Monday, December 29, 2008
We took our first family picture since Elle was a baby. That one never made it to the wall. Aunt Alysa took us on a photo shoot on First Street and got this one. We tweaked it a little in Photoshop to give Michael and I better expressions, but the kids are all natural. Aren't we Super Cute!?!?! We gave a copy to the Grandmas for Christmas. The outfit choice was a last minute afterthought on my part. It's a complete accident that we all look so color coordinated. This one I'm going to have printed in a 11x14 for the living room wall.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I have several posts in the works that I am going to backdate once I have them done so please stay tuned! In the meantime let share a quip about Elle.
I had worn my wedding ring to church. It really shouldn't be something mentionable and that's got a story too. First the background. A couple weeks after Ethan was born we were going to take family pictures. I wanted to wear my wedding ring for the picture and against my better judgment and swollen fingers I forced it on over the knuckle.
No sooner than it was on did I realize my mistake. The nature of arteries and veins is such that blood will flow into, but not out of a digit that has compression around it. My finger began to swell. I tried soap, butter, oil but soon I realized that as my finger was swelling that if the ring was forced off the same way, much of my skin would come with it. I wanted to call the fire department. Michael thought he could handle it himself and got his dremel out. The dremel didn't cut but rather heated up the metal. So I sat with a glass of ice water and when I couldn't take the searing heat from the dremel to gold friction I doused my finger in the water. The ring was not cutting and my finger was starting to turn purple.
Michael finally relented and let me call 911. Two firefighters showed up in their little paddy-wagon with a tool specifically designed for cutting off rings. It looked very similar to a can opener. The firefighters got my ring off, but I still have a scar from Michael's failed attempt with the dremel.
So back to the story about Elle. She noticed my ring and was fascinated by it. I also showed her where my scar tissue was all red and irritated from wearing it. The next morning she came into the bathroom while I was in various stages of getting ready for the day, crying and panicked. She put a washer onto her finger like a ring and it was starting to swell. She had slipped it on and could not get it off. I had flashes back to my own ring being cut off. Only this washer ring was 1/2 inch from her finger to the outside edge and about a 1/16 inch thick.
Michael ran to the garage and got a pair of snipers and tried to cut through this metal washer. The first time he placed the snipers over it he got part of her skin caught in. AUGH, NOOOOO!!! He hadn't put his contacts in yet. I helped him place the snipers over the washer and avoid her skin. He pushed the handles together with all of his might. Michael is a very VERY strong man. I imagine this strength is heightened under duress. Though he heaved against the metal it would not cut.
Rather than waste precious time with possible injury in a do-it-yourself gone wrong I ran to get the phone and call the fire department and save my daughter both her finger and any scars. Michael tried the washer again and it slipped off her finger. Strange. It didn't look like the snipers budged it at all. Coming off an adrenaline rush ...not my favorite way to start the morning. Thankfully, though, it was with happy fingers.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Lucie and I grew up together riding bikes, pretending we were mermaids and playing together in my doll house. Even as we got older and outgrew so many happy childhood pastimes we still spent time together. She and our friend Megan came with my family on vacation to places like the R-Ranch and Clearlake. We cheered for the loosing car at the races, shouting "GO 71!" each time the car would lap. Megan moved away to Texas, so Lucie and I flew out one summer to visit her for two or three weeks. Little did I know that that would be the start of Lucie's world travels. I couldn't even begin to name all the places that she's been, but I know for sure she lived in Alaska canning fish and went to an Eastern country as a teacher. Japan or Taiwan. I'm not sure.
After I got married I tried to interest her in Michael's best friend growing up. Seeing her now with her husband Daniel, I'm so glad she waited for the RIGHT one. They are so perfect together. Cut from the same cloth, if you will. He's been all over the world, too. I'm sure that their world travels will continue, only together now. While I know that's not the only thing that makes them perfect for one another, I still don't know Daniel that well yet. Despite not knowing the specifics, I can still see and feel the wonderful balance they are together. I feel so much joy for my dear friend, seeing them flow so effortlessly together. Looking so beautiful on her wedding day, she reminds me of Anne of Green Gables; pretty on any other day, but today outshining all the rest with grace and elegance.
I had to take Garrett with me since he is still nursing. My mother was going to watch him for me in the lobby while I went to the sealing ceremony. Since I already had a babysitter I decided to take Elle with me so that she could see a REAL princess. Every girl is a princess, being a spirit daughter of Heavenly Father, the King. Unfortunately not every princess knows she is one. For those who do recognize and honor their royal lineage I want to give them special attention in the eyes of my daughter. To be in the house of the King dressed as a princess on your wedding day...well, that comes after years of behaving like one.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Much to my chagrin the floor of the front room was thoroughly covered in toys, random socks & shoes, books and other kiddie paraphernalia. Oh, well... so much for keeping up appearances.
