Sunday, March 31, 2013

The day is looking up!

I'm always hearing jokes about New Jersey being one long highway, or full of pollution, or only good for malls and diners. To the people who make those jokes, I'd just like to say:

We had an amazing hike today at Norvin Green State Forest. I had never been there before, but I found it online, it's only 35 minutes from our house and the description looked good. It was better than good. Boo kept saying it was the best hike we'd ever been on, and she's been hiking quite a bit for a suburban nine-year-old. There were rocks to climb, views, streams to rock-hop across, and places where Boo and Wonderdog could run. We had a picnic lunch in a big rocky place surrounded by trees, and a snack with this view:

We did have to portage Wonderdog across a couple of streams, but it was worth it:

On our way back to our car, we saw a black bear, but we weren't able to get a good picture. We were just as interested in staying away from it as it was interested in staying away from us.

When I said I wanted to do more active things with Boo and Wonderdog, this is just what I meant. Here's to many more!

Grumpy grump grump

I started today planning to visit the Ethical Culture Society meeting. I didn't make it there. Then I thought it would be nice to go on a hike. In spite of murmurings in the affirmative, nobody has moved.

Holidays are hard, even when you don't celebrate them. Everybody around is busy, restaurants are full, and I feel like I'm supposed to be doing something--decorating eggs, eating chocolate for breakfast, attending church--that I have never done and that has no meaning to me. But everyone else is doing those things today.

Yesterday, I attended a Passover celebration at my cousin's house, which was wonderful--great people, traditional foods, and a lovely mini-seder for those who hadn't gotten around to one yet. The kids got to find the matzah and get prizes, and there were truffles.

But when I got home, I realized that International Tabletop Day was almost over, and I missed it because of the holiday. (Although we did have a nice game of Munchkin before Boo's bedtime, because I couldn't let a holiday like International Tabletop Day go completely unobserved.)

Today I'm feeling very grouchy about religion--like having a religion is making me miss fun things that I want to do, and not having a religion is making me miss fun things that everyone else is doing.

Grumpy grump grump.

Just to be clear, I love going to my cousin's house every year for her Passover celebration, and yesterday was no different. Not only that, I love that Boo loves going there. It's somewhere that I went every year as a child (not for this event, but for others) and always remembered fondly, so it's wonderful that Boo is also making fond memories there.

It's just that feeling when two things you want to do happen at the same time, and you can't do both, combined with today's resentment of Easter, that's making me grumpy.

But Boo wants to go on a hike now, so maybe I can make today a nice day anyhow.

Friday, March 29, 2013

International Tabletop Day!

There are so many things I want to write about that it's all swirling around in my head in one big gay-marriage-should-be-legal-guns-should-be-restricted-Passover-is-annoying-religion-is-wrong soup.

So I'm going to say this instead:

Tomorrow is International Tabletop Day and you should celebrate. Wil Wheaton invented this day to promote his show Tabletop, of course, but also to get people everywhere to play games. Tabletop Day is all about playing games, so go out and do it. If you can, go out and buy a new game, or learn a new card game, or make up a new game. But whatever you play, find someone worth your time to play it with.

Games have become important in our family. Lately we've been playing cribbage, but since last summer we've played many games: Rummicub, Monopoly, Life, Forbidden Island, LEGO Hobbit, Settlers of Catan, Fluxx, Munchkin, and Small World are the ones that come to mind, but there have been others. It's been amazing to watch Boo learn each game, and also to watch her build her game-learning skills over time.

But more than that, I've watched Boo's interest in games grow as mine has grown, and having something to share like that--something we'll always be able to do together--is really cool. And I know Hopper is happy because he always loved games and now he's getting a chance to share that love with both of us.

So thanks, Wil Wheaton, for that.

One of the things I enjoy about watching Tabletop is seeing a group of people who didn't know each other at the beginning of the game develop jokes and shorthand and group dynamics as they play. That makes me realize that as cool as it is to play games with your family, it's also cool to play with strangers, because by the end of the game, you'll have something in common with those people. So the worthwhile person you play a game with tomorrow doesn't have to be someone you know today. Just go out to your local game shop or to a bar that has games or to your friend's house or to your dining room table and play a game. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I'll Tell You When

On Tuesday, Justice Scalia asked when gay marriage became unconstitutional. This morning, I came up with a good answer. This is why I'm not a lawyer.

