Godless Mom in the Bible Belt

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mental Masturbation and the "What If?" Game

So I got to thinking about the state of our country, trying to figure out when and where things went so terribly wrong. I started to think about the 2000 election debacle and how Al Gore would have handled the country in crisis had things gone down differently in Florida.

So, play along with me here for a second. I'd be really interested in your thoughts on this matter.

Say you are Osama Bin Laden. You hate the United States for a myriad of reasons mostly relating to her foreign policy in the middle east. You hate the United States so much that you declare war on her. You bomb a few buildings, you blow up the side of a ship, you make a nuisance of yourself but the United States pretty much lets you slide. You are hoping for Jihad, but you get no more action than a horse swatting at a fly with it's tail.

So, you come up with the Mother of All Plans to get the United States to take you seriously. You'll fly some planes into their buildings. That will get their attention! But the question is where and when?

The United States has a presidential election coming up, you decide to wait and see what sort of government is installed. You wait to see what kind of administration the American people pick to lead them.

Then something happens, the neo-cons create their Project for a New American Century website. Now these are some extremely hardcore individuals and a chill runs up your spine as you read about their intent to "Rally support for American global leadership" and their desire to promote a foreign policy which would focus on "preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity and our principles." (Italics mine.)

You think to yourself, "Osama, this is it. These are the people who will finally push the Islamic world over the brink into complete westernization. They aren't in charge, but boy they would be dangerous to your cause if they were. These guys are some seriously crazy bozos."

So, the United States has her election in late 2000 and the results are a bit confusing. You wait, you wonder and you watch. If the Al Gore guy wins, you will keep your Mother of All Plans on the back burner and wait to see what he does. However, the Bush guy has already chosen one of the Crazy Bozos as a Vice Presidential running mate, so if he wins...all bets are off. You will attack before they get a chance to attack you and your Islamic brethren in the middle east.

Katherine Harris certifies the vote. The Supreme Court discontinues the count. George W. Bush is installed as the new president.

You contact your agents in the USA, you put the wheels in motion. The Mother of All Plans will happen September 11, 2001.

Now, obviously at this point it doesn't matter in the least.

But here is my question.

Do you think the fact that the neocons had their mission statement so boldly displayed and the fact that Bush elected to fill his cabinet with neocons had any effect on Bin Laden's decision to put his plan in motion?

Would Bin Laden have made the same choice to attack our country had Gore been in office and had he filled his cabinet with more benign folk? Now, Gore was running with Joe Lieberman and the combination of Christian and Jew in the White House might also have provided just enough incentive for Bin Laden to go ahead with his plans.

Perhaps the attack was going to happen regardless of the outcome of the 2000 election but I can't help but wonder whether the Project for a New American Century and it's thinly veiled imperialistic ideas provided part of the foundation and justification for Bin Laden's ultimate plan.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:24 AM | link | 8 comments |

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Happy Anniversary to me!

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary! I am so in love with this man!!

I won't be posting through the long weekend, I hope everyone has a great three days!
posted by GodlessMom, 6:39 AM | link | 7 comments |

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Is America a Christian Nation?

Our resident rabble rouser, Barbara, has been leading quite the discussion over the last couple of days. If you haven't read her last few posts and the resulting comments I highly recommend that you do so, it is fun reading.

The discussion has ranged from whether America is turning into a theocracy to the Christian view of homosexuality and has been bantered about by people of all philosophies and religious leanings.

There have been a couple of comments where people have stated as absolute fact that America is a Christian nation, established by Christian men who meant to pass on Christian values. I'd like to explore this line of thought and get your opinions on what you think our founding fathers may have believed and intended.

Now of course the majority of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were Christian but does that mean they intended the nation to be Christian also? The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are very secular documents. The only mention of religion is to establish that it must be kept separate from government. It would have been very easy for the framers of the Constitution to have included the establishment of a religion and religious law into our Constitution had they chosen to do so, but such things are conspicuously absent.

Now, because of who I am, I firmly believe that the framers had no intention whatsoever of establishing this as a Christian nation.

John Adams wrote a book in 1788 called A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America. In it, he wrote:

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. "

Once again this is a case where we can't speak to the people in question, but there are several letters, papers and books written by these men which still survive and give us some insight into their minds.

What do you think?
posted by GodlessMom, 8:04 PM | link | 7 comments |

There once was a man from Nantucket

My Scott has a gift for composing limericks.

The Dubya Administration seems whacky
to the average American, Euro and Iraqi
but after almost six years
I don't see our fears
being allayed by Arnold or Pataki

He cracks me up.
posted by GodlessMom, 11:30 AM | link | 3 comments |

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And now for something completely different.

I was getting my RDA of Juan Cole this morning and it really made my heart ache.

I'm sure that most everyone has noticed that the news coming out of Iraq the last couple of weeks has been very grim. One thing that I find of particular note are the reports of Sunnis being targeted by Shiite bombers. Up until now it seems that most of the bombing has been done by Sunnis but I guess the Shiites are fed up and have begun to retaliate.

