderful bloggers who are contributing to the cause of ending and recovering from child abuse.

If you, as a reader or author, know of other blogs that you find helpful, please encourage them to submit to an upcoming issue of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse so we can continue to receive high quality submissions from a wide swath of bloggers.

Many thanks to all of you who shared your hearts and stories with us, and to all of you who read the submissions and show your support. You keep this carnival, the awareness, support, and healing going each month.

To provide another way for you to stay in contact with the blog carnival, and make sure you don't miss any updates; you can like the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse Facebook Page.

Thank you for raising your voice and speaking out against child abuse!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ask Away Friday: When Husbands Take Over

I have an exciting gift for you. For one day only, my husband, Thomas, will be taking over my blog. He has answered ten questions from my dear friend Tia's fiance, Scotty, for Ask Away Friday.

When Tamara suggested husbands swapping questions in the AAF Facebook group, Tia and I jumped on the idea right away. It is the perfect opportunity for all of you to get to know more about Thomas and Scotty, for them to get to know each other better, and for Tia and I to get them to write things for our blogs.

Tia and Scotty
Tia and Scotty - Aren't they a cute couple? 

Be sure to check out Scotty's answers to Thomas' questions here. My favorite part of this swap was when Tia and I emailed each other the questions, and realized Thomas and Scotty had a great minds think alike moment when both of them asked the same question.

For more Ask Away Friday fun, you can visit our amazing hosts, Tamara of Tamara Like Camera, Tiffany of Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter, Christy of Uplifting Families, Stacey of This Momma’s Ramblings, and Amber of Bold Fit Mom.

Ask Away Friday

1. If you could live in any era, in any place, where and when would you choose? Why?

Wow! I asked you this same question for your list. (I want to take Novocain and a little gold with me to pay whichever farmer might end up having to pull a tooth if I get a cavity. I am coming back from this journey, right?)

I love all things Elizabethan and England, I love The Renaissance, and I love the 1950's.  But if I were to decide on just one place and time, I would choose the time and land of Jesus. It would be nice to meet some of those Italian artists in The Renaissance, but most of their art was about Jesus, Mary, and the apostles anyway, and I can always visit Rome or Paris when I get back see if they had it right!

2. What did you want to be when you grew up? Is it still something you'd be interested in doing?

I always wanted to be an artist, and I wanted something to do with history, and I wanted to be a Chaplin. So maybe a monk? I did not take any road that led me down any of those paths, but I can play a guitar and I do like monk's outfits, so I'm still considering that. Maybe a bard? Oh! I know...a troubadour! Yeah. A troubadour. That's the ticket.

3. If someone had never read From Tracie, and you could only share one post with them, which would you choose and why?

I'm thinking one of her early posts, because I can remember when she first started blogging, how she was such a champion for survivors, and she took on a lot of causes. On the other hand, I have laughed hard at a few, for instance the boiled peanuts post (truth is stranger than fiction). I guess, because I read all of Tracie's posts on my own time, I don't have just one favorite, sorry. But I will tell you my favorite kind of Tracie post: it's when she has these unexpected moments of inner clarity about a feather or rain or Skittles; she will post a short thought, and it will blow me away, and move me, like a song or poetry. It is usually some of the best writing I have ever read, and I tell her that all the time. The world would be a better place if every blogger was a Tracie.

4. How important do you think space exploration is to today's generation and for future generations?

I think space exploration is of very little importance to our generation. I'll explain. It's a matter of principle. I don't believe we have gotten this planet right, yet, do you? We don't deserve outer space until we can prove that we deserve it. It's just not sensible. However, if we were to take care of our business here, maybe five or six generations down the line, space could be important. I want to see water and solar energy dominating the world. That would be a cue that it is okay to go traipsing around in rockets and space suits. What do I care if they can grow an eggplant in a space station when they can't seem to grow them on earth without Monsanto poisoning the food supply? Yes, optimistically, five or six generations may keep us from turning our solar system into a Wal-Mart.

5. I was homeschooled by my mom when I was younger. While we mostly stuck to a traditional school schedule, it was also okay if education didn't start right at 8am. Do you and Tracie stick to a traditional schedule for Katarina or are you more lax? And what is your approach?

