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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Long Live the Queen

Tonight at dinner, Big J gave me this tiara (notice the "40"). I wore it all night and I'm planning to take it to the restaurant on Saturday. He also is getting us tickets to see the Celtic Woman concert in April. But get a load of this. Here is a poem that Big J wrote for me:

Sipping red wine she stares at the past
Little girl to woman, the time has flown so fast
A scrapbook holds the memories that last
For this curly-haired little dancer, a delight unsurpassed

Bright brown eyes create the pages of today
And now her children's activities hold sway
Birthday parties, sports, homework - priorities to be weighed
So much activity, there's no time to delay!

Wisps of silver trail down her cheek
As she stares at the blank pages, the future she seeks
She smiles and considers the new adventures she'll greet
For this still curly-haired sweet dancer, her curiosity is piqued

Isn't that the coolest? Talk about being surprised. I have to put that away for safe keeping.


Today I am 40

Yes, it's my birthday. I have 4 whole decades under my belt now.

I have had a hard time leading up to this birthday. Now, it isn't about getting older. I really don't mind that. In fact, I'm kind of excited to be starting a brand new decade of life. It's like a fresh slate for me to write on. And I don't really feel old.

But the whole thing about landmark birthdays is the focus. I am uncomfortable with the Birthday thing. (Warning: this is where I slide off into the whole self-pity thing so get out now, it's not too late.) I can't help but thinking of Charlie Brown at Valentine's Day when he says he already knows that nobody likes him - why do they need a holiday to emphasize it. I'm not quite that bad. I don't feel like I don't have friends, per se, but I was thinking about the people in my life. I get a very panicky feeling when I wonder - if they threw a party for me, would anyone show up? I have lots and lots of acquaintances in my life. There are lots of people who seem to like to talk to me whenever we happen to be at the same place at the same time. But no one ever calls and asks me to just hang out. I never get invited to parties or anything. I don't get the impression that there is anyone out there outside of my own family who really considers me a close friend. I'm starting to develop a couple of friendships at church, but they are still in the very early stages. We aren't to the "call up and chat" phase yet.

True, I could be the one to make the first move. But I am literally paralyzed with fear over that. Here's my sob story: I don't have good experiences with birthdays. Having a birthday on January 31 in Indiana is not always a good thing anyway. Blizzards happen. Growing up I had more than one birthday affected by the weather. On my "Sweet Sixteen" birthday, however, I think it was actually a high school basketball game that nudged out my birthday. I had a slumber party for my birthday and no one came. I spent hours lying in bed sobbing. I'm sure those other girls never realized how traumatized I was, but ever since then I've always felt that there is something or someone who is more important to everyone else than me. I'm not high on anyone's priority list. I'm okay to spend time with - as long as there isn't something more interesting going on. I've made other sad attempts since then (candle parties, etc.) and again, people seem to have something better to do. The only people I've ever been able to count on are my family. And I feel like they only come to my parties because they have to. It'd be nice to feel like people did things for me because they wanted to.

Whew. See how easy it is for me to slip into "self-pity" mode? I've been plagued by these thoughts for about 3 months now. I'd love to have a party to celebrate my 40th birthday. (I know that other people have parties thrown for them.) But I am also terrified that no one would come which would only spotlight (again) my lack of friends. And so we've played it safe again. Big J, knowing I wanted something special, asked my family (parents, brother and his family, sister and her family) to all go out to dinner on Saturday for my birthday. So there is something.

I know I sound ungrateful. I don't want to. I exert an awful lot of effort nearly every day forcing myself to be grateful for what I do have instead of dwelling on what I don't have. It's so hard though, because those thoughts keep coming back into my mind. You ought to be able to just choose to live one way and that would be it. But it doesn't work that way. You have to keep rechoosing over and over again. It really can be exhausting.

