Mom to the Left

I'm a mom who tends to live just to the "left" of most of the people around me here in Indiana.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Apparently I'm a Humanitarian

I found this on Yogamum's blog. It's one of those fun time-wasting quizzes. Check this out:

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

HFPS - The Humanitarian

You perceive the world with particular attention to humanity. You focus on what's in front of you (the foreground) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the shapes around you. Because of the value you place on humanity, you tend to seek out other people and get energized by being around others. You like to deal directly with whatever comes your way without dealing with speculating possibilities or outcomes you can't control. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You prefer a structured environment within which to live and you like things to be predictable.

The Perception Personality Types:


Take The Perception Personality Image Test at HelloQuizzy


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back to School time

Summer is winding down. My kids are back in school. My oldest is a junior in high school, worked all summer, and bought himself his first vehicle. He's driving to school every day now. My middle son is in 6th grade, the last year in elementary school where we live. My baby is in first grade which means he finally goes all day this year.

I'm shocked at how time flies. I shouldn't be. It's always been this way. But something about this time of the year and the changes it brings is always kind of jarring to me.

It was a good summer that flew by faster than usual. I kept myself busy in my garden and now I have lots of preserved food to show for it. More than that, I had fun.

We didn't have the money for big vacations this year except for our camping trip to Pokagon State Park. My husband, in his first year as an assistant scout leader, went to summer camp for a week with our 16 and 12 year old sons. And my 6yo son played daily with his buddy who lives down the street.

It was a laid-back and simple summer that I thoroughly enjoyed.

So school started last week. The kids are back in school, but it is too early for them to start calling in subs, so I have time at home to myself each day. I need to get the house straightened up after a summer of having everyone at home all the time. They'll be calling me to work soon.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Reviewing spiritual children's books

I've decided to make this the first of what I hope will be a series of posts about children's books with spiritual themes. I am extremely picky when it comes to sharing spiritual books with kids. I always check for subtle as well as overt messages that the book may be sending. It's one thing to read an adult book with ideas that I don't think are healthy - I am old enough to process it. Kids, however, are more impressionable and can be greatly affected by what they are told or what they read.

When my older kids were young, I tended to avoid the subject. I was still of the mindset that organized religion was not healthy or useful for me or them. As you know, my views on that have changed. I now think spirituality is important. But you really have to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

Also, a lot of what I've seen in the blog world is directed at adults. While there are some pockets of people discussing youth (i.e. teenage) issues, the youngest ones are not often part of the online world. As a mom and teacher, I am very interested in what is out there for the youngest of us. And so begins my new series looking into children's spiritual books...

The first book I'm going to talk about is one that my 6yo son borrowed from the children's "library" at the Friends church we've been attending. It is called This Little Light of Mine and is illustrated by E.B. Lewis. This is a wonderfully illustrated version of the African-American spiritual song of the same name. I love it for two reasons. First of all, the illustrations are amazing. The characters, all African-American, are so life-like and moving. I used the illustrations to help my son understand the words. Which brings up the second reason why I love this book and the song in general. I was able to talk to my son about the Light that each of us has inside and how we can let it shine wherever we go. We looked at the illustrations and I asked, "How is he letting his light shine in this picture?" The pictures show the main character helping an older woman who has dropped her bag of groceries, being friendly to people he passes in the street, and finally, helping a boy who looks lonely and sad to make new friends and be happy. The book shows kid-appropriate ways of shining your light out into the world. I told my son that this book shows why we go to church in the first remember that we have a bit of Light inside of each of us and the way we should live is to share that light with the world.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Carrie Newcomer - my newest discovery

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went to see Philip Gulley and Carrie Newcomer at an event called In Word and Song and described as "One Night, Two Quakers, Infinite Possibilities". I'll admit I went to see Gulley and didn't really know who Carrie Newcomer was. My husband was familiar with her work because he'd seen the show Wilderness Plots on the local PBS station and then ordered the CD. As it turns out, she is a singer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana (one of my favorite places on earth) and happens to be a Quaker as well.

