Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Palmolive: Soothes burns while you fry bacon...

Colgate-Palmolive Company used Madge the Manicurist in their commercials to sell dishwashing liquid in the early 90s. In the ads, Madge claimed that the soap softens hands while you do dishes.

Well, the other day I was frying bacon when grease popped up off the pan and all but sautéed my neck.  Teddy (a.k.a My MacGyver) suggested that I rubbed neon green Palmolive on the burned area. I was skeptical at first, but after a few swipes of my soapy fingers, instantly my irritation was soothed.

Amazed at how quickly the throbbing subsided, I grabbed my laptop to do a little research. As it turns out, our typical dish soap contains additives such as humectants which are useful in alleviating the pain caused by minor burns. Essentially, humectants absorb the moisture that usually builds-up under the skin, and which is responsible for the pulsating sensation that gives you the sense that your flesh is burning from the inside out. Since the humectants soak-up the pus, unsightly blisters are avoided.

Normally, I'm a natural dissenter from trends in home remedies, but the makers of Palmolive could certainly expand their market shares of dishwashing detergent under this new slogan:
      Palmolive: Soothes burns while you fry bacon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Written History from Unwritten Records

If there is one thing that my parents are good for at family gatherings, it's those back when I was a kid.... refrains.  This year was no different, and back history bail-out packages for the "kids of today" were in short supply.

Back when I was a kid, these choruses bored me to smithereenes, with their cumbersome superlatives emphasizing hard-knocks living.  However, now that I'm 30-ish, and donning a family of my own, I'm beginning to understand the mores of the older generation and their oral traditions, which are rooted in West African history. Essentially, it is the duty of the younger generation to pass along these legacies, and --as a rule --to deliver them with the same sing-song artistry.

In lieu of singing, I would like to transcribe one such story that my dad shares every year.  Through exaggeration, he illustrates just how far the dollar stretched in the 50s:
      When I was a kid, my daddy used to give me a dollar and say, 'I want you to go to the store and pick up a pack a cigarettes for me, and a pack for your mother.  Then, I want you to get a gallon of gas for the mower so you can make some money this week.  Oh.., and bring me back my change.'
My dad's memories are for me a melody that sticks in my head.

This is in part due to the fact that my 4-year old and 16 month old now hang on the cadence of their grandfather's 
hymns. One day, his stories will become theirs.

In this way his music is talking drum for my family. Having no written record of my family history, I'm inclined to listen more intently, perhaps so that I can pass the tradition on to my children.  

After all, it is through the act of passing on these songs, stories, and sayings that life's priceless heirlooms are preserved. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

About that "God is On Your Side" Theory

Tonight, Teddy read to Sadia from one of her usual bedtime stories. This is a nightly routine, and Sadia is pretty consistent about her book request. In fact, they read from the same book each night, so Sadia has the story memorized.

Because the story line is fixed in her mind, Sadia can "read" the book on her own. Tonight was no different. She picked up her book, and began narrating. However after finishing just two pages of the text, she grew tired of reading, and remarked:
    "Daddy, you read this part, the rest is too difficult."
Teddy, expecting to reassure Sadia's confidence and fully realize the learning potential in that twinkling of a second, gently squeezed her chin, looked her square in the eyes, and said:
    "Sadia, you can do anything. Nothing is too hard for you, because you are smart! And God is on your side."
Sadia, making a tangible connection rather than the meaningful one that Teddy intended, sensed the need for some cerebral thinking.  She argued:
    "But Daddy, God is not on my side because I can't see Him..,"
She extended her left arm to the side, stretched it towards the wall, cuffed her tiny fingers into a bolstered fist, and hammered her knuckles on the wall as if to present State's Exibit "B" in her case against this God is On Your Side Theory.
Then she claimed with pointed clarity:
    "AND, because the wall is on my side."
What a cute exchange, but Sadia's experience illustrates the essence of her pragmatism. She sees, hears, and understands largely in concrete terms (no pun intended). Since being on a "side" is also a matter of proximity, her comment made perfect sense.

It is easy to take for granted her naive understanding of the world. Still, her comment offered a fresh perspective that kept me giggling well into the night.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The bible in 63 Days? (More like 82 days)

So, I've exceeded the time for completing a personal challenge of reading through the bible in 63-days. Though I fell short of my goal, I am extremely excited to be finished.

The most outstanding insight gained from this undertaken seems counter-intuitive. It's a given that the bible holds the answers to many of life's questions. However, I ended my journey with more questions than I began with, especially difficult questions concerning my life.

As Christmas approaches, I am praying for the courage and faith to come to terms with those hard questions.

Thanks to all of my blog readers for your words of encouragement throughout my journey. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Recycle? Reduce? Reuse?

What will be the final resting place for all of those Christmas cards you receive this holiday season?

Here are a few Green suggestions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And, the Best Daddy Award goes to...

This brief exchange ensued between Teddy and Sadia, while he fished for what seemed a sure compliment. After all, he did just serve Sadia a piece of cake following dinner.

Teddy: Aren't I the best daddy you ever had?

Sadia: No (matter-of-factly).

Teddy: (taken aback)  No? Well, who is?

Sadia: (without missing a beat shoveling cake into her mouth) My mom.

Monday, December 15, 2008


"Service is the rent we pay for being. 
It is the very purpose of life, 
and not something you do in your spare time." 
--Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Activist

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Am The Face of Persecution

Not that I have been persecuted for my faith, but rather I persecuted you because I lacked faith.

There is freedom in Christ.

I have hindered you from developing in your own personal relationship with Him, because I--much like the Pharisees-- have held you to an unattainable standard, one in which I, myself, have not and cannot attain. There is no good in me, save the promise, which Christ has given freely to all who believe in Him.

I am at fault. I have fallen short. My shortcomings are realized. I confess it and trust that God is working it out for His good.

I used to believe adamantly that each of is faced with the freedom of choice: God, or the world. Good or evil. Now, I understand that I don't freely choose God. In fact, I don't freely choose anything at all. God alone elects, as we are by nature scandalously incapacitated in the realm of free will.

First, Paul explains in the first chapter of Colossians, verses 15 through 20 that God has reconciled everyone and everything to Himself. He chose us because He is, Supreme.

What follows in verses 21 through 23 demonstrates my inadequacy all the more:
        This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

        But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.
The Good News is that righteousness has been imputed to me. Any good that I have done is simply an extension of a Supernatural Line of Credit (if you will). The power of the Holy Spirit working through me.

I ruminated over this and other insights gained from two completely different sources this week. At first glance, the two laws seemed to be at odds with one another. However, after careful reflection, the principle of each highlight some fundamental truths.

I stumbled across the first article in Science News entitled The Decider. In it, scientists assert the nihility of free will, affirming that it is an "illusion", and that the complexity of decision making is veiled. The prospect of rewards and the anticipation of reprisals, send neurological signals to the brain triggering our decision making. Our brain, which essentially is subject to the same programming that enslaves a computer, makes choices based on receptivity and biochemistry. In other words, our will is less characterized by the notion of freedom, and more distinctively reduced to a conditional expression, or an if-then construct.

Initially, I rejected this position, in part because much of the arrogance of religious thinking is based on the idea of free will and one's ability to choose between good and evil. However, truthfully speaking, all decisions that I make -- by virtue of human nature-- are at the core selfish, and therefore evil.

As a Christian, my faith was rooted in the misconception that humans have the freedom to choose right from wrong; to bring forth good or evil. However, after careful consideration, I have come to realize the truth. Free will is indeed an illusion. I do not posses the faculty of volition. I am confined by my brain which is constantly networking with my body proliferating evil. The complexity of this "decision making" can best be summed up in the seventh chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans.

