Friday, November 28, 2008

So, What Exactly is the Perfect Number?

I have a love/hate relationship with numbers. To tell you the truth, I would like to feel indifferently toward numbers, but that just isn't reality.

Numbers keep things safe and orderly. I definitely want my doctor to know the proper dosage of medication to prescribe. I like a clearly displayed house number. If I ever need firefighters or the police, I can easily be found. When I have to wait in line at JoAnn's fabric department, those little numbers you pull come in mighty handy. It's good to know the date and time. I like a nice, round 70mph speed limit. So you see, I appreciate numbers; however, there are times when numbers just wreak havoc, and they irritate me.

I am going to work on freeing myself from the numbers that bug me. I am 5 feet 3and3/4 inches short. I weigh 137 pounds. As you can tell by the not even 5'4", I am what some would call "vertically challenged". And, I can promise you this, every pound of the 137 jiggles, wiggles, flaps and flops. Nothing on my body has been firm since somewhere around '93. Not to mention, none of those pounds are properly proportioned.

In my closet, you will find a vast assortment of sizes represented: 9s, 8s, 4s, 6s, smalls, mediums, larges and xlarges. For a girl who likes order, this is total chaos. It makes my head hurt. And, some days it frustrates me. Not for the reasons you might think. If I decided to be 17 pounds lighter, I would stop drinking the nectar of the gods (that was for you Aubrey), I would not eat ice cream before bed, I would eat six small meals a day, and I would increase my exercise level from practically non-existent to somewhat existent. It really isn't rocket science, it's simply good, common sense.

So, why do these numbers (137, 5feet 3and3/4 inches) frustrate me? Because I am not a girl inclined to care what others think. If I told you that I never wish I could have the figure of the women I see on tv and in movies, I would be a liar. If I scoffed at you for mentioning how freaking awesome Brooke Burke looked this season on DWTS, I would be a hypocrite. Nine times out of ten, I do not give a rat's rearend what anyone thinks of me. But, if that tenth time involves you seeing my upper arms (which, given their flapping ability, could be used as deadly weapons) or my muffin top, I will care what you think. That frustrates me.

My mom will not even discuss this with me. She will say this is all a matter of perception, and mine is her opinion. But, I think her perception of herself is off and completely wrong. She is obsessed with numbers, and it bugs me. Most women I know (whether they admit it or not) are obsessed with numbers, and it bugs me. Many women base their worth on those numbers. Some feeling superior because their number is smaller than their friends'....others beating themselves silly because their number is higher than their friends'.

I honestly don't care what size you wear or what numbers your scale spits at you. I don't judge others for their size. But, I constantly judge my own numbers, and I would like to stop. Maybe I have completed one step in freeing myself from obnoxious numbers by displaying my weight for all the world to see.

Numbers can be entirely too subjective. For example, PG-13 and R rated movies (no one under 17 admitted)...I would much rather a 13 year old see The Patriot, Gladiator, or The Last of the Mohicans than watch the crude Austin Powers stupidity, or any of the countless sexually suggestive PG-13 movies. Yes, I completely understand many will say a 13 year old shouldn't see any of the movies I mentioned. I know we have to use our own solid judgement as parents, not guidelines set by an industry. I was simply making the point that numbers can be confusing and subjective.

If you allow them, numbers will limit you. Tomorrow I will be 36 years old. I am happier with myself than I have been in many years. I have accepted that many people love me, and just as many don't really care for me much at all. I am perfectly okay with that. I like the perspective age brings. Recently, I remembered that I have big dreams. I refuse to let some silly numbers limit me. I am going to work for my dreams, even if I work until I am 100.

If you allow them, numbers will make you feel inferior. Depending on who I am around, my number of children could cause me to feel inferior. Women not of my faith sometimes look at me as though I am irresponsible..."Three children, really? Are you sure you can support all of those kids? How will you pay for their college? What were you thinking?" I will not allow numbers to make me feel inferior. I can support my children. I will find a way to send them to college, and I was thinking.

Then, there are women of my faith, saying things along these lines...but these things only apply if you show up to church with four or more children: "Oh, she is such a faithful woman. She is just amazing. Bless her sweet soul. She is so valiant." In many conversations, a woman is described like this: "You know so and so, she has five kids"...or four, or six, whatever. You fill in the blank. This number is used to define the woman. I will not allow numbers to define me or make me feel inferior. I am faithful and valiant, as are most of the women I associate with, whether they have seven children or none at all. In fact, some of the most amazing women I know have yet to fulfill their dreams of motherhood. So, when we talk numbers, let's remember those women. I have no doubt they are among the most valiant. A woman's worth does not increase in value with each child she brings into this world. It is both unfair and greatly lacking compassion to insinuate otherwise.