Jerry and the kids played on the front room swing. I'm not sure how to turn the video sideways so you'll have to forgive any crinks in your neck. What a FUN surprise!!!!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
At first Elle wasn't too sure about the nail polish. Just like with the tiger make-up I did it first to show her it didn't hurt. Kristi brought three kinds of polish. Pink, sparkly purple and dark red. I figured Elle would pick the purple one since it was sparkly AND her favorite color. I had my nails done in the purple. Elle surprised me and wanted the dark red like Aunt Kristi was wearing. I showed her how to let her hands dry on the table and hold very still while Aunt Kristi was painting.
It's been just a few days. Mine has already come off. My nails are very thin and don't take paint well because they just flex with my fingers and the paint pops right off. Elle has been taking care of her fingers. She calls them her princess nails. I'm so glad Kristi was excited to do such a fun girls rite of passage!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Looking at life from the outside is never how it really is. There are many families that seem to live a charmed life. What I don't know is that they too may be struggling with silent heartache,while everyone on the outside is coveting their apparent ease. Ironic, don't you think?
The whole blogging thing has kept me good about writing in a journal. The downside to a live audience is that certain frustrations, hard times and personal mistakes are purposefully omitted unlike a private journal. Privately, at least no one could criticize me for any of it until after I were dead. I doubt I'll care by then.
So, here goes...
In 2004 Michael left Lowe's to do construction full time. He got his contractor's license and was supporting our family doing various projects. For the last four years we've always made it. It was tight sometimes, but we did it somehow. We found out the hard way that the construction industry is fine tuned to the economy. Before anyone else even realizes anything is wrong we were feeling the pinch.
Michael had finished up a big construction job in December of 2007. Since contracting does not provide a regular paycheck I've learned to juggle and budget very carefully. We started out the new year with a considerable cushion. I figured we would be fine until he won another bid. Going from bid to bid and job to job is a careful balancing act, kinda like stepping stones across a big river.
We wanted to put bids out on some of the larger municipal jobs. However, cities required the contractor had experience AS the contractor. It was more complicated because bonds were required to cover the full amount of the bid. The only way to get experience as the primary was to bring in a partner with experience. It works kind of like a relay race I suppose, passing the experience baton. We had a hard time finding anyone who was willing to follow through on their initial enthusiasm.
Michael spent a lot of time putting bids together. We noticed that the larger companies were coming down into lower job brackets to bid. The bigger projects were getting sparse and the construction giants started underbidding little companies like ours. We couldn't compete. As the months into the new year pressed forward and no new jobs were coming I started to get nervous. That was about March.
Based on our monthly budget I knew we would run totally out of money by June 1st. I was pregnant with #4 who was due in July. We paid for our own health insurance. If we defaulted and couldn't pay the monthly premium I would be left in my ninth month without health insurance and a pre-existing condition. That would be either very expensive at the hospital or very dangerous at home by myself.
In April I found comfort in listening to General Conference. Elder Sheldon F. Child gave a talk entitled, "The Best Investment". In it he quoted President Heber J. Grant, “I want to say to you, if you will be honest with the Lord, paying your tithing and keeping His commandments, He will not only bless you with the light and inspiration of His Holy Spirit, but you will be blessed in dollars and cents; you will be enabled to pay your debts, and the Lord will pour out temporal blessings upon you in great abundance.”
I grabbed onto that like a life preserver. Hallelujah! I can pay my debts! I made sure paying tithing was the very first thing as little side jobs and our oil change business helped extend our cushion out.
April was also the point of no return. Four months of bidding without winning a single job, no leads or referrals. It was time to throw in the towel and look for steady income with an employer. Michael started putting out resumes.
I have a four year degree in a highly technical field. Even though I've been out of it for a while we knew it was more likely that I could get a job before he did. I went looking online, sent out my resume and found someone who asked for an interview within a week... and in our own hometown. I felt like this was my perfect opportunity. I went to the interview ready with my stack of references. I walked in with my six month pregnant belly and I could see it on his face. He made up his mind. He couldn't say that of course, not without facing a potential lawsuit. But his body language gave it away. He did everything in his power to prove that I couldn't to do the job. He said that I should brush up and come back another time. I asked for the weekend to brush up. He said to give it a few months. Right. Have the baby, then we'll talk. I gotcha.
I cried all the way home. I was angry, frustrated, embarrassed, and most of all worried about what the next few months would bring. I was willing and able to work. I worked with Ethan up until 2 weeks before he was born. At the same time I knew that being pregnant was my greatest liability for an employer.
The choice was to either :
1. Go on as usual and pay all of our bills and creditors on time and run out of money just in time to have the baby.
2. Set just enough money aside to pay the health insurance till the baby came which meant other bills would be left unpaid and our credit would be sacrificed.
For some the choice may be obviously #2. For me it was a matter of, "Do I have enough faith to choose #1?" If I went with the safe option #2, I would essentially be telling God, "I don't REALLY believe you, so I'm going to handle this myself". We would recover financially having failed a test of faith. Paying tithing was not the issue. It never was. However, if I went with #2 and God came through like He promised, all of our interest rates would have already been jacked up to 29.99%. Too late.
If I went with option #1 I would be exercising overwhelming faith. However, if the Lord's promise didn't work how I, in my human frailties, thought it would, we could be facing hundred thousand dollar doctor bills and have to declare bankruptcy for sure.
