Nano Poblano Gratitude – Day 26 (Our Kindness Spree)

Yesterday I mentioned that Grace and I would be having a “kindness spree” today…and a spree we had! We used the set pictured below to get us started (and it is a splendorous and free set), but we did make some adjustments.

Random Acts of Kindness Treasure Hunt Kit for Kids- get new clues by doing random acts of kindness! Cute way to help kids think thankfully this time of year

Click picture for link.

 

Yesterday, Grace worked through the cards that encouraged her to:

  • Do a random act of kindness of her own choosing (she swept the floors for me because she knows I hate doing it).
  • Do an extra chore to earn quarters for part of the spree we took today.
  • Do something nice for a sibling. Since Grace’s half-sister doesn’t live here, Grace and I came up with the idea of making Kylie a “coupon” for something Grace knew would be appreciated. :)
Grace even added a lovely turkey picture for festivity. :D

Grace even added a lovely turkey picture for festivity. :D

We also prepared our “materials” for today’s outing.

This afternoon we headed out  into the world and did this:

Sorry for the blurry nature of some of those pictures. I was trying to be quick and stealthy when I was taking most of them…and stealthy isn’t really my thing. ;)

We were “supposed to” write messages on the little thank you cards, but we thought it would be super-cute to laminate them and attach individual coffees for the people at the Sheriff’s Office.

And as my act of kindness for Grace, I treated her to a peppermint mocha and a bacon and gouda sandwich for lunch. :)

I really am so grateful that we’re able to put little bits of kindness into our community! Seeing the huge smile on the receptionist’s face at the Sheriff’s Office when she realized we were there to give treats was probably my favorite bit of the whole kindness spree…and I’m grateful for that. I’m also so, so thankful to have such a big-hearted, sweet stepdaughter who is willing to go along with my goofy plans. :D

What are you grateful for today? Have you ever received a random act of kindness? If so, did it put a smile on your face? What are your favorite acts of kindness to do in your community?

Thanksgiving Nazis Arise: A Rebuttal

Today, I’m going to do something that I don’t normally do. I’m writing a rebuttal to another post…partially to express my own opinion and partially because the original post felt way more like an attack than a persuasion.

Before I get started, I do want to point out that I am quite fond of the author and the blog, Mastering the Art of Living, and as we both have senses of humor and the ability to respect people who disagree with us, I have no doubt that we will continue to be blog buddies. :)

So, the post is here: Thanksgiving Nazis Arise. I encourage you to check it out…and the rest of his blog!

I actually want to start with some words about the title before getting into the meat of the post. It bothers me to see the word Nazi used so flippantly. I dislike terms like “grammar nazi.” I wish people would think about what they’re actually saying about someone when they use that term. In the vast majority of cases (I hope!) it’s an undeserved insult. And it is an insult. Not only that, I find it terribly disrespectful to the millions of people who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis to make light of the term. But we’ll set that aside for now…

The actual article was about why people who say you shouldn’t shop on Thanksgiving Day should essentially shut up…oh, and apparently people who oppose shopping on Thanksgiving are hypocrites. Interesting. The post does address Thursday and Friday. While I personally don’t shop on Black Friday (I can’t stand to be around crowds when they’re not going bananas, so I most certainly avoid them when they’re acting like a bunch of wolves with syphilis), this post is really about the day of Thanksgiving. I have no strong feelings about Black Friday as long as it happens while I’m sitting quietly at home. ;)

Well, there was a nice bulleted list detailing why I and other people who disagree with shopping on Thanksgiving pretty much suck, so I thought I would tackle things in the same style. Settle in…this is gonna be a long one. ;)

