Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Celebrate Halloween, Go to Hell

I'll admit. This post is long. But I threw in lots of pictures
in hopes that you'll read it!

Meet the Wicked Witch of the West:

Actually, it's just a card I created in preparation for
an October mommy-and-me craft with Sadia!

I love scrapbooking, and, by extension, I also enjoy creating cards. This is a 4x4 card, and it is really easy to make. Here is a list of materials used for the basic layout:

(1. dimensional Halloween stickers by K&Company)

(2. embossed stickers by K&Company)

(3. 12 X 12 focal pattern paper by Making Memories)

(4. 12 X 12 black scrapbook paper cut to 8 X 4 card base)

(and 3 essential scrapbook tools: paper cutter, adhesive 3D dots, and tape runner)

All of these materials can be found at your local Michaels Arts and Crafts store.

I plan to embark on this card-making project with Sadia as a way to bond with her. The goal is to cultivate a shared interest in card making through designing various Halloween-themed cards for her kindergarden class. Planning and prepping for this activity has really challenged me to take a position on a longstanding taboo in my family.

As my children get older, I'm having to make decisions that I didn't have to make before. The deliberation that I'm currently sitting on the fence about is: to Halloween or not to Halloween.

As a Christian, there always seemed to be a clear winner in this debate. Of course my verdict had been reached BC (that is, before kids). Actually, my choice was forged into the fiber of my faith from decades of entrenched Christian rhetoric. Now, admittedly, the "winning" argument is not so clear-cut, and I find myself deciding whether or not I should observe Halloween. Frankly, I'm undecided on the issue. What about you? Are you letting your kids celebrate Halloween?

Ellie Lofarao, who authors a blog called, Kiyria: A Women Chosen in Christ; Called to Influence affirms that in Christian cirlces, the answer to this question isn't so black and white. As a Christian, she always felt that her decision to avoid the holiday was just the right thing to do... that is of course until a turning point, when confronted by her children with an all too familiar rationale. She presents their case:

"Please let us go trick-or-treating next year. We always play dress up and we have so many hats and costumes and wigs, so you don't have to buy any and we only want to get some candy and have fun with our friends! We know Satan is bad and we love Jesus, and I'm sure he'd walk around with us and get candy if he was here. "

Ellie's post pin points the true nature of this argument for Christian parents. What about the kids? They'll miss out!

As parents, should we be allowing anything--even a rational argument from our innocent little ones-- deter us away from the convictions of our hearts?

She goes on to grapple with the fact that her children's assertions began to blur the boundaries of her own resolve. For the remainder of her post, she probes the issue further and concludes with this final notion:

"..there are no evil spirits in our pumpkins, nor do they roam in my neighbor's black cat. As for witches and black magic, the Bible is clear. All Hallows Eve ought to be a social, wholesome, and yes, even joyful time. For our family, it is."

When I read her closing thoughts, part of me wanted to applaud her for stepping out of the rigid box of legalism we Christians sometimes put ourselves into. However, another part of me grew troubled. As a believer, I maintain that there are absolutes in life, but I wondered whether this issue was as black and white as I had originally thought.

Angelo Stagnero, a Christian blogger who writes for the U.S Catholic blog approaches the matter quite pragmatically. He places the evolution of Halloween into a historic context. He believes adamantly that Christians should embrace the day. He writes:

"Halloween is steeped in Catholic theology and piety, and besides, it's just so much damn fun. We couldn't have arranged a more perfect synthesis of devotion and festivity had we tried. When you get to the core of what the holiday is, you find an overwhelmingly Catholic Christian holiday. It should be recognized and celebrated as such-warts, spider webs, and all.

On the Christian calendar November 1 is All Saints Day, or "All Hallows' Day." The word "Halloween" is simply the abbreviated form of "All Hallows' Eve," the vigil celebration in anticipation of the feast day."

