Does the Creation v. Evolution Debate Really Matter?

I saw a number of these headlines today. Maybe you did, too:

Does Creation vs Evolution really matter? How and why we teach both to our children. | diary of a bewildered mother

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said.

The Independent

The National Catholic Register gives more context:

“He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality. And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.”

Pope Francis said that “the beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a Supreme Principle who creates out of love.”

“The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

“With regard to man, however, there is a change and something new.”

“When, on the sixth day of the account in Genesis, man is created, God gives the human being another autonomy, an autonomy that is different from that of nature, which is freedom,” Pope Francis said.

When God tells man “to name everything and to go ahead through history,” he stated, “this makes him responsible for creation, so that he might steward it in order to develop it until the end of time.”

National Catholic Register

The Pope is talking about intelligent design. Here’s what he’s saying:

  • The Big Bang theory could be possible, but not without God as the the divine, loving impetus.
  • Evolution could be possible, if you presuppose that all of the creatures were created.
  • Humans were created on the second day.
  • Creation has continued for millennia and will continue, because God gives life to everything.

Just by saying “Humans were created,” the Pope is refuting the macro-evolution idea that humans evolved from apes, which evolved from other mammals, which evolved from the first fish that sprouted legs and walked on land.*

*Do people still think that? I honestly don’t know. I think Creation is not nearly as far-fetched as the mathematically impossible chance of 1) a male and 2) a female mammal both evolving at the 3) same time, in the 4) same place, the male with 5) working sperm and the female with a 6) working womb and 7) mammary glands so that they could reproduce enough to evolve into anything else. Let alone that series of events happening for every consequential mammal for us to get the number of species the earth once had. Anyway, we will be teaching our kids evolution when they are older, and when we do, I will provide them with resources more current than what I was taught in tenth grade biology. Read on.

All this from a speech whose point was supposed to be “Hey people, we need to take care of the earth.” It isn’t new for a Pope to say that the Big Bang and evolution are not incompatible with Christianity. The disturbing thing is the part he said about God not being able to do everything. (Um…what?) But I’m not talking about omnipotence here. I’m talking about evolution and creationism.

It’s not Religion vs. Science. It’s Cosmology.

Old World, Young Earth, Evolution, Big Bang—What should we teach our kids? We’ll teach our kids everything. I’ve already started with Champ. But instead of teaching all of these thing in a science class, we’ll teach them in philosophy class. Science is something observable and testable. We can say that the universe is expanding and that’s science. We can observe microevolution—the changes within species, like the evolution of dog breeds.

We cannot observe the creation of the universe.

We can only think about it and make theories.

The Biblical Account of Creation

When we read or hear the account of creation, we think of it from our worldview. And that’s a world that has seen this:

Does Creation vs Evolution really matter? How and why we teach both to our children. | diary of a bewildered mother

It’s also a world that knows the earth spins while also going around the sun.

It’s also a world that knows 1 rotation of the earth is 1 day, and 1 trip around the sun is 1 year.

Now forget all that.

Let’s assume that Moses wrote Genesis.

Start picturing Genesis 1 from his point of view, on top of Mt. Sinai.

Like this:

Does Creation vs Evolution really matter? How and why we teach both to our children. | diary of a bewildered mother

Image Copyright Robin Montufar

Let’s read the account of the first few days of Creation, from the New Living Translation, trying to imagine it how it would have been presented to Moses:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.

Let me stop you for a second there. What’s the light? Think about that for just a second, while we move on.

Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.

When I read verse nine, I’m picturing the mountains raising up and the waters running off, pooling together to form oceans.

14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.

One day for us is one rotation of the earth around the sun. So what was a day before the sun?

Revelation 22:5 says, when talking about the new Earth, “And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.”

God himself was the light. Jesus says, twice in John, “I am the light” (8:12, 9:5). So one creation-day, during at least the first three days of creation, were relative to God’s work, not relative to the 24-hour system we know today.

Time is relative. It is relative to light passing. If we believe that, it’s easy to understand how, once we are in the presence of God, time is irrelevant. God is outside of time. For fellow geeks, Jesus is the One True TimeLord.

Of course God isn’t limited by time. One creation day could be an hour of earth time, or it could be a million years of earth time. That doesn’t change that God created the world. He created the world in six separate units, and then took some time to enjoy it. So we model our days and weeks accordingly.

So why even call it a “day” at all? To put it in terms we understand. Consider God as a man coloring in a globe. He colors in one section, turns the globe, and colors in that section, turns the globe again, and keeps turning the globe until it comes full circle. That’s one “day.” Then he adds detail with a Sharpie. He’ll probably take a lot longer to do that, but by the time he’s done, the globe has made one rotation again. It’s another “day,” it’s just a lot longer.

