Saturday, December 22, 2012

Easy vs. Right

I don't understand why anyone wants 'the right' to bear arms.”
You have to be mentally unstable to want that 'right' anyway, by definition.”
Why does anyone even want to own a gun in the first place?”

These are all comments that I've seen regarding the right to bear arms. I've written about guns before, a little blurb in my last post, but I feel like I need to write more because it seems that there is a gradually prevailing opinion that gun owners are dangerous and unstable.
Let me start by saying that I completely understand how scary guns can be. As a child, if I was watching TV with my parents and a gun came on the screen, I would get up and leave the room. I did this well into my teenage years – I was terrified by them. I still do not own a gun, and I have never fired one or even held one. But I believe this is something I need to remedy.
See, historically, guns were a way to not only protect oneself, but also to provide food for one's family. Back in the days when people were predominantly self-sufficient, a gun and ammunition could make the difference between surviving the winter and starving – and not just for an individual, but for an entire family. Although this level of dependence on hunting for food has almost disappeared, it still exists for some families in rural areas. Are they “mentally unstable”? I don't think so. Honestly, I respect them for being able to provide for themselves without a grocery store. Not many of us can do that.
I've also read that the average city can only go a few days without the incoming transportation of food. In a situation like that, the size of one's community shrinks rapidly. People don't care about their neighbors anymore – they don't feel like they can afford to be generous, because if it's not freely available then it must be saved for their families. Or taken for their families. The balance of power without weapons is based almost entirely on physical size and strength, or some form of unarmed fighting technique, which most Americans do not have. But if a ninety-pound woman has a firearm, then a two-hundred-pound man can no longer take her food from her, unless she gives it freely. Of course, in order for it to act as an equalizer, she needs to know how to use it confidently. She must have practiced with it in times of peace, when others might consider her “mentally unstable”, so that it is available for her if/when she needs it.
Speaking historically again, we live in the safest time period ever recorded, which is why I don't really understand people who talk about how things are getting “so out of control”. Violent acts only make the news because they are so rare, in terms of percentage. Most people I know have never had a violent act committed against them, and even those that have experienced violence have lived in safety for the vast majority of their lives. Violent seem prevalent simply because there are so very many of us.
I think the thing that bothers me the most is that people don't seem to care about being self sufficient anymore. Their argument is based on fear, but this is contradictory to what they say they want. If we rely on others, i.e., the government, to meet our needs, then we are no longer able to meet our own needs. What would happen if we stepped outside the realm of government protection? What if the government collapsed, or we were invaded by another country and everything were thrown into chaos? What if the government continued to become more powerful and decided we didn't need the things it was supposed to provide? I grant that these scenarios are not likely, but they are possible. And the more we give away our rights, the more we give up our control to others, the more likely they become.
Our forefathers wanted us to be prepared to hold a revolution. They had personally experienced a government with too much control, and they wanted to prepare us to win our freedom again if need be. If they were to see us now, constantly dependent upon others to meet our most basic needs, I think they would be disgusted. They would be disgusted at not only the way we need to be taken care of, as adults, but also the way we are raising our children to do the same.
I believe that even if you choose not to own a gun, you should learn how to properly care for one. Know how to load and unload it, know how to clean it, and know how to fire it. Be able to ascertain that a gun is unloaded. And teach your children proper gun safety, too, even if you think they aren't in contact with guns, because you never know what they will discover at a friend's house. Knowing safe procedures cannot possibly cause worse damage than knowing nothing and doing it anyway.
Believe me, I get it. The guns of today are not the same as the firearms used when the second amendment was written. But when we're talking about using them as an equalizer, and being prepared to revolt if need be (however unlikely it seems right now), why would we want to place all the power in the hands of the very people we might need to defend ourselves against? The only reason I can think of is because we've chosen safety over freedom. That is not the choice I would make, for me or for my future children, and it is not the foundation on which this country was built.
Better to focus on helping people not want to hurt or kill others – because, I'll say it again, criminals don't follow the law. Antisocial behavior is the hallmark of someone who needs help, not a well-adjusted person. Therefore, rather than trying to limit the freedoms of honest, well-meaning citizens, we should be trying to help the mentally-unstable become stable. It's a lot more difficult than just taking away all the guns, but it will lead to a healthier society all the way around.
My experience with children has shown me that the easier way is rarely the right way. For example, spanking a kid might get them to comply with you in the short term, but it also leads to more violent behavior and lack of respect for authority (because fear is not the same as respect). Children who regularly experience corporal punishment tend to follow the rules only when an authority figure is present, or, in more extreme cases, when they are so cowed by fear that they are psychologically damaged. Punishment and reward systems, in general, consistently devalue the very behaviors we wish to encourage. And yet, these are the easier ways to parent (at least in the short term), and so they are commonly implemented. But these methods are only effective in the short term, and cause exactly the opposite of the desired effect, in the long term. Then people wonder why so many adults are in therapy; why people have violent and antisocial behaviors; why people hurt, and why they hurt each other.
And this is the model we are trying to implement with adults? Because it works so well with the children, right?
No. The easy thing is rarely the right thing, and gun control is no exception. In this matter we seem to be a nation of cowards – we need to man up and do it right. And the place to start is by helping people raise this generation of children to be mentally healthy. This happens in homes, yes, but it should be happening in schools, too. We need to provide resources for people who are at their wits' end raising children alone, or while struggling with their own issues. We would need to study “the system” extensively in order to develop such a plan, but I feel confident that it could be done – if we are willing to try. If we are brave enough to give the new system some time to work. If we are willing to take some control of, and some responsibility for, our own protection and defense.
I am, but I can't do it alone. If the majority of Americans would rather be safe than free, at some point our children, or their children, won't be either one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sympathy and Outrage Make People a Little Crazy...

