Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lazy

I haven't posted about anything of substance in a while. I think it's because I spent too much time this week at Back Flipping Forward involved in this thread: Follow-up: "Letters From A Skeptic"

Which brings me to the perennial question: Why am I a better commenter than blogger?

That's assuming that I actually am a better commenter, and not deluding myself with visions of grandeur....not that I think I am grand or anything.

And what, exactly, does it mean to be grand?

I'd better stop while I am a head....I mean ahead.


:-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

While picking the kids up from school and riding our bikes home, Intuitive Monkey took a spill that nearly stopped my heart. He had the privilege of being in the front of our bike caravan, something in which he takes immense pride. Before I knew what was happening, I saw his bike crash and flip over onto him, his body laid out on the rough sidewalk. I jumped off my bike and rushed over to him, imagining broken bones, spinal injuries, and knocked out teeth.

Luckily, none of those had occurred, but he had several severe scrapes on his arm and hands. Bright red blood streaked his flesh, causing hysterical screams and overall panic from him whenever he looked at his ripped-up skin.

We were halfway home. After spending a minute calming him down and checking to make sure there really weren't any broken bones, I tried to convince him that we should bike slowly home, being very careful. It was too much for him and we had to abandon our bikes and walk the rest of way.

Once home, I rummaged through the bathroom cabinets for all the first aid paraphanalia; bandages, tape, and Bactine--which I didn't wind up using because I was afraid of what would happen when the spray made contact with his open sores. As soon as there was no longer any sight of blood seeping out of his body, he felt much better and began quizzing me about the various injuries I had when I was his age.

"Did you ever crash your bike?"

"Yes....many times."

"Did you ever get any scrapes like these?"

"Probably."

"Is this worse than what happened to you?"

"Well, one time I broke my arm when I crashed my bike."

"Really!?"

"Uh huh."

"Well, this must be the second-worst thing that ever happened on a bike!"

It's always good when the screaming stops and the conversation has moved on to bragging rights about injuries.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Expanding Vocabulary

Intuitive Monkey has been hard at work at school, adding daily to his profound and vast phrase book.

The latest additions:

"Holy Cow!"

"Hold your horses!"

while in a fitting room with his brother who was trying on a new pair of pants:

"I'm going to look away so that I don't have to see your wiener!"...laughing hysterically

um....ok then.

You Decide

Brotherly hug...or...Head lock before the eventual wrestling match?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Democracy Kung Pao

Independent Lens: Please Vote For ME!

This was absolutely fascinating!

Three third grade, Chinese students campaign for class monitor with their overbearing parents becoming so involved in the process that my jaw was constantly dropping to the floor. I thought only mothers of Texas high school cheerleaders acted this way!

One father has his kid bribe his classmates with a ride on a monorail and a pretty card right before the vote is taken. The parents of the other boy give him all sorts of Machiavellian advice, which he implements with great poise. The single mother of the only girl is not quite so bad, but even she writes the girl's campaign speech, being sure to tell her daughter to memorize every word of it and deliver it well.

Most of their campaigning consists of brutally laying out the faults of the other candidates. They are merciless, encouraged by their parents to trick, show up, and humiliate their opponents.

I could not look away.

I won't give away the ending in case you decide to watch it!

Fellowship of Sufferings

Early this morning, as I was driving to work, I was lost in thought about the person in my life that I need to forgive, but towards whom I am feeling less than merciful.

All I can think about is how deeply I am hurt and how frequently it has occurred. It's not fair to always have to take the high road. It's frustrating not to be treated according to the love that you have shown someone else--to be betrayed and let down by someone close to you.

As I drove through the dreary rain, grey all around me, I experienced one of those little flashes that God sometimes sends my way. A brief remembrance of the phrase the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

It hit home.

This person doesn't deserve my forgiveness. They have treated me poorly and disregarded the impact their offense has had on me. They deserve punishment, judgement, and being removed from my life. They don't even recognize the depth of pain they have caused me and how far-reaching the effects have been, and continue to be.

They have been my initiation into the fellowship of Jesus' sufferings. As He had to forgive those closest to Him, so must I. As He had to live ministering to many who would later crucify Him, so must I. As He longed for someone to stay awake with Him in his darkest hours and was left alone, so have I been left.

Convicted, insulted, beaten and crucified by those he created and loved.

