Godless Mom in the Bible Belt

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Exactly How Liberal Am I?

Scott and I had an interesting discussion the other evening about the extremes of the Liberal/Conservative movements in our nation and where we as individuals feel that we sit on the scale.

Historically I've considered myself to me a moderate liberal. But since the Bush administration came to power I have felt pushed further and further to the Michael Moore side of the scale (no disrespect to Mr. Moore intended.) So today I think I'll go over the finer points of my liberalism and try to look at where I stand on some of the more basic issues. Let's see exactly how liberal I am.

Gun control: I don't like guns, I don't own a gun, I've never fired a gun and have no intention of ever doing so. Do I think we should take all the guns away from American citizens? No. We are guaranteed the right to own guns in our Constitution and I find the idea of changing the Constitution far more dangerous than the idea of people owning guns. That being said, I do think we need to take a serious look at the private ownership of assault rifles and the like. Why the hell would any average Joe need one of those things? I'd call myself pretty moderate in this area.

The death penalty: This is a difficult one with no easy answers. Our system is flawed and as a result people are sentenced to death in unequal ways depending on race, economic status and other factors. Until the system is improved to a point where the penalty is handed out in absolute equality then we shouldn't even think about flipping the switch on death row. Also, from what I understand the death penalty really doesn't act as a deterrent. If someone is going to murder, they are going to murder regardless of the potential penalty. Now, if someone hurt and killed Liz or Scott? I'd be out for blood. I think that some people are so far gone that they have lost their right to live and frankly I have no problem with people like the BTK killer being put to death. I think in some cases it can afford closure to the family of victims. Overall, I guess I'm up in the air with this one.

Homosexuality: I was born heterosexual. There has never been a day in my life when I have desired another female and I can't imagine anything that could possibly make me think of another woman in a sexual way. Homosexuality is exactly the same. The idea that someone would "Choose" to be homosexual is ludicrous so making laws that reflect the personal bigotry of some segments of our population, laws which are designed to limit the rights of homosexuals, makes me want to vomit. This falls under the category of none-of-your-damned-business. What happens in privacy between consenting adults isn't something that should ever be legislated. I guess I'm as liberal as you get on this issue.

War: I'm not a complete pacifist. I do believe that there are some things worth fighting for particularly humanitarian causes. I believe that going in to Afghanistan after 9/11 was the right thing to do (although the aftermath has been very poorly handled.) I am in awe of people who are willing to go into the armed forces and put their lives on the line, it is a display of courage and love of country that I'm not sure I would be able to match. These men and women should NEVER be sent into battle or put in harm's way unnecessarily. I'm not against all war but I'm definitely against bogus wars that were initiated through lies and deception and have been conducted with extreme ineptitude. I'd rate myself middle to left on this one.

Abortion: This is an incredibly personal decision and far too important to be left in the hands of politicians. I do not believe that a fertilized egg has the same value as a young woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy. No one should be made to carry to term a pregnancy they do not desire. The reality of life is that sometimes birth control methods fail. It isn't pretty but it is the truth. Outlawing abortion will not end abortion, it will only cause the unnecessary deaths of women who seek abortions in back alleys. This also falls under the category of none-of-your-damned-business. Pretty liberal on this one.

Economy: I have almost no formal education when it comes to economics so I have a tendency to apply the knowledge I have gained from my own financial past to the country as a whole. I know that this is in many ways a flawed approach but it is my only frame of reference, so here is what I think. Pay cash when you can and avoid debt at all costs. Treat people fairly in your business dealings, you are only as good as your word. Take care of necessities before luxuries. Give what you can to those who are less fortunate. Don't spend more than you have coming in. Try to give your business only to those who are honest and noble. Liberal? Conservative? I don't know. It just seems responsible.

Separation of Church and State: I don't want God in my government and I don't know why people would want government in their God. The First Amendment is pretty clear on this one. Does that make me liberal on this issue? I don't know.

I guess that covers most of the big divisive issues. Am I liberal? Yes, and I wear the label with pride. Am I unreasonably liberal? I guess that is for others to decide. I don't want everyone in the country to think like I do. What I want is for people to live and let live.
posted by GodlessMom, 7:41 PM | link | 17 comments |

Today we talk about body hair. ( Not for the faint of heart.)

This post was actually inspired by several different people; Lazy Iguana and his post about the poofy thing, Zeppellina and her wonderful artistic thoughts about the female body and Fred's inclusion of female pit hair in his list of interesting things one encounters while walking in foreign cities! So, if today's post offends your sensibilities perhaps you can cleans your blog pallet with A Little Bar of Soap.

Here in the States women are expected to be as hairless as a newborn (with the exception of the nether-region which I will cover in a later paragraph.) We shave, wax, pluck, shave some more and then finish the whole thing off with electrolysis. The entire look lasts a day or two and then we are back to the same old routine, shave, pluck, wax, dipilitory, shave some more. It is a never ending struggle to keep our bodies looking as sleek as the proverbial baby's butt.

Of all areas which require grooming the least talked about but most problematic is by far the pubic region. Summer fashion requires that we address the issue, we don't want to offend the delicate sensibilities of our fellow sunbathers, but the entire venture is fraught with difficulties.

This is an incredibly sensitive area we are talking about, very prone to razor burn and ingrown hairs, chemical burns and abrasion. You may manage to rid the area of hair but you run the risk of a nasty allergic reaction to Nair. Which is more visually unappealing? Pubic hair peeking out from under your swimsuit or a nasty festering chemical burn?

Once the decision is made to try and tame the pubic beast the subject of how much must be addressed. Do you just get rid of enough to keep from offending your fellow beach goers or do you go for broke and get rid of it all? Do you try to sculpt the perfect "Landing strip" or do you go for a more artistic heart shape?