Anyway, it is early today. Not even 9am yet. I am going to choose to have a positive outlook today. And I'm treating myself to cheesecake tonight.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Enjoying Where You Are

I've gotten some new books at the library. I have to say that three years ago, I would never consider reading a book by someone I think of as a "televangelist" like Joyce Meyer. I have seen her first on TV while surfing through the channels. She seems very much like one of those "in your face" evangelists who think they have all the answers and they're more than happy to tell you about it (and of course take your "prayer money" if you send it in). But this shows how far I've come on this journey. I started letting myself think general religious thoughts back when I started attending a UU church. Once there I considered rethinking Christianity. Maybe it wasn't ALL bad. Then the more I read, the more I realized I'd been seeing Christianity from the wrong perspective. Readjusting my thinking helped me to soften my heart to these other Christians that used to cause me to roll my eyes if I saw their books on a shelf in the store. It's almost as if I came to Christianity through the back door because I was never attracted to the harsh front door.

Anyway, I picked up one of Joyce Meyer's books at the library. The copyright date is 1996 and it is called Enjoying Where You Are on the Way to Where You Are Going: Learning How to Live a Joyful, Spirit-filled Life. There are lots and lots of biblical references (another thing that would have caused me to put it down without considering it just a couple of years ago). And there are some theological things that I don't agree with like the way she personifies Satan. But if I don't let that get to me, she has a lot to say that makes a lot of sense. I was surprised that she said there are a lot of people who are saved and have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (yes, I know I know) but they are sitting around waiting to die rather than enjoying the life that they have. She basically says that Jesus came to tell us that life is to celebrate and experience joy.

She talked about things that steal joy from our lives. Dread and fear are two things that zap our joy. Dread is about living in the past and fear is about living in the future. What we really need to do is live in the present. (I know that that particular concept is all over the religious spectrum these days. Isn't it the subject of the book called The Power of Now? I don't know - just guessing.) Basically we spend too much time beating ourselves up about things that have already happened or worrying about things that might happen. This is where she says we have to have faith in God and to let it go.

Another thing that gets in our way is the complexity that we choose to live our lives in. In my own experience this is related to perfectionism. You want to get things just right so you overdo it. And another thing we can do to fight the complexity bug is to try to live with more simplicity. Find what is most important in your life and cut out all the extras that just steal your joy. Every day you should find ways to celebrate the joy of living - even in the mundane things.

You know how sometimes something will happen in your day-to-day life that just happens to coincide with a spiritual concept you've been stewing over? Saturday afternoon we were all out at the music contest and my mom was along with us. We were almost finished for the day and were walking along the wide corridors of the school and my 5yo son was skipping. (Wide high school halls are perfect for skipping, btw.) Anyway, he turned to me and asked me if I wanted to skip. I told him not right now. Then he reminded me about how I taught him how to skip last summer when we were camping. Big J and my mom just looked at me with a blank stare on their faces. They couldn't believe that I would skip. I had to laugh. I remembered skipping down the road with D in the campground where we were staying. The fact that the idea of me skipping caught them off guard bothered me. I am too serious. I don't make enough time for skipping in my life. There really is no reason for that. Sometimes children are the wise ones.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fifteen years ago

Fifteen years ago today I became a mother. At 4:44 a.m. after 14 hours of labor, Little J was born. Big J had been at my side all night long. My parents were out in the waiting room waiting for their first grandchild. My sister and her boyfriend had even driven in from college. Little J was the first grandchild on both sides of the family...the first pair of little feet our family had seen in a long time.

I didn't yet realize how much my life and identity changed that day. Suddenly I was "a mom". I worried about things non-moms don't. Did he eat enough? Is he growing enough? How can I get him to sleep more? Even going out somewhere became all about how to deal with having him taken care of or having all of his stuff with us if he went along. Worrying about timing outings so they didn't conflict with his nap schedule.

