Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Day is done, gone the sun...

I'm pretty sure I'm letting the blog go guys. As soon as I've settled my thoughts I'm either deleting it or its going private. Its been a good thing in total. I made friends I wouldn't have otherwise. I lost some too. I recorded memories that I might not have without the blog.
The kids like looking back, I know Ella spend a good amount of time looking at old posts.
All told it does bring me some degree of embarrassment now. The navel gazing and all.

Before I close the door I thought it might be interesting to peruse over the posts that went unposted. There were over 50 drafts never published in my queue. Some became other posts or landed on other blogs. Some never did. So here they are - the first drafts that have sat in the corner. 

Just a bit more. 

for now.


"Can't go to bed"

So last night I was putting yet another coat of paint on the bathroom walls and Benjamin busts in with blood on his face - I immediately sent him to Kyle thinking he had bust his nose. But it was his tooth - It was very close to coming out - which got Benjamin so excited - not about actually losing the tooth - its all about the money. In fact I have even caught Ella tugging on her teeth. When asked she replied "I want some money real bad!"


"Don't embarrass me"



"Soundtrack of motherhood"

In a bummed out mood a few weeks ago I dusted off my CD case, pulled out two of my top five most fav CD's (Paul Simon's Graceland and Disc two of Janis Joplin's greatest hits) stole my sister's boombox took it to the bathroom, filled the tub and turned the volume to just shy of earthquake. IT WAS WONDERFUL... I used to be a music fiend, not in the skill department only in appreciation. I had a CD of some sort for every occasion and on my person pretty much at all times. From my first mixed tape which included Milli Vanilli I was hooked. My days usually consisted of lip synching in the shower, VH1 on all the time - back when they played music, then falling asleep to Enya. That is until giving birth. My music took a back seat to listening for the baby in case he cried, talking to the kids in the car, being the referee at home, Dora in the background, Laurie Berkner on road trips, and finally peace and quiet at the end of the day. Well since that bath with Janis the other week I have started to reclaim music. Other than CMT while cleaning the house - I've been missing something and didn't even notice.I've pulled more out, Beatles white album, Robert Earl Keen, Creedence, Duran Duran, Tim McGraw, and you know what? The kids are liking my music! - take that Dora - Then my awesome husband came home from work yesterday with the Essential Paul Simon set for me. It was better than jewelry. Its great to be loved and its really nice to dust off a little bit of the mommy every once in a while.


"Fort Worth"

Meg, the awesome sister that she is offered herself for the weekend to watch the kids - so off we went to a romantic weekend in Fort Worth - It was so much fun.


"Take the keys away from your kid"

Or they'll go joyriding


"The World"

has to pay for a few idiots


"Why I blog"

"Mama used to roll her hair~Back before the central air~We'd sit outside and watch the stars at night~She'd tell me to make a wish~I'd wish we both could fly~Don't think she's seen the sky~Since we got the satellite dish" Lyrics to Levelland by Robert Earl Keen


"Crack and Rice"

Oh Mom, I love you! And I love the White beans and rice you made for my at Christmas, it was sad to be sick then, and not want any - but you so lovingly froze them for me.


"Cravings and Frustrations"

I am having


"DANG Sarah,"




so asking for volunteers scares everybody away... I get it.


"It's hard sometimes"

being so far away from family - Gram is in the ICU tonight - our prayers are with her.


"Ever try"

to remember everything you ate in the last 24 hours?


"Hey Lady!!"




That is what I am lately, I swing from one extreme emotion to the next.

