Monday, December 24, 2012

Believing

My eight year is a believer.  He believes in Santa and Jesus with equal fervor.  He is rabidly following NORAD's Santa tracker and couldn't imagine not going to church on Christmas Eve to celebrate Jesus' birth.  I love this about him. I love his ability to just accept. This is not to infer that he doesn't question, he does, but he is perfectly comfortable in accepting that some things can just be miraculous. I like to think like this, too.  I like to think that miracles occur and that there is a little bit of magic in the world.  As much as we humans like to think that everything is cut and dry, and can be explained - sometimes it can't.  When reading ancient history, it is notable how much greater the belief in miracles was.  Today we tend to brush it off as they lacked the scientific knowledge to understand what was happening.  I find this sad.  Why does everything have to be explained? Why have we become such cynics that we can't just let go and believe that miracles do occur?  This holiday season I wish for you peace and an openess to accept the unexplainable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mental Exhaustion

I am ready for 2013! This fall has been completely emotionally exhausting. I look back and can't even believe all that has happened.  I feel like I have been constantly up and down.  There was immense sadness with the death of four extended family members.  Joy with the long-awaited marriage of another.  So much travel under stressful circumstances and a graduate class that showed me how much more I need to learn.  Lots of Board work for one organization and lots of start-up work for another.  Managing the kids, home, and school library.  Yet, I realize how easy I have it.  I am not oblivious to all the extreme suffering around me.  I am trying to figure out a way to stay optimistic in a world that just wants to throw curveballs.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Communion


Today was everybody's (or at least my) favorite UU service: Bread Sunday! This year I made a Swedish Limpa Rye Bread.  It turned out fantastic.  Additionally, it supported the UU cliche of coffee loving as the recipe called for two cups of it in the dough.  It was fantastic.

Of course, I like this service for other reasons then just the sharing of bread. I like taking time for just being in thanks and sharing of gratitude.  I like hearing people's stories on why they chose which bread to share.  Hearing each other's history's, traditions, and family stories brings us closer together as a community.  It is also one of the rare times that most UU churches are experiencing the same sort of service.  It is a connection to the larger denomination.  I hope yours was as meaningful as ours.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bible Literacy

I teach the seventh graders in our religious education program.  Today's topic was an introduction to the Bible.  As I find the Bible a fascinating book, I was looking forward to discussing it with the kids.  What I hadn't counted on was the complete lack of experience they have with the book.  Many of them hadn't even held a Bible.  Since my kids go to a Lutheran school, and husband and I come from religious families, I had wrongly assumed that other families had similar backgrounds. I quickly revised the lesson and started with the very basics of Bible education.  The kids were very receptive to the lesson and I hope they begin to see the Bible in a different light.

It really shocked and saddened me that so many of them (at the ages of 12/13) had such little experience with the Bible. As it is one of Unitarian Univesalist sources, are we doing a huge disservice to our youth by not giving them a basic level of understanding of the Bible?  I asked the group to turn to Genesis 1:1.  Only one child was able to find it.  I could have cried.  I find it incredibly important for UUs to understand their history.  The Bible is part of that history.  Additionally, if UUs want to be taken seriously in theological discussions, we need to be literate on one of the most influential books in history.  As many know, the Bible is large, complex, and subject to many interpretations.  If we want to be part of that discussion, we need to start Bible study with our youth NOW.  I know of several RE programs that are on a three year pillar schedule.  Mentioning the Bible once every three years is not enough.  I am not advocating that the Bible needs to be present at every Sunday lesson, but it does need to be more integrated within RE.  Our kids need to be comfortable with it and not just admire how "thin the paper is".

Monday, October 29, 2012

Painful October

My favorite aunt passed away last night.  She is the one who went to the ER two weekends ago (see previous post). I can't believe it.  While she suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, she was doing well.  When I visited her in the hospital, she was her usual chatty self.  She was even joking how she had to revise her bucket list and might not make it to Valencia. I am just heartbroken.  I am also heartbroken for her sons (my age) and their children.  She was such a unique, funny, and passionate person.  Even though I rarely got to see her, I always felt a special connection with her.  She got me and I got her.  I can't believe she is gone.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Installation & Fitting In

Today we attended the installation of my sister-in-law into her new church.  She is an ELCA (Lutheran) minister and was called to a new congregation. At first I didn't want to go.  I am still dealing with abandonment issues regarding her leaving the church that our kids attend school at and moving to a new congregation.  In the end, though, she obviously needs to do what is best for her and her family and I need to get over myself. 

It was really a great service.  I can understand why she is attracted to the congregation.  It is much more dynamic, open to innovative ideas on how service should be conducted.  Today, the Liberian members led the worship.  The kids and I loved the music.  It was just so joyful.  In fact, the whole service felt joyful and light.  While her installation was a special occasion and not every worship will be like this, I have the feeling that this is not unusual for them. 

Of course, I had to compare this with our UU congregation.  While we have our light-hearted moments, some times it just feels heavy and so serious. I am not sure why that is.  After the ELCA service, I felt like hanging out with these people and coming to their chili cook-off the following Saturday.  I then saw pictures of my congregations Halloween party on Facebook.  We were invited, but didn't attend.  In fact, we rarely go to events at the church.  I love many of the people at church and have several Sunday friends.  But, for some reason, I am reluctant to connect outside of the church morning.  What is my problem?! I feel like something is holding me back and I don't know what it is. I want to be fully connected, but somehow don't feel like I fully fit in.   We have been attending this congregation for a few years, but I am still struggling with committing 100 percent.  Any one else have these issues?  Any solutions?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rough October

This past few weeks have been hard.  Every time I turn around another *surprise* hits. In the vein of Bridgett at South City Musings, I am going to attempt a "but..." list.

My Grandpa died.  It was horribly sad.  But, he had a long life, a loving family, and was ready to go.

I got ANOTHER speeding ticket.  But, it was on the way to South Dakota to see family I haven't seen in years and the ticket was worth it to get there sooner.

On the eve of grandpa's funeral, my aunt was rushed to the ER in Aberdeen due to lung problems.  But, it was fortunate that everyone was in town so we could all be there to support her and her sons in this difficult time.

My project in the class I am taking fell completely through, but we were assigned a new one that should be much more manageable.

My grandma (on the other side) has decided to stop eating. She is done. But, she has family that will make sure she is as comfortable as possible. And I am so grateful we got to see her this summer.

I had to cancel a lunch date with a new friend FOUR times, but we finally met this week and I am so thankful that we did.

My uncle has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. But, he has six brothers and sisters so hopefully they will find a good bone marrow match.