In verses 21-24, Paul writes:
        I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Here, Paul illustrates the end to which we are bound to the mechanism of choice-- to the extent of reprobation-- whereby even if I will to do good, my actions indelibly fall short. I might erroneously point to my good deeds and argue, "I have proof that truly I can choose to do good." But the truth is that the good that emerges from my actions, emerges not as a result of my choosing to do what is right, but rather it is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in and through me.

Jesus clarifies this reality in his response to the "Rich Young Man", who refers to Christ as the Good Teacher in Mark 10: 18: "And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.'"

I once vehemently believed that the persecution of the church referred to throughout the New Testament, resulted when the world rejected Christians who choose to separate themselves from the sin of the world. However, clearly, the face of persecution is found in those who repudiate the freedom that is in Christ, crush people with unbearable religious demands, and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

We're thinking about taking this show on the road!
Potential business investors may want to think about getting in on the ground floor?

Friday, December 05, 2008

la Recesión


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm High!

Reading the bible is a powerful drug.

It's a known fact that there are many physiological and mental benefits to exercise. But what of the merits of bible reading?

Okay. So, I've reached a crucial mile marker in my trek through the bible. However, with only thirty days and forty three books to the finish line, I am seriously starting to have some doubts about whether I'll be able to deliver. This intensely lengthy reading has stretched me to my physical and spiritual limits.

Despite the challenges, one thing is certain: The pace has emboldened me. I have attained the reader's equivalent of what marathon junkies often refer to as the runner's high.

I've read through the bible before, but I've never tread so vigorously. The exhilaration drives me. But what triggers the high?

Maybe it's the daily 2 to 3 hour reading schedule, which affords untapped opportunities for making connections and cross references like never before. For example, just yesterday, I read Isaiah's prophecy of God's impending judgement on Israel after repeated failures to keep the perfect law of God. I can recall with clarity their fall from grace, under who's leadership, and by who's hands, because I had read about it just days before in the Chronicles. Or, perhaps it is the promise of accomplishing what is, for me at least, the impossible--the bible in 60 days (yikes, what was I thinking).

I feel as though I am working at my maximum potential, and the sky's the limit. Still maybe there is a more practical explanation for what I am experiencing. Possibly there is something to the whole mind body connection, because my endorphins are flying all over the place, and I'm feeling loopy.

It could be that this is all in my head, but this bible reading euphoria can best be summed up by a famous lick from Grateful Dead's "Truckin'": What a long strange trip it's been.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Strip Pooper (photos included)

Not to be confused with Strip Poker.

It never fails. Whenever Sadia gives back to the community, she always strips down to her birthday suit before delivering the goods.

I asked Sadia why she shed her clothing to do the deed. Her response was simply that she needed to "get comfortable".

We all have our own dumping routines, some which have taken years to forge (our routines that is).

Ordinarily, I can appreciate a level of comfortability on the throne, but where does she get this disrobing ritual from? I haven't the foggiest.

What's most intriguing is how dutifully our children pave their own way in this world?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This Year I Lost 10 Pounds.

Today I found them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks, Brad

There has been a correction to my last post:

Thank you Brad for the oversight.

Apparently I overlooked a few (three) zeros in my crunching. Yet, not surprisingly, my panties remained bunched.

What if we narrowed the field to 150 million people? I'm guessing not every citizen pays taxes? I wouldn't mind a $4,000 dollar bail out/stimulus/welfare check (or whatever they're calling it these days).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Americans are SUCKERS!!!!

You know? I’ve been thinking about this whole "Economic Bailout Plan" and it's got my panties in a bunch!


As in a 7 followed by 11 zeros…?

Here's a better idea.

How about giving $2,000 to every tax payer in America?

300 million people X $2,000 = $600 BILLION.

Now wouldn’t that solve all of our problems AND save us $100 billion?

Please shoot holes in my theory…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Birthday Dish

Teddy makes growing old an event to look forward to. For starters, he showed up unexpectedly at my job on Friday to take me out to lunch. When he arrived, he wasn't empty handed. Draped across his arms were a dozen of the most stunning long stemmed roses I've ever seen. Typically, I don't like a whole lot of ta do over my birthday. However, I was extremely blown away with the extent of his plans.

He organized a family excursion that night to Medieval Times, in Buena Park. I love that place. It's the one destination where grown ups can act like complete fools without fear of reprisal. I had a blast! My voice is still recovering from all of the screaming. The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well.

Also, since Sunday was our 6th wedding anniversary, Teddy arranged an afternoon family picnic at the Irvine Regional park. He even remembered to pack extra goodies to toss to the ducks in the lake. I didn't get many photos during the picnic, mainly due to the fact that I wasn't able to attend (but that's a blog for another day). I did, however, manage to get some footage of Sadia trotting on a miniature pony at the park. Can somebody say, whiplash? Of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to add a little flare to the clip.

Sadia's pony ride. Enjoy!

Birthday celebration at Medieval Times.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Twenty-one years ago today, a precious baby girl was born to a young family in a modest home in LA. That child's name? Dionne Lynette Glenn. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Me: Sadia, what makes you cry?

Sadia: Onions.

Me: Onions make you cry?

Sadia: Yes. They hurt my feelings.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Dionne Sincire
Triangle Complex Fire
Frailty and volatility
Plans disheveled
Family exiled to Esperanza***
The best of human nature is not fireproof...

I'm still sorting through Saturday's experience. Since everything was so chaotic and incongruent, that is how I have been working through my thoughts these past few days. My recollections are so disjointed. The last statement of this poem is not meant to be the defining moment of my ordeal. It just sums up some of the perplexity of human nature that I witnessed--that internal struggle which prompts us to do evil instead of good.

A woman, clearly distraught over not being able to return to her home stood on the street corner and berated one of the evacuation officials. Why would you mistreat the very people who are here (probably on a voluntary basis) to save your life? Though her actions seem absurd from a rational perspective, the prospect of losing everything in a matter of minutes is anything but rational.

Moments after evacuation shelters were established, con artists arrived pretending to be insurance agents trying to scam victims of what remained of their life savings.

A few looters were caught scavenging through evacuated neighborhoods.

Some hotels in our area raised room rates by 30% hours after mandatory evacuations were issued.

After searching for hotel rates online, I Googled "Triangle Complex Fires, news", to get updates on the fire and evacuations, and clicked on the first "news" link that came up. The link navigated me to a porn site.

***Esperanza is a reference to Esperanza High School, which was established as one of the evacuation centers that night. We didn't actually go to an evacuation center. In an effort to hold on to some normalcy for the girls, we elected to stay with family instead. The use of the word here is meant to be ironic. Inspite of the interplay of man's propensity for evil in times of devastation, there is still hope. Maybe I'll write more on that later.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

12,600 People Evacuated

We were counted in the number of the 12,600 Anaheim Hills evacuees yesterday, who clogged the 91 freeway, which was flanked by a 20 foot fire wall marching up a 10 mile belt of dry hillside. We spilled out onto adjacent streets congesting major arteries leading out of the city, as police officers, firefighters and other emergency vehicles--parting a sea of cars traveling in the opposite direction-- weaved in and out of traffic . Many of those municipal employees raced to join the front lines of the blaze--some while reconciling the reality that their own homes were simultaneously being vanquished by the inferno.

Several fixed winged air crafts performed reconnaissance overhead. It seems ridiculous, but each time they flew by I ducked behind the steering wheel. The roaring of the DC10 engine was amplified, as the craft's belly all but nudged the ridge lines and rooftops of the nearby landscape. It looked like a war zone. I felt like I was in the middle of an H.G. Wells radio broadcast. The chaos was psychologically disturbing.

Neighbors use words like "apocalypse" and "Armageddon" to describe the mushroom cloud of soot that plumed in the air.

Fortunately, we are the lucky ones. As we returned home this afternoon, unsure of whether the Triangle Complex Fire--as it is now being called-- was merciful to our modest home, we marveled at the landscape, which now resembles a checker board pattern with alternating charred and unburned patches of brush.

