Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It happened again

Another school shooting in Colorado. Praise God no one was killed this time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm so hungry I could eat a buffalo

Lent may be a time of simpler, meatless meals, but Sundays are always a day of feasting. This past Sunday I cooked up my first bison roast. My dad has started raising bison in southern Colorado, on a 200 acre ranch on the Rio Grande and this was from his very first one. I searched online for a recipe, then tweeked it according to our tastes and what we had on hand. The result was delicious! Want the recipe?

Bison Roast with Garlic

3 to 5 lb bison roast
olive oil for searing
3 sm pkgs frozen pearl onions
1/2 c cooking wine or Italian dressing
1/2 c flour
2 12 oz. bottles beer (we used Coors Light...what else are you going to do with light beer?)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t dry mustard
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper
garlic powder

Pepper all surfaces of roast and sprinkle liberally with garlic powder. Sear roast in hot skillet with olive oil until nicely browned. Place roast in slow cooker at MEDIUM temperature with pearl onions. Douse with cooking wine or Italian dressing. In the meantime, use drippings from skillet to make gravy. Heat drippings; add flour, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in beer. Add extra flour or liquid as necessary to make a good gravy. Season gravy with Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and garlic. Cook just enough to blend thoroughly. Pour gravy over roast and onions. Make sure roast is completely covered. Leave the lid in place for 6 to 8 hours at MEDIUM setting. (Or cook longer at LOW setting).

Catholic Culture: Epiphany to Mardis Gras

Most folks have heard of Mardis Gras, but how many know what it means? I don't just mean literally (it's French for "Fat Tuesday"), but historically and liturgically? For example, did you know that Mardis Gras actually has its roots in Christmas?

I did a little research and found out some more tidbits that I didn't know before.

Mardis Gras isn't just the one day before Ash Wednesday (though the folks in New Orleans could've told me that, I'm sure!) It's actually the entire celebratory season from Epiphany (or Twelfth Night, January 6th) until the Lenten season of penance begins at midnight of Ash Wednesday.
a traditional King's cake--yummy, huh?

The King's cake which is a mandatory part of Mardis Gras in New Orleans (another thing I hadn't known before), commemorates the route of the three kings (also known as the three wise men) who traveled from the East to seek the Infant King of the world, Jesus. They took a circuitous route in order to evade King Herod's men. (Hence, the circular cake). Herod had instructed the three kings to return to him after finding the Infant King in order that King Herod might come and pay homage to Him. (Yeah, right, Herod!) The three kings weren't called "wise men" for nothing. They never told Herod where He was.

The colors are significant too. The purple stands for justice, green is faith and gold is power. The Church uses these colors throughout the liturgical year as well. Purple is the color worn for Advent and Lent and signifies penance; green is worn during Ordinary Time and represents the hope of life eternal and new life; Gold represents something highly valued and esteemed.

In Catholic Europe, the period from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday is known as Carnival: from the Latin words carne vale, meaning "farewell to meat," signifying the period of abstaining from meat during the Lenten fast.

Speaking of fasting: Mardis Gras doesn't mean you indulge on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and thus you get fat (as I used to think). The "fat" part of Fat Tuesday means all animal fats were used up, since they would not be used during the six weeks of the Lenten observance.

The English also used up their animal fats (and dairy products, including eggs, which were forbidden during Lent from about the seventh century until fairly recently). Even though Englishmen can now eat butter and eggs during Lent, the tradition of "Pancake Day" or "Shrove Tuesday" remains. Shrove Tuesday refers to the tradition of being "shriven" of one's sins on that day by making an examination of conscience and going to confession to prepare for the season of penance. Though not as boisterous a holiday as Mardis Gras or Carnival, the Brits are just as wed to the traditions of Pancake Day as are the rowdier crowds wed to their King's cake in New Orleans. Pancake races, whereby the runners must also flip pancakes in skillets whilst running, are a popular event in the villages of England even today. (When we lived in North Yorkshire, our parish priest was a frequent winner of these races).

My kids insisted upon eating pancakes for supper last Tuesday, even though I assured them they would be available to them for breakfast throughout Lent. (I opted for a nice helping of leftover lasagne with a glass of merlot for dinner that night).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Always wear your seatbelt

Public Safety Announcement

A friend sent me a link to this lovely video.

When writing about one's children

...it's usually a good idea to have them proof-read what you're writing, particularly if said child is old enough to read.

Such is the case with one of my recent posts about Twixters. In it, I mentioned the struggle we had getting our eldest daughter off to college for the first time and how she was going to pay for it.

