Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to NOT host a teenage Graduation Party------OR Why to stay Mormon

Yeah, this was a really stupid idea. Yeah.....I tried to tell everyone this in my one listened.

The good one died, only very, very minor damage (cigarette burn) everyone had fun......and......there will never be another one here again!

Setting The Scene
We used to be Mormon right......leave out the second 'm' and your getting close to our brain-power on all things related to teenagers, parties, alcohol and......danger! I remember the Book of Mormon having something about alcohol and the Lamanites being taken advantage of by the Nephites free booze ways....but nothing specifically dealing with teenagers of either the Nephites or the Lamenites.

Our son was graduating, alright his friends were, he was technically going back for that special thing known as 'the extra lap' to help improve his grades, recover from major knee surgery and generally, as many kids seem to need.....take more time to grow up.

He is a great kid, no drugs, no major police kind of issues, generally respectful towards adults (alright not always towards us) and he had never asked for a big party before.

He was smart.......he asked his mom......not me :)

I did not think this was a good idea from the start I live with an butt kicking super hero hottie....I seldom win these discussions. Yep....she really is a super hero.......wanta see? She is the one on the right. son, then 17 (now 18) thought he had it all under control in June 2011. He had it all planned! He would invite, maybe 50 people and things would not get out of hand....he promised! Every time I asked him about it...he was like 'dad, I am not stupid....don't worry....its all good! I am going to have body guards at the end of the driveway to make sure that no one uninvited shows up, I am letting my friends setup tents so that no one is encouraged to drink and drive......STOP BOTHERING ME ABOUT IT FOR PETE SAKES!!!!


Oh yeah....I almost forgot one tiny detail....the only day my son could have the party,  and really have it count was grad day itself. So the idea was...all his friends (50 tops right!) would show up after the actual grad, some in buses, some in their own cars etc. etc.

One minor problem, his graduation party was scheduled for Wednesday evening but.........he had (already delayed) major knee surgery on the Tuesday morning before the party or.....36 hours before!!!

You wonder why I thought this was a bad idea???????

He is a super hero too....just ask him "Mom and Dad....come big deal....I will be fine....I am a tough know me....I will be fine for the party".

Again I was against this idea....but....again......(look at picture above). the summer of 2010 at a finals soccer game, he hard torn both his left and right meniscus and completely torn his ACL at the same time. For those not knowledgeable about knee surgery....for a 17 year old teenager....this a pretty damned serious surgery.

Now, I also had numerous knee surgeries in my day.....being type A and all....and I went to work in a wheel chair the very next day. I did not last long as I realized at a big local Home Show that no one is going to talk to the salesman in the wheel-chair....but I still worked on my feet demonstrating through 4 months of casting due to an Achilles tear so.....I really did not have firm ground to stand on when it came to telling my son how stupid an idea it was to plan a party the day after his own surgery.

He is a tough kid.......he had been through lots of dings and bruises and always handled them pretty well, there was the soccer cleat to the face requiring nose surgery (he never let the ball in the net though!). There was the huge speaker to the face when he was smaller running around and around our older homes octagon like main floor. There was the other normal minor things that happen to kids....heck his friends laughed at him as the kid in grade school who ate motor oil and steel wool (hmmm I am now better understanding why its taking him five years to complete high school).

Before his major knee surgery, sports was everything to this kid, and it was a lot of fun being a parent to his athletic achievements throughout his life. Soccer and volleyball (volleyball was his dads sport in high school too so it was pretty cool attending all of his games) were his main sports of choice.....well....second or third choice. Since we purposely never taught our kids to skate.....there we no early morning trips to the arena. He loves hockey though.....ever the ultimate Toronto Maple Leafs fan.........he knows all the stats.....every single one. He knows everything there is to know about hockey, past, present and future......but alas.....his parents never taught him to skate! Bad Canadians!

The Party

Back to the one day after major knee surgery......Ben in crutches, in massive pain, on major drugs....knee still bleeding everywhere......we prepare for a big, crazy teenager party like we have never had before.

We are thoughtful about things, we talk to our friends the West who have two older teenage boys, they say.....'run for the hills....don't ever have that party'. I look at my super hero wife.......I get the 'dont you dare say a word look' and I...............decide to rent a port-o-let or Johnny-on-the-spot. This it turns out, was one of the few good decisions we made. I even rigged a light up inside of it, just in case the party went a bit........later then planned (oh do I feel stupid typing this now).