At the beginning of May, Michael still didn't have a job and I couldn't get one. Door #1 vs. Door #2 kept swirling through my mind. Over and over and over... I only have enough to choose one. If I choose the wrong one it will devastate our family for years and in different, but significant ways. I was full of so much anxiety. I handle the finances and I felt the decision squarely on my shoulders. The question was driving me crazy and considering either option made me very depressed.
The first Sunday in May I had reached my breaking point. My time to choose what to do was up. Pay the bills or set money aside? I couldn't function anymore. We got to church and I couldn't face anyone. I asked Michael to take me home. I laid in bed and cried, totally overwhelmed.
Michael came home to talk to me. He told me the kids were still at church in their primary classes but were worried about me. The floodgates opened and I cried to him and told him everything that had been weighing on my mind. I resented being pregnant because I couldn't get a job and simultaneously hated myself for being resentful of my innocent baby. How come we keep working so hard and it seems like we're always just scraping by? Why does it feel like I'm being pushed to the edge? I hadn't told him of the choice and how much it had been torturing me until just then. It all came out.
I told him of the promise I'd heard during General Conference about paying tithing and being able to pay the bills. At that point he made the decision for our family, "Pay the bills as usual."
I blinked at him through my tears. I can live with that.
He convinced me to come back to church with him for the last half hour. I tried to clean myself up as much as possible, but I think my eyes were raw from crying. I'm the secretary in the Primary Presidency. When Debbie, the Primary President, saw me she asked if everything was alright. I told her that if I talked about it I'd loose it for sure. So long as I didn't have to talk about it, I could keep my composure.
She invited our family to dinner that night. It was...amazing! Debbie's husband Scott had cooked the venison that he got on a hunting trip in Utah for dinner. Debbie made homemade rolls, stir fried vegetables and steamed broccoli. But best of all we were with welcoming friends. It was so nice to have my burdens lifted by someone who was willing to hold them, not knowing what they even were.
Meadow and her children came to dinner too. The house was full that evening. After dinner I sat down at the piano and started playing hymns. Meadow sat next to me and sang. She has one of the most beautiful voices (which, incidentally, is why we asked her to sing at Daddy's funeral). We sang together the different harmonies. Be Still my Soul, Abide with me, Be Thou Humble, How Great Thou Art, I Need Thee Every Hour. Music filled the house. Sunday evening has never been so peaceful for me. I couldn't say that I was full of joy as others might have been, but I was greatly comforted and felt God's love. That was on May 4th. By May 15th Michael had been offered a full time job with Swinerton with a salary that did, in fact, cover all our bills. Our health insurance kicked in on July 1st, just in time to cover the children's dental appointments that I had made six months earlier. Garrett was born two weeks later.
There is no doubt whatsoever, for either one of us that God worked through and inspired good people in getting the job with Swinerton. It was an enormous blessing.
Despite all that's happened and the happy ending for that chapter in our life, I wonder why we have to go through this trial again so soon. Perhaps it's because Michael made the decision for me when I could not. Only God knows.
There was an incident on Michael's job site where someone got hurt. Michael used his law enforcement experience in handling several aspects of the investigation. Keeping cool, following protocol. Through evidence he found and witness interviews he determined conclusively that the man injured was lying about what really happened. That's good, because none of the safety protocol had failed. However, despite Michael's stellar performance and handling the incident, the customer's upper division lost 2% of their bonus and wanted blood. Michael was the fall guy. That didn't mean that he was fired from Swinerton, just that the customer didn't want him on their job site anymore.
Swinerton looked everywhere for another job to put him on. Michael has an amazing ability with people and a strong work ethic and Swinerton wanted to keep him. With the market slowdown, no new jobs were lined up and they were even loosing contracts due to lack of funding. They tried to get him into the sister company. Ironically they hired Michael's brother instead. A week went by with Michael at home while Swinerton scrambled looking for somewhere else to put him. Eventually they had to lay him off because there was no work. His boss came to the house to give him his last paycheck and a small severance. He told me that everyone felt just awful about what happened. One of the VP's at Swinerton went out of his way and called a colleague in the industry to recommend Michael for one of their jobs and gave him a stellar reference. Michael had an initial phone interview, but that hasn't really gone anywhere.
There are only a few big construction companies to apply to. He spent the first week submitting resumes.
Since then Michael has been using the time to study for the CHST. Once he has the certification many more doors will open up. I've been helping him with the math and science aspects of the study material. I'm grateful that I have that ability. I'm grateful I have been able to explain it in a way that he'll get it. He's got a better mind for memorization than I do which is great for that endless list of OSHA regulations.
Tithing is still first as we get money trickling in from the oil changes or other odd jobs. I'll keep paying the bills on time. I'm not falling apart at the seems like last time, but it'll be interesting to see how things play out and what God has in store for us. Each time it gets a little bit better.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Last weekend I stood out for 4 hours holding a "Yes on Prop 8" sign. First in front of Safeway and then in front of Raley's. Michael wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home with the three older children. Garrett came with me and slept in the front pack, just a happy little clam. I put a little sun hat on him and a Prop 8 bumper sticker across the front of the baby carrier. A few opponents told me I was embarrassing myself and my child. Meh...he's happier with momma.