He argues that Halloween should not be cloaked in cult folklore, but rather it should be viewed from the historical perspective from which it sprang. For Angelo the answer is clear. He frames his case for Halloween in no uncertain terms:

"Halloween is a great time to get your scare on. If not now, when? Let's indulge in the sticky, the creepy, and in things that go bump in the night on Halloween. This is our night to bump back. You can dress as a devil as long as you don't succumb to the diabolical. If you dress as a demon, you are no more worshiping a demon than you are worshiping an angel if you dressed as your favorite cherub."

I am still a bit undecided on the whole issue, but as a Christian, I think I'll throw myself into the mystery of my faith at this critical juncture.

So for now, we will continue to observe our own hodge-podge-of-a-tradition:

Will we buy costumes? Yes

Will we buy Halloween candy? Yes

Will my kids collect and eat candy? Yes

Basically, we will dress our girls in some kind of Halloween neutral costume, and head to the church, where the Children's Ministry organizes a "Harvest Carnival". While my children will dress in costume, we will avoid the traditional stuff, and focus instead on costumes that center around careers and things of that nature.

What about you? Will your kids be getting their creep on?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 8

Blame public schools for our children's loss of innocence.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blog Swap!

Rewind back to 1989!

So why 1989?

Don't know just had this idea and went with it. I thought it would be kind to rewind.

I started by going to google and searching for movies that released that year. That year I would have been around eleven which is a good age, right before you hit that awkward stage and become too cool to watch kids movies. Now, twenty years later and I'm finding that movies from this year were actually very influential part of my life.

See if you can guess this movie quote from 1989.

"Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? / Wouldn't ya think my collection's complete / Wouldn't you think I'm the girl / Girl who has everything / Look at this trove, treasures untold / How many wonders can one cavern hold? / Looking around you'd think / Sure, she's got everything / I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty / I have whoozits and whatzis galore / You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty / But who cares? No big deal / I want more."

Do we actually learn from our parents or do we learn from the things we watch on TV? I guess it depends on the household but when I grew up I loved watching movies and my parents didn't mind.

Thinking back to eleven was a great age. I could rent those rectangle shaped things that had a long tape in it that sometimes bunched up in your VCR, what were those things called........

Oh right VHS Tapes.....What an invention!

Not too long ago I went to Half Price books and outside they have all the books on clearance. I love clearance especially when I find a good deal. Half Price books also sells old VHS movies and that day they happen to have a ton of the classic kids movies like that I used to watch when I was younger.

I just knew my daughter would love them too!

What a bargain. Some really good titles were just a buck! I bought about 8 or 10 different movies for a variety. One of them being All Dogs Go to Heaven.

Such a cute movie!

I bring them home and I'm really excited to have my daughter watch the same things I watched when I was younger. It brings back memories and helps me remember things that I had forgotten such a long time ago. I stood there with a glow on my face for finding such a great bargain.

Ten minutes later.........The movie is OVER!

Hey wait why was it over so soon? I guess the inventor didn't think that far ahead and neither did I. It takes 5 minutes to rewind a whole movie. My daughter thinks 5 minutes is too long. By the time its done she totally forgot about the movie

My golden glow is gone.....I thought "what a terrible invention".

I could kiss the inventor of the know the kind of kiss you would give a chef for making a great meal. I have no idea what I would have done back before these gadgets and gizmos were invented. All I know is I want more thingamabobs that make a mom's life easier.
** About the Blog Swap: I signed up for a Blog Swap, where I was paired with Brandy, who authors a blog called Best Children's Movies. You can read more from Brandy here. She sent me this post to publish on my blog!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sadia's Punch-Out!!

I think this would be the point in the popular 80's video game
where the announcer comes out and says, "Come on stand up and fight."**

**It's interesting to see how cultural stereotypes are so deeply embedded even in the video gaming culture:

(1) Doc Louis, Little Mac's trainer in "blackface";

(2) Glass Joe, the weakest most defenseless looking opponent from France;

(3) Piston Honda, who wears a head band much like Daniel from The Karate Kid;

(4) Don Flamenco, the effeminate boxer from Spain;

(5) Great Tiger, an Indian turban-wearing Sikh, who brings a tiger with him to the ring; and

(6) Soda Popinski, the Russian boxer, who always took a swig of "pop" from a jug of soda that bore an unmistakable resemblance to a liquor bottle, and who uttered phrases like, "I can't drive, so I'm gonna walk all over you."