The night approaches, cars are showing up throughout the day with kids who drop off or drop off and setup tents on our large country property. Some even drop off cars? I began to scratch my head and ask what this is all about but......I really, really have no idea at all.

I did go and speak to my neighbour who is next door just to let him know our plans so that if it gets rowdy he will complain to us and not the cops. He was really cool about it all, said he had his boys go through all of this (now grown) and all I can remember him saying that stuck in my head was this

"Yep.....did it once...........only once....would NEVER DO IT AGAIN!". Hmmm I bad could it be? I wonder what he means by that?

Darkness approaches..........there are tents everywhere, with no-one in them, cars lined up on our lawn with no one around.....this was kind of strange I thought.....but oh well. I turn on the backyard lights in our finished and fenced pool area. The outdoor entertainment area we dreamed about was finally coming together after years of work, planning and tens of thousands of dollars in money that Gabi had invested of her own. We now had an amazing tropical paradise with a massive 20x40 in ground pool, a hot tub, a large outdoor kitchen with all the features you would see in the nice backyard magazines.....even a recent waterfall had been installed at one end of the pool.

But.....I thought......they wont have too much bad can it be? We have had more then fifty people here in our backyard when we were Mormons. Heck I think we had one summer barbecue with the church folk where there were at least 100 people and we never even had an outdoor toilet. That was a big issue as...well.....some of those nice church ladies.......obviously needed a bit more fibre in their diets.

Ten o'clock...still no one here yet? Hmmm like, how late do these parties start? Maybe nobody will show up, maybe we have over planned, and it was going to just be like the other parties we had here for our 14 year old daughter where maybe 20 kids showed up.

We had tables setup outside the fenced area for snacks and goodies to go on.....we had put away some things we were worried could get damaged, we had prepared for a big party where kids might be drinking......I was a bit worried at one point with the whole Facebook, social media world that maybe there might be more then fifty kids show up, but now.....10:15pm......those worries began to fade. All seemed well until........


Now...they showed up, dropped almost 80 people off...then left.....just left? I had no idea what was going on but was like....oh well, way more people then planned but....we can handle it.......right?

We had made a deal with Ben that if more the 70 people showed up, his 'bouncer friends' would send the rest away.

I went and talked with my son....he was barely mumbling, in pain, on drugs.....he had no idea about his friends who were supposed to be bouncers.....he did not remember saying that at all, heck....he likely barely remembered his own name.

As the cars kept coming and kept dropping kids, now already drunk from the school grad party off we saw kids all over our property carrying alcohol. I saw teenage girls carrying the hard stuff, the vodka, the whiskey........I saw....cases....and cases of beer.....I saw people stashing stuff in tents.....I saw things already...that began to scare me. Kids were everywhere I was guessing more than 150 now....and the cars....kept coming.

I saw people getting into cars and trying to leave...............this is about midnight or so now......and then.....I began to panic.......I realized that this party....was quickly getting out of control.

I saw my wife and 14 year old daughter breaking up a fight between two boys who actually seemed happy and drunk and were just....going to have a good old fight....just for fun!

I was quickly seeing my home....get out of control and my fears about an out of control party.......being made ten times worse then I ever could have imagined.

Luckily no one was swimming in the pool, but people were smoking on my wife's very expensive patio furniture.

I quickly told everyone no alcohol in the pool area and began to kindly enforce it....but that was difficult and people were beginning to get drunk and no one listens to some buddies parent at this point.

I take a quick look at my wife who I can see is finally, finally admitting that maybe....just maybe....this was a bad idea.

At this very moment a teenage girl who was obviously having a fight with her boyfriend, ran out of her tent to the street in nothing but her bra and panties.

OMG This is insane!

I was almost ready to go back to church...............NOT!

The Rescue Plan

I went into talk with Ben who is either in a drug induced world kind of freaking out...realizing that there is nothing he can do and that his home is being turned into a massive, crazy, alcohol mess.

Gabi and I have a quick chat.......get past the 'who's right and who's wrong' and have to we call the cops on our own party which is getting completely out of control we agree with Norm.....that its finally time to measures?