I stood on the corner with Susan's husband Jim. As it turned out the Benicia costume competition was being held at the gazebo when we arrived. There were a lot of people, to say the least.
We had a "therapist" approach us who was really wound up. "Why do you support hate?" Without missing a beat Jim said, "We don't support hate."
"Why do you support bigotry?"
"We don't support bigotry."
He went on a bit more, and I tried to answer his questions respectfully and thoughtfully. It was the longest exchange during my time doing the sign waving. What was interesting is that, like the scriptures say, "A soft answer turneth away wrath"(Proverbs 15:1)...SO TRUE! He left us a lot calmer than he came in. I'm sure he was expecting a fight.
We had people honk and give us thumbs up as they went by and other people flip us off and shout "F*** YOU!" as they went by. Someone threw a coke can at Georgia. Fortunately it didn't hit her. Jim waved down a patrol car. Turns out that it is considered a felony. Wow.
"What about equality?!"
"You should be ashamed of yourselves! A**H***S!"
We did get friendly responses and people saying "Thank-you". Surprisingly enough, despite the negativity the experience was invigorating! We all went home from Safeway at about 12:30. I got some lunch and then headed back over to Raley's with Garrett to go some more.
There were a group of teenagers from the High School who set up on the other corner with makeshift signs. The negativity towards us was lessened, but I started counting their support and ours. It was about 2 to 1 in their favor. I sincerely hope that's not how the election goes. Their display only convinced me more that I am doing the right thing by keeping Ethan out of the Public School system. Here before me was the best example of socialistic indoctrination and brainwashing. I don't believe they understood what they were doing. They were just having fun, supporting what their teachers have told them.
One teacher at the high school was giving extra credit for every Yes on 8 sign stolen. A first grade class went on a field trip to a lesbian wedding. Not taught in schools? Right. Keep telling yourselves that.
Yesterday there was babysitting at the church so parents could both help out. I was hoping to stand with Michael, but Garrett wanted to nurse as soon as he arrived. Just as I left the Gay/Lesbian Club from the High School showed up with their teachers and set up on my corner It wasn't even a minute after I sat down in the car to nurse that it started to rain. Michael had come without any jacket. It was so warm and balmy a jacket would have been too hot. By the time Garrett was done the heavens had opened up in a torrential downpour. I couldn't wear Garrett in the rain, and my raincoat wasn't big enough for him to fit under. He fell asleep nursing, so I took him to the church to be with the other kids. I went home to get Michael's jacket and a dry set of clothes. When I drove by, Michael was standing there soaking wet in the rain stoically holding his sign...the lone man in a crowd of 20 other people around him shouting and waving "No on 8" signs.
I will always regret not stopping to get a picture of that moment. He told me later that he was getting a lot of whispers and trash talk from behind him.
Michael didn't want his jacket and waved me by. I got dressed in all my wet weather gear, got some lunch and went back out. The crowd of teenagers were obnoxious and flippant. The adults standing out on other corners were dignified and very civil. I talked to one lady and asked her how everybody got organized. She said an e-mail went out to let people know.
"So, do you know everybody here?"
"No, I don't know anybody over there, but we're all here together to do the right thing"
I know she was looking to get in a good jab, and in an uncharacteristic moment of having an immediate comeback I said, "Yes, we're all doing the right thing expressing our First Amendment rights"
Another woman was out jogging and stopped to join the demonstration. She stood next to all of us with our "Yes on 8" signs. I talked to her a little bit. She was very nice. When it was time for her to go, I thanked her for being civil as we stood together, "I really do appreciate it"
The "No's" got some angry response from one man who kept driving by telling them they were sick and perverted. I wish now that I had spoken up and encouraged him not to be hateful. I don't believe that Prop 8 is about hate or discrimination, and those who are vocal about it for those reasons, aren't really helping.
A lot of the kids went home sometime after lunch time came and went. Wet, cold, hungry...oh, well. There were two girls left sticking it out on the center median. I went with another "Yes" and stood with them. He noticed a sign in the street and when there was no traffic he retrieved it. He turned it over and it was a No sign. He asked the girls if they wanted it back, and they took it graciously.
We didn't have any competition the first week in front of Safeway, so the angry responses were much worse than when the No on 8 camp came to have their say. In a way, it was easier to stand with the opposition.
I appreciate the decency of those who stood by me with opposing views. I'm glad we could stand together without being hateful towards one another.
I ran to the church to nurse Garrett and then went to Raley's for the last half hour of sign waving. I stood with Meadow who found an unexpected rush in participating. She said she felt like Moroni holding the Title of Liberty, "In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children".
