The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday

 

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I will be honest. We have turned off our TV this week. (Mostly because I feel like the first five days of violence in America’s streets were enough to give my kids the understanding that things are not okay.) Secondly, it has allowed hubby and I to turn down the noise of the media and have serious and sincere discussions with our children about what’s going on and the ugly history behind it. The truth is we can’t turn off the ugliness in our world. There is no universal remote for peace, kindness, or equality. We can, however,  turn up the discussion on what must change and tune into what will make our world a better place.

Currently, I am reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I began reading this before George Floyd’s tragic death, but the book’s contents have rang painfully true for me in these times. Previously I’d read about the history behind the apartheid in South Africa and the impacts of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, but never did I give the circumstances of those who lived it much consideration. In my mind, it was as if a switch must have been flipped in South Africa, one day the apartheid ruled and the next day things were hunky dory. The problem with my thinking on that situation is as wrong and hurtful as those who are allowing generalizations and stereotypes to rule their reactions and beliefs about the protests and riots today. I am grateful Trevor Noah’s book provided me with the opportunity to grow in my understanding.

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Noah does a terrific job of addressing his life experiences and the viewpoints of the South African apartheid in a candid and witty manner. I with that everyone would follow his lead and use this perspective to see the race situation for what it is and eliminate the handy rationalizations that allow the division of people’s to perpetuate.

Continue reading “The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday”

20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge – #20BooksOfSummer20

I learned about this #20BookOfSummer20 challenge from one of my favorite book bloggers Fictionofile. The Reading Challenge was created by Cathy at 746books.com and I am excited to give it a go. I plan to double dip my reading though as I join my kiddos in participating in the local library’s summer reading program too.

The rules are simple:

If you want to join in, just nab Cathy’s Books of Summer image, pick your own 20 books you would like to read and link back to her Master post from 1 June to let her know that you are taking part.  She’d love your support and hopes some of you will join in the summer reading fun!

Choosing your list of books is half the fun, as is following along with everyone’s progress on this years new #20booksofsummer20 hashtag.

The challenge starts off on Monday, June 1st and finishes on Tuesday, September 1st.

Most of the books from my #20BooksOfSummer20 Challenge

Because life is CRAZY I’m not sure I can pull off 20 titles before September 1st, but here are the books I hope to devour in my efforts:

  1. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  2. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
  3. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  4. Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks
  5. The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
  6. The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh
  7. The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe
  8. Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander
  9. Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker
  10. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
  11. The Full Scoop by Jill Orr
  12. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ***I’m re-reading this with a group of friends as an informal Book Club.***
  14. Educated by Tara Westover
  15. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  16. Bettyville by George Hodgman
  17. The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
  18. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  19. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  20. Light Years by James Salter

*I hyperlinked titles to the Goodreads’ description for each book.

Books bring people together. I still love the practice of asking those I meet what they are reading. (Will Schwalbe is a genius.) I hope you find some quality reading time this summer and nurture your imagination and positive energy with some sweet or scary literature.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. What are you reading?

P.P.S. Be sure to share what you plan to read this summer.

Don’t Close the Door on Idiosyncrasies

What is the weirdest thing that bothers you?

What idiosyncrasy do you hold near and dear to your heart?

My friend Brian has a passion for keeping the door to his office closed when it is not in use. The door’s closure allows him focus and to maintain the energy he needs to be most effective at his job. Brian will post on Facebook hilarious rants about the need for that door to be closed. His posts make me laugh, but also remind me that the idiosyncrasies that set us apart are also what make us all human.

Open Door Idyosyncrasy

Continue reading “Don’t Close the Door on Idiosyncrasies”

History in Childhood

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The timeline of my 1st grader’s life according to him.

In a recent Social Studies lesson, my son was learning about timelines. The last activity on the page was to make a timeline of events in his life. Of course we began with when he was born. The only other events he chose to include were getting our dog and starting school. When the time came to add 2020, I asked what he wanted to record for current events.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Anthony is stuck at home.”

Those five words spoke volumes. They reflected how our current situation has defined this period in our lives. Stuck.

This assignment reminded me of a homework activity my daughter had last fall. She was to interview family members and ask what event they believed defined their generation. Both hubby and I believed that 9/11 was the defining experience for those of our age. My mother-in-law and father-in-law said Vietnam or Korean Wars. Greg’s grandmother said World War II and a tornado that had hit their hometown. It was funny to me how tragedies seemed to determine our identities. Why is it that we don’t typically use the advent of a new invention or success as the center to what we see in ourselves?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

Success is beautiful and uplifting, but tragedy builds character and resilience. Continue reading “History in Childhood”

Where 2 or 3 are Gathered … The New Meaning

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Today I served as lector for the Palm Sunday mass at our church. This wasn’t unusual, as I have been the lector for this particular mass many times in the past. The unusual part came as I was reading to an almost completely empty church. (Only Father T., another lector, and four members in the choir loft were there with me.)

While this was unusual as masses go, it is the new “normal” for those seeking to take part in celebrations of faith as we seek to stay afloat in the Coronavirus pandemic.