If you allow them, numbers will trick you into thinking you have failed. My son blew the top off the Maryland standardized tests. Unfortunately, he felt like a failure when he was not among the number of students recognized at his school. The school made a decision to honor only the African-American students who attained high scores.

The Captain and I would not allow the numbers to trick our son. It was a poor decision on the school's part; however, the number of students recognized will not take from my son's achievement. It was a hard-learned, but valuable life lesson for him. You do your best, you give all that you can. Not for recognition at school or anywhere else, but for your own sake. We know he did his best, and he knows it. That is what matters. And, if his best had been far below blowing the top off, that would be okay too.

I love a good quote, one that makes me feel something or think on things from a new angle. This one I read recently, and it immediately landed on my list of favorites: "Numbers are funny. They can measure you, time you, analyze you all they want. But, they know what really's how you play the game. The truth is, they can't measure any of it...heart, want, need. You can't measure a dream." ~Author Unknown

So, what exactly is the perfect number? I guess it depends upon whether or not you can measure the situation. Are you playing golf, trying to get in law school, hoping you get enough sleep tonight, or setting a Guinness record? I do not want numbers to rule my life. I want to be free. I don't want numbers to limit me, to trick me, or make me feel inferior. Numbers will never measure what is in my heart or the dreams I have to dream. The perfect number? Forget it. I am much more interested in how we play the game.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Need You to Know

To some, this may seem a bit self-indulgent. The polite Southern girl in me wants to say I'm sorry, but another part of me feels no need to apologize. Lately, I feel an intense drive to share as much as I can about our soldiers and their sacrifices. The past few weeks, my gratitude for these brave men and women has been overwhelming.

That is why I share this with you. I need you to know. I need you to know that for every story you read or hear, there are one hundred more that you will never know. I understand that thinking on these war stories is not always pleasant. But, found woven within the sadness and pain, I promise you can find honor, courage, hope and integrity each time. I need you to remember that.

This morning, we received an email from a friend. He mentioned he had seen the Captain's picture on with an article about a wounded soldier. Sure enough, the picture was of the Captain and a patient he remembers fondly. Those expressions you see in the picture are not part of any photo op. In fact, the Captain doesn't care much for those who flit in and out for the sole purpose of furthering their careers with photo ops (whether those careers be in Congress or the entertainment industry). What you see in the picture above is real. Two great men. They both happen to see things Sunny Side Up. Amazing. Please honor Sgt. Brian Saaristo, and others like him, by taking time to read the article below.

(CNN) --Retired Army Sgt. Brian Saaristo, who lost both legs to a roadside bomb, meets with a doctor.

The roadside bomb that smashed into Army Sgt. Brian Saaristo's Humvee in northern Iraq two years ago ripped off both legs below the knee. Now he's 45, living in retirement in Minnesota and confronting the rest of his life without the use of his legs. Yet he worries mainly about the thousands of younger U.S. service members who also have been maimed by makeshift bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Younger ones are taking it harder," Saaristo said. "They feel they don't have the rest of their lives."

Roadside bombs and other homemade explosives have been a deadly staple of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing or wounding thousands of U.S. service members and civilians.
Such improvised explosives devices -- "IEDs" to the military -- are the "weapon of choice" for insurgents, U.S. officials say. They're mostly cheap, easy to build and triggered by simple remote control.

Protecting U.S. troops from such bombs is a top priority at the Pentagon. It has spent $14 billion in the past four years to fight homemade bombs. It even created an agency for that purpose -- the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. That agency has had some success, a new report says, but insurgents continue to kill and maim U.S. service members with homemade bombs, in part because the bombs fulfill their purpose and it is easy to acquire the materials used to construct them. The report came from a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. It followed two years of hearings and study.

The number of IED attacks has dropped in Iraq and gone up in Afghanistan, said Irene Smith, a spokeswoman for the IED organization. Yet there are more than 1,400 such attacks a month in Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional 350 elsewhere, a sign that insurgents continue to rely on them.

"We are in a long war, a persistent conflict with a group of insurgents who want to wear down our will so we quit -- the purpose of an IED," she said. "The enemy recognizes IEDs as the weapon of choice." The IED agency has developed and fielded electronic jammers that prevent the bomb's trigger signal from reaching the explosive, the congressional report said. It also has pursued better vehicle armor.

The agency has been developing intelligence, fostering police work, funding surveillance and attacking insurgent networks that produce and set up the bombs. It has been involved in training troops on how to confront and look for the weapon. Yet the report said the group needs to improve the way it measures its performance, because it isn't clear in many cases whether the group's actions or other factors have led to various strides in confronting roadside bombs.
The report also said the organization needs to widen its authority to include other agencies that confront roadside bombs, and get better oversight.

Smith, the spokeswoman for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, agrees with these conclusions. She said the organization appreciates the opportunity to work with the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, "to identify and resolve any problem areas in our processes." She said the cooperation among agencies is crucial. "Global terrorism will continue to manifest itself through use of IEDs," she said.