When he was tiny, Big J and I did the split-shift thing so that we didn't need a babysitter when I returned to work. Although we didn't see each other much during those months, we each got a chance to bond with Little J. Then when he was older, he started going to Kindercare. As reluctant as I was to hand him over to someone else, we were immediately pleased with Kindercare. They came to feel like extended family to us. When he was older, he was in their preschool class where he learned the basics of reading and writing and was more than ready for school. We sent him to full-day Montessori kindergarden for one year where he thrived. But at the end of that year, the cost of paying for his tuition plus daycare for his new baby brother was just more than we could handle. I became a "stay-at-home" mom. We enjoyed a summer at home together and in the fall, I was there to see him onto the bus each morning on the way to first grade and I was there when he came home in the afternoon. I became one of the parent leaders when he joined cub scouts. We made regular trips to the public library while listening to Raffi cassette tapes in my minivan. I was deep in "mom mode".

Before Little J entered second grade, we moved to our present home. He had no trouble making new friends. One of the first boys he met in our neighborhood has become his best friend and they are now talking about taking driver's ed together. Anyway, Little J finished elementary school at the school that is only two blocks away from our house. He stayed in cub scouts and I continued as one of the leaders. He played various sports, but wrestling and soccer seemed to be the ones in which he excelled. He was on the spell bowl and math bowl teams and we went to all the competitions.

In seventh grade he moved to the middle school. He'd started playing the baritone horn. By this time he'd crossed over into the boy scouts (older version of cub scouts). He wrestled on the school wrestling team and we were always in the stands cheering him on.

Now he is a freshman in high school. This year he was in the school's marching band and I became a "Band Mom". I was a chaperone riding the bus along with a bunch of teenagers and handing out drinks as the band members had lunch. He's still in Boy Scouts (just two ranks away from becoming an Eagle Scout). And he wrestles for the high school team.

Yesterday, the first college catalog came in the mail. He wants to go to film school to make documentaries. Right now, his first choice school is Columbia College Chicago because they aren't terribly far away (like USC or something in NY would be) plus they have an excellent documentary department - his specialty. Scholarships and financial aid will definitely be a necessity, so that is why we are starting early. And we want him to have a couple of back-up schools in mind too.

So today as I make a cake for his birthday and remember how clumsy I was putting his outfit on fifteen years ago when we prepared to take him home from the hospital, I can't believe my little boy is a young man now.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Musical day

Today was the district level competition for instrumental solos and ensembles for the state school music association. Little J performed a group 3 (3rd level difficulty) baritone horn solo and received a gold medal. (Yippee!) Then later, the school brass choir (14 kids including 5 trumpets, 2 french horns, 2 tubas, 2 baritones -one of which is Little J-, and 3 trombones) did a large brass ensemble at group 1 (highest level of difficulty). They also received a gold and because it is a group 1, they get to move on to the state finals competition on February 17. This is very cool, especially for Little J who is only a freshman.

Also, his brass instructor came up to Big J and myself and talked to us about how Little J has so much potential and plays with "so much air" (as opposed to most kids his age). He has recommended we get him a new, higher-quality mouthpiece ($$$) and I think he's suggested private lessons to Little J, but we just don't have the money yet. Actually, we almost have his baritone horn paid off and once those payments are done, maybe we can buy the other mouthpiece. It's a hard call too, because we don't know how much of an investment to make in this because we don't know whether Little J will even continue with music after high school.

But I'm a proud mama this afternoon.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An afternoon in Lifeskills

This afternoon I subbed for the teacher in a severely mentally handicapped classroom (officially called the "Lifeskills" class). There are 5 students in the class although one was absent. Of the four students present, only one was in any way verbal and he could only say a few random words. Lots of sign and body language. (If we'd had a more structured "regular" agenda, I would have seen them use lots of photos laminated for the kids to point to to get their ideas across.) But I was a sub and one of the aides was a sub. With only one regular aide there, it was very laid back today. Except for one counting activity, it was mostly just focused play.

I was only there for the afternoon so that the head teacher could go to a special ed teacher meeting at the high school. I played with cars and a ramp with a first grade and a 4th grade boy. I helped that first grade boy listen to audio cassettes with headphones. And I helped the 4th grade boy do a software program on the computer. (Actually he did better than I did because I couldn't figure out how to use the big roller ball thing they use as a mouse.)

