Friday, December 22, 2006

Sex in America

The results of a survey were released last week. According to its data, 95% of Americans have sex before marriage. The survey's indicators are being used by many groups to question the use of abstinence-based sex education. If premarital sex has become normative behavior, goes the reasoning, then isn't it time that sex education reflects that fact?
I was saddened and also confused by this survey in several ways. First, saddened because so many people are missing out on what I have experienced to be true- that starting a marriage with no prior sexual experience is absolutely wonderful. I can't truly compare it with the opposite (no one can compare the two with personal experience, since you start a marriage either having had sex previously, or not), but I know that it provides a solid base of trust and actual intimacy. Obviously, this lines up with exactly what God says in the Bible- that sex is created for marriage and not for any other use. That's the reason that I waited until marriage- God said it, so I better obey it. I certainly haven't followed what God says in every aspect of life, but in this one at least I was able to.
The confusion, for me, comes with the question, 'How can this trend be reversed and more people convinced to wait until marriage?'. I don't see a lot of convincing reasons to put off sex OTHER than the 'God said it, I better obey it' reason. Outside of religion and faith-based motivations, the main reasons for abstinence that I see being given are:
1. reliable protection against sexually transmitted diseases
2. no danger of pregnancy
3. emotionally healthier
However, each of these reasons is growing weaker over time. Some possible rebuttals:
1. science is developing protections against most diseases without having to abstain (witness the recent vaccine against cervical cancer)
2. there are plenty of reliable methods of birth control
3. a shaky reason that cannot be tested. If 95% of Americans are having sex outside of marriage, then it would seem emotionally healthier to be with the majority, not the small minority
So the only real motivation for waiting till marriage for sex is the motivation outside oneself- motivation driven by God because He is the authority, not you. All the other reasons can be explained away, or at least rationalized to a minimum. So is it worth it to keep promoting abstinence in the culture at large, without it being tied to a religious motivation?
Therein lies my confusion- and this goes for many areas of how Christians should speak publicly about matters of morality. People who aren't Christians (and by that I mean those that aren't actively trying to follow God and take the Bible as authoritative) have no reason to hold to biblical standards of morality. Yes, I believe that God's laws are still practical and hold the best plan for every person- that's what makes me so sad, that millions of people are missing out on the great experience of having true, marriage-only sex. But should I, as a Christian, speak publicly about abstinence as a way of life? (and not only speak, but support Christian organizations that try to influence public policy, curriculum in schools, etc) Is that putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, asking people to follow God's plan when they don't follow God? I just wonder if actions like that will push people farther away from Christianity. "Oh, those Christians again, trying to stick their nose into other peoples' business." On the other hand, it's pretty clear in the Bible that Christians, if they stick up for God's way of doing things, are going to be salt to the world, and not make too many friends along the way.
Please feel free to comment on this topic or on the larger issue of Christians involved in public policy. That's a field that I find myself drawn to, but I have a hard time figuring out what a Christian's role should be. Groups like Focus on the Family and others, which take a solid stance of wanting to see legislation and public policy follow a biblical morality, cause a lot of people to turn a deaf ear to anything having to do with Christianity. How much should Christians push for biblical public policy, and how much should they let the culture go where it will and stick with dialoguing with individuals?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Random Quiz

You Are 50% "Average American"

You are average because you wouldn't pay to go in space.

You are not average since you have (at least) a college degree.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Things I am thankful for:
-an amazing husband!
-a steady job
-a great family
-a supportive church family
-my cat Samurai
-velvet sweatpants
-Web Sudoku
-a God who loves me and is patient with me
-and so many other things!!