Thankfully, our small condo community went unscathed. Our home is intact. Yet, some of our neighbors in the foothills didn't fair as well. With reportedly 86 buildings damaged or destroyed, 14 homes lost, and 280 apartments burned to the ground here in Anaheim Hills, acknowledging my family's chance good fortune is awkward.

It's hard to make sense of what just happened. I think I'm in shock. I can't even begin to describe the randomness of it all.

The blue "X" on the map above illustrates our location relative to the spot fires outlined in red. Our area was evacuated shortly after 1:00 pm yesterday. I'm still processing the whole ordeal. More to follow.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fire Evacuations

I just want to let family and friends know that we have safely evacuated from our home in Anaheim Hills, CA. Everyone got out safely. More later.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cute test

I stole it from Robin.

Dionne's Dewey Decimal Section:

940 History of Europe

Dionne = 495445 = 495+445 = 940

900 History & Geography

Travel, biographies, ancient history, and histories of continents.

What it says about you:
You're connected to your past and value the things that have happened to you. You've had some conflicted times in your life, but they've brought you to where you are today and you don't ignore it.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Change is Gonna Come

Recorded by Sam Cooke in 1963

I was born by the river
In a little tent, and o
just like that river
I've been running ever since

It's been a long long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living
but I'm afraid to die
'cause I don't know what's up there
beyond the sky,

It's been a long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin' me
don't hang around

It's been a long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
and I say brother help me please
But he wind up knocking me
back down on my knees

There have been times that I thought
I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on

It's been a long time, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Penny for your Thoughts...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Am

I am awake and focused
I wonder what tomorrow holds
I hear the humming of change
I see shoots springing from the soil
I want to impact the world
I am awake and focused

I pretend to be a statue
I feel the crack inside
I touch my voter's registration card
I worry about the rigid world
I cry that the moment has already passed
I am awake and focused

I understand this new chapter in history
I say let's freeze time forever
I dream of a better life for my children
I try to keep moving my feet
I hope we keep moving our feet
I am awake and focused

Monday, November 03, 2008

Prop 8

Like some of you, I vacillate back and forth with my views on Prop 8. I do my best to educate myself on both sides of the argument. And like many of you I have concluded that the matter is not as black and white as some might have us believe. But of this I am sure: My views about the proposal must be grounded in wisdom and not just fine sounding reasoning either for or against it.

There is never a shortage of opinions on anything and everything. Some people might even try to persuade you with the wisdom of their thoughts. Yet, I believe that it is neither the one who argues the most articulately, nor the one who expresses his viewpoint most vehemently who is the wisest. Wisdom is proven over time.

Presumably we all think our arguments are best. However our conclusions, if they are to be considered wisdom at all, must stand the test of time.

Trends in philosophies and ideologies come and go. Yet, still God's word is timeless. Whenever we express our views, we have a moral obligation to do more than merely present logical thinking. We have a duty to base our life choices in scripture, and let time validate the wisdom of our choices.

Diane, Brian was right.....

Numbers was a bear. But I did it! I finished it. :)

A huge "thank you" to Allison, Wooster, and Sarah for your words of encouragement. I am currently fighting the flu, but holding to my commitment dutifully!

And now off to Deutoronmy!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Leviticus Points to Christ

Holy, consecrate, pure, blood sacrafice, and clean are a few of the words that I believe point to the theme of the book of Leviticus. The purpose of this book is to punctuate God's nature. He is, in a word, Holy.

God meticulously dictates the laws relating to the priests and Levites and to the forms of Jewish ceremonial observance. His expectations for the Jews are spelled out so explicitly, that it emphasizes God's character the more. The message is clear. He is pure. I couldn't help but view myself differently in light of who God is.

I felt overwhelmed as, verse after verse, God's matchless qualities caved in on me like an avalanche. I could hardly breathe under the weight of His perfection, and there is but one thing that can be offered to a perfect God-- more perfection. It almost seems a futile effort to live up to His standard.

As I combed through chapters upon chapters of requirements, my unholiness was magnified. The more I read, the more I understood that I could never measure up. The burden of impossibility is an all consuming fire, and the inferno engulfed any silly notion that I may have espoused of my own goodness. But, I'm so glad that the bible does not end here. Oh thank God for the GRACE that is extended to believers under the new covenant!

If it were not for grace, where would we be? Well, for starters, we'd still be required to offer daily sacrifices to atone for our sins. I was repulsed by the sheer amount of blood that God required of the Jews for purification. Was there anything they could do or could come into contact with, which would not render them unclean? Indeed, that is the question.

I think I gained a keener insight into grace through faith after reading this book. Though God's invisible qualities remain unchanged, His holiness demonstrates our need for Christ's shed blood on the cross the more.

Ironically, Leviticus, the book which illustrates God's establishment of the priesthood, also confirms our absolute, unequivocal and irrevocable need for Christ, who is our Great High Priest. And in doing so, it quickly dismantles any illusions that we may embrace of self importance or goodness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Exodus 4:22

Okay, so Exodus, is all about Israel's exit from Egypt--no big insight there. Strangely, of all of the verses in the forty chapters, there is but one that fascinates me. The set up begins in verses 19-21:

God called Moses to return to Egypt from his exile in the desert (Midian). Moses was instructed to perform all of the miracles that God empowered him to do before Pharaoh. God continued laying out the specs for Moses' mission in Egypt. Essentially, God had prepared Moses for arguably the singularly most influential biblical account of the entire Old Testament. This is huge. Yet, what stole the show for me, is what follows in verse 22:
      "Then you will tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son." (NLT)
I published my thoughts on a few accounts that grabbed my attention while reading through Genesis. In a blog titled The Bible in 63 Days?, I remarked on significant evidence that supports the theme "God favors the second born".

The consistency of the message alone would appear to give younger siblings in the birthing order cause for celebration. In contrast, verse 22 illustrates God's favor towards Israel, His firstborn. What becomes the fly in the ointment is the fact that here God directly emphasizes Israel's birth order-- and it ain't second. (Too bad Junior. You've ridden that favor wave for far too long, but Genesis is as far as you go!)

Asserting Israel's birth order begs the question, Are there other "sons" (or nations) of God? If so, who? What's their birth order? Also, the scripture seems to break from a protocol where the youngest is favored over the eldest.

Certainly Exodus 4:22 does not close the book on God's principal of the last being first. There are a myriad of other examples throughout the bible illustrating this truth. However, verse 22 does make me wonder whether it foreshadows God's future adoption of the Gentiles under the new covenant.

I am neither a theologian, nor a bible scholar, and after reading the bible for an hour and a half straight, I haven't exactly committed much time to processing this verse, but I'd be interested to know your insights on the scripture.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Bible in 63 Days?

My husband and I have recently committed to read through the bible this year. This would not be a lofty goal in itself, except that there are only two months and three days left in the year, and we just started plowing through the scriptures this past Sunday. You're probably thinking, Who's bright idea was that? Right?

Well while we both are up for the challenge, we are not naive to think that the road to success will be paved with daisies and lilies. There will most certainly be some obstacles that we'll have to overcome along the way, namely motivation. To address this challenge, we've implemented a plan, which so far has proven successful. There are three key components in our strategy.

First, we got our hands on The Bible in 90 Days, which comes complete with a daily reading schedule. Access to this reading tool will help us track our progress and hopefully keep us on pace for finishing the bible by December 31st. The schedule is based on a 45 minutes a day regiment. So for Teddy and I to be successful we have to double up on these 45 minute sessions. That's right, for all of you mathematicians that equates to approximately an hour and a half each day (weekends included) of bible reading. I guess I should kiss goodbye any hopes for watching Mr. and Mrs. McDreamy exchange nuptials. Chiefly because there is probably a greater chance of seeing a Mrs. and Mrs. Torres and Hahn matrimony at the rate Grey's is going. But, I digress.