I will not deny that the recent shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut was a terrible, terrible tragedy. All shootings are tragedies and doubly so when children are affected – whether it be violence against them, their friends, or those on whom they depend. Nevertheless, some of the things I've seen posted on Facebook, in shared sympathy, are kind of ridiculous.

One person suggested that companies should not launch any funny or lighthearted advertising campaigns this weekend, because “now is not the time”. I understand not wanting to diminish the pain of the people who are trying to deal with what happened, but there really isn't anything we can do to make it better. It's over and done with, and even though they'll be living with the results for a long time, there's nothing we can do to retrospectively prevent it. Taking away anything that could possibly cause laughter would only serve to bring the rest of us down, too. Besides, they'll be depending on the emotional support of people they know and love. The rest of us are strangers and I'm sure they could care less if we go on living our lives. I guarantee they aren't thinking about strangers right now.
And who knows? Maybe some of them will need a little break from all the heartache and a funny commercial could help them get through this horrible time. I believe that we, as strangers, have no right to impede on their personal tragedy. Who are we to say what would make their suffering better or worse?
The other thing I've seen is regarding gun control laws. No one has specified exactly what it is they would like to see changed or tightened, but I personally would ask for caution on this particular topic. The right to bear arms was built into our constitution so that honest citizens could protect themselves from criminals and from overbearing governments – it is the one freedom which guarantees all other freedoms – if we (meaning honest citizens) have the guts to use it when necessary.
This seems like common sense to me, but maybe people don't realize that criminals, by definition, break the law. Any gun control law - any law at all -  can only govern the way honest people act. I don't profess to have a perfect solution, but no action is better than counterproductive action. Making it more difficult for “good” people to get guns will limit their ability to protect other innocents from “bad” people.
I think the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children is learn how to identify and neutralize a potential threat. That defense takes many forms. Early identification of mental health issues and providing parenting support to families are incredibly important. (Research showsthat for every tax dollar spent on early childhood education, up to thirteen dollars are saved later, because those children are far less likely to end up in the penal system, or to depend on government assistance.)
Of course, sometimes issues aren't due to a lack in the person's upbringing, but rather an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, or some trauma that caregivers were unable to prevent. It's probable that there are other reasons for mental instability leading to dangerous anti-social behavior.
That's where other forms of defense come into play. Knowledge of self defense techniques and a reasonable amount of vigilance can help us change the odds if a terrible situation comes up. Even if the techniques are never used, the confidence brought by knowing them can help keep people from panicking, and they might be able to make more effective choices. I don't assume that my ideas would prevent every single tragedy from occurring (in fact, I think some tragedies will occur no matter how well we protect ourselves), but I think they would be far more productive than the other ideas that I've seen floating around.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Recommending Another Awesome Blog