  • The first point was that Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday, so we shouldn’t “attach sacred significance to it.” There was also a bit about turning it into a false idol. Well, I suppose that might be an interesting argument to someone who was concerned about false idols. I’m not. As a person who is not religious, I’m not sure I understand the logic behind only respecting religious holidays. And while I understand the concept of personally disregarding holidays (I, myself, do nothing to acknowledge Easter or Valentine’s Day), I don’t expect the rest of the nation to bow down and conform to my views. Just because this holiday is not important to you does not mean that a nation of people should stop enjoying it as they see fit. For example, as I said, I don’t celebrate Easter…but I also don’t go out on Easter. I do not want to play any part in making a person who holds the holiday dear have to work.
  • “Anyone that wants to complain about me shopping with my family that sits down to watch a football game on tv is a hypocrite.” Well, good news! I don’t sit down and watch football. Nor does anyone in my house. I think it’s sad that those fellas have to play on Thanksgiving, but, honestly, I don’t watch football on Thanksgiving because I just don’t watch football. So, I still get to complain, right? ;)
  • “I feel bad for those of you who only get family time on Thanksgiving. Maybe you should try spending time with your family all year long instead.” I’ve seen this argument in several places, and it just kind of floors me to see this sort of lack of empathy and “I live in a happy, privileged bubble, so everyone else must too” type of thinking. I think it’s fantastic if your family lives nearby and you get to visit them frequently. Really, I do. But this is a rather large country, and millions upon millions of people have loved ones who live really far away. Family isn’t just about the people who live in your house. Jut think of the grandparents who live 1000 miles away from their grandchildren or the 26-year-old who just took a job 5 states over. And what about the millions of blended families in this country? You know, the people who share custody of children? For example, we only have Grace every other Thanksgiving. I know I, personally, would hate to miss a Thanksgiving with Grace because I had to go sell sweaters. Not everyone has a sweet set up that allows for frequent visits…and to take away one of their opportunities for family time in the name of shopping is kind of gross.
  • “If you ship your kids off to public school 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days of the year, maybe you should rethink your life choices. I feel sorry for you since school holidays are all you get with your kids.” My goodness, the judgment is thick here! Ship your kids off? Goodness, I think this point deserves it’s own bulleted list:
    • People are not “shipping off their kids.” They are making choices that they feel are best for their children…or the best choice available to them. Not everyone can home school…or even wants to.
    • This does not mean they need to rethink their “life choices.” They’ve just made different choices than you. And that’s okay.
    • This argument doesn’t even make sense for about half of home school parents. Let’s take our home school, for example. John doesn’t get to spend substantially more time with Grace now than if she were in public school…because he’s working. They have an “evenings and weekends” hang out schedule just like most parents. I imagine this is true for most home school families. Someone’s got to pay those bills.
    • Because you feel like your life choices are superior to the choices of others is really not a justification for making people work on a holiday.
  • “I’m a minimalist. I don’t shop for things I don’t need. I don’t see anything wrong with getting good deals on what I need. I’m sorry you feel like I’m supporting this overmaterialistic holiday.” I think most people would agree that what you’re buying is irrelevant. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with good deals either. In fact, there are about 360 days a year that I would jump on a good deal for something I needed, but I’ve never needed anything from Target or Wal-Mart or Best Buy so badly and urgently that it couldn’t wait a day. And I don’t think you really are sorry. ;)
  • “If you have to work on Thanksgiving, I’m glad you’re there for me. If you don’t like it, then look for a different job or create your own. If you feel bad for those who do have to work on this one day , but don’t really care about them any other day of the year, then may we all strive to reach your level of holiness.” “Look for a different job or create your own?” Those are most certainly the words of someone who lives in a bubble of privilege. Have you ever been a single parent or behind on your mortgage or had tremendous medical bills or a thousand other situations that make it a really tragically stupid choice to quit the job that you have? And maybe they do like their jobs…they just don’t like working on Thanksgiving. It really sounds like what you’re saying here (and several places throughout your post, honestly) that people should rearrange their lives and live them according to your philosophies and your beliefs…no matter how damaging that might be to them or how much they don’t want to live your way. So that you can shop. On one particular day. And, no, I am not only concerned about workers’ rights on one day of the year. I’m not sure where that puts me on the holiness scale.
  • “Do what you want this year for Thanksgiving. Stay at home with the family if you’d like. Eat more than you can handle. Serve in a homeless food kitchen. Host a family with no place to go. Go shopping. Play with Legos. Get caught up on work. It’s a holiday, so enjoy it, but please don’t try to dictate how other people should enjoy it.” I think you forgot a bit here. Shouldn’t it say: Do what you want this year for Thanksgiving…unless you work at a retail store that’s open for business? And then you should be there to serve. And aren’t you trying to dictate how other people spend Thanksgiving by insisting that shopping should be available to you?