Second, we've committed to designate a time so that we can forge through the Good Book together. Reading together helps to motivate us. Accountability is crucial, plus it adds new dimension to our relationship. We like to discuss the insights that we've gained, questions we've raised, and irony we've discovered as we make the trek through ancient Hebrew history. For instance, we noted a prominent theme which emerges throughout the book of Genesis where the younger off spring is chosen over the eldest. This is true in the cases of Cain and Abel (Abel being the youngest and favored child), Ishmael and Isaac (Isaac being the youngest and favored child), Esau and Jacob (Jacob being the youngest and favored child), Leah and Rachel (Rachel being the youngest and favored child), Jacob's twelve sons and Joseph (Joseph being the youngest and favored child), and finally Manasseh and Ephraim (Ephraim being the youngest and favored child). This insight caused us to wonder about the implications of God favoring the youngest throughout Genesis.

Finally, we've decided to make our commitment public. Publicizing my pledge to my blog readers, friends and family adds another tier to the accountability piece.

I hope to log each completed book of the bible as Mile Markers in the new Books that Changed My Life section on my blog. At the rate we're reading, We should be finishing a book of the bible ever couple of days, which means that I would have to update my book list accordingly. We appreciate any who would join in our accountability efforts. If you would like to help to encourage us in this endeavor, send us a little nudge via your comments as a way to keep us on track. Any help that you would be willing to provide is greatly appreciated. We also want to encourage you to read through your bible before the years end. We could chart our progress together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My MacGyver

I know what you're wondering: What brainy act of ingenuity must have preceded such a cunning grin?

For instance, judging from this expression, you might indubitably guess that he -just moments earlier-must have picked a lock using the filament of an incandescent lightbulb?

Or perhaps he built an electromagnet using ordinary household batteries, tape and insulated wire, then he may have successfully used this device to magnetize an unfolded paper clip. After that, by embedding the paperclip in a piece of cork and placing it in a small bowl of water, the paperclip acted as a compass (because it was magnetized, it pointed to the North Magnetic Pole.)?

Or Maybe he used a pocket knife to disarm the self-destruct device of a downed military satellite. He then used parts of the satellite's retrieval system - namely metal tubing and large sheets of flexible plastic - along with duct tape to fashion a makeshift hang glider. He was most certainly wounded while flying it, and later chased by an Afghani in a Humvee. He used a piece of cloth as a sling to knock-out the man with a rock.

Alas, while I am sure that my husband is certainly capable of single-handedly executing ALL of the afore mentioned stunts, the reality is that just moments before this photo was taken, he had just changed the bulb for my car's break lights.

I had to take this picture as he walked into the kitchen from the garage, because based on the expression on his face I would have sworn that there was a cape attached to his shirt, blowing heroically in the breeze as though he had just executed some brilliant conquest of epic proportions.

Incidentally, you can't tell from the photo, but he is standing with his chest poked out, and his hands on his hips. What is it with men and the little it takes to send them reeling into an unimagined sense of accomplishment.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This little light of mine...

"Hey, what is he still doing out? It's not his turn!" was Sadia's response as she witnessed the moon prominently displayed in the sky during daylight hours.

Of course I was tickled by her comment, so I asked her what she meant. I am paraphrasing, but basically she reasoned that since it was day time, the moon had no right being in the sky. After all, it was the sun's turn, yet the moon was stealing the sun's spotlight (no pun intended).

She was adamant and unrelenting in making her case. The teacher in me wanted to seize this teachable moment. I wanted to transition the conversation into a gentle science lesson about the sun's light reflecting off of the moon. I wanted to tell her that the moon was always there in the sky during the "sun's turn", and explain that the reason she could see the moon more prominently was because of the relationship between the sun's radiation and our atmosphere. However, after a second thought, I decided that the conversation would be much more interesting if I let her do all of the talking. I felt led to let her process this mystery out loud. In other words, I stepped out of the teacher role and assumed the role of a student.

I listened as she grappled with the perplexing image of the sun and moon occupying the same space at the same time. This image was in stark contrast to the concepts she had learned about the sun and moon through depictions in story books. Her brain shifted into overdrive as she worked to retrieve one file after another searching for anything that would help to crack the code to this mystery. She had diligently committed so much about the sun and moon to memory thanks to reading books like "Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon". Listening to her process helped me in realizing more than just my daughter's new understanding about the sun and moon's relationship.

The matter that Sadia really confronted was the issue of fairness. In all of the children's literature Sadia encountered, the rules were clear: The sun was to occupy the sky in the day, while the moon would occupy the sky at night. To her, it didn't seem fair for the moon to intrude the sky when it was the sun's turn to shine. After all, the moon is already king of the night; that's twelve whole hours full of lighting up the sky. Now, here "he" was infringing on the sun's glory, and that wasn't "thair" by any stretch of the imagination!*****

She continued in verbalizing her angst. The more she struggled, the more I began to see deeper issues which came to the surface. It became apparent that Sadia was working through her own feelings brought on by the new dynamic emerging from the relationship between she and her newly mobile little sister. In many ways Simone, who these days gets into everything, has been for Sadia what the moon was to the sun in that instant--like an unwelcomed visitor.

Sadia loves her little sister dearly, but is growing weary of constantly having to defend her toys. She is vigilantly on the look out for grabby hands and nosey fingers. In fact, I affectionately refer to Sadia as the "Reposesor" in reference to her time spent snatching her things from Simone's possession. This cycle of overemphasizing the negatives can easily spiral out of control for Sadia, resulting in her developing an unhealthy perception of her sister.

After Sadia finished expressing her frustration, I empathized with her by restating her concerns. "Sadia, you're right. It isn't fair for the moon to break the rules." I pointed out that in spite of the moon, the sun still shown as brightly as it had the day before. I also tried shifting her focus to the beauty and rarity of witnessing both the sun and moon shining so brightly in the sky at the same time. This nuance was simply overlooked in Sadia's quest for fairness. While my sentiments were intended to encourage my daughter, the message like a mirror reflected a concept that all too often escapes me.

Sometimes I become too entangled with the idea of fairness. In my marriage for instance, my husband sometimes cuts in on my perception of right and wrong. When he's sitting at the table waiting to be served, while I'm standing at the stove preparing a meal, I find myself thinking things like, "Can't he see me slaving over a hot stove," or "Why doesn't he offer to set the table." And so I find myself keeping mental score, so that at the end of the day everything balances out.

These thoughts make me uncomfortable, because they remind me a lot of the way my sisters and I would argue as children. The reality is that the need for fairness doesn't just disappear as we get older. If we're not careful for some of us, this cleaving to the unshakable drive to level life's playing field becomes a crusade.

The reality is that relationships are not always 50/50. In fact, they never are. Sadly, my rigid thinking does not always allow me the flexibility to welcome this subtlety, because it means that the give and take between husband and wife is sometimes more like 80/20 or 40/60. It means that --yes-- sometimes the work load will shift unfairly more in my direction than his (and vise versa). It means that sometimes, his ways will intrude on my space (which is not all together good, or bad). And sometimes it means that in an effort to balance the scorecard an inevitable and unrealistic paradigm gets cemented, where the "you didn'ts" will always outweigh the "you dids".

In light of what I learned from listening to my three year old, and in spite of the moon's inclination to intrude on the sun's space from time to time, I have come to this conclusion: There is no sense pursuing fairness; it is a quest which proves to be futile. Life is never and will never be "fair". Thus, in relationships energy is best spent focusing on the compliment of a changing dynamic and the possibilities of a new perspective. Instead of taking account of the wrongs, try instead shifting attention to the new interplay which emerges when two forces can coexist in the same space at the same time.