When you give thanks at your table tomorrow, please remember those who are not home with their families. Remember those who are not sharing laughs, memories and a meal with loved ones. Our soldiers remember us every time they step in harm's way. And, they believe America and her citizens are worth the risk. I just needed you to know.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Old-Fashioned"....It's the New Cool

A few weeks ago, I wrote: "There are times in life when words are useless, they can be wastes of the very breath it takes to form them." Veterans Day has come and gone. I did not forget. It has been on my mind for several days. I have not written about these great patriots before now because honestly, I just couldn't find words to do them justice. I felt that nothing I could say would be useful.

Then, I read what Aubrey Anderson thought about it all. She is sixteen years old, and mature beyond her years. Aubrey makes me feel hopeful for the future. If who she is now is any indication of who she will be in the future, I am okay with our country being left in the hands of young people like Aubrey. She is a leader today.

She wrote the following about her experience on Veterans Day:
I just wanted to give my eternal thanks to all of those men and women who have risked their lives for the better of our country’s citizens. To me, this is one of the most selfless acts of service that anyone can ever perform, and it sickens me when people don’t appreciate what these veterans have done for us, or when they take it for granted.
Today we had an all school assembly where we had several veterans talk, and we honored some of the veterans that were invited to the assembly. We watched two videos that one of the administration from the District had created—they were both very good. I couldn’t help but almost be moved to tears when the orchestra played ‘God Bless America’ as an extremely large American flag was lowered down to be suspended above the stage. Applause and standing ovations were used multiple times, but to me, that just wasn’t enough. I wish there was something more I could do to show how greatful I really am. It was a huge disappointment to look around and see my fellow students clapping half-heartedly, or not standing up when we should have. “Do they not understand what an honor it is to celebrate this day,” I thought with much confusion in my mind. “Shouldn’t they at least act grateful? Isn’t that the least they can do?” I later asked my friends how they enjoyed the assembly, a large majority thought it was a waste of time or thought that it was annoying how much we had to clap. Once again, isn’t that the least we can do for these incredible people?
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I do believe that this day should be full of patriotism for our country and our armed forces. I’m a firm believer of the “if you don’t stand behind our troops then feel free to stand in front of them” attitude because without this bravery our country would not be the way it is today. Now, I’m not saying that my opinion is the correct one on the matter and that you’re wrong if you don’t believe what I believe, I just feel that everyone could at least recognize what a blessing it is to have our veterans.
Thank you all those who have served our country!”

We can learn much from this young lady.

As I reflected on Aubrey's words, I began to find my words. I don't know that they will ever do justice to our Veterans, but I will know I tried. My family has been given the miraculous opportunity to be part of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center family. I understand that to some, this may not be viewed as a miraculous anything. But then, those people have not walked the paths my husband and I have. There is no doubting that the hand of God lead us here.

Believe me. There are reasons we are here, many of which we may never know. But one thing is certain, being here has changed us. I am more aware of all I have to be grateful for, small things that just three years ago I would have overlooked. Our patience has developed. We are less quick to complain and more inclined to give thanks for even the most minuscule of blessings in a day. We will never again live in a home that does not have the American flag flying out front. Why? Because we love this country, with all of its flaws and imperfections, we love it. And we are thankful to be here. Veterans have taught us these lessons.

Veterans have given my children an understanding of lost limbs and the countless struggles that tragedy brings with it. Yet in the very same lesson, my children learn that courage and perseverance will triumph over tragedy every time.

I will never forget Chloe saying to a Veteran: "I really like your hook. It's super cool, can I touch it please?" This was during one of our first visits to Walter Reed. It would take a few more visits before I was completely comfortable there. I didn't know what to do. I felt my cheeks blush, and I wanted to apologize for her. The kind gentleman responded: "Of course you can sweetie. Do I remind you of Captain Hook?" The two of them went on to have a lovely conversation. In that moment I realized, no apologies necessary. This soldier was thrilled that my daughter was eager to know more about him. As odd as it sounds, I think it made him feel better about his hook.

I am thankful my children have been blessed with opportunities to become comfortable around people whose bodies are not exactly like ours. They are neither fearful, nor do they shy away from these wounded warriors. I am thankful that at young ages, my children understand the tremendous and selfless sacrifices soldiers make for our country.

I appreciate Aubrey's thoughts. I am grateful for her values system, and the parents who teach her. I feel, like Aubrey, that it just seems as though we don't do enough. I don't want anyone to forget. I want the children of this nation to understand. Aubrey, I must be old-fashioned too. You know, I really like old-fashioned. In fact, I think we're on to something and I've just decided it's the new cool.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two For The Price of One

I told you I'd do it....stop blabbing about politics, and write about the things for which I am grateful. You just didn't know about my mad bait and switch skills...I learned them from Obama. So, here I am. I have found a way to meet my need for a good political post, while at the same time showing gratitude. Ahhhhh, life is good.

