Friday, January 30, 2009

Now THIS Is Change I Can Believe In!!

If you hear squeals of delight, it's just me. I am THRILLED about the RNC's election of Michael Steele as Chairman. This guy knows how to get things done, even when facing strong opposition from Democrats. He served as Maryland's first Republican Lieutenant Governor from 2003-2007. He was unsuccessful in his 2006 run for Senate, but I voted for him.
Congrats and Good Luck to Mr. Steele!

Sharing the Link Love

I'm feelin' a little linky today.....

Dear Bakerella and Ms.Betty,
Eleven Year Old thanks you. My tastebuds thank you. My waistline...not so much thankin' you.
Lovely to look at, so delicious, and oh my gosh...the ganache!

Please read this! I know it's long. But, it's also worth your time. I promise.

Lastly, it always makes me smile when hypocrisy is unmasked.

Happy Friday Snarkettes!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Day

January 29, 1998....I was terrified. Just 17 months prior, I had been right there...same hospital, same doctor, two of the same nurses. But thankfully that trip to Trinity Medical Center ended differently. We took our baby home.

Today, my Ten Year Old becomes my Eleven Year Old. I love this boy with every fiber of my being. He changed my life. Times have not always been easy for the two of us. He has sailed some stormy seas with me. He came into my life when I was not fully healed. He entered this world to find a mother clinging to the bitterness of her loss. Even after the birth of this perfectly healthy child, I remained angry at everyone. Why? Because that was how I made sure no one ever forgot his big sister.

My precious son often paid the price for my pain. I was overbearing, overprotective, and entirely too controlling. At two years old, he cried if he forgot to place his shoes neatly in his closet before bed. Most days, my little guy walked on egg shells. When his Daddy or Nana came into a room, you could visibly see his shoulders relax. I made him tense. When Carlin spent weekends with us, he was thrilled. He loved the days I taught voice lessons because his "Britty" babysat him. With me? Well, he just wanted to make me happy.

Journeying through grief is exhausting. It took me a long time. But, my son walked with me every step of the way. There were moments so dark, I thought it would be best if I didn't exist. I contemplated how I could make that happen, without traumatizing my sweet husband (I treated this wonderful man so horribly, I believed he would be better off without me). But deep down, I knew the answers to my suffering would not come through losing hope. And I absolutely could not leave my son. He needed a mother, even if she was broken.

Several years ago, as I talked with my sister-in-law, I expressed deep regret that a small child ever had to walk the grief path with his mother. I was certain I had scarred this amazing little spirit beyond repair. Had he ever even heard me laugh? How often did we cuddle on the couch? Did we spend mornings at the park? Most likely not. I was consumed with organizing and cleaning, accomplishing tasks...controlling any and everything I possibly could. And if I couldn't, I suffered panic attacks. He had not seen me at my best. I wasn't sure he ever would.
My son was so serious and reserved. He was nowhere near carefree. What had I done to him? I wept as I told her I was afraid my son might never forgive me. I wept as I told her that my Heavenly Father must be so disappointed in me. Maybe I just didn't deserve to be a mother. I will never forget her response...I think Heavenly Father sent this child exactly when you needed him. He sent you a forgiving, gentle spirit. One who could relieve some of his mother's pain. She assured me that if I could find peace, my son would be just fine. My sister-in-law was right.

Our home is very different now. It is full of laughter and joy. My son can relax and he's rarely reserved. He loves family game nights, acting out movie parts, and having fun with friends. This boy is witty, and makes people laugh. He gets serious when it comes to his art and schoolwork. His teachers say talking with him is like talking to an adult, but much more enjoyable. He is gentle and kind, a wonderful brother to his younger siblings. He has an internal compass like no other.

I will be forever grateful to my Father in Heaven for the blessing of my son. This child is willing to look beyond my countless imperfections, always quick to forgive and forget. Happy Birthday my sweet Eleven Year Old. Words can not express my love for you. On this day, with all its talk of gifts, I you realize you are the gift? Thank you for walking with me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You Don't, But You Do, But You Don't

A few months ago, Princie (for new readers, that's the Four Year Old's nickname...Princess+Pixie) was using this little saying several times a day:
"I do, but I don't, but I do."

Princie, do you want some lunch?

"I do, but I don't, but I do."
Translation: I am hungry, but I don't want to stop painting, but a "samwich" sure sounds yummy.

Some days, she would change it up a bit.
Princie, do you want to go to bed?

"I don't, but I do, but I don't."
Translation: I want to hang out with the boys some more, but I really want to sleep, but I might miss out on something fun.

Come to find out, four year old Princie is not the only one subscribing to this line of thought. Apparently, the co-founder of the Black Artist Association is on the same wavelength...

FIRST LADY UNDER FIRE: Amid all the praise of First Lady Michelle Obama’s fashion choices for the inaugural festivities, the Black Artists Association is taking her to task for not wearing anything by an African American designer. Cofounder Amnau Eele said Wednesday she will make a formal appeal to the First Lady’s office on behalf of the BAA.
"It’s fine and good if you want to be all ‘Kumbaya’ and ‘We Are the World’ by representing all different countries. But if you are going to have Isabel Toledo do the inauguration dress, and Jason Wu do the evening gown, why not have Kevan Hall, B Michael, Stephen Burrows or any of the other black designers do something too?” Eele said.
The BAA leader was a runway model in her own right for Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Bill Blass and others.
Asked if perhaps the First Lady isn’t looking at the world colorlessly, Eele said, “It’s one thing to look at the world without color but she had seven slots to wear designer clothes. Why wasn’t she wearing the clothes of a black designer? That was our moment.”

