Friday, November 13, 2015

Planning for Chalica!

Tis the season, y'all!  Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and Christmas after (even though the stores would you lead to believe the reverse), but there is a little known UU holiday tucked in the middle.  Chalica.  I left the Presbyterian Church at the end of 2006 and found my UU Church nearly a year later in November 2007 (i use 'found' loosely since I just followed my parents).  My oldest was 5 weeks old when we walked through those doors.  8 years and 2 additional kids later.....we are fairly active in our faith community.  As you may or may not know, UU-ism is, well, complicated.  There are many backgrounds, beliefs, feelings all coming together with one united feeling of connectedness.  However, with many backgrounds and stories.......there is always a bit of fuzziness surrounding some of the traditional holidays such as Christmas and Easter.  My family celebrates these as we always have.....with a few tweaks, of course, but it is a time of family and tradition.  This said, I still wanted to find something that connected my children, husband and I to our UU culture.  2 years ago, I heard about Chalica.  Created in 2005, it starts on the first Monday of December and lasts 7 days.  Each day we focus on one of our 7 UU Principles.  At first, I was interested, but didn't really know what to do with it.  Last year, I decided we were doing SOMETHING.  So instead of 1 candle on my chalice that we light every night, I replaced it with 7 different colored tea lights and each night we would talk about the principle for that day and light a new tea light.  That was totally a last-minute attempt.  This year, I'm pre-planning.  I want to make this a tradition we can sink our teeth into.  I'm heavily relying on two sources:

Chalica Facebook Page Blog

1) Day 1: The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person - Restated for children: "Each person is important."

We will choose an individual we would like to show appreciate for and be a "secret admirer" and improve their day somehow.

2) Day 2: Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.  Children’s translation: “We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.”

I'm going to try to find a shelter or soup kitchen we can volunteer at.  All are welcome to join us!!!  Stay tuned for info.

3) Day 3: acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” Or, translated for kids: “We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.”

What does and doesn’t it look like to ‘accept’ another person’s faith outlook? What is spiritual growth? What are ways that one person can ‘encourage’ another person’s spiritual growth? How can this idea be applied even outside of one’s congregation?

Not sure what I'd like to do with this one yet.

4) Day 4: Free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Or, in children’s parlance: “We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.”

I think we'll look at and discuss the "Elephant and the Blind Men" parable and talk about keeping an open mind and trying to find out all aspects of a truth.

5) Day 5: The use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” The children’s translation reads: “We believe that all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.”

Going to have to think some more on this one.

6) Day 6: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.” The children’s translation reads: “We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.”
We're going to sign up for an International Pen Pal program

7) Day 7:  Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” The children’s version: “We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.”
We're going on hike!

What have you or are you doing for Chalica this year?  Want to join us one night, comment me and we'll see what we can do!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Faerie Birthday

My daughter, my only baby girl, turned 2!  I decided to do a Faerie Birthday.  I wanted to make it fun, but not go too overboard like Pinterest kept screaming at me to is what I went with:

Colors:  Pink and Yellow and i stuck with just some balloons and tablecloths and the tableware
Food:  various wraps, some chips, veggies, and of course, pickles (my little one LOVES pickles!)
Activities:  We made faerie gardens and played with bubbles.

As the kids arrived, I had them paint little birdhouses i found at Michael's for their faeries.



Then while they dried, they ate and then we played with bubbles using special bubble wands that my nieces and i put together. Bubble Wands

Then we put the faerie gardens together.  I found plastic bowls at walmart that were just big enough.  We put in just a bottom layer of dirt then we sprinkled glitter all over the dirt to make the garden magical so the faeries could find them.  I found small bottles of glitter at the dollar store near the nail polish.  they are supposed to be for nail art, but they fit the bill here!  Then we covered the glitter with more dirt and then added the houses.  I set out bowls of glass beads, rocks and shells and let them go crazy.  I even found some butterflies in the fake flower area of Michael's that we could attach to the little houses.  I think the kids loved them!


For the cake, i tried playing with fondant for the first time.  Found out i need some practice, but i don't think it was too bad for my first attempt.