I am truly and sincerely grateful for the man that wrote the following article. His words brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. His name is John Schroeder. I highly recommend you take a look at his blog, you will find the link below this post. Read about John. You will be thankful for him too. Here is his article:

Proposition 8 is now a part of the California constitution!
That is probably the best news from an otherwise difficult election for conservatives and Republicans. In very large part, we Evangelicals must thank our Mormon cousins for that fact. They, along with our Catholic brethren, were better organized than us and that provided a base from which we could ALL work together to get this job done. What more, as we have chronicled here, Mormons took the brunt of the abuse, derision, and even threats of physical harm that came with this effort.
And like us, they have given thanks to the Almighty that is ultimately in control, even if their understanding of that Almighty is a bit different than ours.
I cannot help but wonder how much more thankful we ALL might be today if we had been more willing to embrace these religious cousins a few months ago - but alas, politics is always about governing today and looking forward to the next election.
Said John Mark Reynolds:
In the battle for the family, however, traditional Christians have no better friends than the Mormon faithful. It would be wrong if that support were taken for granted. We are intolerant of the false attacks on Mormon faith and family. We stand with our Mormon friends in their right to express their views on the public square. We celebrate the areas, such as family values, where we agree.
A heart felt thank you may not win points from other friends who demand one hundred percent agreement from their allies, but it is the decent and proper thing to do.
Thank you to our Mormon friends and allies!
Hard to do better than that.
The “Ruth Youth” ministry proclaimed yesterday “International Mormon Appreciation Day.” Very appropriate, yet still inadequate.
In addition to our thanks, Mormons deserve our protection. They have been oppressed in ways during the Prop 8 campaign that this nation has not seen since the 1960’s and the civil rights movement. The rhetoric has been deplorable, but moreover. we have seen instances of vandalism, property destruction, and some leaders in the fight currently find themselves with armed protection because of the threats made against them and their families.
Our nation will not and cannot tolerate this sort of behavior - it is incumbent on all of us to stand against it, and the best way to do that is to stand between the Mormons and the forces that would perpetrate such evil.
Now I am sure the Mormons can, and probably want, to take care of themselves, but as a Christian, it is my duty to protect the innocent and free the oppressed. To turn a blind eye in this circumstance is not only ungracious, it is simply unChristian.
Make all the theological distinctions you want, but in the political arena we are yoked with the Mormons (he said borrowing some religious imagery) and it is darn well time we started acting like it.
Absolutely, positively thank the Mormons - but don’t stop there. Stand up and be counted against the evil that has been perpetrated towards them in this campaign.
As Christians we can do no less.

Thanks John Schroeder! You rock!

Here is the second item in my two for the price of one deal. I am grateful to have found Sue. She is a mother and grandmother from California. I asked her permission to post here what she wrote on Proposition 8. I have read much about this issue in the past days. I found her words beautiful and comforting. I like Sue. She writes poetry too. I am thankful for people who write poetry because I like poetry, and I suck at writing it. (Oh, sorry Mom. I used the word suck. For the record, I would like you all to know that my mother taught be better. That is a tacky word, not to be used by nice Southern girls.)

