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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Erupting Colors - Contributor Post

Today, Samantha Williams, who now blogs over at The Day Well Spent, gives us a tutorial on how to make the most beautiful paintings ever.

Erupting colors.

What you need:
a pan with edges (a cake or pie pan works well)
food coloring
milk (we used whole milk, my cousin used 1% and the results were not as good)
dish detergent (I recommend basic blue dawn)

What you need to do:

1. Pour milk into the cake pan until the bottom is covered. 
2 Sprinkle several drops of food coloring on the milk.
3. Add a few drops of dishwashing detergent in the centers of the largest drops of coloring. 
4. Watch the resulting eruption of colors. 
5. If erupting slows down, try adding more food coloring and then more detergent. If the experiment wont work after a while, begin again from clean milk and add new drops of color and detergent.
6. When experiment is complete, pan washes easily in warm water. 
7. Take lots of pictures because the results seriously look like art.

To take it a step further, we then laid paper on top of the milk to see if we could transfer the images.
This is the result:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Enterprise Dress (Sewaholic Cambie) - Contributor Post

Amazing sewing extraordinaire, Amber Snommis, is at it again. She just finished this incredible project, which I am happy to share with you. Make sure to track all her work and how-to articles on Miss Parayim.


UntitledIt’s been a month since my last completed project post, but I’ve been busy! I’ve been working away at my version of the Sewaholic Cambie dress. I decided a while back that the a-line version without the sweetheart neckline (thanks to the handy dandy tutorial on Tasia’s blog) would be perfect for my favorite fabric.
I finished the dress over a week ago- just in time to debut it at the super awesome fun time that was Play On Con. So, while I usually have tried to post my projects within a day or 2 of completion, I am doing this a little late because I had a lot of sleep to catch up on.
I love the shape of this dress. The A line has a little bit of a late 1960′s feel, but is not so obviously retro. I like that there is a little flare still in the skirt. It doesn’t feel as sultry bombshell as a straight or pencil skirt, but it’s much more tailored than a fuller gathered or pleated skirt, and I only had about 2 yards of the fabric, so I wouldn’t have had enough for that anyway. I think it’s a good balance between the two, and just right for showcasing a large scale, busy print.
The main fabric is silk, and is probably the softest, floatiest fabric I have worked with so far. I’m glad I did some test stitches on scraps because I very quickly discovered my feed dogs were hungry, and they think silk is delicious! To avoid disaster, I pinned a strip of tissue paper to the feed dog side of every seam before I sewed it. It was a pain, but it worked. I also reduced my stitch length to 1.6 (my machine default is 2.5). I thought puckers might be an issue, but that was fine. I noticed in my test scrap that the seams with a longer stitch length were pulling at the fabric, and I could see the holes where needle and thread had gone. Shortening the stitch length helped prevent this from happening, and kept the seam together and strong.
UntitledI tried to be soooo careful in laying out this pattern. I even made myself a chart of each piece of the garment, and where the enterprise would wind up- left or right, top or bottom. But I must have had the pattern piece for the skirt back wrong side up when I went to cut it because I ended up with 2 enterprises on the same side in the back. Oops! It doesn’t bother me too much- especially since I don’t look at my own back, but I was kind of annoyed when I discovered the mistake.
The back of this dress ended up being a little bit tight, but nothing some spanx couldn’t make better. I’m not exactly sure why that happened. I muslined the dress 3 times, and it seemed like it would be OK, but I wound up having to take it in at the neckline, and maybe I got a little over eager at that point. Or maybe the zipper in my muslins wasn’t placed well. Or maybe I gained 5 lbs in between starting and finishing this dress. Who knows. I really like the pattern, and I’m not too disappointed with the fit, but I will definitely be re-mulslining it if/when I make it again, and will probably add a side dart and a real FBA instead of only monkeying with the back and side seams, which is what I did here.
I lined the dress in a quilting cotton I found at Jo-Ann. I didn’t plan to line it in quilting cotton, but when I saw the print, how could I not? I wanted something breathable since I’d be wearing this at “Nerd Camp”, and while a lawn or voile would have probably been softer and more drapey, the cotton did the job of ensuring against transparency, keeping me from sweating, and providing some support to the bodice. Also- ENTERPRISE!
You can see in the final muslin/lining fit photo there’s some gaping around the neck area. I thought this might be self correcting once I attached it to the silk, and wasn’t looking at seam allowances, but no such luck. Doing the fix at that point in the project was definitely not ideal, and another reason for a new muslin next time.
I finished off the hem with piping I’d made from leftovers of the sleeve and pocket fabric, and I covered up the ugly with this sparkly blue trim. I’m a sucker for the sparkly. I look for excuses to work it in. That contrast fabric has a little bit too.
I originally thought about using the piping around the neckline, to make a clean, sharp, seam with that floaty silk, but it was suggested I understitch it instead, and that worked just fine. I’m glad I didn’t use the piping there because it does add a little bulk, and I made sure I packed my trusty iron for the con to de-wonk the hem before heading out, and that helped.
Sewing the dress was a good experience. I sewed a fabric I had never worked with before, and while it isn’t perfect, I don’t regret it. I feel like I learn something new with every project, and this was definitely no exception! I didn’t even get into the genius way the invisible zip is installed, but I know I’ll be using that technique in the future.
I really like the pattern, and I think I will definitely make it again!


