Sunday, November 30, 2008


Facebook. It's pretty wild.

Today I became friends with a girl I wasn't particularly nice to, growing up. She was one of my cousin's best friends, but I kind of had a chip on my shoulder about her and wasn't as friendly (back then) as I should have been. Want to know why? Of course you do.

Because, in first grade, she was one of the few girls who would play Army with me, but we always fought over who got to be general. Or, rather, she would declare herself general and go play with our other friends and I would sulk in a corner because *I* wanted to be general.

It didn't occur to me, then, just to think it was cool that other girls would play Army with me. Or to attempt a coups, for that matter. Heh

Thursday, November 27, 2008


OK, I was just perusing The Digital Cuttlefish and came across this gem:

Wow. That's the first Christmas song in a while to actually bring a tear to my eye. Very nice. Had to share.

Life Uncommon

Happy Thanksgiving.

Want a potentially trite sounding gratitude list? I knew you did. On Thanksgiving we all get to rough draft our eventual Oscar acceptance speeches.

I'd like to thank my parents for giving me life. Thank you, Mom, for teaching me about education and dedication and for raising me to appreciate fine details and accuracy. Thank you for dragging me, kicking and screaming, through lessons of food preparation and household maintenance. I fought you every minute and had a horrible attitude. Only now, as a mother, do I have any clue how much work it was for you to perservere and teach me what I needed to know. Thank you for helping me work around my bad attitude at school and still get outstanding educational opportunities. Thank you for making it possible for me to take algebra through the college when I wasn't permitted to progress in junior high. Thank you for your endless hours at the dinner table, explaining the concepts that frustrated me. I don't know if you remembe how annoyed I was, trying to understand why suddenly I had to solve for f(x) rather than just y, like it had been before. When I got to Calculus the additional understanding of functions was quite helpful. Dad, thank you for your empathy as I struggled through adolescence. Thank you for being my verbal sparring partner and political pugilist all these years.

I'd like to thank my oldest brother for letting me listen to rock music and teaching me the keyboard parts to a few songs, when I was little. Your attention meant the world to me, and playing opening chords from random 80s music is still a fun party trick.

Thanks, oldest sister, for inspiring me to write. My earliest short stories and poetry were pathetic mimicries of your work. When you were in Germany I cherished a book of poetry you had begun and commenced writing my own. I don't know how I would have survived that year without the creative outlet writing offered.

Little sister, I adore you. I admire you. Your intelligence and warmth make me feel better about humanity as a whole. When I share my views on religion, I always fear it will alienate me from all my loved ones, but every time I have exposed an emotional wound or frustrations or even just gone on a ranting bender, you have patiently listened and then provided calm, intelligent points of view that bring me to a more peaceful, humble way of thinking. We may not agree on some things, but I always get the impression that our hearts are in the same place. I can not overstate the value of this in my life.

Baby brother, you rock. I still worry that the cruelty I directed toward you in childhood may have done real damage. Hopefully it didn't, but I'm still sorry about that. I have loved watching you become a father. Your daughter is fortunate to have you for her male role model and first hero.

Mr. McGeeky, G-Rex, Bayba and Muggle - You are my world and I'll tell you all more about that after I make dinner for you.

HRH UP - Sorry I won't get to see you today. Thank you for teaching me some social skills and about forgiveness and the endurance of friendship.

Mrs. Bosazzle - I don't want to embarrass you in public, so I won't go into all the things about you I'm thankful for, but I wanted to make sure you know you're important to me.

OK, I've been hearing the exit music in my head, so I suppose I should wrap this up...

I love you all! Thank you all for enriching my life and making me a better person.

Funny, my exit music seems to be the sound of aliens getting shot, amidst gruff voices repeating phrases like, "Your warriors have engaged the enemy!" "Upgrade complete!" "I have returned!" and "My life for Aiur!" heh

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grace Under Pressure

If my blog were a Monty Python movie, this would be the part where it arbitrarily cuts from the actual story to some sort of wierd incongruent intermission...

So The Plan was to do the whole Thanksgiving brouhaha at the Urban Princess' house. I was in charge of dessert (of course... heh *preen* ), so my only grocery efforts had been to procure ingredients for a pumpkin pie/pumpkin cheesecake hybrid and a chocolate pecan pie.

And then the kids got sick. And puked. And leaked diarrhea all over the floor (on the tile, thank the FSM!). Yeah. *shudder*

So I had to cancel plans with Her Royal Highness, Urban Princess. HRH UP, if you will. Or not. Whatever.

And that left us with no Thanksgiving. Not the meaningful part... That beauteous meal that is the gastronomical highlight of my year... I LOVE traditional Thanksgiving food. So much so that I was going to make a T-Day spread for my birthday dinner. There's just no way I can cope with eating something lesser tomorrow.

