Sep 26, 2011

Banned Book Week 2011

Well, it's that time of year again! Banned Books for the win!

Here's my deal with "banning" and "challenging" books: It is taking a personal opinion and forcing it on others. That's just the short version.

I have nothing against someone choosing not to read a certain book. I do it all the time. I think that everyone should take care and research the media they subject themselves to, whether it be movies, TV, magazines, music, or books. I base my decisions concerning these things on my own personal belief system.

I also have nothing against a parent taking care to protect their children from age inappropriate topics.

But I do have something against someone saying that NO ONE should read/watch/listen to something. The best thing about this country is one of our most basic rights is the freedom of speech! No one should be able to say that something shouldn't be published or read, just because they don't agree with the subject matter.

In fact, I think that a lot of times parents (it is mostly parents who challenge books) are missing out on a great teaching opportunity. Not only can reading a book with a differing view than your own help you understand your beliefs better, but it can be used to open a conversation with your child about topics and situations that face them in the world. Communication is key in teaching your kids right from wrong.

As an illustration of this, let's take a look at the list of 50 Banned Books Everyone Should Read. Let's use The Bridge to Terabithia as an example. (If you haven't read this book or seen the movie and would like to, this next part will contain a major spoiler.) The biggest objection to this book is the theme of death (as well as the use of imagination to create a "magical" world). Death is something everyone has to deal with and I think this book is a beautiful example of how a someone can change your life and be a part of your life even when they are no longer on this earth. This is a great opportunity to talk to your child (or friends, parents, whatever) about your beliefs on death and how to handle death.

So, this week, read a challenged/banned book. Maybe pick one from the list I linked to. It's up to you what book you want to read, and I am not saying that I personally approve of every book on that list, but it isn't up to me. As for me, I'm going to be reading The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

Sep 14, 2011

Why is this Considered Romance?

I've never understood why people think that Jane Eyre is a romantic story.

A man who mocks you, who ignores you when his friends are around and then demands to know why you didn't talk to him is not romantic. A man who owes you money is not romantic. A man who makes you think he is marrying another woman just to see if you'll get jealous is not romantic. A man who tricks you into a sham of a marriage when he is already married and is hiding his insane wife in the attic, and then when you find out about the insane wife, tries to convince you to live with him in sin though it goes against everything you believe is not romantic.

A man who sleeps around and doesn't like children, not even the child who may or may not be his is not romantic. A man who lies to and takes advantage of other people is not romantic. A man who takes advantages of a young girl's vulnerabilities is not romantic. A man who is vain enough to think that he can do all these things and still get you to love him is not romantic.

Romance this is not.

Sep 10, 2011

Summer Vegetable Pasta

This new recipe I create tonight uses white sauce. It is my belief that everyone should know how to make a white sauce--it's easy and can be used for all sorts of things. Once you know how to make a basic white sauce, you can add cheese of any kind, use it for pasta sauce, a chicken pizza sauce, in cream soups, or for creamed vegetables. It is so versatile and if used correctly, it can make any recipe seem elaborate!

1 package favorite pasta, cooked
olive oil
half an onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
shredded zucchini
fresh spinach
medium white sauce

Medium White Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese
Melt butter; add flour. Mix together to make a roux. Add milk. Use a whisk to mix together. Add cheese. The sauce will get thick--remember to stir constantly!

Heat olive oil in pan. Add onion, garlic, and carrots. Cook until onions are transparent and carrots are crunchy tender. (You can start making the white sauce once you put everything in the oil.) When the pasta and white sauce are almost done, put zucchini in with the other vegetables. Mix up. When you are ready for everything to be put together, add spinach (this way it will be able to cook down a little, but not enough to get really wimpy). Combine pasta, sauce, and vegetables and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.

Serve with strawberries and enjoy!

Movie Review: Wild Things

Where the Wild Things Are
My rating: *

Short review? Read the book, skip the movie.

Long review? It's difficult to take a 32 page, 500 word book and turn it into a 101 minute movie. Of course, the movie felt like it was about 3 hours long . . .

This is my big beef with the movie. The main message, themes, parallelism, whatever, was so obtuse that it was almost hard to tell what they were supposed to be. And to have come from a children's book, I was surprised to discover that it was NOT a children's movie. It was kind of scary at parts, and had some scenes that would be confusing to a child. (Particularly the scene when Carol wakes all the wild things and Max up and talks about the sun going out and gets mad at Max.)

Then there was the fact that about 15 minutes after Max ended up with the Wild Things I was thinking "When is he going to go back?" I mean, in the book, Max is sent to bed without supper, goes off in his boat to the land of the Wild Things, becomes king, has fun, goes home and his dinner is still warm.

Here's what I thought was good. The Wild Things' costumes, which is to be expected because they were made by the Jim Henson Company. And . . . that was about it.

If you need a little Wild in your life, buy the book by Maurice Sendak.

Sep 4, 2011

Sunday Special: God's Time

I think all of us have an idea of how our lives are going to go. A certain timeline that we plan out for ourselves. I know that I did: my first date, first kiss, marriage, children. I really thought that I would be married at or near the age of 21, and where I am now I would be graduated from college, and maybe expecting my first child, or working a full-time, steady job.

Of those three things, only one of those things has happened.

And, I'm sad to say, sometimes I get jealous when I see a graduation picture with that special someone sharing the day. Or when another one of my friends gets married, or announces that she is pregnant. Sometimes, I even think about the different guys I may have crushed on or even been on a date with, and wonder what I might have missed out on.

The thing is, most of those "deadlines" had for myself have come and gone without the event I had planned for them happening. But I have come to realize that by not achieving my "goals" I have been able to have some great experiences that I never would have thought to plan for.

That is why it is so important to rely on God's timeline, instead of our own. If I had gotten married at 21, I probably would not have met some of the amazing people that I have. I probably wouldn't have had these amazing internships that I have, where I have learned so much.

God knows what I need in my life so much more than I do. I may still wish for a husband and a baby of my own, but I have to realize that the thins that I do have, and the things that I have experienced have made me a better person. God knows what I need. That's a great comfort to me when I think how different my life is than how I thought it would be.

So, whenever your life seems to be going in a different direction than you planned, jut remember that there is probably a better reason, one only God knows.

Sep 1, 2011

A Collection of Thoughts at the End of the Day

Worst part of the day: waking up.

Best part of the day: At the CHL, where I work, they have this really strict policy about not eating food at your desk or anywhere other than designated areas (the break room and certain conference rooms). This was really hard for me! Not only am I hyperglycemic, which means I have to eat something every few hours, but in the afternoon when you start dragging, I need to snack on something to help keep me awake. I like my snacks. It has been hard these past four days. Well, this afternoon we all get an e-mail saying that the policy has changed and we can now eat at our desks! Within seconds of getting the e-mail we could hear "whoop!" and various other cheers coming out of offices. We all congregated in the hallway to celebrate our little victory. Then two of the girls went out and bought donuts for us to eat . . . at our desks!

Miscellaneous part of the day: As I was standing at the train station waiting for my transfer, I was surrounded by a sea of red. And then I thought "I am definitely in the wrong city."