Cutting Duck Tape

I love duck tape.  They come in so many different colors and designs and they are sticky!  But they can also quickly gum up my scissors and become very frustrating to work with.

In comes parchment paper.  I first started using this method because I needed to cut strips of duck tape for a project with lots of kids.  Trying to cut them on the fly while running the class would not have worked.  I was so pleased to see that the parchment paper really helped to prevent the scissors from gumming up with all the sticky stuff.

You can also make duck tape sheets by overlapping strips of duck tape onto the parchment paper.  The tapes comes off beautifully ready to be used.


I was talking with a friend last night about helping people in need.  It was very disheartening to hear her comments.  She has a relative who is rather proud of the fact that she’s homeless and feels as though she’s somehow better than others.  It was totally mind boggling to be living on handouts from others and then think of one self as somehow better.

Then we shifted to helping at the homeless shelter.  My friend was at one of the local shelters serving Thanksgiving dinner one year and her observation was that the people there were not at all thankful for receiving the food.

I have heard the similar stories from others who have tried to work with some inner city kids.  They were not thankful for the help that they got, but were upset by the “fact” that the government would “give” more to those who were helping them.

I’m not only picking on the poor, but I see this attitude all around me.  Kids (not my own, hopefully mine knows better) who get upset because I was not sharing my snacks or buying them things that I was getting for myself or my kids.  Instead of being thankful for the snacks and other stuff that they have gotten, they complain about being unfairly treated when they did not receive the benefits always.  Adults are not exempt from this problem.  The most often thing that I’ve seen is over food.  People volunteer their time to cook meals for events.  Often, instead of receiving thanks, they hear criticism of what was not done right.

What kind of society have we become.  Perhaps, part of my gripe begins with my grandmother who was always thankful for everything.  She had lived through hard times in her life, but always had a good perspective on life.  She had witnessed hardship and suffering through war and the inhumane treatment of the poor in the Asian society.  Instead of becoming jaded, she gave to those around her.  She saw the positive sides of things and was always grateful to those around her.  God had filled her heart and she learned the mystery of giving thanks in everything and by giving thanks, she was full of joy.

We have an epidemic of depressed ungrateful population even though we are surrounded by a wealth of blessings.  Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have, how about count what you do have in your life and be thankful for every little thing.  Guess I better start my reflections and get ready to smile…

Condolences to shooting victims

It’s so heart wrenching to see another mass shooting at Capital Gazette office.  Even though I’m less and less of fans of news agencies regardless of which side of the fence they stand but whether I agree with a person or not on particular issues, in the end, each person is unique and special and the snuffing out of any life is just sad.  I think of the loved ones they leave behind.  Each person had an unique story, and that story has now been cut short by a lunatic.

Some times I wonder about why there are so many mass shootings and how can people even think about such a thing.  But as I look around, there is so much more us versus them mentality and we come up with ways to demonize “them” and put them in a neat little box such that “them”  is somehow now less human.  I’m reminded of the poem The Man He Killed by Thomas Hardy.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many of us today are willing to stop and reflect on the fact that even though on certain issues we may be on different sides and perhaps even “fighting” against each other, but we are each individuals who might have more in common than we are willing to acknowledge.  I also think of James Carville and his wife on opposite aisles of the political world.  But just because they didn’t disagree on certain issues it did not stand in the way of a successful marriage.

I’m praying for a change of heart of our society so that there’s true love and compassion for everyone (not only for those just like me) and true tolerance would prevail (we can agree to disagree and treat all people with respect) instead of forcing everyone to conform to the definition of tolerance du jour.  If all lives become precious (not some more than others), I really believe that would be the true solution to all the horrific crimes.

Until then, may each of us learn to gracefully deal with all the garbage thrown around each day instead of trying to retaliate and make things worse.  If at all possible, be a light where ever we are.  Reach out to everyone even if they see us as an enemy because of certain views that we may hold.  Demonstrate to the world what it means to consider every life as precious.


Mnemonic for Planets in the Solar System

I know there are lots of mnemonics for remembering the planets in the solar system but I don’t seem to be able to get my head around any of them.  I have a hard time remembering random sentence that have nothing to do with the solar system.  Thus no handle to retrieve the information.  A few things to note about mnemonics is that one, if you come up with it yourself, it’ll probably be easier for you to remember, and the simpler or the more relatable a mnemonic is, the easier it would be to remember.

So here’s mine: “movement around the sun.”

Explanation:  MoVEMe*nT SUN

  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Mercury
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Venus
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Earth
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Mars
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Asteroid belt (asterisk)
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: asterisk is also to note that T is not quite T but if you squish the “n” into the T and connect them, you can sort of imagine a T with a hook to create a “J”… yea somewhat convoluted but mnemonics are never perfect… This deviation can also be a reminder that something weird happens just before Jupiter (division of inner/outer planets and the asteroid belt)
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Saturn
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Uranus
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Neptune
  • Pluto the PupPluto? Yes, I left poor Pluto out after it’s untimely reclassification to a dwarf planet, but I think you can remember poor Pluto sitting outside of everything looking at all the other planets.  Isn’t that how he is with Mickey Mouse and gang.  All the other animals are “people” but poor Pluto remains just a dog.  But I think he’s pretty happy about it…


Mnemonic for Layers of Atmosphere

Here’s a little guy who hopefully will help you remember the layers of our atmosphere.

Exosphere: There’s not much in the head of this person.  But will give the molecules x’s and o’s (kisses and hugs) before they leave our atmosphere.