I saw total joy when the 5th grade girl (who developmentally is probably only 18 months to two years old) was struck by a fit of giggles when the sub aide couldn't get one of the cabinets shut. The lock broke so it wouldn't shut all the way and it started banging. This girl just started shrieking with laughter. The rest of us couldn't help but join in with her laughing. It was infectious. To be able to find such joy in the simple things in life...

I was thinking about how in the regular classrooms I take so many things for granted with those kids. For these kids today, being able to stand up without adult help is an accomplishment worthy of praise. Counting out 6 toy bugs correctly earned so much praise for the beaming little boy I worked with.

Just Monday I was sitting in a 6th grade classroom reading a book about differentiated education in which they recommended creating tiered questions (3 levels of questions with increasing difficulty per level). I was contemplating comprehension questions like the basic recall details, etc. all the way up to "higher" level questions involving synthesis and analysis of information studied.

Today's experience put the whole concept of "differentiated education" into a new perspective.

Those four children (and the adults who spend their lives working with them) touched me today. And I'm not just referring to all the hugs I got at the end of the day. I am so lucky to be able to have little windows into such a huge variety of worlds. Next time I start to feel stressed or depressed, I'll just remember the blissful face of that little girl as she waved her hands and tried to pop the bubbles blown by her aide.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Picking a president

I always like to start early learning about the candidates in a presidential election. I really do my homework. So I've been looking around. It's still a little early, but I don't want to wait for all the glitz and showbiz once the campaign kicks into high gear.

There are some familiar names and some new names popping up for the 2008 election. So far I could find a little bit about Republicans Mitt Romney and John McCain. Now, of course, John McCain is a familiar name, but I don't know this Romney guy. On the Democrat side of things we have Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards (to name a few). All of these names are familiar to me.

According to a local news story, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Sunday (1/21/07) shows Hilary with 41 percent of the Democrat vote which is more than double any of her other Democrat candidates. That's interesting. But as popular as she is with Democrats, I think it is the middle-of-the-roaders that actually have the deciding power. So who knows how that will go. Although I myself am all for it, I wonder if this country is ready yet to elect a woman president.

I don't dislike Hilary and I really liked her husband. I'm not sure I'd vote for her because her softness on the Iraq war makes me hesitate. She seems to be almost a little too "moderate" for my progressive tastes. But it also depends on her competition.

Like I said, I really need to read up on everybody and sort through their positions on things. I'm sure I'll have more to say with the more I learn.


Monday, January 22, 2007

One more thing

I wanted to take a minute to say welcome to all the new people have started reading my blog. I'm so glad you're here. And thank you to everyone who has said such encouraging words about my blogging. (I was in the middle of a pity party the other night and I'm over it now.)


Blue and White Sunday

Yay! Sunday morning when we awoke, there was a layer of snow on the ground! It is the first of the season. Up to now it has been unseasonably warm and we wondered if we'd even see any snow this year. But it finally came and we had probably 2-3 inches. My boys LOVED it. They spent four hours out in the freezing temps building a snow fort. They named it Echo 1 as on the Star Wars planet Hoth. (I'm not up on these things, but I'll bet some people know it.) By the time they had the fort done, there was almost no snow left on the rest of the yard. Here's a picture of the fort and my two older boys:

Also, it was a "Blue" Sunday. The Colts are going to the Superbowl!! This is really cool. We watched the playoff championship game last night and the Colts waited until *literally* the last minute to squeak by the New England Patriots 38-34. So in two weeks we will be facing the Chicago Bears in Miami for the Superbowl. Today at school the teachers were talking about getting tickets. One friend of mine said she and her husband had their names drawn for tickets from the pool of season ticket holders. BUT last week flights to Miami were around $200. As soon as the game was over last night, plane ticket prices to Miami were going for $1000 a piece. Who has that kind of expendable cash lying around? Anyway, we'll be watching it on TV like we do every year, but this year I'll actually care who wins!!


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Sunday, January 21, 2007

A popular culture UU??