So my question is this, at what point does this leave the realm of insurgency and enter into the realm of full blown civil war? Do you think the retaliation bombings by Shiites will be isolated events or have things gone beyond the point of no-return?
posted by GodlessMom, 9:15 PM | link | 1 comments |

Atheism and Me

The moment I realized that I was no longer encumbered by belief in God was the most freeing and exulting moment of my life. I felt as though I had stepped into a vast new world that is full of real, observable truth and free from scary monsters in the closet.

So how does Atheism effect the way I view the world and my relation to it?

I believe that this life, here on this planet is all we have. As a result, we must do everything in our power to make it as perfect as possible and leave the world even better than we found it. A lot of time is wasted worrying about what will happen after we die, rather than worrying about what we do now while living.

I try to approach things logically without letting irrational fears or superstition effect the decisions I make (sometimes easier said than done!)

When I have a problem in my life, I know that I have to rely on myself to solve it. There is no god to guide me or assist me. There is security in knowing that I have control over my own life, that I'm not at the mercy of some supernatural being.

I try to be kind to my fellow man and do things for the benefit of others who may not be as fortunate as I am. Not because I think this behavior will be rewarded in the after life but because it is the right thing to do for humanity.

I make a point of being kind and considerate to the other species with whom we share this planet, both plant and animal. We are not something special, we are just one of many life forms that inhabit Earth. It is extreme arrogance to assume that just because we have big brains we must be the rulers of the planet. We are not rulers, we are merely a very small piece of a very large puzzle.

I cannot deny that I believe the world would be better off without religion. There is so much hatred and bigotry, so much war and oppression in the name of one deity or another. Sure religion has it's good points, but I truly believe that the good things offered by religion are just as easily accessible without it.

I don't need a god to recognize the beauty of the world and to feel an emotional connection to that beauty. I don't need a god to tell me what is right and what is wrong, I am a social being and as such I am more than capable of discerning those things for myself. I do not need a god to validate my existence, I am part of the universe as we know it, in all it's mystery and that is enough. I do not need to give credit to a god when I succeed at some difficult task, I am responsible for my failures and I take credit for my accomplishments. I don't need a god to act as my conscience and I eschew the guilt associated with artificially restrictive moral laws.

I am happy, content and at peace with myself. I do not know where the rest of my spiritual journey will take me but I've sure enjoyed the ride thus far.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:17 AM | link | 8 comments |

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Spirituality of Atheism: Part 4

How did we get here and what happens to us after we die? Two big questions that every religion tries to answer. Two places they always fall short.

Mormons believe that there are three levels of heaven and which level you go to depends on how good a Mormon you are. The very best Mormons get to go to the Celestial Kingdom where the men get to become gods and their wives get to have lots and lots of spirit babies (which will become the souls of the individuals on the planets in the universe that her god-husband creates.)

Women who are unmarried aren't allowed to get to the Celestial Kingdom and become spiritual brood mares, you only get to go if you have been married in a Mormon temple and only then if your husband invites you in once he gets there.

This is but one example of the easily observable misogyny of organized religion. What is a penis? Some sort of umbilicus to God?

But I digress...

I remember thinking about the Mormon version of heaven in comparison with the other versions I had heard and it all started sounding ridiculous. How in the world could anyone know what happens after we die? Because some guy claimed to have spoken to God a century or millennia ago? Because it talks about heaven in the Bible? How do we know that these claims didn't come from self-serving charlatans?

And the creation of our world? When compared to one another, all the creation myths start sounding like a great collection of stories, but they don't really provide any answers. Once again, we weren't there when it happened so how can we know which story tells the truth?

And what of the pain and suffering in the world? Why would an omnipotent, benevolent God who reportedly loves all His creation, allow children to starve to death or kill vast numbers of people in a tsunami or allow war or murder or allow planes to fly into buildings? Why would He allow one of His species to run over all His creation like bulldozers, abusing and disregarding other species while destroying the beauty of the planet?

These questions are not original nor are they new but when they started running through my mind I could not quiet them. There were too many questions left unanswered and when answers were provided they seemed arrogant and contrived. The only answer I could find to the all the conflicting information and unanswerable questions was that there is no answer. The only thing that made sense was that it was all pretend, that it had all been made up by man to assuage the fears of man.

I was sixteen years old when my faith in God disappeared. There was no huge emotional event that pushed it aside or any thunderclap or ominous raincloud. It was the beginning of summer and I had just graduated from high school I was set to start college the following September and my mind was full of the big steps I was starting to take. I went hiking one morning with my dog and my mind started mulling over the subject of majors and degrees. I was suddenly struck by the thought that some people might pray for guidance and I wondered why the thought hadn't occurred to me before. Then I realized, it hadn't occurred to me to pray because I no longer had anyone to pray to.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:30 AM | link | 13 comments |

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Spirituality of Atheism: Part 3

Mom is a big fan of Native American history. My home was filled with books on the subject.

Mom and Dad were also avid fans of backpacking, hiking, river running and camping. I spent many wonderful days in a canoe around the lakes of the Tetons, backpacking the canyons of the Utah desert, fishing off of beaver dams and taking in the view from whatever peak we happened to climb. I recall spending hours feeding ants, watching birds, waiting for deer to cross a path and being thrilled at each and every new discovery. At night I would lay in my sleeping bag under the stars and marvel at the vastness of our universe and the mysteries out there among the stars.

