Why I Refuse to Read The Rainbow Fish.

Let me get this out of the way first. I hate the children’s book The Rainbow Fish. I really do. Artistically it’s a fun little book, but the story itself, I can’t stand. Maybe it’s because it’s a translation, and loses some of its meaning when translated from German to English, but I don’t think that’s the case.

Let me start off by saying that I understand that the book is supposed to be about sharing. I like sharing. However, what I get out of The Rainbow Fish is that in order to be liked, you must give away intrinsic pieces of yourself. Not just your time and energy, but the actual pieces that make you unique and interesting.

Let’s break this down into small digestible chunks, shall we?

The book opens with all the other fish wanting to play with the rainbow fish because he’s beautiful. He, however, is proud and aloof because of his appearance, and won’t play with them. When a little fish gets up the gumption to ask the Rainbow Fish for a scale, he refuses the little fish. Then all the other fish won’t have anything to do with him.

This set up really frosts me. First, all the other fish want to play with Rainbow Fish because he’s beautiful, not because of any sterling qualities he might have. And they stop asking him to play with them because he won’t give any of them a scale, not because he’s basically, for all intents and purposes, stuck up. Let me make this point right now: scales are not a prized possession. They are an inherent body part, like skin or bones or eyes. Giving away a scale requires the Rainbow Fish to damage himself.

So right away the motivation for the story is suspect in my opinion. Rather than focus on actions (Rainbow Fish’s poor behavior) it focuses on appearance. It defines worth as what you look like rather than what you do.

When the Rainbow Fish starts to miss all the adulation he used to receive, he goes to a wise old octopus to ask him for advice. The octopus tells him to give a scale to all the other fish, and that while he will no longer be beautiful, he will be happy.

So he returns home, and the other fish once again ask him for a scale. This time, trusting in the octopus’ advice, the Rainbow Fish gives everyone a scale, until he only has one scale left. The result? He’s very happy, of course, because that’s how the story is meant to go.

But if you think about it, there are two underlying reasons for his happiness. Besides the joy of giving (which definitely is real) there’s also the joy of being accepted because he no longer is different from everyone else. That’s the take away for me. Give away everything that makes you unique, and conform, and then you’ll be happy.

Yeah. Not what I want my kids to live by.

I do want my kids to be generous and charitable and kind, but not at the sacrifice of themselves. Sharing and generosity does not require you to damage yourself.

Think about it this way. Wouldn’t this story be much more interesting if the Rainbow Fish learned how to help the other fish find the things that made them unique and interesting and useful? That’s my kind of sharing.

 

 

Are You In or Out?

I’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately. (Netflix for the win!) So much so that last night I dreamt I heard the TARDIS in the street outside my house.

That thought was enough to make me wake up. However, I purposely rolled over and went back to sleep without getting up to look, for the simple reason that if it was real, I wanted no part of it.

(Yes, I know it’s not real. But a part of me, especially the dreaming part, still believes there is magic in stories. That all stories are in some way real. Thank Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast for that.)

I love the Doctor Who shows. I’ve been watching them since I was a kid and watched the Tom Baker episodes with my Dad. I even made one of those ridiculous long scarves for my brother. My husband has it now, but keeps forgetting that it’s there, so it still doesn’t get used. I’d love to see someone wear it.

Anyway, I digress.

I love the Doctor Who shows. They are wonderful combinations of the sublime and the silly, horror and hope. I keep having to wash my glasses because I cry for almost every episode. But the world they portray… How to explain it?

The world of the Doctor is full of hope, but it’s also full of danger. It’s exciting, but also enormously sad. Bad things are happening ALL.THE.TIME.

Imagine being in a world that asked that you run towards the burning building all the time. That asked you to choose on a regular basis who lives and who dies. Can you imagine it? Wouldn’t that be hard? It would be hard for me.

We all want to be the person who runs into the burning building, who rushes in to save the day. But are we? Running towards danger, stepping up and helping others is a hard choice. Fear and indecision get in the way of heroics both small and large all the time.

Jumping in the TARDIS and traveling the length and breadth of space and time with the Doctor would be amazing. And terrifying.

Would you choose to join him if he asked, or would you choose to be safe?

Last night, on the edge of sleep, I chose to be safe.

 

Hope for the Future

When 9-11 happened, I was 8 months pregnant with my first child. I remember my sister calling to tell me she was alright, and my confusion. I then turned on the tv, and watched as the second plane hit.

As the events of the day unfolded, I seemed to collapse in on myself and the baby in my belly, and the thought, “What kind of world am I bringing this baby into?” played over and over in my head. How could I keep him safe? Was I being selfish by having a baby? The world seemed so full of heartache and woe.