Time is relative to God. Creation is relative to God.

What about dinosaurs?

I am quite sure that dinosaurs weren’t around in Moses’ day, even if they were around during Noah’s (Creationists debate both ways). God was showing Moses how he created the earth. Dinosaurs were not priority. I can imagine the interchange.

 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals—”

Woah. Hold on. What is THAT?

What’s what?

That…those things. With the long necks. And the other things with the tiny arms and sharp, pointy teeth.

Oh, you like those? Yeah, I made those too.

I’ve never seen them before.

I could fill millions of scrolls with the number of things you’ve never seen, Moses. Focus.

Sorry.

Can we move on now?

Yeah.

*Roll film*

And that is what happened.25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

That sixth day was quite a woozy, wasn’t it? All of the creatures ever made, all in a creation-day’s work. Because once God got on a roll, why would he stop? Once he finally did stop, it was the end of the day.

So when did we start counting days as relevant to the sun, rather than to God’s presence? If not after the day of rest, then probably after the Fall. When humans gained the ability to die, they became subject to time.

And when did the earth’s spin around the sun become constant? When did we start accounting days by 24 hours? Sometime around the time of the Ancient Egyptians. (If you ask an astronomer, he or she will tell you that the earth’s rotation is actually not quite 24 hours.)

This is cosmology—it’s all theory. We are doing a philosophical exercise here. And this is the sort of thing we will do with our children. We will teach them all the theories, teach them to question them all, and then let them decide which they believe. Blind faith isn’t faith—it’s ignorance. Faith is trusting in what you believe, and then leaning on that trust when you come across something you don’t or can’t understand.

So that’s how we’ll approach the Big Bang, evolution (in all its forms, from the most extreme, to variables in genetics among family members), and creation. When the kids get older, they’ll need to research creation stories from other cultures and decide what they mean to them.

Does it matter how old the earth is?

I was reading 1 Timothy today, and it really sums up how I feel about controversial topics like the age of the earth and the specifics of Revelation:

When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.

I encourage different interpretations of scripture. We need to see outside of our limited worldview so we can understand the original intent. But at the end of the day, the only thing important for me to teach my children is this:

 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

—Matthew 22:36-40

Final Words

Apparently I’ll only be posting on this blog when I have something to say about my convictions. I invite you to follow me on Pinterest, since I won’t be updating this blog regularly. Specifically, I have a board titled “What We Believe,” which contains articles on evolution and possible evidence that the earth is younger than is conventionally taught, and other boards “A Full House” and “At Home Classroom” that relate to how we plan on raising our children. Note that I pin quite a range of theories and ideas. We plan on keeping Champ in preschool for another year and then will look for elementary schools for him. Still, every home is a classroom, so whether we homeschool him in the future or not, I like to keep my options open, and I like having inspiration for teachable moments.

Does Creation vs Evolution really matter? How and why we teach both to our children. | diary of a bewildered mother

Note on comments: We are a Christian family, and this is what we are teaching our children. If you aren’t Christian, if you don’t believe in creation, then you’ll tell your children it’s myth. It’s as simple as that. If the comments on this post are off-topic or harassing, I will turn off the comments.

How this pro-life, stay-at-home mom became a feminist.

Hi there! Yes, it’s been ages since I’ve updated this blog. Apart from child-rearing, writing, editing, designing, and (sometimes) housework, I don’t have time to blog. But this is one of those cases in which I need to have more words than a Facebook post to get my point across. This is me, “coming out” as a feminist, since many of you don’t know that I am, don’t know how I could be one, or don’t know what a feminist is. If this is Feminism 101, I’m merely a T.A.
Actually I’m more like a first-year student that writes allocutions on the chalkboard before class.
 
feminist
 
This post sat in my drafts pile for months because I didn’t want to have to deal with all the trolls, the hate, the threats, or the rest of the “consequences” that come simply from identifying as a feminist. But fear from truth is what keeps ignorance and hate at large. This is what is true for me.

what being a feminist isn’t

“For me feminism is bra-burning lesbianism.”—Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice), not an expert on feminism.

being a man-hater

Misandry is the hatred of men, like misogyny is the hatred of women. Just because one is a feminist, it doesn’t make that person a man-hater. Women in healthy, loving relationships with men can be feminists. So can men. Read on.

