Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sugartime -- Not So Sweet

I recently mentioned some books about making maple syrup. Well, a PBS show, Postcards from Buster, has done an episode on just that. Only I won't get to see it because folded within the episode are a couple of families headed by gay women. Read about it here. The station decided not to air the episode because of potential controversy over the alternative families. This was followed by a letter from the Secretary of Education expressing concern.

From my understanding of the show, which I've seen parts of before, the family is a brief background while the story is about the kids and what they are doing -- in this episode its making maple syrup and cheese. I have an easy solution to save this episode -- instead of introducing the women as both being mommies, simply introduce one as a mommy and say the other is a nanny. No kid around here would bat an eyelash.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I'm reading the book Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh and I'm really enjoying it. I've been hearing about Hanh for awhile now, he's a Buddhist monk who has written many books and is well recommended. I've been sort of skittish about Buddhism, feeling that as a Christian, it has nothing to offer me. I'm changing my mind. I'm not about to become Buddhist, but I feel like Buddhism may offer me more concrete ways of living what Jesus taught. Getting into the theological works of Hanh would probably be too much for me at the moment, but as I scrolled the list of his books contained in my county library, I ran across several that address important issues to me.

I have a problem with anger (I'm prone to fits, my husband said when asked). Its not a huge problem in that I don't destroy things or physically harm others, but I know when I'm angry I'm in a bad mood, I can't concentrate, and my interactions with others suffer. I'm snappish, pre-occupied, and impatient at the least. I know its not good to be angry -- its not good for me, not good for my family, not good for my friends. I try to deal with it, to overcome it, to analyze it so it might dissipate. I know its not good for my spirit or my body. At this point, I've seen no ill effects physically, but its only a matter of time. What bothers me most is that my eldest daughter shares my personality and how can I ever help her to overcome her own anger and frustration when I cannot overcome my own -- when she is learning how to deal with anger from me and sees me swept away in it.

So, I thought I'd request Anger. I've read the first two chapters and was relieved to see that it doesn't require a lot of knowledge of Buddhism nor is it heavy handed in its Buddhism. Hanh is a Buddhist, clearly, but I feel he shows compassion and understanding towards those of other faiths. He seems merely to be trying to show a way.

What I've read so far has really changed my view of how to deal with anger. I always tried to rid myself of it, to overcome it or transcend it. Hanh uses lots of analogies, which I enjoy because it helps me visualize and understand what he is saying. Anger is not to be banished from us, it is to be accepted and cared for just as a crying infant is coddled and cared for by its mother. In caring for your anger and in awareness, the anger will eventually turn to compassion. He speaks of the importance of mindfulness training but he hasn't gotten into how that is done. He stresses, however, that it does not take weeks or years of practice and that even short bits of meditation and mindfulness can be helpful. I like this approach. I started reading Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, but she was getting into meditation in the beginning of her book and I just wasn't interested. I view meditiation as something that I'd have to stop and make time for, and I just don't have the time (or interest). However, Hanh seems to be hinting that mindfulness and focused breathing can occur anywhere, anytime and need not take hours to be helpful.

Food for thought. I look forward to reading more.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Importance of Being Marjorie

Realizing I was on the verge of inundating a friend of mine with unsolicited advice (she's used to it), I thought I might rather blog on the topic of volunteer work.

As I hope is evident from this blog, I love being a full-time mom -- its what I want to do and I'm glad to be doing it. It isn't always easy and I'm not a perfect mom, but I'd rather be here than in an office (where things aren't always easy and I'm not perfect). However, its important to me to have some additional interests -- it also makes it easier to have cocktail party conversation (for the two we're invited to each year).

I see this as a slightly different topic than the 'me time' the parenting magazines advise for moms ('go get a pedicure', 'have a girls night out'), but maybe its all the same and I'm unimaginative, but my blog is one of my interests, so here it is.

Its important to me to get out and be Marjorie, not just someone's mom. I volunteer one evening a week at the library and I enjoy the adult conversation and also the opportunity to do a discrete, simple task that is not undone by the young children who follow me around during the day. I also get to look at a lot of books as they move through my hands and onto the shelves. My DH watches the kids while I volunteer and its nice for him to have some time alone without my nagging.