My suffering has been light compared to many, but in this act of constantly forgiving those who, perhaps don't deserve it, I participate in that fellowship. I am identified with the Ultimate act of forgiveness. I practice the pattern before me.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead. --Philippians 3:10-11

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Running Low

There's someone in my life I need to forgive.

The thing is, I am tired of forgiving this person. There will be apologies, explanations, reasons for the offense towards me, all given from a contrite heart. I will concede forgiveness and eventually wipe away the past, but it's becoming harder and harder to do.

Forgiveness used to flow freely from me, even towards people who have done the unspeakable to me or been so self-centered that I was crushed in their quest for fulfillment. No matter how despicable the person's actions, I could see through it all and either find a way to find good in them, or at the very least understand why they were the way they were, allowing me to let go of the hurt they caused and instead feel pity for them.

Many times my forgiveness has flowed from a self-recognition that I am not much better than the person before me. I may be really mad or upset until I remember some not-so-proud moment in my own life that would make the current dilemma seem like tiddlywinks.

But now.......as all the familiar verses flow through my head....I say you should forgive seventy times seven.......the measure you use for others will be the same measure used for you......forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us......pray for your enemies......I am left feeling that I don't have much left in my measure. I am counting up past offenses on the odd chance that I have actually reached seventy times seven. I am left prayerless for my "enemy".

It hurts. I am actually a little ticked that God expects me to forgive this person once again. Once, twice, even seven times maybe, but when is it enough? Sometimes I just wonder if my forgiveness is nothing more than enablement. I start wondering if God wants me to be his instrument of wrath and judgement towards this person. I'm sure He doesn't. It's just a visceral reaction.

In the past, forgiving was easier. Maybe it's because I was younger and more idealistic. Things seemed much simpler then. Maybe I had more faith in God, people, and my own well of mercy.

All I know is that my well seems to be running dry.

If you visit this blog, and you happen to be a believer, please pray that God would help me to once again find the ability to forgive a deep hurt. I could really use it.....and so could the other person.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Celebrity Sighting

While picking up DH from the airport tonight I saw none other than Gordon Ramsey of Hell's Kitchen fame.

At first I wasn't sure it was him---he wasn't cursing, yelling, or demeaning anyone for being fat, lazy or stupid. Well, not at that point anyway!

I'm not sure why people debase themselves to be on that show. I stopped watching during the first season it was on.

ugh

God Is In The Details

I missed church last week. DH and I were celebrating our 10th, so we were out of town. As we sat over Indian food, with Bollywood musicals playing in the background, one of the things we talked about was our church. We both were dissatisfied with it. We liked the pastor. We felt comfortable there. The church is open to people. We like it, but we just don't feel connected to it for a variety of reasons. I, especially, have been struggling with the lack of connection that I feel to it.

I laid out some of those concerns in my post, Children of the I-God, grieving over the separateness created by taking communion individually and the influx of technology and polished presentations.

So today, as I hurried the kids into their classes and dashed to the service, I had no great expectations. I just hoped that my inner critic would shut up long enough for me to get something meaningful from my time in church.

During one of the first songs, I began to settle myself; purse here, Bible there, look over the bulletin quickly, stand up, begin singing. When the song was over, someone near the front of the sanctuary bumped into one of the cameras that tapes the service and broadcasts it onto screens on either end of the large room, allowing everyone to see no matter how far they are from the front. It came crashing down in dramatic fashion during the announcements. After a brief check to make sure no one was hurt, the announcements continued while people scurried about to set things right.

Right after the announcements, the worship leader cued the music and began telling everyone that we would be taking communion together, as a community, as a way showing unity within the entire body.

In a flash, sudden recognition/revelation/meaning washed over me in a flood. I began to laugh and cry at the same time. Silent tears. I remembered what I had written..the suggestion for a mishap during the service, the hope that my church would recognize the importance of community during communion. I felt a gentle nudge from the God who was willing to share an inside joke with me. A reminder that He can speak to me in the smallest of things, which bear no significance for others.

It seems silly to say that God spoke to me through a crashing camera and a policy change.

The last week we had been in church, I had come home depressed and spent a long time composing a letter about my opinions about all that was happening. It was a rehash of Children of the I-God, in letter form. I was determined to send it to my pastor.....except I didn't. I couldn't overcome the feeling that it would just be a letter of criticism that would be discouraging to the leadership; just one more whiny diatribe from a disgruntled member. I folded it up and set it aside, thinking I might eventually send it.