So after Mr. McG got home, I tossed mac and cheese at the people who could tolerate solid food and took off to the grocery store.

$70 later, here I am. My pumpkin cheesecake pies are in the oven, my brine is cooling (I'll put Mr. Turkey in the brine before I go to bed), and I have the basic timeline listed for tomorrow. I only have one oven, after all, so orchestration is imperitive. Immediately after the turkey hits the oven it's time to get the dinner rolls mixing (must be from scratch... bread is always worth it), then yams, then yukon golds boiling for mashed potatoes, then the dressing, the green bean casserole, and finally the cranberries. Complemented with a Ginger Orange Cranberry punch. Whew.

Damn I'm good.

I will be photographing the food. And maybe even a kid or two.

Plus, I'll freeze some leftovers to heat up for my birthday so I won't have to cook (except for the cake... but that's baking, which is much better than cooking).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beyond the Rant

It's been a lovely day. First, I surprised G-Rex at her classroom with pumpkin muffins for her class (a collaboration with her teacher... a GOOD surprise, not an obnoxious one, I hope... it wasn't my idea!). Then I spent a day getting knocked out of my isolated ranting place.

So at the moment I'm feeling a little humbled. A little less know-it-all. Temporarily free of my inferiority/superiority bipolar swing. Nice.

So, Mrs. Warmth. FINALLY I get you to weigh in! About time! ;o)

Seriously, though - I love it when you speak up because I know you'll present different views intelligently and provide a little balance (which we both know I sometimes lack). One particular gem in your last comment: "Why do you believe scientists? My opinion is that you've had repeated good experiences with believing things scientists have written or said and so now you continue to believe them despite you not actually being present and part of the physicality of their studies. I think for Believers, it is somewhat similar." In my case, you are right - although I can't speak for any other atheistic science groupies.

The difference between the two is the method. I am not sufficiently educated to prove or disprove all the science out there. But I understand the checks and balances of peer review and that the rigors of academic thought are likely to provide the best information.

To go with the brain analogy, no I have not seen my brain. But I could. Science has provided fabulous imaging tools. A doctor can safely say I have a brain and can provide mountains of evidence to back up his or her claim. Should the evidence not convince me, my head could be cut open to provide absolute verification. No belief is actually required.

With religion, everything is based on emotion. Do you feel something is right? Do you feel something is wrong? Do you feel you can trust the person who claims to speak for God? It's all about the feeling of hope and security.

Feelings are fickle, easily manipulated things which can color and corrupt thinking. It seems most people trust their feelings to be reasonably accurate reflections of reality.

I don't.

The benefit of having had the experience of thoughts and emotions COMPLETELY out of control - and now having perceptions and interpretations of reality that generally stand up to corroboration - is knowing how faulty our senses can be. I know what it's like to hear and see things and not know until later that my brain made it all up... once I got over the terror (well, mostly... I don't know as I'll ever be totally over it... but I don't live every day with the fear of losing my grip, anymore) it was really quite enlightening. No matter how good or bad someone's intentions may be, no human can perceive objective reality except through subjective experiences.

Religious practices expect people to prefer emotional responses, and seems to consider emotional reactions to be more valuable than rational data. Feeling that something is right is more reflective of God than data. But quite often, idividuals' messages from God come at cross-purposes. Think of all the religious wars. Everyone thinks God is on their side and that the other is deluded. The truth? There is no truth because it's all subject to personal belief. God can not be proven to be or do or think anything. Why are your feelings right?

And what does it say (if anything) if something as simple as swallowing a pill changes how you feel? Which feeling is the correct one?

And what if God talks to you all the time until you take a medication that stops your hallucinations? Going from seeing bugs that aren't there and hearing conversations that aren't happening and feeling a deep, personal relationship with God to... nothing. What is the most likely explanation? Maybe the not the most comfortable, but the most likely is that the chemicals that manufactured a sense of "God" are the same that concocted all the other things that aren't there.

And yes, God/Goddess returns if meds go away and stress goes up.

So... does my subjective interpretation of that experience matter or do you want some science to explain stuff like that?

My favorite book on perception and belief is, How We Believe by Michael Shermer (really, anything by Michael Shermer is going to be good).

Monday, November 24, 2008


This morning I was reading some comments on Possum Mama's blog. One (Renee's) that was both annoying (because of its off-base assumption) and important (because those same assumptions are SO outrageously prevalent amongst Believers) asked about traditions and cultural/moral memes atheists pass down to their children.

The assumptions always seem to orbit around the notion that atheists have neither morals nor any traditions to cherish as part of a family and a society. The former makes me angry. The latter simply baffles me.