Earlier in my mommy experience, I trained to be a museum docent. I really enjoyed the docent training that I did. I didn't complete the training because of the logistical difficulties of arranging for childcare and getting into the city. During my short training, though, I learned a lot about American history, how people lived, and furnishings. In some ways, it whetted my appetite to homeschool -- there are so many things to learn, I want to learn along with my kids.

After the docent training fell through, I took an evening Bible study for three years. This was great for me, I really enjoyed learning about the Bible and the time away from home.

I also enjoy volunteering with a state homeschooling organization, but most of the work I've done with them has been computer work and doesn't satisfy the social need.

Anyway, I think volunteering is a great way to get out of the house, learn some new skills or use some you already have, meet new people, and be yourself. There are plenty of ways to volunteer and there are plenty of organizations (some not so great to their volunteers but others are wonderful). I had to look for awhile and there was a lot of trial and error, but I'm happy where I am.

Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Or is it? You be the judge.

My kids and I enjoy Mr. Roger's Neighborhood -- its peaceful, interesting, and a generally happy show. I also love the instrumental music that plays throughout -- its very soothing and a nice way to spend half an hour. I set the VCR to tape the show because its on at mid-day and I try to avoid mid-day TV watching and lots of time we aren't home anyway.

Yesterday, as we sat down to watch the tape, I was surprised by a curious juxtaposition of images. I was expecting the opening song and Mr. Rogers smiling face to come through the door when we saw W walking across the screen with Laura instead. I hadn't realized the station was carrying the inauguration instead of regular programming. Oh well, we had earlier episodes taped, so we watched one of those instead.

We were at my mom's earlier in the day and she had the inauguration on TV. I made some commentary on W's speech a la MSK 2000, but I'd do that if it was Kerry up there.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dishwasher Disappointment - A Cautionary Tale

We're having trouble with our dishwasher. Its about 3-years-old, which seems pretty new to me. Its a Kenmore with a digital control panel. Digital control panels make me uneasy, I like a good old-fashionable knob you can pull and turn and push, it feels real to me. If the digital control panel does not work, all the button pushing in the world won't help -- its like being a small child, desperately trying to get the attention of an adult who is busy with other things (okay, now I feel like crap). Our wall oven is digital and so far, its been fine. Sometimes, though, I hit the button to change the temperature and it simply does not respond and eventually sets itself to the original temperature, from which my desperate button-pushing could not change it. After a few tries, I've always been able to coax it to the temperature I want (I've got this really odd feeling that there is some sort of analogy to marriage in all this but I don't know what....). Back to the world of appliances. I like knobs -- if my oven had a knob, I'd just turn it to the temperature I want on the first try ( are knobs, women are control panels. Reminds me of a Washington Post Magazine article with a picture of a light switch and the caption "men" and a picture of the cockpit of a plane labelled "women").

Back to the dishwasher travails. A few months ago, it broke. No fanfare, nothing, we just went to push the buttons one day and nada. We weren't sure the cause, but its possible that the 2-year-old was pushing the buttons and it just couldn't take it anymore. We had a repairperson out who announced the control panel had to be changed. Big money and a whammy. Okay, we get that changed. We were urged to take out the Mafia-esque insurance plan -- the service contract. We resisted having been brought up very conservatively that you buy a product and its supposed to work -- you do not buy a product expecting it to break (such a quaint, simple time in which we were raised). The foreboding pronouncement that 'these things break all the time,' did not sway us.

I guess we are technically on our second problem now. As soon as it occurred, we bought the damn policy -- we're fools but not completely stupid. The second problem was minor -- a problem with the heating element so the dishes were clean and the ceramics were dry, but the plastics and cutlery were covered with water droplets. Not a huge problem, but with two small children we have lots of plastic cups and plates and it was annoying to have to dry them. Actually, it took a long time to unload the dishwasher, a task I don't really enjoy especially when I'm repeatedly interrupted to change diapers, wipe bottoms, refill cups of milk, and clean up sundry messes.

So, DH calls the repair center. We get a repairman this time who is totally into his job, he explained the intricacies of the machine, pointed out additional things that needed replacement (it felt a bit like churning, I believe we pay for parts under our insurance plan). Of course, the parts need to be ordered and another appointment needs to be made, cancelled by them, and made again. So, four weeks later, we get a repair call during which all items are installed. She also told us she installed a new control panel. The dishwasher ran last night, did not drain and we're dealing with a moody, non-responsive control panel this morning. So we went from having a crapped out heating element to a completely broken dishwasher. Not only are we drying dishes, we are washing them, too. Argh.

