Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cloned Meat?...ewwwww

OK. My first response to cloning animals for food purposes is a simple: Why?

Is there some sort of cow shortage? Are they suddenly in danger of becoming extinct? Does Farmer Ted have simply too much time on his hands?

"Cloning lets farmers and ranchers make copies of exceptional animals......." Washington (AP)

"Exceptional" sounds a little frightening. Do they have super-powers? Can they calculate the rotation of the earth? It seems, to my non-farming mind, less like farming and more like a Nazi version of the barnyard. Do we really need a "super-race" of cattle? Before you know it, they'll be eating us instead of the other way around! Keep in mind, they have four stomachs and love to graze! Run for the hills before they seek a millenia's worth of revenge!


"The government declared today that food from cloned animals is safe to eat. The Food and Drug Administration concluded that cloned livestock is "virtually indistinguishable" from conventional livestock. Officials said they don't think special labels are needed to let consumers know if they are eating cloned meat." Washington (AP)

I love how they use the phrase"virtually indistinguishable." If it's not indistinguishable, what is it that's different? I personally think it's a government conspiracy to insert protein markers into the American population that can later be used to cause spontaneous combustion within those who will protest the future coups by the USDA.

That's probably what happened to that Russian politician/agent. It wasn't radiation poisoning...it was cloned steak tartar.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Heavy Departure

I occasionally comment at BlogHer on various posts. Although I know that most of the bloggers there are of the liberal variety, I usually choose to ignore their political speech and participate in an objective manner. I usually wind up being the only opposing viewpoint.

Today, I read a post titled Is Christmas About Reproductive Rights? I responded there briefly, but didn't have time to fully put together all the thoughts that I had about the subject. I was very frustrated by the answers of most of the commenters who only seemed able to pat each other on the back and not seriously consider what was being said. It was disturbing to me, not because of what the blogger had written, but because no one had an issue with the way she portrayed the opposition. It is one thing when someone says something extremely offensive, and quite another when everyone else high-fives them for it.

Anyway, it got me thinking.

Abortion does not add value to the life of children; it steals any intrinsic value life has and makes it arbitrary. Abortion advocates state that pro-life people don't care about the children they are trying to save. They say that those children are denied education, social services, and the esteem afforded to children of traditional families. It simply isn't true.

Abortion devalues children. In a society where a baby is a problem to be eliminated, an obstacle to overcome, and a nuisance that happened too early in the life of a woman, abortion becomes the "easy fix." It is not pro-life people that are the cause of neglect, child abuse, and the general lack of love for children. Children are abused and neglected by people who are absorbed with themselves and their problems. The inability to empathize, the sense that children are "lesser" beings and somehow not worthy of consideration, in comparison to the "needs" of the parent, and the lack of value placed on life, in general, are the sources of these problems.

People always want to debate about when life really begins. Is it at fertilization? implantation? after the first trimester? I find this interesting in an age that has developed such a precise record of life's beginnings. Every obstetrician's office is full of color photos of pregnancy at every stage. Everyone knows that the whole process begins when the sperm and egg unite; yet, we close our eyes to this very plain fact and complicate the process with ponderings, what-ifs and philosophical meanderings.

It is this very adamant denial that conception possesses any meaning, in and of itself, that lies at the heart of most abortion advocates. They will state over and over, "it's just a mass of cells, not a person." It's a humorous statement when viewed through the scientific fact that that is all any human is: billions of cooperating, fascinating cells. All our thoughts, memories, sensations, and urges rise from this mass of cells that we reside in. What is the threshold at which a being has enough cells to be considered human? Where is the tipping point at which we can say, "Today, you have value. Yesterday, there wasn't quite enough of you to be of worth."

It is very simple to ignore the bald facts that are readily available to anyone who chooses to search them out. If we begin to see things as they really are, then what regret and horror would await our society?

Christmas Cliff's notes

Christmas has come and gone along with another year for me. It just happens to be my birthday too! So, here I am at the ancient age of thirty-three, still feeling like I am about twenty...if I only I still looked like when I was twenty!

The boys have spent endless hours playing with their race track and small hockey/foosball type game. That's the benefit of new and interesting toys; less fighting and more periods of peace. They have eaten too much sugar, watched too much TV, and stayed up too late. That's exactly how I remember my childhood Chritmas breaks.

Family came and went over the last few days with a few more to come by this week. It's been a good time with everyone. There has been no family drama or last minute issues. Yea!

I look forward to the new year coming up in a matter of days. This is going to be the year of George!..uh, I mean the year of Terri!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I have been way too busy to post anything of consequence. The boys have had extrememly high fevers and are just getting better. Luckily, they will be in full force by Christmas morning.

This has been a great season with the kids this year. They are at an age where everything is wonderous and magical, while I have trouble seeing past all the work left to do. I will try to practice some "child-like" attitudes and let go of all the worries I have.

More after Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Car and Obesity

I just read an interesting article at Scientific American about the link between suburban sprawl and being overweight.

I posted about social isolation and the car earlier this month, and was surprised to stumble across yet another point of contention with the car. Ultimately, it ties into my general premise that the car is a commodity on which our society has become too dependent. We can't live without them; yet, they shape our lives in indescribable and subtle ways.

I need to become a better bicyclist!

Christmas Cookies



Yesterday was one of those perfect days that emerges out of an ordinary moment and blossoms into a full, Norman Rockwell tableau.
The boys helped their father and me make Christmas sugar cookies. We spent at least an hour or two covered in flour and multiple colors of sweet, sticky icing. After bathtime, we lit our third advent candle, read the scritpure reading, and sang Christmas carols together in the dim light of our candles and Christmas tree. Everyone was happy. There was no complaining. It was a peaceful, satisfying night.
Those are moments that sustain me in this whole "mothering" thing.

Parent-Encouraged Disillusionment


My mother-in-law sent the boys some Christmas coloring books that also had word puzzles, activities, and a few blank forms to write a letter to Santa.
This is my son's:
"Dear Santa,
I hope you will have fun giving presents to everyone. I wish you wher real but there's no such thing as you.
Your friend"
Existential thought in its purest form.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Yes, But Where Are My Keys?