Prop 8 and the Right to Vote Your Conscience
Here's a no-brainer: The people who voted in support of Prop 8 and the people who voted in opposition to it disagree.
Here's a partial-brainer: Both sides who are party to this disagreement are convinced that their inalienable rights are or would be violated in the event the other side prevails.
Here's a full-brainer: This disagreement extends beyond what is inherent in the proposition itself to what either side subjectively believes will happen if their side does not prevail.
Here's an open-brainer: Both sides are fully convicted in their positions because those positions spring from deeply held, core beliefs. Personal identity issues are involved in both sides, and neither side has a monopoly on being right. The only thing people on either side have a monopoly on is being right according to their own value system.
Democracy isn't perfect, but it does provide a process for resolution in situations where two parties (both endowed with inalienable rights) hold positions so diametrically opposed to one another that mutual agreement or some form of compromise cannot be reached. That time-honored process, known as "free elections," affords every American citizen the right to vote his or her conscience.
I realize that many gay people view same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue, and I respect their position. I would simply ask and expect that gay people respect my belief in return, as well as my right to hold it. Such respect for others is what living in a free country is all about, and my religion is no less intrinsically a part of my core identity than sexual preference is theirs. Any perceived violation of my rights is no less a civil rights issue than perceived violation of theirs.
Here is the definition of civil rights, as taken from Webster's dictionary: "the nonpolitical rights of a citizen; especially: the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to United States citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments of the Constitution and by acts of Congress."
The following is a more detailed definition borrowed from a web site for state attorneys: "A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another, gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, assembly, the right to vote, freedom from involuntary servitude, and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class [author's note: whether Gay or Mormon]. Statutes have been enacted to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin and in some instances, sexual preference."
My point? Religion and the unencumbered practice of it are protected under civil rights law, too. Honorable people on both sides of this issue feel that their vote on Proposition 8 is a vote to protect their civil rights. Both sides deserve respect, whether or not they agree with one another. Both sides deserve the right to vote their conscience, without fear of retribution.
Do we really want a country where voters are threatened and intimidated to the extent that they do not feel free to exercise their right to vote with equanimity and without reprisal? Should people's livelihood be threatened because of the way they voted on a controversial issue? Should their sacred places of worship be violated? Should their names be blacklisted? If such things are condoned, are we not all demeaned by their acceptance? What group or group of voters will be next? Can democracy ultimately survive such actions taken against citizens exercising their right to vote? The answer, to any fair-minded person, is clear. Both sides should have the grace to abide by the election results, and if they disagree with them, they have every right to use the democratic process to address their concerns.
We are Americans, every one of us, and the level of freedom we enjoy is a blessing we sometimes take for granted. Will we live up to our privileges? I hope and believe that the answer is yes. When we disagree, as we inevitably will, surely our charge as free citizens of a great democratic nation is to respect the process...and the people participating in matter what their vote. No one's civil right should, in and of itself, trump another's. In cases where such conflict is unavoidable, the only fair compromise is the historic one: Let the majority rule.

This weekend, more expressions of gratitude to come. And, no more bait and switch. Well, maybe more bait and switch. Depends on my mood.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Ready to Make Nice

Oh good grief, enough with the political rants already.....ha! Gotcha. Me? Not rant about politics? Who are you kidding? Side note: I will be running a special this month. It's for those of you who think I get too riled up. Which, by the way, I really don't. Anyway, back to the special. I will spend some time over the next few weeks writing about things I am thankful for, and how blessed I am. But if you wanted to read about that now, sorry. This isn't your night. Check back later. Snarky is all over this house tonight.

Yes, yes, yes. I know I was the one who wrote that I would not be a sore loser. I'm actually not a sore loser. I'm just not ready to hold hands and sing Kumbaya (or more likely "All Hail Obama"). In fact, today I am embracing my snarkiness. I have written previously that I am no hard core supporter of President Bush; however, I do respect the office of United States President. I have often wished that people could express their opinions and the issues they have with President Bush sans the rude nastiness. I hold no one to any standard that I myself can not uphold; therefore, I will not be rude and nasty with regards to Barack Obama...come January 20, 2009. Until then, we have one President, and Obama isn't the guy. Did I mention I'm not ready to make nice? (And no, I did not steal that line from the Dixie Chicks. If you grew up in the South, you often heard the phrases make nice, or don't make nice, or something along those lines.)

Valerie Jarrett is a senior advisor to Barack Obama, as well as co-chair of his transition team. Did she really say that Obama would be prepared to "take power and begin to rule on day one"? Oh yes she did. I heard it with my own two ears. Never before had I heard someone use that tone when referring to the office of the President. Lead, yes. Serve his country, yes. Rule? Not so much. Did I fall asleep and wake up outside the USA? Apparently. Because if I am not mistaken, we are not ruled. Some may say that the words rule and govern are used interchangeably. (Go ahead, stoke your campfire. Do you have your marshmallows ready? Wow, drinking Kool-Aid instead of hot chocolate, interesting. Now join hands and get to singing your Kumbaya. Me? No thanks, I'll pass this time.)

While the concrete definitions of rule and govern may not vary greatly, their symbolic meanings are strikingly different. The word rule brings with it the whisperings of controlling, domineering dictators. Not to mention she said "take power", as if Obama is preparing to dominate the world.

Leadership, administration, and guidance come to mind when I hear the word govern. Our forefathers came to this great land to escape rulers. It is not surprising that the very reasons they came here are being forgotten. Most everything about our forefathers has been disrespected and trivialized in recent months.

Do I think Valerie Jarrett had a slip of the tongue, poor choice of words kind of moment? Sure. Everybody has those moments. But then, Valerie Jarrett isn't everybody. Her poor choice of words was simply a reflection of the arrogance and ego that seeps from Obama and his followers.

You say I'm playing word games? I'm reading too much into this? Well, I learned the semantics game-playing from the very best. Who you ask? The Democrats, the leftist/liberal media and a few wicked campaign staffers looking to score a spot in 2012.
John McCain refers to Obama as "that one".....oh my, what is the hidden meaning there?
Sarah Palin mistakenly uses the word country for continent....she's an illiterate airhead. Twist those words spin doctors.

