Monday, December 24, 2012

Mayim Bialik on Sandy Hook, Faith and God

I found out about the massacre in Sandy Hook Friday midday. A friend of mine mentioned in an email, “Hug your boys tight given the horrendous news that came out.” Huh?

I went to and my knees weakened. Any shooting tragedy is, well, tragic. But the headline mentioning that dozens of the victims were children–young children gunned down in their classroom–was too much to even process. And the school principal and psychologist shot as they rushed to try and stop the killer… unspeakably miserably profoundly deeply sickening.

The details of the unfolding of Sandy Hook have mesmerized me. As the child of teachers, as someone who myself has taught for years, and as someone who in my capacity as Texas Instrument’s spokesperson speaks to teachers all over the country, the senselessness of this shooting and its victims coupled with the stories coming out of brave teachers hiding children in barricaded classrooms and telling them they are loved so that God forbid if they were killed they would die feeling loved… it’s overwhelmingly furiously tragic.

What I have heard since Friday is a lot of “Why?” and also, its persistent cousin, “Where was God?”

Disclaimer: I want to share my thoughts about these questions not to detract from their significance but to express the truth of my belief system. This is not meant in any way to take away from those who will disagree with me, or those who feel I am discounting them. I express this as an alternate way to understand both the tragedy and the complexity of a relationship with the Divine.

Not once since Friday have I wondered what kind of God would let this happen. Not once have I felt angry at God, although I understand people who do. I’m speaking for myself personally: I don’t have any less faith in God because of this tragedy. God was there and God is still here.

Continue reading.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

It’s All Right to Craft: Life Lessons from a Hands-On Dad

Member and Contributor; Michael Riegel
Pro Bowl football player Rosey Grier changed my life forever — but not the way you might imagine. He didn’t influence me to beef up to 285 pounds. He didn’t sway me to become a bodyguard like he did for RFK. He didn’t even inspire me to play football.

So what did he do that impacted my personal life so deeply? He did needlepoint to pass the time, and as a young boy, I did, too.

NeedlepointThis early exposure to a man’s man doing gentle things led me down a path that, even had I known it, probably was taking me down the “road less travelled” made famous by Robert Frost. It is only recently that I have become to fully understand and embrace this concept of willingly breaking the gender stereotypes. We are probably a very typical family from the out side – - 2 kids, 2 working parents, a mortgage, 2 cars (1 minivan required), and lots of noise at home. However, in many ways we are not the picture of the typical household as Deborah does most of the business travel and I am often tasked with helping out the kids on school projects that require a trip to Michael’s Craft Store and time spent at my drafting table in the basement.

While I might not have understood my own interests at an early age, I suppose my mother did and encouraged some less than typical activities. Make no mistake, my childhood was filled with Little League games and soccer, and camping trips and Matchbox cars that have survived and are being attended to with similar care by my own son. But I was also lots of other activities in my house. All types of handicrafts including needlepoint, crocheting, knitting and sewing. My mother got it into her head that needlepoint would be a good activity for an 11-year old. At 11, I had no idea who Rosey Grier was except that he sang “It’s All Right to Cry” on the Free to be You and Me record for those of us who recall vinyl and record players. I had no idea if he actually did needlepoint but it was a great story and a way to introduce a non-traditional activity to a pretty traditional household. In fact, not only did he do needlepoint and macramé, way back in 1973 (who remembers the polyester shirts and striped pants?) he wrote a book called “Needlepoint for Men” which put him way out on the edge of traditional male hobbies. Truth be told, I did not keep up with needlepoint but it did encourage me to be crafty and that has continued throughout the many years.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Coconut Latkes with Cranberry Applesauce & Cardamom Mascarpone

Just when I’m starting to recover from the gluttony fest known as Thanksgiving, bam! It’s already time for Hanukkah. Bring on the fried. Growing up, my Mom cooked both traditional and sweet potato latkes every year for my brother and me. We looked forward to these tasty fried treats almost as much as getting the latest Everclear CD or a new set of Pogs, hypothetically speaking of course.

I continue the tradition by cooking for our annual Chrismukkah gathering and showing my friends that latkes are way more than a Jewish hashbrown. Last year, I served up Mexican Potato Latkes, which were gobbled up faster than you can say “chag sameach.” This year, inspired by my leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving, I went with a slightly sweet approach. Coconut gives the latkes a subtle flavor and extra crunch, while the cranberry applesauce and cardamom mascarpone brings a tartness that lends itself to the perfect bite. Since I am not hopeful of having a white Hanukkah with the 80-degree weather we have be having in my home in Austin, TX, I garnished the plate with extra coconut to resemble snow. Wishful thinking, perhaps?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hanukkah Card Craft With 3D Dreidel

Here's a fun idea that kids can make with just a tiny bit of help — a 3D dreidel Hanukkah card! Of course these look great standing on a mantel or shelf as holiday decorations too, so be sure to make some extras to keep for yourselves! This idea was suggested by vista print, and I'm happy to say, it got us to do a little card crafting that we may not have done otherwise! Of course one can certainly make these cards with 3D dreidels made from patterned paper, though I love the look of bright solid colors and the little designs my kids quite simply cut out using good old scissors. And do check out the cut paper Hanukkah cards we made yesterday for some fun ideas for decorating the outside of your cards.
You'll Need:
  • colored stock weight paper 
  • glue or a glue stick 
  • a pattern for how to cut the dreidel