And as for your question for the hypocrites (which I guess is all of us who don’t agree with you since you didn’t specify)…no, I don’t watch the parade or football or anything else for that matter. We don’t even have cable. The good news is that I don’t have to “shut up” since I don’t watch TV on Thanksgiving.

I think we all need to realize that not everyone lives in the bubble we live in. Some empathy and understanding go a long way toward a happier society…and that includes accepting that other people do not and will not make the choices we make. And that’s 100% okay.

You will not find me in any store on Thanksgiving…but you also won’t see me protesting outside of one. I think it’s sad that people can’t just wait until Friday to do their shopping, but if you choose to shop on Thanksgiving that’s between you and, well, you. But let us not pretend that shopping on Thanksgiving is coming out of some moral high ground or that everyone around should bow and bend to our wishes and lifestyle. And, really, let us stop calling each other Nazis. It’s really just not nice or productive in any way.

One more thing! The Captain Kirk thing? Props for the use of ol’ JTK, but I think we all recognize the apples and oranges situation with emergency workers and retail workers.

 

Nano Poblano Gratitude – Day 25 (Thanksgiving Fun 2)

As I mentioned in an earlier “Thanksgiving Fun” post, we do like to celebrate Thanksgiving for an entire week around here. This year, that has mostly meant having Thanksgiving School, delicious Thanksgiving-themed cupcakes, and goofy dinnertime activities.

Last night we giggled our way through dinner with some Thanksgiving-style mad libs. (Yeah, they’re supposedly for younger kids, but who doesn’t get a giggle out of a good mad lib???) We learned a lot of valuable lessons! I’ll share some of the finer points:

  • You can apparently carve a turkey with a zombie.
  • Goldfish crackers and Sriracha are essential ingredients when making a pumpkin pie.
  • Pumpkin pies are baked in dodecahedron shaped pie tins. (It does not pay to ask a math nerd to name a shape.) ;)
  • Pumpkin pies need to bake for 60 epochs. (It seems that it also doesn’t pay to ask my husband to name a unit of time.) :D
  • Grace thinks farmers grow corn on the cube and bouncy lettuce.

I am truly grateful that my family enjoys doing this kind of goofy thing together while slurping spaghetti and listening to the smooth stylings of Disturbed. What can I say? We’re kind of an odd bunch. :)

If you want to check out some of the mad lib activities we used (and some of the things we’re using for Thanksgiving school), have a look at my Thanksgiving Home School board on Pinterest.

While you’re there, you may also notice this bit of awesome:

Random Acts of Kindness Treasure Hunt Kit for Kids- get new clues by doing random acts of kindness! Cute way to help kids think thankfully this time of year

Grace and I started playing with this kit today, and it is spectacular! Tomorrow we’re planning to go on a kindness spree in our community to finish up the kit. I promise you’ll be hearing more about that! :) (By the way, the kit is a free download.)

What are you grateful for today? Does your family do any goofy fun things for Thanksgiving? What about acts of kindness?

Ferguson: I Have Questions

Really, I have questions…as in things I truly don’t know the answers to…not in a snarky or sassy way. I’d love to hear (polite and respectful) thoughts:

1. Is any “dispute” between a black person and a white person automatically a race issue? Is there evidence that Wilson would not have responded in the same manner if the altercation had been with a white person?

2. Why do people who have zero first-hand knowledge of the case and events feel so free to express such zealous, hate-driven comments…on either side of the issue? Is that not just an emotional reaction rooted in ignorance?

3. What do people hope to accomplish with riots?

4. Why is it so easy to ignore that Brown was clearly not a sweetie pie? There is physical evidence demonstrating that he had stolen from a local store and many eye-witness accounts stating that he engaged in an altercation with a police officer. While I am by no means suggesting these are crimes worthy of being killed, I do wonder why so many people are assuming he was innocent in all of this.