To address the moral issue: Morals have nothing to do with religion. Read Richard Dawkin's fine book, The Selfish Gene. Seriously. It's worth it.

Now, for traditions... We may not read the Nativity story in Luke as part of our Christmas festivities, but otherwise our celebrations probably look quite familiar.

Yes, we celebrate Christmas. When I first left the Mormon church, but hadn't yet finished my journey to atheism, I spent a few years as a Wiccan. Part of what attracted me to Wicca was digging through history and learning more about the roots of our popular holidays (unfortunately for my religious yearnings, studying history and anthropology killed any suspension of disbelief I could muster and left me ultimately admitting to myself that Wicca was as silly as any other religion - just more fun). So for a while I was pretty hardcore about celebrating The Winter Solstice or Saturnalia or anything with less brow-beaten baggage than Christmas. After having G-Rex and feeling a heavy burden to teach her truth, I had to drop cherished religious chestnuts, one by one, until I was left with Atheism. No, not agnosticism. Atheism. When I finally got to that point, I realized that it didn't matter what I called it. My family has called it Christmas for generations, so that's what my kids celebrate.

There are so many good, important things to teach my children. They learn about the Christian Nativity story. They learn about the Solstice and some of the celebrations archaeologists and historians have described. But those details aren't very important.

Important Things I Teach My Children (and specific holiday practical applications):
1. Family is The Most Important Part of Life. Full Stop.
Our Christmases are so wholesome and family oriented, we could make Norman Rockwell tap out. The quintessential American family road trip spirits us away to The Homeland my grandfathers homesteaded where extended families pack into warm homes, nestled in snow drifted mountain emptiness, to eat too much, talk too much, and attempt to fit a year's worth of joy into a week. This is not an easy thing. We have to save money and budget for it. We have to winterize our wimpy PNW cars and traverse icy mountain passes. But it's what we do because it's important. And it has nothing to do with religion.
2. Tolerance matters.
But tolerance is not the same as actively embracing the vivid, intelligent people who might think differently than we do. We love people who disagree with us. And we are loved by people who disagree with us. Homogeny is not necessary and thinking for oneself is not a fearsome thing.
3. It pretty much rocks to give AND receive.
4. History matters.
Those who have gone before leave fascinating legacies. Learning from their strengths and weaknesses can help us more actively and consciously shape the selves and family we are.
5. Solstices are cool.
Astronomy is fun.

There's more, I'm sure, but I'm getting tired of listing and need to go make dinner.

My point is that for holidays, as is true for every other aspect of humanity, nothing of value has been lost for lack of deity. And, for me, an authenticity has been gained that I never would have expected had I not relinquished the safety net of faith to pursue knowledge.

(I'm concerned that the final sentence sounds like I think religious folk have no use for knowledge and that's not what I mean. However, on the search for truth, there is the brick wall of faith... where a person has to decide that there are things they can't understand yet must accept to please God. I defy the notion that accepting anything "on faith" is a good idea. Why stop at faith when, with effort, one might know?)

Sunday, November 23, 2008


If you choose to send me email in reference to my blog (especially if it's rude, grumpy email), I will feel free to post it and reply via the blog. And no, I will not go out of my way to remove headers or other identifying data from the emails. I'm putting myself out here on the public stage, as it were, and this is the vehicle which I will use for political or religious discussions with people I don't know. I will not engage in debate via email.

Friday, November 21, 2008


From The New York Times: Protests Over a Rule to Protect Health Providers

What disgusts me most is knowing that this is being pandered as something good and protective for the persecuted Christian majority. *sigh*

Well, it's not. It doesn't "protect" anyone or anything. It ridicules the laws against religious discrimination already in place and opens the door to further restriction and bastardization of women's rights.

The uber-patriarchal subcultures may insist otherwise, but make no mistake: Women's Rights are an essential Family Value. The nuclear family unit trumpeted so loudly and repeatedly by the religious right usually includes at least one female and therefore necessitates that restrictions on the female become restrictions for the whole family. And no, that's NOT a good thing.

Somehow they've been able to market the idea that Women's Healthcare = Baby Killing. It just ain't so. Even if one is not comfortable with the ins and outs of abortion, consider how abortion numbers could be decreased with proper education, healthcare (BIRTH CONTROL OPTIONS!) and increased value of women in positions other than sex object (and really - how is woman-as-breeding-machine anything other than the ultimate sex object?). I would think that the anti-abortionists would embrace sex education and promote access to bc! Unless their agenda has little to do with fetal rights and everything to do with controlling women and their sexuality.