The day wore on, and I thought more and more about my reasons for becoming a mother. And then I realized:

This baby was my hope for the future. A future filled with love and strength and courage. A future filled with joy and silliness and compassion.

Becoming a parent was a present and a promise to the future. That while horrible things can and will happen, we have the choice to greet the world with courage and love.

Every time something horrible happens, I reaffirm that conscious decision to choose love.

Once again, someone has targeted innocents, hoping to create a world filled with fear and hate, because that is the only world they believe in. I refuse to let fear and hate define my world. I will bring love and hope into it, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

If you are looking to help, my friend Lain has a couple ideas for you. Go visit her and help fight fear with love.

 

It’s that time again!

It’s time for LOAD! Well, not quite yet. It doesn’t start till February first. Which means there’s still plenty of time for you to sign up. Heck, if you sign up by the seventh I’ve got a code for you to get $10 off!

This is one of my most favorite things to do in the whole wide web. First of all there are a ton of wonderful people participating who share beautiful, creative pages. Even better, it’s lead by one of my favorite scrapbookers ever, the fabulous and funny Lain Ehmann.

It’s not a class exactly. It’s more of a prompt based challenge. What do you get out of it? Well, if you participate, you get lots of inspiring ideas that frequently take you on unexpected paths to finished scrapbook pages. You make new friends in the online scrapbooking community. And you get lots (and I do mean lots) of pages done.

So, sign up with my affiliate link below and join me and a few hundred other scrapbookers as we get ScrapHappy!

Join us! It will be fun!

Tight

I hold on too tight to the ones I love, I sometimes think. It’s so hard to walk the line between letting them grow and become who they need to be, and keeping them close, and safe, and cherished.

I have always known that this life is temporary, that everything can change in a moment, and that you never know this “I love you” is the last one until the chance for another is beyond reach.

I scrapbook because I know these things bone deep. It’s another way to hold tight, and keep the fear away. These pieces of paper are talismans to ward off the monsters in the world.

But there is no shield strong enough to keep them safe if the monsters come hunting them.

Today a monster came hunting children, and was all too successful. My heart goes out to the parents, the siblings, the friends and family who will never get to hold their loved ones again.

Such a terrible, unreasoning wrong. There are not enough words for comfort.

 

Birthday Boy

My oldest, Ethan turned 11 recently. My husband and I decided to get him a kindle for his birthday. After much dithering, we decided on the new paperwhite version that has just been released. I wrapped up a gift card (so he can put books on it) and printed out a picture of it since it wasn’t available until the week of October 22 according to Amazon.

Ethan has been very patiently waiting since I told him it wasn’t due to ship till October 29th. Earlier this week I got an email from Amazon saying they would be able to ship it sooner. I did not tell Ethan, hoping to surprise him when it arrived.

It came today.

I think he liked it.

Wandering into the Land of Home Improvement

When we bought this house we knew we wanted, wait scratch that, needed to do the kitchen. While the house had the space and a layout that worked for us, and seemed to be in reasonable shape, we knew the kitchen was inadequate.

Both my husband and I cook. The kids need to learn how to cook. We need space that will let all of us work together without stepping on each other. This wasn’t going to cut it for us:

One side of the kitchen
The other side of the kitchen

So we planned and thought and made lots of drawings, and then went looking for a contractor. We decided we weren’t even going to try to do the work ourselves since we wanted to take out the load bearing wall between the kitchen and the dining room.
After a few quotes and interviews and poking around on Angie’s List we decided on a contractor, and ordered cabinets through him, since they had the style I really wanted. I could have gone with slightly cheaper cabinets by ordering them from Lowes or Home Depot, but then I would have had to have some shaker style kitchen and I really wanted something like this:

Corsica cabinets by Bellmont

To save money, and because I really wanted to have a hand in creating the kitchen, I’m going to be installing these resilient self stick tiles:

Roman Travertine tiles by Trafficmaster/ceramica

Get this, they’re groutable vinyl tiles! I can’t wait to play. And yes, I am going to be installing 12 x 24 tiles. Probably in a brick pattern. I don’t know why I’ve conceived a love of 12x 24 tiles, but I have.

We’re going with a quartz countertop, in a basic black, and simple stainless handles with just a bit of a curve. 
Two huge sinks, because that has always been part of a dream kitchen for my husband. And I’m getting a range with a baking drawer, to make hosting big parties easier. Not that I do big parties all that often. But now my Mom will be able to have some piping hot acorn squash ready when she wants it on Thanksgiving. 
It’s all supposed to be done well in time for Thanksgiving. I’m so excited. I can’t wait!