January 20, 2009:
I will still refuse to sing "All Hail Obama".
I will continue to have concerns over where this nation is headed.
I will always be respectful of the office of the President, regardless of who holds that office.
I will teach my children to respect that office as well.

Until then, I am nowhere near ready to make nice.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm No Regular Ol' Moron, I'm an Oxymoron

I listen to music that would make your mother and mine shudder. (Shout out to my little brothers for always keeping me in the know when it comes to music.) At the risk of sounding melodramatic, music speaks to my soul. I love all kinds. My iPod has everything from Gospel to...well, things I can only listen to when the kids aren't around. And oh yeah baby, I blast it. I blast it loud. I'm no prude, do you hear me?

Yet, tonight when I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Save the TaTas", this happened: I furrowed my brow, shook my head and thought, "Wow, that is tacky, so not classy." It just seemed inappropriate to me. I'm starting to rethink that whole "I'm no prude, do you hear me?" bit. I am a sincere supporter of breast cancer awareness. I don't know. Maybe, if it were put to a really cool beat and sung, I could handle it better. Maybe if I didn't have to explain to my 7 year old son what TaTas are, I could handle it better.

My point is that I sometimes feel like an oxymoron. You know something like "Edgy-Music-Loving Prude". Or, as I have been called at work, the "Velvet Harpoon". My inclination towards oxymoronism (I'm pretty sure I just made that word up!) has never been more clear to me than tonight. As I drove home from the grocery store, I heard one of my favorite songs...yep, I love Pat Benatar.

These words almost, just almost, brought a tear to my snarky, cynical eye:
"We belong to the sound of the words we've both fallen under.
Whatever we deny or embrace, For worse or for better,
We Belong, We Belong, We Belong together."

Over the course of this election, we have all fallen under the sound of certain messages and words. We all have chosen to deny some things and embrace others. But, at the end of the day, for worse or for better, we are stuck here. Together. I don't plan on leaving any time soon, and I am guessing most of you aren't leaving either. And lucky us, since Obama won, it looks like we will continue to have Susan Sarandon and Barbra Striesand gracing us with their lovely presence. But the truth is, Pat Benatar was right, we do belong together. Just one giant screwed up family. And I pray we can make it work.

As I listened to that song, all of the disappointment I feel over this election vanished. (Whoa, hold on now. Before you start thinking that I went completely soft, you should know the disappointment returned just about 3.5 minutes later, and I will get to that next.) But, for a brief time I felt relief. I recall mentioning a few weeks ago that I do not believe we are a nation of racists. And yesterday, America proved that to the world. So, I don't want to hear it anymore. No more whining and fussing. We are moving upward and onward. Really. I mean it.

So, on one hand I felt relief. I was touched as I reflected on peaceful leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. I believe they are probably rejoicing as they look down on us today. Not because of this one man, Barack Obama. It is less about him and more about this country. The people of this nation are overwhelmingly color blind. The people of this nation are not the people of 50, 60, and 100 years ago.

I had thoughts of Carrie, Savannah, and Roosevelt today. I have loved each of them for as long as I can remember. As a child, I never payed attention to the color of their skin. They were family, and I was unaware that people were treated differently because of skin color. Today I wondered if those three people ever imagined this world could be color blind.

I thought of my mother today. As an innocent child, thrown into the very adult battles of desegregation and busing, did my mother ever imagine this world could be color blind? Upward and onward brings relief on one hand.

But, there is the other hand. I feel no relief, and it is because of this one man, Barack Obama. Not because of his skin color, but because he is the single most liberal, and far left Senator in existence. Because he has repeatedly displayed poor judgement in his associations. I feel no relief. Because he values neither the lives of the unborn, nor the lives of those born as they miraculously survive the brutality of late term abortion.

I feel no relief for another reason. Despite the vehement denials of his supporters, yes, he does lean toward socialist ideology. I have had to laugh today at the countless blog posts and emails from people who have "not wanted to offend" or "just weren't comfortable" speaking up about this issue. Now that their guy has won, they have plenty to say. I have to wonder about people who find the courage to stand for what they believe after they know they've won. And here is what they are saying:
"He is not a socialist."
"Even Mitt Romney said Obama isn't a socialist."
"If Obama is one, then so is McCain."...that one is very reminiscent of the childhood saying, "I know you are, but what am I?" actually makes me laugh. I honestly feel like I am listening to five year olds.

First-I am not sure who flat out called Obama a socialist. There is no doubt he most definitely has a record of supporting some socialist views. That doesn't mean I am calling him the Antichrist or Karl Marx. I believe wholeheartedly he leans so far left he can barely stand up straight. And that left lean will slowly, very subtly, very gently pull you toward socialist ideologies. I don't really care for far right or far left leaners. It's why I would never vote for Pat Robertson or Barack Obama. I want a leader who stands centered.