Occasionally in our travels we would run across Native artifacts, bits of pottery, arrowheads, petroglyphs, broken metates. Like my mom I was soon fascinated by the people who originally inhabited the land.

I began devouring all of Mom's books on the subject and as a result I was exposed to my first taste of an Earth based form of spirituality. I saw such beauty in the belief of a spiritual connection between humans and the world around them. In my pre-teen opinion, nothing in the dogma of Christianity had ever introduced such a simple yet wholly comprehensive approach to life. It seemed that the "primitive" peoples of this continent were much more in touch with the true nature of our planet than the silly people who had come here and tried to "civilize" them.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I LOVED Star Wars. When I saw the spirituality that I read about in my mom's books mirrored in the philosophy of "The Force" I was thrilled. It occurred to me that this sort of thinking was still very accessible and legitimate. It was at this point that I first started looking into eastern philosophy and how it might mesh with what I had learned about Native American spirituality and The Force. I also thought that studying martial arts might help me get in touch with my inner Jedi. (grin)

At this point I still considered myself a Christian but I had mentally dismissed the divergent interpretations of the various sects. I still went through the motions, church on Sunday, youth activities, church camp in the summer. However, I was feeling increasingly isolated from the group and was growing annoyed with the happy-happy, joy-joy attitude that always seemed to mask human hypocrisy.

To my parent's credit, they never discouraged my spiritual quest. I believe they felt that I would look at other religions and then come back to theirs. They looked upon my search as an extension of my education and why should they worry? I still attended church after all.

I felt disconnected, misunderstood, cynical, angry and spiritually adrift. Welcome to the teenage years!
posted by GodlessMom, 3:58 AM | link | 1 comments |

The Spirituality of Atheism: Part 2

I was raised in Utah. I never have been LDS (Mormon) although many of my friends and extended family are.

My parents are Protestant, Disciples of Christ to be exact and they raised me to be a God fearing Christian. Daddy sang in the Choir, Mom rotated between various duties for the church but was always on some committee or other. They are good, decent people and my childhood was a happy one, I knew I was loved. I went through my entire childhood and early teenage years with a warm and convicted belief in God. I remember praying at night, telling Him my problems and asking for guidance. I remember the comforting feeling that I was not alone and the heartfelt belief that by living my life in a certain way I would be granted access to Heaven.

Being non-Mormon in Utah is an interesting experience. There are so few non-Mormons, that everyone you meet automatically assumes you are part of the club. . The vast majority of Mormons I know are decent, kind, normal folks who never looked down on me or treated me any differently due to my non-LDS status. But just like any cross-section of the human population you run into the occasional ass and there were a few times when I was excluded from activities or certain children were forbidden to play with me. While it stung when this happened, Mom and Dad helped me realized that it really wasn't a reflection on me.

Daddy was raised as a Mormon in Utah. He was excommunicated from the LDS church after he started attending church with my mom. He wasn't heartbroken about it, he had done some investigating and found that the Mormon church was not all it was cracked up to be and he was ready to give up his membership. Mom and Dad always told me that while I should love and respect our friends and family who belonged to that church I should be careful not to buy into their beliefs because they were untrue. This was a regular mantra at my house, especially when I hit dating age. I think one of my parents greatest fears was that I might marry a Mormon.

Mormons believe in having big families. I don't mean three or four children, I mean ten or twelve. As a result, the public school system in Utah is very crowded. My parents have always been very gung-ho about education and although we never had a lot of money (Daddy was a diesel mechanic, Mom worked as a secretary for the National Weather Service) they tightened the belt and sent me to private school. I attended Catholic school, Southern Baptist school and a plain old "Christian" school.

I remember sitting (at the age of ten) in Chapel at the Southern Baptist school and wondering why the messages I heard at school were so different from the messages I heard at church. The book was the same, the pulpit was the same, the chapels even smelled the same. Why did the God that they spoke of at school seem so different from the one I heard about at church? Why was one message so full of anger while the other was so full of understanding and forgiveness. Was this the same God they were talking about? My mind soon began to play over all the differences in all the religions I had encountered. In my limited experience I had noticed and been very confused by four different versions of Christianity. Mom and Dad had told me that the Mormon version was untrue, but what about the others? They all claimed to be correct yet they were all so different.

While my personal faith in God was still very much a part of my thinking, I soon became very disenchanted with organized religion. I could see the beauty in the philosophy, but it was tainted by the disparity of attitude and method I saw in all the religions. When I would ask adults about the incongruities I had noticed their answers would range from ambivalent to almost hostile. Looking back, I think that the adults I asked didn't really know the answers to these questions either. Perhaps they thought that if they gave an appropriately vague answer, the little ten year old with the big questions would just go away.

I eventually did.
posted by GodlessMom, 3:05 AM | link | 6 comments |

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Spirituality of Atheism: Part 1

I have a sister, we are nothing alike. We share the same parents, and hence a large portion of DNA, but that is where the similarity ends.

