Monday, February 23, 2015

On Toy Rotation

Well, my Ash Wednesday didn't go at all.  Apparently this cold I've been sporting for several weeks, which left me feeling unmotivated, morphed into a nasty sinus infection.  I'm on some stout drugs which have some crazy side affects like a metal taste in my mouth, but they are working so I feel much much much more like myself.

In my house we practice toy rotation.  This is good because it cuts down on the number of toys we buy the children during the year.  It also forces you to get rid of broken toys and donate toys that they truly don't care for as opposed to simply being bored with. 

We have a wide variety of toys.  If you are interested in knowing what that is, keep reading.

Games and Puzzles:
We have a lot of games.  Board games, a couple of wii games, and aps on my Kindle.  The board games are more for Knee's age.  HB has games for his age, but the problem is that Knee doesn't match his skill level so those games are usually played very little.  The puzzles the children are into now are the kind with cardboard.  They don't use peg puzzles anymore.  We keep all the puzzles and games separate from their toys just because some of them have pieces that if you loose even one would make for frustration.

Building Toys:
We've had a variety of building toys over the years, but now the big ones are Lincoln logs and legos.   You can't go wrong with that sort of thing.  We also recently got this straw thing with pegs.  I'm not sure that they like building with them as much as just sticking a couple together and welding them as swords.

Dress up clothes:
The boys aren't really big into dressing up all the time, but sometimes they are.  They have swords and guns and some spy gear.  They also have a few costumes: fire fighter, knights, angels, Tigger, and a dinosaur.  These have accumulated from Halloween.  They also have sun glasses and hats, which they can play with or actually use.

Electronic toys:
Knee isn't so much interested in electronic toys, but HB is.  Mostly he likes the songs or the lap top style toys.  If Knee were older, I would probably get HB an ipod, but right now I would be afraid it'd get stepped on or throw around.  He also has a robot Wall-e since he's big into Wall-e and likes robots if you recall.
HB's self-built robot
Dolls and Figures:
I have acquired several figures.  I also made some peg saints and some fluffy saints.  Some of my figures are animal related (dogs and what not).  Some are people.  HB, being a Star Wars fanatic, has a few of those figures.  We also have some stuffed animals including one giant frog, which Knee loves.

Imaginative toys:
We have fake food, play tools, a doctor kit, trucks, a castle, some tents that look like trains, and regular trains.

Letters and Numbers:
We have foam letters and numbers, magnetic ones, and we have some see n' spells (which is more like a game).

Outdoor toys:
We live in front of a park, but we don't have a play set because our patio is too small.  Instead we have one slide, a water table, a trike, a wagon, and some cozy coupes.  We'll probably get rid a lot of that before moving.  The kids will both be old enough at that point to have bicycles.

Books:
Mostly we check out books from the library, but we own quite a few ourselves.

I keep the toys more or less in three rough neck boxes and rotate them roughly once a month (although it didn't happen so much because of the Birthday, Christmas, Birthday accumulation).

If it sounds like a lot, well it is.  I keep trying to pair things down, but it's hard.  They really like a lot of these toys and play with them regularly.  It doesn't help that each winter has been especially hard so we haven't gone outside hardly at all.  In Arizona it was easier to cut down because the weather was milder.  I'm hoping to get rid of more things during Lent and later when we move. 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: A Review

If you don't like social experiments, particularly those involving the Bible, then this book is probably not for you.  Basically the author, Rachel Held Evans, takes the Bible and each month explores a topic related to women both by living it literally and looking at how others interpret it.  By others I mean everyone from Orthodox Jews to polygamists.  The book is an interesting thought experiment.  If I had to rate it I would say it was "okay."  If you asked me why, I'd say it's because I'm nitpicky and I don't think she did a great job seeking out Catholic sources for her information.

October: Gentleness
Here she talks about contemplative prayer, but she gets her terms mixed up.  I've already explained why here.