Why is it that we are so compelled to get rid of perfectly normal hair growth? I understand our obsession with youth, but taking an adult female back to a completely hairless state bypasses youth and goes straight to infancy. Does this smack of pedophilia? Sometimes I long for the bygone days when women swam in suits down to their ankles with a dress over the top. I play the hair removal game, but I don't like it!
posted by GodlessMom, 6:23 AM | link | 15 comments |

Warning, my child will teach your child things you might not want them to know.

I grew up in a household where there was little or no discussion about human sexuality. My parents are wonderful people but they are the product of their generation and people who were born in the 1920s don't generally talk much about sex.

The sum-total of the sex education I received from my parents came when I was 7 years old. Mom and I were on a cross-country trip stopping in various states to "collect" the capitol buildings when I saw a two cows in a field getting friendly with each other. I asked my mom what they were doing. She told me they were making baby cows, then she said under her breath "Humans do the same thing."

For many years afterward I had strange images in my head of men and women standing in pastures doing something that resembled a piggy back ride. I knew from my mom's reaction to the whole subject that "private parts" were probably involved but for the life of me I couldn't make head nor tales of the whole thing.

Needless to say I eventually figured it out. A combination of street education and research in the biology section of the library put me straight by the time I was 11 but I was 16 before my parents and I ever talked about the subject again (and by that time it was too late for them to really make much of an impression.)

I swore when I had Liz that sex would be as comfortable a subject to talk about in our household as the subject of grocery shopping. I have been absolutely up front with her about every aspect of the subject. We have taken apart tampons and talked about how they work. We have talked about eggs and sperm and the parts of our bodies involved in reproduction. We have looked at charts of body parts and discussed the reproductive differences between mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. I don't feel that any sex education is complete without discussion of the social and emotional impact of sexual activity and I've started discussing these topics with her also (although there is a limit to what a 4 year old can understand in this area.)

Liz responds with the typical curiosity of a child. I have already answered questions regarding masturbation, homosexuality, birth control and whether or not it "feels good." She is particularly interested in different methods of reproduction, live birth vs. egg laying, internal vs. external fertilization. The subject is very interesting to her.

Now there are consequences to this much open honesty. She has loudly asked questions on the subject in the middle of the mall and in quiet restaurants. She also has a tendency to discuss the subject among her peers with the same ease that she discusses Cinderella's dress color. I have warned all of my friends that she is likely to tell their kids things that they might otherwise be innocent of. But I'm willing to deal with these slight embarrassment and the potential wrath of other parents because I don't feel that this is a subject that should be hidden from a child. I'm hoping that these other parents at least take comfort in the fact that the information their children get from my Liz will at least be accurate.

Eventually the day will come when Liz will have to make personal decisions regarding her own sexuality. I'm hoping that when that time comes she will have the knowledge and self confidence to make wise, informed choices. With any luck she will also feel comfortable talking to her parents about the issue, if we don't make a big deal out of it now, perhaps it won't be a big deal later.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:54 AM | link | 14 comments |

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fiddles and Pipes

I spent an hour last night watching a program on PBS called Celtic Women. It was a wonderful concert at the Helix Center in Dublin, Ireland. Four vocal soloists and a violinist performing a variety of traditional, contemporary and religious music. It is impossible to describe the beauty of the sounds I heard as I sat in front of my television. As corny as it seems, I can only say I felt the music on an emotional level.

A few years ago I traveled to Scotland with my sister. It was a fabulous adventure in a beautiful country. We toured the big cities and slept in the small towns, we dove into local cuisine, shopped ourselves silly in the tourist gift shops and toured old castles and a whiskey distillery or two. After a few days we left the mainland and went north to spend the better part of a week with a friend who lives in the city of Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. Each evening we would go to a local tavern and listen to a wonderful group of young men on their violins. They are a group called Fiddler's Bid and they enjoy quite a bit of celebrity among the enthusiasts of traditional Shetland music. Again, it is impossible to describe the sheer pleasure derived from listening to this music. Once again, I felt it on an emotional level.

I love bagpipe music. A well played set of pipes can elicit such raw emotion from me that I've been known to sit and blubber like a fool. I sat for at least an hour on an isolated bench in Inverness listening to a young man wring melodies out of his pipes that would put the greatest musicians in the world to shame. Again, I felt it on an emotional level.

I've no idea why the traditional music and instruments of the British Isles effect me so deeply. I suppose it doesn't really matter, some reactions are so visceral that they defy explanation.

What about you guys? Does music speak to your emotions too? Is there a particular type of music that moves you more than others?
posted by GodlessMom, 6:06 AM | link | 15 comments |

Monday, June 27, 2005

H2? F U!!

Warning: Rant ahead...Proceed at own risk.

It seems to me that years from now historians will look back on the Iraq war and freely discuss the fact that oil had a lot to do with the Bush administration's decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power. You can talk about WMDs and ties to terrorism all you want, you can paint the war in the noble colors of freedom and democracy but the fact is the people who make up the Bush administration have had their eye on the prize beneath the Iraqi soil for a long time. Now I'm not so cynical that I believe oil was their only motivation, but I honestly feel that we are pulling the wool over our eyes if we refuse to acknowledge the role black gold has played in the current situation.

Now, I hate those stupid "Support Our Troops" car magnets that people put on the ass end of their vehicles and I become particularly annoyed when I see such ribbons on gas-guzzling SUVs. (If we really wanted to support our troops, we would do everything in our power to dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign oil thereby eliminating the need to attack other countries in order to gain control of the stuff.) So, you can imagine the indignant tirade I went into when this vehicle pulled out in front of me on my way home from the grocery store this weekend.

But that's not the worst of it...This is what the vehicle looked like from the side.