Second-Thank you to all of the people out there who are still in their Halloween costumes. Who knew the "Captain Obvious" costume was going to be this year's biggest hit. What would we do without your wisdom? Oh good grief! The attempts to school those of us who did not vote for Obama on wealth redistribution and social programs is so lame. You just make yourselves sound silly. It goes without saying that we have to take care of those in our society who truly need help.
We get that, we are so far past that blatantly obvious point! Clearly every president who has ever lived believed in some form of wealth redistribution. As did Christ....duh, millions of people pay tithes and fast offerings. Fast offerings redistribute wealth. We are not ignorant. We understand the need for social programs. We just expect for each member of this society to do their part, to the best of their ability. We do not believe everything is an entitlement. Each person should be expected to do their very best, and we will be happy to help those who truly can not help themselves.

"Whatever we deny or embrace...."
I will continue to embrace what I believe (am I a cynical conspiracy theorist?) and you continue to deny what is right in front of you (or are you naive?).

To those of you who voted for Obama, let's make a deal. We are in this together, "for worse or for better". I will not be a sore loser, and you don't be an arrogant winner.
I will be respectful of our new President, that's just the kind of girl I am.... I had excellent home training. I believe in this nation. We can make this work.

So there you have it. In a matter of 3.5 minutes, I am both thrilled with the progress we have made and utterly disappointed. I am an oxymoron. Is that better than being a regular ol' moron?
Is it 2012 yet?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's Real Life People, and There Are No Superheroes

Each time I write about my daughter, Victoria, it makes my next post difficult. It is never easy, leaving the beautiful and lovely behind as I jump back into the nuttiness of this life's reality. But that is where I live, so the jump is unavoidable.

If you know me at all (even if it is only through reading my ramblings) you must know that I love this country. I truly do, from the depths of my soul. And for all of its flaws and infinite imperfections, I know I am blessed to live in this great nation. I would not choose to live anywhere else in the world. I love America.

Having said that, I also believe there is a portion of our society not living in reality. Frankly, that frightens me. Speaking generally, very generally, we have become a nation of whiny, thumb-sucking babies. (By the way, all of my children were thumb-suckers, and I found it to be quite adorable...because they were babies/toddlers. An attractive habit for adult Americans...not so much!)

We have become a nation of bystanders. People waiting on someone else to make things better for us. Just sitting around complaining. Wondering where the Superheroes are, and why they won't fix our problems faster and more effectively.

Newsflash people, we live in the real world. No superhero is coming to save you. (By the way, as I write this, my daughter is running around the house in last year's Halloween costume. She was Wonder Woman. She believes in all of the superheroes, her latest favorite is IronMan. That's cute...because she is four...not forty and waiting on him to make her world a better place!)

For me, this election year has brought to light many things. I have heard too many mothers tell me that they "are just too tired". Too tired to care. Too tired to research the issues that face us. I am sorry, but you really have no choice, you can't be too tired. Tired, you bet! Many days I am exhausted. That means we are doing our job. But, "too tired" is out of the question. Your child's future is at stake.

Some people do not want to think for themselves. There are those in this country who seem to feel that socialism wouldn't be all that bad....well, just as long as we find a cuter name for it. Why do they feel this way? Because then they will not have to think. Someone else will make all the rules, and they can sit idly by and do nothing. Ooohhh, that sounds fun. I won't have to think about how to help others, someone else will tell me what to do. Ooohhh, that sounds nice, no more taking responsibility and finding a doctor who fits my needs best...I will just wait for universal health care, and someone will tell me who I have to see. And if I don't like that doctor, oh well, surely another superhero will come along and fix that for me too.

Who knew thinking was so darn difficult? Whew,'s enough to wear you out, isn't it? (Ok, so it really is enough to wear me out too, but it's still good for us.) I just want to shout: "Stand up. Do something for yourself. Be your own blasted Superhero!"

I am concerned when I talk with someone who really does not know where a candidate stands on major issues. The illusionist and his followers have mastered the art of distraction...well of course they have, isn't that what illusions are all about? We are being distracted by the state of our economy. I am not downplaying its seriousness, I would just like for us to remember that the economy is not the only issue facing us. Once again, I am speaking generally. We love money. It is our major focus. We never have enough. The master illusionist and his worshippers know this about our country, so let the distractions begin.

I have four specific topics on my mind today, not one of which is the economy. Feel free to stop reading now if I have already bored you to tears.

The Democrats are already setting the stage for the big win. If they have control of the House, Senate, and the Oval Office every problem will still be pinned on Republicans. I am not saying the Republicans are without faults. They have plenty. Here I am pointing out that the Democrats will do nothing more than fuss about how the Republicans left such a huge mess for them. That's just not true; however, spending hours on Capitol Hill rehashing how everyone else has failed is easier than stepping up with real solutions. The thing is, you have to pull your thumb outta your mouth, and choose to act rather than sit in a corner and whine about how the world has wronged you!