But I'm really trying to do the whole gratitude thing and it is working because as I bitch and moan about hand-washing dishes, I can't help but be glad I'm not visiting any loved ones in the hospital. I think of my good friend who is getting her first haircut since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago.

Yeah, life is good -- but I suggest you not buy a dishwasher with a control panel.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Its Beginning to Look at lot like Christmas

We're having our first snowfall of the season, I believe (we have have had brief flurries but no accumulation). My eldest is asking for her snowpants and dying to get outside. I am not a fan of winter or the cold, but if its going to be both, we might as well have some snow. Of course, in our neck of the woods, lots of people freak out when it snows -- have they called for early school closings yet? I just hope this doesn't mean we have to reschedule our dishwasher repair.

Gotta go get suited up for the snow so we can run around for 5 minutes, get cold, come inside, peel off our wet clothes, change into dry clothes and drink hot chocolate. Maybe we can read some books about snow -- The Big Snow, The Snowy Day, Katy and the Big Snow, Winter Days in the Big Woods, Sugar Snow, and Winter on the Farm, I hope I can find them.

Just another day in paradise.

UPDATE: Didn't make it through all the books, but did read a few. Kudos to the 2-year-old who actually sat through one next to me and who didn't yell while I read the others (a vast improvement over her ususal behavior). Couldn't find Sugar Snow, but we read Sugar on Snow, an excellent book about how Maple syrup is made. We're looking forward to attending a syrup boil-down in February at a local park.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Who Has the Time to Judge?

I've been spending too much time reading blogs addressing the problem of judging others and feeling judged where parenting decisions are involved. Its tiring and I can't help but feel manipulated by marketers of books and those who read these books and take offense. You can pretty much guess what the book is going to say (you don't even have to guess if you read the jacket or a book review) so why read it if you disagree? So you can attack faulty or distorted statistics? Who even cares about numbers when we're dealing with flesh and blood? I find it dehumanizing.

When I first became a full-tim mom, I was extremely judgmental of working moms. Why? Because I thought my choice was the best and disagreed with theirs -- and I knew darn well they were judging me ("you're going to stay home? I could never do that." Well, you could if you wanted to; I want to so it shouldn't be such a stretch to imagine. "I was so bored during maternity leave." Caring for infants can be boring, but they don't remain that way for long. "Don't you feel you're wasting your law degree?" Yeah, what with that lobotomy we're given when we resign after childbirth -- please, it didn't evaporate, its still there). I was also lonely, if more people chose full-time parenting I wouldn't be staring at nannies on the playground.

Life goes on, you meet other people, form playgroups. Eventually, you meet people who have made different choices and you realize that their choices work well for them. They are not you - so long as you're happy with your choices, what difference does it make? If you can keep in mind that you are happy where you are, its easier to shake off the subtle suggestion that you don't need as much intellectual stimulation as women who work.

We all face the prospect of being judged whenever someone makes a choice not in accord with our own. We can choose to parse it out and feel judged or we can decide that each person is free to make their own decisions, rejoice in this freedom, and get on with our lives. Thats what I need to do now.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Wasted Time

I am nerdier than 8% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Why did I waste my time on this? Oh, and I do not despise nerds, I actually like them. A lot.

Thanks to kwakersaur for posting this quiz

What Hath I Wrought?

Okay, I didn't 'wrought' nothing, but I did encourage Rob the Llamabutcher to spin out his twisted fantasy on what would happen if Barney were to realize his true self, a sort of Zen-like enlightenment for a dinosaur. The result is warped, sick, and hilarious. [NB -- I haven't been able to figure out how to link to a particular post on Rob's blog, the post to which I refer is Barney's Awakening dated January 15, 2005]. Being a darling in the Conservative Blogosphere, I can't help but wonder if he's going to take a bit of heat from his readers who are Creationists.

Trilobites rock!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Photo of the Unclimber

birds don't climb, they fly

...well, unless they are flightless birds -- but then they still don't climb, they walk, maybe even run in a sort of waddling way... Oh, nevermind.