Monday, July 29, 2013

Recipe Monday - Double Breaded Pork Chops

Now, I forgot to take a crappy picture of this, and usually if I don't have a picture, I won't post the recipe, but these were so good, I have to anyway. (I have a feeling it's all that butter?)

These were the most moist, juiciest, flavorful pork chops I've ever made. And they're title was "IDIOT PORK CHOPS" so you know they're easy!

I stole this image from Taste of Home. I don't know if their recipe is the same, but my chops looked just like this.

2 sticks butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
Italian bread crumbs
6 pork chops

Mix the melted butter and the eggs being careful that the butter is not so hot it will cook the eggs. Dip your pork chops in the butter/egg mix, and then the Italian bread crumbs, and then dip it AGAIN in the butter/egg mix and Again in the Italian bread crumbs. You have to dip it in each twice as it is not as good if you only do it one time. Bake the pork chops at 350 F. for 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the chops.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Preschool Pointers - 43: Use your Words


It seems no matter what you say, your children hear something different. If you tell them to stop misbehaving, they hear you saying that they are being bad. If you tell them act like big girls, they hear you calling them babies. If you tell them to quiet down, they hear, "shut up" or worse, "you're not important."

Why? They've got good self-esteems, they're active and spirited and happy. Why the perceived insults and sensitivity? Why the mixed, and potentially harmful messages?

Everything is about the ego at this stage. Even though the kids have passed the age of not seeing anything beyond their noses, they still relate everything back to themselves, and in the most intense way possible. So that each message you send gets internalized.

This is important in that this is the stage where you can actually cause behavior change, but you must be careful not to do so at the expense of your child's positive sense of self.

So, when your kids hear things you didn't say, what do you do? Particularly if you're still disciplining them for the original offense?


 Make a definite effort to separate the two issues. Issue one is that your kid did something you didn't approve of and needs to be told about it. She also needs to understand exactly what the reprimand is for, so use your words well, and make sure she understands that it is not her, but the deed that is getting talked to. She will still misunderstand and make it about her. Correct her.

After you've gone through the initial reprimand, hug her and talk to her about words meaning certain things. Re-explain that your discipline had nothing to do with her as a person, simply her actions. Reassure her of your love, etc.

Don't stop there.

Make another pit-stop at, but you shouldn't do this, that or the other thing, please, because whatever reason you have at the moment to stop them from being ridiculous.

A lot of people skip that step (the last two steps really, but even people who are good at overexplaining their discipline as action-not-person based sometimes miss this last part).