Women without access to birth control have almost no ability, in this society, to work in any but the most menial professions. And no - I'm not talking about the "welfare queens" the right concocted to spit upon. I'm talking about all of us... even (especially?) your average, happily married, decently educated woman. Right now it would be very difficult for me to work outside the home because I elected to have three children. Any job I could get would provide little more than the reimbursement of childcare costs it necessitated (assuming I used competent, certified childcare resources). I've been in the very fortunate situation where I can "choose" to stay home with the kids, and that's a reassuring thought - except that there's not much choice to be made. It's just much more enjoyable because I want to be home.

So women (occassionally men, but more often women) have to choose whether they want financial security or children.

That is - they choose (at somewhere around 99% certainty) if they have birth control. No birth control? Barefoot and pregnant.

Abstinence you say? That would do great things for the divorce rate. Rhythm method? *sigh* Yes, when done perfectly it is more effective than having sex all willy-nilly... possibly.

I know it ultimately comes down to the fundamental notion that sex must have consequences (for women). I'm afraid I'll never understand why that could be beyond deeply rooted misogyny. I totally get the idea of considering sex a sacred thing... All that oxytocin and the endorphin fireworks... well, if that isn't a recipe for a beyond-the-mundane experience, I don't know what is. It doesn't mean that other people's lives should be controlled by rules about how/when/where/how often some unrelated party decreed it should be.

And here's an idea for pharmacists who don't believe in dispensing birth control: get a new job. A pharmacist's role is to dispense meds according to physician instruction. Want more input into what is prescribed? Become a doctor. Or get out of healthcare. Be a janitor. Or underwater basketweaver. Whatever. Just pick a job you're willing to do. I'm unaware of doctors being coerced into providing abortions or birth control. They bear the onus of determining the best care for the health and well-being of their patients. So let them do their job.

Meanwhile, let's stop the legislation that restricts our loves and lives and roles. Stop it. Don't support bigotry like this. Or proposition 8. (Aside - oh my LDS brothers and sisters (I'm talking to all y'all - not just my biological siblings)... I may no longer be numbered among you, but I am very much a product of that upbringing - I just have to say, what is up with the huge outpouring of support for proposition 8? I don't care if you consider homosexuality a sin (OK, that's not true, I do care, but that's beside my point, right now), how can you possibly justify such money and efforts from The LDS CHURCH going to restrict marriage for anyone else? Even from the versions of history offered from within the church, you have to know that's hugely hypocritical? I would hope that you, as a people, would understand that the right thing to do is to get the government OUT OF marriages, so people would be free to solemnize partnerships according to their own consciences. Think how your own lives might be different if The Saints hadn't been forced to alter their own sacred practices to appease the laws of the U.S. and attain statehood. Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman? Oh - and I don't want to get any comments from other flavors of Christianity bashing Mormons, here. If your favorite books involve Abram/Abraham/Ibrahim, your god isn't into monogamy, either.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Getting A Grip

It seems I'm especially susceptible to doom and gloom thinking whilst sick. Today I'm finally starting to feel a bit better, mentally and physically.

Realistically, I'm in pretty good shape. I'm healthy (other than the occassional rhinovirus). I'm pretty tough (if I do say so myself). I have a great husband who has a good job. It looks like we will be able to re-fi into a better mortgage with a significantly lower interest rate (cross fingers). I'm stressed about Christmas - but it's not like I have to run out and get a job so my kids can have presents. I just have to budget. There are worse things. Besides, pretty much everyone else on my list is getting homemade stuff. And they'll like it better than anything I could buy for them (or at least they'll know better than to say otherwise). It'll be OK. Better than OK. I just need to keep that in mind and lay off the news a bit.

Muggle is crawling all over the place, climbing up on everything. Today she discovered the dog food. Oy. I don't know where to put it that WunderMutt can get to it but Muggle can't.

Life goes on... whether I chill out and enjoy it or not.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Let me say it again.


Grumpy sick kids. Grumpy sick mama.

Working on a re-fi for the house. Trying to figure out how, exactly, I'm going to make some kind of Christmas.

It feels like we're all - the whole country - under water. Running out of air while the wealthy <1% hem and haw from their yachts and lecture the hoi polloi about how we are to blame for this mess... while the Auto CEOs take plush vacations with little side trips to the Capitol for handouts and the bankers use their bailout windfall to buy up smaller banks... while suburbs empty, foreclosure signs all over the place. Free Market my hiney.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008



lick snot from upper lips
with pink darting tongues
shiny eyes
beseeching comfort
blonde heads
radiating too much heat
as their tiny hands cling
to my milk vomit moist shirt

mentally inert
offer inapt comfort
cool cheek pressed against hot
hands freckled with mis-washed dough
stroke backs arched and rigid
until little bodies relax
eyelids flutter and close

Then sneak away to my alchemy laboratory
to bake oat bread
and stir the turkey noodle soup.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Icing on the Cake

I forgot to get the infant carseat base out of Mr. McG's car before he went to work. The seatbelts on my ol' tin can minivan won't lock to hold the seat in without the base. I have about 20 minutes to figure out what I'm going to do and get down to the Dr.'s office.

