Month: October 2014

Ms Big Bird

After one of my children’s classes this week I went on a walk with some of the kids to the local rec-center. This is just part of my need to walk the baby, but it’s also great to hang out with the kids in the neighborhood. Anyway, while we were walking by the King Center, the kids told me about their “Goodness Class” that they have every Friday night at the King Center.

“Tell me about this class.”
“We talk about good things, and God.”
“Who is your teacher?”
“Miss Big Bird.”

Well I just stopped in my tracks.  I have heard of Miss Big Bird before, though I have never actually met her. From what I can surmise, in the years that we’ve been here, she teaches kids about Jesus and she helps them with their homework.

“Does she talk about God or does she talk about Jesus?”
“It’s the same thing, right?”
“Yes, it is, but sometimes it might not be. I don’t always talk about Jesus in my class do I? Though we do talk about our love for all the Manifestations of God”
“We always talk about Jesus.”

There are two really interesting aspects of this. One, Miss Big Bird’s penetration. She has encountered several of the kids that we have worked with. How does she meet them? I have heard she has another helper, but beyond that I wonder if she’s associated with a church or school. How does she meet all these kids?

The other interesting aspect is the fact that she’s using the King Center on a weekly basis. From what I understand, private organizations cannot rent spaces regularly. If it happens to be open, then they can organize something that week. But it cannot be an ongoing thing. Unless the city is giving preferential treatment to this organization.

I plan on investigating more about this tomorrow at the actual Big Bird Class!

photo 1 (1) photo 2 (3)

After all that, we came back to cuddle with dogs and feed Soleia pureed beets and blueberries and string cheese.  It was a great class.

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Educating Women

“In this day man must investigate reality impartially and without prejudice in order to reach the true knowledge and conclusions. What, then, constitutes the inequality between man and woman? Both are human. In powers and function each is the complement of the other. At most it is this: that woman has been denied the opportunities which man has so long enjoyed, especially the privilege of education….” – `Abdu’l-Bahá

There is a lot of buzz around the word feminism now and I’m not entirely sure why. It has never seem to be a dirty word in my head or around the people I surrounded myself for. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were not super heroes because what they were saying made perfect sense to me and I just took what they did for granted. And even attending Smith College made me somehwhat ignorant of the problems that surround other schools in being “old boy clubs.”

So I am bemused that the plight of women in so terrible today. How does educating women, paying them equal pay, promoting them to positions of power not make sense to people?

I took some of the local girls from the neighborhood to an event that Smith held about getting into selective colleges. Two of the girls are bright freshmen in high school, and two are amazingly bright seniors applying to school now. I hope that all four consider Smith seriously, as it is an amazing place to ensure women feel competent next to people in power. Smith College Event

These girls were the only Latinos at the event. It was predominantly Caucasian and Asian, though there was one young  African American family.

One question that I posed to the dean of admissions  was what does it mean that Smith is aid-conscious. She explained that they admit the 1200-1500 students, and then start taking qualified applicants who cannot pay and replace them with people from the waitlist who can afford it. She did say that the students they will protect more were legacy (mother and sister fellow students) as well as students of color. The admissions committee is more likely to forsake talented artists, athletes and legacy through grandmothers. This made me happy to hear as I think about the young girls from my neighborhood who already have so many challenges in their lives at school and at home.

Neighborhood relationships

“You know well that the habits of mind and spirit that you are nurturing in yourselves and others will endure, influencing decisions of consequence that relate to marriage, family, study, work, even where to live.” – Universal House of Justice, July 1 2013

 

 

walking to mi rancho

One aspect of working with the people you live close to is the fact that your life cannot exist without interacting with them. Of course this will depend on the neighborhood and how much effort one puts into meeting your neighbors. But in our case, since we know so many, nearly every aspect of life is surrounded by the people we serve with.
The squid tree

I was on my way to the local grocery store to buy plantains and beans when I was approached by Salvador and Brandon. They were sad they couldn’t come hang out at my house since I was gone, but were happy to come along with me. The walk over, they were talking about their memories of being with me.  “Remember that time you were driving with us and I said ‘you’re just a white lady with four Mexican kids? or “remember that time we went to the farm and picked strawberries? and the time we went to santa cruz? can we go again please?”Boy sleepover

 

Two of the boys slept over on Thursday night. They’re in a year round program so that this is actually their fall break. Brandon does not live as close to us anymore, so it was nice to have him back with us again.