If you follow up with the original complaint and its resolution, you provide closure for your child, and put the emphasis back where it should have been in the first place, had you not been dealing with a four year old.


Friday, July 26, 2013

In Response to Disney Haters - Guest Post

Sascha Fernandez, who blogs over at The Smart Little Girl's Guide to Summer, has generously shared with me this post about the greatness of Disney. There's a lot of back-and-forth about the virtues / faults of Disney movies, but Sascha is a confirmed fan.

For Meg...
OK. I’m sick to death of the Disney haters out there.  I am a fully grown woman who was raised on Disney.  For the most part I’m well adjusted, recognize my own potential, never compromised my own values, or questioned by position in the world as a woman, equal and free to succeed or fail like everyone else out there…like men.

You know what? You take from Disney movies what you bring in with you. If you are looking to tear them apart and find the “politically” incorrect message, or looking for a way to tear apart the “princess” personality and mythos you are going to find a way to do it no matter what. What you will miss is all the good stuff.  And I mean the GOOD stuff.  The values, the confidence, the life lessons, all because some of the princesses wanted to get married instead of getting a college degree, making it on their own, and then deciding whether or not marriage or domestic partnership has more pros than cons and whether or not children allow one to continue one’s current lifestyle (trust me, they don’t). You miss the message and you miss the magic.  We all need a little magic in our lives.  If you don’t have room for it, well, you end up like Gaston.

Let’s take a look at a few movies, shall we?

The Little Mermaid

Boy is this one attacked left and right and up and down.  Ariel gives up her (feminist) voice for a man!  Oh gosh and glory, let’s go get the cross and crucify her.  You know what you are missing?  You are missing the plight of an adolescent trying to find herself by breaking away from her father at precisely the correct time, when she’s 16.  This is not an “OK” for 16 year olds today to run away and get married, but what it is is the OK to realize you don’t have to like what your parents like. You don’t have to live at home for the rest of your life. You don’t have to be a little mold of your parents. You don’t have to follow in the footsteps of your siblings.  You can be YOU and YOU is whatever is important to you.  In the end, Triton realizes this.  He realizes that his daughter can have her own life and live apart from him…and guess what…she never stops loving him or her sisters and they never stop loving her no matter how she’s changed.  And imagine the end she finds her voice.

The Lion King

This one is often attacked because Mufasa takes on the role of “God” when counseling his son from on high.  But it isn’t Mufasa we should be looking at and it isn’t about what your place in the circle of life is.  The Lion King is about living with consequences, pain, and emotional agony and how to move beyond them.  The key to the movie is one very small scene.  And this is the scene that should bear the most attention:

When I was going through a divorce, I was emotionally scarred (and still am to some degree). I watched the Lion King with my then six year old daughter.  This scene made me weep.  It was the entire movie.  When things in the past hurt I try to remember this conversation.  THAT is what The Lion King is about.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Yeah, this one was probably better for older children, around 9 or 10. I won’t argue that.  But in and of itself The Hunchback is one of the most important Disney movie your child should ever see. EVER.  We all know the story. The deformed hunchback Quasimodo is hidden in the bell tower. Judge Claude Frollo (and in the book he is Archdeacon of Notre Dame…a bit much even for Disney) persecutes the Gypsys, yet lusts after the Gypsy Esmerelda, who is the only person to show Quasimodo any kindness. And on.  Does this sound familiar? It should.  Nazi Germany and the persecution of the Jews.  The song *God Help the Outcasts* is probably the finest Disney song ever written and therein lay the entirety of the movie. One should not ask for help for oneself. One should ask for help for others. And if you go the Christian route (which is rather impossible to ignore since the story takes place in a church), God sees everything you do. Remember that.  And probably the most important lesson to take away from this story is the question pondered by the King of the Gypsys Clopin when he asks in the opening song, “Who is the monster and who is the man?” That’s pretty much all that’s left to be said.

Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White

Femme fatales? Sure.  Princesses? Sure.  Did they marry their princes? Of course they did.  Can I ask you a question?  What exactly is the problem you have with romance? These are stories, they are meant to entertain, and they are meant to be romantic.  There is a great deal of hypocrisy going around when it comes to damning Disney princesses.  We hate them because they seem vapid and unintelligent, yet we have no problem reading our Harlequin romance novels or watching re-runs of The Love Boat.  If you are pointing out to your five year old child that Snow White should be getting a college degree and playing the field a bit before she decides to marry, that’s your own insecurities surfacing.  Did you marry too young?  Did you fail to do things you wish you had because you got swept off your feet?  Let little girls be little girls.  Let them have a little fantasy. All too soon they will realize that the world can be a pretty rotten place for women. If you raise a strong girl for her ENTIRE childhood (not just relying on that 90 minute span when she’s watching Prince Charming slipping a shoe on a girl he met the night before), then you aren’t doing your job as a parent.  Every day should be the life lessons.  Going to school, getting good grades, being strong, being a force.  If a 90 minute movie destroys all the work you’ve put in, you didn't do very well, did you?

A dream is a wish your heart makes

Cinderella is about the dream for a better life.  And guess what, every one of us dreams of a better life, and s ometimes we need a little help getting that life.  It’s no shame asking for a bibbity bobbity boo when things get really tough or seem hopeless even when you are working as hard as you can (ask any college graduate trying to get a job in this economy…I know from experience).

The princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But... before the sun sets on her 16th birthday, she shall prick her finger, on the spindle of a spinning wheel - AND DIE!

Sleeping Beauty is about love. Not the love between the Aurora and Prince Phillip which is admittedly rather surface, but the love of parents (both the king and queen and her three godmothers) to protect their child no matter what the cost. Would you hide your daughter away for 16 years to save her life? Would you sacrifice your time with her to save her life?  I would.

Why, Grumpy, you do care.

Snow White is about kindness. Plain and simple and nothing else.  Be kind to animals. Be kind to people. Be kind to everyone. Kindness matters and kindness makes you a better person, a person worthy of kindness in return.

You're unsuited for the rage of war,
So pack up, go home you're through
How could I make a man out of you?

So let’s take a step forward from the princesses and look at Mulan. I recognize there are some cultural problems with Mulan and I am not knowledgeable enough to discuss them. Most of what I hear from Disney haters is that Shang comes to Mulan's house to meet thereal Mulan (yeah, he kind of likes her as a girl now), grandmother asks where she can sign up for the next war because Shang's gorgeous.  Is that all you got out of this movie?  Really?  Mulan isn’t about a woman who dresses as a man so that she can fight in a war to save her father's honor, dignity, and life?  Mulan is about making sacrifices for your loved ones and again, finding out what kind of strength you have inside, and not just physical strength, but mental strength, emotional strength, and the ability to be a leader.  In fact, Mulan is the antithesis of the princesses (in a good way...a little contrast is a good thing) because marriage becomes the furthest thing from Mulan’s mind.  She realizes she’ll never be the “perfect” bride that society says she should be.  She realizes that there is something she should be, but doesn’t know what it is.  Throughout the movie we follow Mulan on her own journey as she recognizes some things within herself she didn't know existed. When Mulan cuts off her hair (her hair being her crown. Without it no marriage and no going back), and rides off to war in her father’s sted she realizes her life will never be the same. If she returns or is found out she'll be put to death. When Mulan is told to go home by Shang for the failure to live up to soldier standards she instead screws up her nerve and gets the arrow. Even though her life could be in jeopardy (by Shan-Yu and the laws of her country) she goes to the Emperor to try and save his life (and presents herself as a  leader because her friends listen and follow her), Finally, she takes the Emperor’s crest and Shan-Yu’s sword to her father to honor him and her family and he casts them aside to hold her. Mulan realizes that she is enough. She was always enough. 

