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October 2007

Because We All Love Photos

Here we are, all dressed up for Halloween. I had wanted LT to be a knight, but instead we have two dragons. It's probably more accurate. And there's a shot of Trouble's school Halloween party with a couple of friends.

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And Trouble has decided on his first career - an artist. The photos of the dinosaurs are his own photography work too. I'm thinking Santa should get the boys their own hardy, digital cameras. Yes Lissfull, I know, I'm stealing this idea. I admit it. It's a good one. I'm tired of the boys breaking my camera.

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The Fabulous New Kitchen

Admittedly, we still have a few odds and ends to finish up. We still need to get outlet and switch fixtures in some places. The light fixture is not currently attached to the ceiling. But all in all, it's basically done, and I'm working on getting it into good working order. I still have boxes of kitchen supplies I haven't located yet, like my mixer and my pie plates. We just did the faux finish on the walls on Saturday, and touch-ups on Sunday, so it's not that I'm delayed in posting this. It's taken us this long. It's hard when you have kids, work full time and are trying to paint and such on the weekends, in between the Halloween parties, scouting events, and whatever else. But praise be, we're basically done. Of course there is one wall I want to address in the dining room. Blackstone told the contractor to go ahead and rip the wall paper when he put in the molding in the entry way between the kitchen and dining room. We're planning on painting that whole room, but for now I'd just like to address the one with the ripped wall paper and be done for a bit.

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Live, Laugh, Love

In reading The Faith Club, I find myself most closely drawn to Ranya, who is Muslim. In reading Ranya's perspectives and conversations, it is astonishing to realize how far off so many of the common stereotypes of Islam and Muslim women are. Ranya is a modern and intelligent woman. She is Muslim, educated and does not wear a burka. After 9/11, she has felt conflicted about being a Muslim in America and has spent time researching her roots, considering if this religion was right for her and her children. And what she discovers is how much misunderstanding there is of Islam, and how twisted it has become in the hands of extremists. Ranya explains, "If Suzanne's God is the God of passion and love, and Priscilla's God is a judicial God of mitzvahs (good deeds or acts), then my God is a poetic rationalist who appeals to my mind and heart." A poetic rationalist. I love that.

Ranya explains that Islam does not preach that Muslims blindly have faith in God, instead it encourages people to look at the world around them and to see the presence of God all around them. I do find this argument persuasive. It has logical appeal. And of all the women's reasons for having faith, for being followers of their religion, Ranya's is the most persuasive to me. It is sad that while Islam preaches tolerance and acceptance of other religions, particularly of other Christian religions, it has been so contorted and grossly misused in the form of terrorism. As Ranya responds to questions on terrorists:

But we should all recognize that when religion is used as a rationale for aggression, a tactic of war or to justify a promise of land, then it is a politicized religion. It becomes a human ideology that has nothing to do with Godly values. That doesn't excuse all this craziness, but it is not anything particular or exclusive to Islam.

Amen. I couldn't agree with her more. And she has hit the nail on the head as to why I have such a problem with religion. Because all too often it does become part of a political agenda and is used as an excuse for war.

Like Ranya, I can look up into the stars at night and feel the power and the beauty in the world. I can feel myself humbled and belonging to something greater than myself. I find it irritating when people assume that because I don't believe in God, that I am not spiritual. It's rather insulting, actually. I just have trouble accepting that there is an all-knowing being up there somewhere in charge of it all. That just doesn't sit right with me. When I feel that presence of something more than myself, I believe that it is that I am one person in this world, and what is bigger than me, is the essence of all mankind and our connection to each other and the world we live in. Spirituality to me is recognizing that we are one small part of that whole and that we should at once be humbled at how small we are and empowered by how important it is that we are all part of that whole, that we all have some power and responsibility to shape the world we live in.

I know some people who would explain that even just that feeling of something greater than yourself, is enough to say you believe in God. Perhaps. If that is the way you see it, I'm not going to argue with you. And I'd rather that you didn't argue with me about it either, because at this point I don't even think we're having a religious debate, we're arguing semantics. Do you call that awe inspiring feeling God or not? It's just a word. Well, at least to me it's just a word. But I'm always trying to remind myself that to someone else, it's so much more than that, because I just don't get it and I never really have, and honestly, I don't really want to. I'm much less concerned about whether you're atheist, agnostic, Catholic or Jewish than if you're a good friend, an honest person and if you're the type of person who'll take a moment do something nice for someone else.

And I do believe in miracles. Just because I don't believe in God does not make a miracle any less of a miracle. I may believe in The Big Bang Theory and Evolution, but just because we can explain or theorize how life came to be on this planet through science, does it really make it any less miraculous? I don't think so. I may not believe that babies are gifts from the heavens, but that does not mean that I don't think that experiencing that moment of childbirth is not one of the most precious and amazing experiences that a person can have. Now virgins giving birth, bleeding statues and Mary's countenance in a pancake, those miracles, not so much.