5. Why are masses of people so quick to dismiss the grand jury’s decision? They’ve had more access to evidence, witnesses, and information than anyone hooting and hollering on twitter or Facebook. I’m not saying they’re right or wrong…I’m just wondering why people are being so dismissive of the decision made by the people with the most actual information. (It’s almost like people’s minds were made up regardless of actual facts and things.)

6. Why did the news get released at night? Isn’t that sort of setting things up for the worst case scenario as far as potentially riotous reactions go?

 

Again, I’d like to point out that these are actual questions I’m wondering about. I’ll be honest and tell you that my gut reaction to the announcement of no indictment was, “I can’t believe they let him get away with it.” But then I had to think. I wasn’t there. I don’t have all of the facts, information, and evidence. I have no way of knowing the truth of what happened. And that led me to more questions (see above) about the way we react to this sort of thing.

And before the discussion begins, I would like to tell you this:

No matter who you are or where you are, I hope you are safe. I hope you are not in fear. I hope that you are being treated respectfully and kindly…and that you’re treating others respectfully and kindly. And I hope you will all take a moment to send some positive messages and thoughts to the people of Ferguson…all of the people of Ferguson.

So, what do you think? 

Nano Poblano Gratitude – Day 24 (Sarah Hale)

Did you know that Thanksgiving hasn’t always been an annual thing since that first shared feast? Nope. In fact, it wasn’t even repeated the very next year….or for many years after.

Do you know who brought us Thanksgiving as we know it? Sarah Josepha Hale did…the very same ball of awesome who brought us “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Neat!

So, here’s how it all went down:

Prior to the Civil War, Thanksgiving was actually a thing, but it was mostly only celebrated in the Northern states. The states that did celebrate didn’t agree on when the holiday should be, so the date varied from place to place.

But Sarah Hale thought it would be a right spiffy idea if all the states celebrated Thanksgiving on the same day each year. She thought it would help to unify the country and boost morale. She took her idea and started a one-woman letter writing campaign. She wrote to the governor of each state and the president…and she kept writing to them every year since no one took to her idea right away.

Eventually a pretty important someone agreed with her. After the Civil War had begun, Abraham Lincoln agreed that Thanksgiving could go a long way toward uniting the North and South. He made it all official and popped it on the calendar. Thanksgiving would be celebrated nationwide on the last Thursday of November.

Until FDR came along. After pressure from retailers, FDR moved Thanksgiving to an earlier date…so people could have more time to Christmas shop. (Ugh.) Well, a lot of people got really tense about that notion, and so Thanksgiving finally landed on the 4th Thursday of November…which is only slightly different from the last Thursday…in fact, the 4th and final Thursday of November are frequently the same date.

So, today I am quite grateful for Sarah Hale. Had she not been so persistent and wise, I might not be celebrating one of my favorite holidays. :)

* * * * *

In other Thanksgiving news, Grace and I finished our pop art turkeys today:

Aren't they majestic??? ;)

Aren’t they majestic??? ;)

 

What are you grateful for today? Were you familiar with Sarah Hale…in her Thanksgiving or Mary Had a Little Lamb fame? Do you know any spiffy Thanksgiving facts that you like to share around the holidays?

Nano Poblano Gratitude – Day 23 (Cupcakes)

Oh, the joy that is a cupcake:

wpid-20141123_180614.jpg

Yum! :)

I actually had picked out some adorable cupcakes with little turkeys on them, but, alas, the cashier had a mishap with the box that ended with some plastic turkeys in rather unpleasant positions…and wrecked icing. Ah, well…these things happen. ;) I thought the Thanksgiving cupcakes would be a festive and delicious addition to our dinnertime gratitude activity this evening. (More on that activity tomorrow.)