If you kill him, you'll have to kill me, too


Yup. Everyone hated this one because it was historically inaccurate.  OF COURSE IT WAS!  Just about every movie you have ever seen that was based on any kind of historical event is inaccurate (I do not include stories like Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, etc…).  Again, you are reading into the story what you should NOT be reading into it.  People are so hung up on the mistakes that, well, you can’t see the forest for the trees. This is a story about racial differences and the ability to either war with one another or make peace.  It is about two people being olive branches. It takes two people to see that they have similarities (the fact that they are both human is a good start), to bring peace.  It’s not always easy and the peace process doesn’t often come, but the potential is there.  The potential for one person to lay her head upon the head of one to be executed to prevent war exists within us all.  Oh, and of course taking care of the earth in this time of global warming shouldn’t be ignored either.

Show me the smile!

Beauty and the Beast

Yikes. If I hear “Stockholm Syndrome” one more time I’ll be sick. How many 6 year olds know what Stockholm Syndrome is unless you think it’s wise to explain a kidnap victim developing feelings for her captor to them. It seems as though your explanation might do a bit more damage than the story of a woman who falls in love with someone who has the reputation of being a monster.  Belle is the first “intelligent” woman (in today’s light) presented to us and we STILL rip her apart.  She isn’t interested in marrying the “prince” because there is no substance to him. The Beast is being punished for, well, pretty much being like Gaston.  He has to learn to love someone for themselves and not what they look like or what they can do for him (such as being arm candy in Gaston’s opinion).  Do the household staff want Beast to fall in love and have Belle return his love? Yes, of course.  They want to be returned to human, after all. But is that it?  I think characters like Mrs. Potts know what is in Beast’s heart and even though her desires are self-serving, they are also deeply rooted in the desire to see Beast become the person she knows he can be.

NOTE: I'm updating my section on Beauty and the Beast because someone pointed out that there was a  study that says girls feel it was OK for men to abuse women because Beast abused Belle.  That warrants a comment. And a great big one at that. 

You read into it whatever you want, but I can tell you that neither of my daughters ever believed it was OK to mistreat women * because* of Beast. One can find studies to validate any and all positions which is why they are pretty much all bunk. I found a study debunking your study. And then I found a study debunking the study I found debunking your study...etc.  Think about these types of studies for a moment: just how much of those girls were led into those opinions by the specific questions asked? "What do you think of Beast?" is a heck of a lot different than, "Do you think Beast should be nicer to Belle?" And how old were they? 7 or 13? How about the counter studies on the positive role models in Disney characters (Beast being able to change and learn to love).  Finding "studies" that validate the position you already have is sloppy science.  Having an opinion, looking at all the reports and THEN making a judgement is not sloppy.  I judge on experience and I've never met any child who saw Beast as an abusive boyfriend. Cripes! Every single thing has to have a devious meaning.  And if your child feels it is OK to be abusive to women because of a Disney movie then as a parent you get a big fat whopping F.

And let's revisit the movie now... Last time I watched Belle put him the heck in his place when she refused to dine with him.  And she LEFT.  The only reason she came back was because Beast was injured trying to save her. She might have been frightened at first and then she took control and refused to be treated poorly...hence Beast's change. It's all in the expectations you take in with you.

I'll be shootin' for my own hand!
Beauty and light is within

Let’s put it plainly.  Disney is about love.  Disney is about courage. Disney is about what is inside. Disney is about doing what is right. Disney is about being who you are meant to be.  Why is this bad?  Why the need to pick it apart. Watch the movie. Feel the magic.  Let Disney allow you to reflect on your own life.  Could you be a little more Snow White to the guy who just cut you off on the highway?  Yeah, you could.  Could you be a bit more Simba when you reflect on pain in your life. Yeah, you could.  Could you be a bit more Esmeralda to the bum on the street that might need your help? Yeah, you should.  These are the lessons Disney will teach your children if you let it. 

You like making deals. Take me in Meg's place.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sex or Parenting?