I have gained a new perspective from this job loss.  What has seemed crushingly difficult and emotionally painful has made me appreciate the little things and the HUGE things.
How grateful I am to have such a wonderful husband. He is loyal to me and our family. He works very, very hard to provide for us. How lucky I am that


"Bullets again"

There is too much I will sum up:

  • Happy Birthday Meg!!!!!!!! We love you so much!
  • Went to the lake yesterday - It became and unplanned party 



I really do have things to blog about in my own life, but I am too busy. I have been reorganizing and LOVING my re-decorated family room. I have been getting our family calendar on google calendar. BUT I had to get on here and tell you what I read in the paper this morning:


"Keeping it real"

so there is a blog thing going around where you post pics of your dirty house to prove you aren't perfect - I am going to twist things up a bit because most of you's dang well know I don't keep a very clean house. I could kill myself tryin - four kids, two adults, one dog, one cat - its just too much.
The efforts I think most about are finances and that is where I think my duty as a housewife pays off - literally. so here's to keeping it real - a view into our budget. What do you think - how do we compare?

** Disclaimer - most people don't openly share info about their finances - so be nice. I don't really understand completely why that is - do we care more about the allusion of our status than how the books actually balance?

Tithing - won't tell that one because even though I'm for putting it all out there you don't need to know exactly how much we make - but trust us we pay our 10% GROSS
Fast Offering - 30.00 (honestly I am never sure here -I feel like that is generous for us now - but I'd love to give more - The fast offerings of others helped us in our darkest hours we want to repay the favor)


"Savin more money"

no more dropping off all dress shirts at dry cleaners - its all me now... turns out I've been ironing wrong:


"Say it ain't so"

You know what makes you feel old??
Getting the alumni catalog from here on your birthday and staring at all the baby faced freshman on the cover.

I flipped through quickly and saw the map for the Longwood of the future. The plans for expansion -making my college newer, fresher, more green, more cultural.


"UPDATED again"

Benjamin's team came in 2nd place in Art History

Ella came in 4th place overall in the Storytelling


"I get a little panicked at this time"

or in other words I get a little raw in this post


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My boys are intact, and the only ones on both sides who are. I remember not long ago trying to explain circumcision to my daughter and oldest son (7 and 9) and they were HORRIFIED. My daughter kept asking "How could someone do that to a little baby?" So, I'm hoping this means the cycle is broken for good in this family. :)


"the thing is everything is reactionary"

I like "off the beaten path" pages on facebook:


"completely irrational thoughts"

So I feel strongly about my pet peeves. More than one should. And I am quite aware that they make no sense like these:

People that stay in the merge lane onto the interstate until the absolute last second even though they could have merged hours before.

Christian Rock Music. I just keep picturing Jesus saying (in my mom's voice) "Turn that crap off!!"

Gigantic Bows/ Flowers on baby girls heads. I LOVED the look before, now, not so much.



I had my


"Happy Birthday Benjamin"

Benjamin turned twelve today!


cough, cough. Time really does fly - they aren't lying. We have six more years until EIGHTEEN.

crazy talk I tell ya.

Benjamin is such a good kid. He started the year off in pre-ap math and did stuff I can't do with a calculator. Shoot stuff I can't do with google and two calculators. Then mid year he moved into pre-ap english, And he is one of the top AR readers in that class. His english teacher has been so impressed he is a teachers assistant in one of her other classes.

He really does read all the time. For his birthday I could not find a book that he hadn't already read.

If I had decided to homeschool I think I would be at a loss at this point in his education. Sad but true.

He is excelling at the Tuba or as we call it around here the tooooooo-ba.

I think Benjamin is one of those kids that is turning out awesome despite my skills as a mother not because of them.


"do we ever have an obligation to help make things better?"

“When I became convinced that the universe is natural; that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world; not even in infinite space. I was free; free to think, to express my thoughts; free to live to my own ideal; free to use all my faculties, all my senses; free to spread imagination's wings; free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope; free to judge and determine for myself; free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past; free from popes and priests; free from all the "called" and "set apart"
; free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies; free from the fear of eternal pain; free from the winged monsters of the night; free from devils, ghosts, and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought; no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings; no chains for my limbs; no lashes for my back; no fires for my flesh; no master's frown or threat; no following another's steps; no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain; for the freedom of labour and thought; to those who proudly mounted scaffold's stairs; to those whose flesh was scarred and torn; to those by fire consumed; to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.” (Robert. G. Ingersoll, "Why I Am Agnostic", 1896)