being a woman

Men can be feminists, too. Joss Whedon is commonly referred to as a feminist. Any father who loves his daughter is likely a feminist, whether he’d admit it or not. (I can’t blame you if you don’t adopt the term. It’s become it’s own F word. But I can blame you for propagating misinformation about feminism. And if I see it, I will call you out on it.)

being pro-choice

Let me go on a quick tangent really fast. Stay with me. Most of the world have gotten to the point now where they realize rape is a crime against women because it is an act done without consent.
And yet we assume it’s the woman’s choice if she ends up in prostitution or has an abortion. How do you feel about a person who assumes a rape victim “wanted it” or “asked for it”? It’s impossible to get accurate statistics on these numbers, but most prostitutes were forced into the profession through the sex trade. And many women who get abortions are coerced into them, either by family, their significant other, or their community. Even religious beliefs. Girls get abortions so they won’t be shunned by their church for having a child out of wedlock. Minnesota For Life surveyed women and found 64% of abortions were coerced. If you know better statistics, please share. Obviously those are biased.

Many feminists are pro-choice because they fight for women’s rights to control their own bodies. I’m a pro-life feminist because I think that abortion clinics take advantage of women physically, emotionally, and financially. I view abortion as mutilation of a woman’s uterus (and also as murder of an unborn child, but that’s not what we are discussing here). If you are pro-choice for the reasons I listed above, do what you can to ensure that you are also pro-consent. Volunteer at an abortion clinic and encourage the women to make their own choice, whether it is for one way or the other.

If you are pro-life, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. You’ll find that sometimes the choice isn’t as easy as you might assume. Learn to love women whether they choose your way or not. We are all in this together. This is a war for our consent.

being a Democrat

There are feminists in every political party, but Republicans are less likely to use the term “feminist” for fear of its consequences, as well as the assumption that it means they must not be Republican / conservative / manly / Christian. I’m neither party, in case you were wondering. Again, that’s another issue we won’t be addressing here.

having a romantic attraction to women

Being a feminist doesn’t make you a lesbian, gay, bi, or trans* individual, but anyone can be a feminist because being a feminist had nothing to do with sexual preference. It has everything to do with enabling women to live freely. (Does that mean the same thing as living lawlessly? No. We live in a free country. Do we live in one without laws? Try to suppress your laughter.)

what being a feminist is

A feminist believes that women shouldn’t live in fear of being a woman.

my journey to becoming a feminist

1. First Grade

I had an evil first grade teacher who introduced me to sexism. She (yes, she was a female-hating woman) would give us math assignments and would give whoever finished first a bag of fruit snacks. If I finished before J.D., a bucktoothed boy that she adored, she’d ignore my raised hand, wait for him to finish, and give him the fruit snacks. This is also the source of my problems with authority.

2. Learning there are more women representatives in Middle Eastern parliaments than in the US congress.

We hear a lot about women’s rights in the Middle East. Most would assume that women have fewer rights in the Middle East than they do in the U.S. So why is the U.S. so behind on having women representatives?

Now, if you’d have asked me five, ten years ago if I would have voted for a woman politician, I would have made a joke about her period and said no. What if she had children? Shouldn’t she be raising them?

What about women who aren’t raising children? Who are empty nesters? What about women who, like me, are thinkers more than feelers, whose maternal instinct manifests in protecting, rather than nurturing, my children? The kind of women who’s really a much better parent if she gets some time without her kids.

And then I considered testosterone, the main hormone in men’s bodies, and wondered if we wouldn’t go to war on a whim if we had a president that didn’t have so much testosterone in her body.

If you are a woman, don’t you want women representing you? If you are a mother, wouldn’t you want mothers representing you in congress, making the kinds of decisions a mother would make?

I am SO glad the Middle East has women representatives. But doesn’t it bother you that the US is ranked 86th place in terms of female representation? Afganistan is 41st. Iraq is 53rd. Pakistan is 73rd. Saudi Arabia is 76th. But here we are, a first world country. A country with women CEOs running multimillion-dollar companies, and fewer than 20% of our congress is female. Congress should reflect its population. That number should be 50%.

 

3. These Disney board books.

I got these for Champ when he was a baby, before I identified myself as a feminist.

It made me really angry that the books about male characters were all about their personality and their abilities, but the only thing about the female characters mentioned was that they were pretty and that they fell in love.

Yeah, I want to be pretty. I am madly in love with my husband. But I have interests, a brain, and a soul apart from that.

 

4. The Transformers movie.

If you’ve seen the first Transformers movie, you’ve seen Megan Fox draping her scantily clad body over machines. Now, I’m not mad at Megan Fox. As far as I’m concerned, women can do whatever they want with their own bodies. I am not okay with slut-shaming.