For favors, we made hidden faeries flowers.  I used an idea I found on Pinterest and then, instead of just stuffing tissue paper in the center, i hid a faerie that i got from Amazon in it.  Each flower was different so they would have their own special friend.  Flower tutorial

Here is my step by step guide to make these: Faerie Favors

Faerie Favors

Start with a small square of tissues paper, this is about 10x10

place the faerie inside and wrap it up


Tuck it inside the toilet paper tube

now, fold up a longer piece of tissues paper, and cut the top to look like a single petal.

Unroll the paper and attach it to a side of your tube.


Roll all the way and tuck the bottom end into the tube


Then fluff your petals

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Faith Journey

*This was shared at the BRUU Journey Service on July 5, 2015.

You are looking at the youngest ever former Deacon at "my former church".  Also, probably the youngest Sunday School teacher.  I was a Presbyterian.  I became a Sunday school helper in the 8th grade for the 3rd grade and a full teacher in the 9th grade, teaching 4th, 5th, and finally middle school, where I stayed until Christmas of 2006.  I was a member of the youth group, the youth choir, on the activities team, assisted with curriculum development, and was made a deacon at the age of 23.  I knew my parables and my readings and was a model ‘Christian’.  I didn’t question anything.  I even, at one point, applied for the position as Youth Director, but alas, my collection of Christian rock cds wasn’t extensive enough to give me all the answers they thought I should have. 

At 25, I had been married for 1 1/2 years and was planning to start a family.  I had also started becoming aware of some things at the church that I wasn’t particularly proud of.  There were comments made about individuals that weren’t very nice and having witnessed them come from the pastor’s wife and associate pastor, well, irritated me to put it lightly.

Now, I need to back up and tell you a little about S.  When we moved back from Scotland and started attending "the church", the other kids weren’t all that welcoming.  They had grown up together and weren’t used to new kids.  S, however, approached me, welcomed me, and even set it up between our moms so that she could drive me to school and I wouldn’t have to ride the bus.  Sarah is also bi-sexual.  Well, on Christmas Eve of 2006 (at which point I had been at the church for 10 years), S found me in the sanctuary and she was in tears.  She had been informed by the pastor’s wife that she was no longer allowed in the Sunday school wing because parents were afraid she would influence their children.  That was it for me.  I couldn’t stay and let it be ok.  So, I left.  In the middle of service.  My sister-in-law and niece were with me and I said, we’re leaving, and we left.  I went back a week later to get my stuff from my room and have never been back.  I left a note for my kids, but they didn’t get it and I later found out that they were told I had to move away suddenly. (I did find some of them later on Facebook and tell them the truth).

Moving forward, 2 months later I found myself pregnant and excited and ……without a church family.  So, we started looking.  We looked for nearly a year.  My parents had already come to BRUU, so we decided to check it out.  We walked through those doors the morning after Auction (a rather quiet day) with our 5 week old baby and found welcoming arms.  Bea offered to keep Mikey in the nursery, which had seen very little use at that time, and we fell in love with the congregation.  5 weeks later we signed the book.

It has taken me some time to find what UU means to me and what that means for my family’s lives.  Raising first generation UU’s is no easy task.  There isn’t a rule book or a traditional church calendar.  I’ve picked apart the routines I knew and found no meaning.  Slowly, though, we have found some new ways.  We have UU prayers to the Spirit we say over dinner and light a chalice.  We celebrated Chalica for the first time this past year.  Principle 1 is repeated often in our house usually as a behavior reminder and we talk about Jesus as a cool dude who had some great ideas on how to live our lives.  And I finally rejoined the religious education world and am a member of the middle school team. 

And that’s where I am now, my journey continues.  And, many days, starting over with what that means today.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Familiar Struggle.......

I've been watching interviews and reading articles on the recent events surrounding a white-born woman and her now-exposed transition to a black-lifestyle.  The whole thing makes me sad and I really feel badly for her.  During the interview I watched, she explained how she always identified as a darker-skinned individual.  How she drew herself as a girl with the darker crayons.  To me, it's a very familiar recollection expressed by those who are transgender.  They just didn't feel like they quite matched on the inside with what was on the outside.  And the arguments by her parents about basically having no idea what she is talking about and trying to destroy a little too familiar too, right?  I've heard there are arguments that she did it to get the job she has.  Did she, though?  or........does she happen to have a found a unique combination of a cause she is passionate about and the freedom to be who she feels she is and roll them all up together?  It's not like she put on her make-up to go to work and pretend and then was a totally different person at home.  Maybe you feel i've totally missed the point, but someone living their life the way they see fit AND......trying to make that dream possible for others.........HOW DARE SHE!  Maybe we should send her to some Country that has based its entire existence on those ideals..........wait.........hmm.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Minecraft Party for the Non-Minecraft Mom

Here it is, the Minecraft 5th Birthday.