It's a freaking stretch Hummer! I have only one thing to say to anyone who could be so glib as to put a "Support Our Troops" magnet on such a vehicle. YOU SIR, ARE A MONUMENTAL ASS!!
posted by GodlessMom, 6:08 AM | link | 20 comments |

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Books for Little Brains

I have discovered the most wonderful series of children's books.

It is the Let's Read and Find Out Science series.

These books cover just about every subject a child could possibly have an interest in. With titles like From Caterpillar to Butterfly, Let's Go Rock Collecting, The Moon Seems to Change, A Nest Full of Eggs and The Skeleton Inside You the series is packed with information in a fun and easily understood format.

I can't tell you how many hours Scott and I have spent reading these books with Liz. She just eats them up! She vastly prefers a book from this series for a bedtime story over just about anything else on the shelves.

There are literally dozens if not hundreds of books in this series and I wish I had the shelf space for every one of them. If you have little ones in your life you might want to check them out!

I most likely won't be posting the rest of the weekend. Scott has been out of town on business for the better part of three weeks and he finally got home last night. My family is together again and I'm going to make the most of every second. I'll check back with everyone on Monday!
posted by GodlessMom, 6:37 AM | link | 8 comments |

Friday, June 24, 2005

Knowing When to Say When

I have a little white fluffy dog named Echo. Over the years I've had many pets and I've loved every one of them but Echo is that special one who is actually in possession of my heart.

Echo came into my life before I'd actually hit legal drinking age in October of 1990. That October was a big month for me, I independently bought my first new car (a Ford Festiva) and I came in possession of a white, squirming, newborn puppy. I've gone through four cars in the ensuing years but almost 15 years later, I still have Echo.

I worked at a veterinary hospital in Salt Lake City and came on to my shift late one afternoon. A female dog had been brought into the clinic, she was in the middle of whelping a litter of three pups. She was a very high strung animal, and wasn't doing a very good job of taking care of the pups. The first pup had died and the second was wounded beyond help, the third was Echo. Echo was born at the clinic and I promptly became her mother.

If you've never hand-raised a pup or a kitten let me tell you it is hard work. They must be fed every two hours round the clock, they cannot urinate or defecate on their own at first and require stimulation from you to help them along, their body temperature is always on the move and you must be constantly vigilant to ensure proper environmental temperature. It is hard work, but completely worth the effort. The result is an animal who is so completely bonded with you and so thoroughly convinced that it is human that it is impossible to see the animal as a pet. Instead, you have a new human family member who just happens to walk on all fours and drool a bit.

Echo has been with me through the entire period of my life where I officially became an adult. We have lived in cockroach infested apartments together because the nice places didn't take pets, she has lived off of Ramen noodles with me when I had to spend grocery money on text books, she has nursed me through partying hangovers and accompanied me on numerous adventures into the wilds of the American west. She adjusted with good-natured patience to my first bringing home an adult male human to live with us and with equal good-natured patience when I brought home an infant female human.

My Echo is old now, she spends most of the day sleeping and rarely interacts with the family. Her muscle mass is gone now and she is boney and thin despite a hearty appetite. Her hearing is all but gone (although she does respond when I yell) and as of two weeks ago her vision is gone too.

In my former career as a vet tech part of my job over the years was to euthanize animals who were sickly or injured, old and infirm. I never took this responsibility lightly and my heart always ached for both the animals and the owners but I knew that my actions were for the best.

But how will I know when it is time for me to take that step with Echo? How can I possibly look at her with the kind of remote detachment necessary to make that decision? The tail still wags and the tongue still licks despite the fact that she bumps into walls and gets lost in her own backyard. It's just too painful. I don't think I'll know when to say when.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:44 AM | link | 14 comments |

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Thing Under the Bed

Liz has an entire menagerie of imaginary friends.

Let's see...There is Carver, a pumpkin who lives by the side of the bed and likes pepperoni on his pizza. Gina, who lives in the bedroom closet and sleeps most of the day, she is nocturnal. Juda, she is a witch who lives in the bathroom upstairs and cooks stinky food (don't ask, I have no good explanation for this.)

There are also many other friends that come and go as she plays throughout the day. She talks to them, makes up elaborate stories about them and generally includes them in her everyday activities.

I love her imagination, it is so much fun to just watch and see what she will come up with next!

I keep a motherhood journal that I update regularly,I started writing it when Liz was 3 weeks old. In it I write brief descriptions of her progress, accomplishments and adventures and my feelings, trials and triumphs. I'm definitely going to have to write a page or two about these imaginary buddies.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:14 AM | link | 12 comments |

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Because Cleanliness is next to Godlessness...oops, Godliness.

Okay, I'm a housewife so occasionally I have to wax rhapsodic about something that makes my job easier.

Today's topic? The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

This is a small, white, rectangular product with the feel of a dense sponge.

The eraser can be used to remove marks and stains that would otherwise taunt you with their invincibility.

Things it CAN do:
Remove crayon and marker smudges off almost any surface, clean the old red wine/coffee stains out of the tile grout, scrub the black marks that materialize on any white porcelain sink. Really, the uses are too numerous to list here.

Things it CAN'T do:
Remove the hard water deposits on the glass shower door or the hard water ring around the inside of the toilet bowl. Bummer, I have yet to find anything that really works on those problems.

This is a truly remarkable product. I have used it to remove those smudges and marks that always appear and are nearly impossible to get rid of. I only have one problem with this product...Where does the dirt go? I'm convinced that somewhere in an alternate dimension there is another GodlessMom who is scrubbing away with a normal sponge when suddenly new smudges appear out of nowhere. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser has conquered the problem of smudge dimension travel! It's a little creepy.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:33 AM | link | 14 comments |

For what it's worth, memos on my mind.