What next?


I swear if I see one more stupid Acai berry weightloss ad I am going to lose my mind. I can NOT BELIEVE people are still getting duped by weightloss quick-fixes. Aaaaaargh!

How Did I Get Here?

This is the kind of day that makes me want to either run FAR FAR AWAY, or just get back into bed and sleep. Either would be acceptable... too bad neither is gonna happen.

My alarm went off at 4:50... which should have been perfect because last night I set out my gym clothes and had everything ready to go. All I needed to do was stumble into them and jet down to the gym. However... I wasn't able to actually go to sleep until midnight only to be awakened at least three times by a grumpy, teething baby. So I stumbled out of bed, turned off the alarm clock and then did one of those double-triple-quadruple takes like the characters in the comics... gym clothes? warm bed? gym clothes? warm bed? gym clothes? warm bed... and in I climbed. Just as I finally pushed the guilt aside and let sleep overtake me again, Thing 1 and Thing 2 came bounding from their bedrooms to partake in the warm morning cuddles... which requires much yelping and complaining and jostling for favorite snuggle positions. By the time that was worked out to some satisfactory compromise, it was time to get up.

Since then I have survived a blur of sticky-oatmeal-all-over-everything breakfast, super cold wait for the bus (with wet hair that ended up drying before I could style it so I'm going to look supa-frumpy all day), solving a thermostat emergency for my Beautiful Russian Neighbor, a haphazardly applied Muggle (used to be GERD-Girl, but she's getting better) diaper that didn't survive a soopa-poopa blow-out... which required a Muggle-Daddy shower while I cleaned poop off of crazy surfaces (cleaning poop chunks off of bio-electrical impedence scales is a pain in the butt!) which brought to my attention that somehow the organic baby shampoo had been dumped all over the floor of the kids' bathroom... and now I have the normal Monday morning hurricane-went-through-the-house mess to catch up with, plus lots of fun extras. AND Bayba and Muggle have appointments to get immunizations in about 20 minutes.


I usually love Mondays. This one, not so much.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Warrior Princess

Tuesday night G-Rex came downstairs kind of freaked out. There was a bump on her second toe. Before checking it out, I figured it must be a wart or something and she was overreacting. No. It was weird and bony.

Wednesday morning I took her to the clinic where they x-rayed her little foot (all the while G-Rex chattering about the various bones in the body and how she's studying anatomy in school). It turns out she fractured the toe two or three weeks ago.

That means she's been going to recess, playing outside, participating in PE, going to soccer practice and playing in soccer games with a broken toe. She told the doctor it had been sore for a while, but didn't hurt anymore so she'd just ignored it.

The doctor cleared her to play today, in her final soccer game of the season. During her end-of-season party, the coach presented her with a trophy, telling her that she was the toughest girl he'd seen, taking hits without flinching and was the fastest kid on the field.

I am so thankful that, as she grows and develops her sense of self, this is the way she'll see herself. She is tough. She is fast. She is determined.

Rock on G.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Soldering Iron of Justice

“If I lived back in the wild west days, instead of carrying a six-gun in my holster, I’d carry a soldering iron. That way, if some smart-aleck cowboy said something like ‘Hey, look. He’s carrying a soldering iron!’ and started laughing, and everybody else started laughing, I could just say, ‘That’s right, it’s a soldering iron. The soldering iron of justice.’ Then everybody would get real quiet and ashamed, because they had made fun of the soldering iron of justice, and I could probably hit them up for a free drink.” -- Jack Handey

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thoughts on Crying Babies

Although I have learned much from Attachment Parenting methodologies and other Gentle Parenting and Non-Violent Communications techniques, I have to admit that I have met very few people who utilize some of the helpful information without becoming dogmatic. In that way, they are no better than those who who follow any other philosophy 100%. I'm talking about Ezzo Acolytes, Staunch Ferberizers, and apologists for any other parenting paradigm.