The recent announcement of the UU Blog awards and the resulting nominees has caused me to spend some time ruminating on what I've been reading. One of the blog entries that really struck me was called Am I Too Stupid to be a UU?. I was struck to my very core with this post because it sounded so much like something I could have posted myself. Sometimes I feel like UU's are intellectual snobs. I don't think it is intentional. Some of my dearest friends are UU's who I love to death and I don't think they mean to be intelluctually prejudiced. But we are. Do I really belong here? Am I smart enough to keep up?

I struggle with this myself. I go between being proud of the intellectual achievements of UU's (over 98% of our church has at least a bachelor's degree) and being revolted at the isolation caused by being brainiacs. I relate more to people who have a modicum of education and awareness of the world at large. But at the same time I am revolted (almost physically) at that very thing. How dare I place value on something so trivial. Yuck!

I think this particular issue resonates with my own issues of belonging in my spiritual (UU) community and in my residential (rural America) community. The thing that comes first to mind is popular culture. With UU's (primarily my own church and secondarily the online UU world) popular culture is taboo. Here are some specific examples of my feeling marginalized because of my interest in popular culture: at a UU book discussion (don't remember the book we were talking about) several comments were made about the low level standards of people who watch such "banal" TV as Survivor (lots of eye rolls) as if this is beneath them. Note: I am a huge Survivor fan and my family and I watch every new season with loyal attention. I felt marginalized. Another instance: I went to a youth group parent "meeting" where the topic of discussion was youth and media. Again, people who watch TV were characterized (in my opinion, at least) as inferior. The UU's at this gathering bragged that they only own one TV per household and it is permanenty fixed to PBS. Again, being someone who (gasp) keeps up with popular culture, I felt marginalized. Why does my enjoyment of watching these (albeit trashy) TV shows make me somehow less?

I admit it. I watch TV. I listen to radio. I keep up with popular culture. We watch the local sports teams and cheer them on. We watch Survivor and American Idol. We watch the Office and My Name is Earl. One of my favorite shows is Seinfeld. I wear blue on "Blue Fridays" to support my Colts football team. This feels so anti-UU. Sigh.

It also happens on the blog world. I am a new blogger and I feel like a kid hanging out with the grown ups. We have all these seminarians and ministers posting these "Deep Thoughts" and I feel, frankly, silly. My blog will never be on the nominations list for the UU Blog awards. I'm just not up to snuff. I read some mainstream novels and watch TV and listen to regular radio music. Does that mean I have to revoke my UU membership? I don't know. God still speaks to me to love my fellow humans, whomever they may be.

You know, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. In my real world existence as a mom and substitute elementary teacher, I feel much more educated than most and very worldly in comparison. (My son, a freshman in high school, was the ONLY kid in class who was able to successfully say who Nancy Pelosi is and how she is noteworthy...most kids have no idea). But in the UU world I feel like a fraud.

I think the nominations for the annual UU Blog awards has caused me to really think about who I am as a blogger (among other things). I will never be a theologian or someone with "deep thoughts". But I am a real American mom with three boys, a husband, a house, a dog, too many bills and not enough money, a job I love but pays squat, a love for TV, books, and music, and for God and its presence in my life. I won't post high-falutin' theses on religious concepts. That isn't me. But I can post about how God is moving in my life, how UUism speaks to me, how I love my kids and Seinfeld at the same time and have something to offer the world.

I have a feeling I'll have more to say on this issue in future posts. Stay with me and see what happens.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Children of Men (book)

This morning I had the luxury of staying in bed and finishing the book I've been reading. It isn't a new book. It was originally published (I think) in 1993. The book is Children of Men by P.D. James. I originally bought the book and read it probably 12 years ago. I'd been a fan of James' Adam Dagliesh series of mysteries based in England. This book was a serious departure for her, but I remembered liking it. When I heard recently that there is a forthcoming movie by the same name based on the book, I decided to pull out my copy and reread it. I always like to read the book before seeing a movie.