We quickly work together and formulate a plan.

Gabi will get every ones keys, label them, hold on to them. Norm will block the two sides of the driveway with cars so that no more can come into the property. They can park  outside but cannot come in. This also means that no one can leave without first passing a breathalyzer test, yep.....when we started drinking, not really knowing much about this stuff, I wanted to know......what I could I bought a fairly high quality tester.

Unless you were well below .05, you were not going to be given your keys and allowed to drive.

That was also easier said then done, as some kids tried to refuse giving us there keys, not trusting or knowing us, and others tried to get keys from us without taking a breathalyser.  Some got upset because they were supposed to be home by a certain time and we were not letting them leave because of drinking.

One kid who refused to give us his keys...gets stuck on the front of the lawn trying to drive through the ditch as cars were blocking the exit.

One parent showed up in a big truck.......just parking in the middle of the road, yelling at me as to why I did not allow her.....drunk son to drive home in his own car that was....contained? I said.....well.....what does it matter what I said to some idiot like that. She took her son in her truck and left the car to be picked up the next day.
By this time it was now about 3:00 am. Gabi was thinking it was time to try to start the process of winding down the party. Her friend Anna had showed up to help, who was more experienced with these type of parties then we were and those two, along with my tough assed smart daughter Alanna (14) were going around and trying to convince people to give them their booze to either be emptied or held until the next day when they went home.

This process was not going very well. For every bottle they removed....four more were appearing.

I was running out of steam and patience......I was trying to keep things from getting damaged, both humans and property. By four thirty I was done, Gabi was determined not to simply end the party, how do you do that at this point? But to simply let them, drink and party themselves out.

I went to 4:30 a.m. and hoped that my wife (her friend had left) could handle the party on her own at this point.

Well, when I woke up at 9:00 am they party had slowed quite a bit, some were still drinking when she was not looking, but she had worked the entire night, cleaning up bottles and messes and other gross teenager related type of things.

I went and started scooping a huge massive blog of barf out of the swimming pool. Ben was asleep somewhere.

The worst was over........the final cleanup and send off was to soon begin.

The sun was shining, no major damage had been done to the property or any ones person as far as we knew (only one cigarette burn in my wife's high end patio furniture).

No one drove home drunk, everyone seemed safe, bags of bottles and garbage. At the biggest point we counted well over...........

200+ drunk teenagers
My wife says now.......'yeah but it made for a great story to tell'

That's why I am telling it.

I have to agree with my neighbour, even my wife agree's


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Norm Thompson has started his own church

Today is an amazing day on the path that has brought me on this journey outside of the LDS faith.

I have decided to start my own Church.....and I have translated and written a modern day version of scripture entitled "The Book of Norman"

For those who wish to have copies.......I only let you see this holy book in person, one on one.

Service's begin this Sunday morning at noon (give people more time to sleep in and all) and normally we have an opening prayer and some sacrament (albeit either red or white wine will be served) in our 8 passenger hot-tub. As you can tell we allow the Sisters to perform priesthood duties. Here is one of our services being conducted.

Swimsuits are required (by hairy males anyways) and we will ask that a donation of any kind of money or 'service' be offered to help our church....grow.

Alright now....before any of you get too offended this is obviously in jest and it’s a valid jest since I have been told from a variety of sources that after I left the LDS church, being so distraught and feeling so alone without such a guiding force in my life, I decided to start my own church.

When I was initially told of this new rumor within the 'faithful ranks' of the LDS members I had a complete breakdown. I mean......I started rolling on the floor, alright I have some tight abs since I left all of the pot-luck and priesthood dinners so maybe not rolling per se more holding my six pack and doing some serious ab laughter exercise’s.

It hasn't stopped, it’s been the best ab workout of my life this Norm started his own church rumor. It’s been a month or two since I confirmed this rumor and abs seems to get tightened daily due to this comedic rumor.

I mean really, can anyone that knows me.....ever see me....starting my own church? Alright it would likely be quite popular because as most of you know, my life and my religion and my......god fun! Thats really the only thing I preach or follow.

Doesnt mean my life is only ever full of fun but certainly the pursuit of cool experiences, travel, unique moments with my family etc are all part of our new life perspective.