Recently found on sciencenow.sciencemag.org/archive

"When presented with pictures of people, animals, landscapes, and objects, pigeons were able to recall as many as 1200 of the pictures up to 5 years later, and baboons recalled more than 5000 of the pictures up to 3 years later. The findings boost the link between memory and cognition, say the researchers, and indicate that strong visual memory skills existed in the reptilian ancestor of birds and mammals."
Maybe, I can ask this guy how to remember where my keys are!
Image by: Stolz, Gary M.- USFWS

Surfing The Blogosphere

Surfing through blogs has become an addicting preoccupation with me lately.

I enjoy sifting through various sites in the same way that I would lose myself going through dusty, cardboard boxes in the attic when I was younger. Usually, the contents were junk or misplaced Christmas lights, but, every once in a while; interesting tools; faded, well-worn clothes; letters, yellowed from age; and other artifacts would be laid bare. I would read each faded letter and try on the musty clothing, imagining each object's adventurous life.

The Blogosphere is chock full of "bloggy" goodness.

Half of the blogs I surf through are immediately disqualified because they are in foreign languages. While I can read Spanish and French, I am not fluent enough with slang or the cultural references needed to get their humor. So, unless it's a great visual blog, I move on.

A third of what's left are usually "teen/college" blogs which consist mostly of things like "wow...I was SOOOOO wasted last week!"...or....."He's SO HOT!...I wonder if he knows I'm alive?." I already lived through my own teenage angst and college wanderings; so, I don't linger on those shores very long .

Then you have your standard political blogs which, usually, are as follows...
"George Bush is a big DooDoo Head."

"No, he's not! The Democratic Party is a bunch of DooDoo Heads!"

"No, they aren't! You are just an extremist idiot!"

"No, you're an extremist idiot!"

"well....I'm rubber, you're glue!"

"well...You and Clinton, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G"

You get the point. There's not much sense in reading that sort of drivel for very long.

After that about 10% of the remaining blogs consist of ranting and raving against the world/co-workers/neighbors/life...etc. The writers are usually Angry-Man-Who-Hates-The-Hypocrisy-of-Society or, his mate, Angry-Woman-Who-Thinks-All-Men-Are-Idiots. OK, maybe I surf through that last one occasionally; but, really, I know that not ALL men are idiots! :-)

Every once in a while I come across a blog that is appealing, because it is a genuine look into the life of the blogger. There might be cute photos, family stories, occasional opinion pieces, and a bit of humor sprinkled here and there. Those are the blogs that I most enjoy. Peeking into someone's world, laughing with them or realizing that someone thinks the same way about an issue gives a sense of gratification that doesn't have to come at someone else's expense. I hope that my blog is usually like that, but, who knows? Maybe someone halfway across the world reads my words and laughs along...maybe they don't. Either way, it passes the time.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

10 Occupations I Wish I Had Pursued

1. Rock star, of course!...I would have gladly stood in line with thousands of people for American Idol. I was too old for the first season, and by the time they raised the age limit I had passed it. :-(

2. Scientist/Biologist...I totally love science! I find the complexity of the human body fascinating!

3. Olympic Athlete....gold is so my color! Plus, it would be nice to be on a box of Wheaties.(Do they even sell those anymore?)

4. Politician....come on, now! Who wouldn't want to try their hand at fixing a few governmental problems?

5. Astronaut...I was very transfixed by space as a young girl. I still am. Physics, cosmology, string theory...love it, love it, love it!

6. Sculptor...I have no talent in this area, but wish that I did!

7. Therapist...I am usually pretty good at listening and problem-solving. Of course, that could be a problem. I would probably lose patience with people that refused to act on things and move forward. Impatience might eliminate my good qualities in this area.

8. Writer...writing well is so much more difficult than it seems. Fantasies of books bearing my name are very gratifying. With my luck, they would be in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart with all the trashy romance novels and cheesy self-help books.

9. Animal Trainer...I like animals. :-)

10. Investigative Reporter...not the I'm-investigating-the commissioner's-affair kind of investigative reporter, but, the I've-just-uncovered-a-massive-government-cover-up kind of investigative reporter.

hmmmm....the alternate universes that could have existed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Global Warming and Other Disasters

My husband and I got into a minor tiff the other day and it's all Al Gore's fault!

We were at the table discussing geography with our boys. A question about why the days were shorter in winter led to an explanation of the globe, seasons, rotation of the earth, longitude and latitude-you know-things that every 4 and 6 year old are dying to learn about.

While discussing the Arctic and Antarctic, the boys were remembering which place the penguins lived(Antarctic) and where the polar bears lived(Arcitc). I made an offhand comment about seeing Al Gore on Oprah(yes, I watch that sometimes) with a presentation about polar bears losing the ice that they live on and being stranded in the ocean. This prompted my husband to give me some info that he had found in opposition to the whole global warming, ice caps melting, we're-going-to-be-living-with-Kevin-Costner-in-WaterWorld-soon, way of thinking. I didn't read it at the time because I wasn't really ready for a deep, socio-political conversation over dinner. This irritated my husband which, in turn, irritated me, and so we lost about 20 minutes of our evening to sulking. But, we made up and decided to discuss saving the world and diverting future disasters for another night.

There are those who are convinced that global warming is going to occur very rapidly and have dire consequences. Here's a link to a recent article from National Geographic's website. There are others who simply think that our current warming trend is part of a normal cycle that the Earth goes through every so often.

Which is true? I am no scientist but I tend to believe that global warming is a fact. There are over 6 billion people living on this planet, millions of factories producing all sorts of chemicals and pollution, and lots of burping cows. How could we believe that all of this would not impact our earth? I inhabit a house with two kids and a dog. Trust me, there is huge evidence that they have an environmental impact on our carpet.

However, the real reason I believe in global warming has less to do with science, although, I dearly love science, and more to do with Revelation. Revelation is full of events that I can only partially understand. There are dramatic occurrences on every page. Disaster drips from each paragraph as it explains the end of this current earth and the beginning of a new heaven and new earth in which evil has been vanquished and all is set right.

