Thursday, September 24, 2009

Money Problems

After just watching the movie Maxed Out, as well as having volunteered at low-income schools and with the local homeless population, I am realizing more and more how many people in the world are in need of help with finances. The main thing that I took away from the movie was that there are many people in this world who are suffering with finances so much that they are actually willing to commit suicide in order to deal with the pain.

The film blamed the credit card companies for family debt. It's true, they are a greedy bunch who get the majority of their profits from feeding off those who are uneducated. However, it is a two-way street. Those uneducated people are actually responsible for their actions. And that is what makes me so sad. I feel sorry for those that get suckered in, making mistakes when they really don't know any better.

God has blessed my life with financial resources. My parents have been great examples showing the importance of saving money, my father has taught me much wisdom regarding financial responsibility, and I happen to live in a country where it is relatively easy to get a well-paying job. Jen and I certainly are having our fair share of money problems recently, but we have always paid our bills on time and have great credit ratings. If we borrow money from someone, we make sure to pay them back. We have a budget and keep track of where every single dollar and penny goes. We often are living paycheck-to-paycheck, but I still believe that we are very rich indeed.

Jesus tells us that we must be good stewards (Luke 12:42-48). He says that of those who have been given much, much will be required of them. Right now, Jen and I don't have much money to give away. I certainly wish we did. That is one thing that I keep telling Jen repeatedly, "When we have more money, years from now, I want to give it away to people who really need it." Thankfully, she shares my passion for helping those who are less fortunate.

But what do we do now? All of our money is going to savings and paying back student loans. When I think of people in our neighborhood who don't know how to be financially responsible, it makes me think of something that I can give others: my time. Right now I am training to be a school teacher. What better resource can I have to share with others than by teaching them? I can teach others about how to budget money, how to save, and how to pay off debt.

This is what the church is for. The church is supposed to be a group of Christians that help out the people in the community who are in need. So many more Christians ought to be giving their time and/or money away to people in need. That is what Jesus told us to do (Mark 10:17-31). I love teaching kids and I am excited to be a school teacher soon. However, this financial crisis is a big weight on the shoulders of parents and I want to help them too.

I don't have anything else to say...I'm just going to post this and then search online for ways to help through my church and through my community. I hope that you'll find ways to help those less fortunate than yourself too. You can do it! There are so many out there who need your help!

Image from

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Teacher Blog

I have decided to separate my two lives: Teacher life from Personal life. For professional reasons, I want to have my own blog as a teacher.

On my teacher blog (, I will put the posts about book recommendations for kids (such as A Single Shard and The Mouse and the Motorcycle) as well as other announcements once I become a full-time teacher. On my personal blog (this site), I will continue to write about personal thoughts on life and relatively regular family updates. "Kid Quotes" and "Teaching Tips" will stay here on my personal site since that is included in my personal reflections about life.

So if you enjoy reading about specific recommendations for kids and want to keep up on my work as a teacher, check out and my accompanying teacher blog! Thanks.

Riedlblog labels: Teaching, Books, Kids

Friday, September 11, 2009

Marriage Tip: Eye Contact

The location that Jen and I argue most often is in the car. Why is that, you ask? Well, I believe that it has to do with eye contact. When we are in the car, we are both sitting forward or looking out the window. It is impossible to have much eye contact while at the same time focusing on driving. (Unless, of course, we want to sacrifice our skillful driving abilities in order to communicate better. For the sake of pedestrians and the other vehicles on the road, I should think not.)

And then, as we continue the argument all the way to the end of the journey, which includes parking the car and walking into our home, I have noticed something. With all of my anger and frustration spilling out onto Jen, I continue to look away from her. I still do not make eye contact, even though we are out of the car.

It's easy to argue with someone when you don't look them in the eye (it's easy for me, anyway). So I have been trying a new arguing strategy with my wife. Whenever this happens, I try to sit down with her and resolve the argument while looking into her eyes. I ask her to look into my eyes too. It's hard not to want to resolve the argument when we do that because when I look into her eyes I remember how much I love her and how much I would rather be at peace with her instead of at war.

It seems to help quite a bit. For me, anyway. I don't know about her, though. Some other times I have tried holding her hand while arguing, but she hates that. :-) It's fun and fascinating to learn about your spouse and see what works and what doesn't. I'm glad I have the rest of my life to figure out the best ways to communicate with her.

Yes, I know the image is a little creepy. Try to ignore that fact. After all, I did crop the picture from a happy photo.

Riedlblog label: Marriage

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sewallcrest Park

Sewallcrest Park is located in SE Portland's Richmond Neighborhood. It is a cozy little residential park with a softball field, play structure, and a big field. There are often pick-up ultimate frisbee games here, but unfortunately I have not been able to come out to play recently.

We visited another Movies in the Park event here, watching School of Rock! It was fun laughing with the crowd about "stickin' it to the man" (typical Portland). Before the movie, there was a rockin' band that played, from School of Rock Portland. The band was just a bunch of kids and they were really talented. Perfect introduction to the movie.

More photos here (not the best quality, since they were taken from my cell phone).

Riedlblog label: Parks

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Single Shard

A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park, is a great book I read for class and put together a memory box for. The book is about an orphaned homeless boy in 12th century Korea who begins working for an old potter. The boy, Tree-ear, wants the old man, Min, to teach him how to make a pot, but Min explains that he only would teach his son, who happened to have already died. Eventually Tree-ear proves his worth and the old man considers him his son.

It was a great story, simple and straightforward. I loved the setting (small coastal 12th century Korean town), which is different from many books I have read. It gives an interesting perspective on what life may have been like for a homeless orphan in that time period. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Min and Tree-ear and how it developed/matured throughout the story. Great storytelling as it held my interest and made me think. However, at the same time, the story is lighthearted and fun.

Random thoughts after reading:
  • Can connect the book with activities in the classroom, like pottery/clay molding art, talking about different types of family structure (orphans), discussing other cultures, etc.
  • I enjoyed the relationship development the best: between Tree-ear, Min, and his wife. I love family stories.
The memory box I put together is pictured here. It is simply a collection of various items I found around my house and each item has some significance to the story. Great for easy presentations.

Riedlblog labels: Books, Teaching

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kid Quote: Shadeburn

One day when it was rather hot outside, a 1st grader was complaining about the heat. We had only been outside for about 10 minutes. I could tell that he was the kind of boy who didn't like to get dirty or breathe fresh air.

"Let's go in," he whined. "I'm gonna get a sunburn!"

I looked over to him and saw that the sun was not even hitting him. "But you're in the shade!" I chuckled.

"Oh," he said smiling, "Well then I might get a shadeburn! Let's go in."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sellwood (Riverfront) Park

Earlier this month we visited Sellwood Park to see Indiana Jones 4 for one of Portland's Movies in the Park events. It was such a great party! I love Movies in the Park. There is food, entertainment (Elvis performed for us too), community, and warm summer evenings. What more could anyone want?

Before we watched the movie, we went down to Sellwood Riverfront Park to see the Willamette River. It's a cute little park on the river in the shadow of the Sellwood Bridge. Great park for dogs, lots of running space. Also an overgrown wetlands nature area with a little walking bridge.

Sellwood Park is up the hill a couple blocks. It has softball fields, lots of play structures, and an outdoor pool. Huge trees fill the area, so it is very old-growth beautiful. One of my professors was there with his family too and he saw me. You'll never know who you'll find when you go out and experience fun activities like these!

More photos here.

Riedlblog label: Parks