"Circ Diatribe"

You probably know from just being on facebook with me that I couldn't possibly feel more strongly about this issue. I don't care about people's 'opinions' on most issues - I'm a "live and let live" kind of person. Except when it comes to this issue for the sake of babies.
I am involved frequently in these conversations and it can be hard to not interject in the forums I discuss this issue in, I get it. You see me commenting on the ticker and it makes you want to say your side. You are not the first friend to do it.
But you lost my respect by what you said. You could have left it at " I happen to like my circumcised penis." that is fine and I am glad you do. But you added a completely uncalled for tirade about how disgusting the intact penis is. If you don't have one - how do you know? and for moms like me you are talking about our sons.
And every single point you made was wrong.
I can't really describe the horrible reaction I have to people bragging about circumcising their sons. It really does break my heart. I made that decision for my son and he has had terrible side effects from that procedure. Then I learned all there was to know about the issue and its really horrific if you research it.  It can't be compared to anything else we do to babies, its not like a vaccine, riding in a car, clipping fingernails, cutting the cord, etc. I mean even the thread in question started from a baby in an ER bleeding out because of this senseless act.
Everything you said is popular myth, but none of it is true. You are the perfect example of how cultural conditioning confuses even smart people. It is the exact cultural conditioning that keeps me speaking out. I can't wait for the day that this is a non-issue. And you might want to read up more about it before you are a grandfather, because chances are good that the next generation (your grandsons) will all remain intact. Circumcision rates are decreasing.
Once you care for an intact baby you realize how adhered the foreskin is and that cutting it away is like putting a blunt object all the way under your fingernail ripping the fingernail away then cutting it off at the base. Except even worse because the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis. - it is not dead skin dulling sensation like you said in your post.
It really is a horrible thing to do to babies. It just is. I am not and advocate for this issue to make grown men feel bad about their circumcised penis. Most are ok. And I am glad for them. But we should not keep doing this to babies.


[title blank]

I am Janie a girl raised Mormon in the South, not an easy thing. I am currently losing my faith and finding it at the same time, just in different places


"plus size birth"

The straps didn't fit right.


"I am not a mormon... anymore"






"Big family road trips"

We just went to Virginia (so Texas is awesome but man ya'll Virginia is so. dang. beautiful.)



There was the blog post


"Love made me"

I finished Penn Jillette's new book last night. It was so good, and so so bad in parts. I'm pretty a pretty open thinker but whew parts made me blush and a couple pissed me off.

There was a chapter where he talked about the unconditional love of his family. And he said - that's how you be me, be very, very loved by people no matter what. I felt that. as they say:

I really felt that sentiment man.


"Equal footing"

When one exits a paradigm


"Why Mormonism's claim IS so crazy"

There is a popular blog floating about today, especially among devout Mormons. Since I was one of those myself. An active endowed church member I thought I would take a moment to address it.

Mormonism is either one of the biggest frauds in human history or it is the second most important thing to ever happen on this planet.

Just because a lot of people do something does not make it true. That thing would still need evidence. Do we have evidence of ANY of Joseph's claims? no


"What almost a year of skepticism has taught me"

Don't know exactly what sparked my interest in skepticism. I remember one thread where someone struggling with moving on from religion said I am now inspired by people who don't just take away the incorrect things I believed but teach me something new. They are positive. Then they listed some names like

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Steven Novella
Michael Shermer
James Randi


"Change Direction"

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.
Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sometimes people send me sermons.

My response to a sermon a friend asked me to listen to - it can be found here
Sermon from 5/18/14 at Chase Oaks Church.

I sent my notes to the preacher, Jeff Jones, his personal assistant said he would be responding shortly but he never did.

My friend said my notes made her think, I asked her about talking to her preacher about a few things out of curiosity. She said although she had been attending there for five years she had never actually met or talked to the guy. Interesting.