Gay marriage became unconstitutional when scientists realized that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, which I believe was in the early 1970's* (though I could be off by a bit. Perhaps they figured it out in the 1960's but it only got taken out of the DSM in the early 1970's.) Before that, it would have been unreasonable to allow gay people to marry, because people with severe mental disorders do not have standing to marry.

Since then, we have seen homosexual behavior in almost every species of animal we have studied, we have discovered a gene that causes androphilia (a strong attraction to men) in both men and women, and we know that the more sons a woman has, the more likely her younger sons are to be gay because of a hormone she emits more of during each successive pregnancy. So we know that homosexuality is natural. We have seen one after another group that formerly claimed to "cure" people of homosexuality admit that orientation can't be changed. So we know that it is immutable. And we have been through the plague of AIDS that permanently changed gay culture and an entire generation growing up without the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

It was when my generation, born in the 1970's, came of age that the movement toward legalizing gay marriage began in earnest, and that's no accident. People my age were the first to come out in high school, the first to come of age post-AIDS, and the first to grow up knowing that homosexuality is just something that comes up in the gene pool about 3% of the time. It's only natural that it would be people my age who would expect to marry their partners.

So that's your answer, Justice Scalia. The day homosexuality came out of the DSM, gay marriage should have been legal because gay people are people and therefore eligible for equal protection under the law. Once we stopped "protecting" them from their "mental disorder," we should have given them equal rights.

Perhaps we can be forgiven for not giving those rights instantly, because most people then thought that gay people were different in the way they formed relationships. They always had been, of course, because they had to be. When the love you feel is classified as sickness, you don't date in public. But once a generation grew up knowing they weren't crazy, they expected and asked for the same rights straight people have. From that point on, we've been wrong. Just plain wrong. And now the Supreme Court has a chance to set it right.

So that's your answer, Justice Scalia. Now do you know how to rule on this?

*UPDATE 3/29/13: It was 1973. Thanks, Andy Drouin, for leaving that comment. So, 1973 is when it became unconstitutional. Got it, Justice Scalia? 1973.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Hardest Time of Year To Be A Jew

This week is Passover. It's hard, but not for the reasons you might expect.

Sure, it's a pain to avoid bread for a week. I find myself staring longingly at the ice cream truck as I pass it, wanting an ice cream sandwich or a cone. But I can handle that, and I actually think it's good for me to practice this kind of self-control for a week. When the week is over, I always find that I appreciate bread (and pizza!) more than I do the rest of the year. Appreciating bread is a good thing.

Boo keeps asking why she can't eat bread, and I think it's good for her, too. I expect that she will have the same appreciation for leavened products come next week, and in the meantime, I hope she's developing some compassion for other children who have limited diets because of allergy or religious mandate.

It's the rest of it that causes me the problem. We are told that we observe this holiday to separate ourselves from everyone else (we're the Chosen People, after all) and to remember the story of Exodus.

Is it a good thing to separate ourselves from everyone else? The Humanist answer is clear: no. And history would seem to teach the same thing. Throughout history, religious groups that consider themselves better than other religious groups tend to cause trouble. So why is it good for me to teach my child that she is Jewish rather than just another part of humanity? This makes me very uncomfortable at this time of year.

The story of Exodus is even worse. The image of God described in the story is a god who destroys crops, cattle, slaves and babies for no reason other than his own glory. Is that someone I want my child to worship? Or anyone? It's a horrible, uncomfortable, angry-making story that discomfits everyone I've ever read it with. So why is this the central story of our people? Why is this the story that we choose to tell from one generation to the next, without fail?

And, should I decide that I don't want to pass this story on any longer, what then? Do I write a new one? Edit the old one? Dismiss Judaism from our lives altogether?

If I withdrew Boo from Religious School now, she would probably never really learn to read Hebrew. If we stopped attending Temple, she would have very few Jewish friends. Do those things matter?

So many questions at this time of year. It's the hardest time of year.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Enough already!

I don't complain about snow in the winter. After all, I chose to live in New Jersey, or at least to stay in New Jersey, and we have seasons here. Frankly, I wouldn't want to live somewhere that didn't have seasons, or somewhere where the seasons are inverted, like Australia. It just wouldn't feel right. I'm used to noting the passage of time by the changes in nature. And I like snow. I like to go sledding and then come in and drink hot chocolate. I like to watch Wonderdog go bounding through snowdrifts like a dogbunny. I like to climb to the very top of a mountain of snow and survey the view of a parking lot, especially now that I don't have to fight Brother to get up there anymore.