One of my favorite blogs, Penniless Parenting, is doing a giveaway and I want to win! I also want other people to know how awesome the blog is. This post is a way to do both - by sharing info about Penniless Parenting's giveaway I get entered to win, and I get to tell my readers to check it out, too. But don't win, okay? That's supposed to be me :D
Now, this feels kind of like cheating because no one actually reads my blog yet, but I will try to make it better by posting this to my Facebook page, too. That is all!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thoughts on the Sacred and the Erotic

I just read a blog post from PhD in Parenting, which addressed the meaning of "discreet" in terms of dress whilst breastfeeding. One of the comments brought up the dichotomy between the sacred/holy and the erotic/sexy. I don't believe it was intended for that to be the focus of the comment, more that it was an offhand explanation of his personal preferences/opinion.
But it made me think.

 Why do we have that dichotomy? Why is that a part of our culture? A part, it seems, of many human cultures - though I'm not traveled enough to speak from experience.

For me, the erotic without the sacred (at least in company) is pretty much blasphemy. I mean, if you need to take care of things yourself, by all means do so. Biology has to have a say, too. But the act of lovemaking is, to me, the giving of oneself fully, and the accepting of another. Fully.

It is a closeness, a bonding, a love and a joy so deep that another human being can be created out of it.

That's really not something to be taken lightly, or diminished. In fact, there is no closer experience that two adult human beings can share, and it is, therefore, one of the most sacred things that human beings can experience. At least, to me it is. The only thing I can think of that could possibly rival it is the carrying and birthing of a child - but that's another discussion altogether.

That's why I can't understand people who say, "it's just sex." Is it? Do you really believe that? If you do, then I truly hope you have some other means of experiencing the depth which lovemaking creates within those of us who feel otherwise. Those of us who consider it sacred.

I suppose one could argue that I'm just parroting back what mothers have been telling their daughters for years - the standard party line they give in school sex ed classes. I remember the silly paper hearts they made us tear up and try to tape back together.

But somehow, it seems like those lectures missed the point. Maybe it's because they focused on trying to avoid the sacred along with the blasphemous. Maybe it's because sacred is defined differently by every human being. Or, maybe, it's because they try to emphasize the value of "saving it" without really acknowledging the value of "giving it". Because, really, what they're thinking about is teen pregnancies and STDs. While those are important topics and also not to be taken lightly, they overlook the depth and meaning that sex should always include.

As I said once before, biology has to have its place. But, because we're human, the psyche does, too. When we separate what was meant to work together, and stripping away the most valuable part, that is when the beautiful and sacred becomes dirty. Why would we do that to ourselves?

Why can't the erotic also be the sacred? And if it hasn't been in the past, why not give ourselves back that power? No one can take it from us. We can only deny ourselves, and that strikes me as a particularly foolish thing to do.

I don't know exactly how I will talk about this with my daughters, when I have them. But I do know that there won't be any paper hearts, and I'm pretty sure that we'll talk about it before biology starts to get pushy.

Most importantly, I know that I will never devalue the act of lovemaking.

I'm not sure how this ended up being a post about sex education. All I really meant to say is that the erotic is the sacred. The only way to make it otherwise is to intentionally strip from it everything worth having.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Awesome and Getting Awesome-r

No matter how mature/knowledgeable/wise we get, we can always learn more, right? I figure, everyone has something to work on even when they're already awesome. And frankly, how many of us actually believe we're awesome, even when others tell us we are? So here are some things that I'm working on right now, and maybe you are too. Or maybe you've already got these things down, and you're working on other stuff - I know I don't have much of a following yet (haha, last time I checked it was ZERO! It's a new blog) but hey, you're reading it now! So tell me what you're working on, if you want, in the comments.

