Friday, August 27, 2010

Why don't I just say nothing at all? Part One: Jordan and me

When I began dating a cute, conservative southern boy in college, we had some interesting conversations about politics. They frequently ended in sarcasm and scowls and arms folded across chests. I remember talking about this with my mom one night, and she told me that discussing politics made for "strange bedfellows." Something like that, anyway, which her mother had told her and which meant that it's a bad idea to discuss politics with romantic partners because it starts fights. Well, when I feel strongly about something it's really hard for me not to discuss it with the one person I love the most. I continued to start discussions with Jordan, and instead of not talking about politics at all, we learned to be nicer about it. The other night we stayed up past midnight discussing the "ground zero mosque" and still went to bed and cuddled.

So what, you may ask, do I have to show for six or seven years of debating politics with my husband when I could have just left it alone? We've learned from each other and currently have what I see as a more thoughtful, unified view--although sometimes we do disagree. He's gone from calling himself conservative, and a Republican, to identifying as an independent. As a teenager he once volunteered for Joe Wilson's campaign. (You know the one, right? YOU LIE!!!) But now his political views are "moderate." (It's Facebook official!) He is quite knowledgeable about history and politics, not to mention the Bible, so he is a cool guy to talk to. Besides, it's a low-risk atmosphere for debate. If one of us says something stupid, there's no need to feel embarrassed because we already know everything about one another. (To be clear, I have no problem with conservative views in general. What I don't like is when people subscribe to a laundry list of opinions without researching and thinking about each one, just because it's the general view of their party. In short, I'm all for using our brains and hearts, and that's what Jordan and I are doing when we discuss things.)

What's harder is dealing with people who are not Jordan.

I originally posted more here, but decided to divide something so emotionally big into two parts. Part Two coming soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don't spread hate: THINK before you hit that forward button

All four photos are from the email; I could not find original credits

I have had enough. Yesterday I received the LAST ridiculous Islamophobic email I could stomach. Realizing that Muslim is NOT synonymous with terrorist, and that there are Muslim Americans in our U.S. military and making positive contributions to society, these forwards offend me. I can't stand by and say nothing. Here is the text of the email I received:


SHOCKING--but not surprising-- given the 'political correctness' of our Leaders and mindless citizens of our country who will believe anything today!!

Plz send this to as many folk as you can and get this sent all over the US.

“If Con is the opposite of Pro”

“Is Congress the opposite of Progress”

NYC on Madison Avenue

"For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing." Edmund Burke

Scary! Isn't it?

A Christian Nation cannot put up a Christmas scene of the baby Jesus in a public place, but the Muslims can stop normal traffic every Friday afternoon by worshiping in the streets.... Something is happening in America that is reminiscent of what is happening in Europe . This is Political Correctness gone crazy...

This is NYC on Madison Ave

This is an accurate picture of every Friday afternoon in several locations throughout NYC where there are mosques with a large number of Muslims that cannot fit into the mosque - They fill the surrounding streets, facing east for a couple of hours between about 2 & 4 p.m. Besides this one at 42nd St & Madison Ave., there is another, even larger group, at 94th St & 3rd Ave., etc., Also, I presume, you are aware of the dispute over building another "high rise" Mosque a few blocks from "ground zero" - With regard to that one, the "Imam" refuses to disclose where the $110 million dollars to build it is coming from and there is a lawsuit filed to force disclosure of that information - November can't come soon enough.

This is in New York City on Madison Avenue, not in France or the Middle East or Yemen or Kenya.

Is there a message here???? Yes, there is, and they are claiming America for Allah. If we don't wake up soon, we are going to "politically correct" ourselves right out of our own country!



First of all, according to Snopes and several other sources I've found, this is not a once-a-week event, and these Muslims do not "stop normal traffic every Friday afternoon by worshipping in the streets." These are photos of an annual parade which has been taking place every year since 1985. It is held as a community event, just like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and several other events which also halt traffic once a year. As stated on their website, the purpose of the Muslim Day Parade is "to bring communities of various ethnic and religious groups together to promote a better understanding of Islam and to establish interfaith cooperation between Muslims and all other religious/community groups."