I have written, re-written, edited and deleted this post so many times that I'm just about to the point of giving up. This is important to me though, so if you would bear with me I'd like to try and make some sense of the thoughts running through my head. They are not fully formed thoughts, they are the opaque, gelatinous thoughts that really need to cook a while longer before venturing out of my brain. However, my cranium seems to have gone into premature labor and these babies are determined to come out. So here goes.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I am a left-leaning liberal who hates George Bush, so lest you think that this is merely another GodlessMom rant (yes, I know I am prone) let me state for the record that this post is not motivated by bloodlust but by a sincere desire to know once and for all, the truth.

I love this country so much. It is my home, it holds the memories of all the things I carry in the deepest parts of my heart. When I close my eyes and picture the most beautiful things I have ever seen, I picture first my child and then the land in which I live. However, my love does not stop at the borders of this nation. I love this entire planet in all it's variety and majesty, I love our species and the other life that crawls and grows on the face of this beautiful rock. I want nothing more than for humanity to live up to it's full potential, to live in peace with each other and in harmony with Earth. As an atheist I believe this existence is all I have, this planet and this life are my heaven so it is vitally important to me that I try to do my part to bring us closer to that harmony. Right now, because of global issues I feel that this harmony I so desire has completely slipped beyond our grasp, it is a helpless and disheartening feeling.

I know there are things worth fighting for and I fully agree that the hungry and oppressed need to be assisted by those who are more fortunate. I am not so lost in my liberalism that I cannot acknowledge that some good has come out of Iraq. I'm also not so blind as to think that the scene there is all roses and success. Too many people on all sides of this conflict have suffered and died and now an increasing amount of evidence seems to show that our leaders and the leaders of our closest ally intentionally mislead us into an unnecessary war.

Things are rarely black and white, but in the approach to war in Iraq there were many options available to the citizens of the world. The Bush administration chose the route of war and the confusion in Iraq is the result. People are dying there, right now as I type this. If they are dying because of intentional lies, the administration needs to be held accountable.

I believe that in order to find the truth we need a full, independent investigation. If the administration is innocent of the charges, I will be the first to apologize but this issue is too important to just sweep away. However, those of us who dislike this administration need to truly try to keep emotion in check. This cannot be approached with passionate anger that runs amuck, that sort of thing results in flawed logic and conclusions based on emotion not fact. This cannot be about liberals trying to impeach Bush, this needs to be about Americans seeking the truth.

Doug at cyberpols has posted an excellent list of links relating to this subject.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:54 AM | link | 19 comments |

Monday, June 20, 2005

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Occasionally my Liz says something that is just too cute for words. She just cut loose with a gem that I had to share.

She went into her room for a moment and when she reappeared she was wearing her princess tiara and holding three of those hard rubber bouncy balls (the kind we used to use when we played jacks.)

When I asked her what she was doing she replied, "I'm a princess and I've got BALLS!"

You go girl!!!
posted by GodlessMom, 6:34 PM | link | 7 comments |

The one I'm afraid to put on my car.

I don't want to display this one on my car for fear I will go into the grocery store and come out to a long key scratch down the side.

Lazy Iguana has a truly cool sticker collection. If you haven't already seen them you should check them out!
posted by GodlessMom, 5:29 AM | link | 12 comments |

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the great men out there!

I meant to post my other bumper sticker today but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I hope everyone has a wonderful day!
posted by GodlessMom, 3:12 PM | link | 7 comments |

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My Passive-Aggressive Bumper Sticker

This is my bumper sticker. Folks around here seem to think FW stands for Fort Worth. It doesn't.

posted by GodlessMom, 6:47 AM | link | 19 comments |

Friday, June 17, 2005

Leche de la madre

I'm a big fan of breastfeeding. I actually get a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I see a mother and her infant assume the position.

The benefits are too many to list, but my favorite benefit is the fact that there is no cooking involved. I hate cooking. Anything that involves dirty dishes or heating stuff up qualifies as cooking, therefore in my mind baby bottles and formula fall into this category.

When I was brand new at this motherhood thing and Liz was an infant we were the breastfeeding dynamic duo! What a team! It didn't come easily, it took us a couple of months to really reach professional level skills, but once we were there? Watch out! We could be in the middle of the mall, the middle of a restaurant, sitting at a baseball game or on a plane over Denver and if Liz got hungry? Instant lunch!

Now, I understand that there are certain aspects of breastfeeding that some people may find offensive of objectionable. We live in a puritanical society when it comes to certain subjects and for whatever reason there are segments of the population that feel mothers should hide themselves when their child needs to eat. Now, I'm not saying all moms should be out there waving it around. I'm all for surreptitious breastfeeding if you can manage it, but quite frankly once your baby reaches the age where he/she wants too look around the room while eating there is very little you can do to keep yourself modestly covered. Breastfeeding mothers need to be allowed the same freedom to feed their child that bottle feeding mothers are given. Don't send them to the corner or worse, into the bathroom! It is hard enough as a mother to get over the hesitancy to whip it out in public without the disapproving stares of the populace added to the mix.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:34 AM | link | 18 comments |

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Conflicting messages and young minds

I have a very dear friend here in Houston named Stephanie. We met at an educational group for first time mothers shortly after Liz was born. She has a son named Robby who is two weeks younger than my Liz, the two of them are fast friends and regularly play themselves into giggling exhaustion.

Robby loves dinosaurs, he talks about them all the time and devours information on them.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science (one of my favorite places) has a summer series of classes for youngsters on various subjects. When Stephanie found out about them she immediately enrolled Robby in the dinosaur class. The class focuses on paleontology, fossil excavation, the scientific stuff all put into a format that is fun and interesting for four year olds.

Sounds great, right?