Within this, at times, very confusing book are incidents such as a third of the trees and grass being burned up, a third of the living creatures in the sea dying, the Euphrates river drying up, powerful earthquakes and plagues. There is a whole lot more, obviously, but I am not trying to give an exhaustive review of Revelation. My only point is that this current earth's days are numbered. At some point disaster is coming. Global warming and other ecological disasters may be just the precursors, or the labor pains, of the Day that is going to come. It may be 10 years from now; it may be 100 years from now; it may be 1000 years from now; but, it's coming. Jesus will be coming back.

So, as a christian, why do I need to think that global warming isn't real? If I believe that the Bible is true, then I have to believe that the earth is not improving, but is declining and will continue to do so. Yet, we are not to be ruled by the fear of disaster. Our hope is to be in Christ and in His future coming.

2 Peter 3:13 "But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."

So, don't let Al Gore get you into fights with your spouse, and take comfort that eventually God is going to right all the wrongs of this earth.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Matthew 7:9-11 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!"

This verse has sustained me so many times in the last few years. The sacrifices that we have made as a family, in order for me to be home with our children, have sometimes been uncomfortable. There have been times when we weren't sure how we were going to make it. There have been times when we doubted the path we were on. I would cling to this verse and remind myself that God has good intentions for us and is willing to provide for all that His children need.

As a parent, I know what my children need and strive to bless them as best as I can. My intentions are always for their good, even if they don't understand that. I do not take joy in their sufferings. I do not treat them with contempt or spite. I make sure they have food to eat, a roof over their heads, and love enough to grow.

If I can manage to do this, I have to believe that God can do it so much better than me. He has blessed us in a huge way this week. He has heard our constant prayers and answered us. He has provided in an unexpected and surprising way. I am grateful beyond words.

Thanks Dad!

Back To The Dog Park

After several weeks of avoiding the dog park, I finally decided to give it another go. I just hoped that I wouldn't encounter Tall Blonde Woman again. It was a beautiful day and Tink had great fun running her feet ragged while playing fetch. Several other dogs eventually joined us and she ran around happily. No one tried to pin her or attack her so that's always a good thing!

One of the dogs we met there was in the process of training to be a therapy dog. His owner works with autistic children and brings him with her some days when she's teaching. That would be a fun thing to do. Unfortunately, I don't think Tink would be a candidate. She's too aloof. She loves us dearly and wants to be wherever we are, but she is not an overly affectionate dog. She likes a few pets and that's it...definitely not the lap dog type. But we love her quirks and all.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Advent Wreath..Part Two

I posted a couple of weeks ago about starting the tradition of the advent wreath in our house this Christmas. Last night was our second Sunday lighting the candles and doing the readings. The kids have really enjoyed it.

We started the night off by touring our neighborhood to look at all the Christmas lights. All I have to say is that some people are going to have some high electric bills this year! It was a lot of fun; but, eventually, sibling rivalry reared its ugly head and seeing the lights turned into a coompetition as to whose side of the car had more lights to view. We quashed that pretty quickly!

After bathtime, we dimmed the lights, put on some Christmas music, poured some hot chocolate, and lit the candles. We read from Luke 1 26-38 whcich describes Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she was going to have a child. It's a great passage, but I realized that without an understanding of what sex is and how exactly babies are made, it doesn't seem too spectacular to a 4 and 6 year old. Oh yeah...Mary's gonna have a baby...what's the big deal? But, seeing as how I didn't want to use the advent wreath as our sex education tool, I had to explain the miracle of God making a child in Mary's womb in an age-appropriate way. Maybe next year it will mean more to them! :-)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Social Isolation and The Car

Our car has a terminal illness. Some days it looks fine and seems like its old self, and others you can sense its slow march toward the great junkyard in the sky. Entropy is once again at work in the physical universe.

What makes the impending death of our car so worriesome, is that we can't really afford to buy a new one. In the past six months we have had to put a new roof on our house and install a brand-spanking-new Central Air unit in our house. The joys of home ownership! But, when you have a house that is 20 years old and hasn't yet had anything replaced, that's just the way it is. Hopefully, there won't be any more major home repairs.

But, back to the car situation. For about a year and a half we, as a family of four, survived with one car. I stay home, so it was possible to do. My husband drove the car to work and we either walked or rode bikes to get my son to and from school. That worked great except for the rainy season in Florida in which violent downpours occur pretty much every day sometime between the hours of 2pm and 5pm....just as our son would be getting out of school. Did I mention that violent downpours also produce copious amounts of lightning? Each year, during the rainy season, the news is always full of people being struck by lightning....so much for the sunshine state!

So, as a result, I would have to drive my husband to work in the morning, in order to have the car to pick up my son in the rain, in order not to be killed by electrocution. Then I would have to make sure that dinner was prepared, on the table, eaten, and cleaned up, all by 6pm, in order to shuffle the kids into the car, drive to my husband's work to pick him up and then back home again. It's really not that big of a deal, but when you are tied to such a strict schedule everyday, it's a little exhausting.

Our in-laws took pity on us and "donated" to the cause by giving my husband a 91 Mazda Miata(which is a two-seater) that they owned, but hardly ever used. It's 15 years old and only has 27,000 miles on it. It was like the sound of trumpets from heaven for me. No longer did I have to constantly schlep everyone around in an attempt just to get through the basics of life! My husband could drive himself to and from work, and I would have a car every day to do the essentials....grocery shopping, picking up the kids, taking them to AWANA, etc. It saved me an hour and a half of drive time each day. Yea in-laws!!!!! It really was an answer to our prayers.

Ok, Terri, that was a nice story, but what's your point?

Well, with the impending last rites of our car approaching, I pondered what we would do if we couldn't replace it. My husband would still be able to get to work; I would still be able to run my business from home; I could "conceivably " walk to a grocery store, though crossing 6 lanes of traffic would be daunting; but it would hamper us in crucial ways. We could get by during the week, but how would we get to our church? It's 20 minutes from where we live. How would I get my youngest son to his VPK program? It's about 1 and 1/2 to 2 miles from our home, but to walk it would be impossible. There are two extremely busy streets that we would have to walk on because there are no sidewlks....not really an option with a four-year-old.


Realization swept over me about how dependent we are on our cars. If we truly couldn't afford another one, we would only be able to attend church two at a time in my husband's tiny sports car; my youngest would lose all the friends he's made because he would no longer be able to attend VPK; and, we wouldn't be able to travel anywhere as a four person family.