This morning, God reminded me that He knows what I am struggling with. He knows my heart and what I am longing for. He has given me hope for my church and my place in it, all through an accident-prone person and a rethinking of the way things are done.

Thank You God, for that first drop of rain.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

waiting for rain


It's a dry heat, they say.

Dry and dusty and choking.

The only living things are spiders, scorpions, cactus with long spiky needles, like the hair of the spiders creeping silently through the sand....and me...watching the thin cirrus clouds stretched across the sky in whispery strands of white, high and unreachable, dry as the earth below.

I gaze at the barren soil; dead without water, loose and carried by the wind. It reminds me of myself.

While contemplating all this, the heat rises in wavering reflections on the horizon, the illusion of moisture and pools of water, tantalizing but fruitless. There is no water here. The only moisture lies deep within the cactus, selfishly guarded and held captive in green flesh and body armor. If only wave upon wave of rain would fall and quench this land.

Flashing across my mind is an image of endless fields of wildflowers in vibrant colors, carpeting the desert in sudden prolific pigments, hiding the sand beneath greenery, set free by a mysterious boy a few years back, by the name of Nino. Torrential rains had resurrected the desert, coaxing dormant seeds to life, urging color upon the desert like a lover's kisses.

I run my fingers through the gritty sand and pray for rain.



Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled--Matthew 5:6

Friday, October 19, 2007

Proof that you can be extremely intelligent and extremely dumb at the same time.

Jim Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of dna.

I think he might need a cure for foot-in-mouth disease.

I am not really surprised by his comments. A few years ago there was a PBS special featuring him as he toured a concentration camp with a German tour guide, who was extremely uncomfortable listening to Watson talk about eugenics. What with all the ideas that the Nazis had about it and how prominently it figured into their world-view, I think the tour guide had a bit of the heebie-jeebies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Women--source of all trouble.

Recently, I have been involved in a few blog comment threads, on two separate blogs, that have uncovered a long-dormant issue in me with regards to the place of women in the Church. Neither post had originally been about that particular issue, but through the course of comments, gender was brought into the discussion in not so subtle ways. The sad thing is; it didn't need to be.

Over at Imonk, a post on Joel Osteen brought these gems to light.

In a list, describing what type of Christians would actually buy what Osteen is selling, imonk says:

E. You’re a woman who is attracted to Osteen. You think he’d be a great son, son in law or grandson. Who could criticize such a sweet boy.


When I confronted him with that statement, by saying I found it offensive because of its implication that somehow women were more pre-disposed to being taken in by the likes of Osteen, the response was less than thrilling:

Evangelicalism is overwhelmingly dominated by women and women are the majority of the supporters of the prosperity Gospel movement. That’s not because of a gender flaw. It’s just the facts.


I replied with a long list of men who are the major proponents of the prosperity gospel, pointing out that they are , in fact, men...not women. He responded:

I’m sure you are aware that Christianity is largely led by men, but congregations, etc are predominantly women. That’s true in every denomination. More in some than others, but evangelicalism is made up mostly of churches full of women. Same with the tv audiences, parachurch movements.

T.D. Jakes. A man leading a huge movement predominantly made up of women.

I am aware of the male leadership of most of Christianity. I wasn’t referring to leaders.

and then:


I’m with Wilson: It’s men’s fault that evangelicalism is feminized in so many ways. That’s not blaming women.


and last, but not least:

I refuse to ignore the fact that the new prosperity gospel’s audience is primarily female. I will not ignore the Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, etc audience. This is Osteen’s audience, and they are significantly more female than male.


aaaargh!

I find this type of reasoning completely frustrating.

First, in most conservative churches, women are not permitted to be involved with leadership at the pastoral level. They might be Children's Ministers, Missions Coordinators, prayer partners, and maybe, if the leadership is relatively OK with women, they might actually lead worship. In evangelical churches women are allowed to go to just about any level, except for the ultimate leadership positions of pastor and/or elders. These are reserved specifically for men in the interpretation that most churches use.

Some extremely conservative church-goers would say that having a woman in leadership is completely unbiblical, and that they are not equipped to handle such things. That is not the point I want to get into here, because it would take too long for me to expound on that and the various interpretations that people hold across the spectrum.

