Friday, June 29, 2012

Talking about politics, unpolitically?

I have decided that the biggest problem we have in politics today is self delusion.

There are many self delusions that could be spoken of here- basically we are willing believers in most propaganda techniques.  That person drinks the same beer/ coffee/ soda/ whatever as me?  He/she must have great political ideas, too.  That person drives a different car/ reads a different newspaper/ grew up in different circumstances than me?  His/her political ideas must be horrible.  Someone who is a celebrity has labeled that person as a "hot button" word- whether good or bad- and I ALWAYS believe what celebrities say.  They're famous- they must be smart- why else would they be on or have their own talk shows?  And so on, and so on.

The particular delusion that I'm currently thinking about runs like this...
"I am a sensible, rational person.  Therefore, other sensible, rational people would come to the same conclusions as I do in regards to a particular issue.  Therefore, my stance (along with those who agree with me) must be the sensible, rational one, and thus the one that counts as 'mainstream' or moderate or centrist.  So, those who disagree with me must be on the fringes of thought on this issue, and are likely to also be irrational or misinformed." 
Even when we label ourselves as "conservative" or "liberal"-which you think might clue us in- we somehow still think that our point of view is the middle/ centrist/ moderate one.

I hear this from all corners of political debates.  People on the right accuse those who disagree with them of being socialist/ communist/ Nazis/ Stalin.  People on the left accuse those who disagree with them of being ultra-right wing/fascist reactionaries/ Nazis/ Hitler.

**This is a good time to bring up a rule- whoever calls their opponent a "Nazi" or Hitler first- loses the argument.  I would also like to amend the rule slightly- if you use the words: Nazi/ Hitler/ Stalin/ Communist to describe your opponent or their ideas, you lose.  Unless they actually ARE Hitler or Stalin, of course, in which case you should totally be on a talk show!**

**The historian in me also wants to point out that someone being both a communist and a Nazi at the same time is pretty farfetched.**

So, back to my point.  Somewhere, there is possibly a person whose political ideas put them in the exact middle of political thought in our country.  (Or, if we go with the 1 in a million theory, then there are about 311.6 people who could possibly be in that spot.) 

So, the grand majority of us are NOT in the middle.  We fall somewhere else on the spectrum, whether to right or left.  And that is fine- but we need to realize that.

Democracy as our founding fathers and mothers conceived it to be involved having people of differing viewpoints argue it out until a compromise was reached somewhere in the middle.  **Compromise generally means BOTH sides miss getting exactly what they want.  If one side gets everything they want?  Not a compromise.** 

Just because the solution actually reached is either a little to the "right" or "left" of where our own political viewpoint lies does not mean that the country is either becoming fascist or communist.  It's probably still muddling it's way down the middle of the road/spectrum.  We veer a little right sometimes, and a little left sometimes, but we tend to not go too far in either direction.

**Interesting historical trivia- one of the reasons George Washington was chosen as our first president was that he was one of the moderates for his time.  The other main moderate of that group?  Benjamin Franklin.  Imagine what he would have been like as president.  It makes me giggle- but he's always been my favorite of that group.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I think they drugged my baby!

Ok, this is not a post about daycare abusing my innocent child- but instead a post marvelling at what they were able to do with him.

For Mother's Day, the daycare sent home a wonderful present "from" Ben.  They do this kind of thing a lot, where the child "creates" a lovely work of art for the parent.  This particular piece was a a little canvas with a perfect handprint from my angel.  Wonderful, lovely, so special and perfect.  However, here is where things began to go downhill.  Seeing that lovely handprint (and being seduced by craft ideas on Pinterest- which will get its own post sometime in the future), I decided to try to make a Father's Day present for D.

My idea was to get D's hand and foot prints and layer the boys' ones on top.

(Those of you who can figure out where this is going to end can point and laugh now.)
Things worked out pretty well with getting D's.  He surely knew something was up, but he's a good sport, so he gave them to me without too much teasing.  J was pretty cooperative, too.  He got to pick his paint color and liked having the paint spread on his hand and foot.  The prints weren't perfect, but pretty darn good.

Then came B's turn.  The foot print was ok- if a little awkward to get.  Babies tend to clench their toes a lot, so the footprint came out a little odd looking.  Then, there was the hand.  Remember the perfect handprint above?  Yep, so this should be easy, right?

Along with clenching their toes, babies tend to make their hand into fists whenever you touch their palms.  So, imagine, if you will, me spreading green paint onto my baby's palm- which immediately turns into a fist.  Then, once there is paint on his hand, arm, face (in addition to making fists, babies like to put those fists in their mouths), his other hand and other arm, my hands and arms, the floor, the sink, etc., comes the time for me to press his little hand onto the paper and make the perfect handprint.  I'm sure you can guess how well this turned out.

