Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6, 2011: Guess Who's Coming to Lunch?


Dr. John Wagner, Head of the EB Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Minnesota!  He is flying out to speak at our Wings of Hope luncheon benefitting Pioneering Unique Cures for Kids at the Anaheim White House in Anaheim, CA on Wednesday January 11, 2012, from 12-1pm.  How many prepositional phrases or web links can a guy slam into one sentence?!  LOL.

We are so excited he can make it!  We just found out over the past few days that he can make it work in his crazy schedule.   Normally, when you want a big time speaker like Dr. Wagner, it makes sense to plan the date around his schedule, but since we were gifted this event by 2011 CNN Top Ten Hero Bruno Serato, his team set the date, so we were retrofitting our speakers to a pre-existing day!

The luncheon is coming along wonderfully.  We have 100 seats and we are just about half full so far!  Jennifer Edling, Daylon's mom, is not only speaking as well, but helping with the decorations, along with the rest of our fabulous Team Bella: our friends Jennifer Thomas, Sara Cooper, Maria Hernandez,  and Lara Seto Davidson.  To ALL of you ladies, we couldn't do this without you.  Thank you for your undying support!

We have seats available if you or someone you know from our area is interested in coming.  To register: CLICK HERE.  Tickets are only $25 for a 5-star, 3 course meal valued at $60!

What else...

Angelique goes back to work next week!  She looks forward to getting back to work on one hand, but is really gonna miss Julian.  They have really bonded.  I was at a seminar last week having lunch with a friend who lives in Canada.  When I told her how long Ang had off, she smiled and simply said, "You should move to Canada, we get a YEAR off as moms, and you as the dad get 6 months!"

Aside from the cold winters, Canada sounded really good right then!

Jane, did I get that right?  A year for moms and 6 months for dads?  Who was it from Sweden who told us how long you guys get?  TWO YEARS? Is that right?  You guys have great priorities.  I really appreciate that a lot.

Here's potentially a powder keg of a topic...  NO offense is intended by the following... just a genuine curiosity over a recent set of events...

Ali now comes home singing Hanukah songs from our public school...  should she be learning religious songs of any denomination in public school?  All I'm sayin' is the Christmas songs she's learning (if any) better actually be centered on the coming baby Jesus and not Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, or I'm calling foul!  LOL. I don't recall them learning any songs for Ramadan...  I maybe assumed naively that church and state had been split up in the classroom (for better of for worse) such that we took "the minute of silence" out of the classroom, made the fall music programs "holiday music" and not christian Christmas carols, etc...

Again, we're just now re-entering the public school system, having been out since we were kids... I call it the Rip Van Winkle Syndrome.  We have handouts coming home daily of dreidels and menorahs, but I'll be surprised if any handouts of the nativity scene or the cross at easter come home.  More likely Santa and the Easter Bunny.  Anyone have any insight as to curriculum inclusion/exclusion criteria related to religious subjects?  Please enlighten me!  I HOPE I don't come off ignorant in all this, I genuinely don't understand.  Thanks!

God night.


  1. I always smile when I see any picture of your neat, sweet kids! Bella warms my heart, Ali lights me up, and Julian keeps me wanting more!

  2. Wow, yes your topic is explosive and your perspective is clear. I don't want my kids coming home singing baby Jesus songs, but I am fine with Santa, Frosty, and other Christmas songs and elements. I think baby Jesus is just a whole lot more of a religious suggestion and opens up a lot of questions for Jewish children about belief systems and believing or not believing in Jesus. A menorah and dreidel, while very important to the holiday season -are not one of the pivotal aspects to the religion or suggestive of an overal belief system (and they are probably presented very simply and can be accepted as such- the same way my children accepted a Kwanza lighting (the Kinara)- very simply- as a beautiful holiday object.