We received a letter from the IRS that we are being audited.  Actually, I am trying to see the positive in this, but can't!  All I can say is I am grateful a classmate of mine is a tax attorney.

I am knocking on wood that November greets us with a warm, reassuring hug.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Sadness Continues


Today my grandpa died.  He had been suffering from some lung issues and took a turn for the worse last week.  I am so grateful that we got to visit him this summer.  He was an awesome guy who loved his wife, seven kids, 34 grandkids and 45 great-grandkids with all his heart.  I will miss him greatly.  My only regret is that my kids didn't get to know him better. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What to do with myself?

I am not sure what to do with myself! These past weeks, my life has been consumed with preparations for my cousin's wedding.  Between lots of music rehearsals and sewing the above red tuxedo, I haven't had much time to just breathe.  The wedding was last night and now I am feeling myself at a loss.  While there is PLENTY to do, nothing has to be done right now.  I have a whole Sunday afternoon off.  It is a complete luxury, but now I am twiddling my thumbs.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The USA Today Article

Did you all read this: Unitarian Faith Growing Stronger Nationwide?  What did you think?  I was quite surprised to see UU in a national publication.  I have also been under the impression that we are actually shrinking as a faith.  According to the UU World article by Chris Walton, UUA membership is in decline.  Perhaps there is a disconnect between UUA membership and UU identification?  I would love to think that our inclusive message is spreading and growing, but is it really?  While I did think the article was pretty fair, I was very disappointed in the last paragraph.  The author built UU up as a progressive faith only to end it with a quote that we are not spreading the "true" word.  Once again, reinforcing the stereotype that because UUs are not necessarily Christian, that our message is not worth hearing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weddding Music Jitters

This weekend my cousin is getting married.  We are all very excited for her.  What is causing me stress is that she asked me to play the wedding music!  Thankfully, I was able to convince the flute player in my quintet to join me (on the clarinet), so I won't have to be a solo act.  The music is beautiful and I love my cousin very much, so I don't want to screw it up!  I am grateful that the flute player is really good, so I can just focus on myself not getting squeaky and lost.  I have only played at one other wedding and that was with the whole quintet, so the stress level was a lot lower.  I could use some prayers this Saturday at 6.00pm!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Is it Church, a Meeting or Both?

Today broke the record for the longest "announcements for the good of the congregation".  I try to have patience.  Somedays I can be all zen-like and just settle in.  Today was not that day.  I have never been a fan of live announcements, but I will tolerate them.  Sometimes, they really are needed.  But, when the announcements take 25 minutes and then you add Joys and Sorrows, it is tempting to just call it a meeting and go home.  I come to church to worship.  And, yes, part of building a community is sharing, but sometimes enough is enough.  Our congregation has a newsletter, weekly email updates, a webpage, a Facebook page and does an Order of Service insert every week.  I am not sure why the vast majority of the congregational announcements can not be included in those outlets.  One person spoke for ten minutes about the capital campaign.  It was useful information, but really deserved a whole separate meeting or a write-up in the newsletter.  I just want to start the worship service and as the announcements get longer and longer, I find myself getting more and more irritated.  We even had a guest preacher today and I felt bad that we did not value his time enough to stay within the parameters of our hour-long service.  What is the solution?  What do you all do? How do you manage the process?  It is getting to the point that Husband and I are dreading going to church.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Church Is Open

Like most UU congregations, ours had their Ingathering this past Sunday.  I have to admit, we were like a lot of UUs and took the summer off.  Honestly, I was feeling really burned out by the church and school year.  I just needed a break from it all.  I am glad we did.  A part of me feels that it is silly to take the summer off - spiritual development and commitment are lifelong processes - but sometimes it is what the doctor orders.  I realized at the end of summer, I was missing church.  I began to look forward to going again.  I also took a hard look at what I was doing at church and ways I needed to modify my commitments to make them more sustainable.  I resigned from the RE committee.  I am no longer the Chair.  I have been on the committee for three years and it is time for someone else with more energy and ideas to step up.  This has been a huge release.  I am still teaching.  In fact, we just started a new middle school youth group and I am very excited to lead it.  This is one of my favorite ages and I am really looking forward to working with the kids.  I am also still leading a once-a-month Bible Study.  I started this last year and LOVED it.  It has been a great experience and I can't wait for it to start up again.  So, yes, I am glad we took the summer off.  I am also glad we found our way back.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Remnants of Isaac

Thanks to Isaac, the St. Louis area is getting some much needed rain.  This dreary day has reminded me of one of my childhood dreams - to become a lighthouse keeper.  I have no idea how the idea got into my head (especially living in landlocked Iowa), but I felt that the most perfect job would be to be a lighthouse keeper.  I guess in the back of my head, it still seems pretty awesome! Maybe one day...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No, I am not related

My last name is hyphenated.  One of those names is Koch.  I can not tell you how many times I have been asked if I am related to the Koch brothers.  This sort of kills me because, honestly, if I was related to them, do you think I would be living in North County Missouri?!?  If I was related to them, don't you think I would be using that money for good?!?!  (or, as they would say, my liberal agenda).  One of these days I am going to answer "yes" and see what the follow-up is.

My New Favorite Song

I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers.

I am determined to learn it on the piano.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Getting Back into the UU Groove

This past weekend I was at a board retreat for three of the UU districts.  We were discussing our future and how we see the future of UU in the Midwest.  It was very inspiring.  Sometimes I think we get too wrapped up in our own congregations and fail to see the bigger picture.  While the people at the retreat are visionaries, I struggle how to bring that home.  As congregationalists, it is easy to invest yourself in your community, but, on the flip side, to not see your place in the larger organization.  Or, for that matter, care about the larger organization.  I think we all know people who are DA/GA junkies, but the average layperson tends to not get wrapped up in institutional polity. It is a shame. I get tired of hearing how the UUA doesn't reflect what is going on in congregations.  It is up to you to be engaged.  Just like you can't complain if you don't vote, the same goes for UUA policies.  I am not sure where this is really going, but to encourage to you get more involved.  I want UU to flourish, but we need your help.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rough Week

Despite the good start to school - the rest of the week has been pretty sad.  We had grandma's funeral on Tuesday, a cousins funeral on Thursday and my mother-in-law fell and split/broke her shoulder bone on Saturday.  I am just not sure what to make of all this.  It has been a lot to process.  Seems like every time we turn around, something sad or dramatic happens.  I have to go out of town later this week for a few days.  I just hope nothing else happens while I am gone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back To School

I can not believe school has started!  I now have a 7th, 6th, and 3rd grader.  Where did the summer go?! It went by so fast.  The kids are ready.  They miss their friends and the structure.  I find myself feeling sad and a little lost. I have plenty to do, but where to begin? It is so quiet without the kids home. I need to set up a schedule for myself or nothing may get done.