Sorry LDS friends....I know many of your were ready to jump on board the new 'Norman Church' but did not get off the least past hot-tub height.
In my last blog I indicated that I would soon begin to focus on the more positive aspects of the journey that has truly brought our family such amazing peace and clarity, that of leaving the LDS faith.

On a more serious note:
I must start by updating you and where we are at and where my heart is currently at as it relates to our former religious faith.

As many of you know, and were an important part of, I was hurt upon our departure from the LDS faith .Not offended and not sinning (oh yeah the rumor at the time we left was that I had my own porn to be wife is pretty hot....can’t deny the thought never crossed my mind to make a profit (not prophet silly) with the wonderful image of my lovely wife which got me in so much trouble to being with lol.).

Like many who leave I felt completely and utterly betrayed by the lack of honesty that I had discovered between the actual authentic historical record and that taught to my childlike and believing mind seen in LDS manuals, literature and official history.

It was as though I had woken up from some....documentary of my find out I was living in a fictional novel, the entire time. For those who have not experienced this, it’s hard for me to explain, it’s likely impossible. I am not saying that the LDS Church is a cult or that we were brainwashed....but certainly, brainwashed...well describes the feeling many of us have after departure.

It felt as though my entire world had collapsed and that I was hanging on by a string while building an entire new planet below me. It was as though my heart were torn asunder and mutilated and that the God whom I had spent so much private time communicating with was simply having a great jolly laugh at me, innocent beliefs my faithfulness. I felt really, really stupid for giving so much of myself, my resources, my family time and my devotion to an organization that would simply, take, take, take until there was nothing left to give and simply toss me aside when I had no more to offer.

Even to this day, though pain and anger is completely gone, and I have a new appreciation for the amazing LDS people themselves, when I look at back at certain things I cannot help but feel really stupid for not allowing myself to see the entire picture before I chose to give so much.

Soon after our family left we quickly came the realization that there were so many others like us, faithful good members who NEVER SINNED!!!! (Alight not in the capitalized version of those words anyways lol). That these people were leaving in droves and that the entire choice for those who did find out the truth was simply is it easier to stay knowing there are many authentic issues yet unresolved or..... leave and live a life completely open to them but terrifying, leaving behind everything that often their entire lives were devoted to and built upon. This change often comes with loosing family, friends, reputation and history all in one single swipe of a pen...... a signature on a resignation letter.

Looking back now, I am humbled, grateful and amazed at the courage my family and others like me have to, in our minds; make the issue one of integrity not acceptance. For many who find out this information and decide to stay the path is no easier, years of internal emotional and intellectual conflict, enjoying the sometimes family friendly culture of Mormonism while hiding their true knowledge and questions in the dark corners of the chapel, sometimes hoping to never be discovered. In fear that if they are......the first thing that will come to many members and leaders mind is the old "they must really be sinning" thing instead of the "they must be seeking for more truth" thing.

A major survey was released by the Open Stories Foundation and Mormon Stories Podcast only a couple of days ago. It’s a detailed look at why LDS members leave the Church and what their feelings and motivations behind the decision were.

With 3086 participants in the study, it’s the most comprehensive of its kind to date.

The survey results and information can be found here:

The bottom line...clearly the reason that people leave the LDS church has little or nothing to do with offense or sin. It has to do......sorry to say this....with their brain!

They find out the entire LDS history and other related and significant Joseph Smith issue's are NOT the way the LDS Church has promoted them to be. And at this point its hard for the Church to ignore the facts or say they have not had time to correct the problem.

It can be viewed in only two ways, either the good leaders of the LDS faith are being deceptive or.......they are protecting the innocent and imperfect testimonies of the faithful. Either way......they have continued to use deceptive tactics to forward their cause. I don’t think this is too strong or unkind. I think it’s pretty fair. Good motives be damned. Truth means something to me and to my family!!!

There have been some interesting and recent articles on the LDS Church in major publications such as the Washington Post calling on the Church to make major reforms found here:

Or 'Special Report' in Reuters just a couple of days ago where the official LDS Historian and member of the seventy Marlin Jensen is asked

"Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are "leaving in droves?"