The news of our church broadcasting via Facebook Live may not be headline news, but I believe the impacts of social media-shared services across the globe provides a groundbreaking new definition for “Where 2 or 3 are gathered…”

Matthew 18:20 New International Version (NIV)

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

I know there have been times when church attendance was low and often there are only a handful of parishioners at any one service. The unique element of the social media-shared services is that the two or three in church are joined in spirit and faith by hundreds, maybe thousands, in their homes. The words, actions, prayers, and petitions are all being shared simultaneously via the world wide web. Continue reading “Where 2 or 3 are Gathered … The New Meaning”

Quarantine: What Teachers Are Expecting from Parents

COVID Parent Expectations

As our nation faces another week of stay-at-home orders, mandated and self-quarantines, and growing fears for time lost from work or school, I recently had someone ask me, “What do you, as an educator, think about trying to keep school going at home?”

Well, I can’t speak for ALL educators, but here is what I know and believe.

First of all, we miss the kids. We miss the classroom. We miss being able to teach, interact, hug, listen to, and learn from our students.

The greatest hope we have for our students is that they are safe, secure, and still learning on some level.

While most parents don’t have degrees in classroom management or educational psychology, the majority understand what it means to be a kid. Maintaining awareness for their innocence and young minds needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts as we interact with them.

With regards to lesson plans, please just do your best. Try to provide opportunities for kids to make connections between what they normally would be learning in school and what they are getting at home. While there aren’t SmartBoards, extensive libraries, and gymnasiums in our homes, there are still plenty of ways to encourage our kids to keep learning. Some families don’t have computers or internet access. There are still ways to engage children in reading, math, science, and physical activity. Parents, allow yourselves to learn news ways to communicate positively with your children and let them know that change is hard, but we can make it easier together.

To those who say, “It’s not my job to teach. I’m not making my kids do homework,” teachers view all children as their own. When you refuse to put effort into helping your own child learn, you are refusing to help everyone. Please don’t take that from them or us. We all deserve to have knowledge and understanding as this pandemic impacts our lives. You are that child’s parent, and, therefore, you are their first teacher. Join us in the work we do to ensure bright futures open to continued growth and knowledge.

Finally, please remember teachers are people too. We have fears, anxiety, and questions that can’t be answered. We are doing our best to share as much information and as many opportunities as possible with your kids, while caring for/teaching/raising/coping with our own families. Please don’t let our efforts be something that is also lost during this time of crisis.

Again, I can’t speak for all teacher, but this is what I believe most would say. Be safe. Stay healthy. Read, write, experiment, exercise, love, and learn.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Parents, it’s okay to put yourself in detention if you need a time out, but don’t punish your kid if new Math is confusing. Teachers had to learn it too.

P.P.S. Parents, it’s also okay to give yourself an apple or a chocolate bar when you’ve done a good job of helping get through those workbook pages.

P.P.P.S. Teacher friends, thank you for stretching yourselves and adapting to these crazy conditions. You’ve all earned A’s in my book.

Letters Already Included – Wise Words Wednesday

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Greeting cards are one of the best parts of birthdays, anniversaries, saying thank you, or just to brighten someone’s day. At my son’s 7th birthday party, I gained a new appreciation for the messages inside greeting cards.

A few of the boys made cards to go with their gifts. These were particularly sweet and showed some serious artistic promise. Others purchased greeting cards they thought the birthday boy would enjoy. (His loves for the color yellow, Legos, outer space, and dinosaurs were well represented.)

The magical epiphany of greeting card messages came as the huddle of wiggling wish givers waited for my son to sound out the words inside a store-bought card. One of my son’s buddies (who had made his own card) exclaimed, “It came with all those letters already inside!” 

Wow! 

That 7 year-old boy realized something as simple as a card already containing an expression of friendship was something to celebrate. The fact there was an option to give a card with the message right there inside was something to be proud of, to feel excited about, and to make a gift extra fancy.

Here is your Intentergy challenge for today. You are just like that card. You already have the letters inside you. Dedicate your intent and energy to putting the message out there for others. Be proud of your accomplishments and of your friends and family. Share excitement for great things happening around you. Fancy things up a bit with some flattering, faith-filled, or funny messages. You were sent here with all those letters already inside you. It’s okay if you don’t sound like a Hallmark commercial. The simplest sentiments and discoveries (like a card with the letters already inside) are better anyway.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Special shout out to my friend Angela for being the mom who sacrificed herself as a warrior in the Nerf gun war. Angela took one for the mom team allowing the Nerf war teams to be even. I salute you!

 

“Is That Right?” – Never Leave Behind a Willingness to Understand

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Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Recently, we said good-bye to my husband’s Grandma Dorothy. I am proud to say that I had many opportunities to spend time with her and loved her very much. She will be greatly missed for her kind smile, beautiful quilts, and delicious monster cookies.