As it is with the sun's light, so it is also with us as we learn to live with one another: Nothing should detract from our brilliance even when sharing the spotlight.

*****Sadia gets her th sounds and f sounds mixed up sometimes, so words like freeway and fair, come out sounding like "threeway" and "thair".

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I haven't really been on the computer much, but not for lack of blog material. I guess, much like everyone else, I've been a bit preoccupied.

What strikes me most about the last few weeks is my ride home headed eastbound on one of the worst stretches of freeway in north Orange County-- the 91. Just three exits beyond mines is San Bernardino County, the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in America.

Reticently, I coasted down the highway at 65 miles an hour. It was as though someone ripped the film from off of a Left Behind movie reel, and spliced it into the Santa Ana wind-blistered windshield of my Taurus. And -- as if someone stuffed cotton balls in my ears -- the ambient sounds of a busy highway reminded me of the whooshing sound of waves crashing on the seashore echoing through a conch shell.

It was eerily peaceful. My commute along 13 miles of a four lane highway, which used to take 45 minutes, now only accounts for a mere 20 minutes of my day at the height of rush hour.

I felt like I was on a deserted island, but I realized that I was not a lone surveyor of the toll the new vacancies are taking on the highway. Fast Trak-- which once boasted a mean $9.50 toll at peak hours just a month ago-- now displays a $5.50 fare and declining. Commuters, who once jockeyed for position on the busy expressway now race down the turnpike. Vehicles, fade like vanishing tolls.

It all make me wonder how soon it will be before the express lane fare disappears completely. How soon before I am counted among the victims of the toll-taker.

Friday, October 03, 2008

If I had a Twitter...

then this is what I'd post:

Irony is a
Petition for straight talk while
Droppin' 'gs in debate

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Simone the Pear-a-Shooter*

*Dubbed the Pear-a-Shooter because of the characteristically rapid fire manner in which she devours the delicious fruit!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(Unofficial) Baby Sign Language

Okay, so Simone isn't a verbal processor like Sadia, her partner in crime. However, she is constantly using hand signals to communicate. While sign language is not my preferred method of communication, Simone does manage to get her point across. Essentially, more parents should recognize the value of Sign Language as a corner stone for speech development. Of late, Simone has mastered a few go-to signs that I would like to emphasize.

Take the matter that occured just this afternoon during the commute home form preschool/ work for instance: Sadia kept moving her face across the invisible plane which separates Simone's car seat from Sadia's booster, bringing Sadia's face within inches of Simone's. Now clearly, this was a breach of Simone's personal space. At one point I think I even heard the cartoonish bonk sound of head's knocking together as Sadia violated Simone's no fly zone, resulting in a head-on collision (literally) with Simone's forehead. Obviously, this maneuver was a risky one, as Sadia had received no clearance to enter Simone's air space. You could see how a basic head nod from Simone, indicating her disapproval, simply would not have sufficed. No. A more sophisticated cue was in order.

Enter Unofficial Baby Sign Numero Uno, also known as the open-handed slap across the face:
    Hold up dominant hand with palm facing out as if to initiate a high-five. With some force, extend the palm in the direction of the purveyor's face. Trace an invisible path across the cheek in one motion, making contact with the cheek, and follow through. Finish by snapping the palm back to the high-five position.
Contrary to popular belief physical contact is not characteristic of all Baby Signs. Though forceful, other signs often require no physical contact whatsoever.

Consider the incident which occurred during this evening's meal as an example: After suckling the last drop of milk from her bottle, Simone sought an immediate way to tell me that she was finished. Apparently, her desperate slurping of air did not solicit the response that she was looking for. A more direct approach for communicating the completion of her meal was needed.

Enter Unofficial Baby Sign Numero dos, also known as the bottle-put:*
    Rest the bottle close to the neck using the throwing (or dominant) hand. Thrust the throwing arm straight from the neck, keeping it tight to the neck while throwing, and push the bottle off of the fingertips. This motion should result in the bottle landing in a desired position on the floor, which will inevitably require that Mommy bend over to pick said bottle up off of the ground.
So, remember when your toddler uses Sign Language, it provides her with an amazing tool to establish fundamental building blocks for early communication. Frustration and tantrums are lessened, because your toddler can immediately communicate her demands until she can communicate verbally.**

*The bottle-put is a decisive gesture involving "putting" an object (usually unwanted) as far out of Mommy's reach as possible. It is common to use the term "bottle-put" in reference to both the bottle itself and the throwing motion.

**One reported draw-back resulting from (Unofficial) Baby Sign Language is that some parents reported a boost in sibling tantrums, as well as an increase in doctor visits for back related problems.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Violent Dreams

I am deeply disturbed by a series of violent dreams that I've been having over the course of this past week. I'm not even sure what triggered them, and what they say about me, but I'm going out on a limb in blogging about my experience.

I'm not a violent person, and I would never consider acting out the violence in my dreams. It is completely out of character for me, which makes the dreams all the more upsetting.

In the dreams, my violent behavior is directed towards someone else. More specifically, I'm beating a man's head to a pulp. What's most disturbing about the whole ordeal, is the graphic nature of the violence in my dream. I can remember every gory detail, and yet there is neither blood, nor signs of a struggle. Mechanically, I pound in a man's face over and over again, until all that's left is mush.

I was scared even to mention these dreams to my husband, fearing some criticism or judgement. Not that he's insensitive; I guess I was just shifting my need to feel safe and guarded onto him. Blogging about it is a huge leap, because for the first time in a while I feel as though I'm letting my guard down a bit-which is scary.

I have this incredible sense that these dreams are symbolic, but I feel so ill equipped in trying to interpret their meanings. :(

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Maybe E-Harmony should upgrade their services to include a genetic screening.

After reading this article in "Science News", you might not consider this such a bad idea.

It comes as a relief to know that scientists have finally come up with an explanation for women who are tired of cheating men: That's right girlfriend, his two-timing, tendencies are genetic!

Apparently, there is a link between a hormone responsible for the bonding activity in prairie voles and a male's inability to commit to one partner. Scientists chose prairie voles for this study because these mouselike creatures are famous for maintaining long-lasting relationships.

Besides the intriguing comparison that scientist make between men and rodents, this study concludes that prairie vole bonding has much to do with a hormone called vasopressin present in the brains of males. Since scientists were able to manipulate these hormone levels in the voles, making them more or less faithful, then it would stand to reason that perhaps some men just can't help but be unfaithful in relationships given the possibility of limited copies of vasopressin and ill equipped receptors on nerve cells in their brains. Well, duh!

And here I was blaming men for their commitment problems, when clearly it's a matter of genetics. ***

I was so excited to share this discovery with my blog readers, as I am sure that the results of years of scientific study will resonate with many of you.

So it's not bad enough to have their lives and self esteem shattered by infidelity, now women have contributions from science to thank for the rationalization of some men's asinine aptitudes.

For more on this article Click Here.

***Of note, scientists also commented on the link between prairie voles and their inherently unfaithful first cousins, the prairie DOGS, shedding some light on the strange behavior of men after they cheat: they lick themselves, scratch behind their ears, and then spin around in a circle before falling asleep (wink).

Prairie Vole

Prairie Dog

Two-Timing Dog

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Take "This One" Back!

I absolutely love my three-year old. Especially the candid moments we share together. Since Teddy's been out of town on business, Sadia and I have had some real bonding time. The kinds of conversations that come out of these moments of intimacy are priceless. I'll share the heart-to-heart that she and I exchanged during this morning's commute to pre-school as an example:

As I glanced at Sadia in my rear-view, I noticed a peculiar silence. She wasn't her usual chatter box this morning. She wasn't singing along to the gospel CD blaring form the player. Her eyes weren't glossed over as though she were a few winks short of a good night's sleep. Something was on her mind, and I wanted to get to the bottom of what it was.