Jane is 21 years older than I. She was married and had two kids of her own before I came along as a mid-life surprise to my parents. I didn't grow up with Jane, I never fought over the bathroom with Jane and up until the last 8 years or so, I really didn't know Jane.

Jane has issues with men. Her first husband was an abusive SOB and I rarely saw my sister when I was a child because she was ashamed of the bruises he inflicted. She divorced him when I was ten and immediately turned around and married hubby number 2, the drug addict. Mr. Drug Addict is rarely physically abusive, but he spent the first 23 years of their marriage putting my sister through the emotional wringer like you wouldn't believe. She finally got fed up and left him two years ago but never actually got around to divorcing him. The fact that my sister finally put her foot down made Mr. Drug Addict do an inventory of his life and he has managed to stay sober for almost 18 months now, he is a much nicer person to be around.

I'm glad he's got his shit together because my sister loves him and 6 months ago she was diagnosed with cancer. Leukemia and lymphoma to be exact. She loves Mr. Drug Addict and I'm glad she has him right now because she needs the support.

Jane is a very religious person. I don't mean in the dogmatic sort of way, her spirituality is very private. She has a personal relationship with her god that helps her through difficult times and gives meaning to her life. This belief has provided her great comfort during the AA meetings and chemotherapy, the marriage counseling and hospitalizations. I also believe (although this belief is based only on personal observation, not on anything she has said) that her faith has become a much more important part of her life since she has had this string of crises.

So, it came as no surprise last Christmas when Jane asked me point blank, "What made you decide to become an atheist?"

I had to laugh a bit at the way she phrased the question. I didn't "decide" to become an atheist. I didn't wake up one morning and think, You know? Today I think I'll break my mother's heart, befuddle my father, fly in the face of everything I've ever been taught and willingly join a group that many people rank only slightly above child-molesters. Yeah, that's a good idea.

It is rare to meet someone who has always been an atheist. Most of us are raised with some sort of religious training. The majority of us who are now atheists have at some point in time shrugged off religious thinking for one reason or another. The journey to atheism is as individual as the person who takes it, there is no book to follow, no support group and it isn't something one strives to attain. It just happens, over the course of a life when questions go unanswered, when the answers one is given are contradictory and when all that you have been taught falls away under the light of careful examination.

The next series of posts will be a summary of my spiritual journey thus far. It is not meant to de-convert anyone nor is it meant as a challenge to the personal spiritual beliefs of others. It is just my story and perhaps it will provide some answers to Jane's question.
posted by GodlessMom, 3:43 PM | link | 5 comments |

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I've got crabs!

I have a twenty gallon tank that is home to three hermit crabs. Liz named her crab Po, Scott named his Trey, my crab is named Crusty.

We've had them for a few months now and I have to say I've been very pleasantly surprised by how much personality the little guys have. Each one is very different from the others and it has been great fun getting to know them.

Now, my education is in biology and I worked in veterinary medicine for many years, I'm no stranger to the weird curveballs that can be thrown by the plethora of other species with whom we share the planet. However, most of my experience has been with vertebrates. These little dudes are my first crustaceans and my goodness they do some funky things!

Since crabs have exoskeletons, they have to molt periodically. Po went through the process about a month ago and she is more energetic and full of joie de vivre than ever before. Crusty however has not been so lucky. He went through his molt cycle this week and he just doesn't seem to be bouncing back like Po did. He only has nine legs now instead of ten and he really took his time getting back into his shell. A hermit crab without it's shell is a truly pitiful thing to behold.

I'm worried about my little dude. I'm afraid that I may have inadvertently stressed him during his molt. I've done everything I can think of to help him but now I just have to wait and hope. Our family lost a beloved dog in April and I really don't want to have to break that news to Liz again. Has anyone out there had any experience with this sort of thing?
posted by GodlessMom, 7:12 PM | link | 3 comments |

May the Force be with you

Okay, this is it. The obligatory Star Wars post.

We all have our Star Wars memories. Some of us could care less about this bit of pop culture, others have taken this modern parable and elevated it to the level of personal credo.

Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle with a slight leaning toward the personal credo end of the scale.

I was nine when Star Wars first came to Salt Lake City, I remember sitting next to my mom in the dark theater and being completely blown away. Three years later Empire came to town and my bedroom never looked the same. At a time when my girlfriends had pictures of John Stamos and Christopher Atkins hung next to their beds I had papered my walls with X-wing fighters and Yoda. I thought that calling someone a "Stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking, nerf-herder" was the height of comical insults and I was convinced that Yoda was on to something with the whole "Force" thing.

Scott and I have tickets for the final movie tomorrow and I'm approaching it with equal measures of excitement and sadness. It will be the close in a chapter of my life, for the last 28 years I've been anxiously awaiting each next Star Wars movie. Tomorrow marks the last day I will get to feel those butterflies, absorb the effects and lose myself in the galaxy far far away.

So, I raise my glass to George Lucas and everyone else who's fingerprints are on these films. Thanks for the ride, it's been a ton of fun.

However, in the interest of non-mainstream thinking (this one is for you Barbara) here is a link to an interesting article written by Jonathan V. Last called The Case for the Empire written in 2002. The author explores the politics of the Lucas world and questions whether the good guys are really all that good. It's a fun read!