Yesterday, some words came out of my mouth. And those words got me thinking. It occurred to me that many of the phrases uttered by parents and children to each other in the heat of growing up a good family could also very easily be instead uttered in...the heat of the moment, if you know what I mean.

These things. Are they sex or parenting? Taken out of context, one can never be sure.

I brought it up on Facebook and the results were phenomenal. With that, I give you: "Sex or Parenting?"

- "Let go of my hair; you're getting it all sticky."

- "Don't put that in my ear!"

- "But...I just love you!"

- "I want you to play and have a good time, just not on my face!"

- "You are going to hurt yourself that way!"

- "Put that back in your pants!"

- "Stop licking me!"

- "Are you playing harmonica on my butt?"

- "That does not go there!"

- "Take it out of your mouth or you're going to choke!"

- "Don't put your tongue on other people's hineys!"

- "Why do you think that feels nice?"

- "Stop grabbing that!"

- "Put your dress back down, honey. It's not that kind of parade."

- "You can't put your tongue in that!"

- "Get your face out of my boobs!"

- "We don't touch our penis like that in front of other people, buddy."

- "You did a great job, but we need to work on your aim."

- "Why are you naked?"

- "Take off your pants. This is going to be messy."

- "I love you, baby, but I don't want you coming up behind me."

- "Can you please stop wrapping your penis around that toy?"

- "He didn't do it! You had your finger in his butt!"

- "I already told you, I'm going to stop if you keep playing with my nipple."

- "If you don't put on your pants, you are going to get a bare-butt spanking."

- "Yes, dear, you look lovely. Now can we get back to cuddling?"

- "Get that frog out of here!"

- "I want to give you a hug. No. I want to touch your armpit!"

- "Because...butts are private."

- "It happens to everyone, honey."

(HINT: These are all real statement made by real parents. Hah!)

How about you? Have any gems that could or parenting?


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Teaching Kids About God - Contributor Post

Kate Allen, resident theologist (no, really), who blogs over at CornDog Mama and just had her second beautiful baby, was able to take time out of her busy schedule to write an important post about children and God. Thanks, Kate.

Parenting in the United States looks different in 2013 than it did in, say, 1982, the year I was born.  One of the quandaries I face as a parent, an issue that my own parents didn’t have to mull over quite as much, is the issue of religious education and “churching.”  Although I’m a self-proclaimed Christian like my parents, I don’t limit my religious practice to Christian practice.  I also don’t believe Christianity has an exclusive claim to what is good, true, and right (in fact, I believe Christianity, or at least Christians, often get it Jesus’ message wrong).  My practices and beliefs put me on the margins of Christianity (not to mention the margins of my childhood family!), and I find myself in growing company.  Many of my parent friends, though they grew up in some sort of faith tradition, have either come to pick and choose what they’re willing to pass on to their children from that faith tradition, or they eschew religion altogether.  The big question I hear, especially from friends who no longer embrace religion or believe in God, is: “If I don’t believe in God or don’t know what I believe about God, how am I supposed to teach my own child about God in a way that feels authentic rather than misleading?  Should I teach my child about God?”

As someone who sees systemic problems in her own faith tradition, I struggle along the same lines.  I don’t want my children learning about Christianity from just any Christian church community—I need to know that the Christian message they receive is more than mindless dogma that is inconsistent with the radical teachings of Jesus.
So how do I go about teaching my child about God in a way that a) isn’t contrived, b) offensive to me, and c) illuminating and helpful to my child without being oppressive?

I offer the following questions as starting points for any parent who asks this question, whether they belong to a faith tradition or have rejected religion and God but still wish to offer God as a possibility to their child.

First, what is it that teaching God/religion/faith to my child will accomplish?  Is this for me, or for my child?  What do I hope my child will gain from learning about faith?  Is it an intellectual exercise, or is there something more—something I remember from my own childhood that I want my child to experience, even if she rejects it later? 