What I have a problem with is that Megan Fox’s character was reduced to the level of a hot car. Something to drool over, touch, and (if Sam Whitwicky’s mother was right) probably jack off to.

Objectification of women. Everyone should have a problem with that.

5. Jesus was a feminist.

During Biblical times, men really treated women as objects. They were considered possessions, less than human. Jesus spoke to women all the time—something no one else ever did. He even spoke to prostitutes (gasp!) with respect (bigger gasp!). He treated women as if they were human beings, as if they—like men—were children of God.

The Bible is full of sexism, sure. It’s not a guidebook on being holy so much as a story of how God loves his people, even though they mess up and are terrible 99.99% of the time. That’s the gospel. That’s the whole point of the book. And don’t rule out the brilliant women of the Bible Deborah or Jael or Esther or Ruth or Mary or Rahab or Miriam or Abigail…should I keep going?

Bonus: Do you know the definition of an apostle? It’s a messenger. In the context of the New Testament, it’s someone who spreads the good news of Christ. Who was Jesus’ first apostle? Who did he pick first? (Read John 20:17-18)

I didn’t become a feminist overnight. I’ve been a feminist my whole life. I just didn’t call it feminism. I didn’t call it anything.

things that make me more feminist

  • Outrage at comics doing this.
  • Dennis Hoffman’s explanation of what it felt like to play a woman in Tootsie.
  • #YesAllWomen on Twitter
  • #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft on Twitter
  • People blaming victims of rape, prostitution, or domestic abuse while ignoring the criminal’s responsibility to not be a rapist, pimp, abuser, or murderer
  • Stupid articles like this one written by people who have no clue what feminism is, but still argue that it’s terrible.

That’s all I’ve got to say today. I welcome all comments that are thoughtful and not personal attacks, whether they agree with me or not. Know that I vet comments and will delete abusive ones.

Is media to blame for violence?

Is media to blame for violence? Why literature has nothing (and everything) to do with it. | Bewildered Mother

I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the case involving two 12-year-old girls that attempted first-degree murder on their friend at a sleepover. Everyone is trying their darnedness to blame their violence on something other than their own depraved souls. People are blaming literature, movies, and video games. No one is blaming their upbringing.

First, what the girls were reading barely counts as literature. Pulp fiction is great entertainment, don’t get me wrong, but literature is an art form. (The difference between literature and pulp fiction is the difference between film and viral YouTube videos. There’s a place for both.) LITERATURE teaches empathy. Even religions use stories to teach empathy to their followers. Why do you think Jesus spoke in parables? Fiction is necessary. Storytelling is what separates us from the animals.

Secondly, media isn’t the cause of violence, but it can be a symptom of it. If there’s a correlation between violent TV and violent children, for example, that probably means that violent children are more likely to watch violent television. Correlation does not mean causation. Violence on television does not necessarily cause violence. If a violent child watches Animal Planet, they will probably get more thrills from shark week than Meerkat Manor. But you know who else likes watching shark week? Totally well adjusted people. (Sorry if I’m mixing up my networks. I haven’t had cable in over 6 years.)

The difference is sometimes upbringing, but honestly, even great parents can raise terrible human beings.

The real difference is that some children are empathetic or they learn to empathize. Some children are wise—they can predict consequences, and some need to learn that actions have consequences.

Those girls clearly had no empathy when they tried to murder their friend. Were they sociopaths? Or had they just not learned to empathize?

I am not a naturally empathetic being. I am naturally calculated. I’m an INTP. I value being smart over being nice. Like any other child, sometimes I could be cruel growing up. I was predisposed to having a temper and sometimes resorted to violence. But you know what? I learned to empathize. I made friends, I read novels like The Giver and Number the Stars, I saw broken relationships, I became a Christian, I matured in my faith, I got married, I had children. Sometimes my kids have the ability to push my buttons and that old monster rears her snake-tendrilled head. But I read novels, I connect with people, I pray.

Taking away pulp fiction, movies, television, or any other media isn’t going to change these kids. Throwing them in mandatory religious education isn’t going to change these kids. What they need is literature. They need empathy. Without empathy, they won’t see past themselves, they won’t consider consequences that don’t directly apply to them, and they won’t give a damn about morals.

Am I an idealist? Sure I am. You can’t force kids to read. But you can show them movies with empathetic characters. You can let them watch superhero shows that teach good versus evil at its simplest. You can find commercial literature that is fun to read but still generates empathy and at least some exploration of right and wrong, like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

Why do you think we’re seeing a resurgence in superhero movies and dystopias? We want to know that there’s a such thing as good and evil. We want to be able to tell the difference. Is it reality? No. But the great thing about fiction, about literature, about movies, is that they can take what isn’t true and show us what is truth.