Might not post tomorrow, I'm gonna be Star Wars'n!
posted by GodlessMom, 6:16 AM | link | 6 comments |

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ode to Those Glabrous Craniums

Feeling a bit goofy today. So, this one goes out to the one I love.

Running fingers through hair is highly overrated
I vastly prefer that men be bald-pated.

Patrick Stewart is hot with sexy aplomb
and so is that hunk Michael Rosenbaum.

Samuel L. Jackson? Oh My! Come Hither!
And spicy Vin Diesel? He makes my thighs quiver!

It matters not whether natural or shaven
That smooth, silky look is what I am cravin'

It is maleness expressed on a most basic level.
It is brains, it is brawn and a bit of the devil.

So bald men, stand tall! To Rogain say nay!
Shave off the comb-over and torch the toupee!

Because I know a secret that others have missed.
Those bright hairless domes just beg to be kissed.

I am privileged to sleep with one every night
his head on my pillow, his arms hold me tight.

My hubby, my soul-mate, my lover so hot.
My no-hair Adonis, my so sexy Scott!
posted by GodlessMom, 5:48 AM | link | 3 comments |

Monday, May 16, 2005

Pork Chops and Applesauce

Forgive me a moment while I brag about my child!

Liz eats her vegetables! I don't mean just corn and carrots, I mean the hard-core veggies like broccoli, artichokes, spinach and asparagus. She also eats spicy foods, unusual foods, foods fixed in unfamiliar ways and food that just plain looks weird. She has a very brave and experimental palate, she doesn't always like things but she always gives them a try. If you've ever hung around a four year old, you know how unusual this is. I can't take credit for it, I'm not Supermom in the dietary department, it just seems to be an inherent part of her personality.

My daughter's genius in this area leads me to another rant.

I am annoyed (almost to the level of intolerance) by adults who are unreasonably picky eaters. Now we all have foods we dislike, I'm not particularly fond of eggs or cauliflower, but I eat them.

I'm not talking about people who dislike a couple of foods or people who have chosen a particular diet style ala Vegan or Atkins. I'm talking about the guy at the office who ruins lunchtime for everyone because he refuses to go to that great Japanese place and instead makes everyone go for burgers all the time. I'm talking about the person who will sit and poke at their plate in a restaurant because someone had the nerve to put summer squash on it. Or how about the person who has never tried catfish and refuses on the grounds that catfish are ugly animals while this person sits there devouring halibut.

I know so many adults who decided when they were 7 years old that they hate (insert food here.) They go their entire life without ever challenging that belief. Every time that food is placed in front of them, even if they are a guest at someone's home, they turn up their noses and grimace.

I have two words for this type of person. Grow up! Life is a great adventure, and food is a wonderful part of it. No one expects you to like every food, but at least give it a try! Be brave, leave the safety of your Number 5 Extra Value Meal and try the curry!
posted by GodlessMom, 3:57 AM | link | 6 comments |

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Hooray for me!

Had the garage sale this morning! I made $127.00!!!
posted by GodlessMom, 1:31 PM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, May 13, 2005

Out with the old, or perhaps not.

I've spent the better part of this week preparing for a neighborhood garage sale.

My parents moved here to Houston from a small town in Utah three years ago. My father's health was such that he needed to live at a lower elevation and they were having a difficult time keeping up with their home and small acerage located in a very rural and isolated town. I know that Houston would never have been their first choice of places to live, but I was here and the elevation was right. However, they are both positive people and have made the most of their situation.

My parents are relics from an earlier time. Daddy is a WWII veteran, Mom is the daughter of Kansas dry farmers. I came along quite unexpectedly when they were both well into their 40s, a brand new baby born during the Summer of Love to two people who had grown up during the Great Depression. Talk about generation gap! But I am who I am because of (and sometimes in spite of) these two powerful souls. I love both of my parents deeply and I know they love me, despite the fact that they rarely grok me.

That being said, OMG the amount of CRAP they have been carting around for the last 6 decades! I have a double garage with a 15 foot extension off the back and I have been unable to get my car into it since they moved here from Utah. There are boxes filled with fabric and back issues of magazines, power tools that haven't functioned for more than a decade, an antique barber pole, two or three sets of china, old peanut butter bottles, assorted lids off of tupperware containers, the REALLY UGLY chandelier that hung in my bedroom when I was a kid...you get the picture. Mom insists that all of this stuff is valuable and that she just needs to go through it. I just do a mental eye-roll and say, "Okay Mom, let me know if I can help." And so it sits there.

However, two days ago I came across two boxes of stuff that really made me glad that my parents collect the things they do. The boxes were filled with old toys, artwork and writings from my childhood through my early college years and boy did I take a walk down memory lane!

There was Jackie, my stuffed duck (a gift when I was 4 from a neighbor who meant a great deal to me.) I found the piggy bank my father won for me at the Utah State Fair when I was 7, the nightgown my grandma made for me when I was 5 and the doll clothes my mother had so carefully stitched together for my favorite Rub-a-Dub Dolly. I found pages of writing that I had done as a teenager, the kind of writing that comes from the soul-deep and very real pain inevitably felt by people over the age of 12 and under the age of 22. I found graded papers with comments written by teachers who really cared and notes that I had passed back and forth to my classmates on paper covered in doodles.