Stephanie has run into a bit of a conflict, her husband Todd. Todd is a good man and a great father so this isn't meant as an insult to him but he is sending his child some seriously mixed messages. Todd is a hard-core fundamentalist Christian, he believes the world is only 10 thousand years old, he believes dinosaurs and humans walked the planet at the same time and he believes that the dinosaurs were wiped out in the Noah's Ark flood. He is an intelligent man, so I'm sure he has given a great deal of thought to these ideas, but let's face it...It isn't exactly main stream thinking.

Todd tells these things to Robby who then goes to his museum class where he is given very different information. Robby, who is trying to absorb as much dinosaur data as possible, gets confused.

Stephanie asked me what she should do. Not being the most tolerant person when it comes to extreme religious ideas (I know...Character flaw.), I took the fifth. What do you guys think? What should she do?
posted by GodlessMom, 6:04 AM | link | 9 comments |

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Racial Integration in America

I'm a white chick from Utah.

In case you've never been to Utah, let me paint you a picture. According to the US Census Bureau Utah is almost 90% white, the other ten percent consists of a sprinkling of pretty much every other race but overall Utah is a very pale state. Growing up I knew exactly two black people, a handful of Natives, three people of Asian decent and a Hispanic family. I was exposed to very little racism because, quite frankly, there was no one around to be racist against. Racism was something I learned about in school, on TV and from eavesdropping on adult conversation. It was more a concept to me than an actual social problem.

I first encountered hard-core racism in the person of a bitter old veterinarian after Scott and I moved to Phoenix in 1993. I had the extreme misfortune of being employed by this man and had to endure his bitter diatribes every time a client would come in who was not lily white. I only worked at his hospital for 2 months, but the experience opened my eyes to the kind of hatred that some people could hold in their hearts for no apparent reason.

When I first learned that I would be moving from Phoenix to Houston, I was really excited. I figured I would be living in a fully integrated city, a city that had been so racially mixed for so long that race would be a non-issue. Boy was I naive.

Houston is a very racially mixed city but despite the fact that there are people of all rainbow shades, there is very little mixing among the groups. White people stick with white people, black people stick with black people, Asian people stick with Asians. I think there is more integration among the Hispanic population here than in any other group, but there is still a definite line that is seldom crossed. These are just my personal observations, if Scott or HP happen to read this post, they may have another take on race in Houston and I'd be very interested in hearing it.

So, I have a question for all of you out there in bloggerland. What is the state of racial integration where you live? Do you personally experience racism on a daily basis, either as an observer or worse, as a victim? What do you see as the major problems in race relations among our citizens?
posted by GodlessMom, 6:02 AM | link | 18 comments |

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Purple martins and our backyard adventure

We have the most wonderful purple martin house in our backyard. I bought it off of eBay in February and we've had so much fun watching the martins come choose our house to raise their families.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed a small bird on the grass below the birdhouse. At first I thought it was a sparrow, but upon closer look I realized it was one of the baby martins. Under normal circumstances I would simply put the baby back into the nest and there would be no problems. Unfortunately there are twelve nests in my birdhouse and I didn't know which one my little guy called home.

Fortunately for me the pole on which the house sits telescopes, making access to the nest boxes quite simple. Liz and I pulled the house down and had a look-see in an attempt to figure out in which box the foundling belonged.

My goodness the work all of the martins have done to make the house cozy and secure for their little ones! Each nest box was lined with pine needles and twigs, held together with dollops of mud and lined with leaves. In one box there was a clutch of at least 10 eggs! Most of the other boxes had two or three nestlings but all of them much smaller than my little wayward dude. We finally found a box with two nestlings approximately the same size as our friend and figured he must have come from there. We placed him in the box, set the house back up on top of the pole and went inside to spy from the window.

Sure enough, within a minute the martins had all come back to check on their little ones. The pair that live in the box in question came back with their beaks full of bugs, fed the babies within and took off to do some more hunting. Apparently we found the right nest box!

I love being able to share this sort of experience with my little girl, her eyes get so bright with curiosity and pleasure, she almost vibrates with excitement!

If you live in an area that falls within the migratory path of the purple martin and have not already done so, I highly recommend putting up a house for these remarkable little birds. They provide hours of entertainment, eat TONS of bugs and have a beautiful, trilling song.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:03 AM | link | 7 comments |

Monday, June 13, 2005

In search of the perfect floor plan

Not a very interesting post to anyone but myself, but here it is.

I love looking at floor plans. In fact it is one of my favorite leisure activities.

I'm not the only one who enjoys this past time. In fact, I think it might be a genetic thing. I can't count the hours I've spent sitting at the kitchen table with my mom and dad, each of us with a book of floor plans to peruse. My sister also enjoys the past time and possesses her own mini library of floor plan books (her particular interest is log cabin homes.)

Now that there are many home planning sites on the web, I can spend hours pouring over plans without ever having to turn a page! In fact, my daughter seems to be in the process of developing the same interest. She will sit for quite a while asking me which room is her bedroom!

Despite the amount of time I've put into searching, I have yet to find the perfect floor plan for me and my family. Here is a list of my criteria. I think I'm going to have to design it myself. That will be fun too!

1.) I want a one story. My parents and my elderly dog have problems with stairs.
2.) I need a bedroom next to the Master bedroom. Sometimes Liz gets scared at night, I don't want her to feel like she is completely isolated from the rest of the family.
3.) I don't need a formal living room nor a formal dining room. I'm not a formal person and those two rooms are just wasted space in my house. I do however want a non-formal dining space that is big enough for an 8 person table. I like to have my family over for dinner.
4.) Scott needs a special area of his own. An office with a 1/2 bath and a room large enough to accommodate his big screen TV.
5.) I would like a laundry room that would be large enough to leave the ironing board up, have enough space for a couple of good sized dog crates and the cat litter box and a large counter for folding clothes.
6.) I would like the entire thing to be under 2500 sq ft and I want it powered by the sun and the wind.