Here's the thing. If women lead, they are faulted and disparaged. Yet, if women follow, they're also faulted and disparaged, even if they are following men. The argument, that men don't go to church or aren't as involved in church as women because Christianity has been feminized, lays blame at the feet of women. Somehow we have gotten too involved in evangelicalism and have spoiled it. False doctrines are preached and charlatans advanced because we are so simple as to not be able to discern the truth. We are virtually driving the men away.

What a shame.

I never knew my presence as a woman was so powerful and damaging.

OK. So let's get this straight. I can't lead properly. I can't follow properly; what with all the estrogen ruining my thinking process. So what is left for me?

Now, I personally don't know Imonk, and I am not saying that I think he is completely sexist, because I don't think he is making a conscious effort to insult women. I do think that men, Christian ones in particular, don't realize how completely condescending their remarks can be.

How can we blame women for the demise of sound teaching if they aren't the ones who put this wheel into motion? Saying that women are to blame for being an audience is as ridiculous as saying that black people, or poor people are to blame for being an audience. It's probably closer to the truth to say that hurting people are the primary audience; people who are struggling financially or emotionally because of life's circumstances. The prosperity gospel is appealing because it promises earthly comforts, not because it appeals to a specifically female audience. People will grab at hope, even if it's based on a falsehood.

Second, saying that men are somehow to blame for not stepping in and rescuing us women from ourselves, and our diminished thinking capacity, is a backhanded way of blaming women. Once again, we can't seem to prevent ourselves from falling into the clutches of nefarious people because men weren't taking the leadership to stop us. So yes, Imonk and others may say they really blame men, but only because of the subconscious belief that we are spiritually lost without them.

Well...that's enough from my inner feminist. I can't let her get too riled up. After all, she is the mother of two boys and a committed wife to one man, so I'll refrain from castigating the whole group.

I may write more about this later....maybe not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What I Gave My Husband

I never said what I wound up getting for DH for our 10th anniversary. Y'know the one that has an aluminum theme.

I was stuck, as I usually am when it comes to getting gifts for my husband. The problem isn't knowing what he would like, but in picking something that actually fits into our budget. Sorry, no Mac can be purchased for $50.00 or less! Ditto for an HD flat-screen.

What's a girl to do? The internet actually helped me out on this one. I searched through website after website looking for ideas and finally hit upon something I could afford and that I thought he would like:



It's a digital photo key chain from Brookstone. It holds up to 62 pictures and has great resolution, even after it resizes the photo to fit on such a small screen. The chain part is made of metal--so I assumed there's probably some kind of tin or aluminum in there. Don't tell me otherwise, because I was entirely too pleased with my idea!

I did run into a problem the day I purchased it. I brought it home, downloaded the software and uploaded some photos only to discover three black lines marring the viewscreen. aaargghh! It was broken. I had to take it back and replace it right away. Brookstone said they had been having a problem with messed-up screens, and had just switched out their inventory with ones that worked. Not exactly building my consumer confidence in the product, Brookstone!

The replacement I was given seems to be working fine, but I am still wondering if it's going to die on me.

So, great gift for someone, but check yours out in the store if you buy one.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today's Quote

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman."--Virginia Woolf

Very appropriate, considering some of the blog comments I have been involved with elsewhere this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Restful Weekend

DH and I were privileged enough to stay at a Bed and Breakfast in St. Petersburg this weekend to celebrate our 10 Year anniversary. Thanks go to my in-laws, who are so gracious to treat us to these luxuries; things that we would normally never be able to enjoy on our own budget. What can I say? They're nice people!

Here's a few pics:









Before checking in, we stopped at a local "winery" which really wasn't a winery in the sense of acres upon acres of vineyards. Instead, it was a place where they produce a variety of non-traditional wines made from a citrus fruit base and other various juices and flavors. We were able to sample about eight different wines, ranging from a mango wine all the way through to an orange/coffee wine called Midnight Sun. It sounds worse than it tastes! I actually liked it, although it was a strange combination of flavors to get used to.

We wound up purchasing a bottle of wine made from coconut, pineapple and orange flavors...yummy pina colada!

After exploring the winery, we headed over to the Bed and Breakfast to check in. The room was beautiful, though I would have liked warmer colors than the cool blue. The bed was enormous with a huge, elevated, carved headboard, something I would imagine seeing in a castle or museum. The bathroom was impeccable and featured a whirlpool tub that could probably fit a small country within its cavernous depths.