Ours is a unique fight. Who can deny these are the last days?...the signs are all around us. I will stand and fight as I am able. May the Lord come quickly.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Once we got to the party, there was a face painting booth. I tried to convince her to wear whiskers and had them put some on Garrett to show her. No luck. Ethan was Mummy. It's a homemade costume cut from a bed sheet. There was some trouble keeping the bottom together, but for the most part he looked really good. For the trick-or-treating I did his eye makeup to look Egyptian. He got a lot of compliments. Hunter wore a store bought Captain Hook costume from two years ago when we did the Peter Pan theme. It is super flimsy and kept coming apart. Before we went out on Halloween I re-sewed the Velcro on the back of the shirt piece so it wouldn't keep falling off like it did at the party. I actually had to go hunting for it at the end of the party when I saw Hunter running around with the jacket flapping open and no shirt piece.
Ethan and his friend Nate were both Mummies. There were a pair of Jedi's who were also very good friends. I'm starting to think the kids planned to match one another and the adults find out the collaboration merely by chance.
Before Trick-Or-Treating I made a bunch of very healthy kid favorites. Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli with melted cheese, Caesar salad, and homemade rolls. We encouraged the kids to eat as much as they could so that once they had their haul of candy we could let them gorge without worrying too much about it. Micheal set up the pull out bed and let them sleep downstairs and watch a movie. Netflix had a "very long wait" on the Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin movie, so instead they watched Cars.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Elle had a part singing "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam" with the other Nursery children. It was super cute! It's taboo to take pictures during sacrament meeting, so I was fortunate to get these during the practice.
The children all got up and said something about themselves. Hunter said, "I'm a good clown." Ethan said, "I'm a good artist." But most importantly (then all the children said together), "I am a child of God".
Despite the wiggles during the practice, the whole thing came together beautifully. It's always been my opinion that whatever Debbie is called to is done TOP NOTCH.
After the Primary program we had a Party in the Primary room with fruit, banana bread, veggies and dip. Then we had the kids watch The Testaments which showed what was happening on both sides of the world (Jerusalem & Americas) during Christ's ministry, death and Resurrection. It was especially wonderful for the kids to see how Christ visited his "other sheep" in the new world. I know it made a deep impression of my boys.
With the Primary Program over everybody in the Primary Presidency can finally take a deep breath. Phew!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
He has his own theme song to the tune of "La Cucharacha"
Oh little Rah-Rah
My little Rah-Rah
Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah
Oh little Rah-Rah
My little Rah-Rah
Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah
Garrett is one of the happiest, most sociable babies I've ever met. He will smile and "talk" to everybody. Baby flirting! When he's in the mood to talk at home, he will actually cry like his feelings are hurt if you don't sit and talk with him. And he does talk back. I'm sure he's inherited the K-family gene for talking and talking and talking. He's going to be unstoppable once he knows some words and dangerous when he actually knows what he's talking about!
The camera was on my chest while I was holding Garrett in the air, that's why it's not quite straight.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
[sniff....sniff....sniff] "Ah...sugar and spice. All is well. "
[sniff....sniff....sniff] "Man stink! ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!"
Friday, October 10, 2008
Michael called when he got out of the temple to tell me he was on his way home. Elle realized it was him on the phone and excitedly said, "DAD! You're missing it!"
Her whole world is princesses, friends, clothes, doing it herself, helping mom, loving babies and of course...her hair. She gets complimented on it daily now. I combed her hair in the bath tonight and after I got all the tangles out she walked around gently stroking her hair saying, "So pretty". She insited that nobody mess up her hair.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
On Thursday we went to Tilden park in Berkley. There were three moms and one homeschooling dad who all went together. Between the four parents we had 9 boys (including Garrett) and only 2 girls, Elle and Hannah. It was really nice to have the Dad influence on all those boys. At one point Hunter had to be plucked out of a tree because while climbing it his foot got wedged between some branches.
The main attraction was the farm and the nature center. After lunch we went on a nature walk around the lake. It was only a mile, but Elle got really worn out.
It was also amazing to watch the boys go into the pack mode and just start running. Poor Hannah felt a little overwhelmed. I don't think Elle minded too much, because she's outnumbered most of the time anyway. It was nice for me to have some other grownups to talk to who are of the same mindset. We considered it so much of a sucess that we are planning more fieldtrips together.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
He only stayed for two days, but the kids loved every minute! I'm sure Garrett won't remember meeting Daniel for the first time, so I took LOTS of pictures!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The best part is the last 90 seconds. I've determined not to throw my vote away this election on one of the two the media is shoving down everyone's throats. Mathematically, the only way to throw your vote away is NOT to vote. I've looked up every candidate running for president and reviewed their platform.
Independent: Ralph Nader
Libertarian Party: Bob Barr Agree
Constitution Party:Chuck Baldwin Agree
Green Party: Cynthia McKinney
America's Independent Party: Alan Keyes Agree
Boston Tea Party: Charles Jay
Prohibition Party: Gene Amondson (main platform is for prohibition of alcohol )
Reform Party: Ted Weill
Party for Socialism and Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Socialist Party USA: Brian Moore
Socialist Workers Party: Roger Calero (born in Nicaragua, ineligible if elected)
For fun, take a quiz to match your preferences. I wouldn't read too much into the results, but it'll at least point you in the right direction.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Every part of the new building and exhibits were spectacular! The one point of disappointment is that they are not yet reciprocal with all the other science museums and so our passes didn't work. As the singular negative point...I'd say that not bad at all! We arrived shortly after 10 and stayed until 3:30. We didn't see everything. There was a Tropical Rainforest exhibit in the middle of the building that the children were immediately drawn to. From the line to get into the habitat you could look down through the water and see the basement level where people were walking underneath. Hunter was especially excited to go "underwater". The tempureature got hotter and hotter as we progressed up all four levels of the rainforest habitat. It seems rather ironic to me that such a hot place is necessary to keep the rest of the world cool. The trees absorb the CO2 and produce oxygen keeping the ecosystem and the planet balanced just so. The butterflies thrive in that warm climate.