But I don't just like winter. I like the seasons to flow in a progression, and spring is my favorite. The trees start to bud, the flowers start to grow, and my birthday happens! And now that it's March 20th, I'm ready for some spring, please.

Any time now...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Raising a girl

Today in the car, Boo told me a long, halting story. It took at least a mile of driving to get it out. She went around and around and back to the beginning. And finally she got to the upshot: a boy in her class logged her out of the computer and she lost a day's work on a really important project.

Now, there wasn't much for me to do here. The boy in question has lost computer privileges for a week, Boo's teachers know what happened and will make sure she has adequate time to re-do her work, and while she's been inconvenienced, she isn't hurt. But I did advise her to save more often in future.

And I felt like this is the 9-year-old version of the rape prevention talk. Because this wasn't Boo's fault. This boy did a jerky thing, and it sounds like he did it to annoy her. There's no reason she should have been expecting someone to aggressively shut down her computer. She should be able to walk away from her work without it being deleted. But there's something she can do to protect herself, and it's my job to teach her that.

If she was a little bit older, that's what I'd be teaching her about Steubenville. Rape is wrong. An unconscious person cannot defend herself and relies on the people around her to keep her safe. The boys who actually raped her are the ones going to jail, but every other person in that house, every person who saw one of those tweets, whoever bought the alcohol for that party and the adults who should have been supervising but weren't all failed that girl that night. All of those people are the ones who are wrong. An unconscious person cannot be held responsible for what happens to her.

But that's why you don't want to drink until you black out. That's why you only go to parties with friends that you trust, and that's why you stay with those friends and you leave with those friends. That's why you call me and Dad if a party seems out of hand and we will come get you, no questions asked. That's why I don't want you to use drugs, and if you feel you have to, you only use them when you're with trusted friends. And that's why you should only have sex when you're ready and with someone you trust. Don't put yourself in that position.

I don't want to teach her those things. I shouldn't have to teach her those things. I wish we lived in a world where all the boys were taught that women are human beings with feelings who should be treated with respect. But I will teach her those things, because even though a girl should be able to pass out at a party and wake up the next morning safe and sound, I can't help feeling like the outcome of that party in Steubenville could have been different if that girl had taken precautions. If she had known her limits, or had a trusted friend who could bring her home, or if she had called her parents when she arrived to say that there were no parents at the party and drugs and too many boys and she wanted to come home. It's not that I blame her for what happened, but rather that I wish it hadn't happened. I wish that girl had had enough control over her environment to protect herself, and I want to keep my own daughter safe from that kind of horror.

There's no way to know if I can. If the message boys take from Steubenville is not "don't rape" but "don't post your rape on the internet," then the result of Steubenville will be more rapes, not fewer, and more rapists getting away with their crimes. Hopefully enough people are outraged by this event and the way it's been covered in the media that more parents of boys will teach them "don't rape" and rape culture will diminish and eventually disappear.

In the meantime, I'll have to live in an uncomfortable world where I say to my daughter, "It's not your fault, but here's what you can do to prevent it from hurting you so much." And soon, "Here's what you do to stay in control of a situation, and here's what to do to get out when a situation gets out of your control."

I hope it's enough.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I'm simply horrified by everything to do with the Steubenville rape case.

I'm horrified that this event happened--that a drunk girl could be raped and dragged around and raped again.

I'm horrified that the teens involved were stupid enough to post it all on the internet.

I'm horrified that this girl was shamed for what was done to her while she was unconscious.

I'm horrified that this girl's parents had to see these pictures in order to advocate for their daughter.

I'm horrified that the testimony revealed that none of this seemed out of the ordinary to any of the (awake) teens involved.

I'm horrified that the witnesses were granted immunity.

I'm horrified that the rapists were given only two years in jail.

I'm horrified that the judge recommended that rapists not put evidence on the internet in future.

I'm horrified that the major news networks seem to sympathize with the rapists, rather than the victim.

I'm horrified that FOX seems to have revealed the identity of the victim.

