Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Highschool in the News

My highschool and my school district is in the news.  I've spoken to fellow Catholics about this problem which then dismissed my deep concerns about 1st Amendment violations (or thin lines).

Growing up as a Catholic, I ended up being put in the awkward position of Christian evangelization at a public school.  And what I mean by that is that it is largely of the Protestant flavor. 

Before taking the field to march in the half time show, my band director who was Baptist would preside over prayer.  Infrequently he would allow our token Jew to offer a prayer.  We would say the Lord's Prayer including the doxology, which is something Catholics include separately as part of the liturgy.  It was rather awkward for me so I'd often just remain silent during the doxology, but it's up to a individual Catholic's discretion on whether to be ecumenical to include it or refrain knowing that it's proper place is in the liturgy.

Likewise they had public prayer offered before football games.  We would march on the field to play the National Anthem but before doing so the Methodist minister (usually although sometimes it was the Baptist) would offer a prayer.  No other ministers or religious persons offered prayers despite it being a foot ball game in which cheer leaders, foot ball players, and band members were required to attend in order to receive a grade.  

I argued that my attendance was required at the game and therefore I was required to endure this form of Christian evangelization despite my objections.  At the time I wasn't sure how to approach this subject so I didn't.  On the one hand I was a fellow Christian and want to be ecumenical, but on the other hand I felt insulted that it was Methodist minister.  There was no pause of silence, not student led, no other ministers invited.  And we did have a decent sized Catholic parish literally down the street.  I argued with several fellow Catholics a few years back that I felt like my constitutional rights were indeed being violated.  They claimed that it wasn't a requirement of my grade despite my protestations that indeed attendence at the foot ball game was a part of marching band grades.  I was required to be on the field to perform the National Anthem.  What would have happened if I simply refused to show for the game?  I would have probably been scoffed at and flunked.  Mississippi is part of the Bible belt.  We weren't diverse then as we are now. 

Apparently this form of evangelization has gone on unchecked in my absence and has worsened to include giving out Gideon Bibles to elementary school students, religiously-sponsored school functions, and prayers at other school functions geared toward students.  Fortunately the courts are reigning this district in.  And I'm not talking about after school clubs or student organizations.  This form of Protestant Christianity is endemic. Keep in mind that the reason Catholics formed their own school systems is because all public schools taught with a Protestant slant. 

And this is what worries me sending my own child to a public school.  What slants are we teaching children in school?  Isn't it enough that I grew up learning in history class that Christians (aka Catholics) attacked Muslims during the Crusades when it was a defense of pilgrims from Muslim aggressions?  Isn't enough that I heard about the glories of the Protestant reformation?  Christianity sanitized through lens of the popular Jolly Ol' Saint Nick rather than Saint Nicholas that Catholics and Orthodox know.  Personally I'd rather the schools just stop.  It's hard enough to combat the way the world views religion, which is often wrong.  Look at how the New York Times characterizes the Little Sisters of the Poor Case.  They really don't understand what objecting to something means.* I'm going to have to go to even greater lengths to explain why the school is flat out wrong both to my children and quite possibly the school.  Now that gay marriage is on the table, well what kind of morality are children going to receive when we're not around?

If the Catholic schools could handle/integrate special needs children....if they could make tuition affordable once more...then my life as I'm sure the lives of many public school children's parents would be easier.  Then we wouldn't have these rampant cases of evangelizing children using a Protestant flavor or secularized flavor.  We'd be able to leave.  And I'm not saying that children should be sheltered.  I'm talking about teaching our children about basic morality.  That should be left mostly to the parents.

I feel at least somewhat at ease.  When I registered HB, for school one of the teachers recognized us from Mass.  Also his kindergarten teacher said multiple times "You are your child's first teacher" during orientation.  That's Catholic teaching.  It should be more universal, but I recognize that this teacher gets it from some where.  So here's to hoping it's a good year.