After the rain forest habitat we went to the basement and saw the fishes up close. There were color cards for the children to see all the different kinds of fish in the tank. We made a game to see if you could find all the fish and other animals on the card.
At the tide pool the children got to touch and hold starfish, sea urchins and abalone. A marine biologist explained how some starfish are predatory and some are scavengers. They eat by turning their stomachs inside out and dissolving their food with the digestive juices.
As a child I had seen some show about sea anemones and how they ate. My mom took us to an aquarium, and at the tide pool they had some in the deeper parts that weren't meant to touch. I feel bad about it now, but I took a star fish and put it into the sea anemone. Sure enough, it folded it up and ate it. I wonder if the staff was confused when they realized they were missing a starfish.
Rather than bring sandwiches with us I brought a whole loaf of bread, peanut butter and strawberry jelly. I made sandwiches on the spot. It seems to work out better that way especially if somebody wants more than one. We must be quite the sight! Since my mom came with us there are actually a few pictures of me, too. I just went through our picture files and since I'm usually the one taking the pictures, I'm in very few of them over the last five years.
The Alligator pond was just as I remembered it from our outings years ago. The railing was exactly the same. I suspect they took it out very carefully from the previous building to reuse it in the new one. There were two alligators that we saw. A green one and an albino one. Neither one was moving, but the kids all thought that the white one was fake. I tried to explain that it was albino and very much real. When we got home and reviewed the pictures I took they still thought it was fake.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"The birth of civilizations and the rise of great societies are forever entwined with language and with the words that our languages are comprised." To define marriage as between a man and a woman is to defend an absolute. The concepts of personal liberty are based on absolutes. Reality is an absolute. Rights to life, liberty and property are absolutes. Rights are not granted by the government. It is precisely because these rights existed that men instituted governments to protect them. Similarly, marriage existed first. Marriage is not an invention of the government, therefore government does not have the power or authority to redefine it.
When definitions are convoluted, and terms are ambiguous, society's understanding and application of all fundamental principles are under attack. When the meaning of a word can be redefined to suit whatever random ubiquitous prejudices of the day, it will not be long before freedom is redefined to mean bondage, life is redefined to mean the preferred, and property is redefined to mean state allotments. We can see this trend of redefinition dangerously eroding our rights as outlined in the Constitution. When our language is in a constant state of redefinement and the law becomes a "living document"..... regardless of religious beliefs, we are all at the mercy of a dangerous agenda.
Should marriage be redefined, religious leaders will lose their freedom of speech on the issue of homosexuality. They will be forced to perform homosexual weddings, or face fines or imprisonment for non-compliance. Religious beliefs will be bigotry under the law. This flies in the face of the first amendment of the Constitution which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
It is insulting and offensive to compare the homosexual agenda with Dr. Martin Luther King’s fight for Civil Liberties. I have never met a former black person. You cannot decide to be black one day and not the next. Yet a person can choose to be homosexual one day and bi-sexual the next. A person’s race is not determined by behavior. The homosexual lifestyle is a choice.
In 2000 the majority (61%) voted that marriage is between a man and a woman. The purpose of the courts is to interpret the law, not write it. If 4 judges can just overturn the majority vote, what’s the point of voting at all? I do not agree that the people should have voted on the marriage issue to begin with. Even if the majority had voted to allow homosexual unions to be called marriage, it would not make it so. "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg" (Abraham Lincoln). Just because a majority of people decides that something should be so, doesn't make it right.
In a Republic the people are not the law. To live by such a notion would have society tossed about on the whim of a mob. "Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." Federalist Papers No. 10
If we can vote anything to change it, perhaps we could write a law to say that gravity was now 9.1 m/s^2. If we voted in a majority it must be so, right? However, when the engineers do all of their calculations with the “enlightened” gravitational constant, the rockets will never get off the ground.
The nature of marriage is so obvious that it borders on the absurd to even debate about it at all. Man and woman are “made” for each other. The biological parts fit together like a puzzle. The result of that natural union is new life. It takes one man and one woman to create new life. Marriage protects that sacred relationship for the sake of the child that they may be raised to adulthood with both a mother and a father committed to making a stable home. It is a natural law that two people of the same gender cannot have a child who is biologically half of both of them. Is nature then bigoted?