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Guilty until Proven Innocent

On my usual daily browsing around the internet, I read this article. If you don't have the time to go over and read it, the article discusses a fairly unknown policy of some major airlines- that of not allowing any unaccompanied children to sit next to men. Many airlines apparently will reseat men so that they are not next to children flying alone. Now at first glance I thought that sounded pretty reasonable, but the columnist made some good points that had me rethinking that reaction after a few minutes. Her main point was that we are creating a society where men are coming under suspicion of deviant behavior, simply by being male. The article linked to an earlier article, which quoted a father who said that he's very cautious about hugging or touching his own children in public, because he doesn't want to be accused of anything improper. Another man, flying with his family on the way home from a vaction, was asked to move seats by the flight attendent (in view of all the other passengers, after everyone had been seated) because he was next to some children flying alone. He complied because he didn't want to embarrass his teenage children by objecting, but he was humiliated at the public implication that he might be a child molester. The columnist who wrote this article made the point that this attitude teaches children to suspect all men, and may even lead them into more dangerous situations. (If they're lost, and see a policeman, but he's male, will they be too scared to approach him?) It saddens me to see what is happening to the role of men in our culture- first being marginalized as the 'dumb father' in so many TV shows and stories, and now being suspected as the 'pervert man' that might take advantage of any children he can.
When I think about having children with Brad someday soon, I want our kids to know their fathers' love! It saddens me to think that Brad might ever have to be nervous about hugging or holding his daughters (or even sons) because of what people might suspect. Fathers are such a huge part of children's development, and particularly in how they learn to relate to God as their heavenly Father. Our society needs to remember the balance between the dangerous few and the many loving fathers who need our encouragement to raise their children with love, not be always hesitating in their actions. The 2nd article linked here had a man quoted as saying, "You have to have a certain measure of faith in society". Are we going too far in trying to protect kids, to the point where they will be harmed by the boundaries we place 'for their own good'? If it's at the expense of their fathers, I think this deserves serious thought.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


This is a brief peek above the waves through my periscope, as I prepare to re-submerge and continue my foray through the busy school year. I really have nothing of substance to say in this post, other than that I'm once again ashamed of my sorry lack of posting. I know I'm always disappointed when I go to other peoples' blogs, and they haven't posted in ages. So for my handful of readers, thanks for sticking around! A quick snapshot of my last few weeks:
-I somehow landed myself on 6 (!) committees at school, each of which has required meetings and other obligations
-I'm trying to condense a unit on government, which I taught last year in 10 weeks, into about 5 weeks
-My team and I met with 30 different parents over the last 2 days
-I'm sick with some throat malady (2nd time being sick in 4 weeks :-P )
-My cooking has fallen to a mostly microwaveable level (shame on me) but somehow I'm still finding time for at least a little bit of reading time each day (even more shame!)
Despite my whining about how busy my job keeps me, and my feelings of frustration for not having time for things I'd rather be doing (or not doing; just contemplating life), God is helping me to see that I am being faithful to where I've been placed right now. I can say that I am doing my best at my job and putting great effort into it. I'm trying to remember to actively work 'as to the Lord, and not to men'. Some days it's working; others I fall back into whining again. But God's being patient with me, as usual. :-)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Best/Worst Camping Trip Ever

So here it is, over a month since my last post... and after all my good intentions to post more! Alas, the start of the school year has arrived like a flooding river, sweeping me into a fast-moving stream of paperwork, lesson plans, and 170 (!) new kids to get to know.

I am trying to make more time for 'other' things this teaching year, however, and spend some weekends actually doing things instead of staying at home grading more papers. In the spirit of that, last weekend we went camping for Labor Day. We made ourselves part of the Great American Traditions and were rewarded by... well, you'll see.

For starters, this trip had been long thought of but not long planned. We had wanted to go camping with our friends the Winkles in California, but then HH was supposed to work Saturday of Labor Day weekend, so we bowed out of that trip. 2 weeks before the holiday weekend, however, he got the day off, so we started planning a last-minute trip. We asked and asked around for people to come, but unfortunately most of the people we know are good planners and didn't have any last-minute free time. :-( However, Brad' sister was free, and my brother Kenneth from California. So we planned a sibling camping trip.

I reserved a campsite up in the Arizona mountains, sight unseen, about 4 hours away from Phoenix. Brad and Stacy grew up in those mountains, and were familiar with the area, but hadn't been to this campsite. Kenneth brought all kinds of equipment, plus his invaluable know-how (it's so handy having an Eagle Scout for a brother!) So Stacy and Brad got our food and more supplies, Kenneth arrived after a 10-hour drive from California (! hazards of holiday travel), and we headed off to the mountains.

