Wednesday, August 25, 2010

weekend projects, here we come!

i've been thinking about ways to give our house some color and design when we have no money to spend on anything right now.  i came across a blog called make it and love it that has all kinds of DIY tutorials (home, clothing, food) and have found some projects that i can do with the kids where i can use things we already own (old boxes, fabric, glue, wood) to make.

things like . . .

. . . fabric covered boards for artsy wall hangings . . .


. . . photo collages . . . (ok, this is nothing too exciting but i have tons of frames i've picked up over the years, i just need to get photos into them!  this is my reminder . . .


. . . fabric-covered storage boxes . . .

. . . i'm also inspired to spend just a *little* money on some things i have room to finally do now that we have a garage, like . . .

. . . painting an old piece of furniture so it's shiny and pretty and new . . .


. . . getting wood at the sale section of the local home depot type store and making cubicle shelving (or painting/staining the wood) . . .

. . . i'm excited!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bits and Pieces

I finished reading the Twilight series. I really liked the last book, Breaking Dawn, but think that Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse should have been condensed into 1 book, making it a 2-book series. There was enough pointless filler in books 1-3 that you could have removed 2/3 of it, shoved all the funny, steamy & dangerous parts (i.e. the good stuff) together and made just one book out of it.

The final book was about SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! Bella's life after becoming a vampire. It was awesome, I loved it. It was just what I was looking for - fun, exciting, light reading. Too bad the entire series didn't measure up to the last book.

* * *

My kids start school today, 4th and 5th grades in a new school. I'm excited for them. I'm anxious for them - I hope they make friends. I know they will, they always do. They already do have neighborhood friends who will be in the same school but in different classes. Especially Bennett (4th grade) - he makes friends immediately, wherever he goes.

Still, I'm anxious. Kori is in 5th grade, the new girl. She's sensitive even though she tries to hide it. She's smart, funny, cute, has cute clothes (though nothing too expensive). Unless she has some MEAN GIRLS in her class, she should have no problems fitting in. I don't care about her being popular, I just don't want her to suffer because someone thinks she's an easy target because she's new.

Last night was a "welcome back" picnic at their school. We met their teachers and the kids played for a while on the playground. Bennett was surrounded by his "peeps" (seriously, you should see him and his little friends saying 'whatup' and giving each other bro-hugs and daps), while Kori hung out with us. Rian (3 years old) wants to go to school like his big brother and sister. We do need to get him into pre-school or something so he'll be less of a terror when we unleash him on kindergarten.

Sometime in the next day or two I'll be writing their teachers a letter, the way I do every year, telling them about my kids - their strengths, weaknesses, interests, etc.


My babies are growing up.

* * *

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my own schooling and career.

I've been a little burnt out on school but now it's time to get back in gear. I have a detailed plan for getting back into volunteering and using it as personal research for learning more about the various fields I *think* I'm interested in. I also need to get some admissions & faculty interviews set up at a couple schools whose grad programs I'm considering applying for.

Last but not least, I need to get back on my game in terms of using the professional development resources my job has to offer. I'm lucky to have full-time career & employee development consultants available to talk to.

Here are just some of the things I'll be looking into, to see if I might be a good fit and if there is work in my area:

~ Anti-racist advocacy.
~ Getting resources to those who are poor and especially those who are poor and without a voice, especially immigrants, especially immigrants who aren’t here legally.
~ Teaching about privilege.
~ Getting resources to the working poor and/or those who make too much money to qualify for subsidies (welfare) but don’t really make enough to make it.
~ Closing the gaps for people who are on the verge of moving to the next level of self-sufficiency but aren’t quite there . . . maybe if they could just get decent childcare, they could. Or if they could get reliable transportation. Or if they could take one year off of work to finish their degree.
~ Developing more innovative education and social mediums to draw white, middle-class women into discussions about racism, privilege, class, welfare, philanthropy.
~ Helping others get motivated and involved in community service, including finding ways for people to serve when they have very little free time or have some roadblock, like no childcare or something.
~ Promoting the idea that K-12 and college education should always involve a service component.
~ Promoting service programs to pre-college and college students.
~ Promoting community service “tours” which result in getting college tuition, better loans or training, like our veterans get (like some other countries have).

I think one day, policy might be an area I could do well in . . . but I have to gain much more experience and education before I can be of any value that way.

EDITED TO ADD: After hashing this out with some friends, I'm also strongly considering staying in higher ed at an institution that makes the world a better place (like where I work now). I'll likely write more on this in the future - the actual debate ever raging in my brain called, "What am I supposed to be, what am I supposed to do?"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Probably taking things too seriously

Another Twilight entry, but more about the message it sends to young readers. Get ready for your heads to explode with “OMG ASHLEY IT’S JUST A BOOK” (kind of like when I criticize movies because “that wouldn’t happen in real life”).

I added a few people on Goodreads and one commented on the Twilight series – that she liked it but it rankled her feminist self and also concerned her as a domestic violence advocate.

There are definitely some things in the books that bother me, mainly because there are gads of teenage girls reading them. And yes, if your teenager is getting all of their relationship advice and modeling from a book, there’s a problem. But you can’t underestimate the power of fairy tales shaping our expectations. How many young girls have been raised seeing their parents relationships, compared to what they see in movies and books and think “XYZ is how relationships should work”, while XYZ is completely off the mark?

Here are some things I dislike about the series:

• Edward and Bella’s obsessive, all-consuming relationship is shown as the way “real” and “mature” relationships are and should be. The other teen romances are treated trivially. Bella’s parents’ relationships (with each other and new significant others or lack thereof) are shown in an immature light – her Mom rushes in without thinking and her Dad is emotionally stunted. 2 teenagers are seen as having cornered the market on the way REAL love should be.