And mostly I'm horrified that our culture teaches men that they deserve sex and women that they should both submit to men and never have sex. It is a culture that ensures that rapes like this will happen, that boys will disseminate pictures of unconscious, naked girls and that people will lament the loss to the boys of their reputations while calling the victim a slut.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Highs and Lows

Today, Wonderdog and I had our first AKC Rally Trial. Since I've never done Rally before, I entered Rally Novice A. I was nervous all day, partly because it was new, partly because there are variables out of my control in any Trial (like the course set by the judge or some dog getting loose and running into the ring while I'm in it), and partly because this was my club's show and I was also Stewarding in another ring and there were lots of logistics that had to work out.

In the end, I got to the show on time, Hopper arrived with Wonderdog and Boo before the Rally judge came back from her lunch break, and there was only one spot in the course that looked tricky to me. I worked with Wonderdog on a few of the signs I thought might confuse him, and I was ready to go.

A friend who was watching said that I looked really nervous until we got into the ring, and then both of us relaxed and performed just like we do in class. The judge said, "I hope you were happy with that performance!" I was.

When it was time to hand out the ribbons, I found out that I had not only the highest score of the day (98/100) but also the fastest time. Both my teachers were watching (and they told me what my two mistakes were) Boo was so proud of Wonderdog, and we got a BIG bowl of biscuits to give to him along with a beautiful first place rosette.

A while later after Hopper had taken Wonderdog and Boo home, I was helping with cleanup and I saw my judge.

"I wanted to say thank you," I told her. "It meant a lot to do well for you because Wonderdog failed to qualify under you in Obedience last summer."

"It was my pleasure," she replied.

And then....

"Do you have an Obedience title?"

"Yes. Wonderdog has his CD."

"Oh. That will invalidate today's result. If you have an Obedience title, you should compete in the B group, not the A group."

I felt like I had fallen into a hole. The judge was so kind--she was just disappointed for me, not angry or critical. But Wonderdog did so well today, and the thought of it being invalidated...

"People register in the wrong class all the time," said an onlooker. "Lots of times the AKC doesn't even notice."

"True," said the judge. "But you may get a letter and then you'll have to send your ribbon back. At least you'll know for next time. Some good will come of this."

And she was gone.

I still have my beautiful rosette and huge bowl of biscuits. I'm not sure if anyone will ask for them back. I don't really want the score to count, because it isn't fair to the other competitors.

Also, I feel like an idiot.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It's been thirteen years since I've seen her

My grandmother understood me in a way that nobody else ever has. We could spend a whole day together and never disagree about anything. That's partly because I was her granddaughter and she adored everything about me in that special way only grandparents have. But it's also because we had a lot in common.

Sure, we liked many of the same things--books, children, Fred Astaire movies, gefilte fish--but it was even more than that. We just...were together. When I was in my twenties, I would call her up sometimes and take the bus out to New Jersey to spend the afternoon with her. We'd pick up her best friend Leah and go see a movie and then eat dinner at a diner. Sometimes we'd just hang out and watch TV together.

I remember the day my parents moved when I was about twenty-five. I offered to help and they asked me to take the pets over to Nana's house and keep an eye on them and then bring them to the new apartment when the move was done. I spent the whole day with Nana, hanging out with the dogs and the cat and watching TV. We didn't really do anything in particular, but it didn't matter.

It was amazing to have someone like that. Someone who understood me. Someone who could tell if I was sick by the look in my eye. Someone who thought that everything I did was completely amazing, and who would love me and be happy to see me no matter what.

When she died, I remember saying that nobody would ever love me like that again. Nobody ever will.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francis

I was really excited that they chose a new Pope this week. Since the announcement came right around 3PM, I was on my way to pick up Boo at school when I heard there had been white smoke, and I heard the name of Pope Francis right before Boo got into the car. I refused to put on a music CD because I really wanted to hear about this new Pope.

Boo, slightly perturbed that she had to listen to the News instead of music, asked, "Why do we care? We're not Catholic."

And I started to wonder: why do I care? And beyond caring, why do I feel so hopeful and excited? I remember feeling that way when Benedict was selected, too. Of course, that didn't last long--I soon found out that he was more conservative than John Paul II, and of course his history with coverups of child abuse is appalling. But now there is a new Pope, and I can't help feeling hopeful.

Maybe he'll allow ordination of women!

Maybe he'll allow gay marriage, or at least allow gay people to remain in the Church.

Maybe he'll allow contraception, or at least stay out of America's contraception battles.

I can't even hope on the issue of abortion. never know.