    Me: Sadia, whatcha thinking about?
    Sadia: Babies.
    Me: What about them?
    Sadia: This one hits me (thumbing with her left hand at Simone who is sitting in the car seat next to Sadia's booster). And that makes me mad (placing her thumbing-left-hand under her right arm pit to complete the "I'm mad" folded-arm gesture).
    Me: (trying to keep a straight face) Well, what do you think we should do about that?
    Sadia: Take this one back (referring to Simone)!
    Me: (confused) Back? Back where?
    Sadia: Take this one back to the hospital, and get another one. Get one that doesn't hit me (pouting).
    Me: That's one solution. Would that make you feel better?
    Sadia: YES (gesturing emphatically with her folded arms)!
    Me: How might Simone feel being left at the hospital all by herself?
    Sadia: Sad, (arms still folded) but we can bring her back when we're done with the other one (new baby).
Wouldn't it be nice if we could just swop out one disagreeable person for a more pleasant one (wink).

On a more redeeming note, I thought I'd share this video that Sadia and I made this summer. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Revolution Summit

That's right! I'm calling my own Summit.

Okay, so maybe this revolution is not riveting as revolutions go, but essentially, I want to invoke a collaboration--pool our collective minds together in a think-tank for social reform (of sorts). I don't want to argue partisan politics or candidate platforms (leave these on cutting-room floor), I want to tap into your creative minds in an effort to brainstorm possible solutions to some of the ailments of our country.

It's time for a some new ideas in politics, and it's painfully obvious that these new ideas must come from unexpected sources--average citizens like you and me. Because isn't it always the case where those of us who are impacted by social policies, or work in professions with direct connections to the populous, formulate our own theories about platforms.

I've got a few novel thoughts, which may sound extremely naive, idyllic, or lofty, but humor me, because the real nuggets are mired in ideas; they must be panned and agitated in dialogue so that the heavy content rises to the surface :
    • What if politicians had to agree to freeze all of their assets (so that he neither earns nor loses money on investments) during his Presidential term? I know this sounds unAmerican, but just go with the logic for a second. The only money that they could earn would be their salaries. Would anyone even bother running for office? Would this help to eliminate the abuse of power where politicians make political decisions based on personal gain? Would politicians have to think twice about their motives for running for office, before throwing their hats in the political ring? Would candidates be challenged more by the needs of the people they govern and less by special interest groups?
    • What if we payed politicians based on merit? What if their raises were tied in to whether or not they could produce and sustain a balanced budget, and their percent of pay increase was directly linked to the percent of decrease in the nations unemployment rate? Would we still be operating on deficit based spending?
    • What if politicians asked campaign contributors to donate their funds towards buying health insurance for uninsured Americans?
    • What if common blogs like yours' and mines' sparked a new error in think-tanks?
    • What if the change that we're looking for in our nations politics began one blog at a time?

    Your ideas don't have to be comprehensive, just a bit off of the beaten path--something to stimulate thought. You might not have your thumb on the political pulse of our nation, and darn it, you don't have to. Politics belongs to you and me; we are the government.

    You've got opinions, and --dare I say-- you've flirted with some of your own streams of logic to sustain them! Lets flirt with ideas and feel our muscles flex collectively!
  • Thursday, September 18, 2008

    A Prayer from the Heart

    We've been trying to teach Sadia the discipline of prayer. We began this endeavor with your basics: blessing food, and before bed. Once Sadia understood these basic prayers (as measured by her initiation of these prayers before eating and going to bed), I thought I'd introduce a different kind of praying to her. Since praying over food and the bed time prayer tend to be more common and self- centered, I wanted her gained exposure to others-centered prayers as well.

    To illustrate my point, Sadia and I began reflecting on prayers that we'd heard over the week. I hoped she would notice that the subjects of the prayers were unrelated to the person doing the praying. For example: Pastor Carrington prayed for all of the people who were sick, though he was not sick himself; Ms. Pam prayed for the people who didn't have a place to sleep; and so on...

    At some point, I got this novel idea that Sadia understood the principle of praying for others, so I decided to put it to the test. One morning while listening to the news on the car radio during our morning commute to work and preschool, I listened to a journalist describe the destruction that was left behind in the wake of hurricane Ike. Wanting to capitalize on the teachable moment, I quickly turned down the radio and explained the catastrophe that hit Texas in words that my 3 year old could understand. Basically, I told her that there were people who didn't have a place to sleep, or food to eat, because of some really bad rain. I figured she would connect to the power outages, since she is sometimes afraid of the dark, so I told her that in some places the lights are not working. There was an immediate connection.

    Moments later I suggested that we should pray for these people. She nodded her head in agreement, and then I asked her to lead the prayer. I could tell that she had a genuine concern for the people because she was careful to mention all of the details that she had heard me describe, right down to the lights not working. She even prayed empathically when she mentioned how scared the people might be because the lights were out. I was extremely proud of her little prayer. Clearly, she had understood what I had been working so hard to instill in her: the importance of praying for others. But, perhaps my celebration was a bit premature, as it most certainly was short lived.

    Not long after her prayer, that's when it all went awry.

    "Mommy?" Sadia said while staring out the backseat window, her eyes glazed as she attempted to put her thoughts into words.

    "My prayer was long, huh?"

    "Well.., yes. I guess it was." I replied uncertain of the exact length of the prayer. "Why do you ask?"

    "Because," she said ecstatically, "the good prayers are the long ones!"

    Immediately, my discernment was taken down a few pegs. The reality is that Sadia understood one thing about those prayers I had dutifully pointed out: they were toooooooo loooong.

    While the people prayed, she stood listening to the prayer for what must have seemed to her an eternity. With her curious tiny toddler head tettering and her nosey 3 year old eyes closed, busy bee mischief mounted. She hadn't connected to the concept of praying for others, because she had keenly recognize what so many of us have separately observed about communal church prayers ourselves--they go on forever.

    Despite this shared observation, I eagerly sought to curtail her association between "long" and "good" prayers to a more honest tie-in, such as the connection between "good" prayers and prayers that come from the heart.

    "Ya-yia," I said endearingly. God doesn't care whether our prayers are long or short. What matter most is that you pray from your heart. Prayers from your heart are good because you are talking to God about whatever you're thinking about.***

    After my feeble explanation, I was unsure of whether Sadia understood. I was convinced that I would need to hear another prayer to set my mind at ease. However, I knew this next prayer would have to emerge naturally, and not out of a manufactured case. So, I kept my eyes peeled and my ear to the ground to seize the next teachable moment. Little did I know that this unique chance came just one day later.

    Around 8:15 the following evening, Sadia was asked to lead her fellow choir members in a word of corporate prayer. She anxiously accepted the invitation, and walked quite confidently up to the front of the room, took the microphone in her hand and asked the children to bow their heads and close their eyes. I wondered whether she would apply her new understanding.

    At that moment, the needs of various family members and friends--each having a prayer request that I shared with Sadia at one point or another--synced to my brain like an ipod to the iTunes library. I was sure that she would recall these conversations as she took advantage of an opportunity to pray from her heart. I couldn't have created a more candid climate if I had manufactured the moment myself.

    "Dear Lord, we thank you for today. We ask that you touch the people who are sick and the people who are in the hospital who are sick. It's going to be my birthday tomorrow on October 22nd, and we're going to have a lot of fun, and i hope that a lot of people come to my birthday, and we're going to have a lot of fun..."

    As you can imagine, the children--the whole lot of them-- came unglued, and despite their best efforts composure gave way to an irruption of giggles and guffaws. Sadia was immediately caught off guard by the sudden burst. However, the chorus of laughter was abruptly curtailed with an attempt to refocus their attention.