We got to our campsite around noon, and checked in. The campground turned out to be pretty much in the city of Show Low, but it had lots of trees and a woodsy feel. We found our sites and started unpacking our gear. We got our never-used tent up, and Stacy's tent, and began unloading some of our food in preparation for lunch. I breathed in mountain air and sighed contentedly.

That's when things started to go downhill. Poor Kenneth had a nasty run-in with a green caterpillar that stung his leg, and then dark clouds started gathering. We were just opening the cooler to get lunch food when it started to sprinkle. It quickly turned to actual rain, so we hurried to put all our stuff under our table awning or in the tents. In a few minutes, however, the rain turned into a downpour. Brad was in the tent and Stacy, Kenneth, and I jumped into the trucks. We watched from foggy windows as our low-lying campground soon started to look more like a small pond, and then watched with growing horror as pea-sized hail started to pound down. Hail! In September. In Arizona.

After about 15 minutes of this, it was obvious that Stacy's tent was in danger of floating away, so Kenneth sacrificed his dry spot to get out in the rain and start moving the tent and cover stuff that was still in the truck beds. Our bicycles got a good drenching, but he managed to get most things like mattresses, blankets, and food under the awning.

So after about 30 minutes of the downpour, things slowed down and dried off. We emerged from our hiding places, sloshed around cleaning things up, then adjourned to the tents and trucks to change into dry clothes and take naps. We emerged at dinnertime feeling more optimistic, since some nice senior-citizen park rangers came by selling dry firewood. We moved the table to a slightly less-deep puddle, dried things off, and started up the campstove.

After a dinner of tacos, we started a campfire and settled in to enjoy the evening in our dry clothes. We'd just gotten out the camp chairs, however, when we felt a few drops of rain. We looked up in horror and noticed the sky growing blacker again. Sure enough, soon the drops turned into a steady drizzle, and then, just at sunset, into another downpour. We raced to huddle under the awning around the picnic table and dejectedly watched our campfire sputter and die. We were determined to have smores, though, dang it, so we fired up the camp stove again and melted marshmallows by propane. Kenneth rigged up a tarp to give us one wall on the awning and we stood shivering under the awning, trying to avoid the streams of water coming off the edge as we ate our smores.

Soon it became apparent that our tents were once more in danger of flooding, so Kenneth heroically put on his rain gear and left the shelter of the awning to move Stacy's tent and dig trenches. Stacy and I were now standing on the picnic table benches to avoid the growing lake under our feet (Brad had given up and had on flip-flops) and watched Kenneth salvage our dry spots to sleep. Stacy went out to hold the lantern for him while Brad and I tried to batten down the food hatches as much as possible. When the rain still hadn't quit by 8:30, we decided to head for bed. We took a brief sojourn in the boys' tent to play a game of Yahtzee by lamplight, then headed off to bed.

Thanks to Kenneth's trenches, everyone was able to sleep in a dry place and woke up reasonably happy the next morning. I woke up around 7, put on my last pair of dry pants, and went out to survey the situation. It was still cloudy, but not raining, thankfully, and our last bundle of firewood was still in its plastic bag. HH helped me get a campfire going and we had a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs.

After everyone was up and fed, we held a brief conference on strategy- to stay another night as planned, or to head home? The consensus was: we came, we ate smores, we had a campfire, we slept in tents, therefore, we camped. And that was good enough.