We, as a society, have created an environment where owning a car is a necessity. There is no church within walking distance of us. We have no friends that live just next door. I couldn't buy a week's worth of groceries, even if I did walk to the store, and carry them all home. Even our relatively close family would be vastly beyond reach without cars. The closest relative is about 35 minutes/35 miles away.

Cars give us accessiblity to things we otherwise would not be able to reach. If we hear there is a great school for our children, but that it's farther away, we can just hop in a car and take our children there every day. If the church down the street isn't quite what we'd hoped for, we can drive to one that's farther away that is closer to our preference. If we get a great job 45 minutes from where we work; no problem, we can commute. The car provides limitless possibilities.

The flip side is this: we never learn to deal with what we have right before us. We don't get to know our neighbors, because we already have friends who live in different parts of town. We never learn how to worship in a church that is not of our "stylistic" choosing, because we drive to the church that fits us, rather than attending the church in our community. We don't work and build businesses where we live, because we can drive to sonething better.

Perhaps, the car is the single most important factor in the current sense of disposability that permeates our culture. Why connect with what's around you when you can drive to something "better?"

Anyway, we need a new car!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Losing Brain Cells....

Ok...I hate to admit this.....but lately my punctuation skills stink! I have read through several of my posts and some things that I have written in other forums, and I constantly come across dumb typos and missing, or misplaced punctuation. "What's the big deal?" you say. Well, supposedly I have a degree in English. I should be a pro at this stuff. I spent a lot of time and money to earn that piece of paper that declares me a college graduate, and here I am, wondering why I can't seem to place commas and semi-colons in their respective places. It's a sad, sad thing.

I think the loss of most of my brain cells began when I had kids. All the time and energy that I have poured into raising kids, that hopefully won't become serial killers, has starved the "non-essential" parts of my brain. I would gladly sacrifice that for them, but I am beginning to wonder what other centers of my brain have slowly been dying off while I am distracted by life? Will I wake up one day and not be able to remember how to do Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus, rendering me useless in the homework department? When my son's graduate, will all of the intelligence I formerly posessed have been transferred from my brain directly into theirs, leaving me with an empty void in my skull?

Oh, that's too scary to ponder. It's almost as chilling as when the doctor told me that everyone gains at least one pound every year after they turn thirty. I'll have an extra fifty pounds on me by the time I am eighty-three! Add that to my deteriorating brain cells and that spells "trouble" right here in River City, that starts with "t" that rhymes with "p" and that stands for "pool."

So, anyway...if you see typos.....give me a break....I am slowly breaking down from entropy!

I don't think that this picture really does our tree justice. It has turned out rather homey and charming this year, purely by accident.

Before kids(or in the years BK as I like to call them) we used white lights on our tree every year. Once we had children, we begrudgingly switched to the multi-colored lights in an effort to do what we thought would make it memorable for them. They definitely preferred all the splashes of color and upon being asked which we should do, would invariably choose the colorful lights. But, this year, as I untangled knots of green cords and light bulbs, I discovered that our colored lights were a mess. Three out of four strands only lit up halfway, and I could not see any missing bulbs at the root of this mysterious problem. I explained the problem and the boys relunctantly agreed that white lights would be "ok."

The gaudy, light-up star at the top of our tree is not nearly as pretty as the star we had before, but we had wanted one with lights to complete the tree.

It's not a "Martha Stewart" tree with coordinating ornaments and bows; it probably won't win any great, artistic prizes; but, it was done with love.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Confidence

I broke out into hysterical laughter when I looked through the papers my son brought home from school today and found this. It is part of a first grade math test. He scored a 100%, of course, but had to explain how he knew, or arrived at, an answer. His written reply,"it's just because i'm smart."
His teacher wrote in response,"yes,you are."

That's my son...fully confident in his own intelligence! Heaven, help us!

Bad Mom Of The Day

My youngest son is almost 5 and participates in Florida's Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program, aka VPK. For three hours each morning he gets to play with other children and practice being in a large group setting; all for free. He loves it and I am happy that he has had the opportunity to get out of the house. When his brother started Kindergarten last year it was just the two of us. We had great times, but I felt that he was missing out. He had no children in our neighborhood with which to play. He needed to make some friends.


Today, as I dropped him off, I realized that I had forgotten to bring a clear, plastic, 20 oz. bottle and a tube sock, per parent newsletter instructions. I asked his teacher if they had any extras, or should I run to Wal-Mart really fast and pick these things up quickly. She replied,"No don't worry about it. He'll be fine!" So, I didn't worry about it and chalked it up to a minor slip-up on my part. I wasn't feeling overwhelmed with guilt.

Upon my return to pick him up, his other teacher informed me that she had let him use her plastic bottle to make their art project, but that it had to stay in the classroom. He got to make it for her, but couldn't bring it home. All the while, she wore an annoyed and condescending look upon her face. While we drove home my son began to tear up and say that he wanted to have one to take home like everyone else. Oh....the guilt I felt....and the irritation that I was told not to worry about it. I reassured him that we could get all the components they used for their project and make it at home. He cheered up quickly and began making plans for making multiples and including his brother in the process. I was pleased that I had been able to brush away his sadness, but I am still irrtitated that things happened the way they did. I know that I have been labeled "bad-mom-of-the-day" by his teacher.


I guess I'll have to let go of my frustration, but this isn't the first time that this teacher has rubbed me the wrong way. I consider myself a great mom and yet, even though I know that I am, it still bugs me to be viewed as "less than" over a dumb plastic bottle and a white tube sock.

Oh well, I guess it could be worse. I could forget to feed, clothe, bathe, teach and nurture him. But as long as I brought a tube sock with him, maybe I would get an approving look.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Talking(back) Heads....

I feel like I am in desperate need of Mrs. Piggles Wiggles. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Mrs. Piggles-Wiggles character, she dwelt in a set of books written about a spinster lady that children loved to visit. She would dispense magical cures for children's bad habits in an effort to teach them manners and help their parents. Cures for whispering in class, bad table manners, tardiness, bullying,...an unending parade of bad behaviors were matchlesss against the magic of Mrs. Piggles Wiggles.