TECH SUPPORT: Okay, what I'm really trying to do is make this picture my profile picture. I've gotten as far as pasting the URL into my profile only to be stopped and told that the image must be 50k or less. Personally, I think I'm worth more, but its been a few years since I've been in the workforce. Anyway, how do I reduce the size of the picture so I can do this? Its not clear from Hello and help from Hello is not working on AOL, its too big or something. Why does it always come down to size? Size doesn't matter, but apparently, it can be too big. Who knew?

Posted by Hello

Barney vs. Clifford

My friend Mike at Clanlally has set me off. I think he does this for his own amusement, but why should he be the only one to benefit? There is at least one other person out there who enjoys watching me get crazy (DH) and there may be others.

As an intitial matter, Mike keeps referring to me as Sparky, even though I've started using my name in an effort to gain a peaceful, spiritual equilibrium. Apparently, he thinks I'm fronting and that he can just poke, poke, poke and get old Sparky back.

He has suggested to me that Clifford is on par with Barney. He finds Barney too cutesy, but thinks Clifford is cute but not cutesy. Hmmmm....I wrote to him:

Barney is somehow more real to me -- perhaps because they make it clear that he is a product of the children's imagination and he always returns to being a doll at the end. Clifford is totally unreal and is far more sacchrin than Barney. Clifford is ever-patient with his annoying, snobby friends (okay, Christ-like, even). I actually don't like Clifford. And this whole terrifying notion that your dog could make you leave your home and friends and force you to move to an island where he is dangerous to the environment (ground shaking when he walks, indigenous plants destroyed beneath his feet). No, Mike, everything it NOT all right on Birdwell Island.
I think I may post this rant, its more amusing than most of the stuff on my blog.

By the way, Clifford is dead (rest in peace John Ritter).

Oh no, am I back to the same fundy stance I took with Christianity a year ago? I can only see the virtues of Barney while closing myself to the possibilities of Clifford? Perhaps Barney and Clifford are brothers.

Sorry for the Zzzzs

Okay, this blog is getting a bit dull with my under-researched legislative posts. In my defense, I've spent a lot of time looking at legislation and I wanted to share the bills I saw that captured my attention. Perhaps a bad policy because I'm not knowledgeable about them, there are plenty of others out there that did not come across my path, my only hope was to inspire others.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Just Something to Make Abortion More Difficult

Require clinics to follow all the requirements of a hospital. Kenny-boy, love him on homeschooling, less so on abortion issues. I may be purple, but I'm absolutely pro-choice.

Regulation of abortion clinics. Ken T. Cuccinelli, II
Summary as introduced:Regulation of abortion clinics. Requires the regulation of abortion clinics as a category of outpatient surgical hospital and sets forth the requirements for the licensure of abortion clinics in a new article. Abortion clinics will not be required to comply with certificate of public need requirements or health care data reporting. The provision becomes effective on January 1, 2006. The Board of Health must promulgate emergency regulations that include licensure fees for abortion clinics in an amount calculated to cover only the costs of the regulation required in this act. Senate Bill 839. Full Text

Can You Say "Red State"?

Our House wants to urge the U.S. Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominees quickly. THAT'S interesting. Perhaps there are resolutions like this all the time, but its sort of creepy to me.

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That the Senate of the United States be urged during the 109th Congress to expeditiously confirm all nominations to the United States Supreme Court by the President; and, be it
Legislative Information System

Whats Going On at School

There are lots of bills regarding education, here are some bills I thought looked interesting because they seem to expand the role of the schools from just teaching our kids...

Virginia Wellness-Related Fitness Test. Requires the local school boards of each school division to annually administer the Virginia Wellness-Related Fitness Test that must include an assessment of students' height and weight. Height and weight must be measured in grades K, 3, 7, and 10 unless students are admitted for the first time to a public kindergarten or elementary school and have been weighed and measured as part of the comprehensive physical examination. The Department of Education must enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Health for the sharing of aggregate information on physical fitness, height, and weight from which personal identifiers have been removed. HB 2140. Full Text

An obesity bill from the Senate (there is a House bill on this also, mentioned in a previous post)