Thermosphere:  The arms are great for holding a thermos and absorbing all those x-ray and UV light from the sun.

Mesosphere: It’s the meatier (meteor) part of the body  where we are mesmerized by the shooting stars as the meteors burn up.

Stratosphere: The person is straddling the world.  Unfortunately stuff is oozing out of his legs  Must be the oozing zone where ozone resides.

Troposphere: It’s the tropical rainforest.  Oh I see.  And of course that’s where most of the water are in our atmosphere.

BTW, I thought of this mnemonic from the bottom up, so might be easier to lean in that direction as well.  Enjoy!

Coffee vs Apples

Just read about the idea that apples are great morning awakener like coffee. Apples also have lots of great benefits like vitamins and antioxidants plus it provides a slower release of energy.

I like apples and don’t mind trying something nw as an experiment. Maybe I’ll also cut up some apples regularly in the morning for the kiddos. They’ll eat it if it’s there and I sure won’t mind if they had a bit more energy to get them started in the morning minus the caffeine.

Puppet pattern

Just want to make a plug for Clif Desmond’s puppet pattern for moving mouth people made from 9×12 felt pieces (not affiliated to him in any way shape or form other than being an end user of his pattern).

I have made probably 20 of these puppets and have used them during Vacation Bible School for the past maybe eight years. These are great inexpensive puppets that can be put together quickly. For the body I do all of the sewing with a sewing machine, some parts very carefully and creatively though I don’t think that’s what the instructions call for. All the materials are also easy to buy from the local craft store. I have tried to make foam puppets and looked into other options but felt they were too cumbersome and frankly, we don’t have too much storage space. With these, we’ve found that the stuffing need to removed and aired out, which also reduces the space needed for storage.  We often use toddler clothing to simplify the prep work.

Anyway, if you are looking for a solid, cheap, easy people puppet pattern, try the one from Clif.

Pinata attempt

Okay, here goes another attempt at making pinatas.

My kids know me as the master of making tough pinatas.  My first attempt was a colossal fail.  I had paper mached so many layers that the pig (aka rock) was literally unbreakable.  I was able to stand on that thing and when I tried to hit it with the stick, the ricochet almost made me drop the stick.

For church during VBS, I’ve finally settled on 1 paper bag for the little guys, 2 paper bags for early elementary kids, and 3 paper bags for the late elementary kids (BTW, no paper mache paste between the layers of bags, tried it once and it was too hard for the kids).  Of course decorated on the outside with crep paper.  (A search for paper bag pinata should give you lots of ideas).

But this time we are talking about kids (including teens) from Tae Kwon Do.  Last time the store bought one was ripped open on the first kick by an 8 year old.

In the past, I’ve used Costco cardboard milk carton and just filled it with candy and it lasted through quite some beating.  This time, I decided to be more creative and opened the top and bottom of 2 milk boxes, rounded them into cylindrical tubes, glued two together (top and bottom), and glued a piece of cardboard circle to the bottom of the whole thing.  And to make sure that everything stays strong, I actually used some wood glue that I have sitting around (okay it’s the same paranoia that led me to make that fateful unbreakable pig on my first pinata attempt).  I spray glued black wrapping paper to the outside of the tube and sectioned off the inside with poster board circles so there are layers of candies.  So we’ll have a serious heavy duty “heavy bag” pinata for the party.  Hopefully it’ll be one that everyone can enjoy for a period of time.  But no, it’s not crazy hard like my first pinata which would probably break someone’s foot.

Nature or Nurture?

Just read an interesting article about abduction at birth and miss identified person.

But what I thought was interesting was towards the end of the story when Paul Fronczak found his blood relatives that he realized that he was more similar in temperament to them than his “parents.” Perhaps the similarity is also a way that God had intended to help each family gel better.

But of course it brings up the old question of what is stronger, nature or nurture?  Unfortunately, I think we mistakenly smear the effects of the two and want to associate the sum of the individual to just one or the other.  It’s interesting that Paul does acknowledge the Fronczak’s as being loving parents who probably saved him though he also recognizes the ties to his blood relatives.

As a parent, I find this very interesting and it’s a good reminder that even though I could say that our kids do have a lot of our traits, but they are each individuals and have their own bents.  So as parents it’s not our job to change their nature, but to nurture our children to use their nature for good.  Too often we are so myopic that we want to twist our kids to what we think they should be or what we imagine to be the successful careers for them.  I’m still trying really hard to try to weed out what are my wishes versus actual Biblical principals that my children need to operate under.  Yes, let their nature flourish, but develop them with proper nurture so they can live their lives to the fullest to the glory of God.

Be Silent and Listen

Just realized that silent and listen are anagrams of each other. How apt is that. In order for us to listen, we must first rearrange ourselves sufficiently to be silent and I don’t mean just about not speaking but be silent in the heart and mind as well.

Too often when others are speaking my mind is else where thinking of other things. So even though on the outside it may seem like I was listening, but in reality nothing said was truly processed.

I suppose this is a good step for me. One can’t deal with any problem unless there’s first the realization that it is an issue. Of course like all problems, a single step does not a solution make but it’s a start.

Now comes the hard part. The plan of attack and more importantly, sticking to it. Be willing to put aside my own agenda and put others first. That’s funny, how many of our issues really do come down to self centeredness. Guess at least I have managed to flush out one of the root causes. Others before self… see what they have to say as more important than my own thoughts.