My school doesn't start for a couple more weeks.  I am trying to figure out what class to take.  I only need one more elective, my capstone (which I will do next semester) and two one-credit classes.  I had thought about doing a one-credit course this fall (along with the 3-credit elective), but they are restructuring the program, so I am not sure that will be possible.  I am torn between two classes for this fall.  One is studying the sustainability of the built environment and the other is supply chain management.  My liberal arts side wants the former, but my business brain wants the latter.  Since I have a MSW with an emphasis in Social and Economic Development, I am not sure I will learn a lot more in the built environment class.  I am trying to use my money wisely and am thinking that I know very little about supply chain management.  If I want to work for a business - this is the area that sustainable planning can have a huge impact.  But, most of my school friends will be taking the built environment class and I get a lot out of their companionship.  Choices!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Long Road Home

(Daughter in her great grandma's wedding dress - 1937)

We have just returned from a 2,900 mile road trip.  It was a roller-coaster of emotion.  The main goal was to visit my three surviving grandparents and then take in whatever sights we could fit in.  The trip went perfect, I couldn't have asked for a better experience.  It was just hard to see my grandparents and not know whether or not I will see them again.  My g-ma and g-pa H live in South Dakota.  He is about nine hours away and she (due to Alzheimer's) lives about 12 hours away.  My g-ma T lives in Wyoming.  It is approximately 14 hours away.  All of them are in frail health.  It was particularly poignant due to the recent passing of Husbands grandma.  It is so frustrating that they live so far away and that I can't be more part of their lives.  I hate how fast time is going.  I love my grandparents and wish I could have spent more time with them. I wish they could have known their great grandchildren better.

We also got a chance to catch up with my numerous aunts, uncles, both sets of parents, sister, cousins, nieces, nephews, step-brothers and step-sisters! It was a little crazy how much family time we packed into eight days.  And it was wonderful.  I felt sad every time we left a house.  I miss them all - a lot.

The trip also had some fun non-enormous-family side moments.  We visited the Badlands, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower.  We saw tons of cattle, buffalo, bikers headed to Sturgis, and lots of empty space.  It is truly amazing how much land is out there.  I have to say, I feel happiest when I am surrounded by my family with wide-open views.  I don't think I could ever be a real city girl.  My heart will always be on the plains.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Waiting...

Husband's grandmother is dying.  She is days away from ninety and ready to go.  She has already lost a husband and son and is wanting to be reunited with them.  It is hard.  It is hard to go on with the daily minutiae of your life while you know someone you love is slowly slipping away.  She is in hospice care and is not in any pain, but there is an aura of sadness all around.  We know she wants this, but it doesn't make it any easier.  We have told the kids that the end is near. They are pretty upset.  Daughter has grown close to great-grandma and this is the first time someone so special is this close to death.  I wish I could protect my kids from these realities. Grandma will be greatly missed.

UPDATE: M.P. 1922-2012  Rest In Peace

Sunday, July 29, 2012

St. Louis Culture

I moved to St. Louis seventeen years ago.  I so wish this had been around then.  It totally captures St. Louis culture and identity.  WhatHighschoolShouldWeCallMe. So, if you are planning a visit or move here - I highly recommend you study this, people will think you have been here for years.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Dovekeepers

I just finished reading this book by Alice Hoffman.  I loved it and recommend it to anyone looking for a good book.  It is in my favorite genre of historical/religious fiction.  It has got me thinking a lot about faith.  The books follows four main characters during the years after the fall of Jerusalem - around 72 CE.  It follows their lives through those horrific years and the maturation of their faith in Adonai.  It is a fascinating look into multi-faceted world of Judaism after the fall of the Temple.  While the faith of each of the women highlighted was unique to her, their devotion and personal relationship to God was similar.

What impressed me most about this book was the constant hardship, destruction, and personal sacrifice each of the characters endured, yet their faith remained.  I often wonder if I could ever have that much faith.  My life has been incredible easy.  I have been fortunate that no true hardships have crossed my path.  When you hear of the personal and political struggles people go through, I wonder how they are able to hold on to their faith.  How do you stay a believer when your child is terminally ill, your country is at war, your mother dies far too young?   I have known people who have gone through all these horrors, yet they continue to believe.  I am amazed by it.  It is one thing to believe "God is Good" when your life is going well, it is a whole other story when you are struggling to survive. I guess it boils down the eternal question "why?".  Do you believe their is a reason for every thing or do you think it is all just random?  What is the greater comfort?  Does faith provide the reason?  Does it make life easier or harder?  These are all questions I have been pondering these past few days. I am drawn to the believers, but there is always that small kernel of doubt that questions everything.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Will God Be Mad?

The other day, I was talking to my eight year-old about the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  He was going to see it with his grandparents that night and I was telling him how funny it is.  It is actually one of my favorite musicals. Only Andrew Lloyd Weber could make a story of liberation be so entertaining.  Due to his Lutheran schooling, Son is very aware of this story and takes it pretty seriously.  After I was through telling him about all the silliness in the musical, he looked at me very seriously and asked, "Do you think God will be mad?"  The thought had never occurred to me.  I told Son that I believed God has a wonderful sense of humor and would love that we were learning one of his lessons in such a fun way.  Nowhere is it written that Bible stories have to told in heavy solemn voices.  There is a time for that, but sometimes it is ok to have a little fun while learning about something so important.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Positives of She & Me

Despite what I wrote yesterday, there were some great positives of She & Me Girl Scout Camp.  A huge one was that I did not have to plan, shop, or be responsible for the unit!  No stress on me! If you have ever taken a troop camping, you know how much work it can be for the leader/organizer.  I didn't have to go the grocery store, cook the meals, or get up with crying children in the middle of the night - yay! I also didn't have to worry about having the many necessary certifications to do stuff at camp.  I just followed along and hung out with Daughter.  I could just focus on being with her and not worrying about the troop as a whole.

The counselors were fantastic.  After watching them, I realized camp counseling is definitely a young persons job.  The amount of energy, positivity, and work they did was impressive.  It is one thing to do this once, but most of them had been there all summer, in the heat, and still managed to make it fun for the girls.  Additionally, there were several counselors from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.  Our lead counselor was from Aukland and it was cool for the girls (and moms) to learn a little bit more about another country.   Each international counselor added localized vocabulary that added another demension to camp fun and learning.  Especially funny was when an English counselor said at a certain time we would do a "booty check".  We all looked at each other thinking what does that mean?  Evidently, she actually said "buddy check".  She laughed along with us and it broke the ice.

