Thursday, March 31, 2005

Jellybeans: Tasty Treat or Satan's Bait?

As I battle my urge for jellybeans, my mind wanders to something I read in the newspaper a few weeks ago in the Sunday Comics. There is a section for kids called Beekman and Jax, or something like that, and they were answering some kid's question about the origin and composition of jellybeans. The answer indicated that jellybeans find their genesis in two confections. The inside goo is akin to Turkish Delight. The hard outer candy coating was first enjoyed by a king in France and used to cover almonds (now known as Jordan almonds).

Well, I first heard about Turkish Delight reading C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and I didn't know what it was. Edmund, that wacky British child, was wooed and won by the White Witch who offered him Turkish Delight in exchange for information that lead to the whereabouts of his siblings. Though he was not aware of it, intoxicated by the sweetness of the candy, he was betraying his family and it was the Witch's intention to kill them all. This betrayal was punishable by death. When the White Witch (I.e. Satan) called him on it, Aslan (I.e. Christ) steps in to offer himself as a substitionary atonement for Edmund's sin. Thus, Turkish Delight is Satan's Bait.

What about the hard outer shell? The king who so enjoyed his almonds with this coating was Louis the XIV, not known for being a great humanitarian.

I finallly chucked the open bag of sour jellybeans, but not until I had scarfed down a bunch more.

I think its time for me to go back to church.

I Heart Huckabees?

I thought this movie was hysterical -- its about 'existential detectives' trying to uncover the meaning behind some coincidental meetings (or are they coincidental? but thats the point). I thought the casting of Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin as the detectives was awesome. They are very Buddhist -- everything is interconnected. Of course they have a nemesis, in the form of a Frenchie, very nihilistic -- there is only pain and suffering. Like I said, funny stuff....

Whoa, pardon me, I think I'm having a sugar-crash. Kix cereal is not all that low in sugar -- having 2 bowls probably didn't help matters. When am I going to stop eating so much sugar? I've got the shakes now and its bad for my sensitive teeth.

Back to the movie -- the title has the heart symbol in it -- I could probably figure out how to use the symbol if I tried (but the shakes thing is making any kind of thought pretty difficult for me...I need protein, but those mixed nuts are too damn salty...). Hmmm, just passed my 2 1/2 year-old with her hand down her diaper, exploring her girl parts. There is no way my husband with his Catholic upbringing can handle this without scarring that kid for life. So much for his dreams of me going back to work and him hsing...

Okay, really, back to the movie title -- I have always read the heart symbol as 'love' not 'heart.' So, I would read the title as "I Love Huckabees" not "I Heart Huckabees..." though "I (Heart) Huckabees" is what NetFlix used. When I see "I (Heart) NY" I read "I love New York" not "I Heart N Y"

Gotta go and try to work off this sugar.... Though those sour Smuckers jelly beans sound yummy, they would probably be a bad idea...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Clever, Thrifty or Stealing?

You be the judge. I'm currently addicted to eBay and have been buying books from various sellers. Most books arrive in an envelope that is either padded or the book is wrapped in bubble wrap inside the envelope; one book was wrapped in cardboard. Today's book arrived in a nice, tear-proof envelope. I opened it and pulled out a bubble-wrapped book. Looking inside, I could see that the envelope was really and inside-out Priority Mail envelope. Clever, the seller took a free Priority Mail envelope, turned it inside-out and taped it up -- thats one way to cut down on overhead. They were also annoyed that they had to take PayPal and suffer the percentage cut that the company takes (I think sellers on eBay can refuse to accept PayPal. I think these sellers indicated they wanted a cashier's check, but PayPal was also listed as an option in this auction. I would note that the PayPal option seems to include the advertisement that the seller "prefers PayPal,"which really wasn't the case here). Basically, these sellers may have gotten a bit screwed on this -- or, from a different view, they didn't do due diligence in crafting the auction.

Were these sellers really, really cheap or poor? Maybe both, I don't know. Are they thieves? The Priority Envelopes are provided free of charge for using Priority Mail; they took an envelope provided to Priority Mail customers and used it for something else. Sure its de minimis, but maybe Enron's CFO felt that way. Just thrifty or lawless?

The Spring Equinox

by Ellen Jackson is a picture book I recently enjoyed reading to my 4 1/2 year old. She indulged me, I don't know that she liked it very much. This book portrays various spring festivals throughout time and the world. The author and illustrator also teamed up for books about the other seasons as well, though I haven't read those.