*I got into a long argument with someone about this.  I don't want to endure that again.  Basically if you want to understand their objection I'll phrase it this way: If you object to murder, you object to all murder not just the kind you commit yourself.  You don't tell the government "I object to murder, but I authorize you to have a third party commit murder on my behalf."  That's what the accommodation does.  It's not a true exemption like churches have.  It allows the government to murder (or in this case have birth control coverage) on the Sisters behalf through the insurance administrator.  The Sisters object to birth control for the sake of birth control.  Period.  That includes everyone.  That's what an objection is.  It's not the ability to sit on a fence or take half measures.  My critics seem to think that the Sisters have a full exemption because their insurance is through Christian Brothers which also receive an accommodation.  As I pointed out, if they changed insurance companies they'd still be locked into the accommodation.  It's the accommodation itself that they object to.  Lesson over.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Laudato Si and Water

30. Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. This debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor. But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behaviour within a context of great inequality.~Laudato Si (emphasis Pope Francis)

My grandmother used to live in the country.  Her source for water was well.  One year she was repeatedly getting severely sick.  Her doctor, concerned, recommended that she have her water tested.  Turns out her water sits under a cow pasture.  It was being polluted by cows.

 Living in the desert too, makes one appreciate having water.  It's regularly pushed here to use native plants who require less water.  So here are some tips to help with water conservation:

1) Skip commercially bottled water- Nestle got in hot water for bottling taking away from water in the area.  And I believe this is what Pope Francis means when he says water is regularly being privatized.  Use a reusable water bottle.  If you don't like the tap (which is what Nestle and many other companies use anyway), just filter it.
2) Cut your shower/bath usage- This may mean skipping baths/showers here and there, which is actually good for your skin.  This may mean taking a short shower.
3) Turn off the tap- Scrubbing a dish? Turn off the tap.  Brushing your teeth? Turn off the tap.  Only turn on the water when you actually need it.
4) Use a dishwasher- Dishwashers actually use less water to clean dishes than traditional hand washing does.
5)Water your plants with gray water/water barrel- Need to scrub something that can't go into the dishwasher? Never fear. You can use the water to water your plants.  Some people also collect rain water in large barrels for the same purpose.  You can use your bathwater for the same thing.  I've "flushed" a toilet using bathwater before.
6)Watch what you pour down the drain- Paragraph 29 actually lists several things that regularly get into the water supply and pollute the water:  " certain mining, farming and industrial activities.....It is not only a question of industrial waste. Detergents and chemical products, commonly used in many places of the world, continue to pour into our rivers, lakes and seas." It may be smart to use natural cleaning products rather than commercial cleansers.

Hope that helps.  Do you have any tips for conserving water usage and reducing water pollution?  Put 'em in the comments below.

For more information:
Household natural cleaners
more cleaner ideas

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Common Falsehoods about Pro-lifers

Sometimes I read stuff about pro-lifers from pro-abortionists and it makes my eyes roll so hard.  I'm sure many of my usual readers would agree that it gets real old, real fast.  So I'm writing this post mostly to have something to link to when these things crop up rather than constantly repeating myself.  If I miss one, please list it in the comments.

1) "Typical nutcase males that want to control a woman's right to choose. Stay out of it"- I'll start with the obvious.  I'm female.  In fact from my experiences in the pro-life movement, many of my fellow pro-lifers are female.  I don't have an exact figure, but I would wager to guess that most vocal pro-lifers are female.  So it's a total lie to say that only men care or are trying to control women.  There are women out there who want to protect other women....the unborn ones.  This is not to say we don't try to protect unborn men either.

2) "right wing men seem to know what's best for women" /sarcasm- Being pro-life is not a political affiliated issue.  There are many many many many different types of pro-lifers from all sorts of political groups.  Granted many of us are conservatives.  However pro-lifers recognize that the unborn is a person and deserves protection to one degree or another.  That's what we all have in common.