I clearly remember sitting on the cool granite of my third grade teacher's class as she would read aloud all of the Mrs. Piggles Wiggles books. Groups of us would be sprawled out, lost in wonder, imagining the grandmotherly woman magically intervening in the lives of children just like us. Maybe Mrs. Piggles Wiggles would have a cure for the obnoxious boy who sat behind me, kicking my seat whenever he thought my teacher was too preoccupied assigning eraser cleaning duty. I was fascinated by her.

Oh, what I would give for a Mrs. Piggles Wiggles cure today! Surely, she would have had a remedy for compulsive back-talking. I would slip some mysterious elixir she brewed up into my son's soup. Magically he would lose his voice whenever he began to argue or immediately contadict what I was saying. Oh, what a silent home I would have!

I am seriously at my wit's end with the whole "talking-back-just-to-assert-my-own-will" phase in my son's life. Although, I am beginning to suspect that it is not really a phase; but, a permanent state of being. Every assertion I make is always doubted until I am proved right by his own experience. Every idea is not really worth considering if he didn't think of it first. This would be understandable if he were fourteen. He's six.

I have tried ignoring it following the guidelines for"extinction" of unwanted behaviors. I have tried to gently explain to him that it is rude and unacceptable behavior. I have tried punishing the offending behavior by having him give up 5 cents of his weekly alllowance upon each outburst of uncensored arguing. I have tried having him write 20 time on a sheet of paper "I will not talk back to mama." ala "old school" discipline. Some of these methods have made slight improvements, but the results are temporary and minimal.

I fear that it will always be in his personality to argue and want to be "right." He has a strong sense of justice and always wants everything to done the "right" way, but it manifests itself in very negative ways at times. I really wish I knew how to help him suppress some of his urges and channel it into more acceptable ways of verbalizing and behaving. In the meantime, I am desparately trying to remember that he is only six and that I shouldn't be pulled in to useless arguments by a first-grader.

Following Up

I spoke to my brother and his wife this past week. They seem relatively upbeat, considering the grave news that has been delivered to their doorstep. Their greatest challenge is when and if to tell their children about Susan's condition. They do not want to cause them to be fearful of losing their mother. Right now they would be safe to say nothing. Susan's symptoms are noticible only to her because they are so slight. Eventually, when it becomes obvious that something is not quite right with her, they will have to tell them in an age-appropriate way. That will be difficult because Huntington's is a hereditary disease and each child has a 50% chance of having it themselves. How do you keep a child from fearing that he/she may be debilitated in the same way that grandma is? I do not envy the task set before them. I pray that God will be gracious to them and give them the wisdom and strength that they will need.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I spent an hour on the phone with my mom tonight. She relocated to the midwest where we're originally from, along with one of my younger brothers and his family. My older brother already lives there with his wife, three kids and his in-laws.

It was not a good call. My sister-in-law has been tested and diagnosed with Huntington's disease. Her mother has slowly been wasting away from this disease before their very eyes, and now she has the confirmation that she too has it and is developing symptoms. "Susan" is a sweet woman and it is so difficult to hear news like this. She is in her forties and just gave birth to their third child about one year ago, a beautiful baby girl. The diagnosis for Huntington's is not good. There is no treatment or cure and no leads at this time. It ends in death in ten to twenty-five years.

My heart aches for her and for my brother. I can only imagine, as a mother, the devastating blow that this would be to me if I were in her shoes. It is one of my greatest fears; that something would happen to me and I wouldn't be around to take care of my children.

My brother has been somewhat in a state of denial up until this point. Susan suspected heavily that she was experiencing symptoms and had even told several family members. He had been brushing her fears aside, thinking it was only the fatigue of getting older, caring for three kids and dealing with her parents who live with them. He has been unable to confront the possibility of this diagnosis. I know that it is a deep blow to him.

For those of you who know the Lord and have chanced upon this post, please lift them up in your prayers. They are believers. My brother was somewhat instrumental in my acceptance of Christ. He and his wife are going to need His assurances and presence more than at any other point in their lives thus far.


For more information about Huntington's Disease visit www.hdsa.org.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Preparations..Part Two


In an attempt to stay within a modest Christmas budget I have been experimenting with some handmade gift ideas from Ruby Glen. This ornament is an attempt to create teacher's gifts for my sons's teachers and I may also use them as an easy idea to have on hand for other impromptu gifts such as Sunday School teachers, and business contacts I have made.

These red ornaments came from Target where I get just about everything. I went to Jo-Ann's and found several paint pens in various colors to use in decorating ornaments. The boys used clear ornaments with red and gold paint pens. They are very abstract and look super-cute!

Christmas Preparations


While my husband was paying for this year's Christmas tree, the man working the tree section let me sift through all their extra cuttings and pick out some branches for free. I had great ambitions for making an advent wreath for our family to use this Christmas.

I got instructions from Ruby Glen when I was looking for creative, handmade gift ideas. The base is a wire hanger that has been stretched into a circle. Next, I bunched up branches of evergreen and wired them to the coat hanger. It took about two hours to complete.

I was really pleased with how it looks, considering it was a first attempt. The only downside is that from the back it looks horrendous, and I don't think that it would hold up in a vertical position. But, just like when you shove all your junk in the closet and close the door, it looks pretty on the outside!

The traditional color for the tapers of an advent wreath are supposed to be purple, but, I am not from a liturgical church i.e Catholic/Lutheran/Episcopal, so I made my own modifications....simply because I am not crazy about purple. The purple tapers are supposed to symbolize penitence and fasting before the birth of Christ, which is represented by the white center candle. That isn't exactly the angle from which I am approaching the tradition, so I didn't mind leaving it by the wayside.

I had wanted gold tapers to symbolize the birth of a King and one of the gifts of the Magi, but apparently there had been a stampede on gold tapers just before we arrived at Target, because they were completely wiped out. So, I had to settle for bronze. The bronze may work out well because it looks very earthy and could easily symbolize God leaving the glory of Heaven to inhabit the earthly realm.

For those who are not familiar with an Advent wreath, each Sunday before Christmas Eve, an appropriate Scripture, leading up to the Christmas story, is read and you light the corresponding candle. You begin lighting them four Sundays before Christmas, starting with lighting one candle on the first Sunday, two on the second Sunday, three on the third Sunday and four on the fourth Sunday. The center candle is lit on Christmas Eve night. So, on Christmas Eve, all five candles will be lit. It is a great way to build anticipation for Christmas and remind our family about the true meaning of Christmas.