Well, excuse me. I had no idea this was all about you. I thought it was our country's moment. Regardless of how I feel about her, I thought it was Michelle Obama's moment. Not that it has to be earned, but I think if you put up with the pains of a presidential campaign, and come out victorious, you have earned the right to wear whatever you darn well please!

So I sit here now, very confused.

All I can come up with is that Ms. Eele is a woman who likes to change the rules every now and then. Ms. Eele, let's see if I get this one right:
You don't want to be judged by the color of your skin, but you do, but you don't.
Translation: If you notice my skin color when I don't want you to, you are a racist. If you don't notice my skin color when I think you should, you are taking my "moment" from me. And no, I will not give you any indication as to when I would like my color recognized or ignored.That's how I keep this game interesting, that's how I keep you on your toes, that's how I make sure you never become truly colorblind. And if I can keep you in the game, I will always win. You should just know what I am thinking. If you don't know, you will be deemed either insensitive for taking my "moment" or (if our skin colors don't match) just plain racist.

Well "Ms.Eele", I'm going to let "you" in on a little secret. I'm not playing your game. What am I doing instead? I'm raising three children, and only the Ten Year Old has ever asked about skin color. It happened the summer he was six years old. This child tans like nobody's business, even with sunblock. He asked if he was going to keep getting darker, eventually becoming the color of his Uncle Abe(who is black). His exact words, "If I am, that's fine with me, I just need to know what to expect. Everyone will think he's my dad, not just my uncle." Black, green, purple, white...the color was irrelevant, he just wanted to be prepared for the change.

I am raising little people whose classrooms are filled with children made up of every shade of every color you can imagine...far beyond black and white. They play together, they are the best of friends. I honestly thought you wanted me to raise colorblind children. I always thought the whole "We Are the World" thing had a nice ring to it. Surely you can understand my confusion.

So, I have made a decision. You can change the rules back and forth from now until the end of time. I don't care anymore. Like me...don't like me. Call me racist...or don't. What you have effectively done, is push me past caring. You have effectively taught me that no matter what I do, it will likely never be the right thing. You won't find me playing your "I don't, but I do, but I don't" game.

Looks like you're only opponent is yourself. Good luck with that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Love Affairs

I participate in love affairs.
Not that kind you sickos...get your stinkin' minds out of the gutter!

I have a love affair with books. I am not a book snob, I love all kinds.
I have a love affair with ice cream. I admit that I am an ice cream snob. I don't care for the cheapy brands, and while I know that many no-name brands are just as good as the real things, this does not hold true in the ice cream department.
I have a love affair with music. As with books, I am no music snob. All kinds make me happy, and feed my soul.

Let me tell you what I do NOT have a love affair with...exercise.
It is my constant nemesis, the albatross around my chubby neck!

The last time I had a love affair with exercise was somewhere back around 1996-1997ish. I was teaching 5th grade. After school, Rogers, Patterson and I would walk. Somedays, I would do the "fast walk" and we would laugh so hard it took our breath away. Just the thought of those days makes me smile. In some ways I had never felt better. Seems strange, considering that time in my life was fraught with torment due to the loss of my daughter.

I want to regain that love of exercise. I have tried, but it isn't the same. Mostly because doing the "fast walk" isn't funny without Rogers and Patterson. I just look foolish and scare all the people driving past me. Suffice it to say, I've "lost that lovin' feeling".

I need to exercise. I need to do if for health reasons....heart health and mental health. I need to work out in order to work off my love affair with ice cream. I loathe the process. Getting the kids takes an act of Congress to get out the door. And why, WHY, do the makers of workout bras torment me so?? I have spent hours upon depressing hours trying to find a sports bra that fits a woman like myself. It doesn't seem fair that just because I am curvy up top, I should have to endure a uniboob when I work out!

Next come the nonsensical thoughts, that even I don't understand:
-If I lose the 17 pounds that haunt me, that simply puts me back to a former that was never good enough when I weighed it. Do you understand? My current goal is a weight that a few years ago wasn't acceptable to me. So really, why bother?
-I have a slew of things I am committed to doing, do I really want to add one more?
-Once I start working out, I have to do it forever, do you realize what a long time that is?!? Forever is perfect if you have renewed your love affair. But if not, you are plain out of luck, aren't you?

I know I have to suck it up, just take that first step. I understand I will feel so much better. I "get it"...all of the benefits and perks. My question is not about the payoff. I understand that anything I work hard to achieve will make me feel all warm and fuzzy. My question is how to ignite the passion. Especially when I despise the very thing I must learn to love. You see, I am an all or nothing person. I won't invest in things that I don't care for or about.

And Rogers, if you're reading this, leave a comment already!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Happy Birthday Snarky Mama!!

Loyal, Beautiful, Sassy, Surprisingly Vulnerable, Witty, Intelligent,
Entirely too Critical of Self, Devoted, Faithful, Brave, Classy

A statistical anomaly. You wouldn't believe me if I told you.
But, one day, I will tell you.

This is the woman you want in your corner. She would fight to the death for you, and ask questions later. She has sacrificed much in her life. Her dreams?
Well for many years, those belonged solely to her children.
Children who love their mother deeply....