In our homeschooling journey, I have become interested in learning more about the Waldorf method (this book appear on various Waldof reading lists on Amazon). There are lot of Waldorf proponents who are Pagan and its interesting to learn more about that as I peruse various websites.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Touched by Saved

I recently watched the movie, Saved! It's a teen comedy about students in a fundamentalist Christian high school. I'm probably a spoiler, so if you don't want to know what happens in the movie, don't read this, though the movie is pretty predictable.

The story is about a high school senior, Mary, who is told by her boyfriend that he is gay. She is worried about his soul and wants to save him. After mulling over her options and talking to a friend, she has sex with him in an effort to turn him into a heterosexual. What is particularly interesting to me is that she interprets what her friend tells her, that Jesus would restore her spiritual virginity if she were raped, as a sign that Jesus wants her to have sex with her boyfriend. While this sounds very naïve, I thought it was possible that a 17 year-old might think this way (I've known girls who based their decision on what the Breakfast Club said about premarital sex). Of course, she gets pregnant. No one knows they had sex and she is the only one who knows she is pregnant. Her boyfriend's parents send him off to a rehab-type facility/school to turn him. The movie is about her senior year at school, hiding the pregnancy. While most of it is predictable and teen schlocky, I find myself mulling over the religious themes in the movie.

Mary parts ways with her best friend Hilary Fay (yeah, no obvious pointing at any television evangelist's wife...) when HF has a prayer meeting about the gay boyfriend. Mary's view is that Jesus is not going to answer these prayers because she already tried turning him in a way she felt certain was sanctioned by Jesus. Mary is left wondering how she could have gotten the message wrong and why God is letting her down (not only did she fail to turn the boyfriend and save his soul, she got preggers). A great scene is an argument later in the movie when HF throws a Bible at Mary. Mary turns around and says "this isn't a weapon, you idiot."

Predictably, the outsiders in the film figure out that Mary is secretly pregnant and befriend her.

A side issue is that Mary's widowed mother is carrying on with the pastor/principal who is married but separated from his wife. The wife wants a divorce but he won't do it because the Bible is against it. When everyone inevitably learns about the pregnancy, there is a discussion between Mary's mom and the pastor. The Pastor claims that Mary's pregnancy is God punishing them (Mary's mom and the pastor) for their involvement with each other. Mary's mother responds "that doesn't even make sense."

I guess the next part worth discussing is one of the last scenes of the movie. The denouement comes during the Prom. The gay boyfriend, Dean, shows up with his boyfriend. The pregnant Mary is there with her date. When Dean learns of Mary's pregnancy, he smiles and says "that's awesome," which I found so striking because he seems to be the only one who realizes what a wonderful thing having a baby is, regardless of the circumstances. The pastor/principal of the school tries to prevent Dean's entrance to the Prom saying that the Bible is very clear on homosexuality. There is some interesting dialogue.

Does this all seem disjointed? It probably does. I found the movie so interesting and moving because I found most of the characters to be genuinely seeking to do God's will and not being sure of how to go about it. They can't seem to correctly discern God's will or leading, or they think they can and get it wrong. This is the point that gets me. Even honest, God-revering, Jesus-loving folks can't be certain that they are acting in God's will. They can read the Bible and pray and be in community with fellow believers, but they cannot be certain they are right.

Where does this leave us? The only thing I can come up with is that we are supposed to be compassionate and loving and forgiving and humble.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Writing Milestone

I've eased up on the learning logs figuring that they could be obnoxious. I'm keeping my own log on computer, but perhaps I need to re-think that -- if my computer dies, I like the idea of another copy floating around on the internet. Hmmm...big issues for another day.

What I want to do now is record a milestone -- Suzanne printed her name for the first time (that I'm aware). I'm really pleased because I have not 'worked on' writing with her at all. I've even debated whether I should correct her "pencil grip" (she doesn't use pencils, but you know what I mean). I decided not to correct her grip, I don't know what grip she used to write her name. Anyway, I'm just very happy to see that she's moving right along and I have additional evidence to support my unschooling approach -- not to argue it to anyone, just to know its working. This is a very big deal, as I am prone to UPAs (unschooler panic attacks) which get a bit worse as the Fall approaches when we will become official homeschoolers by notifying the state that we will be homeschooling Kindergarten.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Getting Naked

I am very excited about getting Naked this afternoon. I was surprisingly upset that I could not get Naked last night. I have two young daughters who have many baby dolls. For whatever reason, they don't name them, except for a couple of soft cloth dolls which they have named Alice, while the dolls share some similarities, they are not identical. Both dolls are Alice, there is Suzanne's Alice and Gabrielle's Alice. Go figure.