So after a nice bike ride around the neighborhood, we wrung out our soggy belongings, packed, and came back to Phoenix. We happily slept in dry beds that night (as another monsoon downpour raged) and spent Monday lounging around, entertained by TV and video games. :-)

So, the worst- we were rained out of our camping trip and spent a soggy 24 hours in the 'woods'. But the best- we made great memories and had a good time of sibling bonding. Was it worth it? You bet.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Orcas at Sea World


Brad's best picture of the day, in my opinion. They're such beautiful animals! Posted by Picasa

Otter Carrying Soda


I involuntarily gave a really high-pitched squeal of delight when the otter came out carrying the soda. Rivals baby pandas for cuteness! Posted by Picasa

Bat Rays at Sea World


This was my favorite part of Sea World when I was about 6 years old. It was still just as fun! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Comic Con! #1

Brad and I returned on Monday from 5 days in California at the San Diego Comic Con. For those who haven't heard (as I hadn't, 2 years ago), Comic Con is a convention for comic book art, but it has grown to the point that it describes itself more as a convention for 'lovers of pop culture'. Comics, all kinds, movie companies, fantasy books and movies, Star Trek and other TV series past and present, Star Wars, artists, fans, publishers, and more all converge for 4 days. I'm going to blog a couple posts about my thoughts on it.
First, however, let me say quickly that we took a one-day detour to go to Sea World. I hadn't been there for over 10 years, and I'm almost embarassed to admit how much fun I had. Sea otters, orcas, dolphins, and such are high up on my 'cute' list, especially when they perform in a show. Well, 'cute' doesn't quite cover it, since killer whales are not the same kind of cute as an otter carrying a can of soda (picture to follow), but it's just a rare spectacle to see rare animals showing their intelligence through what they've learned, and I guess the best way to put it is that I appreciate that. I squealed and oohed and ahhed all day, as we went to about 5 animal performances, and Brad was extremely patient through the whole excursion. I think he was keeping his mind on the upcoming Con to keep from getting too bored, although he really enjoyed the animal shows too (and even touched a bat ray, albeit under duress- from me :-).
Wednesday night, however, we made our way to downtown San Diego, found an elusive parking space, and hit the Con for preview night. This was an early entry for all the 4-day pass holders to register and be the first to see the merchandise floor. Now the San Diego convention center is huge, and the Con filled it to overflowing. The ground floor, with the merchandise booths, was probably about a quarter-mile long and covered with booths and aisleways for its entire length. We wandered around for about an hour and a half, and most of the time my mouth was just hanging open, trying to take it all in.
Now, I saw myself rather as an interloper at this event, because I really know next to nothing about most comic books and characters. All I know about Batman, Spiderman, etc, comes from the recent movies and from Brad. I do know my Star Wars, and I've read Tolkien and Hitchhiker's Guide, so I didn't consider myself a complete ignoramus, but my knowledge is a cupful in the vast ocean that was presented at this Con. So I tried to take as much as I could in, but I also bordered on overload most of the time we were there. I helped balance the feeling by people-watching; and if you're a people-watcher, you should go to this event next year- it was a prime spot for the passtime. The crowd was not homogenous, by any means, but there definitely was a trend towards males in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Some people were in regular clothes, some had shirts or buttons proclaiming their particular allegiance (Green Lantern, anime series, Star Wars, etc), and others were in costume. Of the costumes, some were intended to be a certain character and others (this was more prevalent among girls) were an opportunity to dress however they always wanted to (mostly this was Hot-Topic-esque).
Probably the dominant impression in my mind, as we left that night, was that the escapism that comics and pop culture offer is hugely popular. There are plenty of other forms of escapism in the world, too, but this was a big representative slice. It made me think about why people want the escapism, and how much it's a part of my life, and what my attitude should be towards that. The next four days gave me a lot more time to think these things over.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tag- Sets of 4s

I've been tagged with this fun list thingy from Veronica. It's late, so I reserve the right to change these answers if I read them in the morning and think of better things to put. :-)

Four jobs I've had:
1. Office assistant at a CPA's office (read: copy, file, type)
2. 'Counselor' for summer daycare program (ages 6-14)
3. Social studies teacher- first at high school, now junior high
4. Sylvan Learning Center teacher

Four movies I can watch over and over again:
1. Say Anything
2. Wimbledon
3. An Ideal Husband
4. Garden State

Four places I've lived:
1. Torrance, CA (age 1-4)
2. Camarillo, CA (age 4-18)
3. Santa Clarita, CA (age 18-24)
4. Phoenix, AZ (current!)