I enjoyed getting to meet other moms, many of whom are troop leaders/co-leaders.  I came away with a lot of ideas to try with my troop and information about different opportunities for the girls to participate in.  Their daughters varied in age from five to twelve.  It was wonderful to see the older girls help and teach the younger ones.  I love seeing them work together.  It added to the experience.

We also got to spend one night under the stars.  It was a lot of fun to sleep outside as opposed to the tents.  We got to stargaze and wake up with dew covering us.  I slept the best that night.  I need to explore if this is a possibility for troop camp.  I think it would be great for the girls to sleep outside and see what a dark sky really looks like.

A favorite funny memory involves Daughter.  We were at the shelter and she had walked to the covered garbage bins to throw some trash away.  It was dusk and the bins are several yards away from the shelter.  I look up, and Daughter is walking back with the garbage.  I asked her if everything is ok.  She very calmly states that there is a raccoon in the bin.  The counselor pops up to go check.  She later admitted she thought Daughter was joking (if only she knew my daughter and how rare that is ;-).  The counselor lifts the lid, and suddenly screams and runs away.  We all break out laughing.  I wish I had a video of it.  Evidently, there really was a raccoon and it jumped out at her and then scurried off.  The look of terror on her face was priceless.  Thankfully, she has a wonderful sense of humor and was able to laugh about it later.

Things things all made camp more enjoyable!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

She & Me

These past few days, daughter and I were at She & Me camp.  It is a mother/daughter program of the Girl Scouts and held at the camp that our troop usually goes to.  Daughter has been wanting to go to GS residential camp for a few years, but couldn't get any of her friends interested in going with her.  It just isn't as fun to go by yourself (especially when you are already a huge introvert).  So, this seemed like a great chance to spend some time together and an opportunity for her to experience it.  I LOVED residential camp when I was a kid. I still have fond memories of Camp Tahigwa

I thought a lot about how to write about the experience.  It was such a mixed bag.  Did Daughter have fun? Yes!  Did she get a full camp experience? Yes!  Did we get to bond? Yes!  Were the counselors as fun as I remember? Definitely Yes!  Would we do it again? I am not so sure.  Honestly, for the price it cost, I am seriously thinking of planning my own mother/daughter trip to Trout Lodge instead.  Why?  Glad you asked ;-)

First, the INCREDIBLE amount of rules.  I have never experienced anything like this before. I want to say, I do understand why they have rules.  If I was a counselor in charge of a bunch of 7 year-old, rules are helpful and for safety.  But, the extent they went to got to be a little crazy (especially since a parent was there with their child).  For instance we were not allowed to leave the dining table until we had drunk three glasses of water.  Additionally, the glasses were only allowed to be used for water - not milk as one mother learned very quickly.  I get that it is hot outside, but I felt like a child.  You also could not leave any station without a full water bottle that you had to carry at all times.  I would like to note, we were not in a dessert.  The distance between camp sites was not extreme.  There was water everywhere, staff everywhere, and a nurse on site.  Another example is the pool.  Both groups of She & Me participants had to wear red wrist bands.  This was to show that we could not swim in the deep end (which is another frustrating story).  Well, we all get to the pool and one little girl doesn't have hers on.  Mind you EVERY one at the pool is with She & Me - therefore, there is a guardian for every girl.  They would not let her get into the pool until she got another wristband.  Seriously?! To quote the lifeguard "it is a rule."  I can not tell you how many times I heard that phrase.

Second, all the cleaning.  I did not PAY to go to camp to clean up after other people.  I know that doesn't sound very nice, but the very first night we were there - we had dining hall clean-up.  We haven't been there even three hours and I am sweeping and mopping the huge floor.  We also had to wipe down the bathrooms and take out the trash.  Our counselors generously scrapped all the plates for us.  We got stuck doing this three times.   We were not the only group there, there were a couple of other kid only programs going on.  It was so frustrating to be looking forward to spending some time with my daughter, only to have it spent cleaning.   I have no problem cleaning our own camp site - I would expect that (which we did have to do), but in addition to the daily dining hall clean-up, there was also an end-of-camp clean-up assignment (we got the craft area & trash hike).  I felt like a significant portion of our camp experience was spent cleaning.  Not fun.

Finally, there was a strict schedule.  If Daughter and I hadn't been lucky enough to get there early - we would not have had any opportunity to go hiking.  (which we could only do with another pair b/c you have to hike in groups of four!!)   The days were very scheduled.  This was plus and minus.  We got to do fun things like canoeing and tie-dying, but left no time for exploring and relaxing.  Several of the parents were upset with this.  I think we all had this image of doing some scheduled activities, but having plenty of time to do what interested us. This was not the case.  I don't know if it was miscommunication in the program description or we just all didn't read the fine print very well. 

I am glad Daughter got to experience what camp is like, but I am disappointed we were so restricted in what we could do.  I am looking for an experience that Daughter and I can have that lets us choose what we want to do and explore that day.   It was hard to live within such confines.  Now that I have had some space, the negatives are starting to fade, and the fun things are floating to the top.  I am going to just focus on them, because, overall, it did accomplish my goals.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eleven

This awesome kid is eleven today!  He is spending it doing his favorite activity: Harry Potter Legos.  Lucky him got Diagon Alley: 2000 pieces of joy.  His mind is constantly figuring, building, and problem solving.  He has a big heart and an incredible soft spot for animals.  He will go far in this world, but I know he will always stay close to home.  I love you JD!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!


Have a safe and cool one!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Restless

I am not sure what is going on, but I am feeling restless and discontented.  I have no idea why.  Things are going well - except the incredible heat (108 in St. Louis!!).  Everyone is healthy and doing well.  I just feel out of  sorts and grumpy for no good reason.  I need to get out of this funk - any suggestions?!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Social Justice & Quakers

I have been slowly catching up on the blog posts from General Assembly.  This one, by Kim Hampton - responding to Dan Harper, really caught my attention.  I have often wondered, too, whether UUs put too much emphasis on social justice and not enough into spirituality. I have seen many of my generation (30s to young 40s) looking for something more then the prevalent humanism of the older generation.  From my observation, social justice work was the spirituality of the humanists.  To me, it just isn't enough.  Social Justice doesn't replace inner spirituality - it can enhance it or be an outward expression, but it doesn't replace it.  I have recently become friends with a Friend.  We are working on the Missouri IPL project together.  I know very little about the Quakers, so I thought I would do a little research.  What I have learned has really resonated with me.  I like their approach to simplicity and the quietness of their Meetings.  I like that there isn't necessarily clergy, but there is the idea that the divine is in all of us and we need time to be quiet and reflect on it.  Quakers are very social justice minded, but they recognize the need for spiritual depth and reflection.  This is only my very limited understanding of Quakerism, but I like what I see.  Social Justice is an outgrowth of the inner spirituality.  I think the UUs would be wise to consider this model.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Twelve

This beautiful young lady is twelve today.  I thank my lucky stars every day that she is my daughter. She is kind, generous, thoughtful, smart, and helpful.  Not to mention an excellent baker! I don't know what I did to deserve her, but I am so grateful.  We are on vacation and celebrating it on the shore of Lake Michigan. Visiting the Dutch Village and playing on the beach is a most excellent way to turn 12! (according to her ;-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Michigan

Having fun in Michigan!  We haven't been on a vacation in a looooooong time.  It has been great to get away and just relax. I hope you all are having a great start to summer!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Missouri Interfaith Power & Light?