He admits "We are aware" which is found here:

It was so refreshing to read this article and hear at least a willingness to discuss this important issue for the LDS Church as it enters a new challenging relationship with its own growth worldwide. I commend him and his willingness to discuss the tougher and more current issues of Mormonism. In my’s a start.....a very small and careful start but a start nonetheless.

The truth is if you read the article you quickly realize that the LDS Church is beginning to admit that its likely better to tell its members when they are primary age about some of these issues and 'control the message' then it is to have then find out that they had been lied to most of their lives.

The move appears to any unbiased outsider likely to be stubbornly pragmatic.

Either way, I wish the LDS church well on this path. I have some sympathy for the position that its leaders are in and the challenge of facing up to the truth and pushing its members....and money possibly....away.

The only major criticism I had after reading Reuters article and doing some review was the discussion about Thomas Monson's new "Rescue Plan" mentioned in the article.

After some discussion on the "Plan" from some friends of mine who are....shall we say 'in the know' in the LDS church they indicated to me that it is nothing, absolutely nothing more than the old style reactivation programs that many past generations of the LDS faithful have been part of. They seldom work or have much teeth to them but they serve in keeping the faithful......busy.

The plan has nothing to do with an admission of history or doctrinal issues but it is simply ‘visit the less active then get those amazing young men and women, the missionaries to visit.’ I did not mean that disrespectfully, those young people truly are the best leadership that the LDS church has to offer, in my opinion.

Now before I go into the entire...."What I feel at the moment and where our family is at?" thing. Let me state clearly.

I LOVE THE LDS PEOPLE I love the values the kindness, the overwhelming sense of wanting to 'do good' that I saw as beautiful my entire like. The LDS culture has a number of critical concerns within it as far as emotional health and well-being go, however there is no doubt that the vast majority of the LDS faithful are sweet, kind and wonderful human beings. I am grateful for my association with them, and for those faithful in the online communities that I infrequently venture into now from time to time.

If you’re an LDS active member and former friends reading this blog (as I was quite surprised to hear how popular it was among the local members who likely did not like it but......found it 'topical'). I hope you will remember the Thompson family fondly and that you will take the opportunity to call, email, or visit and say hello.

We love you and we miss you and wish you only the most happy and content lives.

Our lives as some of you are aware have transitioned, completely. For the first while, we literally thanked our lucky stars that on Sunday we had a day to spend more time together and develop closer family relationships. While previously we were constantly involved in a myriad of meetings, phone calls and LDS leadership discussions (about thirty hours weekly in total while in leadership), now we had our own lives to figure out 'what to do'...instead of 'how to do it'.

As I have stated in online forums, our home life went from the constant tug of war that is normal in LDS homes with family and teenagers in regards to their church activities, sports, non-member friends and life in general, once the expectation of perfection disappeared and the concept of 'patriarchy' was found to not be useful, our familial relationships within the home dynamic simply flourished.
For those who remember us well, may remember that my oldest son, at the time Priest age, never passed the sacrament, seldom went to Sunday School or priesthood and was always, always late for the chapel time no matter what we did. Even getting him to go to youth activities was challenging. Add to this his father’s insane expectation for early morning seminary and this became a toxic mess of unrealistic expectations for his particular personality.

Funny, now I hold such great respect for his willingness to stand by 'his beliefs' and not have LDS 'peer pressure' force him as it does so many others, to follow the path he was told to follow.

He was not a sinner, not really even rebellious, he was intelligent, and respectful but never believed any of it to be more than good people practicing their faith in families. I don't think he ever would have served a mission, he was pretty clear about that before we left and after we left. I being a return missionary myself and so desiring to have an obedient, and faithful son serve, continuously pressured him to do so. It was already causing great contention in our home, him wanting to be true to his beliefs and me wanting him so badly to be true to mine.

This all created a powder-keg of ideological soup that was bound to turn into a massive explosive mixture once he turned 19. I likely would have been the controlling and demanding patriarch that is exemplified by not all, but by many like me who were taught over the years in so many subtle ways that success in the church required success in the home, and that this required discipline and control.

He likely would have been kicked out of our home when he was 19 and chose not to go on a mission, or the marital relationship would have taken a massive and sincere blow as likely his loving mother would have prevented me from doing so, therefore questioning my desire to be a good father husband and 'head of the family' as I was instructed by the doctrine, lessons, practice and example in so many ways during my 44 years as a member of the LDS church both overtly and subtly.

