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Gifts that give more

Friday, December 11, 2009

I've blogged about and the related sites, how they have really wonderful gift items - and when you buy something, you are also purchasing food or other donations for needy people around the world. (Also paying for mammograms, promoting child literacy and health, saving the rain forest, and helping rescue animals and endangered species.)

I know that a lot of people give donations this time of year, and I just wanted to let you know that the "Gifts that Give More" program, through and the related sites, allows you to make all sorts of donations. You can feed hungry people, send children to school in impoverished nations, pay a teacher's salary, provide medication for someone with HIV/AIDS (we're talking $11 for one month of medication), provide a cookstove for a family in Darfur, provide books for children in the US, get animals to the vet, plant a tree, save a jaguar, save a baby turtle - there are about 200 ways you can give, for as little as $1 and as much as $300 (one year of a teacher's salary) - it really is inspiring. You can liberate girls from indentured servitude, save seals and orangutans, feed a US family, provide nutrition for malnourished children - it goes on and on.

DH and I have started making 8 donations for Chanukah - you may want to make 7 donations for Kwanzaa, or 12 donations for Christmas.

At this time of year, when we celebrate family and friends and our religious or cultural traditions, let's all try to remember that we have so much, while most of the world has so little.

Please consider sharing, however much you can. It doesn't have to be a lot. But just a little bit can go a long way for someone who has nothing.


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Here's the link to "Gifts that Give More"

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLPNURSE 12/12/2009 10:04AM

    Thanks for sharing!

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KAMINLENA 12/11/2009 12:40PM

    What a wonderful site!!

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Shhhhh ........... I'm skipping today's assembly

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm supposed to take my class up to the auditorium for the student recognition assembly. These are actually great events - everyone who made the "A" honors and then the "B" honors gets a certificate, as do students with perfect attendance, best behavior, most improved, etc. etc. Anything and everything we can think of to reward and recognize students for positive behavior and achievement.

So, why am I skipping it? There are the superficial reasons - about 1/4 of my first class is in music, so they went straight to the auditorium to prepare for the performances in the assembly. Another 1/3 were told to go to their academic team, so they could sit together. Only 4 students showed up, and my BFF teacher next door came by and offered to take my students up with her.

Plus I'm firing the kiln - I need to turn it up every hour, slowly raising the temperature, and if I don't do this the items won't fire. This is the last bisque firing, so that we can glaze glaze glaze and fire every day next week, so that the students can give their items as gifts - last day of school is Dec. 22, so we need to stay on schedule.

But the real reason - which only BFF teacher knows because she understands - is that there will be Christmas music. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Who doesn't like Christmas music?

Well, someone who belongs to another religion, and doesn't celebrate Christmas. Someone who has a different belief system, and views Christmas, the birth of Jesus, as a religious holiday. Someone who believes in the separation of church and state, and doesn't believe one religion and one religion only should be promoted in the public schools and in the public sector. Someone whose husband had to fight having a creche under the Christmas tree in his office - the Office of the Attorney General - yes, you'd think a bunch of government attorneys would understand how unconstitutional this is.

My principal actually told me, the day the music teacher was playing Christmas music to the entire school, outside, huge speakers and all - the principal told me he'd make sure there isn't any music that violates anyone's religion. Uh, hello, it's Christmas, that's one religion's holiday, it isn't anyone else's. He just doesn't seem to get it.

So - just like the school events where a faculty leads the group in prayer (not non-religious, definitely one-religion prayer) - or the last student recognition assembly I attended, when the music teacher projected an image of a flag with a giant cross on it - or the 9/11 public address message when the teacher said we are a Christian nation - just like all those events, I'm trying to avoid it. I have my own holiday, it begins tomorrow, I will celebrate with friends and family and in synagogue, and keep my holiday out of the government and the state and the public sector.

It isn't that I'm anti-Christmas. I like driving around and seeing the lights. I've gone carolling with friends. I've helped friends decorate trees, and a dear friend usually has us over for her huge Christmas eve party. I just truly believe in the separation of church and state, as did our founding fathers - that religion is personal and private, and doesn't belong in government-run and -funded organizations and agencies. The government doesn't regulate religion, nor does religion regulate government, in our nation. We have freedom OF religion, and we have freedom FROM religion.

Except for the school bulletin board I made with one class, which features Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, and has little info sheets so students can learn about these three holidays. Or in my classroom, which has a calligraphy display of "Happy Chanukah" "Merry Christmas" "Feliz Navidad" "Joyeux Noel" "Happy Kwanzaa" and "Happy New Year" in color-wheel-sequence. Because the point is, we're a school, a public school. And if we include religion, we need to embrace and include the religions of all of our students and faculty/staff - and we need to educate our students about these religions. Not keep to only the religion of the majority to the exclusion of all others.

So - Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate! And tomorrow night, Happy Chanukah!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLPNURSE 12/11/2009 7:04AM

    Good grief Phebe! I am surprised with all your communications this is still going on. Did anything work out with the attorney?

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SECRETFUN 12/10/2009 10:24PM

  I am still shocked about what can go on in public schools. Hope you have a fabulous Chanukah and enjoy Winter Break!

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PHEBESS 12/10/2009 9:13AM


The community we live in isn't open to the possibility of any other way of life - despite very large and active Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish groups. And all of those kids are in school somewhere.

Last year, our Valedictorian was Muslim (at least, her parents were both in the traditional dress, and the family name is Ali) - yet the student who was asked to give both the invocation and benediction gave a traditional Christian prayer, because no one has taught her how to be inclusive in her praying. (Plus graduation was on a Friday night, I had to leave early to fulfill a religious obligation that night at synagogue.)

