Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Proposition 8: It Affects Us All

My intention is not to turn this into a political blog, but I feel this is something I must speak out on. On November 4, voters in California will be voting on a measure called "Proposition 8." This measure, if passed, will amend the California state constitution to say that only marriage between a man and a woman is legal in that state.

Now, I don't live anywhere near California. Normally I wouldn't worry about their local issues. But seeing the commotion that has ensued surrounding this issue, and some of the "unplanned" ramifications of legalizing gay marriage in other states, has made me realize that this is not something that those of us outside California can just ignore.

I am in favor of the amendment. If I were a registered voter in the state of California, I would vote "yes." That isn't to say that I think gays are subhuman or should be denied basic rights. I think the real essence of the argument boils down to whether the majority of the voters believe that homosexuality is a moral issue, or whether it is a diversity issue.

By "diversity issue," I mean that there is a movement to classify sexual orientation along with other simple divisions we see among individuals--like race, for example. They didn't talk about "diversity" so much when I was in grade school, but it's an important part of curriculum and children's programming today. Children (and adults) are taught that people come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. They have different backgrounds and customs.

And there are a lot of folks out there who lump homosexuality right in there with ethnicity. They believe that it's an integral part of their makeup. I can't say that I can't sympathize with that sentiment. We've all experienced things, good or bad, that have become a part of us and help make us who we are. To try to eliminate those inclinations can be very difficult.

But as a Christian, I have to say that this isn't where homosexuality belongs. It is a choice. It is a moral issue. And I know that people who feel that this is a part of them as much as their color is don't like to be told that they're actually making a choice (and that it's the wrong one), but that doesn't change what it is.

Alcoholics, child abusers, and drug addicts have all made choices as well. What would happen if we made child abuse legal? The possible consequences make me shudder. The same goes for numerous other choices that people can make. As a society, we cannot afford to continually legalize things that are morally wrong.

Now I know that a lot of people out there will argue with me that these things are in fact morally wrong. I know this debate will continue: is homosexuality a moral issue, or merely an issue of diversity? We as a society need to understand that it is a moral issue. I don't wish to come out and condemn anyone, and I want to stress that our Father in Heaven dearly loves ALL of His children, no matter what choices they make. But His laws do not change. Just because society leans in some particular direction does not mean that God follows them. On the contrary, if we ignore the laws of God it will be at our personal perils and at the peril of our society.

After all, God made us, and not the other way around. Don't you think He would know what would truly bring us joy?

Here are a couple of links:

The Proclamation on the Family (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

LDS Church Resource Links (lots of info here)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Recession We Aren't In

I found a page at about.com that tries to explain the difference between a recession and a depression. I say "tries" because, as the author points out, there isn't just one definition that everyone uses. But if you're curious, the link is http://economics.about.com/cs/businesscycles/a/depressions.htm

Here's hoping and praying there's some way out of this mess...but I guess, like anything else, we have to expect to face the consequences of our actions--or, in this case, the actions of some. Either way, we can't expect an easy fix just because we want one.

Monday, October 06, 2008

You Know You've Been in Primary Too Long When...

...when they announce in General Conference that the Tabernacle Choir will now sing "Do..." and your brain automatically fills in "Do As I'm Doing." (Can you imagine the Tabernacle Choir singing "Do As I'm Doing" in General Conference?? That could be kind of fun, actually.)

What they were really singing was "Do What Is Right." It's one of the great hymns of the Church, but it has no actions that I know of.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October BIAM

That's "Book in a Month" for the non-writer-types out there. Traditionally, participating in a BIAM means that yeah, you really pretty much drop everything in your "real life" that you can and churn out the book in your soul in 30 days. For a lot of people who don't want to drop out of real life, it just means that you set a goal for your writing and try to achieve it during the month. Tristi Pinkston is hosting a BIAM on one of her blogs at tristischallenges.blogspot.com this month. I've participated in a challenge or two of hers before, and I think it can be pretty fun, as well as motivational, to be virtually surrounded by a group of people committed to achieving great things with their writing this month. Those participating set goals at the beginning of the month, and submit their goals to the group. Tristi posts motivational messages on her blog to spur us on, and everyone participating checks in with a comment every couple of days and reports on how they're doing with those goals they set.

I'm sure Tristi would welcome you with open arms if you want to participate. And this concept might extend to other areas where we could set goals. Maybe you could host something of your own. How about LCIAM (Learn Chinese in a Month)? COACIAM (Clean Out a Closet in a Month)? POOCCIAM (Pay Off Our Credit Cards in a Month)? GROAOJAHAGSIAM (Get Rid Of All Our Junk and Have a Garage Sale in a Month)?