Four places I've vacationed:
1. Italy
2. New York, NY
3. Washington, DC
4. Hungary

Four TV shows I watch:
1. Lost
2. House, MD
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. CSI

Four foods I love:
1. Ice cream
2. Pizza (and other Italian)
3. Strawberries
4. Sourdough bread

Four sites I visit daily:
1. Fox News
3. CNN News
4. IMDB (Internet Movie Database)

Four places I'd rather be:
Actually, my favorite spot is home with HH, where I am now, so this question doesn't really work. But as to places I would like to be (with HH)...
1. Australia
2. London, England
3. with my family in California
4. Italy

Four random things in my bag:
(does this mean purse?)
1. band-aids
2. gift cards
3. phone hands-free cord
4. movie tickets for the midnight showing of Pirates II (this Thursday!)

Four things most people don't know about me:
1. I love rubber stamping and cross-stitch
2. I feel most lonely at large parties
3. I miss my brother tons, now that we're grown and living in different states. When we were little I gave him no end of grief. :-(
4. Just once, I would like to dress goth-punk and dye my hair black

Four people I tag:
1. Stacy
2. Staci
3. Brad
4. You!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Compassion in action

In my daily meanderings across the internet, I came across this article. A Chinese woman, working as a doctor in prisons, saw the need for prisoners' children to have a safe place to go, since often they were rejected by family members for being tainted by their parents' crimes. The article quotes a saying of Chairman Mao- "a son of a hero is a hero, a child of a bad egg is a bad egg". This is another example of what I learned about Chinese culture when I was there 3 years ago- that family connections are very important, and there isn't the same sense of individualism that some Western cultures have. One person can disgrace their family, and the other members are seen as 'bad' too. Anyway, this Chinese woman has started four homes for prisoners' children. She runs them with minimal staff, because she relies mostly on small foreign donations, and mostly the older children watch out for the younger children. Some kids come from the street, some from living in prison with their parents, some from relatives who don't want them anymore. The doctor, Zhang Shuqin, tries to build up their self-esteem and tell them that they are not bad because their parents have done something bad. The article makes no mention of any religious motivation for her, just that she has compassion on people who desperately need it- prisoners and their children. As someone who spends much more time thinking or talking about compassion than actually practicing it, this woman is an incredible example of compassion in action.

PS- I'm not posting anything on my lack of blogging for the past 3 months (!) because it's pretty much a laundry list of the usual excuse- too busy. Until May I was 'too busy' with school, and in June I've been 'too busy' doing all the stuff I didn't have time to do during the school year (read: optional, fun stuff like reading an entire novel in one sitting). Guess I have an excuse for every occasion! :-)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

First hint of spring


Central Park, March 2006 Posted by Picasa

HH and I at the Cathedral


Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New York #1

It's spring break, and HH and I are on vacation in New York City. We wanted to have a real travel experience, to someplace we'd never been, that still would be reasonably in budget. NYC has enough history to keep me happy, and enough technology and fun stuff to keep HH happy, and so far we're having a great time! Our feet, however, are not having such a great time, since we've walked like 15 miles so far (at least it feels like it).
I'm not going to recount all the things we've done and make this a travel diary, rather, there are some experiences I want to think through and get down on paper... er, blog. On Sunday, our first full day here, we headed out to first learn the subway system and then go straight to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I really wanted to see that because I love cathedrals, and also because one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle, was Writer-in-Residence here and mentions it in several of her books. We got there around 11, just in time for one of the morning services. So after looking around the outside a bit, we went in and listened to the service, which (as usual) made me ponder some stuff about faith in God and the way we express it.
I mentioned that I love cathedrals- every time I have the chance, I love to go into them and walk quietly around. There's something about the soaring pillars and arched ceilings, the royal colors of stained glass- blues, reds, yellows, the echoes and the quiet, that deeply resonates with me. It's so different than the churches I've grown up with, which are utilitarian buildings with minimal decoration. A cathedral's beauty seems to echo something of the majesty and glory of God- the solemn glory, the honor and reverence. The service on Sunday contained more of that reverence- there were many responsive readings, the recitation of the Nicene Creed and Agnus Dei, the cantor singing out in a beautiful monotone- formal words like:
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere
To give thanks to You, Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and Earth.
The rub, however, came with the sermon. As expected, it was a modern theological mismash that included some main point about how Jesus' sinlessness was in the sense that He chose to stay in contact with God, and that we don't sin when we choose to stay in contact with God. (I also realized that, sadly, a cathedral's accoustics are great for music but bad for a speaker- the echoes made it hard to understand him). This is High Episcopal, the denomination that is currently accepting gay priests, women priests, doesn't hold to the veracity of the Bible, etc. So my conflicted feelings came basically from this- here is beauty with bad theology; my church has true theology and accessibility without the reverence and beauty. I know how, for almost two thousand years, the beauty and reverence of high churches have turned to ritual and disconnected-ness from God; but when a person knows God, the high church service focuses on His majesty and glory- something that's harder to remember when church is an ordinary building with ordinary words. I guess the heart of the matter is that I wish there was a way to combine the two- a beautiful building, full of majesty and reverence, coupled with the joy and freedom and theology of my evangelical church's service.
I know that's not going to happen any time soon, I just wanted to acknowledge why I feel so torn about the matter whenever I see a cathedral...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