The flood of emotions I experienced as I sorted through these boxes is hard to describe, with each new discovery my heart was jerked in a different direction. However, one emotion that was notably absent...regret. I looked back on these things that marked the course of my early life and I knew that each and every one of them was part of the puzzle that makes me. For better or for worse I am who I am because of the foundation that was laid by the events represented in those two boxes. Laughter, love, joy, pain, fear, anxiety but no regret.

So, I too will place my daughter's treasures in a box and perhaps on down the road she will also have the opportunity to lift them one by one out of the dusty reaches of memory and touch upon the events that will color her life. I hope that she too will have no regrets.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:19 AM | link | 7 comments |

Thursday, May 12, 2005

WWTOD? What would Tony Orlando do?

There is something that has been bothering me lately (something that has little or nothing to do with parenting) and I'm feeling a bit militant today so bear with me for a second, okay?

You know those ribbon car magnets that everyone and their SUV seem to be sporting now-days? I'm sure you've seen them, there are many variations. I've seen pink breast cancer awareness ribbons and rainbow-colored gay rights ribbons, I even saw a white one with black paw prints in support of the Humane Society. Pick a cause, any cause and someone has made a car magnet for it.

The ones I'd like to rant about however are the originals, the yellow "Support the Troops" ribbons.

Support the Troops? What does that mean exactly? I've seen gung-ho Bush supporters sporting that one on their Escalades (sorry Pope) and I've seen die-hard peace activists sporting them on their hybrids. Of course we should support our troops. Regardless of a person's position on the war I have yet to hear anyone blame the troops for the current mess. The troops are our friends, neighbors, family, lovers. They signed up for the armed services, perhaps to further their education or support their families but with the knowledge that they would be expected to defend the country if the time came. How can a person not be supportive of such individuals?

In my opinion the sentiment is hackneyed and meaningless. It is a safe way of saying to everyone, "I really care what is going on in the world" without having to commit oneself to a real opinion and without having to suffer the consequences of taking a stand.
posted by GodlessMom, 8:53 AM | link | 9 comments |

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Liz Van Gogh?

Liz has become a very prolific artist lately. She has discovered the thrill of creating and she has been producing drawing after drawing almost 24/7 for the last month. Some of them are more than adorable, some of them are a bit disturbing but all of them are precious to me.

Most of them are pictures of our family, the pets, insects and flowers. She has drawn a few "floorplans" and the blueprint for a lemonade making machine. She is so proud of each and every one of them.

But what does a mom do with all this art? My fridge is papered over, I bought frames and hung a gallery of her art in the hall. I've given some of her works to her grandparents and have encouraged her to use both sides of the paper. I tried channeling the creativity in another direction, Playdoh seemed like a good solution. No go. I got out the craft supplies and while she was interested in that for a while I started to get a rash on my wrist from all of the pipe-cleaner and button bracelets I was wearing.

My precious little girl and her priceless works of art. I think I'm going to need bigger scrap books.
posted by GodlessMom, 9:41 PM | link | 1 comments |

Taking responsibility for our mistakes.

Last week while sitting at a red light, I wasn't paying attention and my van rolled into the car in front of me. No one was hurt and the damage was very minimal. Well, yesterday I got the bill. $483.00. Ouch. They sure know how to charge for a stupid piece of fiberglass.

Well, when I got the news I was busy fretting about where I was going to dig up the money and Liz could tell I was upset. She is so sweet, she immediately came to my defense and became angry at the people who were fixing the damaged car.

I told her that I had made a mistake and that it was important that I take responsibility for it. I had damaged someone's property and I needed to make certain it was repaired. I told her it was important that we try NOT to make mistakes but that occasionally we all do and when that happens we must do everything in our power to make amends.

After our conversation I started wondering whether the lesson I had just tried to teach my daughter would really be demonstrated to her in real life.

Case in point:

Am I alone in thinking that a national policy of torturing prisoners is a mistake? Does Bush not see that we will reap what we sow on this one? He and his cronies like to hold the USA up like it is some shining light of freedom, democracy and justice. He pulls out the apple and shows it to the world, but just inside the skin of that bright red fruit is maggot infested flesh.

They give up Lyndie Englund and her cohorts like sacrificial lambs while the real masterminds of this sub-human policy are still running the show. You can be certain there will be no "taking responsibility for our mistakes" on this one. Bush, Rumsfeld and Gonzales will go on their merry way while our soldiers who are unfortunate enough to be taken prisoner while in Iraq and Afghanistan will feel the repercussions of the administration's misdeeds.

We as a nation have the potential for such greatness. It is too bad we are being governed by greed and even worse that most of us are too blinded by patriotism to know any better.

My daughter has a bright mind and a good heart, I can only hope that she will hold herself to a higher standard than our own president does.
posted by GodlessMom, 7:01 AM | link | 3 comments |

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day

I cannot put it any more succinctly.