She thought I painted a picture of her as a "slacker senior," which she most certainly was not. She and we, her parents, were treading unfamiliar territory and hearing new terms, like "FAFSA," "EFC," and "unsubsidized Stafford" for the first time. I failed to mention (due to short-term memory loss) that she had won a hefty academic scholarship from a private Catholic school and was a finalist on their math scholarship. However, she turned it down to attend a state university. (I have already edited the posting).

She has now graduated and has applied for PhD programs in nuclear physics and medical physics at five different graduate schools across the country. She found out she's not in the 8% of accepted applicants to MIT's program, but has sweet offers from two other schools while she's waiting to hear from the last two schools.

Yes, dear Maria (not her real name, but she knows who she is), we are so proud of you. Even if you don't go to grad school, you've already done something we were told was impossible: you worked your way through school.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Love Lent!

Perhaps it's because I'm a convert to the Catholic faith, or perhaps it's because I'm a very goal-oriented sort of person, but I LOVE the season of Lent.

That may come as a shock to cradle Catholics who grew up experiencing Lent as a time to suffer and do penance without thought for Easter which is the joyful culmination of our season of penance.

I love the color purple--more than the green and red of Christmas. It is a rich, vibrant color that symbolizes the royalty and kingship of Christ as well as penance.

Don't get me wrong--I don't like fasting or doing without. But I love the time of living simply and just getting by with what we really need and trying to avoid little luxuries like wine with dinner and chocolate for dessert. I love making simple suppers of soup and bread, beans and rice, pastas and salads during Lent.

I love Ash Wednesday with its emphasis on the equality of all mankind: "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return." Kings and paupers, vice presidents and homeschooling mamas...we're all dust; we're all the same.

I love praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays with the family after the parish fish fry.
I love seeing smiling children waving palms on Palm Sunday and remembering the ashes we wore not six weeks prior that were made from the previous years' palms. I love making the palms into crosses and having them tucked into prayer books and holy pictures to remind us of the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem.
I love the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday. I love re-living what Jesus did on the first Holy Thursday when he washed the feet of his disciples.

I love it when the entire congregation processes in silence from the sanctuary to the place of repose for the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday.

I love it when we enter the sanctuary on Good Friday and there is no Jesus: some of us awkwardly genuflect anyway, others bow to the barren altar; all of us inwardly ask the question the women at his burial tomb asked the Roman guards: "Where have they taken my Lord?"

I love it when the priest brings in the crucifix on Good Friday and chants: "Behold, the wood of the cross!" I love it when everyone, old and young, fit and infirm, black and white, venerates the cross.

I love climbing the hill at Mother Cabrini Shrine on Good Friday, praying the fourteen stations and trying to imagine the immense love that our Savior had for us that caused him to carry that cross up Calvary and be nailed to it--all for our sakes and for redemption of our souls.

I love the Easter Vigil with its candles and bonfires, and seeing the catechumens in their white garments entering into the fullness of the Church.

I also love Lent because I'm really lousy at buying presents and sending Christmas cards. In fact, my Christmas cards, complete with family Christmas photo, Christmas stamps and Christmas letters are still sitting in separate piles in my house. Somehow I never got around to actually addressing the envelopes. Maybe they'll become Easter cards.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quirky Olympic News

As with all curling teams, Team Canada features five members. Well, six, if you really want to get technical with it.

Alternate Kristie Moore, 30, is 5½ months pregnant, making her just the third athlete known to be with child during Olympic competition. Ninety years ago, Swedish figure skater Magda Julin won a gold medal at the Antwerp Games while in her first trimester and Germany’s Diana Sartor took fourth in the skeleton in 2006.

Though she is showing (as evidenced in the picture above), Moore says that her pregnancy has not affected her ability to deliver rocks ... yet. "[In] the eighth month or so, that might be an issue," she said.

Moore found out about her pregnancy weeks before team officials invited her to join Team Canada as an alternate. When she divulged her secret, the team was more than supportive. Said team leader Cheryl Bernard, "she is young and fit. There's no reason we'll have any problems, and she'll be out there."
Notice the sports writer doesn't have any problems with including the unborn child. Guess it's not "above his paygrade" to do so.