Teach your children empathy. Teach them consequences. And for heaven’s sake, supply them with good movies and fiction.

Holidays, Observances, and Literary Celebrations: January–April

holidays1

Jump to:

Introduction

Champ always gets quite depressed after we take the Christmas Tree (which, I can assure you, we did in a timely matter, at the beginning of January). To cheer him up, I embarked on a calendar project, compiling holidays and observances, national and international celebrations.

I included Christian holidays, and then added some Jewish holidays, and then looked up literary birthdays as well.

As you might have guessed, the project began to take on a life of its own, and I still haven’t finished it. However, I thought there might be some other families out there who’d like a list of holidays that expanded upon the public holidays each month, so I thought I’d share what I’ve got so far.

Many of these national celebrations were taken from an exhaustive list found at Brownielocks.com. The literary holidays were compiled from birthday lists of authors. I never found a complete list, and many of the writers and poets I just looked up individually.

This is a perpetual list of holidays, meaning you can come back to this list each year. I do have downloadable calendars for 2014 at the bottom of this post that you are free to print and use!

How it works

MONTH

Each month has a theme. Some are nationally or internationally recognized, and others are just suggestions (take February for example—”Celebrate the ones you love Month”). Each month also has a list of authors born in that month. The idea is that older children or parents choose from that list and read a book from one or more of the authors during the month.

WEEKS

The holidays listed under the “weeks” are holidays that occur on a particular day each year. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is always celebrated the third Monday in January.

DAYS

The holidays listed here are celebrated or observed on the same date each year. New Year’s Day is always January First. I’ve included birthdays of poets on these lists, so that on their birthdays, we can read one of their poems. It’s a gentle reminder to me that I need more poetry in my life, and it’s an excuse to read poetry to my children at least a few times each month.

OTHERS

Some holidays aren’t based on the Gregorian calendar. For example, the Chinese New Year is celebrated in January some years, and February other years. I have 2014 dates for these holidays marked on the printable calendars. For subsequent years, you’ll have to look them up. I’ll include links when I can find them.

January

MONTH

  • Resolution Month (Choose a motto for the new year, make a collage, etc.)
  • Human Trafficking Prevention
  • Authors: Tolkien, A.A. Milne, Poe, Lewis Carroll

WEEKS

DAYS

  • 1/1 New Year’s Day
  • 1/3 Tolkien Day
  • 1/8 Midwife’s Day, Elvis’ Bday
  • 1/18 Winnie the Pooh Day (A.A. Milne’s Birthday)
  • 1/19 Edgar Allan Poe
  • 1/27 US Holocaust Memorial Day (day of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp), Lewis Carroll
  • 1/29 Puzzle Day

OTHER

  • January or February: Chinese New Year
  • Last week in January: Lead up to Super Bowl

February

MONTH

  • Celebrate the ones you love Month (Read some classic love stories, compile stories of how your family members met & fell in love)
  • Winter Olympics Month (every 4 years)
  • Authors: Dickens, Jules Verne, Lemony Snicket, Laura Ingalls Wilder

WEEKS

  • First Sunday—Super Bowl Sunday
  • Second Monday & Tuesday—Westminster Dog Show
  • Third—Engineers Week
  • Third Monday—Presidents’ Day

DAYS

  • 2/1 Langston Hughes
  • 2/2 Groundhog’s Day
  • 2/8 Elizabeth Bishop
  • 2/14 Valentine’s Day
  • 2/15 Susan B Anthony Day
  • 2/27 Longfellow

OTHER

  • February or March: Carnival / Mardi Gras (day before Ash Wednesday)
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Lent
  • Purim (Esther’s Feast)

March

MONTH

WEEKS

DAYS

  • 3/4 National Grammar Day
  • 3/6 Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • 3/14 Pi Day
  • 3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
  • 3/21 First Day of Spring
  • 3/26 Robert Frost

OTHER

  • March or April: Easter
  • Passover

April

MONTH

WEEKS

DAYS

OTHER

  • April or May: Yom Hashoa (Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Download the 2014 Calendar

  • Download the plain 2014 calendar (with federal and public holidays) here.
  • Download our family’s calendar for January–April (with various religious, literary, and geeky observed holidays) here. (Subscribe by email or follow me on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when the other months are ready!)

Coloring Pages

Annual List of Holidays, Observances, and Literary Celebrations | Bewildered Mother

Click to Pin!

