Friday, December 26, 2008

Beyond Our Differences

Tonight I was watching Bill Moyers Journal, Beyond our Differences. The film was a very well produced. It really made me think about faith and how it relates to others. Now, I have thought about this many times in the past, but reminders often make you ponder and rethink.

All religions call for us to think of others, pray for our enemies and to treat others as we want to be. Emphasizing these points, the piece used scriptures from all of the major religions that call for us to remember to not do things that we would find hurtful. Desmonde Tutu explained that we hurt ourselves the most when we give in to our anger and resort to violence.

Many times, I have tried to live to the ideals of forgiveness; though the truth is, I have failed many times. Falling into a desire to forgive, knowing that it is through this we can be forgiven. I have struggled with forgiveness, thinking that it also requires us to put ourselves in harms way over and over. I have found myself tolerating so much that it deteriorated my sense of self so much that I couldn't find it. Just recently I had to stop allowing people to treat me badly.

One part repeated the sentiment that it is better to be associated with the persecuted than persecutors, but I don't think it requires everyone to become martyrs. So many of our daily struggles are unnecessary. I think sometimes walking away is all people can do, especially when staying helps nobody. How do we learn and become better people if we always allow people to walk in ignorance and without consequences their actions?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Joys

Christmas Day has come again and now nears a close. This year we celebrated with my family and my mom. Our family has spent many holidays with just us; many would find this odd, but it seems to work for us. I am happy that my kids get some good time with us; in the past when we have expected family, many times we spend so much time worrying about when/if others are going to show or be nice. It is nice to know that we can focus on each other. It was a nice day. We have had a good year and we are reminded to be grateful and remind ourselves that many people were not as blessed this year.

My kids and I all got some scrapbooking stuff. I am hoping that we can spend some time in the next few weeks and get some scrapping done! Our friend Mary is a scrapper as well. We both just finished calendars to give as gifts. They were fun to make, but they really helped me motivative myself and get some stuff done for our scrapbooks.

I have made some stuff in the past, but I am hoping that next years, I can use some of the wonderful materials I have in the garage and make some great gifts for the people in our lives. Alas, I have already been online looking for some more stuff to help with my projects. many to think of. I should start planning now I think!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sweet rewards--visiting all Minnesota state parks

After camping and hiking in all weather and all seasons, my kids and I got our plaques from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. These plaques are the culmination of walking almost 200 miles in the hiking club and visiting every park and receiving our "passport" stamp for each. I love the time we spent there. When my kids were the youngest, we faced many obstacles--this allowed us to focus on us as a family. I got to watch my kids grow in many ways. It was incredible and I hope their memories are as great as mine.

The two years were way worth the effort. Many DNR employees were surprised that we had worked on it so quickly. I was determined to do so though because Alex starts college under the PSEO program next fall and I knew our lives were going to become more structured. In our letters that accompanied the laser carved wood, we were told that we joined the 1000 other people, families or groups who had completed the passport club and 200 others who had completed the hiking club. These projects were started in the 1980's and I am amazed that others have not done what we have done.

Since coming home, my kids have had me as busy as I have ever been. Alex, getting older, had me running everywhere for different things. The boys soon joined her. These things are all good--even great things, but there are times I get exhausted. It has been worth it though. They are growing up to be sweet, responsible and intelligent. Alex began working on a sheep farm not too far from us about a year and a half. I really, really like the couple that owns it. They have been great to all of my kids--even the boys who are not employed by them. They listen to their stories and one shares the enthusiasm of the outdoors. My boys could not wait to show them the core sample, the taconite pellets, or fossils from up north. (We haven't made it over there yet, but am working on it with our schedules.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Minnesota Orchestra and Underwater Aquarium

My mom is still here with us. She goes home tomorrow afternoon. We have been trying to bring her to places that she will enjoy. Friday, our homeschool had tickets to the school performance of the Minnesota Orchestra. They had dancers with them doing scenes from the nutcracker. It was wonderful to see them--they had ballerinas and less traditional dancers. They also had two very young dancers--the girl did some gymnastics. They were truly wonderful. I was glad we came.

We had been running late that morning. Alex had to work on the farm so it took longer than normal and we were late. I zipped up 52 over to Minneapolis. We would have been okay, but then traffic was completely stalled on 35 to downtown. We were lucky--we had only missed a little of the performance when we finally got to our seats. We had VERY good seats since were in the VIP box. We had been very lucky to get those seats and we enjoyed it tremendously.

I had to work on Saturday to cover some Christmas events. I had to write that evening and Sunday morning to make deadline at noon. I was done around 1:30 with some of the questions that I had gotten back from my editor. We had wanted to go to Underwater Adventures last week with mom, but just got sidetracked with things to do and not feeling well. Mom had spent the night before with my sister so she had been tired. Even though it was snowing pretty heavily yesterday, we wanted to get there and did go.

We went through the aquarium. It was really neat--and we enjoyed it. I was kind of surprised that isn't bigger for the price, but it is at the Mall of America and the animals need proper care. They also had an exhibit of crystal sculptures representing each state of the union. It was actually cheaper for us to get a membership than it was to pay a daily admission. I am happy that we did it. Now we can go back if we want to for the next year.

I am not normally a fan of the mega mall, but we go occasionally. There are a few things we like to see--Legoland is really fun. I wanted to make sure my mom saw those. The mall has been around for a long time, but she has never been inside of it. I think she discovered that she even enjoyed part of it. We went to the food court with her and asked her what she wanted for dinner. My mom never went to the mall--even a smaller mall so we actually had to explain to her that we didn't have to eat at the same place. My mom is older and we never had money--any money, to do stuff like that so it isn't that surprising that she wouldn't understand the food court...She had fun though...we watched the theme park rides zip past us on the third floor. Since it was evening, the mall was lit in a way that was really fun to watch and reflected evening rides that are outside. All in all--a good time.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday time nearing

I have been extremely busy with my family. We have had some good times together this summer and fall. We brought my mom down from up north for Thanksgiving, she will be here through the coming weekend. She will be coming back down for Christmas, but I suspect that it will be for a shorter period.

We have been doing some scrapbooking projects with her. There are a few stores that my family loves--a small one in Zumbrota, another in Rochester and Archivers in Apple Valley. Mom has seemed to enjoy doing a couple of them, but doesn't seem to want to do it for a long time. We also went to the Vatican exhibit at the Minnesota History Center. It was a beautiful exhibit.
Earlier this week we brought her to the Science Museum of Minnesota. We did the CSI exhibit on forensic science and the IMAX movie--The Great Lakes. What a beautiful movie--though there are few IMAX movies that we have not enjoyed--really, I am not sure that there have been any that we have seen and not liked.

The most exciting thing we have done is that we brought our state park passports and hiking club books to the DNR office near the capitol and ordered our plaques. I am very excited because we have to be very, very close to getting them. I know the boys are really excited to get them and show Grandma. Woo Hoo....who would have ever thought that the day would come? I remember starting after the very first hike and I wondered then if it was possible.

I have really wanted to do these things though and the hard work has finally paid off. We have earned 10 days of free camping and I already know that we will be using them this summer to do many of the things we just lacked the time to do. The kids wanted to go to the Bear Sanctuary and the Wolf Center. I also want to finally make it to Voyageurs National Park and see the historic sites.