That is my list. I'm still searching. When I find it, I'm going to build it on Orcas Island...I hope.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:46 AM | link | 9 comments |

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sexual dimorphism in the human species. Or not.

I am fascinated by the incredible diversity of the human species. From the obvious physical differences to the less obvious emotional and intellectual differences, I love to ponder and wonder about what makes our species tick.

One of my favorite things to do is mull over the differences between the two most basic components of homo sapiens sapiens, the male and the female.

One thing I have noticed which peaks my curiosity yet leaves me grasping for a reason is the male propensity to hoard music. From high school on, almost every male I know has been in the process of putting together an obscenely extensive CD collection. Now that we can download music and carry our favorites on our Ipods, putting together a voluminous collection is even easier.

Now, of course there are women who also have huge collections. I'm not stating that this is an obsession that is completely limited to the males of our species, just that it seems to be much more common in males than in females.

Music speaks to the souls of both sexes. There are just as many female virtuosi as male. We are all likely to turn to a favorite piece when in a certain mood. It seems that musically we are equal in all ways, some of us are more talented than others but it doesn't seem to have any relation to our sex.

So what is the reason for this behavior? Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?
posted by GodlessMom, 11:02 AM | link | 6 comments |

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Welcome to Texas, check your humanity at the door.

Our esteemed governor is a complete ass.

posted by GodlessMom, 10:14 AM | link | 11 comments |

Friday, June 10, 2005

I am Jane's fomenting anxiety.

Boy, what a week! My sister Jane had planned to drive from Denver with her husband to pick up a piece of furniture that my mother and father had given her. The piece is sitting in my garage along with all the other crap my family has hoarded over the years.

She was supposed to arrive Wednesday evening. At 1:30 Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from her. She had obviously been crying. She told me that she and her husband had been fighting and that they weren't coming to Houston after all. I asked her where she was, she told me she was less than 20 miles from my house. She had driven all the way from Denver to within 20 miles of my home just to turn around and go back.

I didn't know exactly what to say. My mind started running over all the work I had done over the course of the week to prepare for her visit and all the money I had spent on extra food but I put these rather uncharitable thoughts away. I asked her to be careful on the return trip, to call me when she got back to Denver and let me know she had arrived safely. We hung up.

One hour later she called again. She told me she was coming to my home for a short visit then she would go back to Denver. Okay, so I put away the laundry I had been doing and made some iced tea.

They arrived at 3:00 and we actually had a nice visit. My brother in law and I had a good talk and some hearty laughs. I thanked him for all the support he has given Jane during her chemotherapy and I told him I was impressed by his progress in kicking drugs. I had been a bit nervous about our meeting and I could tell that he too was nervous at the beginning but we moved beyond it quickly and were soon talking like family.

My sister on the other hand seemed distant and distracted. I could tell that she was nervous but I couldn't tell why. I asked her what she wanted me to tell our parents about her change in plans, she started crying and told me that she was afraid to tell my mom that she didn't want the piece of furniture that she had ostensibly driven from Denver to pick up out of my garage. Apparently she had found another piece in Denver that she liked better and no longer wanted the piece my parents had offered. Now, my mom is a kind and reasonable person. The fact that my sister was stressed about telling Mom that she no longer wanted the silly furniture is ridiculous because quite honestly my mom doesn't care one way or another. However, Jane had herself tied in knots about the whole thing. I thought it was weird but I later found out I had just begun to scratch the surface of the weird stuff going on in my sister's mind.

At 8:00 they left and went to my parents house for another "quick visit" before their return trip to Denver. I breathed a sigh of relief after they said goodbye, I love my sister very much, but she confuses me, I'm always walking on egg shells for fear I'll say something that offends, as a result I was glad to see them go. I figured I could get back to business as usual. No such luck.

The next morning Liz and I were out in the backyard having a water fight and kicking around a big beach ball when Jane called from a local hotel. She and her husband had stayed at my parents house until after midnight and rather than start driving back to Denver immediately they had decided to get some sleep. Well, I guess she had a change of heart during the night and she asked if she could come back to my home and go ahead with the original plan.

I tried to put a smile in my voice and I told her that I would love for her to come back. They arrived soon after and we were actually able to talk for a bit. She admitted to making a mountain out of a mole hill where the furniture was concerned and then she admitted the other cause of the stress she was feeling. She said that she was nervous that my parents and I wouldn't accept her and her husband as a couple again after the falling out we had over his drug addiction. Now, this is a normal reaction and completely understandable. She wasn't the only one who was apprehensive about the meeting. However, I had expressed to both her and her husband on numerous occasions that I wanted to try and work things out and put all of this behind us. My parents have done the same. I told her that I wished she had talked to me instead of keeping this bottled up inside, it would have made it much easier on all of us

She then went on to tell us how hurt her husband had been by the rejection of our family almost two years ago and how many of the words I had said still ate at him. I told her that I am impressed with the progress he has made and I am grateful to him for all the help he has given her over the course of her cancer treatment but I have no intention of apologizing for the things I said. I feel like they were justified and I feel that he needed to hear them. She looked rather shocked when I told her that I wouldn't apologize, but I don't think I have anything to apologize for and I won't play that game just to appease him.

I can be a curt and abbrasive in my dealings with my sister. I've found that I have to be very blunt with her in order to get her to really listen to my feelings. If I try to sugar coat things in an attempt to avoid hurting her feelings she frequently misses the points I try to make. I'm sure that this may have something to do with why she is hesitant to discuss things with me and why she was afraid of my reaction to her husband. I need to try and find a way to be blunt without seeming heartless. My sister is fragile and I don't want to hurt her or add to her stress level. I have a lot to learn.