    Yes, I am Jewish and raising children with Jewish holidays. I just spoke with my child's teacher about bringing in the dreidel and coins to play dreidel during the holiday season (it's a nice math game for the younger grades too). She was sure to agree enthusiastically, but did mention the need to keep a non-religious slant to it (in other words, talk about the dreidels, but not beliefs, etc). So, the same standard seemed to be applied (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza... highlight the holiday- but it's not the place for in depth holiday discussions). It's a venue to show and celebrate differences (it's PUBLIC school). BTW, my daughter is one of two Jewish kids in her class and my son is the only one. Last year, my son was the only one and my daughter was one of one and half (one child who celebrating both). The school is very diverse racially and there are other holidays celebrated (like Kwanza and also non observers of Christmas, who don't celebrate Hanukah either).

    They may bring up Hanukkah first because it is less celebrated or because it Chronologically arrives first on the calendar, but I can't imagine Christmas worksheets or songs won't arrive too. I don't think it will be Jesus loves me or the like, but you never know.

    It sounds like you want some elements of Catholic school in public school. Clearly, you are very spiritual and religious. You have a gift for your preachings and your elaborate thoughts therein. I can see why you want your children to have the same things.

    My memory may fail me, but I don't think I learned Jesus songs in public grade school (30+ years ago).

    I have more to write on the topic, but I have a restlesss toddler, who is more concerned with his appetite :)

    I have read fondly for a while and will continue to do so; even though our faiths are different. I respect your deep rooted faith and your strong belief system.

  3. First, my disclaimer: I am neither Jewish nor Christian (nor do I associate with any organized religion), but I was raised celebrating Christian holidays as much of America is. So this is just my opinion as someone who attended public schools and will possibly have children attending public schools in the near future (haven't decided between public or charter, Montessori, home school etc, but we have a couple years yet!).

    I think it's great that Ali and her classmates are being taught about the different holidays that are celebrated this time of year. I agree with anonymous above; dreidels and menorahs do not equal Jewish religious teachings, they just are some elements of how Hanukkah is celebrated, like Christmas trees and Santa Claus are part of the celebration at Christmas but have little to do with the religious aspect of the holiday. I see no harm, personally, in learning a Hanukkah song alongside Jingle Bells.

    As far as separating church and state, I do think it's necessary but there is gray area, especially if we also want to teach our children about cultural diversity (which I assume most of us do!). I know whether the schools teach my kids about different religions or not, I will certainly do so.

    Great news that Dr. Wagner can make it! If we weren't a state away we would love to attend. I am sure it will be fabulous!


  4. In Canada you get 52 weeks total off, and you can split them with dad. You can even take them at the same time, but if dad gets 6 months off, mom only gets 6 months too

  5. Great insights, anonymous, thank you very much! Well said about how Jesus is a pivotal part of a belief system versus a dreidel or menorah, or Kinara. Really well articulated, THANK YOU so much! I actually woke up at 5am this morning in a panic about what I posted, but I was hoping to engage a discussion from an honest and respectful corner, and you were great and generous in acknowledging me. GOOD STUFF. THANK YOU AGAIN! :-)

  6. Kelly in Seattle, WADecember 7, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Hi! It's been a while since I have posted. But I think of your beautiful family lots.

    As our family was decorating our tree a few days ago I came across our Bella Butterfly that I put up last year. The butterfly now flutters near the top of our tree. It's one of my boys favourites -- we talk a lot about Bella the butterfly and Bella little girl.

    Just wanted to let you know that Bella is remembered here in Seattle. We continue to hold her and your entire family in our hearts and prayers.

    Love and hugs,

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  9. We do 3 "holiday" related Social Studies lessons in December .....Hanukkah ...Las Posadas....and then the "commercial" Christmas. The kids actually go to spots around school, asking for shelter to re-enact Las Posadas....They also sing and play with a dreidel. But our Christmas "program" , is about Santa and Rudolph :)
    Love the pics...and the news of our guest speaker. I'm stealing this info and blogging it. Gotta fill that table!

  10. Tim,

    Interesting your take on the "holiday" nods in the public school system.

    When my oldest was in second grade I was aghast when I went to his holiday program. At that school, only the second graders do a presentation (at the time, I was so disappointed I didn't get to go every year, as this was something I loved when I was in grade school). This is no lie: Christmas was not acknowledged in any way shape or form. FOUR holidays were presented in song and costume and Christmas wasn't included. Nothing. Nada.