Maybe BIAM is easier to spell...but some of these ideas might not be too bad. How about we invite all of Congress to participate in NNTIAM (No New Taxes in a Month)?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Win a Free Copy of Room for Two by Abel Keogh!

I saw this contest on Anne Bradshaw's blog, and I thought I'd pass it along. She's giving away a free signed copy of Abel Keogh's book Room for Two. All you have to do is:

  • Post information about the contest on your own blog, and include a link back to Anne's blog. (Which might explain why I'm posting this...)
  • Leave a comment on Anne's blog telling her you completed the first task.
A winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, September 4th 2008, and
announced the same day. The book will be signed and mailed directly to
the winner by the author.

Anne conducted an interview with the author Abel Keogh, available here on her blog. Here's the description of the book:

Room for Two is the true story of the year of Abel Keogh’s life following his wife’s suicide. The book begins as he steps through the door of his home and hears a gunshot echo from the bedroom. His worst fears are realized when he finds his pregnant wife dead. Their premature baby is rushed to the hospital. She dies nine days later.

Whether or not a reader is going through tough times in life, he or she will find inspiration in Room for Two. The story is gripping, compelling and heart breaking reading. Despite opposition, Keogh manages to rebuild his life and share lessons he learns from the death of Krista and baby Hope. He eventually finds forgiveness, peace, and love—enough to make room for two, allowing another woman (Julianna) into his life.

Intrigued? Me too! Good luck in the contest, but remember you're gonna have to fight me for the prize.

I Am Cinderella

Well, not really. But I was reading Candace Salima's blog and saw the link to this quiz , and since it was 1 in the morning and I had nothing better to do (well, besides sleep, but who needs that?) I had to take the quiz and see which Disney princess I was. Having watched our nieces go through the Disney princess stage where EVERYTHING they owned or did or wore or said had to have something to do with princesses, I thought it would be fun to see which princess I am. Ta-da! Here's what my results said about me:

Dignified and hard working. With a gentle and soft-spoken manner you have something many people don't. Patience. Even through the moments of heartbreak you're still able to hold onto all of your hopes and dreams. Bide your time; your dream will come true.

I'm quite tickled to find out that I'm patient. That was something I didn't know. I'm pretty sure that no one else who knows me knew I was patient, either. I always thought I was just a royal procrastinator, but...patient! I like that one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Pitfall of Taking Videos of Your Kids

Well, I've been humbled. Or rather, humiliated.

So, we've been watching some of the old videos we took of our teenager when he was much smaller. Today we watched one I'd shot in the bathroom of our apartment when this kid (today I'll call him "Albert") was about a year old. See, I'd had some sinus problems and had spent several days running to the bathroom for toilet paper and then blowing my nose rather loudly. And little Albert had figured out that you were supposed to unroll the toilet paper, hold it up to your face, and blow raspberries. It was really cute, so of course I wanted to capture it on film for posterity. So I put him in the bathroom by the toilet and turned on the camera. I figured he'd eventually find the toilet paper roll and do his little trick.

This much I remembered, even today (years later). The rest I'd forgotten.

On the videotape, little Albert did find the toilet paper and blow his adorable little raspberry. And then he found the toilet.

Little Albert opened the lid and inspected the potty for a moment. Then he reached his hand toward the bowl. Before he could complete the deed, I told him "No-no" behind the camera in that stern mommy voice you use for your little kids.

And continued to film him.

Startled, he stopped and looked at me for a moment. Then he turned back to the toilet and proceeded to play in the water.

And what did I do, as the mother of this precious little baby splashing in the toilet? I laughed and kept filming.

"Someday I'm going to show this to your girlfriend when you bring her home in a few years," I told him from behind the camera. "And I'm going to show it to all your kids."

Meanwhile, in the present, the much-older (much, much older) me winced and cringed and sprouted several more gray hairs. I could not believe that this lady taking this video (who was she, anyway?) was letting her baby play in the toilet--and was filming it! And laughing!

"All your kids are going to say, 'Ewwww, Daddy played in the toilet when he was little!'" the lady taking the video crowed.

"GET YOUR BABY'S HANDS OUT OF THE TOILET!!" I screamed to the videotape.

"I hoped you washed my hands," the teenage Albert said levelly, looking me straight in the eye (which he can do now, since he's taller than I am). Did I mention how many, many years ago this videotape was made? And how very much older and wiser I am now?

Thankfully, the toilet scene ended. But the next scene was worse: the idiot lady taking the video had decided to repeat the scene from a different angle, presumably for the sake of artistry. We now had an overhead view of the toilet, and we got a stunning look at the little ripples Baby Albert was delightedly making in the bowl.