If you have done it to the least of these...

I heard last week that Bono spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, but I didn't give it more than a passing thought (other than, 'hm, that's an odd choice for a speaker- would've thought that Dobson would be more likely'). Today, though, I ran across a transcript of his remarks and was very impressed. I don't know where Bono stands on issues of theology- salvation, faith, the deity of Jesus- all the things that I was taught, especially in college, are the most important in life. But he does have an amazing compassion for the poor, especially for someone as wealthy as he is. I think that as much as Jesus focused on the poor, we Christians need to have a focus more like this.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Argh! I'm such a horrible post-er! (Didn't seem quite right not to hypenate that or I'd sound like a piece of wall art). I'm around, really I am, but it's so much easier just to read other people's work than to put out my own. Although, dear reader, if you're in the mood for web-browsing too, here are some of the random readings I've been doing lately:

Chromasia- a photo-blog my husband showed me. Check out the Portraiture- Children gallery especially.

Makoto Fujimura- World Magazine's Daniel of the Year (for bringing biblical values into the secular marketplace). His Water Flames paintings look amazing- I wish there was a better gallery online.

East Coast Counselor- this woman pours her heart into one of the most difficult jobs around, working with mentally unstable adults.

Freewheeling Bike Tours- completely out of the question financially, but so much fun to dream about!

Angela's Ashes- as usual, I'm discovering a good bestseller about 5 years too late. Very well written, with a great sense of ironic humor cutting through the aching sadness of circumstances.

NYC Tourism- with our spring break trip coming up, the biggest problem will be deciding what to see- so much great stuff!

You can see why I'm too distracted to post. :-)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Besides being a great dad... father, this past Sunday, finished this. Yay, Dad! It's his 5th race and he had a personal best time of 3:48. I sat near the finish line and cheered him when he came by, thus getting an eyeful of the thousands of other people also finishing a 26.2 mile run. My conscience, meanwhile, mocked me with the realization that I was in the midst of thousands of people in better shape than I am. My conscience is unfortunately still and quiet anytime I think about going out to exercise, though. And when it goes quiet, the couch and the chair and the fridge send out faint melodic trills designed to lure me to them.

I need to drown them out with the sobering thought that my dad is 56 and just finished another marathon. I'm 25 and can't finish a run around the block. Sigh. I have so many good intentions right now that they're almost overpowering those little melodic trills. Almost.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

In the Classroom, Part 1

Yesterday was the end of my first week back to work after the Christmas break ("winter" break according to the district policy, although I forgot to call it that numerous times). I've been mulling over several different things regarding my students and my classrooms, so I'm going to do a series of posts on the topic.