Obesity; requiring Bd. of Education, et al, to promulgate regulations establ. standards in schools.
Summary as introduced:Childhood obesity. Requires the Board of Education to promulgate, in cooperation with the State Health Department, regulations establishing standards to ameliorate childhood obesity in the public schools. This bill also adds the improvement of school health as one of the criteria to be considered by local schools during the annual evaluation of division superintendents. Further, the bill requires division superintendents to complete instruction concerning the causes and consequences of overweight and obesity by July 1, 2006. The requirement for instruction may be satisfied by attendance at conferences, seminars, or in-service training. Senate Bill 747. Full Text

More on Gay Marriage

Elizabeth at Half-Changed World offered a couple of links to bills in the comments section of my post on No Gay Marriage in Virginia and I wanted to thank her for that. A caveat about this blog, I'm only following the issue out of curiousity and my searches (obviously) aren't thorough. So if you're reading my posts on this issue for a comprehensive review, you'll fall very short. I'm new to legislative monitoring and following politics generally, but I'm awed at the effect that blogging can have -- one bill will be modified as a result of bloggers and their readers. Definitely check Elizabeth's and Maura's blogs for their insights and research.

There is an article in today's Washington Post talking about why some are seeking an amendment to the Virginia Constitution to ban gay marriage -- basically to take it away from state judicial review. Another article discusses the process by which an amendment becomes ratified. If this resolution goes through, it won't show up on the ballot until 2006.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Barney's Bad Manners

We have a Barney's Manners DVD that the kids love. I like Barney, I know its not hip to say that but he's kind and polite and kids tend to learn from him (Suzanne learned the alphabet song from some PBS program and it might have been him). If you want to get academic about it, you could say Barney is a Christ-figure -- he's loving and kind and ridiculed by many for this. But thats a discussion for another day.

What I don't like about this DVD is that it begins with an advertisement extolling the virtues of Barney. Thats fine, but I don't want to watch it. The DVD does not allow me to skip or fast forward this message. Fine. The part that chaps me is that after the ad, the DVD menu pops up, it does not play the program -- those sneaky bastards force me to watch the ad because I have to be there to push the play button after its over (I suppose I should teach the 4 1/2 year old to do this -- its not beyond her). Its annoying -- Barney stealing 90 seconds of my life that could be spent blogging.

Oh well, its better than the ads for DIK entertainment that precede Madeline videos. Those ads are for lots of videos for older kids; they are noisy and violent and scare the children in the age range for Madeline. Bad marketing if you ask me. At least we have videotapes of those which can be fast forwarded.

Well, maybe I dump my kids in front of the TV too much. But Barney reinforces the values that I teach them...opps, been watching that ad too much.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Learning Log -- early January

We've had some nice, unseasonable weather recently, so we've taken walks and played at playgrounds and gone to playdates. Lots of socializing. We had one great day at a mall playground last week. Suzanne (4 1/2 yo) had fun running around with a few other girls. She even had a suitor -- some cute little boy that she taunted into a frenzy. Reminds me of meeting her dad so long ago. Poor boys, they have no idea what they're in for...

Suzanne has been showing an interest in writing. It began a few weeks ago when she wanted to write words on the computer. I told her she could look in a word book (Usborne's First Thousand Words) and copy words if she wanted (I think she had started asking me to spell words for her). She spent quite a while consulting the book and typing words. We have several pages printed with words like amusement, merry go round, sandwich, and toilet.

The other day, she was writing on her MagnaDoodle and showed me that she could write the letters H, I, L, M and O. This is huge progress for her and it thrilled me to see that she would get there when she was ready, that its okay that I'm not sitting her down and telling her to practice. Today, she found the workbooks that are all around and was doodling in them. Sometimes she holds the pen correctly, sometimes not. I credit her Paternal Grandmother on the interest in writing, one gift she received from her was a board game that involves tracing letters and she recently played it with her dad.

Gabrielle (2 1/4 yo) is jabbering all the time. She is mainly saying words, but will come out with a short, simple sentence now and then. Its a bit frustrating to ask her a question because she doesn't answer but will repeat the words of the question. I remember Suzanne going through this, its all part of learning. It might be annoying not to get the answer, but it is fun to watch her learn.

She's also learning the alphabet. She received LeapFrog Fridge Phonics. Its a set of magnets with a player. You select a letter magnet, put it in the player and push. It plays a little song about the letter's name and the sound(s) it makes. She's played with it at other people's houses -- kids seem to really like this toy.