Ever since I heard Clare Butterfield speak about Interfaith Power & Light at one our UU District Assemblies, I have wanted to get an affiliate established in Missouri.  That was five years ago!  The process has started, stalled, restarted, waned and re-energized. This past year, enough people from around the state have started talking that I think this will actually happen (in no small part from the help of ReNew Missouri and their intern!).  While a statewide initiative is still a ways off, it looks like we will be able to get a metro St. Louis group together to start the ball rolling that will, hopefully, become statewide. Yesterday, a group of us met to figure out how to best proceed.  It is truly interfaith, including Catholic, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist, Lutheran, Jewish, Methodist.  I am hoping, as it grows, to be even more inclusive to add Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc participants. While we are still in the grass roots phase/organizing, I feel that we have finally reached a core group who want to make this happen.  Our first "event" will be a coffee with presenters from two congregations who have really integrated their sustainability efforts into their congregations.  We have big dreams for the group and are still looking for help! If you are in Missouri and would like to be involved, either as an organizer or just to be on our email list/invite list, please let me know.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Send A Mouse to College



Does anyone else remember these fundraisers?  I have very distinct memories of being in elementary school and getting envelopes asking us for a dollar to "Send a mouse to college."  The pictured mice looked cute and, who wouldn't want to send them to college?! I did! It completely went over my head that we were sending them to be experimented on.  Only when I reached high school and was dating a fellow vegetarian that he enlightened me to what was really going on. Wow, I can not believe how naive I was! It is sad on many levels.

Husband works for a large biochemical company (not Monsanto - to quote them "they are a farming company", uh yeah).  His company produces fine chemicals to be used mostly in research settings.  Often they get promotional gear.  Imagine my flashbacks when this shirt popped up in the laundry! Husband and I have VERY differing opinions on animal research. While I am no fan of rats, it makes me sad that we haven't evolved from experimenting on innocent animals.  It seems like we should be technically advanced where this isn't necessary.  I hope that day comes soon. I don't think any animal should have to "go to college" unless it wants to.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ancestors


I love genealogy, but sometimes it kind of hits you in the face. My kids really like that cartoon Liberty Kids.  It is an historical cartoon dealing with the Revolutionary War.  I actually like it, too.  Anyway, one of the "bad" guys is the British General Howe.  Yep, we are related to him.  I couldn't find the clip where he is featured, but he is mentioned in the above episode.  It is funny to see one of your relatives made into a cartoon.  While General Howe was heavily involved in the Revolutionary War, his record was less then distinguished and he eventually fled back to England to defend his questionable actions. I imagine that he is why we don't talk about him too much ;-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Daily Kid UU Spiritual Practice?

Today is the first day of summer break for the kids and I. We were so very ready for this!  We had the WHOLE day to just hang out and it was wonderful.  We had a slow morning and headed to the library to load up on reading material.  Since we weren't in a hurry, the kids played some chess and put together a "community" puzzle while we were there. The afternoon was spent reading, baking, playing instruments, games and taking the dogs on a walk.  Perfect.  While I know this won't be every day, it was a great way to start the summer.

Since life is slowing down, I would like to institute a low-key daily spiritual practice with the kids.  I have actually been wanting to do this for a long time, but things were so crazy busy, I couldn't find the time to figure it all out.  Which, in and of itself, is a strong indicator that this is something very needed. Problem is, I am at a loss for what to do. A daily reading? Lighting a chalice? Gratitude journal?  I would LOVE some ideas.  Have you ever done anything like this?  I am not looking for anything complicated, but something meaningful.  Please share!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wedding Music




The quintet I play with has our first wedding in a couple of weeks!  I am super excited.  We ran through all the pieces at rehearsal this morning and I am feeling good about it.  We chose songs that we are very familiar with, so that should cut down on the nerves.  The bride is a free-spirited friend and just wants us to have a great day with her.  I know I will be nervous on the big day, but I feel super honored that she even asked us.  Can't wait!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another School Year Ends

How is it possible that I now have a 7th grader, 6th grader and 3rd grader?  Wasn't it just August and they were 6th, 5th, and 2nd graders?!  I can not believe how fast this year has gone. When I look at all the things they have accomplished, of course it has been nine months - but, wow, I really need time to slow down.  It is shocking that my daughter will be in SEVENTH grade. I still remember her learning to walk.  I wish it didn't go by so fast.  I keep telling the kids to not grow up so fast, but they don't listen to me.  They insist on getting taller and smarter and independent.  I don't like it! It takes everything in me to let them spread their wings. I just hope when they learn to fly, that they visit the nest every once in awhile.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Burned-Out

I need a break.  It has been non-stop for the last few weeks and it doesn't look like it will let up for at least another week. I keep thinking "surely, life will slow down soon", but it doesn't. I tell myself that there is light at the end of the tunnel, just hold on, but it is wearing me down. I have to remind myself that this is how May is every year - no matter how hard I try to scale back.  I feel the end is within grasp, but those last few yards are the hardest.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Plaid Shoes

Today is my birthday!! I love birthdays. Since everyone is working or at school, I have planned, a la The Muppet Show, a "Me Party"! I am super excited for it.  I woke up to breakfast in bed.  My favorite - french toast and strawberries and I got new plaid shoes.  Thank you Husband and kids!  The kids are now dropped off at school, so the day is mine!  I plan to head to the new music store to get some clarinet reeds and peruse the quintet selection.  Then I am going to Herbaria, my favorite local soap shop.  From there, to the Botanical Gardens to meet Husband for lunch.  After that I plan to spend a LOT of time at the fabric store looking at patterns and the new spring fabrics.  I will pick up the kids, hang out with them and then go to my favorite restaurant, Mai Lees, for dinner.  I will end the day with wine and Game of Thrones.  Perfect! I hope you all have a great day, too!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Making Peace with Jury Duty

If you follow me on twitter or Facebook, you will know how much this stressed me out.  Yesterday was my fourth time being called.  After the horrible experience in 2009, this was really weighing on me. I, of course, take it out on the universe.  Why me?! Why do I always get called?!  Most people I know have only been called once, if at all.  Who in the court system has it out for me?! Obviously, no one, but I like being unreasonable and dramatic about it.  Really, though, I am averaging being called once every four years. I am the only person I know of who lives in fear of being called for duty.  Most people don't even think about jury duty. I don't want to get the mail in case the summons is in there. 