I realize that all of these changes are unlikely any time soon, and maybe in my lifetime. It's possible that Pope Francis will be even worse on Human Rights than the previous two Popes. And even though I'm not Catholic, I know the Pope has an influence on the world, on politics, and on the real lives of real people around the world. But I like that Pope Francis is known for taking his vow of poverty seriously, and that he's from a religious order--it feels more legitimate somehow for someone from a religious order to be Pope. (I wonder what kind of order the previous Popes have been from, if not religious.)

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Me: Why am I not in shape yet?

Hopper: It doesn't work like that.

Me: But I've been working out regularly for more than two weeks! I feel like I should be done by now.

Hopper: That's why I don't exercise.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

She's not heavy, and neither is he

I'm still thinking about The Hunger Games, I'm afraid. I'm remembering a controversy last year because some people said that Jennifer Lawrence was "too fat" to play Katniss. They used the wrong word, and they deserved the punishment they got from everyone with a brain.

What Lawrence is is too healthy-looking to play Katniss. And so are her male co-stars.

Suggesting that Lawrence is in any way fat is ridiculous. She isn't. But in the book, when the Hunger Games conclude, Katniss's desperation is palpable. While Cato is dying, Katniss is suffering from hunger, from thirst, from exhaustion. Peeta is also injured and has been sick--although he received medication, he has not had time to recover fully. Neither has bathed since arriving in the arena. Neither has slept properly since leaving District 12. 

And yet, the film depicts both with perfect skin, clean hair, and the ability to stand erect while waiting for the hover planes to get them. 

Given that the books are about suffering, it seems a poor directorial choice to cast beautiful, healthy and strong young people in the three pivotal parts (Katniss, Peeta and Gayle.) All three are meant to be attractive, of course. But all three are also deprived from a life of living in a depressed District. (Peeta less so because his parents are merchants, but still.) Katniss and Gayle hunt squirrels for sustenance and we're meant to believe that they needed to put their names into the Hunger Games lottery extra times in order to survive. Based on the movie, I don't buy it.

I suspect the movie's producers were just cowardly. They wanted to make a movie trilogy from a popular book trilogy, but they were afraid that if they made their stars look hungry, tired, injured and desperate, they would no longer be sex symbols. After all, a woman (especially a young, beautiful woman) can't be expected to appear on screen with less than perfect hair, can she? Never mind that she's been running from fire, struggling with bees, wrestling with knife-wealding enemies and saving Peeta's life--the important thing is that her hair is perfect! And, lest we accuse them of sexism when their real crime is image-ism, let's not forget that Peeta managed to remove every trace of mud and dirt from his body after painting himself in fully detailed camouflage. 

It seems there was a whole lot of shallowness and stupidity involved here. But that doesn't excuse calling a healthy girl fat. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Introversion in The Hunger Games

There has been a lot of media attention paid to introverts lately, mostly stemming (I believe) from Susan Cain's book Quiet, which I have not yet read. I did, however, listen to Cain's book talk at Poetry and Prose and I found it very interesting. There was also this discussion at about introverted heroines in media which mentioned a few great examples, but did not include any mention of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games trilogy. I think that was a significant omission.

I've written about The Hunger Games before on my previous blog. You can read those posts here and here. Those posts were inspired when I read the books last year. But this weekend, Hopper and I finally watched the movie, and that got me thinking again.

Katniss is an introvert: she spends hours by herself or with one friend (Gale) in the woods, hunting. Her only close relationships are with Gale (with whom she is reserved) and her sister. And she describes herself as having difficulty making friends. But she's not the only introvert in the series: Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Roo and Cinna can all be described as introverts, too. All of the politicians and of course the TV personalities in the Capitol are extroverts.

So in The Hunger Games, the "good guys" are all introverts and the "bad guys" are all extroverts. In the Capitol, they try to make Peeta and Katniss into extroverts. Peeta succeeds, to some extent, because he loves Katniss so much he is willing to go outside his nature to play the game, yet he expresses concern about losing himself in the process, and we only see the real Peeta when he is alone with Katniss or Haymitch. Katniss, of course, does best when she is alone in the woods, and never becomes the spokeswoman or politician that her handlers would like her to be.