We are not lax, but Katarina is also low maintenance. She is a better student than I was, anyway. We think it's in her best interest to start school at about 8 o'clock, every day. For Katarina, knowing what to expect, and when to expect it, has established a healthy outlook on her work, and in a way it has given her permission to do well ... which she does, because she loves learning. In fairness, I want to mention also, Katarina has a set amount of work to do weekly. She knows that getting it done early can result in a very long weekend for her. If getting up early or staying late can help her meet her weekly goal, she has a motivation that I never had in public school. (If they had handed me all of my assignments for the week on a Monday morning, I can promise you that I would have been a very sleepy student on Tuesday night, but I would have had the rest of the week off.)

6. You recently dove into social media. With the surge in social media, how important do you think print media is? How relevant is a daily newspaper to you?

Good question. I do love social media. Have you ever read Forbes on twitter?

When I was a child, on the weekends (especially on Sunday), my grandmother would read the paper to the whole family out on the front porch in the cool of the afternoon. Everybody had an opinion or a comment, and we discussed the news. It was great. I learned a lot about life, and newspapers were relevant. I know it won't ever get better than that. Those days are long gone. In today's version of the newspaper, the writing is shabby and inconsistent. There is no heart for the news. In fact, these papers don't even resemble the papers of my childhood. (Could you see a kid on a bike hurling one of these 25-pounders at your front porch? 23.7 of those pounds being ads?) Change happens, and some things aren't meant to last forever. I'm rolling with it.

Did I mention that William Shatner tweeted at me a couple of weeks ago? It was awesome!!

7. If you could go to any concert at any venue, who would you see and where? (Past and current performers are okay.)

Easy. Pink Floyd.

Honorable mentions include Woodstock and Iron Maiden in Rio. I did get to see The Eagles when they first reunited in New Orleans for the Hell Freezes Over tour, and I have gotten to see some of my favorite bands: The Moody Blues, Traffic, Rush, and Yes. But I missed Pink Floyd, and would have loved to have seen any of their shows, especially The Wall or Animals tour. I love rock and roll. So put another dime in the juke

8. If you had the extra time, what new hobby would you start?

Let's see, tiki or ice carving? Learning photography professionally would be cool. I already have some knowledge of how to use climbing gear because of my job, so spelunking is an interesting option. I like the idea of treasure hunting with a big metal detector, because I like artifacts and relics. I would love to explore some haunted houses, I am already enamored with cemeteries (go ahead, call me a freak).

I have lots of ideas, but very little extra time.

9. It's your birthday!! You can have any meal you want, any item you want. What do you eat?

ANY? Hook me up with raw oysters, crawfish, some collard greens, corn bread with tomato gravy, and a big thing of sweet tea. For dessert, some of my grandmother's blackberry cobbler. (Well, you did ask me about food, and my birthday is actually coming up on the 12th of you need my address? I can mail you a cooler.)

10. How long before you knew Tracie was THE ONE for you?

When I first met Tracie, I thought to myself, "She is going to make some preacher a really good wife." A couple of years later, after we had become close friends, Tracie told me she was moving to Arizona; that was when I knew that she was THE ONE; I couldn't live without her, and I knew it. Eventually I got the nerve, and told her I loved her, and hoped, by telling her, I would not lose her friendship. Three days later, she told me she loved me, too. We skipped the pretentious dating scene, and got married pretty quick. We've been that way for twelve years now, although we both tend to forget our actual anniversary date, but it's okay if you forget your anniversary when you are best friends.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Thomas. Don't forget to stop by Tia's blog to meet Scotty, and read his answers to Thomas' questions

Monday, July 21, 2014

What I Am Not Sharing On Social Media

Just like I have boundaries for what I will post on my blog, I have boundaries for what I will share on social media. Facebook has that handy share button under every post, and I spend most of my day not using it.

What I Am NOT Sharing On Social Media

I won't share inspirational pictures that feel more judgmental than inspirational. Those messages that deliver a judgmental punch in the face, telling us all the ways we are failing at life, while cloaked in a veil of inspiration aren't helping anyone.