On other quirky sports news fronts, Catholic homeschooling mom of two and former Olympian Rebecca Dussault, may not have made the 2010 US Olympic team but she has won the gold at the 2010 ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships in Oslo, Norway earlier this week! This is the first time in the race's 14 year history that a non-European has won. As a result, when she took the top spot on the podium, the race announcer reported they didn't have the Star Spangeled Banner on their CD! Unphased, Rebecca belted out the song with her hand over her heart, joined by her coach and teammates, even continuing to sing while the second and third place finishers, the Russian and Norwegian left the podium.

Yay, Rebecca! You can bet they'll have the national anthem spooled up next time!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Myth of Overpopulation

Glad to know I'm doing my part...

Engaging the Popular Culture

Christians are exhorted to be in the world but not of the world, meaning we live in the here and now among all that is "worldly," but we are called to a higher purpose, namely, spending eternity with God in heaven. How do we engage the culture that is seemingly so hell-bent on destroying everything we believe in?

Sixteen years ago, my husband and I were serendipitously invited to appear on "The Maury Povitch Show," to discuss why we were crazy enough to have five children and admit to "wanting more." We went (against the advice of a couple of priest-friends) because we wanted to do our part to engage the culture. I don't know how successful we were at convincing anyone that we weren't crazy loonies, but we were treated respectfully and graciously on the show and were never made to look stupid. We were buoyed by the presence of Ben Wattenberg on the show, who chatted with us beforehand in the "green room" and gave us an autographed copy of his book, "The Birth Dearth," signing it: "To Joe and Debbie, who are doing their part...Ben Wattenberg."

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist recently accepted Oprah's invitation to appear on her show. In doing so, they engaged the popular culture and very openly and pleasantly answered the talk show diva's gaped mouth questions regarding how they could possibly survive without having sex and shopping at Target. Their answers were stunningly beautiful and brilliant.

Watch the episodes here to see for yourself.

Dominican Sisters on Oprah, Part 1

Dominican Sisters on Oprah, Part 2

Dominican Sisters on Oprah, Part 3

Dominican Sisters on Oprah, Part 4

Monday, February 15, 2010

Suspended Adolescence: The Twixters, and Why Parents Need to Be Concerned

The problem of delayed adulthood has been documented in the press and by society in general. My home state of Colorado has voted to allow unmarried “children” to stay on their parent’s health care plan until age 25. There are now at least 30 states who mandate delaying adulthood responsibility of children by requiring they be covered under their parent’s health plan. Most of these set the age at somewhere in the mid- to late twenties, but New Jersey has put the age at 31, and New York and Pennsylvania aren’t far behind by setting the guideline at age 30. How would you have liked being called a “child” at age 30?

The Twixters

Sociologists and economists have noticed the delayed onset of adulthood in our society and have expressed their concern in several mainstream articles. Time magazine did a cover article in January 16, 2005, called, “Grow Up? Not so Fast.”

“Some of the sociologists, psychologists and demographers who study this new life stage see it as a good thing. The twixters aren't lazy, the argument goes, they're reaping the fruit of decades of American affluence and social liberation. This new period is a chance for young people to savor the pleasures of irresponsibility, search their souls and choose their life paths. But more historically and economically minded scholars see it differently. They are worried that twixters aren't growing up because they can't. Those researchers fear that whatever cultural machinery used to turn kids into grownups has broken down, that society no longer provides young people with the moral backbone and the financial wherewithal to take their rightful places in the adult world.”
This difficulty with growing up seems to be hitting young men harder than young women. We women who came of age since the women’s liberation movement in the 1970’s, have been told we can “have it all.” As a result, we’ve rushed headlong into life, eager to earn our degrees and become CEOs and supermoms, astronauts and admirals, politicians and presidents.

Young men, on the other hand, have been attending college in fewer numbers and dropping out in greater numbers. This should be cause for concern.

In September, 2008, Newsweek ran an article entitled: “Why I Am Leaving Guyland: Peter Pans aren't as happy as they seem.”

"Today's guys are perhaps the first downwardly mobile—and endlessly adolescent—generation of men in U.S. history. They're also among the most distraught—men between the ages of 16 and 26 have the highest suicide rate for any group except men above 70—and socially isolated, despite their image as a band of backslapping buddies. According to the General Social Survey, a highly regarded decadeslong University of Chicago project to map changes in American culture, twentysomething guys are bowling alone when compared with the rest of society. They are less likely to read a newspaper, attend church, vote for president or believe that people are basically trustworthy, helpful and fair. Meanwhile…the percentage of 26-year-olds living with their parents has nearly doubled since 1970, from 11 to 20 percent, according to economist Bob Schoeni's research with the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan."
Clearly, American manhood is in trouble. Most colleges today are predominantly female. By the year 2012, it is estimated that 60% of bachelor degrees will be earned by females compared to 40% of bachelor degrees earned by males. Women are topping the deans’ lists in colleges across the country and earning graduate degrees at a higher rate than men. This isn’t just a problem for young men, it’s a problem for young women who are looking to marry a young man who is intellectually on par with them. As a recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out, women are finding it more and more difficult to find a husband who earns more than they do. As a result, more and more professional women are opting for single motherhood. Yes, manhood is in serious trouble.