3) "If they overturn Roe v. Wade, it's time for some looting & pillaging...starting with churches."- It's also common to think that all pro-lifers are religious, but that's not true.  Secular Pro-life is a site dedicated to those without any religious affiliation.  Their founder is agnostic.  

4) Discussion about reducing the abortion rate among black people in NYC "Like for example legislating a livable minimum wage? Improved education in poor areas and more accessible higher education? Legislation for paid maternity leave and improved employment conditions for working parents? And yet...the people that oppose these initiatives also oppose abortion."-

 I'll just requote myself here from another blog: "That's simply not true. Conservatives and liberals disagree about how to implement those changes not that those changes should never happen. Take the voucher program for example. That's a conservative-backed initiative and one that Obama doesn't support."

Furthermore as I pointed out pro-lifers come from all over the political spectrum.  We don't always agree about how to reduce the abortion rate, but we want to try to reduce it all the same.  

5) "yes, the right is in favor of actually-born women dying by the thousands. there clearly isn't a single already-born American the right doesn't hate and wish death upon."-

You could modify this quote to be basically pro-lifers only care about the baby not the mother.  

Considering how much legislation pro-lifers have pushed for to make abortions safer that have been opposed by pro-abortionists, I think this is simply false.  If a pro-abortionist truly cared about having safe and legal abortions, why is there such a gross negligence about safety?  Kermit Gosnell is not some anomaly.   There are numerous cases where women with perforated uteri were left to bleed inside abortion clinics for too long before someone called for outside help.  There was one case where a frantic husband was barred from helping his wife and ran outside and sought help from....pro-lifers who were outside protesting.  They called 9-1-1 and helped the lady inside.  There's also been cases of post-abortive women who were in no condition to return home helped by pro-lifers outside abortion clinics.  We care very much.  We're the one running post-abortive programs for women.  I don't see any out there from pro-abortionists.

And yes, those are real quotes from people who've posted things around the internet.  Pray for these people please.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NFP Week: My Thyroid and Me

Back when my liver was giving me issues, I had an anomaly with my thyroid, which turned out to be nothing. 

But my husband who was keeping track of my temps back in the day was concerned about my temps.  "You know the book says these temps of yours are an early warning sign of thyroid problems."  "Well didn't they check that out and it was fine?"

Flash forward:  I finally went in for a basic exam.  "I think your thyroid is a little large.  I'm going to refer you for an ultrasound and a blood test."  :(

I did a little look into hypothyroid and starting checking off symptoms.  Sadly I've got several of them.  It also turns out that having thyroid problems is sometimes linked with liver issues too. 

So in the next couple of weeks I'm scheduled for more tests.  On the bright side if it turns out that I have hypothroidism then I can get on medication and get an energy boost.  Let's face it; I've got very little energy and it would be nice to know if this is the cause.

Needless to say, NFP has it's benefits.  It may have pointed out a health problem that I wasn't even aware of.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Laudato Si In Your Home: Energy Guzzlers

If you recall, I used to write a post once a day.  On Wednesdays (if I'm not mistaken) I used to write posts about being green.  Who would have thought years later the subject of being green would be an encyclical?  I thought I'd start a series of sorts in that same vein.  Basically how you can apply the principles discussed in Laudato Si into your own home.

This week I'd thought I'd tackle energy guzzlers in your home. 

55. Some countries are gradually making significant progress, developing more effective controls and working to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behaviour, which at times appears self-destructive. ~ Laudato Si
I live in Arizona.  It would be rather inhumane to not have a place for the poor and the homeless that is cool.  I'm sure the Pope is not expecting people to reside in buildings that can get upwards of 100F inside.  I think he was referring more to areas that usually are much cooler in the summer months like London Ontario.  We went most of the summer without air conditioning and what unit we did have was in one room only.