Every child needs and deserves both a mother and a father. While death, divorce or other circumstances may prevent the ideal, the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married father and mother who honor marital vows. The sexes are different. Both offer something unique to raising a child. Mothers offer mercy... Fathers, justice. Mothers give gentleness... Fathers, rough housing. This is a generalization, I know. Every individual is unique. However, there is a natural ying-yang balance with both a mother and a father. Male and female brains are wired totally differently. There are particulars that children learn from each gender parent that the other cannot possibly provide.
“Marriage as a universal social institution is grounded in certain universal features of human nature. When men and women have sex, they make babies. Reproduction may be optional for individuals, but it is not optional for societies. Societies that fail to have ‘enough’ babies fail to survive. And babies are most likely to grow to functioning adulthood when they have the care and attention of both their mother and their father.” (Maggie Gallager, St Thomas Univ. Law Journal 2004) bold added.
Marriage is not a private matter. In order to be valid a marriage ceremony must be witnessed. Friends and family are invited to the wedding ceremony to witness to the marriage. According to ancient Roman law a marriage had to have 40 witnesses to be legal. This presupposes that marriage is not JUST about the people making the covenant. No one but the couple are invited to the honeymoon. Intimacy is private. Marriage is a very personal matter, but by no means private. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is a perfect example of this. Marriage is a family affair.
Marriage is a matter of public record, which aids in the work of genealogy. Privacy is forfeit through the powers of procreation originally reserved exclusively for marriage. Witnesses to the marriage ceremony are required as a matter of advocacy for the unborn who otherwise have no voice. Children have a natural and legal claim on their parents for their maintenance. Dabbling in the powers of procreation, even for recreation, does not nullify the natural rights of the child conceived, nor does it absolve either parent from their moral obligations to that child. To suppose that marriage is private is to also deny the rights of the children of that union. An attack on the rights of any one person is ultimately an attack on the rights of society as a whole because the smallest minority is the individual.
All have a right to marry as long as they abide by the law. One cannot marry if one is already married, nor can one marry a close relative, a child, a pet, or someone of the same sex. Everyone, including homosexuals, have equal access to marriage as long as they meet the requirements, which are applied impartially. This is not about access to marriage. It’s about redefining marriage to be something it has never been.
Proposition 8 does not take away rights or benefits from gay or lesbian domestic partners because under Family Code Section 297.5 “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections and benefits” as married spouses.
State law requires teachers to instruct children as early as kindergarten about marriage (Education Code Section 51890), so if Proposition 8 does not pass, teachers will be required to teach young children that there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage.
The promotion of gay marriage falls in line with the Communist Manifesto agenda toward “Abolition of the family!” Karl Marx was a great advocate of blurring gender lines. He taught that children should be raised by the state, marriage and inheritance should be eliminated, and noncommittal sex should be the only form of relationship. There is no faster way to abolish the family than to redefine the legal institution upon which families are founded. Once that door of redefinition opens, marriage can be defined to mean any number of things. If two men why not three or four? Why not marry your favorite animal? Think bestiality is too outrageous? A man in India married a dog. A woman in Hawaii married a dolphin. Marriage will get redefined to the point that it has no meaning at all.
Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults. Children have always been at the forefront in the purpose of marriage. Marriages were not considered valid until they were consummated. Until then they could be annulled… as if they had never taken place. There was no possibility of a pregnancy. However, a marriage that does not produce children, through choice or sterility, is not invalid. The nature of the male-female relationship is still the same regardless of actual procreation.
The woman who had a sex change and then had a baby….and everybody was celebrating because a MAN was pregnant. Oh, come on people…just because she has surgery to change her body and calls herself a man …doesn’t make it so. She’s a very confused pregnant woman....NOT a pregnant man. Gender is determined by biology (DNA) and not how one is feeling today.
“While governments did not invent marriage, throughout the ages governments of all types have recognized and affirmed marriage as an essential institution in preserving social stability and perpetuating life itself. Hence, regardless of whether marriages were performed as a religious rite or a civil ceremony, married couples in almost every culture have been granted special benefits aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship and promoting the environment in which children are reared. A husband and a wife do not receive these benefits to elevate them above any other two people who may share a residence or social tie, but rather in order to preserve, protect, and defend the all-important institutions of marriage and family.
"It is true that some same-sex couples will obtain guardianship over children –through prior heterosexual relationships, through adoption in the states where this is permitted, or by artificial insemination. Despite that, the all-important question of public policy must be: what environment is best for the child and for the rising generation? Traditional marriage provides a solid and well-established social identity to children. It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation. When a man and a woman marry with the intention of forming a new family, their success in that endeavor depends on their willingness to renounce the single-minded pursuit of self-fulfillment and to sacrifice their time and means to the nurturing and rearing of their children.
"Marriage is fundamentally an unselfish act: legally protected because only a male and female together can create new life, and because the rearing of children requires a life-long commitment, which marriage is intended to provide. Societal recognition of same-sex marriage cannot be justified simply on the grounds that it provides self-fulfillment to its partners, for it is not the purpose of government to provide legal protection to every possible way in which individuals may pursue fulfillment. By definition, all same-sex unions are infertile, and two individuals of the same gender, whatever their affections, can never form a marriage devoted to raising their own mutual offspring.” (From LDS.org)
While I don't agree with homosexual behavior, I don't just dismiss an individual because a choice in one area of their life. To do so would be truly prejudiced. Let each make his or her own choices. Let each love and express affection to whomever they will. Do no harm.