It was a very enjoyable evening. Gulley shared several tales that are in his newest upcoming installment in his Porch Tales series of books: I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood. Newcomer sang songs from her latest CD entitled The Geography of Light. I have to recommend that you check out that last link and listen to some of the songs. After the performance, we ordered the CD and it has been playing on a loop in my van ever since. Okay, I'll admit, sometimes when I clean the kitchen I bring it in and listen to it there too. I would describe it as spiritual folk music. It isn't religious but it is spiritual. A favorite of mine is the song called Geodes. Geodes are so common in Indiana that they are often overlooked and thought unremarkable. But her song points out how geodes are miracles and makes us look on the common in our everyday lives as the miracles that they often are. How much more spiritual can you get?

I think Carrie Newcomer is another one of Indiana's little known gems. Check her out and see if you don't agree with me.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grace Talks by Philip Gulley

My husband just sent me the link to Philip Gulley's new website, Grace Talks. He's using it as a platform to talk about a "new Christianity" that he envisions. By the way, for any Gulley fans, he is currently co-writing a third book in the If Grace is True and If God is Love "series". The working title is something like If the Church was Christian.

If you've visited my blog before, you may remember that we've started attending Pastor Gulley's Quaker meeting this year. I just love his vision of Christianity.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

I've been "off religion" lately

I received email today that someone left a comment on this blog yesterday. When I came to check it out, I realized I haven't posted since we got back from our last camping trip. And that was June 21. I haven't posted much for several months now and I fear some of my previously regular readers have fallen by the wayside.

For one thing, running two blogs is challenging. And frankly, right now, gardening has been my major focus. I started off the garden thinking it would be a preventative measure to ward off the depression that always hits me in the summer. (Long-time readers will remember my whining from last summer.) It has worked wonderfully. I have been so excited about working in the garden. Every day, first thing in the morning I go out to check on my garden and see how things are doing. It has been a terrific spiritual experience reminding me of the persistence of life, the balance of good and evil (particularly where insects are concerned), patience and acceptance. I have begun harvesting my summer garden and am in the process of planning my fall crops. If anyone wants to see what I've been up to, just visit my gardening blog for much more frequent posts with lots of pictures.

I have to admit, too, that another reason I haven't posted much here is that I've kind of been "off religion". I think the whole church split thing hit me harder than I thought. I am still grieving the loss of my UU church home while not yet feeling quite at home at the Friends meeting we'd begun attending. To be honest, we haven't been attending much this summer. With summer camps and family camping trips, we had scheduling conflicts. And then even on the weeks when we've been home, we've had trouble getting motivated to get up for the earlier (in summer) service. So we've stayed home. And I have kind of pushed religious matters from my mind.

But I am being called back in my own way. For quite a while now I've been interested in Contemplative Prayer. Basically, for those unfamiliar with it, contemplative prayer is Christian meditation - a practice of resting in God. Right now I'm reading a book by Thomas Keating called Open Mind, Open Heart about the process of centering or contemplative prayer. I believe I can re-enter religion through the personal experience of contemplation. Then I'll go where the spirit leads me.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Camping at Pokagon State Park

Last week we went camping in Pokagon State Park in the northeastern corner of Indiana. We had never been there before so it was an adventure for us. It turned out to be well worth the long drive to get there.

We hiked through marsh (seen here) and I identified flowers I'd never seen before in person. For example, notice the water lily:

We also went to their beach. Although the weather and the water were a little cold that day, you can see that my kids had fun. Here's my 6yo playing in the sand:

But of course, the best part is always the camping. We'd reserved our campsite online using only a basic map so we weren't sure what we were in for. Generally, we had a good site. It was the middle of the week so the campground wasn't terribly busy and the people who were there tended to be families with kids like us. We were within close walking distance of the facilities that included flush toilets and showers (a new luxury in our family's camping experience). We were also close to the camp playground so that the boys could go play on the playground while we fixed dinner. They were far enough to be out of our hair, but close enough that we could still see them and wave them over when dinner was ready. Each day was rounded out by the obligatory campfire and smores. Here's my 12yo playing guitar one evening at the fire ring:

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