It's never too late

Our young people, particularly young men, are in a state of suspended adolescence and one way of waking them from their slumber is by having them take responsibility for their own educational advancement.

When our first child was applying to college, we were naively clueless parents who had made the noble decision that we weren’t going to pay for our kids to go to college. They would figure out their own paths in life and we would stand in the doorway waving to them as they ventured out to make their mark in the world. My husband and I had been self-motivated students who navigated our own college searches and assumed everyone else was equally motivated. Sometimes I marvel at how much my kids are like me, while at other times I marvel at how different they are from me. Such was the case when our eldest was a senior in high school.

Our smart, beautiful and talented daughter, had no idea what she wanted to do or where she wanted to go to school. Halfway through her senior year she made the decision to attend a large state university about 70 miles from home, and her best friend from high school was to be her roommate. What little money she had managed to earn at her after school job was spent on a fantastic trip to New York City with her theater school. Additionally, she applied to only two schools, and missed the deadline for several scholarships. She didn't apply for any outside scholarships. (She did, however, apply for and receive several scholarship offers from the two colleges themselves). It's not that she was a senior slacker, she was more of a deer-in-the-headlights senior.

To make matters worse, my husband is a successful engineer which means we don't qualify for a lot of financial aid, despite the fact that we had ten kids at home.

I remember going to one of the many seminars that colleges like to hold for parents of new freshmen and being told for the umpteenth time how we parents are paying for our kids to get a great education and wondering if I was the only parent there who thought that wasn’t such a great idea. After completing our FAFSA* and seeing the government thought it was a pretty good idea for us to pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for our oldest child to go to college, and after receiving our “financial aid award letter” from her school informing us that we had been “awarded” a parent loan of $10,000, I was starting to get worried. What if it really was impossible for her to make it on her own? How would we possibly be able to afford the cost, even if it was one of the most affordable schools in the state?

Finally, I asked a financial aid officer at the school, “Is it possible for a kid to pay their own way through school?” I expected to hear how difficult it is, that only a few, very motivated kids could do it, and they would have to be diligent about finding scholarships and working hard during the summer months.

She answered, “No.”

That was it. She didn’t entertain the notion for more than a second. Just, “no.”

At that moment, I determined that if I ever figured out an affirmative answer to my question, I would let others know about it.

By the way, our eldest daughter did manage to graduate from college with a manageable amount of debt through hard work and frugality and is currently planning on pursuing her PhD in medical physics in the fall of 2010.

*FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid,” but don’t let that friendly title put you at ease. The “EFC,” or Expected Family Contribution is the amount the Feds say parents should pay towards their child’s college expenses. The figure is equal to approximately ten times what most parents think they can afford.
I'll be posting more advice for parents and students to help them navigate the college search process as well as having the students take the responsibility for paying the bulk of the cost. Check back frequently and see the box on the right sidebar entitled: The Parents' Guide to NOT Paying for College.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I was born

I saw this on the American Papist. Another great video from Franciscan University of Steubenville, my #2's alma mater.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yes, Virginia, you CAN pay for college!

There are plenty of people out there who will emphatically tell you it’s impossible for a kid to pay their own way through college these days. I know. That’s what I’ve been told over and over again. Even as my own kids were doing it.

I’m here to tell you that’s balderdash. It is possible for a kid to pay their own way through college today. It’s not easy though. There’s no magic formula or secret scholarship. There is hard work involved. But I believe the sense of accomplishment and the maturity which develops over the course of a student’s undergraduate years will be more satisfying than having mom and dad foot the bill for four or more years only to graduate with a psychology degree and no idea of what to do next.

Some parents feel it is their duty to pay for their kids to go to college. If you have the means and if your kid isn't going to take you for a ride and party for four years, then I say, "Good for you!"

I want to tell all the other parents out there it’s okay to NOT pay for your kid to go to college. You’re NOT a bad parent because you aren’t footing the bill for a $100,000 or more education. You’re NOT being selfish by protecting your own retirement account and credit rating. You’ve probably gotten where you are by your own hard work and it’s time to let Junior grow up and experience some of that American work ethic and pioneer spirit that has made our country strong.