One surprise for this week was the success of my lessons for Wednesday and Thursday. I went to a morning conference with my principal on Wednesday, so I had to have a sub-friendly lesson. That usually means a reading packet with questions for the kids to answer. It also means I make it myself, because the materials that come with the textbook are woefully boring. If you imagine a teacher droning in a monotone about the war of 1812, giving all sorts of definitions and obscure details, that's the textbook. One wise piece of advice I was given, during my student teaching, was to look at the textbook as just another resource, not the dominant guide or tool.

So anyway, the reading packet I gave them for Wednesday was partly about Alexander Hamilton's struggles to found a national bank (since we're studying the first 3 presidents and their actions right now). But the concepts aren't that easy to grasp, and they don't relate to the students' lives at all, so I made the rest of the packet about the national debt and then about personal finance. They were supposed to make a small weekly budget (how much do they spend, how much do they get) and read about the dangers of credit cards. So periods 1,2, and 3 did this on their own while I was gone, but I was there to guide periods 4 and 6. The thing that really shocked me is that so many kids didn't have the slightest idea how to make a weekly budget. They were really confused at that part of the packet, mostly because many of them said, "I don't get an allowance. My parents just give me money whenever I want it" or "I don't pay for anything; my parents get me what I need and want". Now the school I teach at is in a pretty wealthy neighborhood (new suburban homes, probably from $300,000 to over a million), and the kids all have I-pods and highlights in their hair and manicures, but still! Good grief, don't these parents have any idea how to help their kids get ready for the future? So I had to give an example of how when I was in elementary school, I got a weekly allowance, had to put 10% in savings and 10% in church, and had to save for toys that I wanted. They understood why my parents did this for me, but I doubt any of them are going to go home and say, "Parents, please give me less money and put me on a budget so I learn some responsibility". These kids are totally being set up for what I've heard described as overconsumption syndrome- they expect to have a certain level of luxury their whole lives. Parents pay for it now, but when they get their first job out of college, and perhaps can't afford their cell phones and trips to the mall for new Abercrombie clothing every weekend, they will spend it anyway and end up with big debt problems. I experienced a little bit of that myself (the idea of going without a cell phone or occasional meals out would seem like a great hardship to me, but fortunately I never had to make the choice between those and debt), but these kids are going to have such a hard time in a few years. I heard a lot of them saying that their parents have already promised them cars- cars that they get to pick new, not the family hand-me-down.

Nevertheless, they were very interested in the money discussions, especially when on Thursday I told them all about credit cards and why they're such a dangerous thing (high interest rates over time). It's fun to find a topic where the kids aren't having to be forced to pay attention (as with most of our history topics that we're supposed to be studying), and they come up with questions for me the entire time we're holding the discussion. So did I give them anything positive from these 2 days? Spiritually, probably not, but practically, hopefully so. And for me, it's definitely more fun to do a lesson like that where there's some interest, than having to hold their noses to the grindstone ("Okay, guys, today we're going to talk about the precedents that Washington set...")

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More cuteness!

I promise this blog will not become a forum for cute animal pictures (see here if you want that) but occasionally I might succumb to the temptation... Posted by Picasa

Enough cuteness to last all year!

This picture is now the desktop background on my computer, and every single time I turn my computer on or off, I can't help saying 'Aw, baby pandas!'
16 baby pandas born in China at a research center this year. Isn't this the cutest picture ever? Not all cutesy things make me melt, but pandas are a weak spot! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

7 Sevens for the New Year

I read this, and since it fits my love of lists and my love of New Year's resolutions (more on that later, perhaps), here are my 7 Sevens:

7 things I want to do in 2006:
*Get back to playing music (piano, flute, and learn guitar)
*Treat my time with God as importantly as I treat time with my husband
*Figure out what kind of master's degree I want to pursue (education? counseling? political science?) and maybe start a class
*Do something service-related in a new area that stretches me
*Exercise more and learn to cook more healthy things (2 in one, but oh well)
*Read more books on theological and spiritual issues
*Spend more time maintaining friendships with short notes, emails, calls, etc

7 things to do less of in 2006:
*Watch TV shows
*Eating fast food and candy
*Worrying about possible crises/disasters/losses
*Read books centering on death and pessimism
*Wasting free time
*Taking family for granted
*Being controlling