That said there are two types of air cooling devices in Arizona: evaporative cooling and air conditioning.  Evaporative cooling works well in dryer climates and is more energy efficient, but it does use a lot of water.  We originally rented our current home because it said it had both.  However, once we moved in we discovered that nobody has used the evaporative cooler in years and it was dysfunctional.  The maintenance people have basically said that it would have to be replaced.  I doubt our land lord plans on replacing it especially since the air conditioner works.

Unfortunately the air conditioner uses a knob.  This isn't very energy efficient either.  Using a digital control is better.  Many of them come so that you can preprogram.  Our condo had a digital a/c control.  We were able to set it to a higher temperature when we left for work, and then program it for a lower temperature before we returned home.  We'd do the same thing at night.  Digital controls are also more accurate.

In any case, try setting your temperature to a higher one.  We hover somewhere above 80.

The same can be said of a heater.  Although it's not mentioned in Laudato Si, one would assume that if you live in a warmer climate you would use your heater less and set it to a much lower temperature.  You can also increase your heat efficiency by using heavy drapes to keep out drafts, but open them during the day to allow in more light.

Additionally not mentioned in Laudato Si is another big energy guzzler: the dryer.  It doesn't matter where you live, you can forgo using a dryer or use a dryer infrequently.  I realize that some areas do not allow outside laundry lines, but you don't have to have one.  You can use a portable drying rack on your porch or patio or inside.  You can install a line inside a basement or attic or shower.  It doesn't matter if you live in an apartment or dorm.  There are ways.  You can simply use plastic coat hangers and hang your clothes on the shower rod inside a bathroom.  The key is that you can't do all your laundry at once.  It's best to make sure that you have enough space to hang up one or two loads at a time and only wash one or two loads.

For more information:
When I took the Diaper Challenge and Handwashed and dry hung diapers 
My Thoughts on the Right to Dry

Friday, July 17, 2015

7 Quick Takes: #Birthday

1) Today is my birthday.  Hubby and I have hired a babysitter and are planning to go out for dinner this evening.

2) This morning I planned on cleaning the house.  I had just finished up the kitchen and was cleaning out my purse.  I went to put some stray cash back into my wallet when I noticed an appointment card in my wallet.  It was marked for today.  Apparently I had forgotten about an appointment to discuss Knee's speech evaluation today.  I had about half an hour before I needed to get out the door so I kicked it into over drive (nobody was appropriately dressed at this point).  We made it to the appointment.  I'd like to think it was a guardian angel thing making sure I didn't miss an important appointment.

3) According to the therapist, Knee "presents with a moderate expressive language delay and speech delay."  Basically he understands everything everyone says, but he isn't putting enough words together and what he does say is very difficult to understand.  The therapist was delighted to note that he does imaginative play and asks questions and all the sort of normal and non-autism stuff.  His speech isn't delayed enough that he isn't articulating words.  It's the problem of putting all of that into sentences hence the "moderate expressive language delay."  But I knew this already which is why I wanted the evaluation in the first place.

4) At this point, the speech therapy lab is going to send the information to his pediatrician and then confer with our insurance.  We should be hearing back from them in about two weeks and then will most likely start speech therapy once a week.

5) In the meantime I have to sign up HB for school in about 10 days.  School starts August 6th so time is flying by.  Hopefully he will also be evaluated and get his own speech/language therapy and behavioral therapy through the school.  That would be lovely because my patience is wearing thin.  It isn't good to keep delaying therapy.  The earlier the intervention, the better he'll function in society.

6) I'm also planning on putting HB into religious education and hopefully children's choir.  I want him to work on his social skills and I really think sitting at home and playing with his brother is doing him no favors.  He needs to deal with situations he's not familiar with and build on his independence.
7) I also plan on doing preschool at home this year for Knee.  It makes sense if we're going to be doing speech therapy and dealing with HB to have a little more flexible schedule.  Plus preschool is expensive.  We don't qualify for head start and programs like that.

Now to clean my house and make lunch!

Thanks to This Ain't the Lyceum!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Laudato Si and Thred Up

*Please note that there is an affiliation link.  You get 10 dollars to spend and I get 10 dollars too.