My list:
  • actually making an effort to meet someone fantastic instead of just bemoaning that my job doesn't offer opportunities to do so.
  • not being self conscious, and just having fun.
  • not leaving crafty messes behind me (or any other sort, but we'll start there, haha).
  • cutting out refined foods as much as possible, and not eating gluten. Possibly avoiding corn again too.
  • Saying yes when invited to go somewhere or do something, even if it's out of my comfort zone.
  • knowing what my time is worth and how I want to spend it. (see bullets 1, 2 and 5, lol)
And I think that's a good starting place. It sounds like a lot, but some of them I already have a good handle on and some are just a matter of letting go of my inner control freak! Too bad I can't keep it around just for the mess aspect, right?
So here's to always getting better and yet still believing we're awesome!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Online Dating... Um, Yeah...

Okay, so I spent most of the day with a very happy married couple and when you're single... well... that can be hard. Don't get me wrong, I really like both of them and had a lot of fun. All the same, I decided it was time to renew my online dating presence. 
The History:
I despised the idea of online dating for a looooooong time, but as a teacher I don't necessarily meet a lot of single guys, you know? Plus, at the time I started I had just moved to Denver for the summer and had no friends here and nothing to occupy my time. I was lonely and bored... so I sucked it up and wrote a profile. I chatted with a few guys, and met exactly one guy in person. He wasn't the only guy I talked to, but he definitely took the cake.  He suggested (on our first and only date) that since I was going to be away from Denver for nine months, he could get me pregnant before I left and I would be back just in time to have the baby. Ummm... yeah... no. I do of course want children and I'm definitely feeling the tick of my biological clock, but really?! 1) I don't know you well enough to even consider kissing you, let alone having a baby with you. 2) Why on earth would I want to be away from the father of my child during my first pregnancy, when a girl really needs support from her significant other? And 3) That would have been me getting pregnant after knowing the father for only two months. I'm not that desperate. Plus I want to be married before I have children, and I'm not going to marry you within two months. After saying something like that, I'm not going to marry you ever.
So, after that, you probably understand why I made my profile invisible and took a break from the online dating thing. Although actually it was because I met someone through the aforementioned married friend (which didn't work out). But it totally could have been because of crazy guys like that.
Anyway... when I renewed this profile and made it visible again, I did a quick search for guys in the area where I normally live, as opposed to Denver where I am just for another month or so. Saw some interesting profiles, too. And this, finally, is the point of this post. I have decided that some of these are interesting enough to share with other people. Take this one, for example:

"Relaxed, stable married man (please don't judge, the wife knows I'm here and doing this), gainfully employed, own my own vehicle looking for no strings attached fun. I'm in a happy marriage , just looking for someone to have fun with every now and then to spice things up. Will provide pictures upon request."
Or how about these?
Under the "seeking" heading: 
"A woman ages 18 to 59"
Under the interests heading: 
"I actually like the notebook"
riding bikes in Walmart (haha)
Under the "About Me" heading:
My rap name is ''TIGHTY WHITEY'' 
These I actually thought were funny in a good way: 
"you can check out my facebook if you want to cyber-stalk me. [facebook address]
If you are a stalker, would you please go through my postal mail and throw away all the junk? Thanks in advance creepy woman."
 "I am also afraid of spiders and I hate smug people my personal hell would be making love to a smug spider "

So yeah... there are some interesting ones out there. We'll see if I meet anyone awesome, though. Wish me luck! (Typed "lick" by accident, boy am I glad I caught that before I hit "post"! Please don't wish me lick.)
Oh, and you might be interested to know that "tighty whitey" winked at me while I was writing this post.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Decorative Frame (Semi-Tutorial)

This is a one of the decorated frames I made last summer when I was in another state and homesick for my friends. If you don't like any of the pre-matted frames, you can also buy photo mats there and pair them with whichever frame you do like. I'm linking this one up to the Dollar Store Crafts contest, too.