"Why were you standing in the bathtub, Mom?" Teenage Albert asked me. "Do you think you'd washed my hands yet?"

"Do you think it mattered?" I asked through gritted teeth.

Much as I'd apparently planned to use this video for blackmail in the future, I vowed right then and there that Albert's children will never, ever, ever see this video. They may think it's funny to watch Daddy play in the toilet, but that's not the point. Albert's future girlfriend and wife might think it's funny, too, but that's not the point either.

The point is that these people will find out that Grandma actually let her baby play in the toilet. And that is not something they need to know.

I do believe we'll be editing these videos. Censorship is alive and well today--at least at my house.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Overheard in Primary

From the mouths of babes...

Last week we were talking about baptism. The gal running sharing time asked the junior Primary, "Just because you get baptized, does that mean you get to live with Heavenly Father? What else do you have to do?"

And one little voice responded, quite seriously, "Die."

(Sorry...ever since I was called to be Primary music leader, I've had Primary on the brain!)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Crashed Computer

Last week my computer crashed. I didn't have it all week. So I didn't post anything here. I used my newfound time to do things like, oh, clean out the file cabinet and weed the yard. Stuff like that. Useful things.

I hate to say I need my computer to crash more often, but...well, I won't say it. I just won't say it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pay Attention to those Magazine Renewal Notices!

We've subscribed to Scientific American for a couple of years now. We've tried a few different science magazines, and found them all to be either too technical, too dumbed-down, or on topics that aren't of interest to our family. But we've found SciAm to be a good fit for us.

However, like any magazine, they've been sending us the standard "WARNING!! YOUR SUBSCRIPTION IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE!!" letters for the past several months, about six months before expiration actually occurs. And they kindly offer us a 1-year renewal for $34.97. Or we can get a 3-year renewal for $88, which comes to $29.33 a year.

The subscription rate seems kind of high, and I clearly remember paying quite a bit less for it when we initially subscribed. Sure enough, when you visit their website, they offer a 1 year subscription for--get this--$24.97.

Bizarre, isn't it?

Maybe I'll just let that subscription expire, and then re-subscribe at the lower rate.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Primary Music Review Ideas

At long last, here is the list of Primary music review ideas I promised to post. (See my previous post for the background on that.) Not that the ideas are anything profound, but hey--if they help someone with their calling, they're worth sharing. Since ours was a student stake, we had lots of Primary leaders who hadn't worked in Primary before and were scared to death of the upcoming sacrament meeting program.

You have to imagine it typed up in a cutesy font that Blogger doesn't support. Also notice the liberal use of exclamation points (!!!)

Ideas for Music Leaders on Coping with Reviewing for the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program!

Practicing Songs:
For songs that they don’t know so well, do some intensive work on these. Make sure they have an understanding of the song (re-teach it if you have to—it does no good to practice a song if they don’t know the words) and then have them sing it and sing it and sing it. Some ideas for making the repetitions interesting are:
· Stop and Go Signs
· just boys or just girls sing
· Sing as loud as you can (within reason!)
· Invite a special guest to listen and comment (hopefully they will try hard and the comments will be good!)
· or have a puppet listen to them sing and comment; a puppet can be easier to take critiques from if they don’t sing well, and can be a lot of fun
· make a tape recording of them singing the song and play it for them; try to make a better recording if the first one didn’t sound so good
· If they need lots of practice on remembering the words, and you’ve been using visual aids, take one (or more) away each time they sing the song. This makes them have to only memorize a little at a time, and meanwhile, they’ve repeated the song lots of times and are learning it!
· Another idea is to have different groups of children learn different lines of the song. Have a teacher with each group who can practice the line with them a couple of times. Then sing the song. When their line comes up, their group sings it. Then switch lines between the groups.
· Tell the children you are listening for the best singers, or the ones who are trying the hardest, and give them a small prize like a sticker or a certificate. Or give them a privilege like letting them pick the next song or hold the next sign.
· Let the children take turns standing up front and leading the song… You can use this as a “best singers” reward, too
· Anything else you can think of! The idea is to keep your practice times interesting and enjoyable, so the children will love the songs and their messages!

