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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I live for moments like these

Right now I am teaching my first grade classes how you can mix together primary colors and make secondary colors. They've talked about it and they know which colors make which, but they haven't actually done it themselves before. I am having them experience it through painting. On our papers we painted a yellow circle and a blue circle. I did it in a math-like formula (i.e. O + O = O) where we colored in the circles. I told them I didn't have green paint. One little boy's eyes lit up and he said, "We can mix together the yellow and the blue!" (He fed right into my lesson plan (wink, wink).) He was so excited. He acted as if he'd just figured out some complex equation or something. So I had them gather around me as I sat at a table. Using a paper towel as my palette, I had one dollop of yellow tempera paint and one dollop of blue tempera paint. I showed them how I could use my brush to mix the two together to form green. They were all leaning over watching with bated breath and when the color green finally became visible, they exclaimed, "Wow!" I hadn't seen them so excited before! It was like they didn't really believe it would really be green until they saw it with their own eyes. They couldn't wait to get the chance to do it themselves and they had trouble waiting for me to come around the room and give them the necessary paint.

We were working magic in that room, I tell you. And I will never forget it. I hope they don't either.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Metaphorical thinking

My UU Christian Circle is using a progressive Christian curriculum called Living the Questions to guide our discussions each month. It is a set of DVD's with several people of note (including John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg to name just two) who have much to say about finding a place in Christianity for those of us who question dogma and doctrine but long for the message.

Yesterday we had a discussion about thinking literally/critically (the need to determine the factual historical accuracy of a story) versus finding the truth of the story thru metaphor. It seems that all of the women in our group have moved beyond the need to "prove it" and into the acceptance of the truth of the metaphors. It is like passing through a set of large doors that opens you up to a whole new spirituality.

There was a time in my life that I was very much into the critical stage of thinking and, as a result, I totally rejected Christianity. There cannot be a man in the sky watching us, virgin births are impossible, people don't rise from the dead, etc. It wasn't until I was 36 years old that I was able to see past all that and realize that those stories and ideas do hold truth in the metaphoric sense. As soon as I realized that, I wanted to go back and reread the bible and see all of those stories through a new lens. Once I did that it really was as if I was "born again".

I am often frustrated that my two older sons have trouble with my new relationship with God and Christianity. But then after our UU Christian Circle discussion yesterday, I realized that they are both still stuck in the literal stage of looking at things. They don't think a person can walk on water so Mom must be crazy to buy into all of that. To them, there is no other way of seeing things. I need to be patient, expose them to different ways of understanding the story, and let God do his/her work with them.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Faith Club

I just finished the most amazing book. The book, The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner, is a collaborative non-fiction book that these three women wrote about their experience forming an interfaith discussion group. I have to say it is one of the best books I've read recently and I was brought to tears more than once while reading it. It reminded me a lot of my own UU Christian Circle group. Anyone on a spiritual journey (and aren't we all, really?) would do well to read it. I picked mine up at the local public library. They also have a website that you can check out which includes information about how to start your own Faith Club. Their website is

Love it!

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Illness - of the computer variety

Well, we were finally hit with a computer virus. We had virus protection software installed and had been lucky for years, but our time ran out. Those hackers out there with Too Much Time On Their Hands finally came out with a virus that got to us before the protection update did. Our hard drive took a big hit. Thus explains my absence from the internet for the last two weeks.

However, my husband, who is an IT manager had his recovery team working on it and I think they managed to salvage some of our old info from the diseased hard-drive. But Big J hasn't had time time yet to get it loaded onto the hard-drive we are now using. So for the time being I am without my address book, my URL favorites, and important info (passwords and such) that I'd saved in old email messages. So I'm stumbling along like a toddler learning to walk. For now.

But at least I am back online.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

But then Edwards looked good in the NH debate

I didn't realize there was a debate last night. We went out for dinner and got home just as the commentary about the Republican debate ended. I missed that whole thing. But I was just in time for the Democrat debate. For those who missed it, the two debates were at a small college in New Hamshire in anticipation of next week's primaries there. To qualify to be in the debate, you had to place in the top 4 in your given party at last week's Iowa caucuses. So the Dems were Edwards, Obama, Richardson, and Clinton. (I believe the GOP debaters were Romney, Huckabee, McCain, and Thompson.)

So anyway, just after I declared that my allegiances were swaying toward Obama in my last blog post, I may just have to rescind that. I still like Obama so far (heck, I'd be happy with any of the Democrats over any of the Republicans at this point), but I was mightily impressed with Edwards last night. He was on fire. One of the commentators afterward said that all the candidates showed fatigue and looked haggard. Only Edwards seemed energized. He came to Obama's aid when Clinton suggested his calls for change were too vague. He kept returning to the idea that we need to take the power away from the special interest lobbyists and to consort with them makes it impossible for you to fight them later. (I'm not totally up on my research, but I couldn't help but feel that this was a jab at Hillary and a suggestion that she is in the back pockets of certain Washington lobbyist groups.) It almost sounded like he considers her to represent the problems with the establishment while he wants to change things. He repeated that he'd never taken any money at all from special interest groups, implying, of course, that other candidates had.

His passionate speaking with regard to the healthcare problems that real Americans face these days and his citing his own background and parents made him seem really concerned and not just throwing those things out there as campaign tools.