The forward goes on to suggest that we Christians "cannot put up a Christian scene of the Baby Jesus in a public place."

We can't?

Then please explain this beautiful and quite large living nativity (photo from website) which is part of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Or the Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Creche which has long been a tradition at the Met. Or the nativity display placed in the East Room of the White House (yes, the Obamas put one up in 2009; you'll have to scroll down for the picture). I've never noted a shortage of nativity scenes around where I live. If you feel there is one, why not organize a group from your church and create a live nativity on a float for your local Christmas parade, or come up with some funds and see if you can place a display in a prominent location in your town?

Some people are concerned about the source of the large amount of money needed to build the "Ground Zero Mosque" which is more accurately described as a large community center which would be open not only to Muslims but to the surrounding community. I'm not an expert but from what I've read, they are still working on funding, among many other details. If anyone "refused to disclose" where the money is coming from, it's probably in large part because they do not yet know where it will come from. I think it's safe to say that if it is built, there will probably be many large and small scale contributors, just like there are for the megachurches Christians build all over the place.

An interesting little sidenote: As you've probably heard, President Obama recently hosted an Iftar dinner for Ramadan at the White House. A lot of Christians didn't like that. Did you know, however, that President Bush started that tradition in 2001 not long after the 9/11 attacks? Let's take a little trip back in time with this article from December of 2001. Bush tried to show respect for the beliefs of others, but it's not easy when you've got conservative Christians wanting you to wish them a Merry CHRISTmas and others celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa who would rightly like to be respected too, as well as those who have no religion and think there should be complete separation of church and state. This has been a confusing, difficult issue for a long time and no leader is going to make everyone happy. Bush and Obama have done some of the same things, but how many conservative Christians wrote hateful emails about Bush? I didn't see any.

I'm so confused as to how we might "politically correct ourselves right out of our own country." There are plenty of people here who are not Christians and there always have been. The beauty of it is that we can coexist in this wonderful country where we have freedom of religion--not only freedom of Christianity, but freedom of religion. If the issue, as I suspect, is dissatisfaction that more people are not becoming Christians, I suggest we look to the image we are sending out into the world. Much of it is an image of uncaring hypocrisy, or worse, bigoted violence. You should see some of the hateful comments on message boards where this email is posted--self-identified Christians suggesting hate crimes and murder, among other things, to get their way. It's absolutely shameful. If we are trying to meet people where they are and show them through love that our way is the right way, this is an epic fail. There are many people who have converted to other religions because their experience with Christianity was riddled with these very issues.

"For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing." True. If you want to "do something," I suggest you find an actual problem to help with. Did you know, for instance, that babies are dying because their mothers are forced to feed them formula mixed with unclean water? How many forwards have you seen spreading awareness of that? (I think I am going to start one!) There is evil in the world, that is for sure, but it's not a group of Muslims in New York City praying and minding their own business. I didn't want "evil to flourish" in the form of totally unfounded hate encouraged by this email, and that is why I felt called to write this. It's not about "political correctness." It's about acceptance of and sensitivity to others whether or not we agree with them.

If you truly are a Christian, please think about the image of Christianity your actions present to the world. Reflect upon whether you might be hurting others. Think, and pray, before you make decisions. THINK before you hit forward.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I don't know how long it will last

The girls are both asleep at the same time, Suzi curled up on the love seat and Ivey on a blanket on the floor. It's like getting surprise roses, or a giant basket of tomatoes you know you'll never be able to use before they go bad.

