Monday, November 29, 2010

December Goals

Aack, December is upon us!  I did a ton of knitting in November, and I am excited to share it with everyone.  But, for now, it is time for the December Goals:

*Sunburned Sheep Socks
*Snake River Socks

Sweater for Sam

Start baby gift for one of my many pregnant friends.

Actually do something on my blanket, which has been sitting in a bag completely unloved for months.

I think that is pretty doable.  I am going to have a lot of knitting time once we hit Cali.  I feel that since the husband is going to be there, he will be able to help me with the kids.  The question remains, should I bring enough projects with me for Cali, or should I just buy some cashmere and make a scarf.  Life is full of decisions.  I wonder how much it would cost to make a cashmere scarf. 

Anyway, back from my trip to fantasy land, tune in tomorrow for pictures of Novembers finished objects.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Fat Lady is Singing

The Finale.  The final curtain call.  No matter how hard you scream or how many lighters you light or how many cell phones you hold up, this band ain't coming back.  This is IT!  There is enough post scripts in this story to create, well a sequel.  But it ain't happening folks, this story is done.  Let me tell you how it ends.

Phone rings, and my powers of deduction tell me is the BOD (Boss of Director, you may remember her from earlier tellings of this tale.)  Yes, I looked at the called id, but it did not say BOD on it, so I had to figure it out from the phone number.  Bob was on the phone, so I knew it was me that was bringing the ship down.

BOD:  Is Bob available?

Me:  No, sadly he is on the phone earning a living so I can pay the taxes that fund your salary. 

BOD:  I guess I can talk to you then.

Me:  Yeah, if you want to put this baby to bed, that would be your best bet.

BOD:  Well, inspite of the fact that we have known about you being Jewish for over a year, we have been planning this Christmas Concert for well over a week and we could not possibly make any changes to include your daughter.  But we will consider it for next year.

Me:  So, let me get this straight, you are knowingly planning a program that excludes my daughter?

BOD:  Oh, nothing of the sort.  You can come and talk to the class and read a story and play some games if you want. 

Me:  Ok, can Hannah's class learn the song?

BOD:  I guess that would be ok, because there are only 15 kids in that class that will be subjected to learning something that might cause them to burst into flames.

Me:  You know being inclusive is never a bad thing.  It makes me sad that it is so hard for you to be that way. 

BOD:  Well, we have been planning this for a whole week.  I am sure you understand.

Me:  I guess this will have to do.  We wouldn't want you to scrap your hard work of a week.

BOD:  You will need to tell Director your availability and that I said it was ok for Hannah's class to learn the song, but that it wouldn't be included in the program.

Me:  Inclusiveness is never a bad thing and it would be good for the Carol Stream Pre-School to be inclusive, but I guess it is still a private club after all.

BOD:  Yup, have a nice Thanksgiving.

Now, this is not actually how it went down, but the basic facts are correct.  They will think about being inclusive in the future.  But, this time they are not going to include my daughter.  I guess we are a little bit further along than when we started, because they are letting me do something about Hannukah.  Perhaps the next family won't have to fight so hard.

If you want to complain about it to the park district, have at it.  It is a public concert and they are not going to sing anything but legal Christmas carols.  Not a true representation of the community, but it is what it is.

Things are better than they were 10 years ago, better than 20 years ago, and in another 10 years they will be better, because people like me, like you complain and force folks out of their comfy corners.

This story is over, but this mission isn't.  I will always advocate for my kids.  Don't even try and stop me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Post Script

I guess it was a mistake to say that the whole Christmas Carol thing was over, when we were still talking to them.  I expected them to trot out the plastic reindeer law and tell me to pound salt.  They didn't.  They told us to call their lawyer and he would explain it to us.

We called the lawyer, who is jewish, and he said, the song was fine.  That we certainly could sing it, and that it was probably a good idea to promote tolerance and inclusiveness.  So, all that remains to be done is to tell the school that they get to add a song to the play list for all the kids, not just Hannah!

I am excited that even though we thought we had lost, we ended up winning.  It makes me feel like perhaps things are more equatable than they might have orignially seen. 

I can understand how this is a very confusing issue.  You don't want to violate anyone's first amendment rights, but you also don't want to be intolerant.  I can completely understand how a well meaning person could end up looking like a bigot.  They are just trying to do the right thing, and sadly that right thing is sort of hard to see.