After check-in we hit the streets of St. Petersburg, browsing through artsy shops and listening to a cover band rockin' out to The Eagles and Bon Jovi. One of the art stores we entered had the coolest metal sculptures that I SO would have bought if I had $300 to spend a superfluous sculpture that amused me. Alas, I don't have that kind of money so I took some pictures. Only one turned out well.


I'm a dog person.

For dinner, we walked to a local Indian restaurant and were treated to a delicious chicken curry and warm, freshly baked naan. mmmm. naan. I wish we had an Indian restaurant near us! I am so jealous of you St. Petersburg!

I have more to write about, but this post is already dragging on with all sorts of details that probably bore everybody else in the known universe.

more later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

gift

I think I found the perfect gift that fits with the ten-year anniversary theme of aluminum!

I can't say what it is because DH is spying on my blog! :-)

You'll find out later!....Now get back to work earning us those big bucks! hehehe

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kids, School, and Parenting

Today I am going into Intuitive Monkey's kindergarten class to help tutor some of the kids that need a little extra help. His teacher was looking for volunteers, and I happened to have some time on Tuesday afternoons. I'm actually looking forward to it. I have always wanted to be more involved with the school, but until this year Monkey was always with me. The school wouldn't let me bring him with me for field trips or to help in the classroom. So, even though I stayed at home and didn't work, I could never chaperone The Rationalist's field trips in Kindergarten and 1st grade.

Besides that, The Rationalist's teachers have never seemed very welcoming. Schools always say they want more parental involvement, but what they really want is for parents to participate in the PTA and fundraising drives. They are less interested in actually communicating with parents about their child's education. I took five years to raise these kids and get them prepared for public school, only to hardly hear anything from these teachers. Every once in a while, I come a few minutes early and stick my head into their classrooms to touch base with them for 30 seconds as the kids are lining up to leave. I don't interrupt anything or stay long. They always act surprised to see a parent and a little annoyed that I dared to say,"Hi!"

It's really strange. They have sign up lists to help out in the classroom. I fill them out and they never call for anything. Once again, I think the administration has them put things like that out during Open Houses, but the teachers themselves don't want to be inconvenienced by having miscellaneous parents in their classes.

Another intriguing development on the school front involves The Rationalist's reading choices. Like me before him, he has developed a reading level far above what the average seven-year-old has. His school participates in a program called Accelerated Reading. Students check out books, read them, and take quizzes to test for comprehension. They are rewarded with parties, certificates, and so-on. The Rationalist is reading books that are rated at a higher level. They try and push students towards the upper limits of their reading abilities. Once they have scored 100% on a certain amount of tests in a certain reading level, they are moved up to the next level.

This has resulted in The Rationalist reading books that are written for an older audience of 4th graders and above. Yesterday, he brought home a Goosebumps book from R.L. Stine--The Haunted Mask. I was familiar with Goosebumps, in general, but I had never actually read one of the books before. I told him that I wasn't sure that I wanted him reading it, and that his father and I would have to read it first to see if we thought it was OK. He understood. We have had to have several conversations about TV, movies and books before, telling him that just because something is on TV or written in a book, doesn't mean it's good for us or appropriate for them at their current age.

This was especially true when I answered a phone call one night and told them they could watch TV in my bedroom while I was talking. I finished the conversation and walked in to find them watching Family Guy. It had just been put into syndication on a local channel and was being shown at 5:00pm. I had to explain that not all cartoons are for kids and that even I didn't watch that cartoon, and I was a grown-up.

But back to the point.....I am having to try and find the balance between encouraging a voracious reader, while at the same time making sure that he isn't prematurely exposed to things that he's not ready to handle. I don't think a seven-year-old is ready for Goosebumps. The story I read was a serious horror story. It wasn't a watered-down kid version that frightens but ultimately ends well, or is more of a parody.

Here's a picture from the TV version of the book he checked out.




That's Carly Beth in her haunted mask which takes over her body and won't initially come off, making her behave and act in scary ways to her friends, including an incident where she tries to choke her best friend, stopping herself at the last minute.

Uh...yeah. Goosebumps gets the kaibosh.

I seriously don't know what's up with that school library. First they let my five-year-old check out a book about Japanese zookeepers starving elephants to death, then my seven-year old is given books that will probably give him nightmares.

I should probably talk to the media center about age-appropriateness, but I was trying not to be the annoying mother who is pestering them constantly.

