Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kids Paint the Darndest Things

I have the privilege of being a visual arts Sunday school teacher this semester, ministering to a mixed-age class of five to eleven year-olds.  At the beginning of September, our children's minister whitewashed the tables in the art room, and we "commissioned" four tabletop murals depicting themes from the Bible.

The older kids tackled Moses and his burning bush.  The flaming heart above is at the center of their design. As a collector of milagros, I love that another teacher in our room thought to suggest this, inspiring a discussion about ex votos, sacre coeurs and the flaming heart as a common theme appearing in the religious folk art of various cultures. The bush wraps around both sides of the table:

The third graders depicted the story of Abram ("count the stars in the night sky, and that is how many descendants you shall have"), borrowing heavily on "Starry Night" imagery:

So far, so good, right? Now we get to the little kid masterpieces.  One table of kindergarteners and first graders painted a Nativity scene.  The stables are in the middle, there are angels off to the right, and above the angels - outer space.  Kicking myself that I didn't take a photo of outer space to share with you, but I did snap a pic of the candy shop located in the heart of Bethlehem's central business district:

Makes sense.  Pay your taxes, spend your last shekel on some saltwater taffy as a little pick-me-up.

Another group of small ones channeled their inner Leonardos and produced a version of "The Last Supper":

Looks entirely conventional when viewed from 30,000 feet, but let's take a look at some of the details:

See the small person sitting at a table behind the waiter?  (Yup, Baldy's a waiter - because SOMEONE had to serve them all of that food.)  That is a diner in another section of the "restaurant" in which Jesus' feast was held.


1.  YAY!  Depth and perspective.

2.  How humbling to learn that Jesus couldn't score the private banquet facility at the Applebee's, or whatever equivalent of the Applebee's they had in suburban Jerusalem.  Maybe he didn't ask for the private room - man of the people, and all.

But my favorite detail of all is this one:

See that pink oval?  It's a HAM.  "Because you eat ham on special occasions."  Well, sure you do.  We can get into the meaning of keeping kosher later.  The important thing is that they recognize that this was a very special meal, and when you are planning a very special meal, a trip to the Honeybaked Ham store typically is in order.

We left the ham exactly as they painted it (the second largest item on the table next to the wine bottle - "because little kids drank wine back then, since the water had germs").  If anyone objects, we'll say it's challah - or one of those pink conchas that are my favorite form of pan de huevo to munch on while admiring my milagros.

Reminds me of the Christmas song, "Some Children See Him":

The children in each different place
will see the baby Jesus' face
like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
and filled with holy light.

Love, love, LOVE seeing faith through the eyes of children.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

No, My Nine Year-Old is NOT Having a Breaking Bad-Themed Birthday Party and Yes, Andy is a Genius

I was feeling pretty smug about  personally graphic-designing all of the elements for Little Kid's mad science birthday:  ORIGINAL CONTENT!  AT A BARGAIN-BASEMENT PRICE!  Only expense was the cost of printing (yeah, there's a color printer around here somewhere - probably in the attic, but I never go up there, soooooo . . . .).  Correction:  only expense is printing if you ignore the human cost (measured in brain cells) relating to the following:

1.  The Black Screen of Death Approacheth.  Went to upload everything from my laptop to Office Depot's "Print & Copy" Web site when said laptop started acting major-league squirrely.  Running hella-slow.  Sensing that the end was nigh, I decided to rebudget my time and email all of the would-be Office Depot print jobs to my work desktop, to be processed over my lunch break today, and giving me enough time to upload vacation photos to Picaboo so that I could finish our summer scrapbook before the dang Groupon expires.  Once Picaboo pics were safely in cyberspace, I went to email the party stuff - and discovered that all of my files were too large.  Spent a good bit of time splitting the baby.

(In case you are wondering, Spouse bought me a replacement for the dinosaur computer - um, about two years ago.  Haven't gotten around to transferring anything over to it.  Guess I need to do so now.  The irony that, if anything goes wrong when I fire it up, I have probably blown past the warranty is not lost on me.)

2.  Somewhere, Walter White is Smiling.  As I went to upload the party invitation to Office Depot, I realized that the graphic at the top kinda, sorta looks like the Breaking Bad logo.