Top 5 Posts of 2013

It’s been a crazy year with few updates from me here on the blog, but it looks like that didn’t matter much, given that Bewildered Mother got 54,000 views in 2013! Thanks to everyone who shared a post on Pinterest or Facebook. Y’all tempt me to try blogging for a living!

But I still prefer quality over quantity, which is why you don’t hear from me much. I’m an introvert, remember? I’m also a work-from-home mom of 2, so I’m much more likely to post a few words on Facebook or link to someone else’s views on subjects I’m thinking about, rather than regurgitating them on my own blog. I have 24 posts in my drafts folder right now! We’ll see if I can get organized enough this year to carve a chunk of blogging time each week. I’m sure you’re dying to hear about my thoughts on feminism, self-esteem, downsizing, and prayer.

I’ve just become keenly aware of how loud the ticking clock in my office is. I think I’d prefer crickets. Too cold for crickets.

And now I’m starting to talk about the weather. Wow. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

#1—Potty Training in One Day: Day Zero (Preparation)

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This will probably remain my top-viewed post, ever, thanks to Pinterest. Yes, I potty trained a then-2-year-old Champ in about 1.5 days.

A month later, he went to preschool for 3 weeks, and the teachers NEVER TOOK HIM POTTY. You can imagine the consequences. (I really don’t want to think or talk more about that terrible, terrible place.) Once I got him over a few new phobias, Lion was born, and I was nursing around the clock. Some days were awful. Some days were good. Some times he forgot, sometimes he refused to go, sometimes he just wanted more attention.

Champ is 3 now, and he very occasionally has accidents. We keep him in a cloth diaper or even a pull-up at night (the latter especially when we are traveling), but he wakes up dry, unless a babysitter gave him something to drink right before bed, or he was dying of thirst (he’s pretty melodramatic at times—gets it from my side). TV is the biggest distraction because he watches shows on Netflix, which doesn’t pause for more than 15 seconds between episodes, let alone stops for commercial/potty breaks.

All of that is to say, there will be obstacles. Note, also, that many children have little or no control of their bladder overnight even if they are trained during the day. 1 out of 10 seven-year-olds still wet the bed. Be patient, be loving, be kind. Potty-training is an opportunity to grow as a family through difficult times.

I do still think that this method WORKS, and it’s the method I’ll follow in 18 months when I’m training Lion.

Other posts in this potty-training series technically made the top 5 posts of 2013, but for the sake of THIS post, the rest of my “top 5 of 2013″ will feature independent posts.

#2—Grace for the Introverted Mom

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This post is only a few weeks old and is already the #2 post of the year and #4 post of all time here on Diary of a Bewildered Mother. I’m so glad I’m not the only introverted mom to feel this way! We should make T-shirts or something. And by “we,” I mean someone else besides “me” if it’s ever going to get done this decade.

#3–Surviving the Third Trimester

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Written 10 days before Lion was born, this post features home remedies for common ailments like water retention, swelling, carpal tunnel, itchy skin, restless legs, and heartburn.

#4—Geek Kid Costumes

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In which I review the geeky costumes I have subjected my family to since 2010.

#5—Speakeasy Gender Reveal Party

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Details about Lion’s 1920s-themed Gender Reveal Party.

Soon, it will be my 4-year-anniversary on the blog! Hard to believe it’s already been 4 years since my newlywed husband and I decided to make a late-night drugstore run and got the first shock (of many to come) in our marriage. Eventually I’ll compile a list of all the posts of 2013 for you, like I did with the other years (see the top navigation menu of my blog—the archives). I’ll also post my motto for 2014. But, you know, if I never get to it, you can find my 2014 motto on my Facebook page.

Till then, I’ll leave you with my…

Top Non-2013 Post of All Time: Daily Mom and Toddler Schedule (2012)

I recently updated this schedule with some notes from me. Why yes, I do have a preschool schedule! Thanks for asking. I’ll post it as soon as we actually implement it successfully, which is to say, probably never, because I’m an INTP and can’t keep to a schedule to save my life.

I created all these great alarms for my phone, to alert me to when to start each subject, but I didn’t make them the right file format. Also, my office / the classroom is still functioning as a storage room, so we have no place to work.

It’s on my list.

Grace for the Introverted Mom

Note: As the title suggests, this is targeted to moms. Specifically stay-at-home moms that are constantly needed by their children. I don’t mean to alienate stay-at-home dads, I just have no authority speaking on your behalf! I’d love to hear your input in the comments!

Grace for the Introverted Mom (Just in time for the most stressful time of year for introverts—the holidays!)