    "Be quiet! I'm praying!" Sadia said, and with the utmost seriousness. Then, as if she had never missed a bit, she continued her fervent prayer"

    "So, it's going to be my birthday, and in Jesus' Name, Amen."

    Here's the bean: There is a thin line between ritualistic prayers, and prayers form the heart. The painfully simple truth of it all is that one must earnestly search one's own heart.

    In my efforts to be "Christian" I sometimes manufacture the prayer that I think God wants to hear, rather than what really consumes my heart. When I empty my heart before God, then He can fill me up with His will, His views, His perspectives, those things which matter most to Him.

    Sadia's prayer was a undoubtedly a matter of the heart. She pulled from her heart what was most important to her, and at that moment, her birthday was all she could think about. It consumed her. Those who would, and those would not attend saturated her thoughts, such that all that spilled out during her prayer were her concerns about her birthday.

    I often look back on that night and wonder if in fact her prayer was "good", since it was basically a self-centered one? However, I take comfort in knowing that Sadia is loved by God in heaven. Her understanding of what it means to genuinely seek God is growing everyday, and of one thing I am certain: She will know how to go to God uninhibited by whatever is on her mind. Her's is a freedom that is all too rare.

    *** (The nickname Ya-yia is derived from Simone's failed attempts at pronouncing Sadia's name. Where the "S" and "d" morph into the "yuh" sound.)

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    9 11

    I forgot. Wrapped in anticipation of the chaos awaiting me at work, I zoned out. The significance of the day escaped me. It was the seven year anniversary of 9 11. Yet, all I could think about was the outdated plumbing, which unleashed a surge of water that covered two thirds of my classroom carpet just days ago.

    Not long before I got to work, I snapped out of my self wallowing. I noticed a parade of American flags zooming past me on the freeway. So many questions popped into my head: “Is today a holiday? I’m pretty sure it isn’t July. Is there some special election going on?”

    Some guy even had a flag mounted on the back end of his Harley just above the tail pipe. Picture this image: the stars and stripes waving perilously in trails of pollution as he motored down the highway. How patriotic. Doubtless this was his intended objective. Yet, there it was in all of its glory, our nation’s flag choking on second-hand engine smoke.

    Then it hit me. The last time I witnessed the paradox of a flag hovering over debris, the act leading up to the image was deliberate. Video replaying the planes crashing into the sides of the Twin Towers littered every news station on every television screen in every home, office, and building in 2001. It hung over a quandary of mangled steel, dirt, rubble, and debris at Ground Zero.

    Maybe it's the 3,000 miles which separates me from the devastation, or the fact that I've never been to New York. I've never experienced its immense skyline. I don't have family or friends who live there. Whatever it is, I don't think that I completely understand the magnitude of September 11th, otherwise I would have focused my attention on the greater loss rather than my temporary discomfort.

    I’ve never had the misfortune of returning to the rubble in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, trying to salvage the pieces after hitting rock bottom. I don’t know what it means to survive something so monumentally grave. Yet, there I was sulking in the mild disappointment of a renovated classroom thinking that the bottom wasn't too far a leap for me. How self absorbed is that.

    Then, as though a lightbulb was switched on in my brain, I had a moment of clarity. I caught a glimpse of perspective. There I was feeling that my loss was so devastating, yet clearlymy temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the calamity that rocked New York.

    The water damage to my carpet will fade away in a couple of days, but their stains permeate a lifetime. The musty smell of mildew will disappear, but 9 11 dust remains like dark matter clouding memory's skyline. I need only to spend time in reflection on the gravity of it all. Eventually, I will pick up the pieces and move on, but their pain is immortalized; permanently etched on the hearts of millions.

    I think and feel differently about of 9 11 now. I'm not sure that I've completely grasped the depravity of it all, but of this I am sure... 9 11 isn't about dwelling on my dealings with faulty pipes; it's about a cooperative mourning over the destruction that robbed hundreds of thousands. My thinking has got to change. All things considered-- my oblivion is a building, and the desolation of 911 is a 747 rocking oblivion's foundation.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    World's Largest Particle Smasher

    Scientists, in an effort to recreate the Big Bang on a smaller scale, have created a super-machine, which lies 300 ft below the Earth's surface, and spans 17 miles. More impressive is the fact that it was designed to split atoms (spellbinding). Driving this experiment is a quest to answer the question, "What happened at the creation of matter?" (Sound vaguely familiar to anyone?)

    Essentially, scientists have theorized that there are more dimensions to the world (ie, heaven), yet to be discovered. The gravitational pull within these dimensions is thought to be tightly wrapped, like layers on a paper-towel roll.***

    Tomorrow, scientists will attempt to smash an atom using this machine.

    Hmmmm, let's do a little risk analysis, shall we?

    On the up-side:
    They could potentially create a miniscule piece of matter so infinitesimally small that it would be able to travel through those tightly wrapped dimensions. The scope of which has implications in the realm of time travel.

    They could also "resolve one of the biggest mysteries in physics, such as the existence of one long-hypothesized particle called the Higgs boson—or the God particle—thought to be responsible for giving all other particles their mass." (you say "God particle", I say GOD-- potato, potahto.)

    On the down-side:
    They could create a black hole that, though remarkably small, would only have the potential to SUCK UP THE EARTH!

    What's that you say.., no word on a black-hole-sucking-reversal-thing-a-ma-bobber.., no worries. Proceed with experimentation as scheduled.

    I know that this scientific post is a stretch for me (what with my uncouth thinking capacity as a Christian), so in lieu of drawing some empirical conclusion about the "Smasher", I've decided to leave you with an equally "smashing" insight, reputed by Doc, from Back to the Future (1985): "...if my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour, we're gonna see some serious $#!t."

    For more on this, pa-lease Click Here

    In other news, Christians have already discovered the existence of God, and the origins of Creation. All of this without sucking the Earth up into an abyss of nothingness (wink).

    For more on this breaking news, Click Here

    I shared the angle for this post with my husband who has been a great sounding board for past posts. He scoffed about my position, feeling that it minimized over 20 years of scientific research. In light of this, I want to make one thing clear regarding this post, I am in no way trying to disregard the overarching contributions of science. However, the irony in this article is striking. Historically, science has made.., well, a science out of discrediting fundamentally Christian beliefs such as the existence of God and Creation. Yet woven within the fibers of this cutting edge technology, are terms borrowed form the vary belief system which science has tried to debunk. Just a little food for thought (with a twist).

    *** Sidebar
    Maybe science is more progressive than I had originally thought, and --much like "undiscovered dimensions"--this faith-based cynic is just wrapped too tight (sarcasm).

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Yes, but what he neglected to tell you is....

    Since I've resumed teaching, I'm noticing a very copious trend occurring. Over the course of the last two weeks, I seem to be repeating myself quite a bit. From anything related to rules and procedures to lessons and processes, if you've heard me say it once, then you've probably heard me say it a thousand times. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record.

    Now, granted repetition and teaching sort of go hand in hand. I understand this quite well. However, I've managed to pin-point the phrase which has been growing in popularity of late: Yes, but what he neglected to tell you is...

    Enter parent-teacher correspondence number one.

    I was summoned to the office one day last week. A parent decided to make a trip to school to address his concern personally. When I arrived at the office, our clerk translated the parent's question to me and my response vise versa. At one point in the conversation, the parent drug his daughter's backpack above the countertop and slumped it onto the clerk's desk. It was loaded with textbooks (approximately 6). I could tell by the expression on his face that he was unhappy. After a few seconds of waiting, the office clerk gave me her rendition of his worry.

    What he said:
    "I'm troubled that my daughter is having to carry so many books home from school. Do you require students to bear so many books?"

    What I said:
    "Yes. But what she neglected to tell you is that I gave the class one and a half weeks to get all six textbooks covered."