I just want everyone to be open to and aware of everyone else's religious beliefs - to include them, not negate them.

I keep hoping.

So - Happy Holidays to you too!!!!

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SHAYWEE 12/10/2009 8:51AM

    I don't blame you for skipping the assembly, especially when the principal just doesn't seem to get it! There is a lot of hub bub here about saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and I can see both sides of the argument. I don't think you should have to sacrifice the things you believe in to be PC, but you should show respect others.
So Happy Holidays and all that Jazz!

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I have trouble letting go

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I do. I remember stuff and it echoes in my brain, whether I want it to or not. Sometimes I can't get rid of whatever it is - the thoughts, the habits, the pounds. I just have trouble letting go.

I have no advice for myself. I hold onto resentments I don't want, emotions I don't want, habits I don't want, and, definitely, pounds I don't want. I try to empty my mind, put the resentments or emotions in a bubble and watch it float away - and back they are, in my brain.

I need a "pensive" like Dumbledore, where I can literally pull the thought out of my brain and put it in the container, to be brought out later if and when I need it.

But right now, what someone did on Monday is still bugging me. And I can't shake it. I keep trying. I've talked it out, I've thought it out, but I can't get it out. I feel like Lady Macbeth - "out, damned thought, out I say." Only it won't go.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLPNURSE 12/10/2009 7:02AM

    I hate when that happens! A pensive would be great in real life.

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PHEBESS 12/9/2009 11:03AM

    I keep trying. I think part of it is I feel guilty for not taking part and helping out in an event that someone thought I had agreed to - but I only found out Monday that I was expected to be there, I had not been told of it prior to that, and I have a conflict - so there's no way I can participate.

I'm irritated that I wasn't told ahead of time, I feel like I'm letting the person/organization down, and I feel annoyed that they expected me to do this without being asked.

Just frustrating.

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TRANSMOGRIFIED 12/9/2009 10:54AM

    Have you tried visualizing pulling the thought out of your head and putting it in a jar somewhere? I've done that sometimes, and it helps a little. The best part is, it can stay there, because you'll probably never need that thought again.

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BBUTLER23 12/9/2009 10:51AM

    Hang in there. I feel the same way. There are days I am ready to pack it in and give up. All these negative thoughts in my head take away from the real goal.

Continue to push away these negatives and eventually the positive points in your goal will take over.

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TRANSMOGRIFIED 12/9/2009 10:51AM

    Have you tried visualizing pulling the thought out of your head and putting it in a jar somewhere? I've done that sometimes, and it helps a little. The best part is, it can stay there, because you'll probably never need that thought again.

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It's the little things that make us happy

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My day is currently wonderful. Did I win a million dollars? No. Did I lose 20 lbs? No. Did a student give me chocolate? No.

What made today wonderful is that:
1. Nothing broke in the kiln (I'm currently doing a bisque firing).
2. The orange and ruby red (almost burgundy) glaze arrived, so we can make the tile we need for the mural.
3. I made it through traffic! (The Oasis of the Seas, the current largest cruise ship in the world, is here today.)
4. My gold Birkenstocks came.

As I said, it's the little things that keep us happy and going!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLPNURSE 12/9/2009 6:54AM

    I think it's true too. It's the little things that keep our spirits up.

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SAPNA. 12/8/2009 7:44PM

    A day like that would make me happy as well. Anything would be better than the day I have had so far. lol.

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THERESEMB1 12/8/2009 10:06AM

    What an awesome gratitude list, Thank you for reminding me how important they are to make. namaste

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Confession - I am a Harry Potter junkie

Monday, December 07, 2009

One TV channel had a Harry Potter movie marathon this weekend. I watched three on Saturday (after my walk and shopping and synagogue and brunch with DH in the morning) - I was up until midnight watching HP 1, 2, 3. And then Sunday, I watched #4 - again, up until midnight (not so smart with school the next day).

And yes, it was some multiple time of watching them - but each time you see or hear something new, something you didn't see the first time. Plus I swear there were parts that I hadn't seen before, in the theatre or on DVD, that they showed this time.

Plus, seeing them in sequence like that, there were things I caught that didn't make sense. So I had to ask my students - the conversation (which sounds nuts to an outsider) went like this:

Me - "Is anyone in here a Harry Potter expert? I watched all four this weekend, I have a question."

Students - "Channel 24, I watched them too." "Yeah, I watched all Saturday." "Me, me, I know all the stories."

Me - "Okay, in the first one"

Student interrupts - "Chamber of Secrets"

Me - "No, Sorcerer's Stone"

Students - "Oh, right, right"

Me - "So, in the first one, the wand guy, the guy selling wands, he tells Harry he remembers BOTH his mother and father buying their first wands - so it sounds like they both were at Hogwart's, right?"

Students - "Yeah" "Right" "Uh huh"

Me - "But then in #4, Goblet of Fire, in the graveyard, Voldemort calls Harry's mother a dirty muggle - so if she was a sorcerer, at Hogwart's, how can she be a muggle? Or is she of muggle descent? So that she's a mugblood?"

Student - "Yeah, she's of muggle descent. That's what he meant."

Me - "Ah, okay, that's kind of what I figured, but that was a little confusing."

Then everyone went back to glazing their ceramic pieces that they made.

LOL - The students all acted like it was perfectly normal to have this conversation with a 55 yr old teacher! Just cracks me up!!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 12/8/2009 9:33AM

    LOL, SF!

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JLPNURSE 12/8/2009 6:55AM

    That's not too bad. My bff who is 40 with kids is a Twilight junkie.

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SECRETFUN 12/7/2009 8:43PM

  I bet the kids were happy to have a conversation on something they cared about, and are trying to figure out how it will end up a school project. You are sneaky that way. :-)

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