Skipping over November: Domesticity

December: Obedience
She gives a commentary about the Virgin Mary.  Some of it just bugs me.  Like in the kind of "Don't mess with my Mom" bugs me.  After commenting about what the Immaculate Conception is she writes, "It's as though, over time, Mary's feet have gotten farther and farther off the ground."  Later she writes, "Like a good Protestant should, I think Mary's act of radical obedience means more when is is one of us.  Imperfect. Afraid. Capable of feeling all the pain and doubt and fear that come with delivering God into the world.  But I suspect I may also be a bit of a Catholic, for on the rare occasion that I yield myself fully to the will of God, when I write or speak or do the dishes to magnify the Lord, I start to see Mary everywhere."  I'm not sure what to make exactly of that last quote.  Mary was perfect particularly in her obedience.  She's not like us because she didn't hesitate.  She wasn't actually afraid.  I mean she asked an angel (which scare the day lights out of people) a question.  Furthermore we will never truly be like one of us.  She was God's Mother.  Nobody can ever say that.  That in and of itself shows that she's set apart.  I don't know but I think Ms. Evans is riding on the fence on this one.  Either Mary is particularly special or she's one of us and anyone of us could do that job.  It can't be both.

January: Valor

February: Beauty
This one is one of those hard things for non-Catholics to get.  Catholics see sex as a sacrament in a lot of ways.  Sex is about intimacy and I think it gets masked as pure pleasure too much.  Did you know that Blessed Virgin Mary is considered to God's Spouse?  Think about it.  If Jesus is the New Adam and BVM is the New Eve...then.  Yeah.  We are all technically called to be the spouses of Christ.

It's this sort of thinking that would probably confuse (if not creep out Ms. Evans).  She writes "On the one hand, we have centuries of medieval Christian theologians who went to great lengths to render the poem [Song of Songs] allegorical, interpreting the intimacy between the man and the woman as the love between Christ and the Church.  This required some interpretive gymnastics that at times preclude common sense."  Actually maybe to Ms. Evans it precludes common sense, but she also didn't grow up knowing of the Church as being something actual not metaphysical.  She probably heard that Christ is the Bridegroom, but did not think that that meant the Church is in fact the Bride.

March: Modesty
"Traditional Catholics often wear the mantilla, a lacy black veil that falls over the head and shoulders."  That's news to me.  Mantillas come in a variety of colors.  But okay black is popular- for married women.  White is also a traditional color particularly for unmarried women, brides, and 1st communicants.  Yes, I'm being picky.  But if someone were to read this book wouldn't it sound like for Traditional Catholics we'd have brides wearing black veils?

"...while Catholic nuns typically wear a black veil over a white coif, (unless, of course, they intend to fly and instead opt for a cornette)."  Har har.  Slow hand clap. What a nun wears is largely based on what kind of vows she's taken are.  Postulants, for example, will wear white.  But if she means the colloquial term for nun (not just to mean a cloistered religious sister) then I must inform her that religious sisters wear a variety of colors of veils.

"...and St. Padre Pio famously refused to hear the confessions of women wearing anything other than skirts that fell at least eight inches below the knee."  No he didn't.  This is why this fictitious thing is so slanderous.  Here we have an evangelical believing something about a Catholic saint that is fabricated.  If you have this on your site, please take it down.  It's not true.

Later on she quotes from Cardinal Giuseppe Siri who warned against trousers in the 1960s.  Keep in mind that this was during women's liberation and the good Cardinal was concerned about what it would mean for women to behave like men instead of behaving like women.  He wasn't concerned about modesty.  Pants were just a symptom of a larger problem going on during that time period: the break down of family and women embracing the dangerous aspects of women's liberation movement.  This isn't some kind of Papal or Magisterial declaration against women wearing pants.  You can keep wearing pants.  Nope.  It's about women needing to be women and not trading in our feminine genius for a lesser form of masculinity.  Please understand I'm not saying anything against masculinity.  I'm saying women should embrace what they are.

Then Ms. Evans throws out the "Mary-like Standards" codified by Fr. Bernard A. Kunkel.  Sometimes this is attributed to Pope Pius XI.  I've already talked about this before.  But I'll just repeat.  Look at the Catechism.  This is one man's opinion from 1944.

I agree with her.  These codes for modesty standards are ridiculous and to keep bringing them up over and over and over again is head shaking.  Selling books to fellow Catholics using these standards like they are more important than other doctrines that we should be teaching is mind boggling.  Can't we focus on something else?  Isn't it enough to say "please wear clothing that covers your rear to Mass" without going into whether that has to be pants or skirts?

