Sunday, November 29, 2009

On vacation... Eid Blessings

So, in the midst of 1000 things that have been overwhelming me (you know school, work, kids school, kids homework, my homework, etc.), we decided to take a short break to Dubai for the Eid. I have to say, this is the first thing that has actually felt like a vacation to me in years... Literally.

We have been swimming at the beach, seen the aquarium, saw fountain light show, saw the Disney Princesses!, spent the day in the park. You name it, we've done it... Later today, we'll be taking the kids to observe skiing indoors. The kinds of things one can only do in malls in Dubai. It's something else. And, so for someone who hasn't been a fan of Dubai in the past, I'm a believer now. The park alone was enough to convince me...

Tomorrow it's back to reality with its homework that has yet to be done for Tuesday and rush, rush, rush. By I must say thank you for this moment in time, Lord. I needed the reenergizing, the renewal, the refreshing of spirit. I hope each of you as been as blessed on this Eid al-Adha as I have been...

Happy Eid holiday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Note to Self: Don't Claim Depression and Then Enjoy Yourself, You Could Lose Sick Leave Benefits!

I read this article today and found it quite interesting. Apparently this gal had an issue because she is on long term disability and posted pictures of herself having a good time. Yikes! How dare she claim to be depressed and actually enjoy herself?! Now, having said that, she worked for IBM. IBM has the strangest sick leave policy I've ever seen, one that could lend itself to abuse. Basically, an IBM employee can be sick one of every two years. Odd, hunh? You have to work with their doctors and such. But once you jump through hoops, you get 60% of your pay for up to a year.

Now, if you should manage to get approved for such a sick-leave plan, don't post pictures of yourself on Facebook that could make people think you're bilking the system - even if you aren't. It reminds me of the guy that I posted about a few months ago who lost a job offer after tweeting out of turn... Somehow, we need to realize that it's a brave new world and what we do on-line can affect our lives off-line. If you don't want the whole world to know about it, don't post it on-line.

By the time we're about 10, most of us have developed control over what we say and when we say it. Few people suffer from verbal diarrhea to the extent that they just say every random, stupid thing that pops into their mind (and I assure you many really stupid things pop into my head every day). However somehow we haven't figured out that, just as self-censorship is necessary for our verbal dialogue, we need to self-censor what we invite the world to see in our lives. So, note to self... when I'm in a sweet position living it up on my employer, don't post photos on Facebook.

Happy Brave New World!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Whatever Happened to Show and Tell?

Being the parent of kids just starting out in school is interesting. It allows you to revisit the school experiences you had. You get to remember all of the things you did and wonder why they do them differently. For instance, I STILL don't get why people are so darn focused on writing here. I clearly remember learning to write. We learned letters (names and sounds) in first grade and moved on to writing them in second grade. We then picked up cursive writing in third grade. ButterBean (and the TwinBeans) started writing in KG1. Finally now (in 2nd grade coincidentally) her writing has caught up to where mine was when I started. Hmmm... So, I was just thinking about the fact that the TwinBeans are in KG2 and have never done show and tell. They get t bring a toy in on Saturdays, but I don't think that counts. I remember show and tell, it was a good activity.

Show and tell was when you picked something you loved and brought it into school. You then stood up and spent a couple of minutes telling your class about the item. It was terribly rehearsed, nit I think most kids spent a couple of minutes deciding what they were going to say. Mind you, this wasn't as much an assignment as something everyone was encouraged to do. So,I wonder, have we gotten so focused on pushing kids ahead that we've forgotten some of the basics? I mean, what better introduction to public speaking that talking about something that you love in front of a group of your tiny peers? As for me, I'm calling for a return to show and tell. bring on those loved ones!

Happy TMI!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Things We Think About People...

I've been thinking about the assumptions we make about people that we know very little or not at all. As humans, we all make assumptions based on visual cues and our own perspective. This came to mind recently as I'll explain later. But, first, I have two stories to relate about the assumptions people have made about El 3atal and I in the past.

To set the stage, El 3atal and I are VERY casual people. We are rarely seen not in jeans and shirts. If we're dressed up, it's due to a work function. We just aren't slacks and dressy clothes type people. Really... Much to TetaBean's despair, we always go out in jeans, even to dressier family events. By now I think most of the family is used to this, but still poor Teta Bean...

Story Number 1

One day, many years ago, El 3atal and I went to look at cars. We were in the market for a new car and wanted to check out options. El 3atal had long wanted a Mercedes SUV, so he called the Mercedes dealership and set a time for a test drive. While not strictly necessary, it ensures that you'll get the time and attention you want. We showed up to the dealership in jeans and casual clothes looking, undoubtedly, like a couple of recent college graduates. I know what you think is coming now, but it isn't. The salesman at the dealership treated us with respect. He asked about our current vehicles, walked us through the features available and standard on the car, and took us for a test drive. We left thinking that the Mercedes SUV was an awesome vehicle and generally sold.

On a whim, we stopped by the Buick dealership, as I was driving a Buick at the time and we figured we'd see what new cars they had available. The salesman who greeted us at the door looked us over and began to push their current special. It was a Buick Century (cheapest Buick model) that had cloth seats and windows you had to roll down! Mind you, we had just finished seeing a Mercedes with power everything and luxury everywhere. We explained to him that we were not interested in any car without leather seats. While he was talking to El 3atal about the Century, I walked over to see what the Park Avenue (their largest sedan at the time) looked like. I got in and sat down in the rear, simply out of curiosity. The salesman came over and very condescendingly said, "Well now, that's a very expensive car." Mind you, it was at least 5 thousand less than the Mercedes we'd just been looking at an hour previously. When we finally did the test drive, it was on the "discount" model he was trying to push. Yep, windows with cranks, cloth seats, the whole 1 yard. At no point did the salesman see beyond our jeans and shirts to the fact that we were a double income family making easily enough to afford the Mercedes. He made assumptions based on things that he saw and disregarded everything said to him that would contradict it.