I swear that this wasn't intentional.  MORE time wasted, questioning whether it is appropriate to mail out a Breaking Bad-esque invitation to small children.  Ultimately decided that we, as a people, cannot abandon the periodic table solely because a savvy graphic designer came up with an iconic logo for a TV show.

3.  E-commerce is So Convenient!  It took forever to upload various files to Office Depot's site (and that was after I opted to do things in two batches - had I done everything at once, it would have taken close to an hour).  I thought I opted "store pickup" on all items, but when I went to the payment page, it informed me that the cost of mailing my items to my home would exceed the cost of the actual print job.  Um, right, which is why I opted to pick the sucker up - or did I?  Impossible to know, because when I tried to page back, I was informed that my session had expired.  Decided I would be DAMNED if I had to upload everything a second time.  Availed myself of the Web chat feature.  A nice lady in Bangladesh couldn't tell me why the system glitched, but ultimately gave me the email to my preferred Office Depot location, along with the phone number.  Spoke with another nice lady, who confirmed that I could email her the file (at this point, I had decided to cut bait and only focus on getting the Salute to Walter White printed an in the mail).  I did so, with an explanation that the job was time-sensitive and a clear explanation of number of copies needed and preferred paper stock (glossy card).

4.  Andy is a Genius.  No, seriously - I actually titled the screen capture below "Andy is a Genius.jpg" under "My Pictures."

Andy was not the name of Nice Lady #2, and at the risk of stereotyping I'm guessing that Andy is male:

WHEN will you be getting more in stock?


Reminds me of many fun childhood dining-out experiences with my frequently distracted mother:

Smoking or non?


Booth or table?


Yeah, so maybe more than just the cost of printing.  But the print job is now safely with ANOTHER Office Depot location.  Hoping that Andy is not a floater.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Calorie Count from National Neighborhood Night Out

So I'm trying to be scrupulously good about tracking what I eat over the course of a given day - primarily, to make sure that I get enough protein and not a lot of sugar or salt.  And so it was that I found myself last night, faithfully inputting my National Neighborhood Night Out "grazing dinner" into

The thing you need to know about our neighborhood:  it's in a mixed-use urban environment, so we count among our "community partners" a lot of great restaurants, both old-and-established and new-and-trendy.  Thus, our NNNO's are thinly disguised food raves.

The record of my transgressions:

1 slice of Hawaiian pizza with jalapenos from Reservoir Bar
(I had to account for the jalapenos separately, because apparently no prior My Fitness Pal user had seen fit to enter the nutritional information for Hawaiian pizza with jalapenos.  Because apparently no My Fitness Pal users, other than moi, hail from Texas?)

1/2 of a fried chicken thigh from Lisa's Fried Chicken
(I always get halfway in before remembering that I don't actually like fried chicken.)

Two cashews and one pecan half from Vending Nut Company
(I picked and chose from among the selections in my little nut cup.)

12 tortillas chips and 1/2 cup salsa from The Original

3 cheese cubes from Central Market

1 piece of spicy tuna roll from Tokyo Cafe

1 bite homestyle lasagna and 1 bite garlic bread from Bella Italia
(At this point, I was plate-sharing with Spouse, who had gone back for seconds, and a dessert sampler.)

1 cube of lemon Bundt cake with 1 dollop of cream cheese icing from Nothing Bundt Cakes
(Hooray!  Someone had actually inputted the nutritional information for a lemon-raspberry Bundlette, so I was able to extrapolate the damage done by one cake cube from there.)

 1 bite of fudge brownie and 1 bite of carrot cake from Bluebonnet Bakery

1 entire white chocolate macadamia nut cookie from Bluebonnet Bakery
(I took a bite to start, and then I decided to commit.  It was a very small cookie.)

Total damage done, in terms of calories - 1,156.  Not horrible compared to other indulgences (according to the Intrawebs, the equivalent of one slice of chocolate peanut butter cookie dough cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, and typically you consume one of those bad boys after eating a full, and equally caloric, meal).  However, it did look odd compared to my breakfast of 2 scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, bell pepper and mushrooms and 1 cup of oatmeal/quinoa porridge with dried fruit and my lunch of 1 small olive oil and sea salt chicken breast, 1 cup sauteed yellow squash and 1/2 sliced tomato with basil pesto.

Tomorrow (well, actually, today) is another day.  And yesterday was super-fun.  Love our neighborhood and our awesome community partners!