7 ways I'm going to be a better wife/friend/daughter in 2006:
*Be more up front with HH about what I want or need him to do, instead of trying to manipulate or be sneaky (and he usually catches on anyway)
*Plan more dinners with my parents- and sister- in law
*Call my grandparents and brother more often
*Call friends and family for a short time when I have a few minutes, instead of thinking that long conversations are the only important ones
*Pray for wisdom in knowing how to support HH, surprise him, and let him lead
*Pray for my students and treat their visits during lunch or after school as opportunities, not bothers

7 Scripture passages I want to memorize in 2006:
*It's been so long since I've disciplined myself to memorize anything, I want to brush up on the Awana verses I memorized growing up
*Break Romans 7-8 into 6 sections, and those are my other 6 passages :-)

7 Books to read in 2006 (that I've not read before):
*The Civil War: A Narrative, Shelby Foote
*The White Album, Joan Didion
*The Tamuli Trilogy, David Eddings
*A Grief Observed, CS Lewis
*The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
*Soul Survivor, by Philip Yancey (or other books by him)
*some kind of low-fat cookbook :-)

7 movies to watch in 2006 (that I've never seen):
*The Graduate
*Tristan and Isolde (depending on what rating it gets)
*Underworld 2 (HH's request for a date movie)
*March of the Penguins
*X-Men 3 (hurrah!)
*Lady in the Water (I like M. Night Shyamalan's creepiness)
*and some indie movies that have yet to be publicized

Side note: a movie worth re-watching (or watching, if you haven't seen it):
*Crash (if everyone in the US could see this, what discussions and possible changes it might cause!

7 people I want to join this list-making:
* Brad and anyone else who reads this! (I don't know if there are 7 of you, but ah well :-)

2 weeks of bliss

Happy 2006 to all! And by that I mean that I hope that you, reader, as well as myself, have a year of growth and challenges and grace and the awareness of God's love.
I've really enjoyed the first 3 days of this year, not for any huge reason other than I'm on break from school (well, from work- since my work is teaching school) and it's SO nice! The intuitive reader can probably deduce that since my last post was the middle of December and titled 'Sick', the weeks between then and now were filled first with a huge rush of end-of-semester craziness and holiday craziness, followed by the break. The intuitive reader probably cannot deduce that my 2 weeks of break (of which I only have half a week left) have been filled with a great visit to my family in California for Christmas, seeing old friends, spending time with HH (whole days when we're both off! I love those), staying up late and getting up late, and general laziness.
Side discovery- I think my natural sleep pattern, had I no constraints of alarms, work schedules, etc, would be about 12:30 am to 8 or 8:30 am. It's been so good to feel actually rested on a consistent basis! During the work week, though, giving that much time to sleep means less time with HH.
The enjoyment I'm feeling at these 2 weeks off, though, brings up musings on my attitude towards work. When I'm on break like this, I feel like I actually have a life that expresses me- I have time to read, to play music, to do rubber stamping, to clean the house to the level of organization that I want it to be, to see friends. Naturally, then, I wish that life could be like this all the time- no grading, no stress over lesson plans or kids' behavior, no early mornings, no 11-hour work days. Does that mean I hate my job? I know that I certainly don't like it sometimes, but on the other hand there are lots of satisfying and fun elements to it. Plus I certainly am not lazy when I'm working, and I sure get lazy fast when I'm on break like this. And it's not a reasonable expectation to have all leisure time and no responsibilities or work- most people for most of history haven't had that expectation (some aristocrats and royalty excepted). So I guess the main question is then the sense of mission that I do or don't have with my work- the more purpose it holds, and the more results I see, the more satisfaction (for any job, not just teaching). I think my joy at the break, and reluctance to think about going back on Monday, are partly because I lose sight of the purpose and the results (purpose seems theoretical, and results are rarely seen). I need to spend some time of my break mentally chewing on this, rather than putting it off until Monday morning. Hopefully it'll make the spring semester be more enjoyable and less something to be endured. Because I don't want to spend 4 months enduring something, I want to enjoy it!