I understand that many people would view atheism as a negative and pessimistic perspective of life, but I don't see it that way. I believe that all people are fundamentally and intrinsically linked to each other and being a part of that, living this life, is plenty of meaning and purpose. I put my faith in my family and friends, the people that I love, and even more largely in the goodness of humanity. I do not need to believe that there is some larger plan for me, or some higher purpose that I must serve. I simply believe that the here and now is the purpose, that being a good person, a good parent, a contributing member of this society, is the plan. That in the end, to say that you have lived life fully, loved with all your heart, and given as much of yourself as you could, laughed as often as possible, should be enough.

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Fantastic Halloween Books for Kids

Being an avid reader, I get very excited when I find children's books that I enjoy reading to my kids. Now Dr. Seuss is great for language development and my kids have lots of Eric Carle books that they enjoy, but I get tired of the same rhymes, looking at the same artistry and following the same story formats over and over again. And the boys love to read about dinosaurs, snakes, reptiles and bugs, but that's not exactly my cup of tea. I will appease them sometimes, but I usually like to save that material for dad, who can appreciate it. And we have tons of the Spiderman, Dora, Arthur and other popular character books. But these books are formulaic and are generally not among my favorite bed time reading material. So it makes me truly happy to find a new (new to me) children's book, one I've never heard of before, that my boys and I can enjoy. Here's a list of our Halloween picks.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by  Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd

ABC's of Halloween by Patti Reeder Eubank

Go Away Big Green Monster by Edward R Emberley

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Go Away Big Green Monster is really more for the pre-school set, but the other three both my three-year-old and six-year-old enjoy.

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The Mews

We took the whole family to The Mews Tavern in Wakefield last weekend. (In spite of how sick the boys and I have been. LT now seems to have the croup and I just started antibiotics for a sinus infection. You can only stay cooped up in the house for so long.) Now, Blackstone and I aren't new to the Mews. We've been there many times. It's just that the last six years have not provided tons of opportunities for us to eat out. The boys are just getting old enough for us to be able to take them to dinner and not have them under the table, racing between the tables and screaming at each other. And while we do get babysitters and go out to eat every so often, The Mews just hasn't been one of the places we've hit in a while.

The Mews tends to be a URI hang out at night, but along with being a bar, it's a great restaurant too. And the boys got a kick out of it. There are three very different rooms and then there's also a martini bar upstairs. The front room is the bar and there are signed, colored and otherwise decorated one dollar bills tacked to the ceiling and walls. It's a thing at The Mews to leave your mark in the form of a signature one dollar bill in the bar. Who would come up with such an idea? A drunk college kid? I really don't know. But I'd be surprised if the place wasn't decorated in a thousand one dollar bills. The back room is the brick oven pizza room made up of a bar area and about eight or so booths. One of their specialties is their brick oven pizza. The main dining room is large, open and noisy. The first thing that's likely to catch your attention is the large painted tree with decorations and an old bicycle in it's branches which resides in the center of the room. The bike has permanent residence in the tree and somehow just seems to belong there. It is a real tree, though very much dead at this point. Originally this area was a deck and when they built the deck, they built it around the tree, and when the enclosed the deck, well they did that around the tree too.

So the place is rather eclectic, has a lot of personal charm and tends to be well decorated for the holidays. It's already all decked out for Halloween. My boys entered the main dining room and both stopped dead in their tracks and said, "Wow!!" There are ghosts, monsters, witches and ghouls everywhere - in the tree, sitting in the canoe (yes, I said canoe) and dangling from the ceiling. The boys were quite smitten with the place from the word go. Trouble had a grand time being in charge of the "Got Beer"/"Need Beer" sign. You flip it to "Need Beer" when you want your waiter and then back to "Got Beer" when you have your waiter's attention. And yes, one of the things the place is known for is having 69 beers on tap. You can order a beer sampler which is a little wooden rack that holds six (I think it's six) small glasses (maybe six ounces) of beer, so you can try a bunch of them. It's totally fun and I highly recommend it, just probably not when you have your kids with you.

The food was great, as usual. They have fabulous and unusual burgers like the "Yuppie Burger" and the "Go F*#@! Yourself Burger" and great Mexican and their sweet potato fries are to die for. They also serve a hell of a margarita which is always a plus in book. Trouble asked me the next day, "When can we go back there?" Yeah, my sentiments exactly. The kid's got good taste. To hell with McDonald's.

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What is Almost the Fabulous New Kitchen

Okay Bookgirl, because you asked, I actually took ten minutes I didn't have this morning to take a few shots of the kitchen and download them to my computer, upload them to a second party developing site where I can access them at work, just so I could post them today. Who loves you, baby?

The counters went in yesterday. I love them except there's a gap in one of the corners which I'm rather irritated about. It's not enough to bother having it done again because it can be fixed/hidden when we tile. But you'd think after billing us to come out and measure a second time, there wouldn't be such a gap.

The sink and dishwasher are getting hooked up today. Hurray! No more washing dishes in the bathroom sink. Praise Allah. We still need to have the mop boards, moldings and tile between the cupboards and the counters done. There's some other finishing work too, but we're almost there.

Of course, LT had to come jump in on one of the shots when he heard I had the camera out.

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