I know many parents who aren’t comfortable with that. They tell me how they graduated with lots of student debt and how hard it was to start a family, buy a house, keep a car running and pay their utility bills. They want more for their kids. They want their kids to have it all right away--without having to sweat or worry over mounting debt.

That’s a noble thing, wanting to take care of your kids. It’s not bad to want to help them avoid debt. But it might be keeping them from growing up.

We live in a technologically advanced world where everything we could possibly want is literally at our fingertips. We have more variety, more choices, more luxury goods than any other civilization at any other time in history. Life is good. Life is easy. Easy credit and the natural human desire to “keep up with the Joneses” have made bankruptcy and losing one’s home all too commonplace.

I propose that your kid will be better prepared in life to avoid financial disaster if he learns how to make it through college on his own (albeit borrowed) dime.

Good ol' natural consequences

There is an adage in parenting philosophies that says natural consequences are the best punishments to apply to children when they break rules. For example, if Sonny doesn’t get his homework done, he doesn’t get to play his computer game. As Sonny matures, these consequences become more severe, because his actions take on greater importance. If Sonny cheats on a chemistry final exam he could fail the course and lose his spot on the football team.

Now, apply this adage to paying for college: If Sonny doesn’t pass his classes, he doesn’t get any credit toward graduation, but he still has to pay for the class. If Sonny doesn’t pay off his student loans his credit rating suffers and he might lose his job. If, however, mom and dad have paid for Sonny’s college education and Sonny has no stake in it, he can continue to fail classes without worry. And if he doesn’t have any student loans to pay back, he can use his paycheck to buy himself more stuff, while mom and dad continue to pay the bills.

Coming soon: Suspended Adolescence--the Twixters

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Free the Notre Dame 88!

On May 17, 2009, the Catholic University of Notre Dame welcomed President Barack Obama as its commencement speaker and granted him an honorary doctorate. Pro-lifers across the country, both Catholic and non-Catholic, were stunned that a Catholic university that is named for the mother of Our Lord, would honor the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States by giving him the podium at an important event such as graduation and by granting him a degree. Fr. Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, was bombarded in the weeks prior to President Obama's visit, with requests to reconsider the invitation. Many observers think Fr. Jenkins was surprised by the outcry and was caught off-guard. Not wanting to give the impression of caving in to the so-called "right-wing" Fr. Jenkins not only refused to reconsider the invitation, he also refused to even meet with pro-life ND students.

As a result, many pro-lifers felt compelled to go to Notre Dame on May 17th to witness their displeasure with Notre Dame and to peacefully protest the president's pro-abortion policies. They were following in the footsteps of other non-violent protestors such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi. Fr. Jenkins had the protestors arrested and charged with criminal trespass, which could cost them each a year in prison and a $5,000 fine, not to mention the cost for many of them to travel to South Bend for all court appearances at every hearing.

The following is an online petition sponsored by the Thomas More Society, Human Life International and LifeSiteNews.com in response to Fr. Jenkins' refusal to ask that all charges be dropped against the pro-life protestors. The 88 protestors include Norma McCorvey, best known as "Jane Roe" in the landmark 1978 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, an elderly priest, and two mothers from Denver. A list with biographies of some of those arrested can be found here.
Fr. Jenkins,

Right now 88 pro-life activists (known as the ND88) are facing charges for “trespassing” onto the University of Notre Dame in May of 2009.

It is a source of the gravest scandal that this situation persists with the active cooperation of Notre Dame.

The ND88 were arrested for peacefully protesting the university’s decision to honor the most pro-abortion U.S. president in history at this year’s commencement. In many cases, their “protest” took the form of walking on your campus, praying the rosary, and holding pro-life signs. For this “crime” they were specifically targeted by Notre Dame’s security police, handcuffed, and dragged away and put in jail like common criminals.

Now these 88 peaceful pro-life heroes, many of whom are elderly, are facing up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine, in addition to the many hardships and uncertainties involved in the trial process.

And yet, there is an easy and completely painless solution to this unconscionable situation. You, Fr. Jenkins, on behalf of Notre Dame, could publicly request that the charges against the ND88 be dropped.

Not only is such a request likely be heeded by the prosecutorial authorities, but it would go a long way to restoring Notre Dame's tarnished image in the eyes of the pro-life and Catholic world.