Now before you think I was a dictatorial jerk, in my home, I was not, but I struggled to find the balance between LDS expectation, and Christ like love, most especially when I was in leadership and had the added burden of needing to have the perfect looking family.

When we left the LDS church....and all the pressure for perfection disappeared, so also did the apparent need for 'control' in our home. That was replaced with acceptance and love. Complete acceptance of their choices in all areas. School, friends, job, education, alcohol consumption, partying, hobbies, activities etc. etc.

Now we did not control any of those areas when we were active LDS members but, certainly it became clear to them that now, we were only here to counsel and advise not have rules and expectations pertaining to these issue’s.

Their lives quickly became their lives. And they made excellent choices.

That's not to say that there were no mistakes made by them or by us as parents, heck the graduation party at our home with 200 drunk teenagers and Norm blocking the driveway and Gabi taking everyone's keys until they could all pass a breathalyzer test (for some that was not until noon the next day, never again!) was a good example of that but we got through it, we learned better how to parent, what things mattered and what things did not matter.

I have to say, our children, have been amazing! There values no longer being dictated to them and there morals being something from inside of them, instead of externally dictated.

We have gone on cruises and other vacations together, we enjoy one anthers company, and we are truly connected. I never, not ever remember my oldest son Ben coming into my office and just saying "Hey dad how's your day' when we were members, he and I were far more disconnected.

Our master bedroom seems to be everyone's (including our two dogs lol) favorite hangout place, and although it drives me crazy.......and sometimes, you would be nice to have more......Gabi and Norm time (lol) it’s quite comforting to know that they feel that way about us as parents. Our relationship with our children is far, far closer than it was as LDS members as a result.

Some of you know when we left I took some of the new found money and bought a classic toy (a corvette). Yes....I love that car.....sorry I know that's a sin! Simply put, and in the most respectful way, we just found that we had more time and money to do those things that we always wanted to do and that LDS culture actually encouraged!

Be Happy! Enjoy Life! Grow closer as a family!

Life is pretty good, not perfect, we still have fights we still have disappointments there is still challenge as a result of all the new choices we have to make now, but.......we would never, ever go back to where we were before.

For some, they would truly miss it. I sometimes miss the people, but cannot ever think of one time I missed all the meetings, all the perfection competitions or expectations. For us it’s been a great thing to get out of the 'organization'. Life is far more fulfilling, far more rewarding, far more enlightening and far, far, far more FUN!!!!

Some of you know we travel quite regularly using some of the previously spent church funds to see the world, spend important time together as a family and give something back to our planet (volunteer vacations for instance).

We have always been a family that traveled, but now.....we are doing far more of it. Cancun this past November (Gabi and I), family Florida over Xmas holiday, another Caribbean cruise in a month, Alanna is in Europe with the Vimy Ridge Veteran 95th Canadian anniversary of WW1 and traveling to Amsterdam, Paris, Holland etc. in April. Gabi is in Africa for a month on her own working on an animal wildlife reserve in April, then it’s the fun summer trips to Algonquin and the family cottages, then our normal fall vacation spots and possibly another cruise. Let’s not forget our love for jeeping and the normal attention and weekends away Gabi and I are doing together. We love to travel; thank goodness we now have the time and resources to do so.

Since Gabriele is fulfilling a lifelong goal of working with the Lions and Tigers and other animals in Africa in May, I decided it was time to add some more running goals and I am running the Chili Half Marathon at the beginning of May, Around the Bay 30km (Hamilton) end of March, then the Toronto Marathon when Gabriele is away in May. I will finish my running season with a team (eight members) 100 mile trail running event the end of May at Sulpher Springs.

I am now, for certain, in the best overall physical condition and health of my life. More exercise, less stress, more sleep, better eating and more fun then ever in my entire life.

Life, love relationships, business, money, time, and most of all.......contentment, are likely at a peak in my life at the moment.

To say there are days that I literally pinch myself and can hardly believe my own joy and fulfillment, would not be a big stretch.

I am grateful for all that has transpired here that has brought me to this point of joy.

Alright now one of those cheesy, shirtless pictures....not bad for a guy turning 48 don’t you think?