My husband enjoys working with her -- he'll go through the alphabet, one letter at a time and she'll repeat back the letter. She can say nearly all of them, W is a bit of a challenge, sometimes she just says 'double.' Maybe she's just not a Bush fan (ha ha).

So, we're having fun around here. Lots of playing pretend and dress-up and listening to music and story CDs. They learn when they want and I'm so happy to be able to watch and help when they want it.

DISCLAIMER: these Learning Logs encapsule about 15 minutes or less of each day. While our home life is fairly pleasant, it isn't all sunniness. I'm no paragon of patience, but it does get easier when I hold myself back a bit and just watch. I lose my temper sometimes and yell. These posts are to remind me that they are learning and to encourage others who may want to try homeschooling but who are worried. I don't think my kids are better than your kids ;-)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Bills Affecting Public Schools

As a homeschooler, I'm always intrigued by whats going on in the public schools (of which I am a product, by the way). Here are a couple of bills I found interesting.

Childhood obesity.
Summary as introduced:Childhood obesity. Requires the Board of Education to promulgate, in cooperation with the State Health Department, regulations establishing standards to ameliorate childhood obesity in the public schools. This bill also adds the improvement of school health as one of the criteria to be considered by local schools during the annual evaluation of division superintendents. Further, the bill requires division superintendents to complete instruction concerning the causes and consequences of overweight and obesity by July 1, 2006. The requirement for instruction may be satisfied by attendance at conferences, seminars, or in-service training. Senate Bill 747
Full Text

Probably not a very interesting bill, but it seems like a good first step is getting the vending machines out of the schools. I remember being in high school, you had to know where the soda machine was and go down a long hall to get it. The high school cafeteria where I vote had a few vending machines filled with candy and fattening treats.

Hmmm...was there only one? Perhaps I'll find more in my future travels in the LIS.

No Gay Marriage in Virginia

A quick check on whats up in General Assembly with regard to marriage....

You can get a license plate announcing your views...(I'm told all proposed license plate templates must be passed by the General Assembly, so there is nothing special about this particular plate)

License plates, special; issuance to supporters of traditional marriage.
Summary as introduced:Special license plates; supporters of traditional marriage. Authorizes the issuance of special license plates to supporters of traditional marriage. The design of the plates is to include the legend: TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE and two interlocked golden wedding bands over a red heart. House Bill 1660
Full Text

Constitutional amendment; marriage may exist only between a man and woman (first reference).
Summary as introduced:Constitutional amendment (first resolution); marriage. Provides that marriage "is the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife" and that "no other combination of persons may be licensed to marry." The proposed amendment prohibits the creation, recognition, or enforcement of imitations of marriage. However, a right, privilege, or obligation of marriage may be conferred by statute on an unmarried person. House Joint Resolution 584
Full Text

Elizabeth addresses the above joint resolution on her blog. It all raises an interesting question and is worth watching, they want to repeal the law but change the Virginia Constitution, what do you think about that???

Bills That Make You Go 'Huh?'

I'm not quite sure why this is being proposed, its definitely to give Commonwealth's Attorneys (state prosecutors) another offense, but why its needed is unclear to me. There is a link to an impact statement that might shed light on the necessity of this, but a quick glance did not enlighten me.

Providing birth control to minor in certain circumstances; penalty.
Summary as introduced:Providing birth control to minor in certain circumstances; penalty. Creates a Class 6 felony to provide a minor with a contraceptive or contraceptive device if the person knows or has reason to believe that the minor is engaging in sexual relations with a person three or more years older than the minor. House Bill 1807
Full Text

Reproductive Rights

Here are some bills being proposed this legislative session in the Virginia General Assembly. There may be others, I did not search on terms relating to reproductive health, these bills were found through a search of various legislators.

A preface to those who go to read the full text of the bills -- from my vague understanding, regular type indicates statutes that already exist and italics denotes what is being proposed. If you're interested, check out the LIS to learn more about the bill and how to contact your delegate or senator (

Some of these bills may set the stage for outlawing abortion. E.g. if a fetus is given anesthesia during an abortion, perhaps the next step is to find that the fetus is being murdered, not aborted...