How did they do it?  I lean toward the drug theory or the possibility that they have a hand "stand-in" whose only job is to come in and make perfect little handprints on canvasses so they can lull ambitious crafting parents into thinking they can achieve the same results.  My mom, of course, provided the voice of reason and said that they could have just waited until he was asleep.  I'm not convinced, however.  When I get another crafty urge (I have an idea for Christmas cards!), I will test it and see how it works out.

Luckily for the sake of my crafting sensibilities and present idea, my husband remained a good sport when I came back to him and asked for another hand and foot print.  Then, J was just as happy to play with paint the second time around, too.  And third, I finally remembered that the hospital had given us a hand/footprint kit that did not require anything to be spread on the baby.  Instead, you just lay it on paper and press their hand or foot onto the film and you get a black hand or foot print on the paper- no mess, no fuss.  It seems that someone besides me had perhaps found the difficulty in getting baby cooperation.

So, here is the final result.  I liked it.  :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quiet Book Pages

What's a quiet book you might ask?
A quiet book is a book- usually of fabric, but also possibly of other materials, in which each page or double page spread is an activity that a kid can do.  The idea is that this is a book to help kids keep quiet in places where they need to- the doctor’s office, an airplane, a restaurant, church, etc.

My busy bag group had a bunch of people interested in swapping these pages with one another, and then we split off and created a separate group- with probably about 25-30 people total.  We split into groups and end up making 6 or 7 pages of the same thing.  We keep one and mail the others out.

I have found that etsy is the key to my quiet booking.  I am only so crafty- but I am very willing to find things other people have made to incorporate onto my pages.  I figure that as long as I make the page and most of the stuff, I can still keep my “crafty credentials” and my group members will get much better pages- and on time, too!

For my regular group- meaning group with no theme- I have made 2 pages so far- an abacus page and a weather page.  The abacus page was very simple- beads on cotton yarn that I strung across the page (plain white cotton).   I used foam stickers on the sides and the top.

The weather page was much more complex.  For the background, I used blue flannel (felt sticks to flannel pretty well) for the sky, and then added green flannel for grass and a little felt house.  The hill is actually a pocket to hold all of the weather icons.

So, I first thought about what I wanted to have, weather-wise.  I decided on sunny, puffy white clouds, partly sunny, gray clouds, rain, lightning and snow.  I REALLY wanted to have an icon for ‘windy’ but couldn’t come up with any way of showing that easily.  I ordered the light gray and puffy white clouds and some of the snowflakes from a shop, and was very happy with them (the other snowflakes came from this shop:   The rest I made (including the blue-gray rain clouds- which I made using the other clouds as a template-  the shop didn’t offer them in a darker gray- just the light gray.)  For the sun, I just used 2 different sizes of mason jars for the circles- using chalk to mark on the felt.  For the rain, I used light blue yarn and sewed it onto the clouds. 
Here is a picture of all of the symbols, spread out over 4 pages.

One of my groups is an ABC swap.  My letters are B, H, M and R.  For B, I made a beach page with a “build your own sandcastle” activity.  I got the idea from a blog, here:  This woman is much more crafty than I will ever be.  I did not make mine exactly like hers- mine are single layers instead of double- and not as decorative either.  I found some felt seashells online and ordered them, as well as ordering the ‘B’ and ‘b’ from an Etsy shop,  I started with the templates from the Imagine Our Life page, drawing them onto a cereal box to cut and use as my templates.  I also added a “bucket” shape, because that’s part of sandcastles to me.  

My ideas for my other letters are as follows:
H- house- a big house with slits in it where little popsicle stick people can be inserted to be at the windows or behind the door
M- build your own monster page  (I thought I knew how I wanted to do this, but now am trying to avoid having 20 billion little pieces stored on the page, so am unsure.)
R- Race car/ race track.

My final group for April (yep, I got a little carried away that month) was a Seasons group.  Each of us chose a season to make a page of.  2 other members did “all seasons” pages as we had a group of 6 and no one wanted to double up.

I chose to do a counting page with leaves- as fall is my favorite season and I LOVE the leaves turning colors and falling from the trees.  So, back to etsy for my leaf shapes (  I got a large variety, because I wanted to mix the leaf colors on each page, instead of just having 1.  The page has a tree shape on one side, green patterned flannel at the bottom for “grass,” and numbers on the blue “sky” background.  The felt leaves can be stored in 2 pockets in the green flannel.  I used liquid gems to put dots on the leaves to match the numbers.  The numbers are just drawn on with permanent marker, since I am completely uncoordinated with fabric paint.