While we certainly didn't make any friends in this process, perhaps we made things a little easier for the next kid who is forced to sing about a holiday they don't celebrate.  Face it folks, we are a giant melting pot and there are lots and lots of different people.  Rather than be afraid of those differences, I believe that we should embrace them.  The more we know about each other, the less scary the differences will be.  If we can change our culture to truely be one of tolerance, I believe our standing in the world will improve.

There will be the reaction of the teachers to report.  So I won't say that we are done here.  Rather I will say, till next time!


Thanksgiving.  The days leading up to this holiday will always be bitter sweet for me.  My father died on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  It was a shocking horrible event.  It was unexpected and while a lot less painful, I still miss him almost every day.

I wish I could pick up the phone and call him and tell him I love him.  I wish he could see my kids.  I think he would love them.  I wish that I spent more time with him when he was alive.  Time only goes forward, and there isn't an opportunity to go backwards.  It is important to try and remember to do the things that are important, and focus on the good.  I think my Dad would like that I have learned that.    finally.

This holiday is bittersweet.  It is bittersweet because it is also the anniversary of Bob finding a job.  I am thrilled that he found a job that he loves.  That things have worked out swimmingly for him.  I think that this is the sort of thing we should celebrate, so we do.

Today marks the 10 year anniversay of my fathers death.  We are not going to be sad today, we are going to a water park to celebrate Bob's 1 year anniversary.  I think my Dad would have liked that..

I can hear him saying.. "You never had it so good."

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I made bread today.  Rosemary/cracked pepper bread to be exact.  Those of you who have followed my trials with bread, will be impressed to see this little entry into my book of bread making.  I think this is the only other loaf I can make well.  It is cooling, and it looks so yummy, I can't wait to slice into it.  I will let you know if it tastes good too!

Update:  Well, I couldn't wait... I waited the hour, but I couldn't wait for our guests, I had to try the bread.  It is the bomb.  I will never buy another loaf of bread again.  YUMMERS

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I am having an identity crisis.  First facebook says I am impersonating myself.  They are pretty adamat about it, in fact they tell me that their decision is final and there is not appeal process.

Not being one to pay much attention to no, I email them back.  I tell them that I am me, and unless they can prove otherwise, they should reactivate my account.  As far as I am concerned, it would be a pretty good trick for them to prove that I am impersonating myself.  I am fairly certain the bank, my husband and a few others would be interested to learn that I am not who I say I am.

They email me back, and tell me that they have no freakin' idea what I am talking about, and my account hasn't been deactivated.  I attached the first email that said the decision was final.  I emailed from the correct account.

I guess my skilled powers of persuasion convinced them that I am indeed who I say I am.  I think I had them at passport authorities.  But, perhaps it was the fact that the state thinks I am me.  Or maybe, just maybe, it was all a glitch in the security software.

Regardless of what it was, I relieved to learn that I am, in the eyes of the powers at Facebook, me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I got a phone call yesterday from a friend who wanted to know why I unfriended her and then hid my profile.  I was dumb founded as I had not been on Facebook that morning.  Aside from the fact that I wouldn't unfriend her, I was curious about how this happened.

I logged on to Facebook, and learned that my account had been disabled.  Apparently I am impersonating myself.  I would like to know who I really am, perhaps the real me has a better life.  At this point I have been impersonating myself since birth.  Well, technically, I was given my legal name at 6 weeks of age, so I guess I have been me since then.

Is that the issue?  The fact that I was a nameless ward of the state for the first 6 weeks of my life and not me, means that now I am impersonating me?  I am so confused.

When I deposit checks in the bank, sign the papers for my bank loan, and pay the bills, I certainly hope that those things are all legal, because Facebook thinks I am not me.  There is no arguing with them, because I am not me, and they are Facebook, and thus know better than everyone.

For now, my account is active, but I imagine that this will change at some point.  When it does, all I can say is good-bye friends.  I am not sure what remedy I have, but I am pretty certain, that I am me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Math... Or the Final Chapter

I have been schooled in the legality of Christmas Carols.  Things have changed since I was in school.  Just like they don't multiply like they used too, apparently some songs about Christmas are actually cultural.  Who knew.

White Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claus, and a few others have been determined by the Supreme Court to be cultural songs and not religious.  The rule is the rule, but it still doesn't make sense to me.  Since when is a song about Christmas not religious?  Apparently, Christmas is a secular holiday.  As long as you don't talk about Jesus, you ARE good.

If I was Christian, I would be a little offended by the fact that one of the two most important holidays in my religion have become secular.  I suppose in our desire not to offend anyone, we end up offending everyone.  But it is what it is.

