What Makes Me Happy

I know, it’s an odd title for a post today. Today marks the day where nine years ago, the world changed forever. Today on facebook and twitter, there are memories and links all going back to September 11, 2001.

photo credit: B. Simpson, from wikipedia

Yesterday, though, MaM came home with an Eid ul-Fitr treat bag from school. You see, her school mates had sent in treat bags as part of the celebration that is the end of Ramadan, the most holy month in Islam. Much like Christian children first focus on Easter (complete with candy) before understanding Lent, MaM came home with a very basic introduction to this Muslim feast (she was, of course, delighted by the candy).

photo by Utne Olve, from wikipedia. An askenasisk made from a ram’s horn

Thursday, friends of mine headed out to a retreat in honor of Rosh Hashanah. Between Thursday and Yom Kippur, are the Days of Awe in the Jewish faith. A simple analogy my friend uses is this, “these are my Christmas and Easter– you can’t tell your mother you’re skipping Christmas or Easter, can you?” People were wishing each other “Happy year 5771” as they celebrated the Jewish New Year online, and kindly explaining the sentiment to those not in the know.

photo by Patnac, from wikipedia

Sunday, MaM’s Catholic Sunday school resumes. She’s sat through Mass nicely this summer, and is jncredibly interested in reading along in the missal and the hymnal. Next spring, probably in May, a bevy of cousins and friends all in 2nd grade will make their First Holy Communions. I can only imagine MaM’s fascination with the beautiful white dresses once she sees them.

These are all things that make me happy.  They are all signs that despite on what happened on this day in 2001, the people of our country are still open-minded, compassionate people of faith. People of many different faiths, but yet of similar minds. Blow-hard ministers from Florida aside, nine years later, we have not let the terrorists win.

It’s been nine years. The skyline still looks to me like it’s been robbed.

In Defense of Baby Einstein

baby_einstein_logoThe other day I saw a tweet linking to how to get your $15.99 back from the Baby Einstein company if you kid hadn’t, in fact, turned into an Einstein by watching the DVDs. I was curious. We have a treasure trove of Baby Einstein products–how much were they worth?!? I clicked through and read the very easy and clear instructions. It looks like, if we really wanted to, we could turn in four Baby Einstien DVDs and net $64. We could use my parents address and get $64 more. But we won’t.

We won’t, because my kids have enjoyed those DVDs more than almost any other DVD we own. I’ve share a few moments here–a desperate moment, a ridiculous moment, and a few shameless-plug moments, sponsored by none other than the Baby Einstein Company. We have shared many more moments than this.

Baby MacDonald got us through a good portion of our road trip this summer. No matter how fussy he was, Junior stopped crying long enough to watch the pigs slide down the slide and into the mud.

Baby Wordsworth, while it didn’t teach my daughter sign language, it introduced her to the concept.

Baby Santa is just fun to watch around the holidays (or anytime, when MAM has her way).

Neighborhood Animals is a great way for Junior to practice his roar (according to him, every animal roars. except for birds. they quack)

All of those DVDs have exposed my children to music they may not have heard otherwise, music that MAM does identify now when she hears it other places.

And do you know what each and every one of those slices of digital magic has done for me? It’s bought me 30 minutes of sanity and quiet.

I never expected the DVDs to concretely teach them much–children need to engage all of their sense for the easiest learning. Parents who expect the television to replace human interaction have seriously warped expectations.

Is the marketing slick? Sure. Do you feel like you are doing a good thing when you buy one of these DVDs? Of course.  It’s Disney. Making you (and your kids feel good) is their job.  And they are good at it.

Totally worth $15.99 to me.

Post 700: I heart the First Amendment

What, you say? I’ve had this blog for 4.5 yrs and I’m only on post 700?? Well, it’s not really 700. It’s more than that–I do periodically go back and delete old, random, irrelevant or incriminating posts now and again. But currently, this is my 700th post currently here.

Anyway, I just had a reality check I wanted to share.

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square–of that bloody, deadly, awful day. There are photos I remember seeing, photos of students, not much older than I was at the time, and photos of tanks moving in on them. I didn’t really understand it, or the politics of China. I still don’t know that I really do.

Twenty years later, the Chinese government has shut down Twitter, YouTube, Hotmail and Flickr in anticipation of its citizen possibly mentioning this upcoming anniversary,possibly trying to commemorate the day the communist Peoples Liberation Army moved in on protesters and killed an estimated 1,000+ countrymen.

Can you imagine living in a country that would a)shutdown the rowdy parts of the Internet and b)not permit it’s citizens to remember something of great importance?

Not being able to talk freely about say, Kent State or Hurricane Katrina, two examples off the top of my head where maybe the government didn’t work in the best interest of the people?

Can you imagine living in a country where the plug can be pulled on Twitter? Or on your own personal blog if you say too much or mention key words?

Just a little reality check. Back to my regularly scheduled program of kidlets, reviews, and ramblings in a bit……