Urban Princess linked to Mothering Magazine's article: Crying for Comfort: Distressed Babies Need to Be Held
By Aletha Solter
. Incidentally, I remember reading this missive in its original print issue. Much useful information can be found therein. However, blanket statements like: "Another advantage of this approach is that toddlers who have cried enough as infants (while being held), and who continue to be supported emotionally as they grow older, are calm and gentle. They do not hit or bite other children. Toddlers who do not have opportunities to cry freely can become aggressive, hyperactive, obnoxious, or easily frustrated. These disagreeable behaviors are often caused by an accumulation of pent-up stress, or the impact of early trauma that has had no healthy outlet." are BS! And, like it or not, I think Mothering Magazine consistently undermines the value of the scientifically sound information they provide by publishing hyperbolic interpretations and pseudo-scientific hogwash as if it were based in the same empirical methods as the research (usually medical) it often intends to debunk. That said, I still love Mothering Magazine. Every once in a while, I'd just like to ask Peggy O'Mara if she's trying to marginalize the value of the information presented in her fine periodical by permitting such frustrating errors. *sigh* But, back to the quote, yeah, BS. All it takes is one meeting with your average granola-crunching, bunny-hugging AP or NVC group and I'll wager my favorite back issues of Mothering that many of the kids you see will cry and scream and tantrum and occassionally even hit other kids with toys or bite a beloved playmate or otherwise display some sign of not being the dulcet, complacent darlings that allegiance to these gentle practices apparently guarantees.

In fact, it pains me to admit that - at this point in my parenting experience - the most messed-up, freaked-out kids I've met were all spawned by ardent followers of the AP/NVC ideas. So there.

I suspect that each Church of Parenting provides doctrine that speaks to particular parents on the point of a specific issue... Most probably have some helpful tidbit at some point. So it is then up to the parent to decide whether they've added a helpful tool to the toolbox or whether to define themselves as ___________ (pick any method with a support group or some other form of congregation) and begin the tumble into fundamentalism.

Harsh? Maybe. I'm not feeling particularly charitable today.

But on this I think I'm right: as soon as a person accepts the comfort of a label, accepting the notion that I am this, they begin to shut off many complementary and competing notions of who they are and what they can or can't do.

I do it all the time, unfortunately. I'm getting better about recognizing that (I hope) and subjecting my assumptions of self to the light of skepticism.

My point is that sometimes that blotch on the wall is just mildew, not the Virgin. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a Mom just needs to put a crying baby down, still crying, so that Mom won't lose her mind.

And on a slightly less curmudgeonly note: I think many AP/NVC rules work best (or, in some cases work only) for families with one child (or two children, tops!) who have the luxury of a parent at home full-time.

(OOooh, I can just hear Urban Princess's knuckles cracking as she prepares to blast me with links and tear me apart for all my errors of logic and rhetoric - that's why I love you, sista!)

Nevertheless, I agree that kindness and sympathy and understanding are the optimal characteristics to convey in our relationships with our fellow creatures (except for wasps... they all need to be squished!), especially our children.

Here's a thought, though - in all our kindness and sympathy and understanding, how often do we (do I) actually teach them that a parent (most often a woman) is a martyred doormat who must always defer her needs to the needs of someone else? This isn't about comforting a crying newborn -- but at what point - and how - do we begin to teach our little ones about self-nourishment, self-control and self-value? This is not a rhetorical question. I really struggle with how to grow and develop the parent-child relationship so that my daughters will grow up to pursue their own goals and not lose themselves if they choose to have children of their own. Obviously, I must model what I want them to do and be. They will naturally assume my limits as their birthright if I don't break out of old habits and gender role traps.

Currently that means that, a few times a week, they have to attend childcare at the Y while I take a yoga class (even though they cry and don't want to do it). And occassionally it means that I put a crying baby in her crib or a tantruming pre-schooler in time out so I can assert some personal limits. In the case of the crying baby, I'm not trying to teach her to respect my limits or anything. I'm just trying to find a limit for myself so that I don't totally lose my own hope and vibrance. Yes, it is that big a deal.

Best of all, maybe I can lose that sense of guilt (with it's companion alter-ego of superiority) that dogma always fosters. I'm not a good AP parent. I'm certainly not a good authoritarian. Maybe I can be a good me and just be a good enough parent.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cool Resource

Yesterday I was done. After hours of cuddling and nursing and attempting to soothe a fussy 8-month-old, I found myself placing her gently in her crib, telling her I loved her, and leaving the room. She fussed. Then cried. Then wailed. I felt horrible. But nothing I had tried had made her feel any better. More than anything she needed to sleep. More than anything, I needed a few minutes to breathe. But everyone from Harvard to Dr. Sears have told me that letting a baby cry is akin to inflicting brain damage! Or at least being a generally neglectful parent and bad person. Right?

Listening to her cries broke my heart. But she really needed to sleep and holding her seemed to make it worse, rather than better. So I decided I should do more research on how bad it really is to let a baby cry in a crib for 10 minutes (which is what it took for her to fall asleep). Well, I still felt bad for making her cry herself to sleep for the first time in her life... but on the bright side, I stumbled across a great resource: Most reassuring was this entry: Ask Moxie: Babies and CIO. Make sure you also read her post about sleep regressions.