In the end everything was fine but what a strange beginning.

They are gone now, Scott is back from his NYC business trip and Liz is peacefully asleep upstairs. All is right with the world and my garage is still filled with my family's crap.
posted by GodlessMom, 7:25 PM | link | 10 comments |

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Familial Duties and Conflict

My sister Jane and her husband will be arriving for a visit from Denver tonight so my posts may be hit and miss over the next few days.

Jane's immune system is out of whack due to her chemotherapy treatments so I've spent the last few days spraying all non-porous surfaces with Lysol and wiping everything down with Clorox (see post below regarding my deficiencies in this arena.) Right now Liz and I are both healthy and Scott is in NYC on business so hopefully Jane won't catch anything while she is here.

This will be the first time I have had a face to face meeting with my brother in law since my sister left him temporarily due to his drug addiction. We had quite a falling out before he went into recovery and although we have had a couple of heart to heart discussions over the phone since then I'm sure that seeing him in person will be a little uncomfortable for both of us.

He has been sober for almost 19 months now and my sister honestly seems much happier than she ever has before. He has stuck by her and supported her through her cancer diagnosis and treatment and has managed to stay away from drugs too...Not an easy thing for anyone to do. So, he gets a second chance from me. He deserves it. I just hope that he will also give me a second chance, for Jane's sake.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:51 AM | link | 7 comments |

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here

I am a horrible housekeeper.

I can fake it when I must, but honestly I just don't know how people do it!

I never thought I would be a stay at home mom. My mother always worked, and it never occurred to me that I actually might go through a period of my life where I didn't have an official job. I'm not complaining, I'm so grateful to Scott for all the hard work he puts in which allows me to stay home with Liz. But honestly, I'm clueless when it comes to housework.

I think part of my problem is the fact that I'm not a linear thinker. I will get halfway through loading the dishwasher when I realize that the bathroom mirror has spots. I'll be cleaning those spots off the mirror when it occurs to me that the cat box needs new litter. The result? A whole house full of half-finished work. It is really frustrating.

You know the saying "Everything is bigger in Texas?" Well, that is definitely the case when it comes to houses in the Houston suburbs. Scott and I moved from a 1300 sq ft house in Phoenix to a 3500 sq ft house in Houston. Why in the world we need four toilets for a family with only three butts is beyond me, but we were enamored with the big houses and the buyers market when we moved here and so 3500 sq ft is what I have to contend with.

I know people in my neighborhood who have houses even larger than my own who manage to keep them clean and presentable all the time. How do people do this? I just don't get it. Do they ignore their children? Do they never read the news? Do they skip trips to the zoo in favor of cleaning the shower? I know they must have some sort of system but I'll be damned if I can figure out a system of my own.

I've gone through periods of time when I managed to maintain the house in a state of organized cleanliness but when I'm in that zone I don't like myself very much. I follow my child around like some obsessive housework fascist making her pick up every toy as soon as she sets it down and I discourage every activity which might result in a mess. When my husband comes home from work he runs the risk of enraging a banshee should he drop his socks in the middle of the living room.

I know there is a happy medium in there somewhere. A place between chaos and fascist banshee but try as I might I have yet to find it.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:52 AM | link | 11 comments |

Monday, June 06, 2005

Kicking Ass and Taking Names

I'm trying to remember when women in pop culture became kick-ass strong.

As a child I remember watching Linda Carter doing the Wonder Woman thing, although her version of ass kicking was rather tame and downright comical by today's standards. There was Erin Grey as Col. Wilma Deering in the Buck Rogers series, but she always needed someone to save her butt when things got really tough. Princess Leia was cool, and while she was handy with a blaster most of her role was administration and command.

I think it was the summer of 1986 when Sigourney Weaver brought us Ripley for the second time around in Aliens. Brave, intelligent, level-headed and buff yet still very much a female. There were no excuses made for her strength, she wasn't an Amazon or genetically modified. She was just an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances and she rose to the occasion and opened up a can of whupass!

Every since then we have had a string of physically, mentally and emotionally strong female lead characters. Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow and Milla Jovovitch as video game heroine Alice to name just a few. The Disney Channel even has Kim Possible, a kid's cartoon version of the same type of character.

Now, here is where my thoughts have taken me. Are these pop culture characters a good type of fictional role model for our young girls? I'm on the fence with this one. On the one hand they are independent and rely on their wits and personal strength to get themselves and those for whom they are responsible out of sticky situations. How can that be a bad thing? On the other hand these women very definitely rely on warfare, weapons and slaughter to achieve their goals. This is not something that I want my little girl thinking is okay or admirable.

I grew up in a time when toy guns were as common as Barbie and cops and robbers was a staple in every child's play repertoire. I can't count how many times I "shot" one of my friends with a toy gun, yet I didn't grow up to be gun totin' she devil. In fact I rather fear guns and have no desire to ever own one, let alone shoot one. My point being that just because a child sees violence on TV and takes part in pretend violence in play doesn't mean that they will grow up and continue that behavior into adulthood. Most of us learn the difference between entertainment and reality at a young age.

I guess the most important thing I can do is try to be the best role model I possibly can be, try to live life honorably and honestly, without using wooden stakes, crossbows or flame-throwers to defeat my foes. Hopefully by the time Liz is old enough to watch this sort of pop culture heroine the values of peace and understanding will be a larger part of her heart than any desire to blow things up.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:45 AM | link | 9 comments |

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Hobbits and Carmen Miranda

We have a fun day ahead of us.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science has the exhibit from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy today. They started showing at 12:01 last night, we have tickets for 9:00 am. Scott, Liz and I will be grabbing a bite for breakfast then heading down that way.