So, with much trepidation, I headed to the Courts on Monday.  Since I had been there before, at least I knew what to expect ;-).  After getting settled in and hearing a long spiel from a Judge about how Missouri is looking to change how judges are appointed, the process began.  I know this is an exaggeration, but this is where my mind was: it felt like the the reaping from Hunger Games.  One by one, people started disappearing.  Three trials with approximately 90 potential jurors culled.  I was trying to calm myself and not flee in panic. Then a miracle happened.  I wasn't called.  A second miracle happened. The next day is a holiday, so I didn't have to come back on Tuesday.  While I had to wait the whole day to make sure there wasn't a late trial, my name was never announced.  I can not believe it.  This has NEVER happened. I even asked the court lady to make sure I really was done - it was just so unbelievable. I can't believe my luck and thank the Judicial God's for letting me go!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Someone Like You

Since I am completely overwhelmed with everything, I have decided to pick the ukulele back up and learn this song.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Countdown

May is always a crazy month.  I feel like I can't relax until Memorial Day.  The next two weeks, in particular, are stressing me out, I have: 1 presentation, 3 papers, Girl Scouts,  Son's birthday party, Daughter's harp recital, Extra quintet rehearsal, JURY DUTY!!, my birthday, Mother's Day and a performance.  Just trying to keep it all together will be a particular miracle. I think I better get to work, now.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Raw Faith

I had the privilege of seeing this movie tonight at the CMwD District Assembly.  I had read about it in the UU World and was really looking forward to seeing it.  I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but I found it really moving. I can't imagine opening my life to the degree that Rev. Dr. Sewell does. It was heartbreaking, touching and inspiring. It is a wonderful documentary that I hope all you get to see it someday.

Friday, April 27, 2012

CMwD

I am currently at the Central Midwest District - District Assembly in Chicago.  Tonight we heard an inspiring talk from UUSC director Bill Schulz.  Wow, he is a good speaker. I feel like I am still processing all that he had to say.  I volunteer as a Regional Coordinator for UUSC and he confirmed just how important human rights work is. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, don't pass it up.

Eight

How can that be?!  As my youngest, he will always be my baby, but he would emphatically disagree with that statement. He is my sunshine and rainbows child. Everyday is an adventure, full of possibilities. He wears his heart on his sleeve - there are no questions about what he is feeling.  His mind is full of sport statistics and when the next game is on. He would rather run then walk and play catch then sit around any day.  His smile and passion brighten my days. Happy Birthday, Lucky!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby Bird Season!

Every year I have a family of sparrows and doves nest next to my house.  The above is the sparrow's nest.  I finally realized (after several years), that the dove would continue to nest in my hanging plant (and eventually kill it) if I kept putting it out so early.  This year I was smart and the dove moved her nest to a large bush next to the house.  I have been watching both of these families for years and would be sad if they didn't come back.  Today I was watering the plants and I could hear all the babies squawking in the nest.  I can't wait for them to peak out and start learning to fly.  Yesterday, I watched my neighbor's baby robins finally take flight. I felt unreasonably proud of them. Yay Mother Nature!

Monday, April 23, 2012

I DID IT!

 It went great.  Despite the freezing cold nights and muddy days, it went as good as I dared hope.  It wasn't drama free: wasp nest in the girl's tent, co-leader needing to go the hospital due to a severe migraine, big hole in our tent, some internal bickering... But really, it was fantastic!  We got to do some archery (there are a lot of Katniss wannabees in the group), a night hike, star gazing, nature center, solar oven s'mores and had plenty of time just to hang out with the crazy amount of caterpillars.  On a whim, I brought a bunch of watercolor paints and paper.  The girls spent hours drawing nature scenes.  I almost wished I had brought a book to read ;-) it was so relaxing.  I am incredibly thankful that it went this well. I may have just enough confidence to do another trip in the fall!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Multi-Media Poll

We have been having lengthy discussions within the Religious Education Committee on whether or not to have good-sized flat screen monitors in all education rooms.  They would be connected to dvd players/computers to help illustrate lesson plans.  They are not intended to be used all the time, but for special instances or programs.  I am torn on this.  I am not against well managed screen time.  My kids work on the computer and watch TV, so it isn't that I am against screens - I am just not sure about them in the classroom.  We are also not a wealthy congregation and I am reluctant to use much of our RE budget towards this expense.  I have heard, though, many UU congregations are jumping on the high-tech multi-media bandwagon and have some pretty snazzy RE rooms. I have also heard that a lot of UUA curriculum will be in this format.  I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this. What is your congregation doing?  Have you had these talks? Is this the future of RE and I need to get on board?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Trying not to freak out

I am taking my Girl Scout troop camping this weekend.  I am totally stressing about it.  This will be the first time we have gone where I am the one completely in charge.  Previously, we went with the other troop at school and their leaders are camping Rock Stars.  I am completely opposite that.  I am trying not to lose it (it doesn't help that I have a TON of schoolwork, too), but I will be so glad when this weekend is over.  While I do have a co-leader, it really is on me to get everything together, shopped for and planned. I am feeling overwhelmed and out of my element.  I keep trying to tell myself it will be ok.  The girls are 6th graders and it isn't their first time camping.  The two parents coming with me are great, but I know I won't relax until we are all home Sunday.  If you all want to say some prayers or send some positive energy our way, I would totally appreciate it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

If I Could Turn Back Time...

One of the classes I am taking is Engineering a Sustainable World.  It is taught by four different professors, each discussing a various aspect of engineering and how it applies to sustainability.  By far, my favorite as been sustainable product design. We had a sneak peak at this class last summer, but have now gotten a much larger perspective.  I wish I could go back in time and tell my 17 year old self that engineering is actually interesting and that there are a ton of cool things you can do with it. Of course, my dad (the engineer) was telling me this constantly, but he needed a much better marketing strategy!  If I had known all the cool/sustainable products I could have helped develop, I would have been a lot more interested.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Two Books That Rocked my Spiritual World

In honor of Easter, Husband and I decided to watch The Passion. You may remember this as the controversial Mel Gibson movie that came out a few years ago.  As we had never seen it and it was on instant watch from Netflix, we thought: why not? This got me to thinking about "controversial" theological books that really shook my then, Catholic, beliefs. The following two, read in high school, really shaped my future theology:
1. Damian by Hermann Hesse
2. Barabbas by Par Lindkvist
I don't know if I read them at a particular impressionable time, but they have stuck with me for years. I would love to know what books rocked your spiritual world!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jury Duty - Again!!