Obama voted to allow the prosecution of law-abiding citizens who use a firearm for self-defense in their home. Obama supported Washington, D.C. laws banning handguns and making self-defense illegal—in your own home.

One question, are Obama's Secret Service people unarmed? Don't think so. And, if someone entered his residence with the intent to harm his children or wife, would he be willing to try and talk it out? Doubtful that the perpetrator would get through the door or window in the first place. It must be so easy to make decisions like Obama made given he and his family are protected from every angle.

But, my family and I are not protected in that manner. And remember, there are no superheroes standing by, just waiting to swoop in and save us. That said, you come in my house, intending to harm or victimize in any way, and I won't hesitate putting a bullet right where it counts. And no, that is not me being a "bitter" redneck, "clinging to guns and religion". What it is, Mr.Obama, is my very own brand of Secret Service Protection thank you very much!

Now, I really do not intend nor do I care for this to turn into a gun control debate. There are many other blogs and sites dedicated to that. I am only pointing out that I will protect myself and my children by whatever means necessary. It is just that simple.

And, just for the heck of it, here are some interesting stats:
  • Estimated guns in the United States: 275 million (roughly)
  • Estimated swimming pools in the United States: 2.5 million (roughly - according to Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 2004)
  • Unintentional firearm deaths ages 0-14 (according to the CDC) from 2000 to 2005: 412
  • Unintentional drowning deaths from 2000 to 2005 ages 0-14: 4,993
  • Clearly the only solution is to make sure we have diving board locks installed on all pools in this country. And no pool should be installed within 5 miles of a water source of any kind. Registration, chlorine microstamping, and some way to prevent the exploited “diving in” loophole are necessary.
  • Swimming pools … the silent suburban killer stalking your children in your own backyard ~quoted from
I am no cheering fan of President Bush; however, I would like to know why we so quickly forget that he did lead us through on of our most horrific trials. You want to talk about cleaning up messes left by others? September 11, 2001 was a trial delivered to our front porch steps because Bill Clinton was otherwise occupied in the Oval Office, if you know what I mean. Why do I bring this up now? Because, as I mentioned earlier, we are distracted and lulled into thinking our only concern should be the economy.

"Osama bin Laden and his terrorist-related activities were well known to the United States by 1995. Clinton had an opportunity to capture him in the fall of 1998, but was unavailable. When he was finally reached, further consultation was needed with various secretaries. The two-hour window in which bin Laden could have been caught was lost. Says Patterson, "This lost bin Laden hit typified the Clinton administration's ambivalent, indecisive way of dealing with terrorism. Ideologically, the Clinton administration was committed to the idea that most terrorists were misunderstood, had legitimate grievances, and could be appeased, which is why such military action as the administration authorized was so halfhearted, and ineffective, and designed more for 'show' than for honestly eliminating a threat."
-quoted from

Associations don't matter, right? That is what I hear the whiny babies screaming when I ask about Ayers, Acorn, Wright, and Rezko. But these same people are painting John McCain as an extension of George Bush. So what they are really saying is that associations only matter if you are John McCain.

As I mentioned earlier, I am no staunch supporter of George Bush. Associations are a matter of character, and I would venture to say that George Bush has more of that in his big toe than Ayers (the self-proclaimed terrorist who "wishes we had done more") has in his whole body. I wouldn't mind going out on a limb to say George Bush has more character than Wright (who hates this country, Jews and whites). And let's not forget Rezko, the slum lord convicted of fraud and bribery.

Associations, they matter. They give direct insight into a person's character. There are qualities that draw us to others. It is possible for each of us to make mistakes in our associations. Maybe we are drawn to someone for a good reason, then we learn more, and in doing so we might realize the association is not a good one.

John McCain has made mistakes. He accepts responsibility for his mistakes. He is a real man. He steps up and he says, I messed up, I am sorry. Barack Obama could learn a thing or two about character from John McCain.

I am not sure what to think of Obama...if he isn't a master illusionist, then he is just plain dumb. Every time he is called out on his associations, he has one reply, just worded goes something like this: I had no idea. Well, I never knew that.
A glowing, shining example of politics as usual. I am neither an illusionist, nor am I just plain dumb. I do not, for one moment, believe Obama didn't know what these men were all about. He knew then, he knows now. Why don't more of us care?

I know, to some I sound negative. The truth is actually that I see in others much more than they see in themselves. I know people can shape their own destinies despite the most adverse circumstances, it happens. I believe every person has the ability to succeed. I want people to have opportunities to develop skills and work ethic so that they feel hope from within. So, it isn't really negativity as much as it is frustration that people do not see what they can become. If they could, they wouldn't need a masked superhero swooping in to change the world, they would become their own superhero, doing their own part to make this world a better place.