Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

Adam Kotsko & Mark Lockard

Ok, technically two quotes this week but they come from the same article so we’ll let it slide.  Most of you already know how I feel about guns but I read this piece by Mark Lockard on Sojourners yesterday and it struck me for two reasons.  First, I have always left some wiggle room in my mind for an argument of self-defense.  To address that argument, Lockard quoted Professor Adam Kotsko…

“Guns are devices for causing grave bodily injury, up to and including death. That’s their express purpose. Pretending that the purpose of a gun is to “defend yourself” is euphemism and sophistry. You cannot directly “defend yourself” using a gun. It’s not a shield or a barricade. Nor can you shoot bullets that will intercept or deflect those being shot at you. You “defend yourself” with a gun only indirectly by threatening to kill someone — or actually wounding or killing them.”

Second, Lockard speaks specifically to a Christian audience.  His article is mostly moot if you are not a follower of Christ.

Guns are made for dealing death. And if they’re not made for the death of an animal, that means they’re made for the death of a human. And given that reality, I see no way to reconcile owning handguns, assault rifles, and the like with the reality of Christ, which is fundamentally about dealing life. Not death… The Christ I know is one of life and peace, even in the face of death. Christ shows us that even if we can’t avoid death, much as we might like to because we are human and a fear of death is natural, we know that life wins out. This is what we’re asked to affirm when faced with the empty tomb.

You can read the full article here.

gunviolence

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Photo details: St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD. Each shirt represents one of the people killed by firearms in the Washington area in 2013 (176, btw).

Last week’s quote.

The Monthly Report

August 2015

Word Count

Goal: 10,000 words

Word count for July: 5,418

Ouch.  Not even close!  My boss was on sabbatical this month and apparently I took a page from her book and goofed off RESTED as well.  Eh, c’est la vie.  You win some, you lose some.

mreport

Books

I finished Sarah’s Key which, in the end, I still thought ok but not remarkable.  I moved on to Truth & Beauty mid-month, which I really enjoyed.  It’s a memoir of a friendship between two writers, Ann Patchett & Lucy Grealy.  It ends tragically and made me add “never do heroin” to my list of prayers for my kids but it read like a novel and I couldn’t put it down by the end.

After Truth & Beauty, I moved on to Ta-Nehisi Coate’s new book, Between the World & Me, which was a relatively short one but it was engrossing, especially the second half.  I’m leading a discussion of this one in a couple weeks and I’m really looking forward to it.  If you’re in the Seattle area, you should join us!

I also continued reading God Laughs & Plays and the chapter on Iraq wrecked me.  I started the chapter, titled When Compassion Becomes Dissent, thinking, “oh, he’s going to talk about politics again.”  I thought I might end up skimming the rest but it was riveting.  You don’t know what you don’t know, right?  Turns out there is a LOT that I don’t know about our recent history with Iraq.  At one point, Duncan explains that,

“…it was the first Bush administration, not Saddam’s regime, that blew up Iraq’s water treatment facilities, and not as an act of war but as a carefully researched act that accurately predicted the ravaging of civilians and children.”

And then goes on to quote a friend of his, a nurse name Gerri Haynes, who visited Iraq on several missions of mercy and saw thousands and thousands of dying children because we, the United States, blew up their water treatment facilities.  She shares her views on why Americans are silent on such matters:

“The psyche wants balance.  It doesn’t want a sudden shocking awareness of things that would compel us to change our lives… An already burdened person can hardly bear such news.  Most Americans are kind-hearted.  The plain sight of suffering and dying children would inspire almost any of them to realign their lives, change their work, their habits, their thinking, anything, if they saw they were contributing to thousands of children’s demise.  It’s very very hard to hear this kind of thing…

But we pay taxes.  So we fund these disasters… but this doesn’t say anything to the experience of going to hospital after hospital and seeing every bed with a child in it, sometimes two children per bed… It doesn’t speak to the experience of watching mothers and fathers feel hopeless and helpless to save their children.  We live on hope.  How can we not tell other Americans about what we have participated in creating.”

I was admittedly only in junior high school when we destroyed their water supply but it was sort of shattering to learn nonetheless.  And it made me wonder what other things my tax dollars are doing without my knowledge or understanding?

