Monday, October 24, 2011

Once Upon A Time and Happily Everafter

When reading to my own children it seemed as if all the first stories they loved began with, "Once upon a time......." and ended with, "and they lived happily everafter." As time went on their favorite books were more realistic, age appropriate, and were not fairy tales. There are so many lessons that children can learn from books. Books can inspire children to rise to amazing heights, to gain hope for a better life, and expose them to many professions and occupations. Books can also be an escape for children who live in unfortunate circumstances, and books can comfort them in learning that their situations are not hopeless. Biographies describe successful lives and how great and small obstacles can be overcome. Books can teach children about other cultures, other countries, and also open a world of imagination. Books can teach children the importance of integrity, ethics and even good manners. The children of today are our future so let's give them the very best possible foundation for learning........the ability to read is that foundation regardless of the subject matter. Start reading to your babies and toddlers. It is never too early. You too will enjoy that time with your little ones.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cast Iron Pans, Cornbread, and My Mother

Recently I have been wanting to once again taste cornbread as my mother used to make it. She passed away 12 years ago so it has been a long time since I last ate cornbread. Yesterday I brought out my cast iron pans and decided to give it a try. I remembered that she used to put strips of bacon in the bottom of the pan which not only flavored the cornbread but prevented it from sticking or burning. I have never attempted to cook or bake using cast iron pans so they have been languishing in a cupboard. I bought them several years ago, seasoned them as instructed, and then stashed them in a cabinet. Well, I am happy to say that the cornbread was delicious. The cast iron pan and the bacon gave it the wonderful taste and texture that I remember. Why I avoided using the cast iron pans for so long I have no idea, but I think I will begin using them frequently. I remember that my grandmother used to bake the most wonderful gingerbread in a cast iron skillet.......perhaps I will try that sometime this week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Can You Describe The World In Which You Want Your Children To Live?

From all over the world we continue to hear about trouble, dissension, anger, hatred, bigotry, abuse of power, human trafficking, hunger, lack of clean water, lack of medical care, poor education, illegal immigration, crime, poverty, religious differences, natural disasters, fear, drug cartels, addictions, wars, and disease. It is time to realize that NO government is going to save this world and make it safe for our children and grandchildren. There is NO group called "they" who will do the right things, protect our children and provide for every need. We have to finally acknowledge that WE are the responsible people; WE must start doing the right things on a daily basis; WE have to start fixing everything that is wrong in one household at a time, on one street at a time, in one neighborhood at a time, in one community at a time, in one county at a time, and in one country at a time. Do we not think it is foolish to put our trust in politicians who do not heed our wishes? Do we not think it stupid to keep doing things the same way and expect different results? Do we really believe that everything that needs correcting is going to be accomplished without EACH OF US doing our share? We are wasting time, resources, energy, and the future of of our children by waiting for anyone else to do what we need to be doing for ourselves. We need to stop whining, stop complaining, stop procrastinating, and start doing the right things. I realize we will never get 100% of the population to do the right things, but if we can get the majority to do the right things then and only then will the world change for the better. Ask yourself if you are a constructive person or a destructive person? Reflect on your daily life each evening, and ask if you did the right things; if the answer is 'no' why did you not do the right things? Look into the faces of your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and the children of your friends and neighbors. They are pure, innocent and depending on the adult population to take care of them and give them the future they deserve. What are the right things? Well, for starters how about: Honesty, Accepting responsibility for our actions and those of our children, Kindness, Self-discipline, Respect for ourselves and others, Being more concerned with our obligations instead of our rights, and ditch the entitlement mentality that seems to permeate our society.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Adults Robbing Our Children

Isn't it incredible the way music can transport us to a specific time or place in our lives or make us think of a special person or event? I have always thought life would be better with background music.........not elevator music, but music appropriate to our daily lives. Perhaps the saying, "Music soothes the savage beast" is correct. I think it might be very difficult to be filled with hate,rage or violence if people could hear background music that is happy, uplifting, and that makes them want to march or dance. I enjoy listening to music of different types depending on what I am doing and/or the mood I am experiencing. I have downloaded onto cd's and iPod the music that has special memories for me from throughout my life. I have not yet captured all of the songs, but enough so that I can enjoy, reminisce, tap my feet, smile, weep, or be uplifted depending on which selection is playing. In elementary school I learned to sing and the basics of how to read music from a wonderful teacher (Fiona Calder). I then learned more about singing and being part of a choir from Mrs. Kemp, the director of the junior choir at our church. In junior high school I learned about opera and classical music from Mrs. Wallach, a no-nonsense teacher who knew a great deal about music. Although I don't have a great voice and never learned to play an instrument, music has made a major contribution to my life. I am not artistic in any sense of the word, but I still remember art teacher August Pagel who taught in elementary and junior high school To remove music and art from public schools is doing a grave injustice to today's children and robbing them of the chance to learn what can make a monumental difference in their lives. Music and art can not only broaden the horizons of children from all backgrounds, but can also soften the hard edges of poverty and difficult home lives. Why do we think athletics are more important than the arts? I think athletics are important for the health and well-being of children, learning teamwork and sportsmanship. However, I don't think athletics should be saved at the expense of the arts because in truth our children need athletics, art and music to become well-rounded individuals. What do you think? Comments are welcome!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are You Courageous OR Are you not?

Yesterday I saw the movie Courageous. If you have not heard of it, it is an independent film by the same people who have had previous success with Fireproof and other films. I have not seen their other works but have decided now I must see them based on my reaction to Courageous. The movie is interesting, poignant, funny, inspiring, violent, and so spot on when it comes to what children need from their fathers. I wish this film could be shown to every boy and girl in junior high, high school, college, to every man who is already a father, and to every girl and woman who will select the father or stepfather of her children. There will be those who will opt to disregard the film's powerful message because they do not believe in anything stronger than themselves. But for anyone willing to listen with an open mind, there are definitely answers to some of the many problems that plague today's children, parents, and society in general. So many children are growing up without fathers in their homes or (even worse) in their lives. Some fathers who live in the homes are still absent due to work, other interests, and just not realizing what power they have to influence the lives of their children. Both boys AND girls need their fathers, and girls who are abandoned by their fathers tend to select the same kind of men so the cycle continues. I am aware that there are fathers and stepfathers who are abusive and dangerous to their children, stepchildren, and spouses; but they are NOT the majority of absent fathers. Gangs are a huge problem in our society, and statistics prove that being fatherless contributes greatly to kids joining gangs, doing drugs, commiting acts of violence,becoming prostitutes, and ultimately being incarcerated, or dying violent deaths. Single mothers cannot fill the voids in their children's lives left by the fathers of the children, and they should not have to. This film opened to a very successful weekend according to news reports, and I am encouraged by that news. Our world is in a heap of trouble on many levels so I hope more males will accept the responsibilities and the challenges of fatherhood and that the people in their lives will support them and encourage them for making the effort. It is not easy to be a parent of either sex or to be courageous. Parenthood is the most important job you will ever have because you shape the adult persons your children will become. The world needs less evil and more goodness if it is to be the kind of world you want your babies and older children to experience.