I swear I must be called for Jury Duty more then ANYBODY else I know.  This time it is in May, right near my birthday - yay.  I just had it in 2009!  Remember this awful experience?  I just don't understand why I am called so much.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eco-villages

I am working on an independent study this semester.  My partner and I are researching how eco-villages generate revenue.  These are not the communes of the 60s and 70s, but intentional communities of people looking to minimize their impact on the earth.  I have been interested in them for a long time, but could never really figure out how people earn a living.  As much as it seems ideal to just live off the land, this is very rarely reality.  Europe has several mature eco-villages and are the leaders in the movement.  Unfortunately, I don't have the funds to visit those!  Thankfully, Missouri has several within visiting distance.  I am headed out to visit them later this week.  I am so excited! I have been following a couple of them, through blogs and Facebook, for several years and can't wait to visit them in person.  I am very appreciative that they have been open to our research and I look forward to learn from their experience.  Last week we visited a co-housing (hoping to become eco-village) in St. Louis city.  I am very interested in also comparing urban/rural communities and how they compare in income generation and carbon footprints.   So much to learn!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parents

I have been thinking about my parents a lot lately. I really miss being closer to them and I regret that my kids don't get to see them more often. We live across the street from Husband's parents and they are very much a part of our lives. I greatly appreciate that, but it makes me sad that my parents aren't. We try to see them as much as possible, but it isn't quite the same. My mother lives six hours away (still in my hometown) and my father will soon be moving from Iowa to retire in South Dakota (where he and his wife grew up). Growing up in Iowa was great, but we were far away from my grandparents in Wyoming and South Dakota. Most of my relatives still live in those states. They are a close-knit group and I always felt like I didn't belong. Going back once a year doesn't quite build the closeness as living there. Facebook has actually been wonderful in reconnecting, but it feels like I am just looking in. Both my grandparents in South Dakota and Wyoming are suffering from a myriad of health issues. I feel pretty helpless being so far away. It does make me realize that my parents, while only 60 and 61, aren't getting any younger. I want my kids to get to know them while they are still young and active. I don't ever remember my grandparents like that. Time is just ticking away so fast and I am afraid that we are missing the best years.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Living Kitchen

I was reading this article at xojane.com. It talks about how the author is fascinated by tiny houses and how they are becoming a bit trendy. I also find them fascinating. What was really interesting, though, was this link to a Living Kitchen. I love the idea. I especially love the closed-loop design. What I can't figure out, is how it could work for a five-member family. Just like how I can't figure out how all five of us could live in a tiny house. The concept really appeals to me, but the logistics have me baffled. I wonder if there is a way to up-scale the kitchen? I imagine, though, that would defeat the purpose.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Negativity

I feel like I am being surrounded by it lately. I am trying not to let it get to me, but my inner introvert keeps saying, "this is why you want to live in solitude, with no one around you." While I can certainly get negative on occasion, I do try to see the positives in life. It just seems like every where I turn, someone has a negative comment and I keep coming off as Sally Sunshine. For instance, my program at SLU is only in its second year. I know that, and it is having growing pains. The program isn't perfect. That doesn't mean it doesn't have a lot of value. I am tired of some of my classmates constant complaining. I am not sure what they envisioned grad school as, but having already gotten an MSW, it has been a pretty typical experience. There is always a disconnect between students and administration. You always want more then the program can give. You have to be your own advocate. This isn't elementary school. I am actually really enjoying the program and making a huge effort to get the most out of it.

My quintet was asked to play in a wedding. Nobody has ever asked us before, so I wasn't sure how the group would feel. The Flute player wrote back right away that she would love to; eventually the others wrote back that it should work. Seems good. I get to practice today and the Flute player is still excited (yay her!!), but the others all have things to say about what an issue it is going to be with all these questions. Questions are good, and I will certainly get the answers, but they just kept going on and on about stuff that might not even be an issue. Then I asked if they would ever be open to playing any other weddings. It was a pretty quick no (except the Flute player). When I got us a performance at my church (and did all the work to make it happen), there was just constant complaining about how far away it is, that there are two services, that they couldn't they sneak out easily, etc. COME ON PEOPLE! Why do we practice every week if you don't ever want to perform? Just like SLU, there is NO perfect situation. People aren't going to come to your house and wait for you to perform when you feel like it.

These are just two examples, but I am ready to find some Yes! people. The "let's give it a try and see how it works" people. Not the constant naysayers and problem finders. It just wears you down. I am not a cheerleader by nature and am tired of doing the "Go Team!" chant.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent Tradition

You can take the girl out of the church, but you can't take the Catholic out of the girl. While we weren't super observent Catholics growing up, we did observe Lent. I really wish UUism had something similar. I love the idea of a community taking time out to reflect and deepen their spiritual practice. Maybe we should start a movement! What to call it....

It has become a tradition for Husband and I to give up eating out. You might ask how that is deepening our spiritual practice. To me it is a way to refocus our efforts back to respecting family time, whole foods, and slowing down. Eating at home is healthier. A healthier body allows for a more focused and engaged mind. I realize that eating out is a luxury for a lot of people, but Husband and I use it too much as a crutch for poor planning and just plain laziness. The kids take it for granted that we can just pick something up when we don't feel like cooking. That is not how I grew up. Eating out was a rarity and certaintly not something you just did because you felt like it! I want us, as a family, to be healthier and really value the process of putting food on the table. Having enough to eat is not something to be taken for granted.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black History Month and Where I Live

In one of my classes we were discussing segregation, especially within schools and the incredibly inequality of education. We heard a clip from the agitator Jonathon Kozol. If you are a social worker, you will be familiar with his work, if you aren't, please read some of his books. (this class is slowly drawing back to social work...) He really got me to thinking about where I live. It is no secret that St. Louis is very segregated. I don't mean suggest every neighborhood is like that, but there was a lot of white flight. I live in suburb north of the city that is also experiencing white flight. We knew that when we moved here. It was an adjustment. Not with living within an integrated community, but with the extreme negativity the white folks had with their new neighbors. Once again, not every one is like this, but it wears on you. I have chosen to live here and I am tired of people criticizing it! I can't even imagine what it must be like to be African American and know that you have all this negativity directed towards to you. Due to the housing collapse, a lot of the flight has stopped and people are starting to get used to each other. The misunderstandings and assumptions are fading. I remember growing up thinking that I wanted my children to have friends from all different backgrounds (race and class). They are getting that here. Their school is approximately 50% white and 50% minority (mostly African American, with a few Hispanic and Asian). To my kids, the world is not segregated. Skin color is just a color. Their best friends are African American and that is completely normal. They see us hang out with a whole spectrum of people and that is just everyday life. Is everything perfect? No, but no community is. But, to break down those walls, we need to live with each other and see each other as individuals and all the gifts we bring to the table.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cooking