The rest of the book is fine so far as it discusses aspect of Protestantism like ordained women and mentions that she takes a silent retreat at a monastery.  It's just those irritating things above that get to me and made me contemplate (pun not intended) about slamming the book down a few times.  If anything it teaches me that Catholics have a long way to go with evangelization if an open Evangelical gets this information all wrong.  It also shows that maybe I should just stop reading all books from Evangelicals.  Those barbs from an outsider denouncing Momma Mary and medieval theologians just drive me nuts.  Near occasions of sin.  I tell you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Mardi Gras, Y'all!

yes, I am recycling photos.  You are welcome.
So today is Fat Tuesday, which is the traditional day to get rid of fatty meaty foods.  Yesterday we ate our annual gumbo and king cake.  This year I used cinnamon rolls similar to what you can do for St. Lucy's day.  I unrolled them and then braided them together forming a large circle as I went.  After baking them, I put the frosting on top and sprinkled granulated sugar dyed in the traditional colors (purple, green, gold).  Purple means justice, green means faith, and gold means power. 

We also watched The Princess and the Frog because it uses Mardi Gras as the backdrop of the story.

Tonight we join our fellow parishioners in celebrating with the other traditional meal: pancakes.  What traditions do you have for today?


Monday, February 16, 2015

The Flawed Science in Jupiter Ascending

I'm a huge fan of science fiction.  The imaginations of various authors have led to advances in science and technology.  The problem is when they stray far from known science. My husband, who is a planetary scientist, often watches these type movies albeit with groans and face palms.  He's even had professors use Hollywood blockbusters in class to show that the science in the movie is flawed.  They may consult scientists, but in the end most of Hollywood is in it to entertain so they ignore the science.  Heck, Myth Busters often devotes episodes showing just how wrong Hollywood is.  Jupiter Ascending is no exception.

The main character, Jupiter, is said to be the "reoccurance" or reincarnation of a former queen/empress.  Basically it's slide-of-hand talk for saying that through the power of genetics and probability she has the exact same genetic code as the dead queen.  Apparently this isn't all that uncommon because the royals often include provisions for their "reoccurance" in their wills.

Except this doesn't happen.  Even identical twins aren't entirely genetically speaking identical.  Forget epigenetics, you can actually look at the dna sequence of twins and see small but significant differences.  Throw in micro-evolution that occurs naturally in humans and the fact that our genes within our own bodies mutate constantly over time and there's no way that Jupiter could in fact be an exact genetic replica of the queen who was born 90+thousand years ago.  Heck I'm not the same genetic replica of myself.  Portions of my genes within my cells are already mutating as we speak.  They are wrongly (or rightly depending on how you look at it) dividing out the code.

Jupiter may be closer than any other human to the dead queen, much like twins are, but she's not an exact copy.  There will be differences between herself and the dead queen particularly if we take into environmental factors that may have caused problems during her childhood.  What I mean is she could have had a poorer diet and is shorter than the dead queen.  However I'm inclined to think that because of evolution, Jupiter is probably far from being a copy of anyone.  She's uniquely herself.

So the whole premise behind the movie, that Jupiter is this queen's "reoccurance" is bunk.  It's made up science to tell a story.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Jupiter Ascending: The Embryonic Medical Research Connection

So currently I'm procrastinating.  I haven't been to Mass yet, which is probably a good thing.  The wind chill currently sits at -39C (-38F) and we have an extreme cold weather warning.  So I'm going to the later Mass which is at 11 hoping not to freeze my skirts off.

Last night, Hubby and I went to see the movie Jupiter Ascending.  I picked an action flick that had a tiny bit of romance.  The movie is okay.  It's got a lot of typical action cliches.  There wasn't a whole lot of substantive plot.  The most interesting part of it, to me, was the back story.

The story is based on a family of three siblings who inherited several parts of the universe after their mother died.  They also own a production company that produces a youth serum.  How it's produced reminds me of embryonic medical research.  The go in and "seed" a planet with people.  The planet is left largely alone until it reaches what the family considers to be maximum population that can be sustained (forget that having a maximum population is a myth).  Then they "harvest" the people.  They take them to a production plant and remove whatever it is that they remove for their youth serum.  This youth serum sustains those who can afford it.  It causes cell regeneration and thus the family is thousands of years old and theoretically will never die of disease or old age. 

