Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quick Report

I have set my timer for five minutes. I am going to type as fast as I can to give you a quick report of our family's lives. Here we go:

1) I have been student teaching for three weeks. It is not at all what I expected it to be. I don't want to bore anyone with the details. I think one word sums it up nicely: Politics! 

I have not dealt with politics in a long time. I kind of forgot they existed. I kind of assumed that everyone was nice and wanted everyone else to succeed. And I'm kind of finding out that my sunny outlook on life is not realistic. Bummer!

2) Dropping my children off at a daycare has been one of the most emotionally challenging things I have ever done. Hearing my baby Jim crying for me and knowing that I have to walk away and go to work was SO hard! By the time I got out the door I was crying too. 

After three weeks he is not crying as I leave him. But he does start crying tears of relief every time I pick him up, which is almost as bad as him crying when I left. I mean, crying tears of relief kind of leads me to believe that he wasn't sure I would BE returning to pick him up. And that is a heart-wrenching thing to think.

3) Hubby started a new job three weeks ago. He says that he is alright, it's just a major learning curve. He also said that maybe I could start using our real names and tell you what his real job is, since he needs clients and all...

Except my timer just went off!!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bravo, Mr. President. Bravo!

As I was reading the news of the day, I came across this article:

President Obama and Vice President Biden are helping our country to take a step forward in the fight against violent crimes! The Associated Press reports:

"The Obama administration says it is expanding the FBI's more than eight-decade-old definition of rape to reflect a better understanding of the crime and to broaden protections."

I have seen the devastating impact that rape can have on an individual. I've worked with women who have been raped, been friends with women who were sexually abused as children. The way that a girl or woman starts to define themselves by that horrific event in their life. And the bitterness and self-loathing that can occur when the responsibility for the crime is pushed back on them or when the crime is not taken seriously.

Throughout history, the punishment for rape has varied greatly.  Some rapists have been viewed simply as playboys, whose charms women just can't refuse. The thought-process here is that the woman wanted it.

Other times, rape is viewed as a proposal. Remember that terrible book I read...Tess of the D'Ubervilles?? Tess was supposed to marry her rapist. What a frightening prospect!!

In many Greek stories, the woman raped was faulted. Think of the story of Zeus and Europa. Their relationship started with a rape. But it's okay because he is a god?? And she went on to have his children??  Because being raped by a god and getting pregnant makes rape a perfectly fine activity??
In another Greek story, a god, Poseidon, comes upon a beautiful mortal woman worshiping in the temple of Athena. The woman is so beautiful that he cannot help himself and immediately ravishes her...In the Temple! Athena, the Virgin Goddess, is furious that her temple has been desecrated with sex. But does she go after her uncle? Does she blame him? Nope. She blames the girl, punishing her by turning her beautiful long hair into writhing snakes. Yep. Poor Medusa was raped and instead of being comforted, her hair was turned into snakes and any guy who looked at her was turned to stone. Serves her right for being so beautiful...GAG!

Dinah's story in the Old Testament follows Tess's pattern of proposal. Dinah's, daughter of Leah and Jacob, sister to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, rapist thought to marry her. Her story is found in Genesis chapters 33 and 34. While her father seemed willing to go along with the marriage idea, her brothers had different plans. You can read the story yourself. The main point here is that the rapist is actually punished in this story...And quite extremely at that! 

(By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed this scripture study's insight into that story. Much food for thought.)

Early America viewed rape similar to Levi and Simeon. It was a crime that ought to be punished. I could honestly go on and on as the examples and variety of consequences are plentiful throughout history. But the topic is quite painful for many people, and I don't want to draw out this terrible thing.

What I want is to state emphatically that rape is not something the victim wanted. It is not, and never should be seen as, a proposal to marriage. And it is not the fault of the victim.

The article gives details of how the definition is being revised and expanded:

"The revised definition covers any gender of victim or attacker and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. Physical resistance is not required."

This revision by the FBI is HUGE!!!