Introduction and pseudo-history lesson

First thing’s first. Are you an introvert? Here’s 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert from HuffPost.

Introverted stay-at-home moms in this era have some unique struggles. Being a stay-at-home-mom is the most unnatural thing in the world if you look at the historical order of things. Humans once lived in tribes, clans, family units, villages. Children were raised by their mother, plus any other number of matriarchal type persons. Fathers and other men were involved in the education and nurturing of their children as well. Mothers had help in the form of relatives, wet-nurses or nannies. These days, we tend to fall into one of two extremes: we are the sole caregiver of our children during the day, or else we leave them in the care of educators and coaches and have little time to interact with our own kids. Hopefully you fall somewhere into the middle! Anyway, this isn’t about societal norms or a call to action. It’s about introverts. Introverts who are drained when they are sole caregivers to one or more children.

We need plenty of time alone, but we still need a little bit of social interaction to retain any sanity. Back in the day of the front-porch suburbia, or back even further to the time of the common well, introverted people got their social interaction out of the way, out of the house, and they came back home ready to be introverted again. Now we have the internet, that glorious invention of social media, in which we can pretend we are socializing, but which never really leaves us satisfied like real-live interaction does.

Your main goals as an Introverted mom are 1) time alone and 2) some real, in-person interaction with other human beings outside of your family. Here are some tips to achieving those goals.

Tip #1—Favor reflection over distraction.

We introverts need time, alone, with our thoughts. If I don’t get time alone just to think, or sort out my thoughts, I end up distracting myself with the internet. (As a teen, I used to distract myself with endless hours of TV. As an adult, I don’t have cable, but I have my own laptop.)

I’ll spend hours and hours on Pinterest or YouTube or clicking on random Wikipedia articles to distract myself, when a 20-minute shower would be so much better for me, because I spend only 3 minutes cleaning myself, and the rest of the time, I just let my mind wander and sort and think and rest.

Right now it’s 2 am, and I should be in bed, but I’ve just been putting off my time of introspection all this time, and now I won’t be able to sleep until I think about it.

Are you the type of person that needs to write thoughts out to get them out of your head so you can sleep? That’s why I keep my phone and a notepad by my bed. When a thought comes, I scrawl it out on my notepad in unabomber handwriting. If I don’t think I’ll be able to decipher it in the morning, I email myself on my phone.

Tip #2—Don’t feel guilty.

I feel guilty not being able to give to my kids 100% of the time. I feel selfish when I take time apart from them. I feel like a bad mom for wanting to get away from my children. I resent clinginess when it creeps up (and clinginess is natural for children exploring new territories and reaching new milestones.)

It is 3,000 times harder when my husband isn’t home, because that means I NEVER get a break, and my kids rely on JUST ME to meet all of their needs. I’m on call, 24/7. I’m needed every minute of every waking hour, and I’m needed half of the night. I’m constantly being touched.

Repeat after me: If Jesus Christ needed breaks, then I CERTAINLY need time alone.

Introverts need time alone to recharge. It is better for ourselves and for everyone else in our home if we get some time to recharge. You know that phrase, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”? We need time alone, for our emotional and mental health, about as badly as we need sleep for our physical health.

If I don’t get enough sleep, I feel like a zombie. I can barely function. Caffeine can work a little to get me through the day, but if I rely on caffeine and not sleep, I’m going to get sick. I don’t know about you, but for me, the same goes with alone time. If I don’t get time alone, I start to space out and check out. I can barely say a word to another human being, let alone hold a conversation. Distractions can work a little to get me through the day, but if I keep distracting myself without getting time alone, eventually I’m going to lose it, and either have an emotional breakdown or get really angry at my 3-yr old (who knows precisely which buttons to push in either of his parents).

Don’t feel guilty about getting time alone. Also don’t feel guilty about getting out of the house every once in a while to socialize with other people. That means date nights and girl nights. Maybe you’re like me, and you dread girls’ nights with a passion because you don’t relate to all that estrogen and emotion. Give it a chance. Studies show that it is important to a woman’s health to get time socializing with other women. If people start talking about their feelings, find another person to talk to, or change the subject to current events or pop culture. Or only go to events that include activities, like game nights or movie nights, so you aren’t obligated to talk at all. True story: Captain and I went on a date last month to dinner, and we brought a book of crossword puzzles to do. We ended up talking and laughing the whole time, but as introverts, it was nice to have the option to be together, but be quiet, and have something to do other than stare at each other while masticating.

Tip #3—Enforce quiet time (for your kids, but also for yourself).

Grace for the Introverted Mom (Just in time for the most stressful time of year for introverts—the holidays!)