While humans haven't quite gotten to the "old age" part, we have been creating embryos or abortion them in order to produce cells to prevent disease and reverse the affects of damaged cells.

Further connections to this are subtly intertwined in the move.  The younger brother mentions that his mother started having second thoughts about the morality of using other people to create this serum.  He early on asks his sister if she has ever seen a harvest.  "Oh, no" the sister says with obvious disgust at the idea, but then adds with a note of sadness "I hear that they don't feel any pain."  If that line doesn't make you think of abortion, I'm not sure what will.

I don't think the Wachowski's had any intention in making the film seem like an anti-abortion/anti-embryonic research movie, but that's the connection that I see.  Particularly since the whole movie dips into the futuristic realm of genetics.  Perhaps the transgendered "Lana" hopes one day to replace his male dna with female dna?  I have no idea.  The Wachowski's are pretty shy around reporters and basically said that the film is a cross between The Odyssey and the Wizard of Oz.  They aren't explaining themselves about why wealthy people are seeding and harvesting people for their own personal gain.  I suppose if they make a sequel it will make more sense.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Moral Ambiguity

 A large percentage of my blog deals in morality.  It's a large part of my life and affects my decisions.  I'm not unique; most people use their scruples all the time.  Last night my husband got into a long, long, long discussion about morality.  At the end I promised him I wouldn't do that again, but that doesn't mean I won't keep putting on the pressure, turning up the heat, (insert another analogy here) about the topic.

The discussion started like this...."Why are you opposed to abortions?"  My husband falls into the wishy washy camp of being personally opposed, but can't say the same for others.  This brand of thinking is actually how he views all moral situations. 

His answers were thus: "I believe it's murder.
Me:  "Okay.  Why?"
Him: "I don't know why....I know you so I can't really answer that well.  I was just raised that way.  It's part of my culture."
We go off on a tangent about where his abortion issue lies and come to the conclusion that yes, they are humans.  It would be dumb to say otherwise, but personhood is odd.  He agrees that the arguments are murky grey areas that aren't sufficient.  I'm talking about the arguments for cognition for example. 
Him:  "Are angel people persons? I don't know.  I personally think so but I can see why someone would disagree."
Me: "So you think that areas of morals are ambiguous?" 
Him: "No, not really.  About 90% percent of people believe that murder is wrong."
Me:  "Uh, no.  You have define what murder is and that's going to change based on who you are talking to which is why we're having this discussion about abortion.  Because some people believe it's murder and others don't."
Him:.......
Me:  "And you have to stand firm in your beliefs because if you don't, you are essentially passively colluding.  Think about it.  If it's murder you are paying the abortionist.  You aren't doing the murder yourself, no, but you are in fact cooperating with it against your belief that it is wrong.  You aren't holding a firms stance even on your own scruples.  It creates moral ambiguity."
Him:.......
Me:  "What if it affected you more closely?  Let's say a member of ISIS came in and chopped off our children's and mine heads.  ISIS says it's perfectly fine morally.  And according to your purview, it's fine too because ISIS has it's own moral compass.  They believe you have to convert or be killed.  You can't even prosecute them for murdering your family by your logic because that would be imposing your morality on theirs.  I think I'll leave you with that to think about."

*please note that this is not the exact conversation we had.  This has been condensed and isn't verbatim.

You can't be wishy washy when it comes to morality.  You can't say "Well, I don't like abortion, but it doesn't affect me so let them do what they want."  Not only is it entirely uncharitable to allow a person to violate morality, but it's not really having any morality at all.  Morals should be universally applied.  Otherwise they aren't really morals; they are personal codes.  Without some basic moral values society becomes chaos and people do whatever they want without regard to any persons.  Having personal freedom doesn't mean doing whatever you want regardless of whether or not it violates someone's view of what personal freedom is.  We would all become persons and non-persons at the same time.

And this is the logic of fence sitting, which is to say eventually the fence is gonna poke you in the behind so you better choose which side you are on and why.  Trying to sit there perfectly perched and trying to appease everyone, won't work.  At some point you have to say ISIS doesn't have the right to kill Christians just like abortionists have no true moral grey area in which to murder the unborn.  Morality has be, generally speaking, unilaterally applied for the protection of all persons. 