As a kid the preponderance of such racially charged caricatures completely escaped me-- or did they?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sadia Says the Darndest Things: Volume 2

I noticed Sadia limping downstairs on her way to the dining room table for breakfast this morning. Curious to learn the cause of this new development, I asked her to explain her feeble gait. Here was her diagnosis:

That's right blog readers, you no longer have to wonder about the elusive precursor to a pesky limp. Who knew that a foot headache could be the root cause for agony of de-feet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 7

I usually sing Simone a song right after her bath during her bedtime routine. One oldy-but-goody that she doesn't seem to mind singing over and over again is the Itsy Bitsy Spider song. Well, tonight after her bath, she decided she wanted no part of my version of the song. Instead, she sang her own rendition of the popular nursery rhyme. Here is her mashup:

The itsy bitsy diaper
crawled up the water spout
down came the rain and
washed the diaper out
out came the sun and
dried up all the rain and
the itsy bitsy diaper
crawled up the spout again.

Certainly, her "mondegreens" was completely incidental, but may have been warranted. The word diaper does sort-of rhyme with spider, and I did ask her to bring me a diaper just before we sang the song. But, I am sure you can see how her version of the song may have had an immediate relevance at the time.

Stuff Mommies Do Volume 7:
Use context clues to deduce when to change the baby's diaper.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I *Don't Heart* Begging Fundraising

I need to vent...

I hate school fundraisers!

A bit hypocritical, I know. I am, after all, a teacher. I guess you could say I represent the very institutions that endorse this kind of exploitation, which underpins much of public schools' enrichment programs. I realize that the budget is lean and that earnings from fundraisers directly prop-up underfunded arts programs. Parents' pocket books are perhaps a direct lifeline to most of the enrichment that takes place in public education today. Nevertheless, my scorn towards fundsponging simmers and I'm sure it will be at full boil come fundraiser's end.

My kindergartner has been in school for all of 14 days and already her school is sending home the dreaded beggar's dossiers. I oppose this kind of manipulation: fundraising that basically amounts to pimping out children to mega corporations in the name of subsidizing public school enrichment programs. But truth be told, our children are not really the ones being pimped, are they?

Let's face facts: I am the one that's really on the hoe stroll here. Since Sadia is only 4 years old, I am the one literally wading through tupperware/ portrait/ wrapping paper/ pizza stick/ calendar/ magazine/ candy sale booklets. I am the one who will put friends/ neighbors/ family members/ co-workers in the awkward position of having to dodge the sales pitch. I am the one who has to study the catalogues, do all of the accounting, reconcile each line item, promote the consumption of ridiculously overpriced products, and pound the pavement. I am the one who has to get on the phone and "remind" gracious donors who neglect to pony up. Then, I am the one who has to drag out my purse when it comes time to underwrite that big fat conciliatory check to balance lopsided calculations. And if I am the one that has to do all of the work, then what the heck is the point?

You know that circus performer who balances spinning plates on sticks, and juggles pins all while he balances on a unicycle? That's how my child's school fundraiser makes me feel.

I am frustrated by those bogus incentive schemes that lean on mother daughter relationships. Cheap, brightly-colored, plastic toys in no way justify what children across the nation are being asked to do: panhandle. How do I explain things like "overhead" and "profit margins" to a 4 year-old-- who values nickels over dollars because nickels are "shinnier"?

I can't win pitted against the guilt laiden rants that result when kids don't get to ride in the limo because they didn't meet a sales quota. I simply won't compete with the brainwashing that promotes toys like the Shake Wobbler Noise Pen, that can only be redeemed if children sell $199.99 worth of junk.

I don't mind giving money to my child's school. At the start of the year, I bought school supplies to help off set Sadia's teacher's out of pocket costs. What's great about this kind of giving is I know 100% of my money goes directly to the school, whereas with fundraisers only a fraction of the proceeds go to schools.

What about you? Where do you stand on the issue of children fundraising for schools? Are you buying in to it?


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