This will be the first year that we have done this with our boys and I am excited about instituting the tradition!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Catching up...

Thanksgiving has come and gone and there is no turkey left in the fridge, which is a good thing. Actually, we spent Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law's newly built house. House might be a little bit of a stretch; mansion might be a more appropriate word. It was absolutely beautiful and everything still gleamed with shining newness. There were no glass panes smudged with grimy handprints, no faint traces of crayon or marker on the walls, and no furniture sprinkled with telltale nicks and gashes. It was the home of an upwardly mobile, socially entertaining, trendy couple with no children.

Of course, my sister-in-law is pregnant and I will be curious to see the state of this same house in about two years! I predict a few casualties will be lost to the toddler years that are sure to come.

There are no more efficient testers of the endurance and strength of household products than the average toddler. We lost a DVD player in about 1 week to a set of two toddlers after one Christmas. They were entranced by the power of the open/close button on the player and decided it must be some sort of teleportation device that would work better if stuffed with Duplo blocks. We managed to get it working again, but not without hearing grinding/moaning noises every time we use it. We also discovered that the desk portion of our expensive computer cabinet could not support the full weight of a two-year-old who had decided that laying on it might be a good way to actually learn how to use this strange device with which Mom and Dad were always tinkering.

Consumer Reports would be well-advised to hire about 30 two-year-olds to test every product. They would be sure to find problems and defaults that no sane adult could ever imagine. For instance, what happens to a toaster if you pour glue into it? Are the pieces of a product small enough to fit in your nose, and if they are, can you remove them at home or would it be better to make an ER visit at 4 am? Is the slide on the swing set high enough to cause instantaneous flight when you jump from the top of it? Does the dog's toy hold up to an 18-month-old's teething needs? Just a thought that Consumer Reports should consider.

Anyway, we had a great time at Thanksgiving and my boys especially enjoyed watching cartoons on satellite channels that we don't have and on a flat-screen HDTV that we will never own. The food was good and so was the company. Plus, I didn't have to cook anything. What could be better than that?

Monday, November 20, 2006

I have had a crazy, busy weekend. My business has been really doing well and I owe it all to God. He has really been faithful in meeting our needs in an exceptional way this month. With the way my business goes, it can be an emotional roller-coaster ride. Feast or famine are usually the two modes in which everything operates. For a very routine person like me, that can be very unsettling and frustrating. I frequently have to talk myself down from worry or speculation about worst-case scenarios.

I don't remember ever feeling this way when I was on my own and working my way through college. I never recall feeling anxious about whether I would have enough money to pay the bills, plan for my future, or get by in life. Life was definitely work at certain points, but my thoughts usually swirled around the concerns of the single:..will I ever meet "The One?"...what should I do with my life?......what career path should I take? With those things mostly settled in my life, I rarely think about them now.

Being a mother has raised up all sorts of scary thought patterns that you didn't know existed within you. When you hear a tragic news story you instantly can picture your child lying in a hostpital bed, kidnapped by a predator, or trapped in a burning car. It is just a split-second of a thought, but it can reduce a normally sane, practical person into a mound of tears. Empathy for strange mothers and their children can leap up move you in unexpected ways.

Having thoughts like this pop up are not necessarily bad, but I must remind myself of God's promises in order not to overly fret about the multitude of ways that disaster can strike. He always is faithful to His children, even in the midst of uncertainty.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dog Park Dilemma

A couple of weeks ago I took our dog, Tink, to the local dog park. She loves to go and it makes me feel like a good pet owner to take her! We used to go at least once a week, but lately we've only been about once or twice a month. She perks up and does flips anytime she hears me utter the mere phrase "dog park."

Going to the dog park is always a great adventure because you don't know who you are going to meet there, or what might happen when 40 dogs are bounding about at breakneck speeds. It's a microcosm of humanity and their four-legged friends. I have been peed on by a dog, jumped on by a great dane, and had mischievious mutts run off with my tennis balls as I played fetch with my dog. Minor irritaions that can be overlooked; although, I didn't really appreciate being marked as territory with urine. Luckily, I was able to wash my jeans off with a hose, but was contemplating retaliation before I found the strength to resist the urge.

BTW the owner of the offending pooch upon seeing his dog in the process merely said in a quiet, dead-pan voice, "No Bobby." What? Can't you at least yell at your dog and make an effort to stop him? Would it be so difficult to express to me that you're sorry your dog used me like a tree?


And that's what brings me to the point of this post....yes, there really is one. The last time I went with Tink to the park, we encountered a large, pure white dog. It was either a husky or malamute, or possibly even one of those wolf hybrids that some people want to own as proof that they themselves are rugged, wild-at-heart individuals. Initially, the dog would just get near my dog and chase her for a few seconds. Tink hates to be chased or bullied by other dogs and usually turns around, faces off with them, and barks to let them know that she wants them to cut it out. She's about 35 pounds and a medium sized dog. However, this dog would wander off and then come back to try and assert him/herself over Tink. Eventually, it was clear that this dog was not playing. It came back around while I was playing fetch with her, pinned Tink to the ground and wouldn't let her go. When things were broken up, Tink was bleeding and hurt. The dog had bitten her ear and broken the skin on her neck. It wasn't a serious injury; but, it also wasn't dog "play."

Once I saw that her ear was bleeding, I grabbed her collar and started to lead her to the nearby hose. The owner of the white dog was just standing there and her dog was nearby. I asked her if she could hold onto her dog for a minute while I cleaned the blood off Tink. She looked at me blankly and made no move to get her dog or apologize for her dog's behavior. I got the hose and as I tended to the wound the only thing she said to me was, " I don't know why you brought your dog in here!" At first I was just shocked that she would say such a stupid thing. After about two seconds of staring at her, I said, " OK...your dog just attacked mine with no provoaction and actually injured her....and you want to tell me that my dog shouldn't be here? Are you kidding me? I can't believe that you would say that to me!" She didn't reply to me and simply walked off with her dog and eventually left.