“Can you help get Eli out of my bed, Kevin?”
Eli takes over the bed

“Can you help get Kevin out of my bed, Selena?”Kevin takes over Eli Soleia and her big brothers Selfie! Free ice cream

 

 

Night Walks

photo (1)

One of the interesting aspects of our neighborhood has come to light to me only recently. When Soleia was just born, it was so easy to stay confined to our house and entertain her with her toys here. Now she gets bored so quickly and taking walks is essential for her happiness.

These walks have been amazing (though I may be developing some minor back pains due to use of the baby bjorn). I walk to the King Center and around the streets where we have different groups and classes. I talk to lots of people who I have met over the years. And Soleia gets to play in the swing.

photo (3)

Kevin and I feel like we’re in a bit of a crisis. He and I, as well as a few others, are maintaining a number of activities, but it still feels like we are far from growing them more. We felt invigorated after the walk and running into so many of our friends. It’s a confirmation to see so many people we are connected with so easily. On the way back home we met with a family (father+mother+jy+child) who used to come to the children’s class back when Ruth Breton was assisting the activities here. It turns out the family is Salvdorian from Santa Ana. They invited us to a weekly session they have to share their church’s belief.  I remember when we were doing the classes with their family, the mother felt uncomfortable since she did not know if her husband would approve of our Ruhi Book 3 lessons. I believe their church is up in San Bruno. It was interesting the way this man described his church. He says it’s more “independent” than the other churches in this neighborhood. I can only assume that means smaller.  He told me that my daughter needed more God in her life….  Such casual affronts at people’s life styfles cannot possibly be effective in recruiting people to your belief system.  We said our goodbyes and talked about the different confirmations we have seen over the years and this night.photo (2)

Homemade nutella

In my Monday Junior Youth Group we gathered and said prayers like usual… and then made homemade nutella!

It was a healthier version, one that I found on the detoxinista website.

Basically roasted hazelnuts, water, cocoa, coconut oil and coconut sugar. The boys had a great time. It was definitely healthier tasting so it was a challenge to agree this was a good thing compared to the jarred nutella, but I loved it.

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Re-introducing our lives

Today is an abnormal day on the homefront. It’s mid October and just cooling down from an incredibly hot few days. That’s not what is very strange. Today, on a very rare treat, my husband has stayed home from work.  He works at a Tech startup that I’m a big fan of, though it can be very stressful for him. So stressful that he often collapses at 8pm, a few minutes after he gets home.

Of course, that’s not the most stressful part of his life. He also teaches Advance Placement Computer Science at our local high school in the neighborhood. It’s part of a new initiative to bring APCS to high schools in Silicon Valley. You would think it would be ubiquitous here, but alas it is not. He wakes up three mornings a week and teaches for 90 minutes, plus lesson plans and grades and does office hours at a local restaurant. The other two mornings he works out.

But he is home today and I’m taking advantage of it by working next to him as much as possible. That also included a 20 minute nap while he worked in bed.

getting work done

All the while our cleaning lady is here and nanny and her three daughters. It’s a full house.

Speaking of full house, since I last wrote we added another member to our family.  Meet Soleia.

so sleepy

Because of her I am inspired to share the adventures of our home-front pioneering life again. All the baby fun, neighborhood adventures and good times we have as a community.  She is awake so I will write more later.

When you stop breathing in front of your children…

Today we had an incredible scare. Our nanny, Eydi, was here with her three daughters. The oldest was holding Soleia while I was working on cards in the back room. I came to the front of the house to recycle some paper and Eydi turned towards me and she was completely blue. She couldn’t breathe, and I didn’t know what was wrong. Her eldest came up to her and she started crying, while calling 911 and holding Soleia. I hit her back and ran to get my own phone. It was about a minute before she started breathing again. We were able to cancel the ambulance and everything was “fine,” but everyone was crying.

Eydi as a serious health condition, of which she seems to be doing fine in. I will write more about that later, but part of the reason Kevin and I wanted her to help with our daughter was because of how well her family has done facing such terrible conditions. In my mother groups I hear such awful stories about nannies and baby sitters, and I am so blessed to have someone I love so much take care of Soleia with us.

It is a tough week because the eldest daughter is also to go into surgery this week.  We will continue to say prayers for this beautiful family.