On my nightstand

Tattoos on the Heart (currently reading)
Take This Bread
Just Mercy
God Laughs & Plays

Goals for September

10,000 words (book & blog combined)

I’m curious to see how my time writing takes on new dimensions with both boys in school.  Here’s to hoping I get a tad closer to my goal this month!

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Monthly Report for July

Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

Alice Walker

purpleflowers

“Listen, God love everything you love – and a mess of stuff you don’t.
But more than anything else, God love admiration.

You saying God vain? I ast.

Naw, she say. Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing.
I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere
and don’t notice it.

What it do when it pissed off? I ast.

Oh, it make something else.
People think pleasing God is all God care about.
But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

The Color Purple

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The summer is nearly over and I’m starting to feel pretty melancholy.  We’re gearing up for the start of school and it’s my last full week with the boys at home before they are off and gone for most of everyday.   This morning I sat after breakfast and watched the two of them awhile– Gryffin launching his matchbox cars off the ramp he had erected on the kitchen counter, Isaiah dancing to music only he could hear over by the couch– in awe that they are here and that they are mine.  This morning they were the color purple in a field to me.

 

Every Kid Needs a Champion

Weekend Worthy

brought to you by…

Rita Pierson

ritapiersonOur boys are starting at a new school this year and I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit as we gear up for the first day.

I used to have all this school stuff figured out.  I used to know everything about how we would parent and what schools we would choose and what we would prioritize for our kids. Of course, that was before we actually had any kids.  Now I know nothing!  All bets are off.

Anyhow, I’ve been praying about their new teachers, new friends, new surroundings.  I watched this Ted Talk this morning and it made me pray for a teacher like Rita Pierson.  And not just for my own kids.  For everybody’s kids.   She emphasizes the importance of genuine relationships between teacher and student.  Check it out…

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          “I was on a plane recently and the flight attendant asked my name. When I told him, he said, “I knew that was you! You taught at my elementary school. You made me take my cap off in the building and told me I was handsome.” He then paused and said: “I think I kept my hat on until you saw me, just so I could get that compliment. Thank you for making me feel special.” I don’t think he realized how special he made me feel that day. There have been so many former students over the years that have made me realize the sustaining power of relationships…

..

          Unless there is a connection between teacher, student and lesson, learning becomes tiresome to all involved. Veteran educator, James Comer, states that, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” Yet, the value of relationships is often downplayed or ignored completely in teacher preparation programs. Even more disturbing is the lack of useable information on the relationship building process. There is the belief among some that camaraderie between teachers and students leads to unprofessional familiarity or places the teacher in a weakened position in the classroom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Strong relationships encourage learner exploration, dialogue, confidence, and mutual respect.”

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3 Fun Finds

Water Balance App

I’ve had some random and seemingly unrelated health concerns and when I mentioned them to my doctor last Fall she cocked her head to one side, pondered my symptoms, and then said I was probably dehydrated.

She asked me how much water I drink and I said, “Oh, lots.  Yeah, like, that’s all I drink. Trust me.  It’s all good.

Which, technically, is true save my daily latte, but when I got home and mentioned it to Jason, he calmly walked me around the house and pointed out about 10 mostly full water glasses sitting around the house.  He gently suggested that perhaps I fill 8 cups a day but I’m definitely not drinking 8 cups a day.  Huh.  Who knew?

So I’ve been trying to drink more water.  But it’s harder than I thought.  Damn those half-drunk glasses!  I decided I need a better system.  Old habits die hard and I really needed to up my game.  I tried a written checklist for a couple days but finally caved and got the waterbalance app.

 

waterbalance

So far, I’m digging it.  It’s a competition with myself.  I’ll show you who’s going to fill that girl up!

The only downside to all this water drinking, though, is the, uh, need to use the restroom so often.  Seriously. All the livelong day.  I used to claim that my ability to hold my bladder was my superpower.  Long car ride?  Pshhh.  No biggie for this gal!  I used to go almost all day without using the bathroom once.  For real.  Turns out that isn’t a super power.  It’s a health concern. All well.

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New Uses for Trello

I told y’all about Trello last week.  Ready to see some fun ways you can use it?   If you aren’t at all familiar with how it works, check out the video here.