Many states have taken great strides in the past decades to broaden their definitions of rape. They have expanded their protection of the girls, women, boys, and men who fall victim to this heinous crime. They have made the punishments more severe for the perpetrators. Their efforts have led to a decrease the incidence of rape.

I am so pleased that President Obama and his administration are updating their definition. It has been a long time coming and is a positive step forward in the fight against this atrocious crime. Bravo, Mr. President! Bravo!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

4-H Fun

We signed up to participate in 4-H again this year.  

Rose and Anne signed up for Cooking, Sewing, Photography, Shooting Sports, Arts & Crafts, and Rabbits. Miss S signed up for Shooting Sports and Rabbits. I informed all three girls that Rabbits were out of the question this year. I will be student teaching in the spring and cannot be their chauffeur to all the rabbit events.

Joe and Prof. X signed up for Cloverbuds. This is the group for 4-H kids who are too young to compete. They have a new leader this year and she is turning out to be FANTASTIC! She wants the Cloverbuds to have a thorough 4-H experience so she has arranged for them to participate in a ton of different events. It is wonderful!

Here's what they've all done so far:

Joe & Prof. X toured a seed sprouting facility. We saw acres upon acres of baby plants: lettuce, cabbage, artichokes, celery, broccoli, and more! The place was a dream. The month before the boys (& Rose) painted pottery at a local studio. This was a combined activity with the Arts & Crafts group. The Cloverbud leader is also the Arts & Crafts leader! She has planned for the two groups to do an activity together once every other month. Very fun!

The most recent Cloverbud activity was a tour of a local bakery. I was informed halfway through the activity that is was also an Arts & Crafts activity, so Anne & Rose were invited. Tough luck for them. Fortunately, they were at other activities that Saturday so didn't feel bad about missing the bakery tour.

The boys in their baking aprons

Reading the recipe

Rolling out their dough. Prof. X chose that small pin. Goofy kid!

Joe decorating his cookie

Prof. X showing his decorated cookie.
Can you tell he's been taking bites of the frosting?

Shooting Sports
Miss S., Rose & Anne are working on perfecting their aim every other Saturday using air rifles and bows & arrows. No pictures.

Arts & Crafts
The arts & crafts leader is also the Cloverbud leader. She is lovely. On the Arts & Crafts side, she has arranged for 4-H members to paint pottery at a local studio which was then fired. Anne was sick for this activity. Rose painted a Halloween monster mug.

The other activity they had was to decorate t-shirts. They used iron-on pictures, puff paints, jewels, and more, to jazz up the plain white tees. The end results were crazy! 

Rose & Anne have experimented with pancakes. Their leader had them try different kinds of flours and rising agents. They also made some sweet potato pancakes and vegan pancakes. Then they tasted all the varieties to see the differences. 

For their meeting just before Christmas, they baked all sorts of cookies. Their leader told them to pick out any recipe, but no chocolate chips allowed! She wanted them to try new things. Anne made sugar cookies and Rose made toffee bars. Rose's toffee bars were Excellent! She used the recipe that I used growing up and the bars turned out delicious.  Poor Anne's cookies were not so good. In all the excitement of baking, she forgot to add the baking soda, and the baking powder. It is amazing the difference that a teaspoon of each can make!

Rose & Anne have done nothing. The youth sewing instructor they had last year did not return. The main sewing instructor, who took all the advanced sewers last year, flat out refused to take any new students. So the girls were left with no instructor. Except, I know a little about sewing and my leader status finally went through...  So I volunteered to be the sewing instructor for my girls and any other potential sewers/quilters. We haven't done anything yet. We will have our first meeting in January.

Rose & Anne have been meeting once or twice a month with the photography leader. She is helping them become familiar with the cameras, teaching them how to set up shots, and other photography related things. One of the things she has stressed is the need to Practice, Practice, Practice! 

Here is evidence of the girls' practicing:

Photos of Desert Flora at local park 

Photos at Wal-m's Garden Center

 I think they are off to a good start. :)