A daughter: she taught me to stand firm, to never allow the winds of this world to sway me, she taught me charm and wit, courage and steadfastness, she taught me the importance of telling others they are beautiful
(because what if no one else does),
she instilled in me a love of reading and education,
she believes I can do anything

A son: his mother is his angel, she taught him to value himself, to be okay with marching to the beat of his own drum, she picked her battles with this one and I believe it saved his life, she taught him that if you are doing your best (not someone else's best),
that is all that matters and
you should be proud of the man you are

A son: she taught him strength and courage, his mother taught him that no matter where life takes you, you can always come home, she knows how capable this son is and incessantly reminds him (even though it irritates him to no end),
these two don't believe it, but they are more alike than any of us

And then there is her husband: he worships the ground she walks on,
she is fully herself with him, comfortable in her own skin with him,
they have trudged through the thick and thin of it all.
They are finally writing their story now.
All the kids are grown, and now is their time to embrace.
I couldn't be any happier about that.

I am amazed by my mother's ability to give and give and give.....
often to people who neither acknowledge her,
nor intend to ever return the giving.
Some days I stay infuriated with her because of this behavior.
But deep down, I know it is her greatest Christlike attribute.

Years ago, I would have written off the very people she so willingly and graciously serves.
I have often chastised her for remaining so true...questioning her...
smarting off that she is like a whipped puppy always going back for more.
But today, as I think on these things, I realize I may be wrong.
Maybe she has been blessed with a unique ability to love,
even when that love is uncomfortable and unbelievably difficult.
She loves because (even when it is most painful to do so) it's the right thing to do.
I appreciate her reminding me.

I love you Snarky Mama, have a fabulous day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Never Underestimate the Power of the Blog

It's been far too long (years and years and years) since I've experienced the blessings of living near my mom. When I say near, I'm talkin' anything under 10-16 hours would be much appreciated. As it stands now, I settle for the power of the all-mighty blog. Snarky Mama's comments never disappoint. Plus, it's my time with her...most phone calls end up belonging to the little people, and Ten Year Old is in on the whole email thing now. But the blog? It's all mine. My daily contact with the woman who has shaped my life. This mother molded me with undying love, devotion, and loyalty...peppered with firmness and discipline. (And let's not forget "The Look". Even today, it would freeze me in my tracks. "The Look" can cause fully potty trained individuals, of all ages, to experience momentary losses of know what I mean!) At times, eerily similar...other times, polar opposites---that's us. I think it makes for a nice combo. It most definitely keeps things interesting. And thanks to the blog, we have "conversations" that go beyond how the little people are doing.

I wasn't shocked when, on Tuesday, she called immediately following the Inauguration, speaking words I was actually in the process of writing! This morning, I wasn't even slightly surprised when I read her comments on my last post. Her words were the very thoughts I found running through my mind most of Wednesday. Thoughts I was hoping to turn into words for my next post. Thanks Snarky Mama for saving me some time! Below you can read how she felt the day after the Inauguration:
I will admit that I do, indeed, feel better. Of course, being the typical cynic that I am, I began to wonder. Had John McCain won, would he have been honored with such a peaceful transition? Would left wing liberal organizations have allowed his inauguration to be so peaceful? Could the activists have humbled themselves long enough to afford the Republican candidate the same privilege? Or, would yesterday have been met with protests, rallies, anger and intolerance? (Remember Prop 8 just a few months ago?) Winning and "getting what you want" always makes for a "feel good" day.

These questions are not reflective of my feelings for President Obama. I was truly inspired by his humble and gracious demeanor. His beautiful family added nothing but affirmation to that observation. I'm just saying....although yesterday proved to be a coming together and a hallelujah chorus day in many ways, and the day made me proud to be an American...I wonder. Did yesterday speak more loudly of the civilized, tolerant behavior of people who often become inflamed and enraged when they are not given "their way", OR did yesterday speak just as loudly of the behavior of people who (although "their" candidate did not take that oath) love and cherish this great country. People who love and cherish the democratic process so fully that, even in defeat, they demonstrate respect and honor for the man who now stands as their President. Maybe yesterday was a true lesson in tolerance taught by many Republicans. I'm just saying.....

Well, it was as if she read my mind. I had the same thoughts Wednesday. In my mind I pictured how differently the Inauguration would have played out, had McCain been elected. It would have been downright dirty, ugly, and overflowing with scathing disrespect.
I am speaking generally (disregarding groups that are the KKK, New Black Panther Party, anti-abortionists who blow up clinics, and those who stand outside Walter Reed yelling that our injured soldiers are murderers...all members of these groups lack the most basic of rational thinking skills and deserve to be disregarded for their desires to spread hate, lies, and fear) when I say that conservative Americans are gracious when things do not go our way. We do not expect the government to fix everything for us. While we understand the need for peaceful protest and remaining actively engaged, we also understand there are times that call for moving forward with the hand you have been dealt. We don't just sit around, whining and shouting that we have been wronged...just waiting for someone to make life better for us. We are doers and builders.

Again, speaking generally, conservative Americans know how to properly accept defeat. We understand that no amount of yelling and screaming, no amount of protesting, no amount of disrespect and hate-filled rhetoric would have changed Tuesday's course. So, we calmly and peacefully look to the future. We commit to doing our part in helping our President succeed. Because if he does not succeed, we all pay the price.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Post-Inauguration Has Me Feelin' Sunny Side Up

I am never too proud to give credit where credit is due. It's a given that President Obama has speech writers. But I've heard, with the exception of some minor tweaking, his inaugural speech was very much his own. And, it was a beautiful speech. A beautiful speech delivered with touching eloquence. Today, I am thankful to have a President capable of delivering an eloquent speech.