A pre-matted frame
A set (or two) of letter stickers
(I used the kind for your wall)
Several matching dot stickers
(from my stash but I'm sure they have some that would work at the dollar store)
A piece of black poster board
A photograph 
(the Dollar Tree sells photo paper in two sizes)

This was super simple. First I decided what picture to use and what message would match it. My photo was smaller than the matting because I got it off of Facebook, so I backed it with a piece of black poster board that I cut to size. I was disappointed at first but now I really like the way it looks! 
I spelled out my message on the glass, re-positioning the letters as needed. Since they're the kind for your wall, they were really easy to move around until I got the placement just right.
Finally I used silver dot stickers that I got on clearance to decorate the corners. I actually made five of these and arranged them together on my wall - it turned out looking awesome!

Carpet Saver (Semi-Tutorial)

If you have cats you may recognize the purpose if this right away; cats HATE to be locked in or out of a room and they often will scratch at the carpet to try to get out. I don't think they're stupid enough to think they can tunnel out... I actually think they're so smart they know if they damage the property you'll probably do anything to get them to stop, including let them in or out!

This is another Dollar Store Crafts contest entry. All I did was measure the thickness of the door frame (14 cm), and it's distance from the wall (11 cm), and cut the carpet square accordingly. I found that on the inside edge it needed an angled line, so I cut from the corner to a space about a centimeter further out and it fit perfectly. Bonus: even if you have to buy EVERYTHING it will still only cost $4 plus tax! Everything is available at the Dollar Tree.

An unbound carpet square
An Exacto knife
A ruler
A permanent marker

Jewelry Holder Tutorial

I created this jewelry holder for the Dollar Store Crafts $5 or less contest. Everything is from the dollar store except my tools and the E6000 glue. I bought two bags of river rocks, but I only needed to use one and still had rocks left over.


a slender clear glass vase 
a medium sized clear glass plate 
a bag of river rocks or flattened marbles 
a roll of craft wire
a tube of E6000 glue or equivalent
a pair of round nosed pliers
a pair of wire cutters

The first thing I did was take off all the stickers and fill up the vase with river rocks. I made sure that the rocks went all the way to the top, but not even a little bit over. If they go above the top you won't be able to get a clean attachment when you glue on the plate later. 
Next, I glued the rocks onto the plate. This was the most time consuming part of the project, both the placement and waiting for the glue to dry. I did only a few at a time because I wanted to make sure the glue didn't dry before I got to the end. Then I carefully glued it on top of the vase.

While I was waiting for the glue to dry, I bent the wire that goes around the bottom of the plate. First I measured it to about twice the circumference of the plate; you can measure along the outside of the plate if you want but I just eyeballed it. Using the round nosed pliers, bend a tight corner about two inches from the end of the wire. The wire should be folded over itself. Bend the two pieces away from each other about an inch up, and make four or five more in the same way. Turn the folds into hooks by bending them sideways into a nice hook shape. Finally, fold the two ends over each other and bend them back to make two interlocked hooks. I think the pictures are easier to understand:

Once the glue was dry I turned the whole thing upside down (carefully! It's heavy from all those rocks!) and slid the wire over the vase. I centered it and pressed it flat against the vase, then used copious amounts of glue under it and on both sides of the wire. As soon as it dries you can hang your jewelry on it! I use the top for chunky jewelry and hair clips that won't get lost among the rocks and the hooks for earrings and more delicate bracelets and necklaces.


This is my very first post on Megan's Nest. I write a blog for my school, but I decided I needed a forum where I could post opinions that the school might not want to endorse (for fear of alienating people). I also might want to talk about something other than Montessori (gasp!). So when I saw the contest hosted over at Dollar Store Crafts, I decided now was the time! I have three projects to enter, but I'll post them separately.
For now, I'll do just a short introduction of myself.
My name is Megan (duh), and I am a Montessori toddler teacher. I'm finishing up my AMI training for birth to age three, and I'm already trained for 3-6. I love to craft but I'm not very patient and I like projects that I can finish in one sitting. This means that I will probably never post a tutorial for a long project. I will, however, probably post a lot of tutorials for Montessori materials.
 I do not have children yet but it is my fondest desire. I am an advocate for breastfeeding, gentle discipline, and the child's right to independence. I am strongly opposed to circumcision, spanking, and screen time for children under six. I will probably write about these things at one point or another; if you disagree with me please comment respectfully or not at all.
That's about it, for now. Check out my next post for a bathroom jewelry holder tutorial!