Second, do I want to give my child a variety of faith perspectives, or do I want her to experience one primary tradition with occasional references to others?   Do I feel competent enough to teach my child about many faiths?  Do I feel competent enough to teach her primarily about one without tearing down others? 

For someone who wants to go the former route but isn’t sure where to start, a good place to begin is the Unitarian Universalist Church, which is intentionally embracing of all faith and no faith at once—Unitarians include theists, atheists, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, you name it.  For someone who prefers to allow her child to experience one faith tradition primarily (in my case, Christianity), one might start in a “safe” denomination.  The United Church of Christ is a Christian denomination that is progressive, socially conscious, and warmly inclusive—all things I know I want my children to be exposed to (and formed by) in a religious context.  On the other hand, my childhood denomination, Roman Catholicism, is home to really rich, symbolic ritual, and it’s extremely important to me that my children learn about the power of great ritual, the sort that gets repeated often enough to get into their bones.  A compromise might be to search for religious communities that straddle the margins as much as I do.   One way to figure out whether a community honors and dwells in margins without risking an in-person visit is to visit their website.  Is there anything about this place that stands out as unusual (and good!) in comparison with other communities of the same tradition?  To use a personal example, my husband and I heard about and joined an African American Catholic Community and eventually had our marriage blessed there, even though neither of us is African American.  African American Catholics certainly aren’t a majority among African Americans or Catholics, so they’ve had to make their own creative way, weaving those two strands of identity together in a way that honors each without diminishing the other.  Church communities like this, that push against whatever “the usual” is because of their “unusual,” marginalized status, are the most likely to honor the questions and concerns that I bring to the table where the religious education and formation of my children are concerned. 

That brings me to the final big question: to what religious institution can I go and share my own concerns and misgivings about religion and God while being taken seriously, rather than dismissed (or, worse, regarded as sinful/shameful/na├»ve/unfaithful)?  A religious community that fails to admit its own ability to be wrong is a community that I’ll never want my child to learn from.  I need my child to learn that even though God is good, religion sometimes really isn’t.  A religious community that can’t admit its own failings is a religious community whose images of God I won’t be able to relate to (and certainly won’t be able to teach my children about with any conviction). 

Even though I’m a lifelong Catholic, I am more importantly a person who has put “God” and religion to the test—questioning whether masculine images of God are the only valid ones, or even the best ones, for example.  I’ve also dug deep into Christian scripture to see how/when Jesus and other holy figures contradict themselves, promoting prophetic good in some ways and making grievous wrongs in action and judgment elsewhere.  I don’t mind the digging—I’m not afraid of what will come of my search.  I surround myself with people who can help me explore—I trust that they haven’t planted answers ahead of time, even if they’ve dug their own digging and found gems of their own for me admire.  For me, the search is the point, and I think this is especially the case for parents who have rejected religion and/or God but want to give their children the option to embrace one or both. I want my kids to see that my answers about God (and the answers of the faith traditions I choose to expose them to) are not final, because if they were final, they’d be missing the possibility of transformation, expansion, and surprise.  Whether my kids ultimately choose to embrace religion or God is not so important to me as whether they learn what my own faith-on-the-margins has taught me: to love abundantly, to turn again and again toward goodness, and to approach both new and familiar experiences with wonder.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Six Outrageous Things about Texas That Have Nothing to Do With Women's Rights

Recently, Texas has done some unbelievable things--changed the space-time continuum, made rape kits into abortions, got out of voting fraud (but wasn't so lenient on these poor senior citizens), and managed to turn tampons into feces and urine...all before stripping the state of the majority of their abortion clinics, prompting the lovely Erick Erickson to encourage ladies to use coat hangers instead.

And with all this hullabaloo surrounding SB5 and then SB1,  people continually seem surprised that these over-the-top political maneuvers and backward logical stretches could happen in real life. To which we have to say, well, guys, it's Texas.

Let's not forget all of the other completely sane and rational moves the state has made.

1) They tried to secede.