This story is based in the future (year 2021 in the book) in England. The world has become infertile, the last children being born in 1995. There are no more children. The youngest people, called Omegas, are now 26 years old. Societies are returning to a more savage and barbaric time. England is now ruled by a tyrannical "Warden of England", the Isle of Man has become a penal colony where all criminals (regardless of the pettiness of their crime) are sent. However, in order to save precious resources, the government doesn't want to waste the expense and manpower of staffing the prison or providing adequate necessities like food and medical care. Also there are regular "ceremonies" dubbed Quietus, wherein about 20 or so old people at a time, dressed in white robes with old hymns playing are taken via boats out into the middle of the sea where the boat is sunk. It is officially called voluntary suicide until it is discovered by the protagonist that participants are being chained aboard and beaten if they try to escape. There are other injustices, but you get the point.

A group of 5 insurgents, calling themselves the Five Fishes, start an underground movement to change the sorry state of things. Theo, the main character, gets sucked into the action because, for one thing, he is the cousin of the Warden of England and the Five Fishes believe he may have some influence over him. Secondly, being a professor and historian, he had previously been the teacher of a class which included one member of the group, Julian. When he visits the Warden, as a favor to the group, to request changing some policies, his requests fall on deaf ears. However, they become suspicious of him working along side the underground movement. To escape scrutiny, Theo escapes for the summer to vacation in mainland Europe.

When he returns in the fall, he finds that the Five Fishes have been stirring the pot. They have been dispersing flyers calling for mass changes and they have been bombing the ramps along the seashore that have been set up to launch boats for the Quietus ceremonies. It isn't long before he hooks up with the group again when they come to him for help. One of their group has been captured by the SSP (State Security Police) and they fear he has been killed. Theo also learns that Julian is pregnant. In order to avoid their own capture by the police and to protect Julian and her unborn child, they flee and the chase begins.

There are more ins and outs of the story and the chase culminates when Julian goes into labor and they must find a safe place for the baby to be born. The Warden of England and his council is hot on their trail. I won't spoil the end of the book for anyone who wants to read it for himself. But it's good.

There is a definitely spiritual tone to the book and it's interesting to see the way religion is used in this futuristic society. Much of organized religion has fallen apart, but remnants remain. Plus, you can't help but draw parallels between this story about a pregnant woman and those closest to her on the run from tyrannical government officials who seek to find this miracle baby, ending in a modest wood shack in the woods surrounded by nature where the child is to be born, and another similar story involving a mother carrying a miracle baby, fleeing danger, and ending in a humble stable surrounded by animals (nature).

And I was struck by a thought in reading the birth story. We have gotten to the point where we find childbirth common place. Everyone and her sister has babies...what is the big deal. But by stripping away the commonality of pregnancy and childbirth in a society where it is unheard of...pregnancy and childbirth can be seen as the miracle that it really is. The very fact that human beings can become pregnant, grow another life, and then produce a child into the world is a miracle. Every child is a miracle baby. Life itself is a miracle.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Must be award time

Last night I watched most of the Golden Globe Awards (although I do admit to flipping back and forth between the awards and Supernanny). Watching the awards, one of my main thoughts was how old I'm getting. Ben Stiller, who is only slightly older than myself I think, has gone gray. Some Hollywood main-stays like Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Warren Beatty, Tom Hanks, etc. are starting to show their age. And who are all those new kids, anyway? At least the Golden Globes aren't as bad as the Oscars usually are. When the Oscars come out, for the past several years I've rarely seen more than one or two of the nominated movies. Who has the time or money to go out to the movies anymore? At least last night I was able to say I saw an award winner...Cars won for best animated film. And since the Golden Globes include TV, I at least have seen many of those shows.

I was disappointed that Desperate Housewives or The Office didn't win for best comedy. I haven't seen Ugly Betty yet. My TV dance card is just about full and I don't have the free space to be adding on these new shows. After watching the awards, I would like to see The Queen and Babel one of these days. But of course I'll wait till they are at Blockbuster or on PPV. Paying for 5 admissions plus accompanying popcorn and soda can put Mama G in debt as fast as anything. $3.99 for PPV is much more reasonable.