One of the things I admired most in Grandma Dorothy was her unwavering willingness to listen and learn about the lives of those for whom she cared. In any conversation, Grandma would always listen and then say, “Is that right?,” with a smile, smirk, or frown (She also wasn’t one to hide her feelings well).

She never let her ninety years of experience get in the way of understanding what was helping, hurtful, exciting, or enhancing to the lives of those around her. Grandma openly accepted that people are different and that the relationships we build are ones that deserve attention, nurturing, or closure because that’s how we grow.

Sitting on her couch the afternoon of Grandma’s passing, I couldn’t help but glance at the rocker that had been so frequently filled by her and ached to hear Grandma say those words, “Is that right?”

As children always do, mine provided great comfort, insight, distraction, and healing through the process of Grandma’s visitation and funeral. The night after her funeral, I said extra prayers with each kiddo in Grandma’s honor. As we wrapped up our devotions, my daughter said, “Mom, I heard that when you pray a Hail Mary, an Our Father, and a Glory Be someone from purgatory goes to heaven. Is that right?” Continue reading ““Is That Right?” – Never Leave Behind a Willingness to Understand”

Whatever Field You’re In – Thoughts from “Farm, Family, and ME!” Summit for Women

As I waited for the opening session of the 2019 Farm, Family, and ME! Summit for Women, I enjoyed being a fly on the wall. I knew no one there. The room filled; the noise level rose, and various conversations began to flow. As with most conferences, the individual participants had their own motivations for being there, but each was there for one reason. They were there to grow in the field of agriculture.

With each introduction, I was pleased to learn my new acquaintance’s name and what branch of farming they represented. Many were there with backgrounds in cattle, hogs, and row cropping. Others represented agri-tourism, sustainable, organic farming, and accounting and farm investment firms. (I was the only turkey farmer.)

The pride each woman showed for her role in the world of agriculture added to my own joy in having grown up and now seeing my own family raised on a farm. The hard work, dirty jobs, and relentless demands of livestock and crops all seemed to be fodder for the flames that grew with each presentation and sharing of information.

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Me enjoying some Missouri-made wine

While this conference was intended to create networking and educational opportunities, it had a feel of an agricultural retreat. The breakout sessions, locally sourced meals,  Missouri-made wines, and positive ideas and options for female farmers were highly therapeutic and invigorating. I definitely left there with a renewed sense of purpose and a brighter view of what I wanted my role in our family farm to be.

Having Marji Guyler-Alaniz, host of FarmHer television, as the opening speaker elevated us to rural rock star status. But before Marji even took the stage, Missouri’s first lady Teresa Parson made a cameo appearance and took the opportunity to meet many of us, asking where we were from and about our farms, and then spoke on the importance of agriculture for our state. She was positive, professional, and approachable. A perfect tone-setter for the summit.

summit-3.jpgThe motivation and story about how FarmHer came to be was one that resonated because of its non-traditional roots and the earnest desire to give the female farmer a voice in our nation’s most necessary industry. With her statistics and experiences, it was impossible to ignore the message being shared by Marji. (I was already a fan of the show, but now my DVR is set to record every episode.) Continue reading “Whatever Field You’re In – Thoughts from “Farm, Family, and ME!” Summit for Women”

I Miss Jack Buck

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The iconic voice of St. Louis Cardinals’ announcer Jack Buck was as ingrained in my childhood as climbing trees, jumping rope, and crickets serenading the stars.

With limited access to televised games and no Sports Center, the only way we knew what the St. Louis Cardinals were doing was through the play-by-play of Jack Buck.

Whether we were in the milk barn, the car, or the kitchen, Mr. Buck brought us the sights and sounds of the game. He knew the players, the fields, the umpires. Jack’s words struck us with clarity as he announced each pitch, hit, steal, and out. We always knew what jersey the teams wore or who took a daring lead from any base.

One of the things that allowed me to connect with Jack Buck was that he never veered from the game.

Yes, he did the obligatory commercials and sponsor plugs, and he kept us entertained with his stories during rain delays and pitching changes, but he never took us far from the game at hand. Too often when we listen to the game today it takes an end of an inning to get the announcers to tell the score or acknowledge the players on the field in front of them.

Jack Buck was also a man of great passion and integrity. He promoted decency and dedication, education, and patriotism.

Before America could return to normalcy after the 9/11 attacks, it took teams returning to the baseball diamond for the world to feel like it had begun to spin again. Before the first pitch of the game at Busch Stadium on September 17, 2001, Jack Buck invited America to join in solidarity showing that we were a nation that was not afraid. We needed to continue to come together in competition and in solidarity for our nation. I was touched by Jack Buck’s words, but I was moved by his emotion. How could you not?

While 17 years have gone since his passing, his home-run calls and special conveyance of the game are missed (at least in my mind). Today the St. Louis Cardinals won the National League Central Division for the first time since 2015. It was exciting to see the players pose on the pitcher’s mound and watch the champagne showers in the locker room, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the call would have sounded like as the last out was made (a Cub’s out, no less) if Jack Buck had made the call.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Please share your thoughts on the late, great Jack Buck. A lot of us miss him.