In part, this reticence is seen as negative--Katniss refuses to understand how the game is played and gets what she needs (medicine, soup for Peeta) when she does play along. In some ways, Katniss is seen as petulant. But in the end, Katniss wins because she is smart, stealthy and resourceful. She exploits one-on-one relationships with Roo and Peeta, but does not betray either friend. She uses skills that she honed over years of individual practice. And she is always, always, true to herself. All of these are strengths that most introverts share, and they are celebrated in The Hunger Games.

Conversely, working well with groups, the ability to rally a crowd, politics, following directions and group strategizing are all seen as negatives. These are strengths of extraverts, but they are not celebrated in The Hunger Games.

I think it's true, generally, that introverts are under-represented in media. I suspect that's because unless you select them by lottery and force them into an arena, introverts don't tend to do things that are interesting to watch. Would you want to watch the movie where Katniss practices her shooting every day for ten years? But if we want to encourage introverts to use their strengths, it's something to think about, and I'm glad the issue is in the public discourse.

Maybe they'll make a movie about me learning to knit!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Worst Day of the Year

I am not a fan of Daylight Savings. It makes everyone cranky.

I have a whole post I want to write about introverts and The Hunger Games, but between Daylight Savings and the work we've been doing to set up the new family room (which is done!) I'm just too tired.

More tomorrow...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Please civilize your children!

Tonight we went to services. Boo wanted to sit with her friends, and I feel that children should sit with their parents, so we went and sat with Boo's friends too.

I hate sitting with children at services.

No...I hate sitting with other people's children at family services.

I have no problem sitting with my class when we have services during Hebrew School. I love sitting with Boo and Hopper. But people need to civilize their children.

First of all, half the kids were wearing jeans and sneakers. Now, I realize things aren't as formal as they used to be, and I'm willing to cut everyone slack for wearing snow boots today, because it's snowy. But jeans and sneakers don't belong in Temple at Shabbat services. You're sending kids the wrong message by letting them dress that way. The message you want to send is that this is something special and we have to act like we're fancy: fancy clothes and fancy manners. Of course manners at Temple are different from other places. We sit in rows like the theater, but we don't clap and we do sing along. But we're definitely calm and quiet and we pay attention.

That's my second of all: teach your kids manners. Teach them to stand up when everyone stands, to sit when everyone sits, and to shut the hell up when the mourner's prayer is going on. You can even explain that it's a prayer we say for people who died and that people are sad when they say it so we have to be kind to those people. But teach it.

Otherwise, someone will be standing there with one hand on her husband, who's saying a prayer for his dead father, and the other hand trying to stop your son from hitting your daughter with a stick. I'm not saying who, but someone. And that person will not be getting the sense of peace and community she came to services to find.

It's not fair to let your children's bad manners get all over everyone else. So please, civilize your children so I don't have to.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Reformation Project

This is pretty cool. Matthew Vines, whom you may remember from his video last year which explained exactly why the Bible does not denounce homosexuality as we know it today, is launching a new project.

I love Matthew Vines. He's my kind of religionist. He spent two years researching homosexuality and the Bible before making last year's video. His religion means a great deal to him, but he's not willing to just accept what others tell him about it. He finds out for himself and then draws his own conclusions. He constructs arguments based on historical facts combined with his interpretations of Christian practice and sacred texts.

Judaism has been an important part of my life, which is why I won't abandon it just because I stopped believing in God. There is still a lot about religion that can be useful if religion is taken the right way: as a collection of philosophical ideas and practices written down in different ways through the centuries. That can work for those who believe in God and those who don't.

I hope that some of my students grow up to confront religion the way Matthew Vines is doing. That's what religion is there for. If we don't interact with it--if we let religion trap us in the time the holy books were written--then it becomes a prison that limits thought and action and keeps us from the world. But if we use it to inspire us, to instruct us, and to struggle against, it can bring out the best in us.

I wish you luck, Matthew Vines. Keep up the good work.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Settling in

I cannot believe how tired I still am from the move this weekend. I don't know if it's the physical work, because I'm so out of shape, or the stress of causing disorder in my house, but either way I'm SO TIRED.

On the plus side, Boo is still incredibly happy. She gleefully took her homework up to her room to use her "desk" this afternoon. At bedtime, Cat curled up on Boo's bed, and Boo requested that we leave her there when we turned off the light. Cat will need to be moved in a few minutes when we bring Wonderdog up for the night because Boo has a gerbil in her room, and Wonderdog cannot contain his excitement when he encounters the gerbil. We're not sure whether Wonderdog wants to eat the gerbil or play with him, but either way, I don't feel like dealing with a howling, dancing dog in the middle of the night. It's easier to close Boo's door to keep Wonderdog away from the gerbil, and Cat won't appreciate being locked in all night, so we'll let her out of Boo's room before we close the door.