Alas, not to be outdone, the UU Bloggers are also having awards. Apparently this is their 3rd annual award confirmations. Being new to the UU Blog world, I have nothing to contribute, but I'm really curious to read the nominees, to vote, and to see who wins. Fun, fun, fun. If you want in on the action go to the UUpdater page at UUpdater

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Scrapbooking accomplished

Yay! I got to scrapbook today. Finally! I made 3 pages (one single-page and one double-page layout). They were only from this past fall. I wanted to show them to you all.

The first one is from Halloween night when my niece and nephew came over and went Trick or Treating in our neighborhood with my two younger boys.

The second photo you see is the first page in a two-page layout from the church Halloween party. It shows us in costume. (Big J didn't wear a costume.) I'm the wicked witch. Little J was George W. Bush. He was told by many people at the party that he had the scariest costume there.

The last picture is the second page of the church Halloween party layout. The younger boys are in front of the pulpit as Darth Vader and a Clone Trooper. You can see kids playing games in the sanctuary. Big J said the glare on the middle picture looks like the glow of God descending on the kids in the sanctuary. LOL And there are pictures of Big J and Little J sitting out in the social hall as the party was winding down.

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A Flannel Jammies Kind of Day

It's gray and rainy (again) here in Indiana. Still no snow, but they say we may get some this week. I can't believe I'm actually wishing for snow. Last night I lay in my bed looking out the dome window facing our big maple tree, and I could see little buds starting to open. They are so confused by the warm weather we've had. I don't know enough about tree biology to know if this early blooming will kill them or even effect how/if they bloom this summer. I've talked to people whose bulbs (daffodils, etc.) are starting to poke out of the earth prematurely. One more thing to worry about.

We are all home today due to the holiday. We slept in and after filling my mug with coffee and getting the kids breakfast, I hit the internet to catch up on the blog world. Here I sit an hour later with my second mug of coffee, still in my flannel jammies. It's nice just to be able to hang out. The whole day came very close to being thwarted, though. Saturday afternoon Big J tells me his sister is driving up with her kids to go to the Children's Museum because the museum is offering free admission on MLK day. He'd told her he'd ask me if we could go too. Now, I have to say, this put me in a very precarious position. Immediately I felt my temperature and pulse rise because I didn't want to go. I'd been looking forward to having a day off to do nothing but watch trashy TV shows and work on my scrapbooking. But now I was put into the position of being the bad guy by saying no. I either said yes and lost my free day or said no and became Family Bad Guy for the foreseeable future. This is not the first time this is happened and it really makes me mad every time it does. I am asked my opinion (as if it really matters anyway) and then placed between a rock and a hard place. I did not say a definite no, but I did grumble and make sure the idea got across that I didn't appreciate the whole thing. Big J, finally after all these years, seemed to get a clue and said we'd skip it today. Now, I don't dislike the Children's Museum. And on a different day I would gladly go. But this is my *one* day off to do scrapbooking...which I've been trying to get to for weeks. Plus, and I know this sounds mean, I don't really want to spend my one day off with my SIL and her kids. I want some down time. Is that so much to ask? Jeez. Whew...

Anyway, so here I am finishing up my blogwork before I haul out the scrapbooking stuff. I got some new supplies for Christmas and I haven't had time to do anything with them yet. Plus I think I'm going to start retro-scrapping (i.e. going back over the first 16 years of our marriage - or even before that - and scrapping pictures from then) to get up to date. Ooo - where to start...