Today, I am thankful to have a President who clearly loves his family. It is obvious his wife and children adore him. Did you see the way they looked at him? You don't get looks like that if you are failing as a husband and father. (Just to prove my point, this is what Ten Year Old said as the Clintons made their way through the Capitol: "She doesn't like him very much does she? You can just tell by how she looks at him." And this kid doesn't even know their story!)

It is evident that our President expects fathers of each and every race to step up and fulfill their responsibilities. I am thankful he spoke of programs that do not work, and replacing them with ones that do. I appreciate that he spoke of every American's responsibility to work toward improving their own situations. A reminder that we should never rely solely on a government for anything.

Today, I am thankful for the millions of well-behaved visitors who crowded together on the National Mall. It was truly a stunning sight. I was so proud of my country as I watched people of every race, age, religion, and political persuasion gathering together. Peacefully. There were moments when it overwhelmed me. Yes me, the cynical, snarky me.

Today, I am thankful for the humility I witnessed. Not only in our President, but also in our First Lady. I mean this sincerely...I appreciated the looks on their faces as they realized what lies ahead far outweighs their celebrity status. It made me wonder. Maybe they aren't completely comfortable with the media and Hollywood fawning over them? And if they are comfortable with the fawning, it certainly didn't show today. I was relieved.

As President and Mrs.Obama each walked the length of that long Capitol hallway, I saw humility. I needed to see that today. Humanity. Real people with confidence to meet challenges, but not the arrogance of believing they are above the magnitude of this day.

I appreciated President Obama acknowledging the graciousness of the Bush family. At that moment, I thought about the fact that since the "transition" began, President Obama has been mostly complimentary of our former president. I can't help but wonder if the daily security briefings have opened his eyes to the formidable tasks that are ahead. Is it possible that, as he has become privy to new information, President Obama understands things about President Bush he never could have before?

Today, I am thankful for hope. And if President Obama ignites hope within those who had no hope before, I believe that is a blessing. I pray our President remembers all that was spoken today. I pray that in the months to come, his intentions remain honorable. He sounded honorable today, and I pray it wasn't just the eloquent speaker talking. Today I saw a man yearning to help his country. I saw a man filled with humble emotion. I pray he has the courage to remain true to the man we saw today.

I follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I practice those things I profess to believe, I have only one option. I must give President Obama a chance. A chance free from my judgements. I must remember that his understanding of our Heavenly Father differs from mine; therefore, his intentions regarding most issues do not match mine. His intentions are based on his life experiences. And our experiences are vastly different.

The past few years I have cringed as dissenters hurled insults at our former President. Insults attacking his person, rather than how he did his job. I never understood the need for labels such as evil and stupid. I always believed it was greatly lacking class. So, I won't be one of "those people". I will never agree wholly with President Obama, and my voice of dissent will not be silenced. You will never question where I stand on issues. But, I will conduct my disagreements with respect and dignity. (Ok, with the exception of Nancy Pelosi and just a few others...I have to be realistic here. But I will try. I really will try to refrain from being just plain nasty.)

God Bless America!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Let It Go People

I find it interesting when politicians focus on the failures of others, rather than what they have to offer. It's only January 20th. I've never been more thankful to be unaffiliated with a political party. Thus far, I have only heard Democrats making excuses for everything they won't be able to accomplish. Maybe they could at least try first? Blame, that's all I hear. Nothing about what the Democrats are offering. It's all about Bush-bashing...still about the Bush-bashing! Get over it. The guy's leaving. You won. You have it all. You control everything, and you are still whining! I seriously can't take it. I am realizing just how much I loathe whiners.

And oh did I call it a few months ago, or what? Allow me to quote myself: "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!"

I have heard all I want to hear about this administration inheriting nothing but disaster from the Bush administration. That's false. We have a system of checks & balances. Nothing can be completely one man's fault. Congress has their hands in everything!! Inheriting two wars? Those are wars Democrats in Congress ok'd. And I do not want to hear another congressperson say something like this: "if I had known then, what I know now, I never would have voted for the war." Oh really Einstein, now that's profound. That completely restores my confidence in you. Thanks.

I disagree with many things Bush has done. But, he dealt with tragedies never before faced by this country. And, I don't recall Bush blaming 9/11 on the fact that Clinton was often dealing with distractions very much unrelated to Bin Ladin and other terrorists. Things such as the major distraction who was wearing a blue dress. (Excuse me while I take off on a you also pin Katrina on Bush? Do you live in an area that was devastated by that monstrous storm? No? Then you don't have enough facts to judge what happened. I know what happened. My family felt its effects. Nobody was prepared for that destruction. And sometimes people have to help themselves while waiting for the government to step in. The mayor of New Orleans FAILED miserably!)

Okay, back from the tangent. I would just like to hear our new leaders tell us what they plan to do. All I hear is blame. You asked for the jobs, and you assured the American public that you are the men and women best suited for those jobs. If you can't handle the pressure, I am sure you could find a replacement. And while I am on a roll...Nancy Pelosi, you are a complete and utter embarrassment. Stop whining about Bush, put your big girl panties on and get to work. You've already wasted two years. And if you want to gripe about someone, how about your pal Barney Frank? I would love for him and other of your cohorts to take accountability for their roles in this economic mess!!