Knowing what I'm dealing with won't help her sleep any better, but hopefully it will make it more tolerable when I remember that this is truly a phase and I will get through it. That my almost-nine-month-old will not sleep is probably not a sign of my own personal incompetence.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Who Do I Think I Am Anyway?

Yes, I bore even myself with my didactic polemics. Always railing against something, blah blah blah... Meh. No one has to read what I write. ;o)

So I joined Facebook not long ago and have re-established conversations and relationships with people from my past. That is a bizarre trip in self-exploration, let me tell ya! It amazes me how much power some memories still have... and how just seeing a photo or update from someone can throw me for a loop. Some good. Some not.

I haven't gained any great insights, yet. For the most part, it's just good wholesome fun, but every once in a while I find myself picking emotional scabs to see what still bleeds.

And for something completely different - G-Rex's team did very well at the Science Olympiad competition... her (very young) team placed first in Gunk and third in both Architecture and Metric Mastery... got a write-up in the local paper and everything. Yay G-Rex!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Alternative Views and Cultural Relativism

Just for the record - any comments to me blog that are not spam or spewing hateful ignorance are welcome. Views different than mine, especially when well-written and thoughtful, are enjoyed and very much appreciated.

So a few thoughts on the Somalia rape victim story -

The reason stories like that reflect our need to vigilantly separate the muddling of church and state is that such barbarism seems distantly divorced from our own freedom and safety. But it has not always been so, and the root of the thinking that allows (or mandates, in their view) people to behave so abominably is still alive and well.

Right now - in our country - civil rights are denied based on the authority of religion. Every fight on the path of equality and justice for all has been against this same way of thinking. Right now people are denied the right to secular marriages or to adopt children, based on the twisting of the already morphed and altered words of an ancient book... Not that long ago, people with more melanin couldn't marry people with less - due to governance based on this same supposedly unquestionable authority. Women's rights were and are continually threated based on roles foisted upon them by religiosity (and I'm not just talking about access to healthcare, but even the vote and "permission" to work outside the home or being granted status as people rather than chattel). So when people raise a ruckus about getting back to the good old days, getting the 10 commandments into courthouses, time to pray in school and teach intelligent design or ban discussions on evolution, banning books, keeping "under God" (a fairly recent addition, by the way) in the Pledge and mandating that children in schools must recite the Pledge of Allegiance and making sure that "In God We Trust" is printed on all currency we use... well, to those of us who don't believe in this God it's scary and oppressive.

Many countries now ruled by Islamic law can provide valuable insight into how small the gap is between having a free and progressive society and what can happen when the law of the land changes from secular to religious. The recent histories of Iran and Afghanistan might be especially good teachers.

So, setting aside our own national issues, and focusing on the Somalia story: What in the world do we do?

As someone who's fascinated by human cultures and societies, I tend to find myself stepping back from my own humanity in order to see every side of the story. I can imagine the groupthink going on... a crowd in a stadium being told by angry authoratative men with guns that this "woman" was a lawbreaker and must be stoned - according to God's own words. I can only imagine the violence and horror these people see on a daily basis. Not enough food. Clean water hard to come by. Not participating in the stoning would probably mean death or treatment harsh enough that death would follow... in brutal enough environments even social spurning can be a death sentence. And yet, participating would become desensitizing. Even men who would otherwise be more reasonable would be likely to work out a rationalization for violently killing a child. They'd have to in order to be able to go home and look their own children in the eye. They'd have to destroy a little of their own humanity in the name of survival for themselves and their own families.

Would I be any better? I don't know. I believe I would do anything to protect my own children. What would I do if protecting my own family meant directly contributing to the destruction of someone else's? I honestly don't know what I'd do.

So how can I condemn the people who did this? Why don't I just shrug off the story and hold fast to my thankfulness that I live in a safer place?

Because the bottom line is that the people stoning this girl didn't arrive at that situation overnight. The path was paved with increased rejection of rational thinking and embracing of religious authority. And there is a very vocal population in this country - my country - who would erode secular rights and rationality in favor of the laws (as they interpret them) of their god. Keep in mind, too, that our society is pretty tight-lipped about how prisoners of war are being treated in our very own facilities. Water-boarding anyone? Our country sees fit to torture people... but right now the sub-human people it's OK to treat like this are Arab and/or Muslim. It's here. And anyone who isn't fighting it or who is looking the other way implies approval... not everyone at that stadium in Somalia threw rocks. Most just stood by.

OK - so what can we do? Forcibly spreading our form of democracy into other cultures doesn's seem to work so well. We can't just abolish the sects who promote this brutality.

