Friday, November 21, 2008

Will It Be Merry?

Yesterday I got out of class early, so I had about an hour to kill before I met up with my friend Ken for lunch at Noodle House (aka Noodles & Company, one of my fave places ever!)

I decided to go to Target instead of going to the library to work on projects (I am SO responsible!) and of course, it lead me through the baby section and the toy section to kind of browse for what I plan to buy for the holiday season's Toy and Baby Supply Drive.

I was astounded at the price of things. I know all you parents out there are like "Ya? No surprises here!" I wanted to buy pacifiers, but even the cheapest ones were at least $3-4. I was hoping to buy a couple packs, and I felt so discouraged. Okay, onto baby formula, even Target Brand formula was at least $11! Though I was discouraged that I, as a college student would not be able to afford the big donation I was hoping to make (I was invisioning like, BAGS full of stuff to donate) I wondered how anyone can afford to be parents? But I traveled on.

I get to the toy section, which happened to be next to the seasonal stuff, and I heard that Charlie Brown Christmas song playing. I actually got choked up you guys! Seeing the prices of toys, and hearing the music, I was walking up and down the toy aisles, almost in tears thinking that Christmas wouldn't be coming for a child this year because their parents couldn't afford it. I was trying to find the best value for my dollar, a toy that would spark creativity or really get the child engaged (so NO BRATZ dolls!) but also be a "hot item."

I found the My Little Ponies, which I have NO clue if they're still a wanted toy? I mean, they brought them back so I'm hoping girls like them? Well, the price of MLP's went up this year by a dollar. Not only that, but the toys no longer offer any accessories. Any 80's kid will tell you, you HAD to have a brush for your Pony's mane. If not, there had to be some little plastic tiara or something to make up for it!

I went up and down the aisles but couldn't find anything within my budget, and began to realize that there will be many parents facing this same dilemna, but they are expected to come up with the gifts. My contribution though, is optional.

It was astounding that many of the toys that were cheap, were only part of a playset. To complete the playset, you would at least spend $50. These toy companies really know how to market to children, and also know how to tap in to their parent's wallets. By selling "sets" that "need" more pieces to be complete, a child of course, will want more.

So my question to you, is what are great toys that are a good value, but also are good for the child's developing brain and creativity? I know I wasn't emotionally scarred, infact, I loved my Barbies, but if I can get something that will make a child think and grow, I would be a happy camper.

So what are the hot toys this season, any tips on how to get them cheap? Thanks guys, can you please spread the word to your friends or anyone who has kids so I get more input?

Would crayons and markers be a dissapointment for kid? I used to LOVE to get watercolors, oil pastels, anything...but I was an artsy kid. I didn't have a computer growing I worry that something like this the new generation will not appreciate?

And now, for some cute toys!

As you can see, I definetly have a "girl toy" bias. >>sigh<< oh well! It's just so cute!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Heart is Divided.

DISCLAIMER: I warn you now, what reads below are words from my own heart. If it will upset you to read them, I advise you to hit the "back button," and leave this issue be. I wrote this for another blog and felt the need to post it on here, because my heart aches as I write this, and I wanted to express it. I do not mean to offend or attack, but rather to voice the dissapointment and true sadness I feel at this moment. I realize that many who will read this do not agree with me on this, and I realize I'm putting myself on a limb. I do not wish to create a divide in my friend/family circle- that would truly break my heart. I do though, desire to be honest about my feelings, and hope that you can read the following (if you choose to) with respect and the understanding that I love everyone who reads this and do not wish to create tension.

Read on if you desire, but if you'd rather not hear it, I advise you to wait until I post something more neutral, like pictures of my dogs or something from Disneyland.

Thank you.

Our nation has a rough road ahead- we will see big changes in terms of the economy, civil rights, the war, and foreign policy. There will be disagreements, successes and failures- but I hope we can all unite as a nation to help and work for a better country for everyone.

Apparently, my work is not over. I know my new shoes will have holes worn in them, as I continue to attend rallies, help out at events and try to spread what I believe to be God's message- that we must love one another.

This last election seemed to prove a contradiction- that we are ready for some peoples to be vindicated, and yet for others, there is a long way to travel before people can eradicate hatred from the hearts. It truly breaks my heart, that we see people using the Bible to justify discrimination. I just cannot believe, in the depths of my heart that God would ever really want us to hate someone, or deny them the right to live a happy life with rights equal to mine.

I will never use my vote to condone the creation (or perhaps continuation) of a second class of citizens. In my heart, I don't believe that God would want me to treat anyone as lesser person than myself, and then support it being written into law.

I suppose, there is no arguing with those that believe gay marriage is wrong. Apparently, some have hoped that by passing this proposition, it would make this issue go away, or that it wouldn't be as visible. I have to say, this has done nothing to advance the cause of religious righteousness, instead, it has perpetuated the cause of hatred and creating a power hierarchy that has preserved the ideals of the heterosexual privilege. It has now created the means to continue the oppression that has existed, and condone a hatred that finds a false justification by citing God as their means to do so. We no longer use the Bible to justify slavery or the oppression of women, so I do not feel it is appropriate to continue to use this as justification for the denial of AMERICAN rights (that shouldn't be determined by religious preference.)

In my heart and mind, LOVE, is the greatest emotion we possess. To segregate others that don't fit the mold, into a different expression of that love, so ours can feel more genuine, seems wrong to me. We have seen that segregation of rights, or access to common institutions has NEVER been a way to ensure equality for the masses. The term "separate but equal," has only ensured that two peoples are separate, but we know it has never been equal. Institutions should be the inclusive of all peoples- because dividing them has never been a fair process for those in the minority- ask anyone who had to sit in the back of the bus.

I also do not believe it's fair to think that by giving rights to all people, regardless of our own beliefs, that it somehow would be detrimental to the wellbeing and morality of our children. We teach our children that America is a land of "fairness and justice to all," but yet, as they grow up into adults, will they not see it clearly not the case? Homosexality is not a disease that our children will catch, they are not raised to become so, but homophobia is something that is. Bigotry and intolerance is perpetuated from generation to generation. Eventually, it is passed on for so long that it transforms from an opinion to a fact, and because it seems "factual," it is then passed into law, furthering the falseness of this created reality. Those argue that the Jim Crow laws of the South are not comparable to the discrimination which we are now, through law, imposing on homosexuals, I want to be told HOW they are not comparable. So far, I have heard nothing but opinion on this.

I realize, that my arguments in favor of equality for all fall on deaf ears. I cannot argue with the word of God as it is presented in the Bible, but I can ask for those who claim it as their main defense against gay marriage to look at it once again. Do we take every passage literally? Do we still stone people to death, do we still hold slaves? Do we still make women go to the Red Tent during menstruation? Do we still forbid women from speaking in church? Why have we chosen to disregard some and still hold onto other verses from the Bible? Why- because society has evolved and does not have to take it all literally. Those who follow should Christianity use it as a guide, but not as a word-for-word dictation in terms of social justice. Otherwise, we would still stone people to death for committing adultery.

We selectively use the Bible to enforce social norms to further it into a social reality. This is my theory as to why we now disregard passages in it about slavery, and about women's "place," but at one time, these passages were used to further justify societal injustice. We use the Bible in this manner as a convenience to further our own agendas, and I think this is wrong.

I suppose what I am asking for- is that we use today's wisdom, coupled with the Bible's teachings, to further progress in society and create a more fair and balanced society, not one which excludes a group of people or selectively chooses when to discriminate due to convenience. I wish I could see the Bible teach compassion and tolerance not enforce segregation that masks the true intentions of injustice.