Here are some other ideas:
· Make games out of the review process. Choose ‘n’ review games are great to review songs that they know pretty well. (Don’t ignore these songs! They forget them quickly if they don’t sing them often! And they love to sing songs they know.)
· Enlist the parents. Send copies of the words, or copies of the songs home with the children (or pass them out in Relief Society). Ask the parents to sing the songs with the children at home. (Some will, some won’t.)
· One ward last year made a tape of the songs they were singing for the program (from the Primary CD’s and the Hymn CD’s when needed) and gave copies to all the children. The loop of songs was recorded over and over on both sides of the tape so that the tape could be left on without having to stop and rewind it. It worked well because the children loved the tapes and played them often at home. (Present-day Katie's note: Yeah, this was written long enough ago that cassette tapes weren't completely obsolete.)
· If you have any other wonderful ideas that have worked well for you, please pass them along! Let me know and I’ll either send out another list like this or include the ideas in a future stake training meeting. Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for the wonderful work you are doing! The children are so important, and the songs they learn in Primary are something they can keep with them always.

Katie Parker
University 3rd Stake Primary Music Leader
(Present-day Katie's note: but not anymore!)

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Letter from Myself

OK, OK. In case you are wondering, it is no longer below zero here--despite what my perpetual last blog entry might indicate. No, we are actually inching up into the 80's. (I love the summers here in Wisconsin!) And so, at the request of my many readers (all six of you), I am venturing forth with a new blog post for your reading enjoyment.

I've been trying to organize all the zillions of little documents I have on my computer. Being both a writer and a history aficionado, I love to write lots of stuff and then stash it all away for historical purposes. The result is, well, folders on my hard drive full of documents I haven't read in years. It's easy enough to just ignore them, but lately I've been wanting to make some sense of the mess. So I've been going through them.

And interestingly enough, I just found a letter with ideas for reviewing songs in Primary to help the kids prepare for the upcoming program. I've been serving as the Primary chorister in our ward for the past couple of months, and the program is looming ever closer and I've been wondering how we're going to get those sweet kids to regurgitate all those songs in an efficient manner. And, of course, we don't want them to just regurgitate them, but to love them and internalize their messages. We have about 20 minutes a week to teach them 9 songs. The calling can be fun, but the challenge of getting them to sing all those songs well enough to perform in sacrament meeting can be daunting.

Anyway, this is the third time in my life that I have served as Primary chorister. I also served as the stake Primary music leader in our student stake in Salt Lake City several years ago. So, although callings can always be a challenge, this one is at least something I've encountered before and worked through multiple times.

Well, back to my little story. So I found this letter with the music ideas, and I eagerly read it through looking for "new" ideas for keeping the songs from getting boring as we review them. I was wondering where it had originally come from when I read the signature at the end:

Katie Parker
University 3rd Stake Primary Music Leader"

It was a letter from myself! Little did I know when I wrote that letter nine years ago for the music leaders in my stake, my "older self" would be reading and appreciating the ideas in it as well.

My younger self had no idea what life would be like for her in nine years, but she would have been pleased to know that she and her family did finally move out of student housing into a real house with a garage, a yard, and storage space. She probably would have been stunned to know that they would be living in Wisconsin, but happy that things were going well and that Wisconsin is a beautiful place that doesn't get too hot in the summer. And, of course, she'd probably have been flabbergasted to learn that she would be serving *again* as Primary chorister.

In case you're interested, I'll be posting the music review ideas separately at a later time. Stay tuned...and welcome to my time warp.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Below Zero

Greetings from beautiful Wisconsin! Right now we have plenty of snow on the ground, a bunch of dirty snow on the roads, and mountains of snow surrounding all parking lots and driveways! (Last night when I was shoveling the driveway I was having a little trouble finding anywhere to put the snow I scooped up. We surrounded our driveway pretty good when we were shoveling from the last few snowfalls.)

More good news is that we seem to be headed for a heat wave. Today our high temperature is expected to be 10 degrees Fahrenheit. To many of you, this may not seem warm at all. However, when you've been experiencing temperatures well below zero for the past several days, 10 degrees Fahrenheit feels downright balmy. Honest to goodness! It's 20-30 degrees warmer, and you can definitely tell. The first year we lived in Wisconsin, we had a week of subzero temperatures. Then one day I opened the back door and I felt a distinct warmth in the air. It was 22 degrees! Hooray! Yes, I really did feel warmth in the air. Call me crazy, but I really did.

My friends in Oklahoma give me strange looks when I try to explain this phenomenon to them. They think anything below about 50 is chilly. Since moving to Wisconsin, I have learned that anything above 20 is warm. Anything above 40 is really warm. Anything above 70 is hot.

But we could contrast this to the time we went camping in Oklahoma in July and temperatures were well over 110 during the day. We always felt great relief when it cooled off in the evenings...to the low 90's. I had never before thought 90 degrees would feel cool.

And frankly, it didn't. But it was a heckuva lot better than 117.

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