The new administration is already paying special attention to 216 "elite donors", people who have raised tens of millions for Obama's campaign and inaugural activities as well. Local airports have shut down entire runways to make room for the parking of their private jets. These CEOs and Hollywood stars were given VIP seating at the "We Are One" concert. "We Are One"? Really? Tell it to the people from the projects a few streets over, the ones who walked and then stood for hours in bitter cold just to catch a glimpse of the man who has promised them the world. Do you think they somehow didn't notice the stretch limos? Maybe they also didn't notice the men and women stepping out of those limos, being escorted to their heated tent with catered food.

Now, come on. These behaviors would be expected from the likes of elitist, cold-hearted, money-grubbing Republicans. But, this behavior from a new Democratic administration? And from the wise, do-gooding Hollywoodites. Well, I am just ashamed. But, happy to hear that we are one. That's good news.

All of my frustrations do not fall at the feet of our new President. He is a politician. He spoke words necessary to be elected. He says he is against special interest groups, but he will always take their cash. Politicians do what they do, and unfortunately the vast majority (regardless of party affiliation) do things dishonestly. They are people, that's all, just people. And we know power corrupts people. So, how can I be frustrated only with our President? I'm not.

Although one media outlet did report on the 216 "elite donors", they followed with something like: "We'll just have to see how this plays out". What? If these were Republicans, they would be on the hunt with torches and pitchforks. And what about the dude who made that $34 grand "honest" tax mistake? If he were a Republican it wouldn't be viewed as such a benign oversight. The media would have fried him.

And then, there's Hollywood. Yuck. Why do sheeple give the political opinions of celebrities such credence? These are men & women who make their fortunes pretending to be someone they aren't. And while many of them are unbelievably fantastic at it, and I enjoy watching them, it ends there. They do not possess the answers to life's mysteries or the power to save the world.

I committed a few months ago to respect the office of President. I plan on keeping my word. But, I have little respect for the media, and even less for Hollywood. It makes me literally nauseous.

I'm working on letting it all go. I need my sleep.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Every Cloud, Does in Fact, Have a Silver Lining

I've never been a fan of the phrase, "Save the Drama for Your Mama".
Seriously, why should Mamas have all the fun?
I think the drama in households should be shared.

Needless to say, I could have jumped for joy when I recently heard the Captain tell Ten year old to "Save the Drama for Obama"...fanFREAKINtastic!! The Captain didn't think much of it, he was just being his usual sarcastically funny self.

A few days later, Ten year old was watching tv and saw a news report about some "Notes to Obama" something or other. What I heard was more along these lines: blah, blah, blah followed by indistinct babblings (insert voice of Charlie Brown's teacher).

And then it hit me! It was as though the heavens opened. The Obama cloud currently hovering over my head was now shining a glorious silver lining. Beautiful.

I remembered what the Captain had said, "Save the Drama for Obama". Since our soon to be President has promised, in essence, to save the world, why shouldn't I get a piece of the action? In his acceptance performance, did he, or did he not, commit to being my President too??? Oh yeah baby, he certainly did.

He also believes in spreading the wealth around. Well, on any given day, I have a wealth of whining, fussing and drama in my household. Now, I'm not complaining, I wouldn't trade my life for the world. Just sayin', if the guy wants to spread something around, I'm open to sharing my wealth of household drama.

So, I like the "Notes to Obama" idea. From now on, when my children have a complaint, or feel the need to whine, they will be instructed to write it down on a slip of paper. Their papers will be dropped in a box I have labeled "Save the Drama for Obama". Once a month, we'll mail the notes to Pennsylvania Avenue. If he is truly the chosen one (as so many want me to believe he is) he won't mind my sharing of the wealth, now will he?

Friday, January 16, 2009

ANOTHER Village Has Lost Its Idiot

We are not going to debate Prop 8, that's not what this post is about. This is about FREEDOM, and your right to worship as you choose. The question here is: Do you believe in religious freedom for all, or just those who believe exactly as you believe? I believe in religious freedom for all, well unless you think I'm an infidel and want to blow me up.

In an effort to remain "safely ensconced" in my "bubble of self-affirmation" (that seriously had me laughing), only answer the above question if you fully agree with me...I just don't know if my fragile little, frail little ego can take the heat. HAAHAAHAAA (that's a sinister laugh in case you're wondering) Come on, you know I'm kidding. Are you laughing? No? Ohhhhh, please laugh, please!! How will I continue on if you don't laugh and tell me how wonderful I am?

Ok, so I digress. A lot. I do not care WHAT religion you belong to, IF any at all...this stuff is just plain lunacy!

Tom Hanks at the Big Love/HBO party: “The truth is this takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop 8 happen. There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now."

Nothing like a Hollywood hot air tank. This guy can twist it better than Chubby Checker. He randomly jumps from polygamous offshoots of the Mormon church in Utah (sidenote: these people may not be "offshoots"...they may, in fact, have never even been affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) to California Mormons who lawfully and peacefully exercised their right to vote however they choose. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints follow 13 Articles of Faith, one of which states a belief in "obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law".

Mr. Hanks is incorrect, the Mormon church did not make Prop 8 happen. (Yes, I do have the stats to back this, I will not be posting them all here. Inevitably, someone would just want to argue for argument's sake, and that just becomes waayyyyy boring.) And Mr. Hanks, if we're just haphazardly throwing around the unAmerican label, I think it's unAmerican to be a jerk, but that's not stoppin' you, now is it?