Free Day

I got the day off today because the person I was supposed to be training called in sick. Bad for her, good for me. I have a ton of stuff I need to get done around the house. My mother-in-law is coming over this weekend to watch the kids so that DH and I can get away for a day or two to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.[ Wow. 10 years--feels like 50! -just kidding DH! ;-) ]

Anyway, I need to do some serious cleaning so as not to be embarrassed by having someone else here. I am not a neat-freak, but the house is usually not a chaotic mess either...well, most of the time that is. When someone is going to actually be preparing meals in your house, using the shower, and maybe using the washing machine, it requires a much more serious approach than pulling the shower curtain closed to hide the mildew that's trying to take over. It also means wiping down the fridge and the microwave really well, so that I can pretend that the soda that spilled in there about a month ago and congealed into a crusty mess was never really there.

I also want to paint the master bathroom. Master bathroom, that's funny. It's actually more like a small closet with a toilet and some bathroom mats. Regardless, it looks really bad. Before we bought the house, it had been a rental property. When we saw it with our realtor it looked great; new carpet, vinyl floors and paint. It was empty and ready for us to move in. The problem, that we discovered later, was that in both bathrooms the drywall where the towel racks hung had obviously been broken and repaired numerous times. It looked OK on the surface, but we couldn't actually hang anything on the walls. They had been too abused and the repairs were made with patch kits, not new drywall.

We ran into the same problem around the windows. So many people had hung various window treatments over the years that there wasn't a solid place for us to hang ours. We had to hire someone to repair them so that we could cover our windows with something other than aluminum foil.

Aluminum. That reminds me . Last night when I asked DH what the gift theme was for the ten-year anniversary, he told me it was aluminum and tin.

Aluminum and tin. I guess he'll get a beer, soda, or maybe a disposable pie plate from the grocery store. And don't even get me started on tin. Are cans still even made from tin?

If anyone has any great gift ideas made from aluminum and tin...let me know.

DH suggested an I-Mac with a burnished aluminum finish.

Sure sweetie, keep believing the dream. One day you'll get your Mac.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

One More Reason Not To Work

addictive, soothing, and frustrating on the higher levels--boomshine

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Candidate Test

Here's a link to a candidate test. You answer a few questions, rate them in importance and it correlates them into the most likely candidate that agrees with you.

The top two it picked for me were Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton. Yes, I have a divided mind! ;-)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Halloween..Yes or No?

Every Halloween season brings conflicted emotions to me.

As a child, it was my favorite holiday. I loved dressing up and careening through the neighborhood with my older brother and his friends for hours at night, collecting enormous bags of candy. I would stay up and watch all the creepy horror movies and ghost stories on TV. I would read stories about goblins, witches, demons...anything magical. I even went through a phase of reading exclusively from the "non-fiction" paranormal section of the library, trying to find out if I had psychic powers or the ability to move objects with my mind. Yes, I was weird.

In my defense, my mother never supervised anything I read or watched. That amount of freedom combined with the fact that I could read at an adult level by the 3rd grade led to some interesting choices. I started reading Stephen King novels as soon as I discovered them at age 9. Up until the time I became a Christian, I had read everything he had ever written.

After my conversion, I immediately stopped reading Stephen King and watching occultic horror movies. Nobody told me I had to do that; it just felt right. So much of what was in them was simply counter to what I now believed and celebrated. However, each October would bring the uncertainty of what to do about Halloween. Reject it as the Devil's Playday, or simply participate for the fun and avoid the occultic decor?

That question became more pronounced after I had children. What were we going to do when October 31st rolled around? Well, what new mother could resist dressing up her child in a cute little lion outfit with a furry mane framing his face? That's right! No mother worth her salt could miss a photo op like that.

As the kids have gotten older, we have talked to them about the holiday and steered them from the decapitated head costumes and towards super-hero, or occupational costumes....anything that wasn't directly tied to death and gore. We take them trick-or-treating but avoid houses that have gone over the top with fake blood and dismembered body parts on the lawn.

Yet each year, it becomes harder. It hasn't helped that we live in Florida, relatively close to major theme parks. Starting in September, Busch Gardens and Universal Studios begin promoting their Halloween season. Each year they turn the parks into enormous Haunted Houses, filling the parks with people in elaborate make-up and costumes with the object of scaring the paying customers out of their wits. It's extremely popular and always sparks a competition to see which park will have the most unique, over-the-top, edgy theme. The commercials depict serial killers, bloody knives, monsters emerging from the walls and many more disturbing images. They plaster billboards with these same images and run the commercials every five minutes. They aren't the traditional, fantastical images of Halloween that have no basis in reality, but are more and more based on gory violent acts.