Happy Mother's Day to all mothers. We all want peace and love for our children regardless of race, religion, country of origin, political alignment, age, sexual orientation, wealth, level of education, number of children or presence of breast implants. Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
posted by GodlessMom, 3:31 PM | link | 1 comments |

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The evil that is Crossfire

Scott TiVoed an episode of Crossfire for me Thursday. This one was Novak and Carville regarding the debate going on in Kansas right now about teaching "Intelligent Design Theory" (IDT) alongside the theory of evolution in the Kansas public school system.

Now, the whole IDT thing is ridiculous. It is merely an attempt by right wing Christians to cloak their religion in scientific language so it can be forced down the throats of young impressionable children under the guise of "science class." It is not testable, it is not observable it cannot be duplicated in a laboratory, there is no major scientific organization that accepts it as science.

The man who was brought on to Crossfire to argue for IDT in schools based his entire argument for doing so on the what he called "Objective truth." He claimed that because there is cause and effect and natural order to the world there must be a creator, therefore this theory needs to be taught in our public schools as science. This is akin to me observing that there is a newspaper in my driveway next to the oak tree and then claiming as fact that oak trees produce newspapers.

Now, he sees his God in the natural order of the world and he sees creationism in cause and effect. That is great for him, I'm happy that this observation of his has given his faith some sort of real world foundation to stand on (despite the fact that it is an incredibly screwy leap in logic) but just because he has made this observation doesn't make it science and doesn't make it true.

He also argued that creationism should be taught in schools because it is part of the culture of who we are and part of our thoughts on how we've gotten to this point in existence. And in this he is correct. Creationism does have a place in public schools, in a philosophy class or comparative religions class but NOT in science class.

I could go on about this subject ad nauseum so I will come back to it at a later date. However, right now I have to get my Dad his breakfast and I need coffee.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:39 AM | link | 3 comments |

Thursday, May 05, 2005

TiVo and motherhood

My husband, Scott is a serious technophile. He manages the IT department here in Houston for a big international company so his life is pretty much filled with the latest information on the latest gadgets and the latest toys.

A few years ago when our VCR gave up the ghost he mentioned replacing it with TiVo instead of just buying another VCR. I was more than a bit dubious, it seemed like a silly gadget that I would never really use. I mean, who really needs to pause television or rewind or fast-forward while they are watching TV. If you want to fast-forward, just watch a DVD, right?

Well, we got the TiVo and I've never looked back. TiVo was meant for parents! When your child has just discovered a really cool bug in the backyard or built a great blanket tent in the bedroom or has just figured out how to write the letter K, you can stop everything you are doing and celebrate with them even if you are watching the season finale of Survivor or Desperate Housewives. Just hit the pause button and you can leave the television, attend to your parenting duties and then return to your program without missing so much as a Zoloft commercial.

And speaking of Zoloft commercials, are you as sick of them as I am? That is what fast-forward is for! If you want to watch CSI, just wait until 8:15 on Thursday evenings. Then you can watch the entire episode without commercial interruption, just fast forward past the Zoloft.

Liz likes Prehistoric Planet and Magic School Bus on Discovery Kids, but they aren't always shown at times that are convenient for us to watch. I just set the TiVo to record the desired episodes and Bob's Your Uncle I have quality programming available for my child whenever I want it.

Now, I personally don't watch Desperate Housewives or Survivor or CSI. I'm a Smallville, Daily Show and Deadwood kind of gal (and I'm chomping at the bit for the next season of Sopranos.) And I've got to tell you, since I set the above mentioned programs up to record on a "Season Pass" I haven't missed a single one.

Don't fight the TiVo....TiVo good.
posted by GodlessMom, 8:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What could have been a bad day

This morning, after I dropped Scott off at work I stopped at a red light. Liz was talking to me so I turned around to look at her at which point my foot slipped off the brake and I rolled into the car in front of me. Not a big deal, barely a scratch on either car(I might have been going 1/2 a mile per hour) but it made me feel like a complete idiot. It didn't help that the woman driving the car was one of these shiny, happy types and she wouldn't get off her damned cell phone so I could talk to her.

I was really stressed about what Scott would say when I told him, I had myself tied in knots about it.

My father was trying to get me to help him with his crossword puzzle and I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. I was getting very annoyed.

Liz was doing her four year old thing, demanding my attention and complaining when I didn't jump at her every whim.

At one point, Liz was asking me to do fifty things at once and I firmly told her that I was on the verge of being in a very bad mood and I asked her to go easy on me. You know what? She did! She went into the office and drew a picture of us holding hands, then she came up and gave me a big hug and a kiss and went out of her way to be quiet and undemanding the rest of the day.

My father took Liz for a walk so I could have some alone time, then he proceeded to fold all of the laundry that I was unable to finish.

Scott took the news of my accident with good humor and kindness. I don't know why I was worried he would do otherwise, he is the most decent person I know. He also came home, cooked dinner for all of us and did the dishes.

My family didn't need to be asked to cover for me when I wasn't at my best. They simply sensed that I needed help and they stepped up to the plate. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such loving and supportive people.
posted by GodlessMom, 7:58 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pink Bunnies

I think we found a school for Liz!

It is a very small, completely secular private school called The Rainard School.