You're probably thinking "Laudato Si? The Pope's Encyclical about the Environment?  What does that have to do with Thred up?"  Let me explain.

The Pope's encyclical discusses over consumption.  Here's an exert from paragraph 22:
22. These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.
 Thred up is an online consignment store for children and women.  It's basic idea is that rather than throwing away clothing that doesn't fit, we sell it to them and they sell it to others.  I don't know about you, but my size has changed over the years.  My children continue to grow.  I've given birth twice (Thred up has a maternity section).  While it be nice to wear our clothes out until they can be used as rags, the truth is people fluctuate in size, and sometimes perfectly good clothing sits at the back of a closet or gets discarded.  Following Pope Francis' encyclical we should be trying to find more sustainable ways to avoid the throw away culture.  This is one way.

Likewise if you know anything about the garment industry you know that 1)it's a huge environmental hazard to the water ways and 2) it often mistreats it's workers.

1) To produce a garment, you use a lot of water to dye the garment.  Usually those toxic dyes end up in the water ways where the factories are located.  This pollutes the drinking water in poor areas where often these garments are produced: China, India, and Bangladesh.

2) Walmart was caught in scandal when several garment workers in Bangladesh were burned to death.  It was discovered that Walmart had originally refused to use the factory because of it's conditions.  The company originally contracted with a different factory who then turned around and sub-contracted out the order to this factory.  The factory workers were working in harsh conditions without enough exits.  None of the workers were trained in fire safety including how to use a fire extinguisher.  It was terrible. 

Sweat shop conditions even happen in the United States.  California is a hub to the garment industry.  The "Christian" company, Forever 21, has produced garments in California but did not pay it's workers a fair wage.  Not once.  Not twice.  But at last count four times, the company has been called into court over paying pennies per hour for garment workers' labor.  Fortunately we live in a country where such workers have the right to form a union and to take the business into court to fight for wages.  However, because we live in a culture of over consumption, many people ignore the plight of these workers in favor of having cheaper clothing.

The easiest way to avoid all this is to avoid buying new clothing and reduce the number of clothing we have in our closets.  Why not go through your closet at least once year and remove things that no longer fit or you avoid wearing?  Why not go thrifting instead of buying retail to avoid bad business practices? 

I would love to support local businesses, but let's face it, sometimes we just don't have the time.  I don't particularly like having to shift through stacks of clothing that have been heavily sprayed down with fabreeze.  I don't like having to decide whether I think I can get an old stain out or not.  Thred up makes it easier.  They only take gently used clothing, some of which still has tags on it.  They tell you exactly what may be wrong with the garment (some minor fading, small stain, scuff mark, etc).  Most of the time, you can't tell the clothing was even used. You also get the luxury of a search engine rather than having to wade through stacks of clothing. 

You're probably thinking "But I like to try on clothing to make sure it fits."  Yep, I hear you.  Every business has it's own measurements/fits, it seems.  You can always return the clothing.  You can elect to have them give you credit or they'll refund your total minus 8.99 for shipping returns. I personally like to try things on in the comfort of my own home.  Even if I try on something in the dressing room, I find myself trying it on later at home just to confirm.  And unfortunately my local thrift stores all have a policy of crediting.  I like having the option of being able to get a refund.

The other benefit of Thredup is that they also carry maternity, plus size, and petite sizes.  It's not just for average size women.  I've even found items marked "tall."  They carry children's clothing, purses, and shoes too.  I just wish they carried a men's section.

So here's what I suggest.  Clean out your closet and send your unused garments to Thred up for credit or cash.  Or click on my linked Thred ups and get 10 dollars to try the service.  Shipping is free for orders 70 dollars and over or it's a flat shipping rate of 5.99.  That's really inexpensive.  The 10 dollars will go a long way.  According to the website there are over 50,000 listings for items 10 dollars and under. 

Let's stop this throwaway culture dead in its tracks and start using resources more wisely.