I was impressed.

After the debate was over I had the feeling that:
* Bill Richardson doesn't really stand a chance against these other 3 although he is a likeable enough guy
* I like Hillary less and less as a potential candidate each time I see her
* Of the 4 debaters, Edwards was by far the most passionate
* I want to know more about Obama


Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama it is

After the Iowa caucus yesterday, I felt I needed to look into this whole election thing a little bit closer. So I went to the Select Smart 2008 Presidential Candidate Selector. It's supposed to tell you which candidate is most closely aligned with your own values. It probably isn't the most scientific tool, but it did confirm for me that Barack Obama is my man. So then I went to to find out more about who he is and what he stands for. I do admit he sounds like my kind of candidate.

So with this in mind, I am looking forward to the New Hampshire primary coming up.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Eyes on Iowa

To tell the truth, I've only been paying marginal attention to the build-up for the 2008 presidential election. Early on there are so many candidates, many of whom I won't even ever get the chance to vote for, so I wait for things to congeal a bit. I'm in Indiana so our primary is one of the last ones. Usually by the time it is Indiana's turn to vote, the party's candidates have been all but officially selected. But I go through the motions anyway out of a sense of civic duty.

This morning I checked out the Indianapolis newspaper to see what is being said about the candidates. I'm not sure which candidate I prefer. It is so hard to read their generic blurbs and make any decision. As much as I try to be open-minded and consider all the candidates, I almost immediately eliminate the Republican candidates. Anyone who braggingly calls himself a conservative sends up a red flag to me. Also, anyone who touts "the sanctity of human life" (while often opposing funding social programs...ironically) is also scratched off the list. "The sanctity of human life" sounds good, but we all know that is double-speak for legislation against reproductive rights. So no.

Anyway, it seems to be boiling down to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. I honestly don't know which one I prefer. I'd love to see a woman president (purely for my own female motives) but I don't always agree with her opinions, particularly her early support of the war in Iraq. I like John Edwards a lot. I don't really know much about Barack Obama, but lots of people seem to really like him. He talks about wanting to unite the country and that is a good philosophy (although I don't know how realistic that idea is).

I guess I need to do some homework and read up on these people. Living in Indiana, I don't really know that it even matters which Democrat I vote for since the Republican candidate will likely take this red state, but I give it the old college try anyway. I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't do something to try to change the mess this country has gotten into.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Vegetarian New Year's Day menu

I usually serve corned beef and cabbage on New Year's Day. I don't really know why. It's just what we always did in my family when I was growing up. It probably points way back to my ethnic heritage. But usually I was the only one who ate it. And while I like cabbage when cooked the right way, corned beef was never my favorite meat. Very fatty and it just tastes like it is bad for you.

Last week after Christmas, we stopped in at a Borders bookstore and I went searching for a family vegetarian cookbook. I've been wanting one for a while now and since I didn't get one as a Christmas gift, I took matters into my own hands. I ended up buying Nava Atlas' Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

In the past I've had issues getting my two youngest boys in particular to get on board with some of my vegetarian recipes. My husband and teenager are already won over to vegetarian eating and generally like whatever I make. The 11 and 6 year old, on the other hand, are quick to sneer and say "yuck".

So the day after I bought the cookbook I made her Classic Vegetarian Chili and it was a success. Everyone liked it and we had leftovers for the next day. I was excited about the new cookbook.

Fast-forward to New Year's Day. Big J requested an Asian stir-fry meal. So using my new cookbook, I decided to make Asian Noodles with Stir-Fried Corn and Cabbage and I paired it with Orange-Glazed Tofu and Broccoli. Even my 6yo ate his dinner! I was amazed.

It was funny. After we'd been eating for a while, we were talking about how it was pretty good. My 15yo completely cleared his plate, my husband cleared his plate, I was almost completely done and my two younger boys had made serious dents in what they'd eaten. I was commenting on the cabbage in the noodle dish and my 11yo informed me he didn't like cabbage. I looked at his plate and noticed that cabbage was about the first thing he'd eaten! There was none left on his plate. I told him it must have been the way I cooked it. ;-)

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Brand Spankin' New Year!

It is with great joy that I say we have finally put 2007 to bed for good. Good riddance! I didn't feel a desire to recap 2007. 2007 was one of (if not *the*) worst years of my life and I am not sorry it is over. By the end of the year, things started to look up and so I am hopeful that this time next year I have a much more positive summary to give for 2008.

My blogging will probably continue to be sporadic while I am working full-time. I'll make up for it next summer when I'm home all the time.

I do want to make a couple of additions to my blog this year. Several years ago I kept a running list of books I read in a given year. I haven't done that in recent years and my memory isn't great. So I thought starting in 2008 I will replace my generic "library thing" list with my current reading list. Maybe I'll also keep a running list of movies I see this year. (We almost *never* go to theaters anymore so it'll mostly be from Blockbuster Online rentals.) I wonder if my readers will be interested in this. I admit I'm mostly doing it for myself just as a reminder of the thoughts that go in and out of my head. As soon as I finish one of the books I'm reading I'll set up the list.

Oh, and we are getting closer to a big election, so I'm sure 2008 will be chock full of those kinds of discussions as well.

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