Story Number 2

While living in Louisiana before we moved, El 3atal worked out of a home office for quite some time. During that time he became a somewhat frequent visitor to Sonic for lunch (Sonic is a drive-in with amazing ice cream treats). One day one of the regular "waiters" (think waiter on roller skates) said to him, "Excuse me sir, if you don't mind my asking, what do you do?" This young man, unused to people with flexible days and schedules saw this young man driving a Mercedes SUV (yes we did buy one) in very casual clothes dropping in at odd times during the workday. Instead of making bold assumptions, he simply asked. I, of course, told El 3atal that he wants to know what field he should go into to have those kind of perks, teehee.

Which brings us to what made me think of this. I got the very same question a few months ago from one of ButterBean's teachers. She saw me at school every day dropping off and picking up the kids. She saw me always around, but knew that I work. She wondered what I did that had that kind of flexibility. But what I typically get is the assumption that I don't work.

I'm part of a wonderful group of ladies who gather on weekday mornings. I don't typically see them except as part of these gatherings. Many of them have been confused when they discover that El 3atal and I have a company. They had seen me at these workday meetings and assumed that I don't have a job. They presumed that, like them, I'm a stay at home mom. I find it often has to do with our frame of reference. I'm not offended, I think stay at home moms have the hardest job there is. I respect them greatly. But, I find it funny that they see me always in casual clothes and usually available during the day (and taking Arabic classes during the day) and assume that I don't work.

It just goes to show you that it is never wise to make assumptions. I far prefer the approach of the Sonic waiter who simply asked. It gave him the chance to satisfy his curiosity and come away more knowledgeable rather than go on with an assumption that was likely erroneous. It also makes me more aware of the assumptions that I make that are likely to be wrong. Reminders to ask rather than assume are always a good thing, in my mind.

Happy Preconceived Notions!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Who Are You To Limit the Grace of God?

You know, as humans we get caught up in judging others all the time. Literally, all of the time. We judge others based on parenting choices they make, the clothes they wear, the things they say. We're constantly judging others. I think this may be one of the most significant crosses that Christians today bear. This human tendency to judge. It is the plank in our eye. It is the plank in MY eye.

While I wait on the Beans at their myriad activities, I tend to spend time listening to Tony Campolo. I know many of you must think that there's nothing else on the MB channel :). Sadly, if I posted every single time something he said made me want to, my blog could be renamed the TC recap blog...

Yesterday while waiting on JujuBean to finish her ballet lesson, I enjoyed a radio show Tony did where he talked about judging people. On the show he was asked, Can non-Christians be saved? What an interesting question. After all, each of us is taught that our faith is right and is the key to salvation. Right? The Jews believe that, the Christians believe that, the Muslims believe that. We all know that we have the way to salvation. It stands to reason, then, that without it no one can get to heaven, right? And yet, Tony, a noted evangelical (now red-letter Christian) found an answer to that question that is so obviously right. It's so... well... so Biblical. After all, the Bible says not to judge. It also says that God will look into our hearts and read what is there.

Christians have long gotten caught up in the idea that we can tell who is saved or not. You know, look at so-and-so, he's a thief and surely not going to be saved. Or see sister-this-and-that, she's such a lovely person she'll be saved. And some of those that we put at the top of the pillars, on the inside are rotting away. And, yet the outside is so important to us. So hearing Tony's response to the question was very enlightening. It was such a great reminder to me.

"Can non-Christians be saved? I don't know, who I am to limit the grace of God?"

Who indeed. I can't tell who has been or will be saved, but I can tell who I'm supposed to love. That's awfully easy, isn't it? As a Christian, I'm supposed to love everyone. And, that IS the hardest commandment, isn't it?

Happy Limitations!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

At Least Big Bird is Older Than I Am...

One of the vagaries of getting old is... feeling old. Those things that never bothered me in my roaring twenties like caffeine in the afternoon, working out too hard, and such are now issues. but I saw this article yesterday that Big Bird just turned 40. For those who, like me, grew up on Sesame Street you may enjoy reading this. Sesame Street was the only program MemeBean let us watch. And, as they tell parents these days, she watched with us. I grew up thinking Grover was awesome and Mr. Snuffalupagus was the coolest ever. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when everyone got to see him. After all, it was kind of neat Big bird having an imaginary friend, just like me - even if he wasn't exactly imaginary.

The first time I saw the Arabic Sesame Street (not the one on Jordan TV now, which is awesome), I was a bit confused by Na9maan. I could neither tell what type of animal he was supposed to be nor what his orientation was supposed to be. Let's just say they claimed he's a boy, but his voice is, ahem, effiminate...

At any rate, the fellow who does Big Bird's voice celebrated his 40th anniversary with the show! And let me say, that's something. 40 years with any employer is amazing. 40 years in the same role is even more. And, the fact that he tried and manages to keep Big Bird vibrant and unique after all of this time is nigh on miraculous. Pleas join me in saying... Happy Birthday Big Bird! And...

Happy Aging!