Anesthesia for fetal pain. Observes that fetuses over the gestational age of 20 weeks feel pain and provides that failure, subject to exceptions, of a physician to administer anesthesia to such a fetus prior to an abortion is a Class 1 misdemeanor. HOUSE BILL NO. 1524
Full text

Emergency postcoital contraception. Provides that public two- and four-year institutions of higher education are not immune from civil liability resulting from injury sustained from exposure to emergency postcoital contraception, commonly referred to as "morning after pills," prescribed or dispensed by the medical or nursing staff employed or contracted by the institution to provide student health care services. House Bill 1813
Full Text

Execution of pregnant inmate. Proscribes the execution of an inmate while she is pregnant. The bill requires the Department of Corrections, if it finds that such female inmate is pregnant, to petition the sentencing court for a new execution date, which is at least 10 months later than the original execution date. The bill does not give the court discretion to determine the accuracy of the Department's finding but only the authority to set a new execution date.
House Bill 1812
Full text

Sale of or other traffic in fetal body parts; civil penalty.
Summary as introduced:Sale of or other traffic in fetal body parts; civil penalty. Makes the sale of or other traffic in fetal body parts a prohibited business practice. Violators of the statute may be assessed a $1,000 civil penalty per fetal body part sold or otherwise trafficked but are not subject to criminal prosecution. House Bill 1809
Full text

Sale of post-abortion fetal tissue unlawful; penalty.
Summary as introduced:Sale of post-abortion fetal tissue unlawful; penalty. Provides that any physician who performs an abortion and sells or offers for sale fetal tissue resulting from the abortion is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. House Bill 1810
Full Text

Kicking and Screaming

Okay, Elizabeth on Half-Changed World and Suzanne (not my daughter, but shares the same beautiful name), whose comments I've seen on my friend Anne's blog (boy, I need to figure out how to do a blogroll...), have inspired me to dip my toes into state politics. Well, to following bills proposed by our state General Assembly at the very least.

I'm a legislative monitor on homeschooling issues. This is my first year doing this and I'm slowly learning the ins and outs of the Legislative Information System and a bit about state politics. I've seen lots of bills that I find interesting but I have no action steps. I figure I'll start posting them and adding some of my feeble commentary and links to those whose commentary is not feeble.

Oh, and check out Maura's blog, she knows more about politics in Virginia than I do.

My Soul, as Revealed by On-Line Quiz

Many thanks to PoeticMermaid for posting this on her blog.

You Are a Seeker Soul

You are on a quest for knowledge and life challenges.
You love to be curious and ask a ton of questions.
Since you know so much, you make for an interesting conversationalist.
Mentally alert, you can outwit almost anyone (and have fun doing it!).

Very introspective, you can be silently critical of others.
And your quiet nature makes it difficult for people to get to know you.
You see yourself as a philosopher, and you take everything philosophically.
Your main talent is expressing and communicating ideas.

Souls you are most compatible with: Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

Well, I'm not sure I have a 'quiet nature,' but I'd like to think everything else is true!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Ebb and Flow

I'm still thinking about Akilesh's post Coming and Going. I'm reading a book for a women's discussion group, Enduring Grace by Carol Lee Flinders, which gives portraits of seven women mystics from the Middle Ages, all Catholics, most saints.

In the chapter on Mechthild of Magdeburg, Flinders writes:
The forgetting of self that must take place, the emptying of all personal
desire, cannot happen all at once. We only let go by degrees -- as little, in any one round of the upward spiral, as we are absolutely sure we have to! On the path to God, light gives way to darkness, and darkness to light, at intervals. A measure of integration takes place, and we enjoy a moment of peace and joy, but the longing sets in again, and we must again exert the terrible effort.


Cream Cheese Chicken

Since my Dinner Ennui post got several comments, I'm inspired to share a recipe with you. Perhaps it will even encourage me to view dinner in a different light -- a challenge and not a drudgery.

Tonight I made Cream Cheese Chicken which I developed from a Cooking Light reader recipe I saw years ago. It violates my rule of cooking right before serving, thus its mainly served on the weekends when my DH is around to play with the kids.

Pardon the annoyance, but I feel like doing this in narrative. I use frozen boneless chicken breasts (or tenders) that I buy by the bag -- this way I don't have to plan, they are there on a whim. I poach the chicken in a saute pan (maybe about a pound of chicken) in water with some salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning. I splash in any kind of white wine thats on hand. I cover and poach for 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through. Meanwhile, I cook about a cup of rice, I really like Mahatma Jasmine rice (and it only takes 15 minutes, so I don't have the start the rice in advance).

