Monday, September 29, 2008

The Aquarium reopens!

We went to the Steinhart Aquarium today with Grandma. We usually go on our field trips on Thursdays and so I felt like it was a Thursday all day. I suppose it has something to do with habit or conditioning. Pavlov's dog...etc.

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

Arguing with myself (Prop 8)

As a preface to this, I really didn't see the big deal in homosexuals calling their unions marriage. Who freaking cares!?! Then the first presidency came out and said that we need to do all in our power, time and resources to get Proposition 8 to pass. Proposition 8 defines marriage in California as between a man and a woman. I have a foundational testimony strong enough to follow the prophet even if I don't quite understand why at the moment. Fortunately I had enough time to really think about the issue and tackle the oppositional arguments. The process helped me gain a clear understanding and testimony that marriage between a man and a woman is a fundamental principle. It's not just about the couple getting married.

"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

Not your mother's Sesame Street

As a child I really liked Sesame Street. It had a lot of good stuff. Letters, numbers, patterns. In the years since I was a child something has changed. I used to let the children watch it until I saw one too many "political correct" bits...I'd had enough and banned Sesame Street at our house.

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?

"Nope"

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

The thing about fat

I refuse to wear maternity clothes anymore! I've bagged them all up and sending the last of them to DI (Deseret Industries). Rather than run around with my skinny jeans awkwardly around my knees (because they simply won't go up any farther) I went to the second hand store and bought some temporary fat clothes until I can shed my baby weight. I just don't see any point in spending money on clothes that I'm going to slim out of. If I did spend anything substantial I would inevitably feel obligated to just stay fat to use the clothes....and that doesn't make any sense at all!

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.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

To a boy... everything is a weapon



Bananas are guns, Barbies are air missiles, and apparently coat hangers are very large Ninja stars.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First day of school

We spent Ethan's first official day of school at the beach. It was supposed to be a clean-up and then social. Ethan cleaned up the seaweed. I kept telling him that seaweed isn't garbage, but it's what he preferred to pick up. The beach wasn't actually that dirty.

Hunter and Elle couldn't resist going in the water. I kept telling them to keep their sandals on (broken glass) and to not get their clothes wet. Hunter got into the water all the way. As other kids started getting in the water too (with swimsuits on, naturally) I didn't feel quite so much anxiety about Hunter being in the water.

Ethan was a good listener, as usual and so we went home and got his swimsuit. Did I mention the beach we went to was the one right in front of the house? How convenient!

Hunter did give me more angst when we walked home for Ethan's suit and he ran back to the beach, by himself, without telling me where he was going. When he got back to the beach he told a friend of mine, "My mom doesn't know where I am."

AUGH!!! We really need to work on listening.