Gabrielle adores Naked, so named by me because Gabrielle insists on tearing off the poor baby's clothes. In an effort to differentiate between that baby doll and others, I started referring to her as 'naked baby,' a descriptive term in keeping with my warped sense of humor. Somewhere along the line, it was shortened to Naked and now Gabrielle will frequently ask for her, yelling "Nekkid, Nekkid."

Yesterday, Naked was left behind at an Open House. Of course, we didn't realize it at the time. Once we realized we didn't have Naked, we were too far from the houses (we visited four or five of them) to go back and look for her. My husband was willing to take the loss; I was terribly upset. What kind of mother allows her baby to lose her beloved baby doll? My husband pointed out that my daughter was the bad 'mother' having lost the doll. Cold bastard. I was able to keep my head (I'm given to panicking in emergencies). Luckily, I had the flyers and the listings from the Open Houses we visited that afternoon and after a few calls, I was rewarded with a return call that Naked was found on the bed of the last one we visited. The realtor agreed to take Naked to her office, where we should be able to retrieve her this afternoon (I am hoping that she does not make buying the house part of the deal). No one is going to fight us for this doll -- she is a well-worn and loved Cabbage Patch Preemie. She is a dirty, dirty baby, having joined Gabrielle in various digging ventures around the yard.

The story of Naked is an interesting one. She was a gift to my eldest daughter when my youngest was born. A considerate friend thought that Suzanne should have her own baby when her mommy had a new baby in the house. Suzanne played with the doll occasionally, I wouldn't say they really bonded. The end came after Suzanne took the baby gardening -- once she got dirty, Suzanne lost interest and generously let her sister have her. Thus began the naming and constant loving of this baby doll. Sort of an Old Testament meets New Testament story.

Gabrielle took it fairly well that she did not have Naked last night, but she's been asking this morning.

I cannot wait to get Naked.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Poetry by Suzanne

Suzanne is my nearly five-year-old daughter. She has an intensity and passion that I thought I'd let her express here. Without further ado...

No tortillas tonight
Yesterday she said
"Maybe tomorrow"
Mommy lies


The doctor prepares the saw
Shouldn't I be given some whisky for the pain?
I'll miss my hand
A band-aid and a kiss for my papercut
Oh, was that all?


I am alone
Horrifyingly alone
The sun is shining but it feels like darkest night
it envelopes me and the monsters beckon
No one will save me
I can't stop screaming
There she is
Who told Mommy she could leave the room?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Book Recommendations

We're dabbling in Juvenile Fiction these days. Some of the JuvFic books are very similar to Juvenile Picture books just with more prose. For some books, it seems like a coin was flipped to determine whether to classify them as JuvFic or JuvPic. We've really been enjoying books by Emily Arnold McCully recently.

We'd read the Mirette and Bellini series, about a couple of aerilists (tight-rope walkers). Those are classified as JuvPic. There are at least three of them and they are enjoyable stories, if a bit suspenseful for those who don't like heights.

Our recent McCully selections have been from JuvFic, though they look pretty similar to the Mirette and Bellini books. I think McCully writes a nice story in a historical setting.

Beautiful Warrior -- The Legend of the Nun's Kung Fu is an enjoyable read about a young girl in China who must marry the leader of the local gang. She seeks out a nun to teach her Kung Fu. There is a lot of Eastern philosophy and how to deal with adversity in this book.

The Bobbin Girl is about female factory workers in the 1830s. They work under harsh conditions and when the factory owners try to lower wages, they protest. There's a nice little reference to Emerson and self-reliance in there and a peek at labor before it organizes. I can't say that my 4 1/2 year-old was moved, but I was.

The Ballot Box Battle references one woman's attempt to vote and society's preference of boys over girls. Its a nice story in how it shows the indifference of a young girl who gradually understands why an older friend of hers desires to vote and that there is no reason for women to be inferior to men.

I checked my library's holdings and there are plenty of other books by Emily Arnold McCully.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Buddhist Humor...

...from a Quaker listserv

A Zen Buddhist opened up a hot-dog stand and his first customer paid with a 20 dollar bill.