I wish I could say that I love to cook, but I don't. It doesn't excite me AT ALL. I love to bake, but dinner usually requires more then rolls, breads, and bars. I think part of the problem is that I need to be organized in what we plan to make. Since I am not organized in this way, we tend to eat the same thing over and over, thus reinforcing my lack of interest in cooking. Additionally, I don't cook meat. If there is to be meat at a meal, Husband has to make it. Therefore, any meal planning has to include a lot of input from him. One more hurdle to it not getting done. With me going back to school, it has added even more pressure to get my act together on this. One of my favorite websites, The Curriculum of Love, recommended the following site: Plan To Eat. I have seen that a lot of recipe sites let you start a recipe box within the site, but I like that this one allows you to import from all over the web and add your own. I am currently trying the free 30 day trial, and so far I am liking it. At first I thought $40.00 for the year was too much, but then when I thought about it; if it saves this family of five from eating out (and spending more then $40!), then it will have paid for itself. I am hoping it will keep me more organized and make planning easier (I especially love that it prints a shopping list and can help you cook from what you already have in your pantry!). If you end up trying it, let me know. It also has an option to share recipes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First it was the Evangelicals,

then the Mormons and now the Catholics. I don't ever remember seeing so many ads on TV for church in my life. It is getting kind of crazy. Growing up in the 80s in northern Iowa, religion really wasn't a hot topic. Most of the area was Lutheran. So much so, that this Catholic girl had NO IDEA that Catholicism was so huge until I moved to St. Louis. There was only one Catholic church in the area, but several Lutheran ones. We were considered in the minority to be Catholic! (so different in St. Louis...). Not until I moved down here did I see my first "Jesus" billboard. Once again my limited worldview came into play and I thought, "how interesting that they would make a billboard out of the Iowa license plate with the word Jesus." Yes, when I was growing up the Iowa license plates were green and white. I totally missed that most highway signs were also that color. It is fascinating to see church marketing evolve from word of mouth/tradition, to billboards, TV, internet, and phone apps. Does this really work? It seems to me that even with all the new ways to reach out, the one that still really brings people in the door is face to face contact. To me, word of mouth will always be the best marketing tool. I have had people come up to me after seeing my UU paraphenalia, but actually talking to me is what gets them in the door. There is a place for all of it, but seeing a friendly face and welcoming smile will always be the best way. Afterall, church is about building real community and relationships.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Let Down

Today the quintet played at an area UU church. It was actually at my church, so I was pretty excited. I even PRACTICED this week! The first service went great and we sounded really good. Then came the second service. Why oh why must I always play worse the second time through?!?! It happens all the time. I don't know if it is because I am more tired, overly confident, more nervous (there are a lot more people at the second service) or what - but it never goes as well. It is so frustrating. I just feel really let down with myself.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Adulthood

Last night was the first night back for classes. As such, the Prof (quite correctly) thought we should end early. A group of us decided, then, to catch a drink at Humphreys (a local bar). As I had not eaten dinner yet, I wanted to get some food. Then, it hit me, "my kids aren't here!" So I ordered a Black & Tan and some fried green beans. Excellent dinner.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Two Year Quilt

I just finished this very basic quilt. From idea to finish, it took over two years! Why? Because I am not a quilter at heart. I love to sew, but quilting requires soooo much patience and I just don't have much of it. Two years ago, Daughter and I were at a quilt show. Often they have vendors and one of them was selling this charm pack of batiks. Daughter LOVES batiks. She sews a little herself and everything she has sewn is made with batiks. I got the pack for her with some sort of vague idea that I would make a quilt for her. I then put it aside. Eventually I found the fabric again and figured I should wash and iron it so when I was inspired I would be good to go. So I did. More time passed and I realized I wouldn't have enough fabric to make a quilt from just the charm pack and decided to "highlight" the batiks by using white in between the squares. More time passed. One day I got the urge to cut squares - so I did - 189 six by six inch squares. My neck really hurt after that, so I took another long break. We finally finished our basement and my sewing room returned and I was on break from class. In the dark recesses of my mind, I knew it was now or never. But, I had all these squares and no idea of what to do with them. Once again, inspiration just wasn't there. I don't know why, but one day, out of the blue, the word "spiral" hit me. I went with it and above is what happened. I am really pleased with how it turned out. It is backed in flannel (because, like me, daughter really loves soft things) and Daughter LOVES it.

That, my friends, is my quilt making process. I hope yours moves a little quicker!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Goal-Setting

I am not much of a planner. I can be obssesive about certain things, i.e. homework and being on time. After that, I am pretty open to where the day/life takes me. This philosophy has served me pretty well (with a few minor blips here and there), but I am not getting any younger and if I want to do certain things, I need to get moving. I have decided to actually set some goals. I am 38 1/2. By the time I am 40, I plan to:

1. Not get anymore speeding tickets (I tend to average one a year)
2. Start my own online business
3. Automatically give people the benefit of the doubt
4. Raise chickens
5. Sew daughter and I fancy dresses for a family wedding
6. Get a research paper published
7. Learn to play the banjo (I have started the ukulele, but it isn't the same)
8. See Billy Bragg play in London
9. See Frightened Rabbit play in Glasgow
10. Visit F. in Rome
11. Get comfortable speaking German (I do have a degree in it...)

Who am I kidding? If I am in London seeing Billy Bragg, then I will definitely:
12. Visit 221B Baker Street.

This is what I have for now. I realize that it pretty me-centered, but after the countless hours I have spent volunteering, I want to do some things just for me. And I don't feel guilty about it!

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Steps

I am taking the first steps on project that I have wanted to do for a long time. I feel like my life is finally enough in order that I can start a new venture. I am super excited. Whether it works out (and I certainly hope it does) or not, I am proud of myself for trying. Husband and I are super cautious people, but dream big. I am working towards one of those dreams and I can't wait!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012

Reading through a bunch of Facebook and blog posts, it appears that 2011 was a tough year for a lot of folks. It sounds like a lot of people are banking on 2012 to be a much better year. I can't say that 2011 was a spectacular year, but it wasn't bad either. We made it through and I look forward to the future. I don't want to put undo pressure on 2012, though! I have some big plans, but will let them develop with as much time as they need.