Yesterday we discovered that, for me, shopping a consignment sale only on 50% off day is the best strategy. I love our local sale, and there are such great things at it, but unfortunately I have a hard time understanding that all the great things do not have to come home with me. Going to the presale requires that I arrange childcare for four hours of volunteering and at least three hours for the sale itself. Then I go and spend at least $200, and go back to half-price day (and get in early for volunteering) and drop another $100. It's insane. Yesterday Jordan and I went to the general public 50% off sale while my parents kept the girls. We shopped for about an hour, spent $84, and got all the clothes Suzi will need for this fall/winter and much more. The selection didn't seem picked over at all to me. The closet is packed and I haven't even processed it all yet. For Ivey we only needed to sort through hand-me-downs, which is super because it's like shopping for free and of course I love all the clothes, which I picked out the first time.

Consignment sale shopping and hand-me-down sorting added considerable height to our already huge laundry hill and I wanted to take care of that today, but the girls would rather it remained in a big nasty pile. I failed to get a head-start on them this morning. Ivey has fallen twice and bumped her forehead and cheek, and there will be bruises. Poor little girl. After lunch I decided to run the girls a warm bath, throw some toys in, and let them play in the tub for over an hour. When your babies are having a hard day and driving you crazy, there is nothing like letting them play in the tub to lighten the mood. When Ivey's teeth started chattering we ended the bath and moved on to naptime, which is where we are now. There's not much I can do without possibly waking the girls up, and I can't go upstairs and leave them down here alone, so I sit here typing and wondering: Have I been doing enough? Is this a reasonable amount of laundry and straightening and cleaning to expect and I am just lazy? Do other people's houses look like this when no one's visiting, too? Do their one-year-olds play in the toilet when they aren't looking?

I love naptime on days like today. I'd like to freeze it and keep it in my pocket for when I need it most. I want it to last as long as a good nap should, but children's naps are such fickle things. They wither away in no time for any reason and give way to whining.

I love naps, but I never did like getting roses.

Prefer tomatoes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pictures of us wearing lots of purple plaid

Here are some very late pictures of us at the highland games! This was over a month ago.

Mom and Dad. He's shaved his beard off since then.

"I'm not wearing that hat, Suzi."

Length of time hat stayed on after picture: about two seconds.

But we fixed her.

A parting glance.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Ivey!

You were born in the water right about now one year ago.

Kissing you on the forehead the day you were born was like kissing a peach.

We laughed when you cried the first time, because it was surprisingly loud. You always have known how to speak up.

Suzi found your "belly butt," which we tucked away in a drawer.

You loved being "tangled up" in a wrap in those early days, and we loved being tangled up with you.

Suzi kept wanting to hold you, even after you got too big and wiggly and she could hardly see over the top of your head.

After a few months you started crying Mamma! and I loved it.

Then you started calling for Dada more. He still walks you to sleep and cuddles with you at night.

You love to play in the water, to splash Suzi, and you don't see why she cries about it.

You refused to eat for a while, but now there's nothing you won't eat. And you eat a lot!

You grew six teeth and they look a little out of place in your baby mouth.

Then you learned to use those teeth to stand up for yourself. Ouch!

Now you press your little hand to your chest to ask if something is yours.

You walk over to me and fall into my arms with a big six-tooth grin.

You climb into my lap and sit down like it's the best seat in the house.

And I don't think there's been a single day that I held you enough to suit you. But I tried.

Today you are one. Happy Birthday, Ivey. We love you so much!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The to-do list swirling through my head

Fun stuff only...

1) Learn more about embroidery. Yesterday I jumped in by taking a piece of fabric and a little embroidery floss I had, sketching a little butterfly and stitching it on. It didn't turn out as I'd envisioned, but I learned the stitch I needed with the help of these helpful instructions. This is a good example of how I learn best by jumping in and trying! I want to learn to embroider funny sayings on pillows, and I also think sketching something and then embroidering over it looks really cool. It would be a fun way to add a little something to plain articles of clothing.

Don't laugh, it was my first try

2) Finish reading The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child. I'm on Chapter Six, which details how the homeschooling models they previously covered work in real life. Next I'm going to try out some of the activities I will read about with Suzi, see what she enjoys, and put some of them into our routine. Next up on my reading list: Homeschooling: The Early Years and one of the John Holt books but I can't decide which one. I'm already sold on homeschooling, so I'd rather read a book focused more on what, how and when than on why.