And unlike the other states' little, laughable petitions, they got more than 100,000 signatures and sent that shit off to the White House.

But Obama told them "no".

Shame, really.

2) Creationism

No, seriously. Texas is solely responsible for almost half of America believing that the Earth is 10,000 years old. (Well, the Bible helps a little, but, honestly, even half of the people reading the Bible as, well, gospel, believe in a mix of Creationism and evolution.)

Here's how it works. Texas is the nation's largest textbook distributor. Come on, we all remember Texas McGraw Hill, right? So, once every ten years, the Texas Board of Education revises its standards for teaching and textbooks. This board is crazy politicized and is made up of only 15 people. In fact, the chairman, Don McLeroy, served for only a short time on his local board before moving up to the big stuff. He is an unapologetic Young Earth Creationist. Awesome.

For all you people mired in reality and science out there, Young Earth Creationists believe the following (according to their website):

"The book of Genesis should be taken as a literal account of the pre- and early history of the earth. The creation week is taken at face value: consecutive 24-hour periods adding up to six calendar days. Allowing for gaps in Old Testament genealogies, this means that universe was created between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. YECs also hold that geological data, including the fossil record, should be understood in light of the worldwide flood depicted in the account of Noah and the ark."

And this is important enough to repeat: Texas only revises its curriculum once a decade. So, basically, it has control over entire generations of American learners. How is this possible, you ask?

"Texas is one of the nation's largest textbook markets because it is one of the few where the state decides what books schools can buy rather than leaving it up to local districts, which means publishers that get their books approved can count on millions of dollars in sales. Further, publishers craft their standard textbooks based on the requirements of the biggest buyers. As a result, the Texas board has the power to shape the textbooks that children around the country read for years to come." -- PBS

So, yeah, Texas, fighting science in the school systems around the nation.

For Teresa

3) They kill people.

Despite their intense love for life--be it right after conception, or during the embryonic stage, or perhaps as it grows into a fetus (but rarely, of course, after it leaves the womb)--they've just executed their 500th person.

52-year-old Kimberly LaGayle McCarthy died by lethal injection in January 2013 after being convicted of killing her neighbor in 1997.

4) They shoot animals with laser guns...while jogging.

Thank goodness Governor Rick Perry carries his trusty handgun with laser accessory attached when he goes out for a run. Otherwise, how would he be able to shoot coyotes out there in the Texas wilderness?

You see? Right there. A shining example of how very necessary our second-amendment rights are. 

But that is a cute puppy, though, right?

5) They totally ignore their poverty rate.

While Gov. Rick Perry brags about the falling unemployment numbers and the new job creations, he unfailingly forgets to mention that 18 percent of Texans are living in poverty. Actually, it's more like he's just ignoring it, as there has been little-to-no legislation aimed at dealing with the problem.

With all the money and jobs coming into the state, how can so many suffer poverty?

"The two biggest predictors of poverty are poor education and chronic health problems. Only about 80 percent of Texans have a high school diploma, the second lowest in the country, and Texas has the highest number of uninsured citizens," states KXAN.

I'd make a creationism joke here, but I just can't find poverty and lack of reliable education and opportunities funny.

6) They force their own legislators out of the state.

Years before Sen. Wendy Davis stood for more than 11 hours in a one-woman filibuster to stop the most over-arching abortion regulations the nation has seen in decades, Texas was running its democrats out on a rail, almost literally.

In 2003, 50 state representatives fled to Oklahoma and chilled there for as long as it took to block a redistricting bill that would have lost them at least five seats in Congress.

"Political observers say the redistricting plan before the House could mean a shift of up to five seats to the Republicans, giving them a 20-12 edge over Democrats in the Texas congressional delegation and better odds of keeping control of Congress." --CNN 

You tricky Texas republicans, you. Bet you didn't count on the amazing, vanishing democrats!

So, as you can see, women's rights take up just a small percentage of the shenanigans Texas is capable of.

Remember the Alamo, right, guys?


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