    I have no problem with acknowledging/representing celebrations of different cultures, but you better betcha Christmas should be in there somewhere.

    Back when I was a kid, it was Christmas and only Christmas. Nobody was offended. As everything else crept in, Christmas got left behind.

    My take regarding the school programs and education for that matter is simple. Be fair. Represent all if that's what you want, but that means ALL and in a not-in-your-face way. It can't be religious, for obvious reasons. Too many religions and parents would be threatened.

    It took me a while, but I finaly pulled the kids and started homeschooling. The best thing I've ever done. Believe it or not, I'm not the least bit religous or spiritual. We are atheists. Just so people don't get the wrong impression, that's not why we chose the homeschool route. School in general is a hot topic for me. ;-)

    Enjoy your holiday season!

    Missing Bella,
    ~Ann in Ohio

  11. amandacraftstories,

    Is maternity leave in Canada paid time off or time off without pay?


  12. We will be homeschooling next year as well. It fits us best and government school is not our best option anymore. Sad! I never expected this route. Political correctness is taking over. Out of 23 students, 20 of them are 'gifted' and thus sent to an 'enrichment' class. In other words, they are sent away to run in the gym while the 3 who need extra help stay with the teacher. Teaching to the lowest common denominator.

  13. We lived in America for a short period 25 years ago. As Australians, we were rather shocked that at Christmas time there was no mention of Jesus in the schools at all. further still one of the local stores displayed a cross at Easter-this had to be removed!Understand all the reasoning behind this but I personally never wished anyone Happy Holiday, I either wished people Happy Hanukkah or Happy Christmas.I think we make a big deal out of a lot of stuff while our children take it all in their stride. As another discussion point, we have a Catholic high school in our area that has a school captain who is a practicing Islamist.great discussion topics dont you just love life!!

  14. In Canada 50 of the 52 weeks is paid. the first two are without pay. What you are paid is only 55% of your wages, but without taxes deducted. Pretty sweet deal. There is a maximum you can get per week, so if your are a neurosurgeon you are not getting your full 55%. I never got near the cap personally. You also need to work 600 hours in the prior year ) in Alberta anyways ) to qualify. Each province may be a bit different.

    In my city we have 2 different school systems. My kids go to the catholic school so it's all about Jesus, with a little Santa such as a Pancake breakfast where Santa comes to eat with the kids.
    There are public schools and there is no Jesus focus in their "Winter" concert. The only exceptions would be the few public schools that have a focus such as the Muslim Public school. I have not been to their concerts, but I know they just had a winter carnival, not a Christmas one.

    Good luck with everything!
    Love reading your blog and miss sweet Bella.

  15. Yay for Dr. Wagner!!!!!! That is AWESOME!
    So interesting to read about all of this Christmas stuff!

  16. Just wanted everyone to know that not all teachers "teach to the lowest common denominator." I am a public school teacher. I consider it my passion and my calling. I differentiate instruction and teach to all the kids in my class! My classroom is a positive and loving place! :)

  17. Hmmm.... really I think we (adults) all get too carried away in this political correctness and frankly, what's the big deal if kids learned about what other religious believed and we DID have religious songs at our "holiday" concerts and had a section on it in schools? Where else will they learn to be tolerant of others and that its ok if we're not all the same? I mean, I think if our children were taught that christians believe X, jews Y, muslims Z, and so on, we would be teaching a lesson of tolerance and diversity instead of creating hot buttton issues and division that could become the seeds of bigotry. I don't know. I think we all probably want our kids to believe whatever we believe but I do want to raise my child to be able to think critically for herself and come to genuine belief through her own process in a meaniingful way and not just because I gave her no other option and she was always shielded from such. I, personally, wish I would've known as a child that there was diversity out there. The orld seemed so big and foreign upon realizing that as a teenager and I think education earlier would've led me to feel more secure and informed. Great discussion btw and I'm jealous of canadians. Just saying :) lol