• The other relationships that are given any credibility are all “soulmate”, “made-for-each-other”, “I have no option other than to love you forever” things, among the vampires and the werewolves. Theirs seems to be an instinctual love and it’s not based on compatability or values. No credence seems to be given to people learning about each other, committing and then choosing to love one another when times are rough and the fireworks have gone out. Sure, their characters love each other through tough times but it’s always because they have no choice in the matter.

• Bella starts off as an independent person who craves time alone. After falling in love with Edward, she can’t bear to be alone. The guy is with her at school. After school. All night long. It’s literally said in the book that the only time they’re apart is the couple of hours when he leaves, before her dad goes to bed. Then he sneaks back in. So they’re together 20-22 hours a day and she can’t handle those 2-4 hours when he’s not with her?

• WHY they actually love each other has nothing to do with their personalities, beliefs, talents, goals . . . it’s just instinctual, physical . . . it’s destiny. Ok, whether you believe in that sort of thing is beside the point – even if destiny is what drew them together, shouldn’t we see WHY destiny drew them together? Shouldn’t it turn out that their personalities complement each other or that they both have a passion for something? We could assume that these things are the case but they’re rarely implied or explicitly said. Even when they talk about loving each other, there is no WHY. It’s just “I could never exist without loving you.” Ok . . . why?

• Edward – and Jacob – and Bella’s Dad . . . all control the CRAP out of her. Especially Edward! Sure, it’s because she’s hunted by everyone and their dog, but still – as long as there’s a good reason, it’s ok to order your girlfriend around, kidnap her, completely defy her parent’s rules and boundaries?

• Bella sees nothing outstanding or special about herself. And no one else tells her otherwise. Sure, people like and love her. But um, what are Bella’s talents? What are her interests? What does she want to be when she grows up? Here’s what we know: Edward thinks she’s beautiful. Bella is clumsy and seems to draw danger. She was kinda sorta into music and literature but gave it up when Edward hurt her/when she’s with Edward (which is all day, every day). She got into extreme sports and stuff but that was just so she could hear Edward’s voice in her head. She thinks college is pointless, she wants to become a vampire so she won’t be physically older than Edward all their lives.

Don’t get me wrong – I still think the books are fun, though I still have my complaint about too much filler, not enough of the fluffy good stuff (I’m doing a lot of skimming). But these are some things I really don’t like about the way relationships are framed in these books.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My herd instinct is in full effect

There’s a book I’ve been meaning to read, considering I’ve been in a “lighter = better” reading mood lately. I put it on hold at my library since it was checked out, and was able to get it today. Started reading it and OH YEAH, OH YEAH. Me likey.

When I was in high school, I used to write “stories” and bring them for my friends to read. In particular, a couple girls in my Spanish class – one who was on pom with me and one who later got pregnant and I threw a baby shower for her AND she was prom queen – loved what I wrote and would always ask, “do you have more story?” I’d write a little bit at a time and bring in new sections every day or two. These were always teen romances. The truth is I’ve had these stories going in my head ever since then and the characters have matured as I have, though I occasionally dip back into my youth and imagine characters who are young, unmarried, without kids. I love romances (stories). Don’t get me wrong, I love all kinds of other movies and books, but if you throw in romance, it seems to make things EVEN BETTER.

Anyway, I’m totally loving the book I checked out today and am glad there’s a Bears game on right now to distract Vincent, so I can sit quietly, listen to Fleet Foxes, and read . . . Twilight.


I wrote that Saturday evening and was so very happy to be waiting at the library doors on Sunday as they opened, so I could run in and track down New Moon and Eclipse. The last one (I forget the name, the one w/the chess piece on the front) is all checked out but they have it at another nearby branch. Finished Twilight Sunday, began New Moon and I'm almost done. Tonight will go to the branch and get the last one so that tomorrow or Tuesday when I finish Eclipse, I'll be ready.

Oh yeah, it's fun. :) As I was reading Twilight, I kept thinking, Who in their right mind could say, "Team Jacob?!?!" but now that I'm almost done with New Moon and things have developed between Bella and Jacob and Edward is being such a "but I don't want to hurt you" pansy, I can understand it. But I'm still Team Edward. Sorry. I also have been all "OMG JUST MAKE HER A VAMPIRE ALREADY" but I just read the part in New Moon where they were in Italy and saw the group of tourists led to their deaths, and the lady was scared and praying on her rosary and stuff. I mean, if Bella became a vampire we assume she'd stay with Edward and the Cullens, but what if she was really different and decided she wanted people? That would ruin everything. And sure, how would she have a real relationship with her parents again? And Jacob - she and Jacob would be enemies, even if there was a treaty. Also - if she was a vampire (and this is something I've been thinking all along), wouldn't she lose her smell? Would Edward really want her the same as when she was human? What if she became immortal and he was like, "Yeah . . . you just don't do it for me anymore. My bad." ???

As with Harry Potter and LOST and all things I come to late in the game, I'm sure those of you who are through it all are shaking your heads at my silly guesses. Oh well. It's fun!

Oh, and my friend Robin thought the guy from the Vampire Diaries wo
uld have been a much better Edward. I did try to imagine him with that face instead of Robert Pattinson's - and although I do think that the Vampire Diaries guy is more "perfect" looking, he's just not big enough for me to really believe him as Edward. AND I think Robert Pattinson gets "sad and tortured" better than Vampire Eiaries guy. Just Sayin.

Vampire Diaries guy

Robert Pattinson
Enough with the wishy-washy, Edward.

Friday, August 13, 2010

oh yes

it's almost time.

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