So, while it sure feels like my daughter's First Amendment rights are being violated by have her public preschool perform in Christmas Concert, the Supreme Court would say that they are not.  The only thing I can change it the title of the event.  It needs to be called a Holiday Concert.  Hollow victory at best.  It sure doesn't feel inclusive to have her learn songs about a holiday she doesn't celebrate.

I guess we died on the sword, and while I was so sure that we were right, it would seem that they were right and we were wrong.  The preschool I did finally find that seemed so inclusive because the allowed all the kids to share about their special traditions, may actually be violating the First Amendment rights of the children.  Seems strange to me.

I do not think Church and State are as separate as I would like them to be.  I am still thankful that we were allowed to have this temper tantrum without the fear of being shot.  I am saddened that the laws of this country are not inclusive.  But, this is a battle I am not willing to fight.

Peace out brothers and sisters.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chapter 3

So the saga continues... We got a phone call from the Director.  Apparently Christmas is a cultural holiday.  I must have missed that when I was working on my degree in Comparative Religion.  I was really sure that Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Who, Christians believe is the Savior.

Sure we could debate when Jesus was really born, and why Christmas is on the 25th.  But, the fact stands that Christmas is one of the two top holidays of the Christian religion.  When did Christmas become a cultural holiday?  As long as you don't talk about Jesus, you are good?  Must be like new math, it changed after I was done with school.

The reasoning on why Driedel x 3 is such a problem is that it is religious and they don't do anything religious at a publicly funded Preschool.  They only focus on winter.

Again, we queried, why Christmas?  Because it is a winter holiday.  Oh, we respond so is Hanukkah.  So we can add Driedel x 3 to the song list.  This is great news.  No, we can't do that, do you people not understand Hanukkah is religious, but Christmas isn't. (I realize that it is actually a fall holiday here, but let's not confuse the discussion with facts.  That would just be wrong.)

We are meeting the Boss of the Director.  BOD, for short.  Apparently BOD will be able to explain it better.  She will be able to tell us how having a Christmas program is not religious but Driedel x 3 is.  In fact if I were to read Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, I would be reading a religious book.  But, reading a book about Santa Claus is not religious.

We would NOT want our children exposed to a song about driedels, or a story about goblins because they might all burst into flames.  Or worse, marry Jews, convert and raise their kids as Jews.  Pure Evil.

What are we doing?  Well we are going to the meeting and better connected friend hooked us up with some support.  I guess I am going to die on the sword for this one.

Bring it....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Update

So, here is where our little story stands right now...

1)  I talked to the teachers, and not surprisingly they were much more reasonable.  But, the songs that being sung is a decision out of their hands.  And they didn't think there would be any changes.

2)  I was pretty offended by the whole situation.  They are excluding my daughter and not really concerned about it.  I think the teacher gets it though, because when I said that to her, she indicated she understood.  I think that changing the situation is just outside of her span of control.

3)  So, I hatched a plan.  Military has don't ask, don't tell.  We aren't going to be here for the Christmas Concert, so if they sing Oh Holy Night, I am going to have no idea that it has happened.  If someone in the community is offended to learn that their tax dollars are funding this inoculation center, well, they can do something about it.  I suggested, rather than have EVERY ONE learn Driedel, Driedel, Driedel, perhaps just Hannah's class can learn it.  If it falls off the play list between the school and the concert, I will never be the wiser, you won't tell me and I won't ask.  I think Hannah's class is smart enough to learn a 6th song.  Hannah won't be excluded, the entire school doesn't have to change their program.  Sounds like a pretty reasonable compromise.  I was told, I don't know if we can do that.  I told the teacher that if she doesn't think she can do that, then she can call my husband and explain to him why it is so important to violate our daughters first amendment rights.

As of this minute in time, I have not heard from them.  I don't think I will hear from them.  I also imagine I will hear from my daughter that they are not singing the Driedel song.  But, you know what if I don't hear from Hannah about it, I am not going to say anything about it.

I realize that I am letting the violate the law and get away with it.  But, I have neither the support or the inclination to really fight with them about this.  I will sing it from the hilltops once we are out of there.  I will make sure that the Executive Director of the Carol Stream Park District knows that his Pre-School is regularly violating the first amendment rights of 3 and 4 year olds.

Part of me wonders if there isn't a story here.  Perhaps the folks at the Tribune might be interested in learning about this.  This doesn't just happen here in Carol Stream, there are other park districts around here that do it as well. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bill Clinton and Christmas?