For your classroom

trelloinspiration

For your wedding

trello wedding

weddingwithtrello

For your home improvement projects

trelloboard

I mean, I’m not doing any of these things currently – teaching, getting married, or tackling a home improvement project – but I just like looking at these boards.  Maybe it’s time for a DIY project of some sort, if for nothing else but to plan and track my progress.

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Kids Bedtime Relaxation App

One of our boys is struggling with anxiety.  It’s an ongoing thing – he’s a worrier – but lately it’s really been rough at bedtime.  We’ve tried sticker charts and all the usual ideas for coping and inspiring and cajoling and please-oh-my-gosh-stop-calling-out-to-us-we’re-still-here-go-to-sleep-already but we’re still struggling.  I spent several hours this afternoon reading about kids and anxiety.  We’ve got school starting in a few weeks so things will be likely be amping up for our guy in that regard soon as well so we’d like to get bedtime back to a reasonable place before then, if at all possible.

One of the suggestions was listening to a relaxation CD each night before bed.  We don’t have a CD player so I dug around online and found this app.  We listened to the free audio track tonight after lights out and the jury is still out but it seemed to be soothing for both boys so we’ll keep at it and see what’s what.

sleepapp

 

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I don’t get paid for any of these, by the way.  Just found them this week and thought they were cool.

 

Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

Sue Monk Kidd

I was out running errands yesterday and I passed by a house that was painted hot pink.  I mean, like, whoa.  My first thought was, WOW.  That’s an interesting choice” but then I remembered this section from The Secret Life of Bees and I had to dig out my copy.

It’s a conversation between Lily, the young protagonist, and August.  Lily is living with August and her two sisters, May (who has some emotional issues) and June, in Tiburon, South Carolina.  Their house is bright pink.

pinkhouse

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     “There is one thing I don’t get,” I said.

     “What’s that?”

     “How come if your favorite color is blue, you painted your house so pink?”

      She laughed.  “That was May’s doing.  She was with me the day I went to the paint store to pick out the color.  I had a nice tan color in mind, but May latched on to this sample called Caribbean Pink.  She said it made her feel like dancing a Spanish flamenco.  I thought, ‘Well, this is the tackiest color I’ve ever seen, and we’ll have half the town talking about us, but if it can lift May’s heart like that, I guess she ought to live inside it.'”

“All this time I just figured you liked pink,” I said.

     She laughed again.  “You know, some things don’t matter that much, Lily.  Like the color of a house.  How big is that in the overall scheme of life?  But lifting a person’s heart–now, that matters.  The whole problem with people is–“

     “They don’t know what matters and what doesn’t,” I said, filling in her sentence and feeling proud of myself for doing so.

     “I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it.  You know how hard that is, Lily?  I love May, but it was still hard to choose Caribbean Pink.  The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.”

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This section of the book has stuck with me throughout the years because I would have a really hard time painting my house hot pink, no matter who wanted it that way.  Here’s to hoping that if I’m ever faced with such a choice, I will remember the Caribbean Pink house and choose what matters.  Though, I have to admit, I’d much rather choose what matters with, like, a pair of shoes or maybe a bedspread.  Our house is fine as is.

The Problem We All Live With

Weekend Worthy

brought to you by…

The American Life

tAmL

I’ve had this queued up for a couple weeks now.  I’m particularly interested because our boys will be starting a new school in a few weeks and they will be a minority for the first time in their life. Looking forward to listening this weekend!

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UPDATE — September 2, 2015

This piece covers a lot of my thoughts on the podcast.  I’m also in a great email conversation with a friend about it.   The thing that keeps rattling around in my brain is this: Why is there so much talk about “bringing” the Black kids to the better-performing (AKA White) schools and NONE on doing the opposite.   If White folks really care, shouldn’t they be willing to bring/bus/commute their kids to the Black schools? 

Embracing the J

A couple weeks ago I was showing a friend the calendar that Jason got me for our anniversary earlier this year.  I’ll admit that it’s a tad intense, as far as calendars go.  My friend’s eyes widened considerably and went from the calendar in front of me, to my face, and then back to the calendar.  She looked stunned for a moment and then she finally just shook her head and said,

“Oh my word, girl, you are such a J.”