3) Learn how to crochet a hat, you know, like one of those slouchy, floppy berets. I want one of those and I want to make it myself. I bought some grey wool yarn at a yard sale and have had dreams about crocheting hats from it. One for me, maybe one for Jordan in a different style.

4) Bake chocolate chip cookies with Suzi.

5) Think of things I can make for Christmas gifts. There must be something I can learn to make for just about everyone, right? What are some good ideas of things to make for guys? Jordan likes to make things too, so maybe working together we can get everybody covered.

6) Get Suzi a big piece of poster board and some paints, dress both of us in old clothes, take her out in the yard and let her paint the paper, herself, and me. Maybe we'll make it a family activity. The other day while I wasn't looking she colored her hands and arms with markers (see picture in my sidebar) and ever since then I've thought this would be her dream art project.

7) Make a t-shirt quilt--a soft and cuddly recycling art project!

8) Make a book about Ivey's homebirth for my girls. When I got pregnant with Ivey I got a couple of books about a new baby to read to Suzi. When I opened them, though, I was constantly interjecting. "Suzi, this is what it'll be like when your little sister is born! Except you won't have to wait three days for us to come home from the hospital. And we won't feed Ivey a bottle. And she won't sleep in a crib. Or use a pacifier." These books ended up being more confusing than helpful. There are already some good books out there, such as We're Having a Homebirth!! but I want to write my own to read to my kids and make it more anecdotal and specific to us. I basically have it written already. Now if I could just draw some decent pictures...

Setting a deadline for these things would be stupid, but I wanted to make this list, if for no other reason than to remind myself I want to do these things! What's on your to-do list?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dogs should be on leashes

Today, as per our new routine, the girls and I went for a walk with our dog Phibby. We got almost to the end of our street when we heard a dog barking. Most of the people in our neighborhood let their dogs out on a chain or in a fence, or walk them on a leash, so I wasn't worried. Phibby was, though--she started whining and probably wanted to go back home, now that I think about it. When we went a little further and I saw the dog, it was big and looked like a boxer. I just didn't think much of it though, because surely the owners would have this dog on a chain, right?

Nope. The dog, which was a male, wore a collar and tags and didn't appear to be neutered, ran over to us and began sizing up Phibby. She stood facing him, a stern, serious look on her face. We tried to walk by him but he began following us and getting between us and where we were headed. I had no idea if he was just playing or if he might attack, especially with the way he had been barking, so I picked Suzi up (Ivey was already in the Ergo), got my phone out, and decided to call Jordan instead of 911. After I hysterically described the dog and told him I didn't know what to do, he was totally panicked and decided he'd run to the car and drive home as fast as he could, while still on the phone with me. Meanwhile, I started screaming HELLLLP! hoping one of our neighbors would come out--preferably the one whose dog it was.

After a couple of minutes (maybe less, but it seemed like a long time) our neighbor Cindy, who is a dog expert, came out and called the dog. He ran over to her and started playfully jumping and licking as she put him on a leash. So it turns out he was a marshmallow--at least for her. We probably won't have to find out, because Cindy said she'd call the owners and she'll probably tell them their dog almost had the lady down the street calling 911. I'm still not sure if I overreacted. Seeing a big, unfamiliar, unleashed dog who won't let us pass is alarming. The collar and tags made me feel a little better because I knew he'd probably had his shots and wasn't totally wild, but I've heard plenty of stories about seemingly nice dogs who turn on an unsuspecting child. I think people should realize that if they let their dogs run loose, anything can happen to them. They can get hit by cars or, say, shot by people who really can't tell if your dog wants to play or is about to maul their children. A leash! Use one! Jordan and I are going to pick up some pepper spray when he gets off work, because next time it could be a stray dog or a crazy dog or a dog trained to fight. If I'd had pepper spray with me today, that dog might have had a face full of it.

Do you think I overreacted? What would you have done?