Bill Clinton, you may remember him for not being able to define the word it, for playing saxophone on late night television, or for his 8 years in the oval office.  What ever you remember him for, he did one thing in regard to religion and the schools.  He published a handy guideline about how you can approach religion in the schools.

It boils down to you can teach not preach.  You can educate not celebrate.  The younger the child, the fewer religions you have to cover as you teach world religion as part of a social/world learning unit.  A preschool aged child would have the opportunity to learn about a few, Christianity and Judaism are the usual choices.  While the guideline does not say this, good sense would dictate that you should touch on all the religions of the students in your class.  Otherwise, you stand to violate someones First Amendment rights.

Ok, so the test is that the children should be learning about a variety of religions.  Let's apply this test to Hannah's preschool.  Is there a variety of religions being shared?  No, apparently there isn't, because the two major ones are considered to be Christianity and Judaism, and Judaism isn't being covered.  A variety is not one.

This of course leads me to believe that it might be time to ask some more questions, I hope it is all a misunderstanding that we can all laugh about in the next post.  A grand opportunity for me to trot out my stupidity and laugh at my foibles.  Let's face the good posts tend to be about that sort of stuff.

If it isn't, then I guess we have to deal with the fact that my 5 year old daughter has had her First Amendment rights violated.  It is pretty sad that it had to happen to her so early.  I was hoping she could wait until marriage.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Christmas bells are ringing

D:  Hello, this is the Director from Hannah's preschool.

Me:  Hi (a bit nervously)

D:  Do you have a minute, there is something I would like to discuss.

Me:  Yeah... (why are you calling, what happened??  Everyone was all smiles at pick up yesterday.)

D:  We are having a Christmas program at the end of December, and I know that you were upset about the stocking project that we had last year.

Me:  Christmas program??

D:  Yes, the kids will be singing Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Here Comes Santa and a few other songs.

Me:  How about tossing in Driedel, Driedel, Driedel?

D:  No, I don't think we will be able to do that, it is too religious.  (And White Christmas isn't?  Here comes Santa Claus isn't? What the heck.)

Me:  Ok, well, since you are going to teach my daughter Christmas Carols at school, can we not do any other Christmas projects??

D:  Well, I don't think that will be possible.

Me:  Ok, then can I come in and do something about Hannukah?

D:  I don't think that will be possible.

So why the hell did you call me?  To rub it in my face that you are going to basically do an entirely Christmas program, ignore all other faiths and religions and do this with my tax payer dollars?  I don't know what to do about this... but the director already hates me, so I think it is in my best interest to NOT rock the boat, but I think I might just talk to the teacher for a minute and see if I can reason with her.  Once Hannah is outta there, this blog post is being sent to the Board of Directors at the Carol Stream Park District.  Unless of course they read it here first.

In the spirit of all fairness, things were not presented this bluntly, but this was the condensed version of what was said.  I was a little mystified by the whole experience. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Laundry Day

All sorts of hand-knitted goodness....

Friday, November 5, 2010


I think I want to talk about what happened this Halloween.  I have gone back and forth on this topic, but I don't think I can just let it rest.

I am tired of the mean-ass football players.  They suck.  I hate all of them with the power of seven suns.  Why the heck do they think it is a good freakin' idea to pick on kids that don't play football or aren't athletic?  I know, everyone has their gifts, kids are mean, blah, blah, blah.  But, I just don't get it.

Why do you get your jollies from mocking someone else?  Are you that insecure?  I thought football was supposed to make you a man.  Apparently not so much.  Do they cut the penises off football players?  I am really not sure about this, I try and avoid them as much as possible.  Is that why they are such douches?

I am not talking about high school here either, I am talking about little runts that play football in elementary school.  But let me back up the train bit..

When we lived in rural Connecticut, kids didn't play football when they were 5, they played soccer.  Soccer is a much better game, but I digress.  So, when we loaded up the moving van and headed to the midwest, imagine my surprise when we arrived being oh so many years behind in playing football.  Not that any of my kids play football now, nor will they ever as long as I live.

So, here is the deal, these parents spend thousands of dollars on football.  Making the small fortune we spend on soccer look like the parking fee.  They have personal coaches in 2nd grade.  I know, it was shocking to me how much time and money these parents spend on this game.  It is highly unlikely many or even any of these kids will get scholarships or go pro.  Just from a pure statistics point of view.
Here is the part that I find so surprising, while they are learning technical skills about how to play the game, they aren't learning sportsmanship and how to be good stewards for their team.  Sam is the best soccer player on his team.  If Sam displays ANY un-sportsman-like behavior the coach will pull him from the game.  This will hurt the team, but it teaches Sam a lesson about how to act.  This is more important than winning.  Apparently this is not the case with football. 