I think the only way to prevent stories like this is to destroy the mechanisms that allow and fuel them. Obviously I can't dramatically change the world right now, but the secret is that all the things we think they need to change are things we need to address in our own backyards first.

1. 13 year-old-girl is raped
Increase the perceived value of girls and women. Call attention to traditional methods of denigrating and objectifying them. Pass and enforce laws that support female healthcare and allow girls and women to safely report abuse. Punish rapists.
2. Stop social approval for condemning victims.
See 1. Then remove the socially acceptable gag order that arises out of the notion that it is not OK to criticize people's spiritual beliefs. Loudly challenge pockets of sexism, racism, etc. when they are revealed.
3. Insist upon separation of church and state.
This ideal is constantly under attack. Even laws that ultimately seem nice, comfortable and right - when based on religion pave the way for abuses and fundamentalism.
4. Refuse to look the other way or accept the platitudes of corrupt authority figures.
Cowards inflict harm on others because they can.

Jeez. I'm just a housewife who needs to go make breakfast. ;o) Better minds than mine have worked on this one. These are just my NON-expert thoughts. Obviously I don't have much in the way of answers.

Despite my limited knowledge, I do think my "voice" is a valuable yop amidst the Who-ville cacophany. Please feel free to tell me where you agree or disagree. I love to learn and usually learn more from those who disagree with me than those who don't.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Religious Law

Those of you who wish your children to pray in schools, to continue to recite oaths to God and country, to keep your religion forming the backbone of secular law... please consider how governments rule when they have the freedom from accountability allowed by religious governance.

It seems so safe and normal when it's *your* particular flavor of religion, but as you contemplate the horrors granted through sharia law, remember that your god is just as strange to non-Christians as Allah is to you.

Stoning victim 'begged for mercy'

I have a teething baby and a sick husband to take care of, so I'll link to some reviews of this story that explain my thoughts on this story better than I can, right now.

Pharyngula - God and sex: two potent ideas that never get along well together

Cuttlefish - 13 Years Old

Saturday, November 1, 2008


This morning my inbox held a right-leaning email admonishing the spoiled brats who are unsatisfied with this country as-is to quit complaining and be thankful for how good we have it. This seems to be a standard nugget of conservatism, and I thought I'd post my response to that email as today's blog...

I think it's interesting to consider whether people who are dissatisfied are really "spoiled brats" or if they're idealists who love the country and are thankful for all the good things - but see all the injustices and pockets of poverty, inequality and criminality as areas where we all need to focus our efforts so that we can make the most of the wonderful potential we'd like to believe lies within the structure of this nation. It's great to be thankful for what we have - as long as we don't let that thankfulness warp into something insular and exclusive.

Just because it will drive me crazy if I don't, I have to include the snopes link that gives more info on who actually wrote this and how it's changed over years of internet circulation: . :o)

I am thankful for freedom of speech. And separation of church and state. I'm thankful that I live in a town where my kids have access to an amazing public school district with outstanding teachers. I'm thankful that
G-Rex can elect to opt out of the recitation of the pledge of allegiance without punishment and that we are free to follow our own consciences regarding spiritual belief. I'm thankful that J has a good job and that we have a home (although that 70% homeownership in the original email is a bit of a sore spot now, I think). I'm thankful that my kids have enough to eat - enough that we get to choose food based on the best sources of nutrition and taste and can eat what we like, not just whatever we can manage to glean. I'm thankful for city infrastructures - that our toilets flush and we can put our trash cans out on the curb and our trash goes away.

Meanwhile, more and more houses in our neighborhood are emptying. Last night, when we went Trick-or-Treating, we had to walk to another neighborhood, because ours was mostly dark. It's filled with For Sale signs. When I hear Financial people and economists on the news talking about our financial crisis being caused by the greed of the people - people buying bigger homes than they could afford, etc. etc. etc., I think it's telling that (around here, anyway) it's not the big houses in the wealthy areas that are going into foreclosure. It's the little houses - the starter homes and older buildings. The "greedy" people who were apparently too uppity and wanted more than they should have were those who were struggling to get into the middle class and listened to the experts who told them, a few years ago, that this was the route to take. Stash every penny possible into a 401(k) and everything else into a mortgage. And what do they have now?

There are parents of kids on
G-Rex's soccer team who are joining "gleaning clubs" where they spend a small bit of money to be able to "shop" through damaged, outdated and rejected food items and paper goods. They're thankful to have enough trees on their property to be able to use wood heat for their houses, this winter, because the gas company raised rates astronomically, this year. Meanwhile, people we see on the news complaining about the economy are talking about how they'll have to take fewer vacations. Something's not adding up.

It seems to me that it's great to cultivate a sense of gratitude, but not let that lull us into a false sense of everything being OK.

Just my two cents. :o)