The problem with the dog park is that there are only two options...the small dog section and the large dog section. My dog doesn't quite fit either category. The small dog section is usually inhabited by chihuauas, jack russells, yorkies, poodles and other truly small dogs. The large section has just about everything else. There are many other dogs the same size as mine in the large dog section, so it's not like my dog is running only with great danes and rottweillers.

What made me so ticked off was that this woman seemed completely disconnected with what happened. At no point did she say "Gee, I'm sorry that my dog bit your dog," or maybe even ask, "Is your dog OK?" Instead, she seemed not to care. What's worse is that she appeared not to realize that her dog had done something that could prove dangerous to other people or animals. What would she have said if her dog got loose and attacked her neighbor's dog? "I don't know why you had a dog! Don't you know that my dog likes to dismember other dogs! How stupid can you be?"

The whole thing has left a bad tase in my mouth that I can't quite seem to get rid of. My poor dog would love to go back, but I am not sure that I could contain myself if I encountered this woman again.

Still looking for the good in this bed of weeds......

P.S. Tink's fine and her ear has healed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Family Portrait?


My youngest drew this beautiful creation and it's hanging on the fridge for all to see. I am the person with the green hair and the only one with fingers and toes....I wonder what that means? He is the one with large eyes like mine, and the other stick figure is his brother. For some reason his brother only has dots for eyes. What would the child psychologist say? The blue blob at the bottom of the page is our dog, Tink. I asked him where his father was in the picture and he said,"He's at work!" Ah...those poor fathers always getting left out. Don't start playing the "Cat's in the cradle and the silver moon" music just yet. Their Dad actually is a good father and spends lots of time with them.

Guilt...


This note was posted on the refrigerator by my oldest. It reads...I know you want us to obey you but it's hard for us. This came after the previous day was spent in various modes of conflict. I smiled when I read it because he can be so frustrating and cute at the same time. He is surely meant to be a lawyer. Every conflict between us results in a very lengthy, detailed explanation of why his behavior was not only justified, but actually the most correct way of dealing with things. He's six going on thirty.

A few minutes after finding the first note, I found his next one. It reads.......I hate doing bad things. Boy, can I relate to that. I can think of quite a few times in my life when I could have written that little note. At least I don't have to guess about what he's thinking!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The last 48 hours have been spent in a crazy frenzy of life decisions and second-guessing. I have been contemplating returning to the traditional workforce. This would mean day care for my youngest child and after school care for my oldest. The sticker shock alone has kept me in a tizzy! It really is ridiculous the rates that are charged. After much hand-wringing and back forth conversations in my swirling head, I decided that I am unwilling to go back to work outside of the home. I just can't justify working 40 hours a week only to bring home a few hundred dollars at the end of the month after paying for child care, extra gas expenses, and proper working attire.

So....once again I make the commitment to make it at least 10 more months until both kids are in school. Sounds like an easy decision right? It's anything but. It requires me to entrust my fate and failing car to God to come through in a great way.

I shouldn't fret. He always is faithful and works things out. Still, why does each new trial bring back the temporary panic of " what am I going to DO?" After 15 years of following Him you'd think I would be a pro at it. And yet here I am again.....hoping against hope that things will work out. When haven't they?

Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake.....it wouldn't be the first time! :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

authored by J1


this is me building with legos. my dogs name is tinkerbell. she is a good dog.
this is me puting a rail road piece into place.

civil engineering



My oldest son engrossed in his civil engineering project. Bob the Builder-watch out! Here's your new competition!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

October


Well, it's October, and Halloween will soon be upon us. Thus begins the search for an affordable costume that will last one whole evening as my boys careen around the neighborhood in a sugar-induced frenzy. Last year they both decided that they wanted to be Batman. I tried to convince them that they would look so cute if one was Batman and the other was Robin, but its hard to convince even a 3 or 5 year old that green-tights-wearing-Robin is as cool as Batman. So, they both had to be Batman. It worked out well except for the fact that the costumes were pitch black from head to toe, and I kept looking around for them as we paraded about. They blended too easily into the dark night.



(Batman after the 100th Snickers bar!) This picture always cracks me up! Looks like Batman might be headed for the Gotham Asylum!

We are on a tight budget this year. We might just have to have two Batmans again. Or, I could cover them from head to toe with Aluminum foil and they could go as baked potatoes! I am horrible at actually sewing. Glue, tape, and household appliances might be my only recourse if I have to create costumes for them. Poor children--so unlucky to have a bad seamstress for their mother.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

hmmmmm........

Friday, September 29, 2006

My son, J1, has been having a difficult time with negativity. Everything irritates him. This is not new. He has always had a very type A personality. He is very rigid about his routines, becomes easily frustrated when things go awry, and generally always believes he is right. Lately, it seems as if the only way he knows how to interact with all of us is through conflict or arguing. Even fun times degrade into a battle. If it weren't so irritating to deal with it would almost be comical.

While praying about it last night, I kind of felt a nudge from the Lord. I realized that I no longer have any private, just fun, time with only him. His younger brother, J2, gets pockets of time each day when it's just us and we can read a book or play a game because he isn't in full-time school yet. But, J1 goes to first grade each day, comes home, does his homework, has a snack, and then time to play with his brother. I am there during all of this, but so is his brother. More often than not, conflict will arise between them, usually initiated by J1, and I will have to correct him or intervene. As a result, I realized that a lot of our interaction is not positive, fun-loving, or peaceful.

I am going to try and find a way to carve out some special time just for us. I really think that he needs some reassurance and love for just him. I am hoping that I can turn this thing around for him.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Satisfaction

I am beginning to uncover the germ of something that has been stirring in my soul intermittently over the past several years....Dissatisfaction. Perhaps it's the process of getting older, or the disappointments of life that worm their way into the cracks of our souls like water seeping into the lowest crevice in the ground, but there is a sense of dissatisfaction with things that sometimes follows me like a shadow, staying just behind me, seen only briefly through my peripheral vision. It overtakes me in brief, unpredictable moments that eventually dissipate, but leave a faint mark upon me.

Why should I be dissatisfied? I have a good husband, two kids that I adore, even a dog that follows my every move. We have a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator, and clothes to wear.

