06 December 2011

Pay Attention - Be Outraged!

Every once in a while, I get a call from my oldest brother. More rarely I get a call from the younger one, who usually calls just to talk, which is nice.  My older brother does that too, sometimes, but often he starts off the conversation with "I have something else to get your blood pressure up!"  He knows just what subjects push my buttons, and when he hears about something ridiculous, he's always eager to share.

Most recently, it was a story from Hawaii about a family, newly moved to the state, who went grocery shopping to put something edible in their new home.  While at the store, they shared a sandwich, saving the wrapper to pay for it when they were done.  Only, they forgot.  They came back inside as soon as they realized their error, only to be told the store had a zero-tolerance policy toward shoplifting, and the manager would have to call the police.  Both parents were arrested and spent the night in jail, which meant their two-year-old was taken into custody by Social Services.  Over a sandwich they intended, and tried, to pay for.

You'd be amazed how many stories like this my brother comes up with.  Here's one I experienced personally:  Over the past year I have helped start a local non-profit organization.  Our focus is on natural, healthy pregnancy and birth, and issues pertaining to the early years of childhood.  One of those issues happens to be vaccinations.  Believe it or not, there are actually arguments both pro and con.  We offer classes and discussion groups on this topic for parents to educate themselves so they can make an informed decision.  Based purely on the fact that we offer this information, a local moms' group told us that we are not welcome to post any of our classes, at all, on their internet group, because they aren't comfortable recommending people come to our events, since our children aren't vaccinated.  I'd just like to point out that nowhere in any of this non-profit's literature does it say anything whatsoever about the vaccination status of the Board members' children.

So many topics!  There is outrageous information out there about homeschooling (look up the Johanssen family, in Sweden), parents' right to make health care choices for their child, people's right to access the food they feel is necessary for their health, parents being shoved out of schools and told that what goes on in the place where their child spends most of his waking hours is none of their business...the list goes on and on.  Which is great for me, because I tend to have low blood pressure, and I appreciate my brother looking out for me.  Today, however, I didn't need his help.  I found an outrageous story all by myself.  Check out this article at the Washington Post, about what happened when a School Board member took the standardized test for 10th graders.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.  There's always something...

Take a break on occasion though.  I'm pretty certain too much of this would make your head explode.

04 December 2011

Christmas Wish List

When I was a small child, my parents didn't believe in Christmas Wish Lists.  In retrospect I can see their point, that handing a shopping list to those who might be considering getting one a gift may not be in the best of taste.  At the time I thought it was particularly cruel that anything I actually listed on paper as being of especial interest was, as a direct result, less likely to appear under the tree on Christmas morning.  (But there is always the time-honored Hint, which is more acceptable, so all was not lost.)

When the Mad Scientist and I started our own family, we (read: I) had very distinct ideas about the sorts of toys we wanted our children playing with.  These included things like all-natural materials, no batteries, creativity-inspiring, and (on the part of the Mad Scientist) nothing with numerous small pieces.

Meanwhile back on earth, those things aren't in a grad-student's budget, and I ran up against early childhood training when it came to handing out a list of requirements to those who might purchase gifts for our children.  I read a blog of one mom who did this, but I really couldn't wrap my mind around it.  So our children ended up with lots of plastic toys, small pieces, and things that need batteries.  Also because that's the sort of thing you find at Goodwill, which is where mothers whose husbands are in grad school do their Christmas shopping.  My children seem to have survived this, so far, and I hurry to add that, as our families became more aware of our preferences, they did their best to respect them.

However, I still retain a deep-seated desire for simple, classic toys for my children, which is why I was so delighted to find this list of the 5 best toys of all time.  Interestingly enough, my children adore every item on this list and (not to spoil the surprise) nary a one of them will break the budget.  Good to stop and rethink that Christmas shopping list!  (I'm indebted to Ann Voskamp for the link I originally followed.)

03 December 2011

Advent Begins

It has been a busy Summer, and busy Autumn...a busy year, really, and I'm tired, and wondering where the days have disappeared.  But now we are counting down the days 'til the Coming, lighting another candle each evening, waiting for the Light.

The Advent Log idea comes from this book, which we will probably use as soon as I have time to dig it out of storage.  Meanwhile, we are using Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Devotional series, and really enjoying it.  (Something that has helped make the Jesse tree idea more interesting to the Monkeys.)

Zaccheus stands tall at the top of our Jesse tree, stretching, straining to see Jesus coming.  And we remember why we're waiting, and all those who waited before.