It's seriously time to start sleepin' with one eye open.
Next, we'll be labeled unAmerican for believing in Jesus Christ.
Wonder if it would be unAmerican to round up all the Hollywood hot air tanks and return them to their villages? Probably so, since even idiots have the right to free speech. It's a gift people, it really is.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Knots in the Stomach Are Soooooo Yesterday!

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
"We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard." ~Voltaire

“Being tolerant does not mean that I share another one’s belief. But it does mean that I acknowledge another one’s right to believe, and obey, his own conscience.” ~Frankl

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." ~Barbara Kingsolver

I always enjoy a good quote, and thanks to friends who shared these.
Farewell knots in the stomach, you were no good to me. I'm over you. But one last thought before you go, just take're leaving, not me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Knots in My Stomach

Oh, I was afraid of this. I am not a girl who cares much at all about what others think of her. In fact, I may not care enough? This morning it made me sad when I found out that some people (who began reading my blog when I wrote about Victoria) have now stopped reading. It is because of my last post. I don't really even know what to write at this moment. I have to get to work, so I am sure I will think about it all day.

It would have been a non-issue if these women had been reading my blog for a while, and just stopped because they grew tired of my political rants, or because they think I just plain suck.

It breaks my heart that these were mothers, who came to my blog for comfort. They found it, and then when I returned to being fully who I am, they left.
I have disappointed them.

This is why I thought, after writing about Victoria, that maybe I should edit myself.
I just can't do it, I don't want to either.

The passing of 12 years has not lessened my yearning to see,
hold, and mother my daughter.
I am passionate about shedding light on stillbirth.
I am passionate about uplifting parents who have been newly introduced
to the harsh realities of mourning a child's death.

But, there is more to this woman than sadness and grief, more to me than loss and pain. I am also passionate about politics, partial-birth abortion and all the things I last posted about. I enjoy writing about those issues with fiestiness and fire. And even a little humor now and then; although, I know I'm really not all that funny.

The common thread is that I am passionate about things that are uncomfortable.
I write about them. I say what so many others can't or won't.
Despite the knots in my gut this morning, despite the tears I feel welling up, I won't edit myself. This is my spot. I need it. I like it. And my daughter would not want me to hesitate being the woman she knows her mother is.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm Really Not Sorry...Nope, Not at All

Readers beware! You knew it would happen. I fought it for a few days. But it kept coming back, this little voice saying, "Put on your Snarky cap." I have mentioned before that the most difficult time to post is just after I write about Victoria. Everytime, it feels as though I am moving on without her. Once again. I just have to remember that she is the one who moved on, and to a far better place. But I am still here. And so it is that I must keep trudging through this wacky world.

Over the weekend, I came to a realization. There are times when I say things with an apologetic tone of voice, when really, I am not even the slightest bit sorry. So, I decided I would make a list. Generally speaking, "society" would like for me to feel contrite about this list. I don't.

1.) I have 4 children. You see only 3 of them, but there are 4. If you ask how many children I have, I will no longer say 3, just to make the conversation easy for you. Does that make you uncomfortable? I'm not sorry. You talk about all of your children, why shouldn't I?

2.) I pray. I enjoy seeing the words "In God We Trust" on our currency. I am proud to recite The Pledge of Allegiance with my preschool classes, classes made up of so many different ethnicities, it looks like a mini United Nations. It makes me happy. And, if you ask the parents of these children their nationality, they sum it up with one word: American. I love this country, flaws and all. I know George Bush has made some monumental mistakes. He has also faced some monumental challenges. And everyone can talk all day about the problems Obama is "inheriting". But, Bush inherited more than a few major problems from Clinton. I think Bin Ladin would probably top that list.

3.) It does not make me proud that the majority of our country is completely okay with the fact that our new President supports partial-birth abortions. This man is more concerned about the treatment of suspected terrorists than he is about our nation's children...oops, what am I saying? He doesn't believe these babies are really children in the first place.

It does not make me proud that the majority of my country is okay with the fact that our new President condescendingly speaks of those who "cling to their religion". I will go to my grave "clinging" to my beliefs. I must cling to everything I hold dear and believe in; otherwise, Mr. Obama, you are just the man who will attempt to take these things from me...all in the name of preserving others' rights of course.

4.) I am a white girl from the South. I am completely tired of attempts by our society to make me feel ashamed of who I am, and where I was raised. By and large, people in the South are not lazy, uneducated, racist trash. Now, I am positive you could find people that are one, if not all of those things; however, I live on the East Coast and I could find those same people here.

Why is it perfectly acceptable for people to, with no fear of retribution, use derogatory slurs when referring to my race? Why is it okay to generalize, stereotype, and profile me all day long? But it all hits the fan, and makes international news, if these behaviors are exacted upon members of other races.

Please do not tell me it's because of "the man". The "men" in my life have built their own success. Their skin color has never given them the "upper hand", especially those who live in the South. In fact, some have been treated unfairly because of their white skin. They have been mistreated as "payback" for the evils perpetrated years ago by despicable men. Please remember, all those years ago, there were also many good and honorable men of our race. Men who fought against that evil and cruelty. An infinite number of good and honorable men still exist today.

