Monday, October 26, 2009

First time for everything...

I had to delete a student post from one of my class discussion forums today.

And now I am going to launch into an opinion that could potentially hurt someone's feelings while ranting about students' posts that could potentially hurt someone's feelings. Hypocritical? Maybe. But this is my blog, not a college class, and any readers are not required to read it for a grade - unless there is something about Blogger I have missed!

First of all, I have to address an issue that has particularly bothered me this semester. The frequency of the mention of God and religion in the online discussion forums has been very high. In my BIOLOGY class. Additionally, the general disregard of other's opinions and the judgment passed on those who do not agree is astounding. I do have to take some of the blame since the topics are often of a controversial nature (i.e. prenatal testing for genetic abnormalities, the ethics of cloning, experimental cancer treatments) and I ask for an opinion on the subject. What I expect is a well thought out opinion supported by a list of facts that the student has spent a little bit of time researching (or at least plagiarized from the text - yes that is cynicism). What I get is a post along the lines of "it is wrong because we should all just accept what God has given us and move on" or "if you think ___________ you are obviously wrong because you don't think what I think". Here are a couple of examples of how the world works according to some of my students this semester...

No one should undergo any kind of fertility treatments. If God has made you sterile you can just adopt.

No cloning of any type should ever be allowed since that is "playing God".

No one should have any genetic prenatal testing for any reason. If you do, you are willing to risk the life of your baby from miscarriage through the testing because you are unwilling to accept what God gave you.

And don't even get me started on Intelligent Design being taught in the science classroom. Only two posts into this topic, I have sent out a cautionary email reminding everyone to be respectful of others opinions.

The post I deleted stated that people who have said that they miscarried after a genetic testing procedure have probably just said they miscarried, but actually aborted because they were unwilling to keep a baby with a genetic defect.

Who says things like this in a discussion forum full of people you don't know? What if someone in the class has miscarried after a genetic testing procedure? What if someone has struggled for years with infertility while longing for nothing more than a biological child of their own? What if someone is caring for a loved one with paralysis or a terminal illness and hopes every day for a breakthrough in stem cell or cancer research? What if someone is Buddhist or Hindu or (God forbid!) an atheist and has a different idea about God and would like to see a science text stick with scientific theory? If all of my students were fresh out of high school, I might be able to chalk it up to lack of life experience. But many of my students are parents and/or grandparents and old enough to have some empathy.

Are any of these people more "right" than the other. I don't personally think so. But the degree to which these students will dismiss any differing view leaves me dumbfounded. And the fact that it is done in the name of God makes me sadder still. I may not invite people to my church when I meet them in the grocery store and I may not profess my faith on the street corner, but I hope I do not use my religion to sit in judgment of others or tear them down or dismiss their opinions or feelings. I feel like when I sit in judgment, ignoring the log in my own eye, or am unkind or unforgiving is when I am farthest away from my God and my religion. I am constantly falling short. And will continue to do so.

So maybe I AM the hypocrite - sitting in judgment of my students. Maybe I am casting the first stone. I know I am frustrated and angry and human. And feeling like my class discussion forums are a microcosm of what is going on in the world - when respect, kindness and understanding can't happen between 20 students in one class how can it happen anywhere?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good Times

Bryn and I spent two days in Chicago and had a fabulous time! It was so fun for us to get away and have some "girl time"...that is definitely something that gets shoved to the back burner to often by the daily grind.

We got to Chicago on Saturday afternoon and hit the ground running. We rented the car, headed to out hotel and went to check out the Lego store. Bryn was very impressed by the huge Lego spider right outside the store. We went back to American Girl and met Valerie Tripp - the author of many of the American Girl books. She signed one of Bryn's books and spent some time answering Bryn's questions like "which comes first - the books or the dolls?" (the books, BTW!). And "how long does it take to write a book?". We took a cab over to Navy Pier, rode the Ferris wheel, had some hot chocolate and did some fun mother-daughter activities from a book we got. We went back to the American Girl store and had "dinner with the author" - a fun dinner and Q&A set up by the store. We walked the block back to the hotel, played some double solitaire and finally called it a night!

On Sunday morning we got up and head to the Shedd Aquarium and saw their new show, "Fantasea", which Bryn says was the highlight of the trip. It was opening weekend for the show and some of the animals didn't cooperate but it was great anyway. We went at the perfect time of day - the crowds were pouring in just as we were leaving to meet my friends, Dustin and Wes, for lunch.