But even more fun than that? Tonight is the first time my little Liz will ever dance on stage! It is recital night! I'm going to be one of the backstage moms who help with costume changes and keep the little ones quiet while the big girls dance. Scott and the grandparents will be sitting in the audience, cameras in hand. The class will do two numbers, the first one is a ballet routine where they dress like little poodles. The second is a tap routine with little Carmen Miranda costumes. So cute!

I'm really excited about this, I'm sure it will be totally chaotic but it will be fun too! I'm a little worried about the timing. Liz normally goes to sleep every night around 7:30, the recital doesn't start until 7:00. I'm hoping I can get a nap out of her today but at this point napping is a difficult thing for her to do. We'll see!
posted by GodlessMom, 5:01 AM | link | 8 comments |

Friday, June 03, 2005

Tell me again?

Warning....Rant alert.

Now, I'm not a historian nor am I a Middle Eastern scholar. I claim no expertise on either subject. However, I have a question that I'd like answered. Perhaps you can help me understand something.

The last few days have seen some disturbing news coming out of Afghanistan. Remember Afghanistan? The Taliban government there supported Al-Qaeda so after 9/11 we relieved them of their governing responsibilities? Well, the Taliban has regrouped and they are staging Iraq type offensives against the current government and US/NATO forces. Suicide bombing in Qandahar, roadside attacks, an offensive in Kabul by Taliban against US forces. It sounds very much like what our troops in Iraq are up against.

It seems that Afghanistan could have been the very seed of democracy and freedom in the middle east had we taken the time and expended the effort and money necessary to make it a viable country. Had we taken all the money that has been wasted in Iraq and instead spent it on infrastructure, education, economic development and stability in Afghanistan doesn't it stand to reason that it would be thriving and well on it's way to setting an example for democracy in the middle east?

Instead, the Taliban is back and making itself known, drug crops are supplying terrorist organizations with money, children still can't play in fields for fear of landmines and although some progress has been made in educating girls, women are not that much better off than they were under the Taliban government. And we still don't have Bin Laden in custody.

It seems to me that had the strength of the US military not been focused elsewhere, Afghanistan might have stood a chance to actually grow and thrive under a government elected by her people. Right now it seems that she is starting to weaken under our neglect.

So, can someone tell me again why we went into Iraq?

I know that we were told about WMD and links to Al-Qaeda, we know now that those claims were BS.

I know we were told about Hussein and his atrocious acts, no one denies that he was a horrific ruler. I'm all for the US using it's might for humanitarian missions in conjunction with the other nations on the planet. However, we were less than two years from the worst attack ever on our homeland and we were fighting a war, it doesn't seem like that is the best time to devote the majority of our military power to a humanitarian mission without the support of the rest of the world.

We've also been told that we are there in support of democracy and freedom. If that is true, what about the people of Afghanistan?

I don't get it.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:53 AM | link | 11 comments |

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Personality quirks

Have you ever met someone who immediately felt like a dear old friend, or someone whom you instantly dislike?

Two years ago a couple moved into the house two doors down from us. I was thrilled when I learned that they have two young daughters, the oldest is now six and the youngest is four, just two months younger than my Liz. I thought it would be so wonderful for Liz to have a playmate so close to her age living nearby!

Well, the family is wonderful and we have become good friends. They are they type of people you know you can count on in a pinch and they are always good for a laugh. The weird thing though? Liz and the youngest daughter do not get along at all!

Liz has a myriad of friends with whom she plays very well, and the same thing can be said of our little neighbor. Neither girl is at fault, they are both sweet tempered and intelligent, they both love to play. Yet for some reason these two are like oil and water. They both make the attempt, one will approach the other and for a few minutes everything is fine. Then, one will disagree with the other over some trivial thing and all hell breaks loose.

They do better together if they are on neutral ground but even then their play is good for ten minutes at best. When there are other neighborhood children present, they both go their separate ways and never even look at each other. I think it is safe to assume that they could go the rest of their lives without ever seeing each other again and neither one would care.

Yesterday on the news I saw a report regarding the changes that occur in the brain when you fall in love. It was an interesting scientific look at those intense feelings we experience at the beginning of a romantic relationship. I can't help but wonder if the whole personal chemistry thing extends further than the obvious love emotions and into our everyday interactions. Is there some sort of basic chemical/biological reason Liz and the girl next door just don't click or am I overlooking something more basic and obvious as the cause of their dysfunction?

Hmmm, they haven't ripped each other's heads off yet. Perhaps I worry for naught.
posted by GodlessMom, 5:41 AM | link | 4 comments |

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I Love a Rainy Night

Boy do we have a storm coming in!

The rain here in Houston is amazing. The storms roll in with such force that at times you can almost feel the static charge in the air. They are usually accompanied by huge lightening shows and a constant rumble of thunder. Occasionally you will experience one of those ultra close lightening strikes that white-out your entire view and smash you on the head with a sound so loud your eardrums want to start leaking. It sends my dog whimpering into her crate while Liz and I sit at the window and watch.

You know the kind of rain you see in movies? The kind that comes down in sheets and soaks everything within seconds? That is the kind of rain that falls from the sky here, and it doesn't just do it for a few minutes at a time. It can go on for hours.

We are situated in such a manner that wild weather is common. We get hurricanes off the gulf, we are at the southern most end of tornado alley so we get those too (although they aren't common), we are in a perfect spot for the jet stream to pick up a bunch of Gulf moisture and just dump at will. When I first moved here I thought it would basically be hot and humid (which it is.) I just never thought I would get to see such shows!

I love this planet! It is so cool!
posted by GodlessMom, 5:58 AM | link | 6 comments |