Each "man" in my life has overcome obstacles and beaten odds, odds that were often stacked against them. They have worked hard and diligently, earning everything they have. Just as you do not want your race judged, do not judge my entire race by the actions of some "rich, old, white guys" who lack integrity.

Either we are going to be a color blind nation, or we aren't. You don't get to pick and choose the colors you see.

5.) Our country desperately needs leaders courageous enough to administer a massive dose of welfare reform. I live in an area full of wealthy Democrats. (Yes, most days I do feel like the square peg. I am not wealthy, and I'm not a Democrat.) Politicians in this area believe throwing money at people fixes problems. It doesn't. But these politicians wouldn't know this because they never leave their bubble. Well, unless it's for a photo op in the inner city. They do not truly see the devastation caused by a corrupt welfare system. They specialize in masking symptoms, not so much curing problems.

6.) I am a Christian. I also happen to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have spent the better part of my 36 years hoping you will believe I am a Christian. Southern Baptist churches of Clinton, Mississippi, you have not been kind to me for most of those years. (Even my husband, who has lived in 5 different states, and 3 different countries agrees that the anti-Mormon sentiment in Mississippi is unlike any other.) I am no longer concerned with what you think of my beliefs. Any person with half-a-lick of sense could visit our church's official website and see that we ARE Christians. You simply choose not to believe. We believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. (The same One you believe in, because there is only One.)

We could rehash your litany of "concerns" from now until the Second Coming. I've heard them all. You are always ready, with your arsenal of falsehoods, to fire at me. And, I have a response for each shot. But frankly, I've lived a few decades of this back and forth, and find it far from enjoyable. I have met with ministers, preachers, and deacons. I have written letters and shared testimony of Christ with you more times than I can count. Your hearts are hard, and your minds closed. I can not change what you choose to believe.

I have spent my life following the teachings of my Savior, Jesus Christ, to the best of my ability. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, we are not. I am human, I mess up...a lot. It is no surprise you will find people making mistakes within our church. I would find the same within yours; however, I do not use this as ammunition against you.

Do you ever tire of standing on that self-designated pedestal, spending your time casting stones and attempting to tear us down at all costs? I say, do your best. We have survived extermination orders, and persecutions of every kind. We aren't going anywhere.

And, just so you know, it's really difficult for me to see your discipleship in action. I'm pretty sure it's due to that haze of hypocrisy surrounding you.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." Matthew 5:10-11 (Yep, that comes straight from the King James version of the Bible that I read and know to be the word of God.)
So go ahead, revile all you like. Speak all manner of evil against me falsely. I'll be the one standing firm in truth. I will "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.." Matthew 5:12

7.) I am not politically, or any other kind of correct. I was so overwhelmed by the responses to my post about Victoria that I considered editing myself from here on out. The Captain's response: "A tame Snarky Belle, no way." He was right. I just can't do it. I am snarky. Snarkiness brings me great happiness. It makes me smile and laugh. It keeps me sane.

8.) I TiVo "General Hospital" because I love the hair and makeup on that show...seriously fantastic! I pause it, rewind it, and just bask in the beauty of perfectly applied eyeshadow and some of the most fabulous hair. EVER. I also TiVo "One Tree Hill" for the same reasons, and because it's my favorite guilty pleasure.

That's my list. No apologies. And not a hint of regret.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thank You, from the Depths of My Soul

This morning, I have cried tears of gratitude and joy. For a moment, I am taking off the Snarky cap...never fear, I am sure as soon as I read or watch the news, the cap will be back in its rightful place.

Since writing my last post, I have been genuinely touched by comments and emails from loved ones, dear friends, and new blogging friends. You have inspired me. Truly, you are each a blessing in my life. Acting on your suggestions, I emailed Dr. Joanne Cacciatore. Thank you for encouraging me to do so.

Dr. Cacciatore is founder and CEO of the MISS foundation. She responded to my email. I was surprised, as she receives hundreds of emails each day. I felt, as I am certain thousands of others do, an instant connection with this great woman. And, I cried. Not because I was sad, but because I experienced true JOY in the hope that her foundation offers families. I felt tremendous GRATITUDE. This morning, on
her blog, she linked to mine, "in honor of Victoria".

Thank you Dr. Cacciatore.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Unnecessary, the Way You Pour Salt into the Hole Where My Heart Once Was

"Her skin didn't fit."
If you were to ask my grandmother to describe me as a child, that is what she would say. Apparently, I was a teeny-tiny peanut and I had more skin than I could fill out. (Boy how things change with time, right?!?)

I secretly hoped, as I grew into my skin, that the look of my hands would change. I always hated my hands. Short, stubby fingers and palms with creases and wrinkles so abundant, any elephant would be proud. (If you don't believe me, just zoom in on that picture!) I don't think anyone ever really knew just how self-conscious my hands made me feel.

But that changed when Victoria was born. My first child had my hands. Hers were identical to mine, completely creased and wrinkly. As I think back, I am certain no hands have ever been more beautiful. I have grown to love my hands. Not because they are mine, but because they are hers.

I recently learned that New Jersey does not consider a stillborn infant to be a person. You suck Jersey, you suck bigtime. Let me tell you how I know a stillborn infant is a person.

I felt my daughter grow and kick inside of me for 8 months. I labored and delivered my firstborn with no pain medication of any kind. I can assure you she made her presence known with every contraction, with every moment of her journey into this world.

A head full of jet black hair. Tiny toes. Precious little ears. Wrinkled palms. Absolute perfection.