*The gerbil is safely contained in a fish tank. Wonderdog cannot get into the tank to hurt the gerbil, and the gerbil seems to know this--although he used to be afraid of Wonderdog, he is not bothered by him anymore. So no harm will come to the gerbil.

Getting to fall asleep with not one, but two pets in her room is a new treat for Boo and she seems to be enjoying it.

Hopper and I still have a lot of work to do on the new family room, but we made some more progress today. I have learned over many moves that the secret of success is to do something every day, even if it's only to empty one box. Momentum is key.

As our friend Wilkinson used to say, "Onward!"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Not a Fan

While I am thrilled that Boo is so happy with her new room, and I recognize that we're going to have a lovely family room at the end of this, I am not enjoying the process.

We're all bone tired, and it occurred to me that Boo needs an orderly room to sleep in much more than I need a family room, so we've been concentrating our efforts on getting everything done in there as quickly as possible. We've made a lot of progress--all the furniture is in place, the books are on shelves, the gerbil has been relocated to another part of the room, pictures are on walls, and this afternoon we purchased cork squares and adhered them to one wall. All that's left to do is hang up one more picture that Boo just decided she wants after all and clean out the cabinets in the built-ins, which we left for last because they don't show.

But the family room is a MESS. It looks like it did when we first bought the house and used that room as a swing room. Today I went in and unpacked 5 boxes, plugged in a lamp, and moved some things around in the closet, but there's still a lot to do, including re-assembling the wall of family pictures that used to hang in the office, which is a big job all by itself.

Hopper got the WiFi relocated today, and hopefully tomorrow after work he'll be able to run the wire from the antenna in the attic and we'll set up the TV, although that's not really a priority. The rest is just work. I'm trying to do another round of purging as I unpack boxes because there is just SO MUCH STUFF. But with only one closet instead of two and no built-ins, we're going to have to figure something out. Some of the stuff is going (and already has gone) some can find homes in other rooms, but I think we're also going to have to purchase some kind of storage or put shelves in the closet to accommodate some of the stuff.


And the worst (or best) part is, purging this stuff makes me want to go through the house and purge even more. We have a bookcase in our bedroom that is full to bursting--maybe we can make room there. And the basement is a mess again with stuff that Boo took out of her room, so maybe we can get rid of more of that. And I know there's a crib in Hopper's closet, but I don't know if we can get it back out because we installed a support pole after we put the crib in there.

I don't like change. I find transitions unsettling and difficult. Also, I like to keep stuff and so does Hopper, so all this purging is hard on us. It's disconcerting having so many rooms in an unsettled state and I keep noticing the regular cleaning that's not getting done.

So I'm trying to focus on what IS getting done, day by day, and committing to doing something every day, even if it's just one box. I have found over many moves that as long as you keep moving, it all gets done more quickly than you think it will. And I'm also focusing on Boo, who stopped in her doorway on the way to take a shower and said, "Wait! I'm enjoying the roominess of my room!"

Because it's not often you can make your kid that happy.

Eyes on the prize! I'm going to relax this evening and get a good night's sleep so that we can make more progress after work tomorrow.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Big Move

Today we moved the furniture so that the white room is Boo's room and the pink room is our family room. Or it will be a family room once everything is unpacked. (Credit to Hopper for getting the filing cabinet done on schedule!)

Boo is really happy with her cozy new room, and frustrated that we haven't got absolutely everything moved and put away. While I was moving boxes so we could get a bookshelf out of my bedroom, where we had put it while we moved other furniture, she was taking pictures off the wall in her room and stacking them in the pink room.

There's still a lot of work to do, and although we've thrown out and donated (or at least decided to donate) a lot of stuff, I'm hoping to purge more as we put things away in the new family room. We also have to rewire everything so that we have phone and internet in the family room (the WiFi is currently running from under Boo's bed) and we have to move and hook up the TV. And we're planning to put cork tiles on one wall of Boo's new room. We'll get it all done in time.

Right now, though, I'm really tired from moving furniture and boxes. No need to exercise today!