The thing that impressed me the most about this school was the fact that all of the kids seemed so happy. Every child I encountered made eye contact with me and smiled (even the teenagers.)

They accept kids into their kindergarten program at 4 years 6 months, so Liz will be old enough in September.

I have a couple of objections to the school Liz would attend if we were to go the public route. First, she would have to wait another year and a half before she would be old enough to attend. She is doing really well with reading and writing already and I'm afraid that if we wait until she is old enough to attend public school she will be bored out of her gourd (and that isn't a good way to start out the whole school experience thing.) Cy-Fair school district has all "open" classrooms which means there are only half-walls separating one class from another. Liz learns quickly, you only have to tell her something once, when you start repeating things to her she quickly loses interest and becomes distracted. Obviously not all children have the same learning style, and I'm afraid that while the teacher is repeating things for the benefit of her classmates, Liz will be sailing paper airplanes over the walls.

Last but not least, our state governor Rick Perry signed into law in May of 2003 Senate Bill 83 which requires children in public schools to pledge allegiance to the US and Texas flags and to observe one minute of silence. As a parent I would have to write a letter of objection before my child would be permitted to abstain from said pledges and moment.

My child is 4 years old, how is she to know whether the United States or the state of Texas are worthy of her allegiance? I'm not going to force her to recite by rote a pledge where the meaning and gravity are beyond her capability of understanding. And who am I (and who is the state of Texas for that matter) for telling her that she must give her allegiance to this country? If, after she is old enough to understand the ramifications of such a pledge she decides that this country IS worth her allegiance then she can choose to say the words and they can really come from her heart. I will not force it on her before then.

Plus, as you can probably guess, I have a problem with the whole "under God" thing. How would Governor Perry feel if I made his child say the following....

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation, under pink bunnies, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

When are people going to realize that as soon as they added the "under God" phrase to the pledge, the country was no longer indivisible? They had divided it into those who believe in the Christian God and those who do not. Maybe for the sake of inclusion we should rotate the way we say the pledge on a weekly basis. One nation under Allah, one nation under g--, one nation under Siva, one nation under Thor, one nation under Belenus, pick a god any god. Or wait, maybe we should just eliminate the whole "under God" thing all together.....No, that would be too easy and too Constitutional.

Okay, I'll climb down off my soap box now.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:01 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Only the lonely....Not

Scott and I thought long and hard about having a child. For many years we vacillated between going through our lives childless or taking the plunge and going for it.

I'm currently a stay-at-home mom, but in my past life I worked in veterinary medicine. When you talk about domestic companion animals they generally fall into one of two categories, show quality and pet quality. You breed the show quality animals in hopes of bettering the genetic line of the animals, you spay and neuter the pet quality ones to prevent unwanted traits from being passed on to future generations.

Well, if you look at Scott and me as physical specimines we both definitely fall into the pet-quality category. Both of us come from long lines of heart-disease and cancer ridden people, there is even the occasional schizophrenic or manic-depressive that pops up in the genetic line. If we were dogs you wouldn't want to breed us.

And, more importantly the world REALLY doesn't need more people. We are already crawling over the surface of this planet like termites on a fallen oak, destroying everything we touch and killing each other over the limited resources our planet has to offer.

So, after much agonizing and much debate we did the deed and had a child. We didn't make the decision lightly and quite frankly if we had waited another year to we would have found ourselves in a post September 11th world and probably would have elected not to have a child at all. But, fortunately for us we didn't wait and now Liz is as much a part of our lives as the air we breath.

Liz will be the only child we have, mostly for the above mentioned world-overpopulation reason. But, on a more personal note, I don't know if I have it in me to be the kind of mother I want to be to more than one child. I guess I'm going for quality rather than quantity. Grin.

So here are my two cents regarding the decision to have a child. I completely understand and respect those who choose not to have children, it is a responsible and wise decision and affords certain freedoms that you can never have as a parent. I also completely understand those who choose to have one child, parenthood is an amazing thing and if you feel like you have what it takes to be a great parent then having one child can be very rewarding for both parent and child. If you feel the need to have two children because you think that kids need siblings, I suggest you do some research on single children families, both Scott and I were raised in families where we were the only child and neither one of us feel like we missed out on anything by not having another kid around. However, if after you have really looked into the possibility of having only one and you still want two, go for it. But you must stop there.

At two children you have replaced yourself and your mate, it is time to stop. I honestly have a problem with people who have three or more children, it is irresponsible and selfish. Now, I have friends that have three or more and I don't go waving this opinion under their noses but I wish that they had stopped to think about the consequences of their actions before they elected to peel that birth control patch off their asses. I have an aunt in Utah who is in her seventies, she had eight children, those eight in turn grew up and started having kids and now those kids are starting to hit the age where they are beginning to reproduce Thus far my aunt has 32 individuals running around on this planet that are the direct result of her unchecked breeding back in the 40s and 50s and many of those people haven't yet reached reproductive age.

I love my aunt and my cousins but PULEEEZ!!!

If you're going to have children give some thought to the consequences of your actions and act accordingly. Childlessness isn't for everyone but it IS an option and a kid can grow up happy and healthy in a one child family.
posted by GodlessMom, 7:38 AM | link | 2 comments |