    What I wanted to say:
    "Her newly acquired back pain may have occurred as a result of her procrastination in completing an assignment."

    Enter parent-teacher correspondence number two.

    I received a phone call one day after school. The parent on the other end of the line was not interested in making small talk or exchanging pleasantries. She was brief and cut straight to the point.

    What she said:
    "My son came home yesterday upset. He said that he was on the playground kicking a soccer ball, when one of the playground attendants approached him and issued him a detention. Did you authorize this?"

    What I said:
    "Yes. But what he neglected to tell you is that after kicking the soccer ball into the air, he hit said playground attendant square in the face, and then proceed to laugh and joke around with his friend about the horrible ordeal.

    What I wanted to say:
    "His distress may have been caused by his tendency to perpetrate mischief."

    Enter parent-teacher correspondence number three.

    After her son received a detention for failing to turn in his homework, one mother sent me a curious note.

    What she wrote:
    "Mrs. Sincire, my son seems to think that he is being unfairly treated. He is extremely bright and doesn't feel like you are challenging him. He says that he is bored. Did you give him a detention?"

    What I wrote:
    Yes. But what he neglected to tell you is that for the past eight days your son has failed to turn in his homework.

    What I wanted to write:
    "His boredom may be a result of his chronic LAZINESS."

    This list would literally go on, and on. I have neither the patience, nor the battery life to publish them all, but I think you get the point. As a parent and a teacher, I now have the unique privilege of seeing both sides of the issue. I'm sure I've taken stands for my daughter in instances where what I really should have done is sit down. I get the inclination to defend your offspring. But the next time you storm into the Principal's office, pick up the telephone, or wield a pen in defense of your precious angel, consider--just for one moment-- that it is quite possible that there is something--some pertinent detail-- that he has neglected to tell you. ;)

    Friday, September 05, 2008


    Um, you failed to mention that the rest of my life would descend into utter chaos if I devoted an entire day to reading, commenting on, and publishing blogs.

    Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Sitting Bulls

    In bullfighting, the matador uses various techniques to distract, insight, and injure a bull. Matadors use many tools and maneuvers to lure the bull. Among the tools used by the matador is his red cape. Allegedly, the bull becomes enraged when it sees the cape. This is where we get the phrase "seeing red".***

    Like the bull, people of a certain political persuasion may hear certain words waved around the political arena, causing them to see red, and become testy. While the words that incite this type of response may vary from one voter to the next, at the helm of this political intifada are such words as "abortion" and "homosexuality". These words compel some individuals to see red.

    Seeing red is a phrase which literally refers to a state of irritation or annoyance, so when people see red they are often so caught up in their aggravation that they cannot see beyond the narrowed scope of that red-caped word before them. Seeing with such constricted vision makes it impossible for them to look at any of the other applicable data related to the issue. The matter is then bound in the limited context of their anger and fear.

    I don't qualify as a political pundit. You know the group of people who sound like experts on political issues, but really they get their info from "news" programs on TV who are really nothing more than political hacks. The journalists on these programs aren't really experts. They're just there to shape your views with their public opinion polls. However, the bull and cape metaphor is such a good fit for today's politics. I am no fan of bullfighting, and am less a fan of the way politicians use their political spin doctoring like the matador's cape to distract voters.

    The political team behind the scenes puts their matador (candidate) in the arena (on the ballot). This bullfighter will be the only candidate on the party ticket--republican or democrat. Those torros, (voters) often dangling on their last shred of faith in the teetering democratic system, don't really like the matador that's on the party ticket (much less want him to run the Presidency), but are captivated by the fancy steering of those carefully placed political issues, and will vote all the more because anyone is better than that other guy. The candidate will gesture vehemently touting phrases like "abortion is wrong" and "homosexuality is wrong" (or fill in the blank with any hot button political issue) until he is sure that the voters finally have him (and only him) locked in their sights. The bulls, compelled to charge the polls and cast their votes, are essentially reacting to the flagrant displays of the skilled toreador, and is in effect manipulated into voting for a candidate he really doesn't want because that is what the cape is designed to do.

    Given the state of politics these days, I tend to have little respect for people who emphatically endorse one candidate over the other. American voters who are lulled into the booths by candidates who marginalize hot button issues are little more than naive bulls swayed by the toreros expert deception. As with the bull's inevitable fate in the finale of the fight, the votes that they cast at the polls eventually culminate with the death of democracy.


    It is a known fact that bulls don't actually see red. In fact they, like many other animals, are color-blind. In truth, it is not the color of the cape, which insights the bull, rather the vigorous taunting at the hand of the cape which antagonizes the bull to charge. However, the red cape led to the phrase seeing red hence the metaphor for this post. As with most metaphors, this one isn't perfect by any means.

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Wanting Ice cream

    I have become so discombobulated
    That I have ignored the side effects of solitude.
    Security devours impulse.
    Nerve devours fear.
    Light does not devour dark, though, or
    Deodorant stains would not be so conspicuous on black satin dresses,
    African violets would have never thrived under barrenness,
    and you would have stopped me from melting by now.
    I'm melting right now,
    One cold stone scoop at a time.
    I scream!
    You scream!
    We all scream!
    For ice cream numbs the brain.
    Kindhearted ice cream men scoop out the pain.
    Pushing push-ups and big sticks.
    They make brain freeze look like civics.
    It's humane.
    And right now, I'm so cold-blooded
    That my ice cream-addicted veins are flooded.
    It's mundane.
    I'm a fiend,
    Injecting frozen melodies of left out right in.
    So greedy for that confectionary treat
    Chronically served up cold,
    I chase down ice cream trucks
    Car-going desertion by the boat load.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Finding Balance

    Some parents lavish their children with expensive gifts, some let their children overeat, while others neglect to set boundaries, and still some parents jam pack their children's free time with soccer practices and piano lessons. Not me, I had to go and overcompensate for my inexistent childhood birthday parties by ruining my daughter's 1st birthday celebration. No matter how much perfect planning that goes into scheduling the 1st birthday party, nothing.., absolutely nothing can prepare you for instances like this one....

    For me, her emotional meltdown to the "Happy Birthday" song was more than ironic, it was the defining moment of the whole party. I don't think that she enjoyed one minute of her special day. Normally she's very sensitive and doesn't adjust well to new environments. At some level, I knew that she wouldn't be receptive to the overstimulated atmosphere that I created. And those who are closest to me will tell you that I lost sight of due north. Yet, sadly, I elected to navigate the course that I had mapped out full steam ahead--afterall, money was spent, guests had arrived, agendas needed to be fulfilled, and expectations (mostly mine) had already been cemented.

    In retrospect, I take full responsibility for my daughter's meltdown. I went overboard with the 3-dimensional ice-cream sundae invitations, I went overboard with the activities.., I pretty much went overboard with everything. I should have known better than to create a spectacle, thus I should have done better. At some point planning her party ceased to be about celebrating my precious little daughter's one-year milestone, and began taking on a life all its own. Now, I'm sitting here in the aftermath, wading through the pictures, the birthday cards, the gifts and moreover the outstanding realization that this birthday party was more about me than anything else.

    Life is tough, and at best most of us do whatever we can to keep our heads above the water. Sometimes I'm hit unexpectedly by waves driven by my past, like matters where birthday party planning dredge up buried memories of lost dreams. I got knocked off course. I lost my balance, and struggled to find my footing. Still, I rest easy knowing that with every passing day, I become more aware of the waves. I can read the tide a little better, and hopefully I can brace myself to steer clear of shipwrecks like these.

    I can't change the tsunami that rocked the birthday party in my garage this past weekend. The damage is done; memories are waterlogged. With luck Simone will probably forget this storm, and her resilience will keep her afloat. But I take courage in the fact that I'm better able to read the ebbing tides, and though I have not mastered its currents, I am finding the balance.


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