We had a nice time with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa talked quite a bit and ate like a horse! He did point out the creases on Grandma's forehead (which she didn't appreciate much!) and got a little sarcastic about the fact that I wasn't wearing shoes, but it was actually great to see him so engaged and responsive. There were some concerns about his blood pressure and overall health, but a trip to the ER after we left on Monday morning revealed that all is well.

The homefront stayed intact while we were gone. I came home to a little man with a cold and a couch covered in snot, but he is still in pretty good spirits. It was great to have Jim and Sherry here until this morning as I seem to have so much to catch up on and not enough time to get it done. We had parent-teacher conferences tonight (that is a whole other post as I need to have little time to mull that rant over!) and I had to hand out cookie forms at Girl Scouts tonight. Bring on the Thin Mints!

The next few days are going to be super busy - I have decided that if I am going to get out of this endless loop of too much to do, too little time" I have to stop some of these activities. It is time.

A nice little bonus...after two years of not being able to figure out how to turn the closed captioning on on the TV, I accidentally stumbled on to the secret last night. Now I can hear the show with bad audio without turning the TV up loud enough to wake the kids!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Catch up

Thought I would try to catch up on blog reading and writing a bit before I fix dinner and run out to a Missions committee meeting at church - too much to do, too little time!

It has been a busy week - with Bunco Monday, Friends of the Library on Tuesday, WOW at church last night, Missions tonight, scrapbooking tomorrow and a flight out on Saturday, I have just been trying to stay sane around here! Actually it hasn't been too bad except the fact that I don't get to see my husband much, but I suppose I have no one to blame but myself. Sorry, honey!

Elections at Friends of the Library did not result in a new treasurer mainly because there is an upcoming audit. Not good considering I haven't reconciled the checkbook in a couple of months (or 12, but who is counting?!?!). Fortunately there is not much monetary activity so I have a pretty good handle on what is going on. The reconciling is just a formality. Really. You think the accountant will buy it?

Bryn is out of school for fall break and she and I are heading to Chicago on Saturday. We are planning to go to American Girl and have dinner with the author of the books on Saturday and then head to the aquarium Sunday morning before we go to spend the night at my grandparents house. Should be a fun "girls trip" - I think Bryn and I will benefit greatly from the time alone together. I have been at the end of my rope with her arguing - I finally lost it this morning (after many warnings to her, I might add!) and screamed so loudly my throat hurt. How is that for some good parenting skills?

Grant spent the day at Parents Day Out and had a great time but is now tired and grumpy. Gee, what a shame I am going to miss out on a little grumpiness this evening!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Long time, no blog...

I keep feeling like I have to have pictures to post to update my blog but if I wait until I get pictures uploaded I may never blog again. We have been busy with all kinds of fun and not so fun activities lately...

Mom and John came to visit last weekend and I went to my first NASCAR race. My sweet husband even missed a K-State football game to go to the race with me - it is pretty cool that I rank right up there (and past!) K-State football! We are making plans to go and tailgate next year so no one has to be stuck at home with kids. Then we can take turns going in and watching if we want. It should be tons of fun!

I have been busy with the normal activities - Girl Scouts, church stuff, library stuff, bookclub, etc. I hosted Bunco here tonight and we had a great time. We drank a little more wine than normal but we didn't get to rowdy...Grant still managed to go right to sleep in the next room. The fact that he would go to sleep next to a freight train is beside the point!

We have been working hard on getting Bryn's room painted, organized and decorated. It is a nice shade of pale yellow, the shades and curtains are up and all of the furniture has finally been moved out of the garage and into her room. All I have left to do is get the mirror up on the dresser, hang her new dog pictures and find a bedside lamp. So exciting that it is all finally coming together.

I also got holiday outfits for the kids and made an appointment to (finally) get their pictures taken. A friend in town who does beautiful natural light photography is going to do them for us and I am so excited to see how they turn out. If they turn out as well as I think they will, we will probably have her take some family pictures in the spring.

As far as the not so fun goes...
Bryn was sick and home from school for a few days a couple of weeks ago, we all got flu shots today, Grant STILL isn't walking (Aaron and I are both having dreams about it so we have must have some underlying stress) and I took all three animals to the vet today with both kids in tow (I had a long battle with Harvey before we even got there - he was less than thrilled about being put into the carrier and ran under the bed as soon as he spotted it). But if that is as bad as it gets, life is good!