After waiting, the customer demanded, "Where's my change?"

"Sir," replied the Buddhist, "change must come from within."

Monday, March 14, 2005

By the Pricking of My Thumbs...

...something wicked this way comes....

I think I'm infected -- the computer must have something. It stopped doing the screen saver and just goes blank when left for awhile. Once I move the cursor, it takes too long for the screen to pop up, AND I get notified that my virus software has been turned off, then it indicates its on... Also, a few times now, when the screen has popped up after the screensaver, the computer has been frozen -- cntl+alt+delete didn't work, neither did pushing to power button on the CPU, I had to turn off the power strip to turn off the computer -- now that is just weird.

I think we have a virus or a worm or a Trojan or is it a Spartan? Man, you just can't break through the phalanx (I've always thought that phlanx would make an awesome name for a condom. Really, why "Trojan"? The Trojans were stupid enough to let the horse in and the Greeks broke down the walls and Troy fell, devastated, they were defeated -- what a marketing coop that people actually buy that brand. It doesn't make sense -- whether Trojan refers to the task the product is supposed to accomplish or the victory over the female's resistance, in which case, it should be Trojan Horse. I'm sure there are some males out there who would not mind the word "Horse" in the name of the product. What about Cyclops, the one-eyed giant? Guess this is why I never went into marketing. I digress).

The CPU also seems to make an ominous clicking sound, but maybe I'm getting nutty.

I've run McAfee anti-virus, but isn't it supposed to be continuously running? So far, all its cleaned are some adware and IMI stuff -- would that account for the funkiness going on? We also have some other standard pack that was downloaded with MSN or something. Shouldn't this stuff be stopped before it starts wacking out my computer? We also use SpyBot, but I guess that just kills pop-ups -- we haven't had any since we started using it.

Any hints? But don't get too close, it might be catching!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tech Support -- Looking for Mr. Clean

We need to donate an old computer and I was wondering if anyone could suggest how to 'wipe' or 'sanitize' or otherwise delete personal information from the hard drive so that we don't become victims of identity theft. I have enough problems with my identity as it is -- I can't even decide on a profile picture, I think I've changed it three times in the last week or so.

One suggestion was a Norton Utility but that is no longer free, I'd really like to use something free, but there are so many choices and I don't what to do anything that will infect my computer (I'll have to download onto my new computer, save to disk and then use the disk to run the program on the old one. Unless, of course, I'm told I can't do that, at which point I guess I'd have to load MSN onto the old machine, if it can even run the program....)

So, I want a free, safe way to 'wipe' my computer. Just what a full-time mom needs, another thing to wipe....

I tried reading this, and I guess its trustworthy, but I was wondering if anyone out there had any suggestions.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Christ Crucified is Not Passive-Aggressive

Its been bothering me awhile that, as a devout Christian, I've not been able to find a whole lot of meaning in the crucifixion. In fact, I've seen it as a passive-aggressive. It seems to say, "I love you so much that I let this happen to me, to forgive your sins, you unworthy, despicable creatures. Now you better do what I tell you." Pathetic, huh? But what can you do when this is your honest view of the hallmark of your religion? I was not lead to go to another religion; I wanted to solve the riddle. Seriously, I love Jesus and I'm not giving him up just because I have a pea-brain.

I've read about how the crucifixion might be viewed as the importance of dying to the self, to leaving behind egoism so that one might grow to become a more Christ-like person, thinking of and loving others in a way that is impossible when one focuses on themselves. This is a helpful view, but it doesn't get me past my block.

Anyway, I am feeling incredibly thankful for an understanding I recently received. I've been talking to a dear friend about an issue that is the source of suffering. As usual, I approach it in my own extremely self-centered desire to be helpful. Its finally occurring to me that perhaps I should wish for help for others, not that I can be of help to others.

How does one get past the pain they have suffered? I don't have an answer, but I now see the crucifixion as hope that it can be done. Jesus suffered terrible humiliation, pain and death at the hands of those who mocked him. Jesus leaned on his relationship with God to be able to endure it, so I guess thats a clue for us. Purportedly, the crucifixion happened so our sins can be forgiven. But also in his crucifixion, I can see that its about accepting the pain and suffering and forgiving it. Once that is done, then the resurrection can occur, the new life that is not hampered by the memories and anger of the past.