Invitation:  I designed a sword, was able to print both sides on one sheet and then cut it out and glued it together..........took me a couple of episodes of Bones to cut them all out, so just be prepared.  I'm happy to email you the template if you want.  Just say so in the comments!


For the decorations, i kept it simple, green and black.  Only a dozen balloons.  I tried to use black tape on them to create a creeper face like I saw on Pinterest..........but.......the black tape is heavier than the helium can hold, green balloons it was.

Cake: J wanted a creeper cake.....square...hmm....I don't do fondant, so square cupcakes!  The pan is at Michael's.  It is also available on walmart, if you are willing to order it and wait (more planning required).  I just used different combinations of green food coloring to make different shades and then i got some of the black icing paste.  it came ok.


Food:  Hotdogs (cooked meat), chips (baked potato), carrots, (carrots), cheese cubes (gold), watermelon (Melon) and pretzels (sticks).  I printed off some labels that were of the minecraft foods, glued them to cardboard, attached them to plastic knives (because i always have a ton of extras of those) and then stuck them in little tubs of play dough leftover from Halloween.

For activities:

I made each kid a burlap pouch for their "inventory".  I also got those little acrylic jewels in clear (diamond), green (emeralds) and blue (lapis) and then i found some gold and silver (iron) painted rocks.  these were the rewards for completing each task.

Task 1 - get the ball in the buck.  Only we set the bucket in the center of the jungle gym.

Task 2 - Cross the lava.  I did the floating island team building activity with two 'islands' and some boards that weren't quite long enough on their own and they had to figure out how to get everyone safely across.

Task 3: Tightrope walking.  We strung up some tension cords between two trees and they had to get across it.

Task 4:  We created a spiderweb between two more trees and they had to get through it without touching the sides.  We used parra-cord.

Task 5:  They made TNT.  Small cans of plain seltzer water and mentos.  We had them circle a table and drop their mentos in the can one at a time.  They had a blast!

Then we just did cake and presents.

For favors, the kids I had made little sward pendants using those little plastic beads and mats and an iron.

Kids had a blast and i'm pretty sure i spent all of $50- $75 total.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

It's Called a Radish!

Garden Update!  Somehow, the things I forgot I planted and then things I never intended to plant are doing the best.  It seems like I always have some extraordinary plant growing in my compost bin.  This year, i could at least identify that it was some sort of gourd vegetable growing (by the leaves).  My guess is zucchini because it's the only item i distinctly remember having to throw out before I could cook it because it got a bit, it's been growing some, but it's been very hot and no rain......until this week.......I went out today to do battle with some weeds and BLAM!!!!  Hello, plant!  I can't wait to see if I'm right or not about what it is!

Then there are the radishes.  I honestly forgot I planted them.  I knew there was something coming up nicely, but had no clue what it was.  My little helper decided my garden markers needed to all be together in one spot and followed me around pulling them all up......and, of course, i wrote everything down in a diagram.........that has mysteriously's a surprise garden year.  Like I said, I went out to do battle and out of the corner of my eye, I see red stuff in the dirt.  First thought is some ball or toy has been destroyed and ditched in my garden (not a happy momma), then I investigate....guess what?  Apparently, I planted radishes......and they grow rather quickly.  So, ta-da!


The rest of the garden is doing ok...beans and cucumbers are hard to mess up.  

I think this is squash........and a lonely lettuce plant

Up-and-coming sunflowers across the back there (yes, i know i need a weed-eater) and i think that is a different squash over on the far right

The peas.........with an expertly built cage (not!)

And my tomato plants.  They did really well on this side of the yard last year........i mean, we're talking tomato planted them near the same spot.  I have 4 different i remember which, no.  Surprises in store!