Indeed, it is extremely shocking and disturbing that, despite repeated requests to do so, Notre Dame has not yet intervened in this way.

Our Lady’s University has no business cooperating in the prosecutions of pro-life individuals whose only crime is having prayed on the campus of a Catholic university, and standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Therefore we respectfully implore the University of Notre Dame to immediately and publicly request that the charges against the ND88 be dropped.


To read the online petition and to add your name to the list, please click here.

For the latest news about the case, go to the Thomas More Society website, who is defending the ND88.

On the sidebar you'll see a clickable link to another online petition. This one is from the TFP Student Action, which is "a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. Founded in 1973, the American TFP was formed to resist, in the realm of ideas, the liberal, socialist and communist trends of the times and proudly affirm the positive values of tradition, family and private property."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pagans, Wiccans and Druids Find Their Home at the Air Force Academy

And they're planning on dedicating their new stone circle before the last snow melts in the Colorado Rockies.

1/26/2010 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy chapel will add a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions during a dedication ceremony, which is tentatively scheduled to be held at the circle March 10.

Is it just me, or has the Air Force gone off into the wild blue yonder only to crash into the abyss of political correctness?

This story is so bizarre, I don't even know where to begin, but it reminds me of the time we were living in northern England and my husband was working at an RAF base there. Despite it being an RAF base, the base commander was a United States Air Force officer and there were US Air Force chaplains, and many Air Force personnel who lived on the base.

My kids were all involved in Boy and Girl Scouts, who met weekly on the base. It was a little piece of Americana situated in the Yorkshire Dales. We had a 4th of July celebration, complete with fireworks, which was always celebrated on the Saturday after the 4th with fireworks beginning just after sundown, or around 10 pm at that northern latitude. My kids enjoyed a safe Halloween and trick-or-treating on the base, where they could run from house to house shouting "Trick or Treat!" and have their bags filled with good ol' American candies like Reese's Peanutbutter Cups and M&M's. At Christmastime, the Scouts would go caroling from house to house, usually ending up at the base chaplain's or base commander's house.

One Christmas, the Girl Scout leaders were trying very hard to be sensitive to the new Jewish family who had just joined our community, so they offered an option of staying in the school gym and making "winter crafts" in lieu of caroling. Despite the option, they also warned us not to sing any "Christian" Christmas carols. Only non-secterian winter tunes were acceptable, they said.

As we headed off in the darkness, with our wooly hats and mittens and flashlights in hand, the girls began belting out a rollicking rendition of Frosty the Snowman, followed by Jingle Bells, followed by....uh,....Away in a Manger!

"No, no no!" Shouted the Girl Scout leader who was the self-appointed PC czar. "You can't sing that!" She yelled as she went running wildly from group to group of 8 and 9 year-old girls who really had no idea that what they were doing was verboten.

I could only smile to myself as I followed the pack, quietly humming Away in a Manger.

Once the enthusiasm of the first three songs subsided, the PC lady told us to stop and again instructed us to avoid singing any Christian songs. I can't say if any of the girls understood what she was saying, but they obediently joined in as she started singing a rousing chorus of Dashing Through the Snow. After someone remembered Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and we sang Frosty the Snowman again, another little girl began singing Joy to the World.

"No, no, NO!" Shouted PC lady again. (I could tell she was getting pretty exasperated by the girls' enthusiastic singing of banned carols and I also noticed most of the other moms were beginning to enjoy the spectacle). We joined in her slightly screechy version of Walking in a Winter Wonderland which was followed immediately by Hark the Herald.

"STOP!" she yelled, sounding a bit hoarse. "STOP SINGING THAT SONG!" But the giddy excitement of the girls who were lost in wonderment at being outside on the brisk, starry night and whose sweet voices united in Silent Night, drowned out her objections.

As we neared the end of our route, we came upon the base chaplain's residence. He and his wife were standing outside their door, smiling, with a plate full of cookies for the Girl Scouts. Our PC leader lifted her hands over her head to direct us and began singing, "A-waaaay in a man-ger, no crib for his bed..."

Monday, February 01, 2010

Bump Lets the Viewers Decide

From the producers:

BUMP - The Show, is a provocative new web series from Yellow Line Studio that follows the stories of three women facing unintended pregnancies.

Viewers are invited to "join the conversation" and help the women decide whether or not to have an abortion.

I must admit, when I first heard about this, I thought it was a real "reality" show. It turns out, it is a fictitious "reality" show. (Rather like The Office?)

Health Care DMV Style