If only my children would nap at the same time! I admit, right now, I’m in survival mode. When both kids are napping at the same time, I need to NOT DISTRACT myself (see #1), but do one single thing—one thing that is quiet and allows me to organize my thoughts. It could be writing a list, reading, or quietly doing some tedious or repetitive tasks that allow my brain to sort things out. My favorite mini-vacations when Champ was a baby were reading a magazine and painting my toenails. I got my magazines with deals I found on Tanga, but you can search for discounts any time at Discount Mags. A few years ago, I got 3 years of 6 magazines for less than $20 total. Not bad.

Other ideas: knitting, daydreaming, planning, having a caffeinated or weakly alcoholic libation.

No TV or internet during these times. See #1 and #4, below.

Tip #4—Spend time reading, offline.

Then you can focus and think and not be distracted by clickable rabbit trails. Reading is a way for introverts to fill up that need for socialization, because we are essentially having a conversation with the writer as we do it. All introverts should read. Extraverts, too, but especially introverts. That’s why I’m repeating myself by giving offline reading its own tip.

Offline reading is the best way to spend our time alone. Here’s why:

  • It gives us a chance to think and process…
  • …without the distraction of the internet…
  • …and it partially fulfills our need to socialize

Are you an introvert? How do you fill your “time alone” and “socialization” tanks? Do you have reading recommendations? Leave your opinions in the comments!

(I started writing this in August of 2013, at 2 am, when my husband was gone for 2 weeks in South Africa. Today I am finishing it. It is 3 pm in December, and Champ is still eating his lunch, two hours after his nap was supposed to begin. If you’re curious why I haven’t posted original content since this summer, with the exception of posts pertaining to Champ’s Birthday or our Geeky Halloween, allow me to direct you to  Mom Stress and Survival Parenting. Being a mom of two is a 24/7 job, and I’ll get back into blogging regularly when I can get housework back on track first. So expect posts to be few and far between until, say, ten years from now, when they will not be relevant to this generation. Welcome, class of 2020!)

Geek Kid Costumes

This is my 200th post! It’s also the end of October, so I figured I’d commemorate by featuring my kids’ geeky costumes through the years.

2010—Doctor Who, Star Wars

Only a month old, and I subjected the kid to two different costumes.

His hair was pretty Tennant-y, so our #1 was #10…the tenth Doctor
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The Captain and I wanted to be Han Solo and Princess Leia for Halloween, so I made Champ an Ewok costume, too.

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I am no good at sewing, so most of these are no-sew. The pants from 2010–2011 were sewn, crappily by me, in an idiotic fashion. Basically I made no allowance for my poor child’s rear end, so the pants never fit over his bum. In 2012 (see below), I found a pair of pants from a thrift store. They were a size too small and had flowers embroidered on the back pockets, but they worked.

2011—Aladdin

In 2011, my neighbor and I thought it would be cute to take Champ and E out trick-or-treating together and do matching costumes. I can’t remember how we cam up with the idea, but we decided on Aladdin and Jasmine. E already had the cute headband, so I rifled through Target clearance for mint-colored clothes for her and fashioned a bikini top, and then cut out a vest and sewed two quick fezzes for Aladdin and Abu. It was chilly, so we put them in white layers to keep warm and modest (I had no luck finding skin-toned shirts!).

aladdin

2012—Hobbit

I got this shirt for Champ from Woot Shirt when it was the shirt of the day. (You can get your own here!) The wig and pants came from a thrift store, the cloak was just a piece of fleece I tied around him, and the feet were tan socks pulled over his boots with fake fur hot glued to the top.

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2013—Sherlock and John (from BBC’s Sherlock)

Now that I’ve got two little ones, and it’s probably the last year I can choose Champ’s costume myself, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to dress them up from my favorite show, BBC’s Sherlock.

If you are familiar with the fandom (which is completely insane due to prolonged hiatuses of the show), you might be aware of the animal comparisons between the main actors, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, to animals—an otter and a hedgehog, respectively. See Benedict otters here and Martin hedgehogs here.

So I decided to make my baby John a hedgehog and my Pre-K Sherlock part otter. Here were the results:

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John: baby snowsuit + fake fur + sweater vest.

Sherlock: Hat from Amazon, colored grey; wig from thrift store; Old Navy jacket; scarf we owned; sewn pants and tail.

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John after the Reichenbach fall.

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This kid is seriously a champ.

I’m hoping next year I can convince Champ that he really wants to be C-3PO so I can make Lion R2-D2. But he’s a cool kid, so whatever he picks is probably going to be awesome.