How is this done in real life? I don't know, but at least I'm not longer attributing personality disorders to my Savior.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Mommy Whine Continued

The Washington Post ran an article about Judith Warner's new book, Pampered White Moms, Complaining. Newsweek ran an article on it a few weeks ago which launched me into a rant.

This article was a bit more interesting -- especially the part near the end, where it talks about how the author's father despised her. That got me thinking, how much of this insane, inane Mommy competition has to do with the fact that these moms didn't get enough love when they were kids? Do they think being hyperactive, hyper-involved, hyper-competitive is going to give their children the warm fuzzies? It seems like these moms are trying to get the love they felt was denied them which they so desperately crave. Love they think will come from the respect thats given them when they bake the perfect cookie for their child's expensive private school. Or when they get their kids into the right schools, which will get them into more right schools, which will ensure that the kids will grow up to be rich and prosperous and loving their mommies.

Have you seen these kinds of kids when they grow up? They don't love Mommy in a healthy way and they really don't like her at all. They resent her for all the pressure she put on them and they don't enjoy her company. They complain about her the way she complained about them when they were growing up. They see her as the same burden as she saw them. They have serious issues and relational problems and spend lots of money on therapy which offers little relief, at least while she's alive. They either turn into the unhappy, hypercompetitive people that their moms were or they become irresponsible slackers who blame everyone else for their troubles. Or, they say 'screw her and her warped values' and they turn into fabulous parents. Who can tell?

Since I've already ranted at length about this book, I only wanted to address a couple of things raised in the WaPo article (thanks the Rob the Llamabutcher for the pithy abbreviation for the local rag).

Hanna Rosin, the article author, writes about the women addressed in Warner's book:
Over the past century the type -- the privileged suburban mother, looking
perfect but feeling hollow -- has emerged every generation or so asking for
understanding, for what she's lost, for all the work she does. This is Mrs.
Dalloway, and the wives lurking in John Cheever's novels. This is Gloria
Steinem's woman matching slipcover materials, chauffeuring Cub Scouts and
Brownies, "afraid to ask even of herself the silent question -- 'Is this all?' "

Is this all? That really gets me. No, its not all, there is infertility, cancer, horrific traffic accidents, deaths of children, miscarriage, poverty, disease -- but, oh, they didn't get those? Just a minivan or an SUV and a home worth more than a half million (I know I'm low-balling). Please. Yes it can be hard, but they can't honestly think they've got it harder than anyone else on the planet. Who has it easier? People like them (privileged) in their 20s -- okay, but thats transitory and I'm betting these women had a nice time in their 20s too. I did.

"She's so right," she says about Warner. "It's insane, all the scrambling
that we do. We try so hard to be perfect moms."

So stop doing it. No one is victimizing you but you. The bottom line for me is I can't imagine how these women really think that they are being good moms to their kids. It seems to be more about appearing to be perfect moms to everyone else. They are probably screaming at their kids at home because they are so tightly wound. Or ignoring them because they are exhausted. It really seems to be at cross-purposes with actually mothering the kids.

Okay, I don't get it. But I think there is a lot of suffering out there and I think its important to take responsibility for the suffering you are causing yourself and others. And if I am causing any suffering by writing this I can either stop writing it or you can stop reading it.

My Eye

Originally uploaded by Unclimber.

A quandry -- should my profile picture be my eye, or should I leave it as my child's eye with the idea that I would like to see the world through the eyes of a child. If I keep the child's eye -- how do I choose which of my children's eyes to use? Perhaps the question is the answer -- I should just use my eye...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Not mine...

Originally uploaded by Unclimber.

this belongs to the pre-climber

Jade Eye...

jade eye
Originally uploaded by Unclimber.

...or is it jaded?

A Child's Eye

Originally uploaded by Unclimber.

Trying to see the world through this...

Take That, Bruce

As I've written before, my children have been turned into Bruce Springsteen fans. Big Bruce Springsteen fans. We listen to the Rising in the car, in the kitchen, and in the den (where the computer is). My husband's closet is in the den, so he'll use the computer to play Springsteen in the evening when he changes out of his suit and into real clothes.

Well, Sparky strikes back (Sparky is my Tyler Durden, many thanks to Mike for completely warping my mind by suggesting Fight Club). I've gotten the kids hooked on this (make sure you have your speakers on). So much so that the 2 1/2 year old yells "I love it" and the 4 1/2 year old sings the lyrics - both lines of them, over and over.

Hah! Take that, Bruce!