Of course, I realize that satisfaction has little to do with the things you have and much to do with acceptance of what you do have.

For many years I longed for acceptance from my immediate family. We loved each other, but I never really felt appreciated for who I was. I never felt understood by them, or as if they "got" me. This sneaky little hole in my psyche would often leave me longing for a mother I didn't have as opposed to embracing the one that I did. I even was surprised when my older brother, who is a Christian like me, didn't spend much time with me when he was last in town. Surely, I thought, we would be able to connect because we shared the same beliefs that the rest of our family didn't. But, after many years, I have come to discover that it just isn't going to happen.

Like a bolt of lightning I sensed that really everyone feels this way. Everyone is looking for validation and acceptance. Yet, how many of us get it?

Friends and family can light the spark within us temporarily, but then, when the harsh winds of reality blow, and the Norman Rockwell moment passes, we're right back where we were before.

True satisfaction only comes when you find it in God. He always gets me, even when other Christians don't. He always knows what I mean and doesn't misinterpret what I am saying. He sees my heart when others only see my body language. He accepts me as his child. He is the parent I never had; concerned about me, loving towards me, directing my path when I don't know which way to turn. I hope that I can parent my children with the same love that He has shown for me.

At least I know that when I tell a joke, He gets the punchline, even if the rest of the room is awkwardly silent.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Yesterday, my son attended a birthday party for one of his classmates from school. He had received the invitaion two weeks beforehand and was eager to go. The night before, we went to Target, my second home, and he picked out a cowgirl Barbie. He said that girls liked Barbies and that' s what we should get her. While a little sexist, I did appreciate his desire to get her something that he thought she might like. So, I bought my first Barbie doll as a gift for this little girl. It was very cute. It came with a stable and all sorts of horse supplies for the accompanying horse which we didn't purchase, just because I think $20.00 is enough to spend on a child unrelated to me.

At 2:00 we got in the car and headed to this little girl's house. As we pulled up I got a bad feeling about this party. There were only two cars in the driveway, not exactly a place swamped with people. As we rang the doorbell I could hear a little girl's voice screaming,"He's here...He's here..J is here!" Within two minutes of entering the house, I was informed that we were the only people out of A's class of 23 to respond and come to her party. I felt so bad for this little girl. She was so excited to see us, you would have thought we were royalty. She was very sweet and repeatedly thanked her parents for the great party. I was happy that she didn't seem to care that no one else showed up.

So, for those of you who actually read my blog, which I think is about 1.35698 people, what's the deal?

Do you go to parties of your children's classmates even if you don't know them well or at all?
If not...why?

Leave your comments...Please! :-)

Friday, September 08, 2006

I am feeling a little more centered today than the past couple days. Sometimes those mood swings hit out of the blue and catapult me into the depths of some post-modern malaise where everything is gray and drab.

Of course, I just bought myself a new pair of sandals, on sale, so that helped perk me up a bit. I had been wearing these $3.00 flip-flops for the past two weeks because my former leather sandals had gotten left out on the back porch. They got wet and when they dried out , they smelled pretty ripe. I tried to Febreeze the smell out of them, but then they only smelled like flowers with B.O.....not exactly the scent I was going for. So, because I have been so busy, I have been getting by with these sad flip-flops. But, no more! Now I can walk around without being followed by the incessant THWOCK.....THWOCK....sound that rubber flip-flops make. That's a really embarassing sound when you're trying to be inconspicuous!

Last night, as I was putting my son to bed, he began talking to me about his Accelerated Reading scores. Accelerated Reading is a program where children read books and take a test to recieve a certain point value. Throughout the year they receive rewards and incentives to read more. Last year he was fifth place and received a medal and some other small things. However, the person who won first place received a shiny trophy. My son was in Kindergarten last year and this was our intro to the AR program. We didn't realize that there would be medals and trophies. Now, that's all he has got on the brain. He's already strategizing on how he can bring that trophy home.

I am not sure how to feel about all this. I love that he's smart and wants to excel, but, do I really want to encourage this level of competitiveness within him? He's only six. On the other hand, all of his intelligence and drive truly do come from inside of him. While we have given him opportunities to learn, we have never pushed him or tried to turn him into one of those children who graduate from high school at the age of twelve. So, do I try to temper this drive within him, knowing that it has a negative aspect to it, or do I nurture it and let him push himself as far as he wants to go?


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Today I was struggling with feeling very out of touch with God. I know that He is always there, ready and waiting for me to turn to him, but sometimes I feel so anesthetized by the busyness of my life and my daily responsibilities, that it's hard to cut through the fog and sense His presence.

On the way to pick up my son from pre-K, I put an old Out of The Grey cd into the player and listened. Wow, it took me back to those first new years of my faith, when my only wish was to know God more. It seemed so easy then to focus on God and spend time with Him. Now, from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed there is always somebody or something vying for my attention.

I am grateful for my husband, sons and even the dog, but I resent feeling like my time is not my own. I can no longer sit quietly and listen to music while I read or pray. There is always someone there or something that needs to be done. I miss the solitude of my single life....the ability to get away when I needed to. I wouldn't trade what I have now for anything, but I wish I were better at figuring out how to get that ability to have solitude back.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Yesterday was election day here in Florida. I headed out at about 8:45 to do my civic duty and was rewarded with a very snazzy "I VOTED" sticker. The primary races here were all very contentious, and as a registered republican, I personally recieved about 20 pre-election automated phone calls from the various candidates. I contemplated taking the phone off the hook, but was disuaded by the improbable possibility that a national emergency would occur ad I wouldn't be able to be reached!

Now, we only have two more months of political ads to get through! They have already started, and I have a hard time explaining them to my six year old son. He hears one and says things like,"oh, don't vote for him! He's not a good leader!" Ahhhh, the impressionability of a young mind.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wheat among tares...on new beginnings...

Wheat Among Tares will be my personal, spirtual life blog. I currently have a jewelry website, Earthen Vessel Designs, and a jewelry blog, Earthen Vessel Designs-the blog, but; I wanted a place that I could blog about things unrelated to my business.

Starting my business has been a huge faith operation, and the ups and downs I feel as the roller coaster makes it way along the tracks are not appropriate for the actual site, but I need a place to express them.