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

More blog talk

Having just re-entered the blogging world, I feel like I needed to clean house. As I said yesterday, I have categorized most of my posts so you can search by label now. I have also condensed my list of Favorite Books. It was getting unwieldy. However, I have decided to add links to the blogs I read fairly regularly. I have a feeling that a couple of my links are no longer working and I need to clean that up as well. That will have to wait until another day, though. I have to get off the computer. I'm taking E over to a friend's house this afternoon. Their cub scout den is doing some woodworking and we are meeting at one boy's home. It'll be cold, but due to the Climate Change (previously known as Global Warming) at least there is no snow on the ground and it is warmer than most years in January. :-(

Anyway, welcome back to any readers who used to visit me before I disappeared for a few months!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Post categorizing

I just spent the last hour or so categorizing my old posts after making the upgrade to the new blogger. It was a very zen exercise. ;-)

First of all, I realize how hard it is to compartmentalize your life into distinct topics. There is too much overlap. Second, I found it very interesting to see which topics have popped up so far and which ones get the most (and least) airplay.

And a post like this, for example. How would one categorize it? Meta-blogging?

From now on I am tempted to pick out my label before I start and try to limit each post to that label. No muddying of the waters, you know.

Oi, this makes my head hurt. I feel like I have just defragged my blog.

Our Friend, Martin

Yesterday afternoon I subbed in a second grade classroom. Since Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (and a school holiday) the last thing on the schedule for the day was a showing of the movie, Our Friend, Martin. It was about an hour long. Nothing like showing a movie on a Friday afternoon. I've shown movies before where kids are fidgetty by 20 minutes into the movie so I was worried about something a whole hour long.

But this movie was really good. It is a cartoon with a bit of an air of It's a Wonderful Life to it. Using the magical device of time travel, modern youth are transported back in time into various times in MLK's life. Actual newsreel footage is interspersed into the story. It was really well done and (best, in my opinion) it held the attention of 21 second graders! As you could imagine any film about MLK would be, it was difficult to watch in parts. At one point, the youth go back and bring Martin forward in time to show him how things have changed. However, because they remove him from the time continuum, the changes he made never happened. They are shocked to return to their own time and find segregation on buses, at drinking fountains, in schools, etc. still rampant and white and ethnic kids do not hang out together. They don't want Martin to go back because they know his fate, but they realize that what he did for society as a whole was too important. I was thankful we had the lights turned off because I was very teary-eyed in the back of the classroom. As I looked around the classroom of 100% caucasian kids in a school that is probably 98% caucasian, it seemed so important to me to show this film and I can see why the teacher had chosen it.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Forgetting your password

Ah, a word of advice. Don't take a very long break from may forget your password. I have been busy during the fall semester (what with working, shuttling kids back and forth from marching band practices and performances, scout meetings and events, church events, and now wrestling practices). Plus our entire family of 5 people is now down to 1 computer. Needless to say, computer time is at a premium around here and there is a lot of competition. I didn't have time to blog. Unfortunately, when I sat down yesterday and decided to resume blogging, I realized I couldn't remember my password (or username either for that matter). But after 24 hours or so, it has come back to me. Whew!

Anyway, the main reason for me wanting to revitalize this blog, is our brand spankin' new UU Christian Circle. Three of us from church (plus one expatriate) have formed a group that we are calling our "UU Christian Circle". We meet once a month in one of our homes for fellowship and discussion of Christianity. We each have found something in Christianity that means something to us beyond what we find in the UU church and (undoubtedly) what one would find in a mainstream Christian church.

This month we discussed faith. We had some readings about faith and then we each talked about what faith means to us. It was a wonderful and enlightening discussion which included ideas such as the difference between Faith (as a noun) and faith (as a verb). We discussed how we can live faith in our daily lives. A couple of us have been going through some very difficult times lately and we discussed how faith has played a part in that process of coping and healing.

I realize I'm just skimming over the surface and leaving out the meat of the issue, but this all happened a while ago and isn't as fresh in my mind as it was at the time. Plus, our faith discussion was very much interwoven with personal stories of recent divorce and lost jobs, neither of which am I comfortable disclosing publicly.

The final thing we seemed to come away with is that we have to have faith that all will be okay. We have to be able to step out of that spaceship into the unknown (as in the Major Tom song mentioned by one of our members) or to "step out of our comfort zone, into the realm of the unknown, where Jesus is...and he's holding out his hand" (as in Casting Crown's song The Voice of Truth). That faith helps us face what might otherwise be considered impossible.