Style Review aka S.H.O LOAD blog hop

Welcome blog-hoppers to the land of random posts, and too long videos!

Ha.

Sorry. I’ve been staring at iMovie all evening, and I think it’s made me a bit loopy.

If you’re blog-hopping, you should have just come from Alison C.’s blog. If you’re starting here, don’t forget to check out everyone else’s blogs.

Lynnette
Leslie
Katrina
Kelli P.
Alison D.
Cathy H.
Dani
Heather H.
Alison C.
Heather D.  (wait that’s me, you’re already here!) (Welcome!)

Danielle H.

I’m not going to tell you how to prepare. I’ve already done that. Most of you are old hands at LOAD by now anyway. You’ve all found your way to LOAD in one way or another, and found a very welcoming community. You’ve figured out how to make it work for you, and why you keep coming back to this fun and rewarding challenge.

You’ve got this challenge mastered.

That’s wonderful.

There’s more though. Have you gone back and looked at how LOAD has changed you? Or, perhaps to be more specific, how LOAD has changed your scrapbooking? I thought it might be interesting, and put together this slide show of most of my stuff. It’s not everything, not by a long shot, but it is a significant chunk. It’s interesting to see the evolution from my very simple first page, through Cathy Zielske’s Design Your Life and Everyone Can Write a Little classes, and Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories class, to my first of many LOAD challenges.

They’re all in there. Please forgive the length and the endlessly repeating piano loop. It was either that or banjos. That’s what I had to work with in iMovie.

You may want to go visit Danielle H. first, and then come back to watch this. The piano may put you to sleep.

Big Ideas

One of the things I love about scrapbooking is that it’s not really about the paper. It’s not even about the photos or the stories. In many ways it’s a philosophy, at least it is for me.

Scrapbooking is a way for me to think about the here and now as, not perfect, but just right. It’s a way for me to appreciate and save the little pieces of life that matter. The hugs and hands held, the silly stories and the stories that make you cry.

I have known from a very young age that life is impermanent and imperfect. Every hug could be the last one, every day is vastly different from the day before, and from what I thought it might be or even could be.

Maybe that’s why I love the way Lain Ehmann and Stacy Julian and Cathy Zielske teach scrapbooking. And the lesson from Amy Sorenson in this year’s Big Idea Festival at Big Picture Classes is another one of those perfect, deep reasons that empowers and drives my creativity.

Amy talked about how we’re always looking for that happily ever after moment: that moment when everything is perfect, or everything is done, or every piece is in place in order to begin some new project.

The thing is, there is no happily ever after. There’s no point in time that’s perfect or just right. There’s only right now, and that cliff right over there that you need to jump off of to get started and do. If you never try something, you will never fail, but you will also never succeed. And if you don’t look around, take the plunge, do the uncomfortable scary thing, the only thing you’ll have to look back on are regrets.

What’s more important? A life filled with safety and sameness, or one filled with challenges and love? It’s so easy to live the first. I aspire and try for the second. I don’t always succeed, but that’s good. At least I am trying.

And every once in a while, my scrapbooker’s eye catches messages from the world around me that remind me how wonderful and precious every moment is.

Where’ve you been?

Oh wait, that should probably be “where’ve I been?”

Well, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or hang out on ScrapHappy, you probably know where I’ve been. Moving!

We said goodbye to our lovely house in the Pine Hills, and our wonderful neighbors, and moved a whole 3.5 miles away to Guilderland. Except the post office tells us we’re still in Albany. :D

Hey, this way my husband gets to say he’s still in Albany, and I get a different school district. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Albany. It just wasn’t a good fit for my geeky, pun-loving, history adoring no.1 son.

So. We moved.

Instead of living in a 100+ year old house with a decidedly arts and crafts bent, we’re living in a mid-century split level (if one step difference counts as a split level) with an upstairs.
We’ve got a garage and a driveway. That means room for 5, count them, 5! cars. As opposed to renting a parking spot across the street. Five steps to get into the house, instead of 15! No sidewalk to shovel. Instead I have a driveway. Which, since I won’t have the whole neighborhood trooping over it before it even stops snowing, will be much easier to shovel. Since I have no stairs!

Although, I thought the heavy, clay filled soil at our old house was bad, the soil here is even worse- it’s all sand. Jonathan and his compost pile have their work cut out for them.

We miss our old neighbors. We’ve somehow managed to go the whole summer without getting together, which is sad. At least we have some wonderful, welcoming new neighbors. I really hope I can manage to introduce the old and new soon. I know! Party at my house! After we get the kitchen remodeled.

Now that’s exciting!

(Oh, and check out my new craft room!)