Sunday, June 26, 2011

Deutsch und Midsommar

This has been a busy weekend. The kids and I spent the weekend in a German Immersion class sponsored by the German School Assoc. of Greater St. Louis. To say it was exhausting is an understatement. One of my undergrad degrees is in German. You would think that I could speak it half-way decently. I can not. The classes were conducted entirely in German. I think I understood about 40% of it. Thankfully, the teacher's are used to working with a variety of German speaking levels and were incredibly patient in explaining and helping. I was happy that even though I speak it poorly, I did understand a lot more then I thought I would. I haven't taken a German class in sixteen years, so I felt I did OK. Husband and I hope to live in Germany someday (even for just a couple of years) and I want to be at least a little prepared. I also want to expose the kids to a foreign language. Unfortunately their school only offers Spanish, and then only in eighth grade. The kids were kept very busy with a good mixture of singing, book learning, playing, and crafting. All in German. After the first day, middle son came home and immediately crashed. Today was a little easier and it was super cute to hear youngest son sporadically intersperse German into the conversation. I will try to keep up at least the little bit they learned over the weekend.



Additionally, we celebrated Midsommars. We try to celebrate every year and almost missed it! The first picture is of youngest jumping over the fire (yes, I realize it is a very small fire, but I am also a cautious mom). We all took a turn for good luck. When I was in college, I spent a summer in Austria studying. Thankfully, I was there during Midsommer's fest. It was a blast. At the time, I was in a very rural area of Austria. We hiked up the side of a mountain and at the top was a huge bonfire. We took turns jumping it and then just partying. Obviously, life has quieted down quite a bit. So we jumped a little fire, made s'mores and decorated our own midsummer's pole (out of our zimzam). We also threw greens on roof for additional good luck. Hopefully one day I will be able to take my children to one of the festivals in Europe!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Style Stitches: Month 6

Teardrop Bag

You might have noticed that this is month six, while there were no months four and five. Things just got too crazy busy and I had to take a little break. Well, now I am back! Above is the Teardrop bag. I love it! I used Asian inspired fabrics and am really happy with the results. I also learned how to put in a magnetic snap. This bag was also a lesson on how important it is to check book websites to see if there are in any corrections. Sure enough, the large bag pattern had a half inch error. Of course I discovered this as I am sewing and just worked around it. It would have made my job easier, though, if I had just done a little research first.

I also joined another sewing group. Their button is on the side: Finish It Up!. I have been working on a quilt for my daughter, but just can't seem to get it done. I am hoping this will inspire me to get moving. Part of the rules are that you have to work on it a little bit each week. This is what I need. I am not a big quilt sewer. I don't usually have the patience for them, so having a designated time to work on it will hopefully move the project forward!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Congregational Agendas

What do you do if your congregation's agenda does not reflect your own beliefs? What do you do if you feel like your church has been hijacked by a certain cause? I just got off the phone with a very distraught church member/friend. She is feeling alienated because although she supports the cause de jour, it has become overwhelming. There are a lot of positive things UU offers. She fully supports the seven principals. But, if feels like the church has become laser focused on one issue. At times, I have to agree with her. It can be frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you are the one lone voice swimming against the current of many. I encouraged her to talk to the minister and offered to come with her as I completely understand many of her points. I have to say, though, this is not unusual for UU churches. Whether it be ethical eating, extreme environmentalism, LGBT issues or any other cause, it is easy for the church to getting focused behind one topic. What do you do, though, when some members start to feel disenfranchised? You could say that they could start working towards their cause and try to get more people behind it. They could check out a different UU church. Or, they could just sit back and accept it. Since the UU church doesn't have one overall message (such as spreading the gospel of Jesus), it can get very convoluted. UU churches can be very different from place to place. I remember when I was volunteering as the Membership Coordinator at our old church. I always recommended that people check out all the UU churches in the area. Each church has its own "vibe" and they should see which one fits them best. At first I thought this was great attribute to UU, now I am not so sure.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eleven

I certainly won the lottery for awesome daughters! It is hard to believe that she is eleven today. Where is the time going?!? She is so compassionate, helpful, loving, creative, smart and all around wonderful. Not sure how I got so lucky, but I appreciate every moment we have together. Sooner then I realize she will be spreading her wings and conquering this world. I have no doubt she will be successful in whatever she puts her mind to. I just hope she remember to stop at home and visit the family who loves her so much. Happy Birthday, M!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Is the Recession Over?

I have recently become aware of the fact that several people I know are doing some pretty cool traveling. They are going to Ireland (two friends), India, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland and Italy. Wow! I am going to Iowa. Somehow it just doesn't compare :-). As a friend noted, Americans must be tired of the recession and are ready to spend! How about you? I think I am still holding tight.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Reunions

I am supposed to go to my twentieth high school reunion at the end of this month. I have even bought tickets. Since it is in Iowa, they were pretty inexpensive. Not like the ones for the reunions around here. I bought the tickets so I could keep my options open, but the closer the event comes, the more I don't want to go. I have mentioned before that my class has NEVER had a reunion. We were just a lot of small groups thrown together that didn't really like each other. I had good friends (of whom I still keep in contact with), but really spent most of my senior year planning on getting out of there. I have noticed that the group of friends I mostly hung out with are planning to get together and catch up. Since I hung out with a lot of theatre people (when I was not with the skaters from the next town over), there were a lot of films made. I am in some of them. I have NO DESIRE to see my 16 year old self on camera. I don't even like looking at pictures from high school. (I have also heard that people are planning on bringing those, too.) I will just state it here: I hate reminiscing. I don't like talking about my past*. It is of no interest to me. I have never been that person who gets together with old friends and talks about the old times. I prefer to dream of the future and all its possibilities. So I don't know what to do. I am leaning towards no and wishing those that do go that they have a great time.


*This should not be confused with learning about history. I love family stories (just not ones involving myself).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hats and Church

I have recently gone back to school. It is a relatively new degree program at St. Louis University. My first class is Foundations in Sustainability. In the first component of the class we have been learning about basic engineering design concepts. To help illustrate the point, we have taken apart a toaster, figured out its Bill of Materials and its estimated environmental costs. Now our task is to figure out and pitch a more environmentally friendly/sustainable model.

To get us to open our minds to more innovative ideas, we used the Six Thinking Hats process. Basically, each colored hat represents a way to think about the problem. It ranges from "just facts" to "passions" to "what ifs". During the part of time delegated to that hat, you can only discuss those qualities. That way you don't get bogged down by "well that would never work....." There is time for that, but it is after all the possible ideas are out there. I can see the real advantage fo this in church thought. To further illustrate the point, he asked each of us to make a list of five birds. He then went around and asked which bird was at the top of the list. Since we are in St. Louis, and there was a baseball game that night, almost half the class had put Cardinal at the top. His point was that even though the group was leaning towards one idea, we shouldn't discount the one penguin. That could be the truly innovative idea that transforms our product/experience. I see churches get so wrapped up in the "this is how it has always been done", "we tried that once and it didn't work" and "that would never work here" frame of thought that we close ourselves off to truly transforming ideas before they are even given a chance. I encourage you all to check this book out and give it a chance. Who knows what possibilities you might discover in your church communities.