This past week we were in Publix, a large grocery store chain in Florida. Each year they build a little haunted house display for the Halloween candy. It consists of candy boxes and Halloween decorations; bats, witches, ghosts, etc. You can walk through it, pick out some candy and get on with your shopping. It's a clever display strategy.

When we entered the store the kids were immediately drawn to it and wanted to go inside of it. I said OK and they took off while I dragged a grocery cart over to the display. I was shocked when I went inside of it. It was typical of most Halloween spook houses with lots of black, purple and orange colors and pretend spiderwebs hanging from the ceiling. Also hanging from the ceiling was the form of an upside-down human body wrapped in a bloody blanket. ick.

The kids didn't really know what it was supposed to be and I avoided talking about it, but I left thinking about how much Halloween had changed. It slowly seems to be moving more and more away from fantasy and towards disturbing sickness. When I was young, the thought of witches and ghosts, in of themselves, was scary. We didn't worry about what they were actually going to do to us. Maybe they would put a spell on us or makes us their slaves. Now, the threat of vague and undefined scariness has been replaced by specific images of death, dismemberment, and torture.

It's becoming harder and harder to shield the kids from disturbing images during this season.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Releasing Irritation

Today was my second performance for the non-profit for which I work. Everything was OK except for the fact that my partner showed up half an hour late, making me wonder what exactly I was going to do if she were a no-show.

Have I mentioned that I am extremely prompt? If I am late for something, it's because there has been some sort of bodily injury to myself or one of the kids. Even then, I'd probably limp with my broken leg to where I needed to be, or throw the bleeding child in the back of the car and hope for the best. ugh.

Regardless, she showed up just in the nick of time, leaving me with only a few minutes to have to stall while she finished setting up the equipment she had with her. It wasn't too bad, though I did have to restrain myself from possibly strangling her. This was the second time she's done this. If she weren't great at what she does, and otherwise a very nice person, I would have a harder time letting go of my irritation. In the end it wasn't a big deal.

Breathe in.....breathe out.

Next on the averted irritation list.

My mother-in-law has a friend who was getting rid of her computer. It was newer, had Windows XP on it, and was generally a huge improvement over our ten-year-old computer. Her friend didn't want any money for it, but simply wanted to get rid of it. MIL was kind enough to retrieve it, bring it here, and help DH set it up. They're both computer nerds.

The irritation part came when MIL decided to remind me several times about sending a Thank-You note for the computer. She never actually told me, outright, to do it. She isn't direct. Instead, she said something like,"Oh, here's L-'s address in case you want to send her a card."-hint, hint. um, yeah

Have I also mentioned that I am a very direct person? It drives me crazy when people don't just come out and ask me for something, and instead beat around the bush in what they think are subtle ways, but really aren't. Just ask me or tell me. Don't try to sugar-coat things with me. It makes me feel manipulated.

Anyway, the very next day MIL instant-messages my husband this nice lady's address along with the suggestion that I send her a piece of my hand-crafted jewelry. Hey, that's a great idea, but why not just suggest it to me herself instead of going through DH? And, why is it my responsibility anyway? Shouldn't DH be responsible for this seeing how it's his mother and her friend?

Today I sent L- some flowers. I just couldn't resist the urge to not do exactly what I was told. Jewelry would have been nice, but I have no idea what type of jewelry this woman likes. Plus, it wasn't my idea, so I felt like it would be disingenuous.

MIL I love you, really. I appreciate all you have done, and all you do. You are a great MIL and grandmother to my kids.

I just can't help but kick against the goads when I am told exactly what it is I should do in a given situation. I like to be in charge of my own life.

In the end it was no big deal.

Lord, help me to be easy-going!

Monday, October 01, 2007

5 Simple Things to be Grateful For

1. My husband put up with me being totally irrational and argumentative this morning.

2. The humidity has temporarily dropped from 96 % to about 50% and there is a nice strong breeze.

3. The Rationalist and Intuitive Monkey are working together without disagreements.

4. DH got the washing machine fixed. Yay!

5. I have enough for what I need today.