I won't share pictures that ask me to click like or share if I truly love Jesus. I do love Jesus; I don't need to interact with this picture to prove it. Especially when this picture probably originated on a facebook page that has nothing to do with Jesus, and is just trying to build up their interaction by preying on your sense of religious guilt.

I won't share a picture of food with the entire recipe written out in the description. This is partly due to the fact I don't cook, so recipes aren't useful for me, but mostly because these pictures and recipes have often been stolen from bloggers. There are many facebook pages out there who get all of their recipe content from blogs without asking permission or giving credit to the photographer/recipe author in any way. A red flag for this kind of theft is when the description says, "Share this picture so it will be saved on your timeline." They just want you to share it to increase the engagement rates on their page, not so you can easily find it later.

If you shared a story about child abuse, and I didn't hit that share button, it is probably due to one of these reasons:
  1. There is a graphic picture of the abused child.
  2. There is no link to an actual news story, but rather, a graphic picture of an abused child with a story written out on facebook without verifiable details.
  3. It contains a video of parents abusing their child - especially one that plays automatically in my newsfeed.

I don't believe it is appropriate for the picture of a child taken during or after an abusive and traumatizing event to be distributed on social media without the child's consent. Especially when it is accompanied by identifying details like their name or location. I don't believe this is in any way giving a voice to the child. When you share these pictures, you are actually taking away the child's right to choose when and how their story will be shared.

If an abuse survivor has pictures of themselves with bruises or scars, and wants to share them to help tell their personal story, I am supportive of that. I can share the link to their story while ensuring the pictures do not show up in the link preview, and state in my link description that there are potentially triggering pictures accompanying the article if they are graphic. I don't want to silence abuse survivors in any way, but I also want to be sensitive to other survivors who might not need to see graphic pictures pop up in their newsfeed, as well as to people who may have children in the room who don't need to be exposed to those pictures.

When there is a picture being shared and reshared on facebook with a shocking story written in the description, I am wary of the truthfulness of the picture and account. More than once I have had friends share these kinds of pictures, and with a very small amount of research, I have found them to be hoaxes. But even if the picture and story are true, I just go back to my first point, that I will not contribute to the distribution of a child's picture when it immortalizes a period or moment of trauma in their life, and when it was most likely not shared with the child's consent. It is possible to share a story of abuse, to bring it into the light, without identifying the victim through pictures, names, and locations.

I've seen several youtube videos floating around lately that have parents abusing their children. I will not share this. I do not need nor want to see children being abused to know it is happening. This is not an effective tool to combat abuse; it is nothing more than a constant revictimization of the child.

Those are just a few of my social media sharing boundaries, and the things I will not share. What are you not sharing on social media? 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

ICLOAK Stik And Online Privacy

Do targeted ads freak you out? I remember the first time I did a google search for a specific product, and then for the next two weeks saw it come up on ads on almost every website I visited. It was a little scary (maybe even a lot scary, really), but now I barely notice it when that happens. Not to say I like it, but just that I've become used to it. I think most of us have. Being tracked, watched, targeted for ad campaigns, and basically followed wherever we go online has become our normal.

Our information is being sold every day, and potentially tracked for much more serious reasons than just a few ad sales.

There are steps you can take to protect your privacy online, but when I start reading about changing IP and MAC addresses, encryption, and key-logging software, my head spins. This is why I'm excited about the ICLOAK Stik. It is super easy - you just plug it into your USB port, restart the computer, and you are ready to go online anonymously.

how icloak works

ICLOAK creator and CEO of DigiThinkIT, Eric B. Delisle, is clearly more tech-savvy than I am. After the revelations about the NSA and the Edward Snowden information came out, he wanted to create something that anyone could easily use to protect their online privacy. In a recent interview, Delisle said, "When you reboot the computer [with the ICLOAK plugged in] it turns that system into a completely safe and secure operating system that can not be tracked online."

The ICLOAK Stik will sell for $50 with a PRO version coming in at $100. They are currently running a KickStarter campaign, where you can get an ICLOAK Stik for a $35 pledge. Check out the website and the FAQ section at the bottom of their KickStarter page for more information about how the ICLOAK helps you to protect your privacy online.

*This post is in no way sponsored. I heard about ICLOAK from a friend, thought it was a cool idea, and wanted to write about it.