I know and am friends with several homosexual individuals. One of our neighbors is a lesbian. I've talked with her on occasion, visited her house...she's very nice. Michael has waved to her going by and she'll give him dirty looks. He says she's a man hater. I haven't seen that side of her myself. I worked as a temp for a homosexual man. I didn't realize it until we got talking, but that just goes to emphasize my point that it is a lifestyle. He was a fascinating person. I think Ellen Degeneres is entertaining. I like Clay Aiken's music. I worked with a lesbian before Ethan was born. She was one of the most generous and service oriented people I have ever met. She worked with disadvantaged children as more than just a weekend project. She gave me a 2000 Swarovski Christmas ornament because I liked a similar one she was donating to the 9/11 relief auction. It started a family tradition and Christmas collection for every year that Michael and I have been married.
As another neighbor has said, "We gotta love our gays." Love them, yes. That is possible while still preserving the definition of marriage. I can love my children unconditionally without condoning each and every thing they do.
There are thousands of Hollywood movies whose final scene is the grandiose wedding party. Happily ever after... It's no wonder that society has confused the nature of marriage. Hollywood has people convinced that the big fancy wedding is the happy ending for the cute couple. It is a happy ending, but not for whom you may think. Just follow the money. Daddy pays for it.. That big expensive wedding party is the happy ending for the previous generation who have successfully raised their children to be well adjusted, productive, and contributing members of society who are ready to pass that formula of success on to the next generation.
For the happy couple, the wedding is only the beginning. The real story spans twenty to thirty years of raising a family. How do you condense that into a 2 hour movie? I can’t think of any movie that has been able to. There are movies that capture snippets of life, but that’s it. Just snippets. Yes, a wedding is a happily ever after…for mom and dad. They have the hope and promise that their family will continue on in beautiful grandchildren that they can spoil rotten, shake up and send home. Their stories and traditions will be passed down. Marriage is not about just two people. It's not private and it's not just about love. Marriage is about families, generations and the perpetuation of society itself.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
After Elle's playgroup last week we cleaned up the room and sat back for a quiet moment and I let the kids turn on the TV. Sesame Street was on. It generously reminded me again today why Sesame Street is banned at our house. It was like a train wreck: Horrendous, but I just couldn't look away.
Elmo's World was featuring "School". First there was a video featuring Snuffalufagus and a girl Snuffalufagus in kindergarten building with blocks. They talked about how much fun it was. Then they jumped around and knocked their building down.
The talking school told Elmo that first you go to elementary school, then middle school and then high school. Elmo asked what happened next.
Well you graduate (shows Elmo in a cap and gown) and you get to go to a big party called the prom (shows two Elmos in coordinating black and white tuxedos dancing in sync with each other). There was no mention of college or any kind of higher education.
The talking school talked about all the different ways you can get to school. Car, bus, subway...etc. As a final point Elmo said that his pet cat went to school at home. Uh....huh. I didn't realize the impression it made on Ethan until he said at bath time that he was a cat and therefore hated water. For the next week he was a cat come bath time.
I asked him a little about what he learned watching Elmo's World;
What happens after you graduate from high school?
"You go to a disco"
Anything else after you graduate?
Who goes to school at home?
"Cat's hate water"
Oscar the grouch has a very appropriate song, "I love Trash!" At least he calls a spade a spade. I, however, do NOT love trash.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
As it was, I got three very nice pairs of pants and two shirts (one of which was an Ann Taylor) for a grand total of $14.94. Then I took Elle shopping at the Mall and just one of her outfits, on sale at 60% off, was was more than that. I think I would like clothes shopping if it wasn't so time consuming and expensive. But then again, everything is relative...right? Maybe I don't like shopping after all. But I do like having new clothes! (I don't like labor, but I do like the new baby).
I am really just a slender person trapped in a fat person's body. Most all of the clothes that I picked out at the value center that I estimated to be an easy fit turned out to be TOO TIGHT! Happily I did discover that most of the clothes that I liked best in texture, style, and design were from the Ann Taylor line. I've got good taste, or just expensive taste?...a matter of opinion. I didn't realize Ann Taylor fit my tastes so perfectly until I inadvertently kept picking up this brand over and over out of a random selection.
I had an epiphany on the nature of clothes. Back before clothes were made in mass production, women had only a few dresses that they would wear. They didn't have fat dresses and skinny dresses. As a woman got large with child and was subsequently overweight after the birth, she could still fit into her dresses thanks to the forgiving skirt. Upon realizing this I started gathering skirts to try on, which led to the second half of my epiphany when none of them actually fit me around the waist. Dresses were adjustable in the back via the lace up. How clever is that!?!? And here we think that our modern ways are superior! HA!
If I had the time ...and talent, I think a new line of clothes taking advantage of both the tried and true and modern conveniences would be quite the hot commodity.