Sam represents the Panthers everyday, every where he goes.  If his coach heard that he was picking on kids, he would bench him.  Learning to be a good citizen is part of learning to be a good soccer player.  We can not all be the best every day or every time, but we sure can represent every day and every time.

So, why is it that these football coaches do not do this?  Because when I see a group of kids picking on someone, it is 99.9% of the time the football kids.  This needs to stop.  These kids need to learn to be good citizens.  When is it that the coaches are going to man up and teach these kids how to be respectful.  Or is it that you can not teach someone to be a man when you aren't one?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Snaps like a twig

Hannah had 5 shots yesterday.  She was very cranky today, a fever, bad attitude, the whole 9.  ALL DAY!  Needless to say, it was a long day.  By the time I got in the car to take the kids I babysit home, I was cooked, fried.  I was definitely done with being patient and kind.

When I hear from the back of the car, "I forgot my elephant." A whole string of expletives ran through  my head including but not limited to, you forgot your freakin' elephant?  You never put the damn thing down, how the hell did you forget it?  I suck in a deep breathe of air, basically ridding the van of oxygen and turn the car around.

Deciding I will call Mac and have him meet me at the door with the elephant, I ask, where is it?  I am told, it is in my backpack.  Seriously, it is in your backpack?  We have turned around and are heading back to get an elephant that is in the car.  I flip another U-turn.  This one slightly more legal but still, minimal oxygen remained in the car as I tried to summon the last shreds of patience. 

The things running through my mind, were no jury would convict me, they would understand if I snap.  Who wouldn't snap after the day I have had.  It is ok to snap.  Then it hit me.  Remember the whole thing about self talk?  Rather than convince yourself that it is ok to snap, try and convince yourself that you still have patience and that you can still manage this situation.  You are in control of your emotions not the other way around.

I have been preaching this to Mac for the last couple of weeks, now it was time for me to try it myself.  Guess what, it worked.  I just kept reminding myself that I could keep it together and I did.  By the time I pulled into the driveway (yes angels sang, rainbows appeared and there was music heard from the skies, your point?) I was in a much better place.  I felt less like I was going to snap and more like I had my shit together.

By the time I pulled out of the driveway, the Dad's enthusiasm about his great day had infected my mood and everything was good.  Until Hannah realized she could have stayed home and played computer with the boys and had a temper tantrum.  But still, I didn't snap.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Santa is still a Bigot

It is the 1 year anniversary of the Santa is a Bigot post.  A lot has changed since I wrote that little doozie of a post that sparked a fire storm of hatred.  There are people, then when they see will not even speak to me still.  I say, pox on their house!

I have blogged about the transition away from the MOMS Club, no need to re-hash that now.  But, I do think that it is an important message for people to consider as they start to turn their thoughts towards the holidays.  There are many people in this melting pot of a country that do not celebrate December the same way as the majority.

It is a time where if you do anything different than the masses, your relegated to a lesser position.  Everyone will wish you a Merry Christmas, ask  your kids what Santa is bringing them without regard to the fact that they might be offensive.  It seems that going along with this assault is expected, because you don't want to rain on the parade.

So, as I brace myself for another round of holiday madness; write the letters/emails to the kids teachers telling them that it isn't ok, or legal, to have my kid count down the days until Christmas, I wonder, is there a better way?  Perhaps we should all wear little pins that identify you so everyone know what to say.  (Seriously, just kidding, I realize that there is great consequences to such a thing, so calm down.)

I have re-read the Santa is a bigot post many times, and the ones that followed.  I stand by them.  I truly believe that either Santa is a bigot or he is a religious tradition.  Not a popular position, but there you have it.

We watched Linus sit in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin.  My kids appreciate the story, because they too wish there was a pumpkin that brought treats for ALL children and not just some.  We talked about how Linus was really a visionary, not just a confused child.

There will be more on this, because it will be hard for me not to rant about it.  Living in Bill Graham central, it is not really ok to be different.   So, brace yourself, it may be a bumpy ride.

HOLIDAYS... Bring it!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Some gratuitous Halloween pictures! We have the Karate Kid, a princess and a soccer ref.

Our pumpkins!