After the chicken is done cooking, I remove it and cut it into bite-sized pieces. The poaching liquid becomes the base of the sauce, so if it looks like too much, I let it boil down for a few minutes (yes, I practice a method called 'faith cooking,' I used a recipe the first time and departed so far from it that I just sort of eyeball it now). To the liquid, I add half an 8oz tub of onion and chives cream cheese and half an 8 oz. tub of fat free cream cheese. I heat it to a boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken to my liking and then I add the cut up chicken to warm it. I serve it over the rice. We really like it, its rich and flavorful but not too fattening.

Choice of Religion

I saw an acquaintance of mine yesterday who I hadn't seen in awhile. Her appearance was strikingly different because her hair was completely covered with a scarf. Since I hadn't seen her in months, I figured that she had become a Muslim. I wasn't quite sure how to approach it, but I'm generally blunt, hopefully I'm gently blunt, so I noted that I'd never seen her before with a head covering. She was quite open in discussing her conversion. I was curious as to what she found in Islam that she found lacking otherwise. Its always interesting to truly listen to others, what they say and what they don't say.

One of the first things she noted was that she is a former Catholic and that she knows of many former Catholics who chose Islam. She talked a lot about the community she had found in Islam and her friends. I found it interesting that the first thing she spoke of in her draw to Islam was not anything religious but the community, but I can certainly understand why. It seems that the church fails, at times, in establishing community. I can't speak of all Catholic churches, but some of the Catholics I know have noted that their church experience is an on the clock, in and out experience where they don't know their fellow parishioners. It sounds a lot like punching the clock and I can honestly say that I don't get it. It addresses the 'love your God' part but seems a little lean on the 'love your neighbor as yourself.'

After speaking about the community ties she has in her community (sorry, I don't remember the term for community center/church, I know there is one, I just don't know what). She noted the absence of an authority structure within Islam, there is no priesthood, all seekers are on equal grounding. She spent a fair amount of time discussing the differences between the religion of Islam and the Arab culture and that its often hard to determine what practices stem from which.

She eventually talked about the religious beliefs. She likes that Islam does not lose Jesus, he is valued as a prophet and his teachings are respected. This was the reason she gave for not becoming Jewish, she was glad to keep Jesus. She said she was also more comfortable with the idea that salvation comes through faith and works and said that this was in keeping with Catholic teaching.

I found this encounter very interesting, partly because I was able to listen to her without judgment of any sort -- this is vastly different that I would have felt a year ago. I was genuinely interested to listen to her reasons without forming arguments in my mind. I no longer have any arguments to make. If she has found something in Islam that she could not find in Christianity, who could say she's wrong? Not me.

Strangely, I think that witnessing her bold choice of religion, one that requires that she learn much about a culture so unlike our own and that inspires her to learn a language that does not even have the same alphabet has affected me. Its a niggling feeling, but I'm not afraid.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Be It Resolved

Have I made it clear on this blog that I'm not a fan of the holiday season or have I only been grumbling in the comments sections of other blogs?

Anyway, to continue with my dim view of the holiday season, I roundly reject the idea of the New Year's Resolution. Why? I think its arbitrary to set aside one day as the start date for any hopes or plans of improvement one has. I also feel it sets you up for failure -- opps! blew that New Year's Resolution, oh well, I'll just give up on that effort. A resolution can be made at any time, broken at any time, reconsidered at any time, and renewed at any time. The idea of one day on which to put all the pressure of a list of resolutions on oneself seems destined to failure, worse, it seems like a self-destructive urge under the guise of a self-improvement plan.

Over on Graceful Presence, Akilesh posted Coming and Going, which speaks of spiritual awareness, mindfulness, but which I see as applying to everything we undertake. Akilesh says, "Everyone does this. Give yourself a break. Everyone loses it, and discovers it again. We lose it and rediscover it. Of course it doesn't go anywhere." The subject is awareness but it could be taking care of oneself, eating right, exercising, being patient with your children.... Your abilities and effort come and go, you lose it and rediscover it. A resolution feels to me like shackles, acceptance and understanding feel like freedom and growth will result.

Happy New Year.