Her father bathed her. He took her handprints, and footprints. He trimmed a piece of her hair. It was the only haircut she would ever have, that's true. But how do you trim the hair of a child who never existed? We dressed her, we held her, we rocked her.

Later, the nurse came and took her from us. Took our firstborn child to the morgue to be exact. I thought I might vomit. The next morning when they brought her back to us, I was on the verge of sheer panic. She was wrapped completely and I just kept saying, "She can't breathe, she can't breathe, unwrap her." I felt my motherly instincts kicking in full-force.

Unfortunately, the hits just kept coming for quite some time. You leave the hospital without your baby. Your milk comes in, because for all your physical body knows, you have a child to feed. But, your heart knows all to well that there is no baby to nurse. And, you have to bury this infant, this little tiny person that up until just days before, you thought God had entrusted into your care.

Her grandparents held her, she was the first grandchild. When she was flown to Mississippi, her great-grandfather stood waiting for her on the tarmac with a police escort so her little body would not be alone. Her great-grandparents gave her a "spot" in the cemetery right beside her uncle. Loved ones and friends gathered, releasing balloons and giving comfort. My brothers carried their niece's casket to its "spot".

None of our hurt was in vain. Neither you, New Jersey, nor any other entity can tell me my child was not a person! Well, I guess you can tell me, but I will never hear you.

In 1996, when Victoria was born, we left the hospital without any paperwork confirming our child's existence. I know, without doubt, that only added to our pain and suffering.
Twelve years later, I don't really feel the need for any type of paper confirmation, but in the moment, in those darkest of hours, parents desperately need some validation. It is a matter of respect and dignity. You understand that no piece of paper will ever bring your child back, but to have the chance to hold something, to see her name on an official document, would have made me feel less crazy... in the moment... less like I had to prove to everyone how much she mattered.

A child born at 19 weeks, "pre-viability", that is miraculously able to take just one single breath, is counted in our infant mortality rates, and the parents are given documentation showing this child existed. A child born at 40 weeks, who dies one millisecond prior to exiting the birth canal, is considered to be a fetus. This infant may be fully developed, weighing nine pounds, but will not be considered a real person. In many states, the parents are given no record of the child's birth/death. These babies are not included in our infant mortality rates.

Thankfully, due to the efforts of the MISS foundation, many states now provide parents with a "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth". This is an honorable organization, working relentlessly to help ease the suffering of parents whose children are born still. MISS works to bring peace to families who have no opportunity to share a future and make memories (in this life) with their child, sibling, or grandchild.

Unfortunately, there are several states choosing instead to make this a political matter. Needless to say, that absolutely disgusts me. New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, vetoed his state's proposal of the MISSing Angels Bill, even though it passed with near unanimous votes. Not surprisingly, this happened in 2007, as he was beginning his bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Planned Parenthood of New Mexico objected, as did state chapters of NOW, NARAL ProChoice America, and the ACLU. Richardson had to show just exactly how pro-choice he is. He had to gain the support of these groups. He did so at the expense of innocent fathers and mothers. A spokesperson for NOW had this to say:"We're always concerned about measures that elevate legal status of the fetus."

So there you have it. In New Mexico, and many other states, grieving parents who leave hospitals without their babies will not be given a simple piece of paper that states: "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth". Oddly enough, New Jersey issues the certificates, but they don't consider stillborn infants to be human.

My daughter was BORN. She was STILL. And, there was piercing SILENCE. But she was born, nonetheless. She was and is real. My heart knows, my mind knows, my memories know. But as time passes, if I ever begin to doubt, I'll just take a look at my hands.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And I'm Not Even an Ann Coulter Fan!

Ann Coulter's scheduled appearance on NBC was abruptly cancelled: "We are just not interested in anyone so highly critical of President-elect Obama, right now," a TODAY insider reveals. "It's such a downer. It's just not the time, and it's not what our audience wants, either."

Oh really, because the anti-Bush, anti-conservative, anti-Christian rhetoric you have spewed for the past 4 years has been such an upper? And don't insult my intelligence by saying you aren't interested "right now". You will never be interested in anyone critical of Obama your chosen one.

Late Monday, NBC news made this statement: "We've had Ann Coulter on 'Today' many times, but because of the news in Washington and the Middle East, we decided to cancel her appearance tomorrow."

Interestingly enough, Coulter's spot was filled by Perez Hilton. WOW!
Now that, my friends, is journalism at its finest.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009: Let Courtesy & Respect Reign Supreme

Validation. I like it. It puts a smile on my face. The snarky kind. The "I told you I'm not a raving lunatic" kind of smile. Apparently, the UK also has work to do in the courtesy department.

It is true that I gush snarkiness like a geyser gushes water. But, it is also true that my heart is soft. (Remember from posts past...I am an Oxymoron.) And while I sincerely believe the world is clearly going to hell in a handbasket, I also believe in the goodness of people. I know we can restore the long-lost, sorely missed decencies of common courtesy and respect. Nevermind that the vast majority of our world's population is comprised of completely oblivious idiots. If the rest of us work together, we can do this.

Kudos to Mr. Michael Deacon of blogs. So cool, the way I gain validation from a guy who doesn't even know I exist. Obviously, there are brazen assaults on politeness and courtesy taking place each day. But, Mr. Dean's words made me feel less lonely in my desire to stand firm against these assaults. I know you're busy, but his article is worth your time.