She was referring, of course, to the last letter in the Myers Briggs paradigm.  Being more into StrengthsFinder* myself , it had been awhile since I’d thought about my Myers-Briggs profile.  But she’s right.  I’m a J if ever there was one.   Here are the 4 key words used to describe J’s for those of you who are MB illiterate…

-structured
-decided
-organized
-scheduled

YEEEES.  I like ALL THOSE WORDS.  I am all those words.  I am the COO of this house, let me tell you.  CHIEF ORGANIZING OFFICER.   I organize our family calendar, our (admittedly scanty) social life, our weekly meals, our closets, our to-do lists, our camping gear, our vacations.  This morning I spent a delightful half hour organizing our spice rack (looks so good now!).   All the things.  I organize all the things.

Any other J’s in the house?

Anyhow, in addition to my incredible anniversary calendar (does Jason know me well, or what?), I use Trello (thanks to Kelly) for all of my organizing / planning / structuring obsessions needs.  SO, rather than hide my glorious J-shaped light under a bushel of controlling, persnickety shame, I’m going to be posting some of it here on the blog.  LUCKY YOU.

If you are a J like me, come and geek out.   We can talk shop!  If you aren’t, well, I’m sorry to hear that you are so unorganized and unable to pull yourself together.  Don’t sweat it!  You’re probably a P, like my husband, and your key words are flexible, open, adaptable, spontaneous.   Ugh.  God help us all.

Weekly Meal Planning

Ok, on to the good stuff.  We’ve got 3 extra mouths to feed this summer and I’ve been refining my meal-planning process.  Here’s what goes down:

Every Sunday I sit down for about a half hour and plan our meals for the week.  I’ll spare you the details but I use a combination of Trello, Pinterest, my recipe box and some recipe books.   I pick a meal for each day of the week and then I check the ingredient list for each recipe.  I put whatever we don’t have on hand onto my master grocery list (in Trello) and then I head to the grocery store first thing Monday morning.

Throughout the week, if we run out of something, I add it to our master list.  I also keep all our staple items on there as well, like milk and yogurt and lunch items, and then I only buy what’s on the master list (which Jason has access to but never looks at, btw – even when he is at the actual grocery store – damn P!).

This has minimized the stress of figuring out meals and rummaging around for ingredients every afternoon.  I know what I’m going to make, I’ve got everything I need, and if, by chance, I happen to be gone for some reason, Jason can, in theory, check the list and make the meal.   It also keeps me well within budget, so long as I don’t stray from my list (or take my husband along, what with all his wily spontaneous ways).

This Week’s Meals

 

 

 

Monday
Chicken Tacos – I added corn on the cob and avocado & made some refried beans

Tuesday
Taco Pasta – I roasted broccoli as a side dish.  This was a big fave with all the kids.  The pasta, I mean — not so much the broccoli

Wednesday
Leftovers for the kids // J and I going out

Thursday
Pizza (homemade with whole wheat dough from Trader Joe’s) and roasted cauliflower

Friday
Jason’s Aunt Carol’s New Year’s Beans (family recipe)

Saturday
Vegetable Korma (recipe book)

Sunday
Grilled Salmon & assorted vegetables (see what I did there?  Allowing room for some spontaneity with the vegetables!)

Anyone else out there plan their weekly meals in advance?  What’s your system?  Talk to me!

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*My top 5 Strengths for those who know/care what this means…
1. Intellection
2. Discipline
3. Individualization
4. Relator
5. Strategic

 

Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

Wendell Berry

This Day

After the long weeks
when the heat curled the leaves
and the air thirsted, comes
a morning after rain, cool
and bright. The leaves uncurl,
the pastures begin again
to grow, the animals and the birds
rejoice.  If tonight the world
ends, we’ll have had this day.

.

afterrain

Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

 

Anne Lamott

 

“If we stay where we are, where we’re stuck,
where we’re comfortable and safe, we die there.
We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins.
If you want to know only what you already know, you’re dying.
You’re saying: Leave me alone; I don’t mind this little rathole.
It’s warm and dry. Really, it’s fine.

When nothing new can get in, that’s death.
When oxygen can’t find a way in, you die.
But new is scary, and new can be disappointing, and confusing –
we had this all figured out, and now we don’t.

New is life.”

 

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