And just so Hubby knows, if he wants to thoroughly enjoy this weekend, he better get off the fence and stop being so morally wishy washy.  I want to go see Jupiter Uprising btw but I hear Padington is just as good.  :P

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Discipline and Disabilities Part 1

Back in December, as we were leaving our teacher, parent, pediatrician meeting, the special education teacher (who actually has a different title name) mentioned in passing that her son has an auditory disability.  She said she and her husband didn't realize it at first.  She thought her son was just "being bad."

It doesn't help that in the grand scheme of mommy wars, there's prevalence to look at less than stellar children and blame them or their parents.  Here's one example that made me cringe: 

The critics have a point.  Spanking is old fashioned and Biblical.  Every one now knows these days that the way to deal with misbehaving kids is to drug them, sentence them to endless counseling or to convince the kids that they are perfect snowflakes and that if anyone finds a problem with their behavior, well then that person must be mistaken or evil, because perfect snowflakes never do anything wrong.  What was the Pope thinking? - See more at: http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/02/09/popewatch-spare-the-rod/#sthash.2VC8EnUP.dpuf
"The critics have a point.  Spanking is old fashioned and Biblical.  Every one knows these days that the way to deal with misbehaving children is to drug them, send them to endless counseling or to convince the kids that they are perfect snowflakes...."

As a parent with of a child with perhaps mild form of autism, I was floored.  He's going to have to be sent to endless counseling and therapy because he lacks the ability to control his impulses.  If it turns out he has ADHD, then he will most likely be put on drugs.  The author seems to think the best solution would be to ignore what his teachers and pediatrician thinks and those of future therapists and instead spank him.  Because really his lack of impulse control isn't really autism, it's because his parents don't swat him on the butt when he gets out of hand.

I want to cry.  It's seriously that disturbing to me.

Remember that girl who video taped her father whipping her.  Her father was a Texas judge and stated he did not regret the spanking at all.  His reason was she disobeyed him by using the internet.  Well you may not know this but Hilary Adams, who is an adult now, was born with ataxic cerebral palsy.  That's right.  Her father knowingly hit a girl who has a physical disability and possibly given her pathology also a learning disability.  Doesn't that disturb you?  We don't hit people in wheel chairs or crutches so why is a child in the same position acceptable?

I read a number of testimonies of parents who used spanking as their go to disciplinary tool later to turn away from it with deep regret.  They found out that their "snowflake" had a disability.  Because believe it or not spanking doesn't beat the devil out of children nor does it make a cognitive, social, or physical disability go away. I could whip HB til he was black and blue, but it wouldn't help him.  Instead it would make things worse.

It deeply bothers me to hear parents talk about swatting their children's behind and calling them nicknames like Lazy Daisy because their child struggles to get ready in the morning.  Perhaps the child is autistic and clothes are overwhelming.  Perhaps Daisy suffers from a mild form of narcolepsy.  Shouldn't a parent take their child to a medical professional first to eliminate possible problems instead of automatically coming to the conclusion that name calling and butt swatting is best? 

This isn't to say we should treat children like "snowflakes", but I'll save that discussion for another day.  For now I think we should all be upset that a Catholic website would treat those with disabilities with such disdain.
The critics have a point.  Spanking is old fashioned and Biblical.  Every one now knows these days that the way to deal with misbehaving kids is to drug them, sentence them to endless counseling or to convince the kids that they are perfect snowflakes and that if anyone finds a problem with their behavior, well then that person must be mistaken or evil, because perfect snowflakes never do anything wrong.  What was the Pope thinking? - See more at: http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/02/09/popewatch-spare-the-rod/#sthash.2VC8EnUP.dpuf

The critics have a point.  Spanking is old fashioned and Biblical.  Every one now knows these days that the way to deal with misbehaving kids is to drug them, sentence them to endless counseling or to convince the kids that they are perfect snowflakes and that if anyone finds a problem with their behavior, well then that person must be mistaken or evil, because perfect snowflakes never do anything wrong.  What was the Pope thinking? - See more at: http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/02/09/popewatch-spare-the-rod/#sthash.2VC8EnUP.dpuf