Of course, we won’t have cupcakes for dessert on the actual day of Thanksgiving. No, we’ll have pie. We are civilized folks, after all. ;)

 

What are you grateful for today? Do you find yourself in sudden need of a cupcake? Are you preparing for the magic that is Thanksgiving? Has a cashier ever wrecked your turkeys? ;)

The Truth of Me: 5 Atheism Myths Addressed

Perhaps it’s the time of year or the lovely conversations I’ve had with some local Jehovah’s Witnesses recently or the tremendous amount of hateful back-and-forth I’ve seen between Christians and Atheists online. Whatever the reason, I’ve been feeling compelled to address some “myths” about Atheism.

However, I would not be so bold as to presume that I speak for all Atheists. I speak only for myself. Given that, I’ll share some of the most common myths I’ve encountered about Atheism and my response to those myths.

1. Atheists are horrible people.

“You can’t be an Atheist. Atheists are horrible people.” I’ve actually had those words spoken to me.

I don’t generally announce my thoughts on religion to people unless it comes up in natural conversation. Because of that, I’ve usually known someone a while before they know about my lack of religion. At this point, they know that I care deeply about being kind to others and supporting and encouraging people in their goals. They know that I’m a good friend, that I support my community, and that I cherish my family. Essentially, they know that I am not a horrible person. Neither are most Atheists, I suspect. :)

2. Atheists are mean.

Sadly, some of the loudest Atheists are also full of disdain and quite mean.  I view them the same way that I know a lot of Christians view Westboro…kind of like the loud, obnoxious relative who crashed the party and made the whole family look bad. I have found that if you want to know the truth about any group, look to the quieter members.

I used to follow some “prominent” Atheists on twitter (names not given to avoid supporting hate), but I had to quickly unfollow them. I have no desire to have that much anger pushed into my life, and I will not intentionally support, even in the smallest of ways, the spread of hate. The religion-bashing, I’m-better-than-you, anger-filled, tiny-minded voices do not speak for me…and I suspect they don’t speak for the majority of Atheists. I know they don’t speak for the Atheists that I know and love.

I can only truly speak for myself here, but I’m hoping those of you who visit my blog regularly have come to the conclusion that I’m not a mean person…regardless of my religious stance. :)

3. Atheists hate Christians.

No. I don’t hate Christians. Or Muslims or Hindus or Jews or any other group of people. I mean, really, have we not learned that across-the-board hatred for a group of people never leads anywhere good? Disregarding that notion, why would I hate someone based on their religion? That makes no sense to me. None. If your religion brings you peace and comfort and explanations and guidance, I’m truly happy for you.

4. You can’t have morals without God.

I have two responses to this:

  • The plain and simple response? Of course I have morals. I wasn’t raised by wildebeests! (Close, but not quite.) ;) I’ve never been really clear on which morals I don’t supposedly have, but I do try to do the right thing. Yes, I mess up and make the wrong choices sometimes, but I believe that’s a characteristic of being human, isn’t it?
  • I want people of faith to know that this response to Atheism is terrifying to Atheists. It suggests that if you were to have a crisis of faith, you could potentially become a raving lunatic axe murderer. Question marks in the brain abound at this notion.

5. Atheists want to de-convert people.

Nope. I sure don’t. As I said earlier, if you’re happy in your faith, I’m happy for you. I am not on a mission to change anyone’s religious status. Having said that, I sure would appreciate being treated with the same level of acceptance. :)

Bonus: Atheists are at war with Christmas.

Pffffbbbbbttttth! What-evah! I love Christmas! I think it’s a beautiful holiday that celebrates the birth and teachings of a great man. I also love, love, love that it is actually a blend of faiths and traditions across millennia of humanity (though, granted, that isn’t always acknowledged).  Now, I’ve been told that I have no “right” to celebrate Christmas before, and maybe you believe that, but this Atheist will “Merry Christmas” you with gusto anyway! :D

 

Polite discussion is appreciated. Rude comments that sass or badmouth an entire group of people will be edited to say things that amuse me. You have been warned. ;)

Also, if this is your first time to my blog, you may want to have a poke around before jumping to any conclusions about my life, morality, or values.

Having said all that: What about you? Do you have any questions about Atheism you’d like me to address in another post? I’m guessing most of my regular readers aren’t shocked about my stance on religion, but maybe you are…if so, why? If you’re an Atheist, is there anything you’d like to add?