I don't think you need to listen to the sermon necessarily to read the notes but you can if you would like to:

This will be sort of stream of consciousness from notes I took as I listened to the sermon, "Boycott the boycotts". I might use the language of speaking for all non-believers when I don't, just like I know the preacher does not speak for all Christians.

Starts with comparing the church's outlook to DNA. Its interesting to me that religion tries more and more to relate to science. One can respect science and be religious, but any effort to make religion seem scientific when it has no regard for evidence makes me suspect.

"We all have tricky relationships'…. Yes part of the human condition J

Breakdown of Christianity vs. culture…

This is where it kind of lost me logically. It’s a false dichotomy, an "us vs. them",  in-group/out-group thing that is frustrating about religion to begin with.

And it avoids the issue that within the faith that dichotomy exists on its own. Culture is ALL of us in the community, Christians contribute both good and bad to the culture as much if not more so than non-Christians. Especially given the fact that Christians whether they feel marginalized or not, ARE the majority.

"the people of this culture think differently from the bible"

GOOD.  One does need to ask the difficult question: is the bible even worth following? It espouses genocide, infanticide, rape, murder and slavery. The atonement of Jesus bypasses the question of could a loving parent deity not just forgive? why not? Why demand a blood sacrifice? Many non theists today are not unfamiliar with the bible. They don't abandon it to sin, they looked at it, examined it closely and reject it due to its own lack of merit. Christians don't need to bear a burden of exposing us to the bible. The claims of Christianity are already accessible.
Scientifically, markers of well-being improve the less religious a society is.

Then there were questions raised in the sermon about the Christian influence and does it cause the desired influence or more backlash. Then the scriptures were gone to specifically in Corinthians. Detailed description of Corinth and comparisons to Vegas, etc. Which I had many head scratching moments of wondering where the evidence for all these claims were. Do we have any historical evidence for this information of Corinth outside of the bible itself?.. but laying the lack of back up details to the back burner …
- lets move on to the topic. I'll paraphrase but the general idea I got was that this chapter sets up the premise that it is ok to judge and rebuke fellow Christ followers for their sins but the church does not have that jurisdiction outside of the church.

Then the sermon took a dark turn for me in the details of how to rebuke fellow church goers "get in their way"  "get them off the path" (on the path to sin) We may reject you from the fellowship because that IS biblical.. because we love you and don't want you on that path. It felt like a kind way of thought policing the congregation, sic them on each other. I’m sorry but that would keep me out of a congregation even IF I had belief.

Then my notes go on… I jotted down 'individual is king', 'Christ followers are family of god' - 'different standard', my memory is fuzzy but I took some umbrage at this false dichotomy as well.

Of all the "family" references I think it overlooked that many people that consider themselves humanists do look at the entire global community as family. The human family, all with shared trials and issues. In fact many humanists like myself are absolutely appalled at all the social injustices that continues everywhere. The overhead at churches alone could feed so many starving children, help end child pornography, etc. Now I don't want to create my own illogical comparison. Churches do offer community support and help with social causes and freethinking groups have overhead as well. It just seemed to me there were a lot of made up problems in this sermon that aren't even on the docket of the worlds most pressing problems. First world Christian problems if I may borrow a popular phrase.

Then from this point it was, if I could so crassly sum up: Be nice to the world because people are starting to think we are jerks. Its not our job to picket… side story about gay week at Disney, which I think if I had been a gay member of the congregation would have made me very uncomfortable, While there was no degrading of gay people there was an air of "they are the out-group" to that example. And it was noble of Disney to treat them as guests. Which, while that is absolutely true. We need to move on from that even being a conversation. Gay people are just people. Plain and simple, they don’t need anyone's ire or noble "I'm pointing out that we aren't pointing you out because we want to be good Christians"

Then admonitions to engage culture vs. fighting the culture. Increase your opportunities to have influence. Life is better when you follow what god has approved (ignoring for a moment that even across Christianity that can't be agreed on), Infiltrate and influence.. live so that people want to know where your peace comes from so they ask what your reason for hope is.

This is where I have a few things to say about that:

1. Christians already have vast influence in culture, schools, politics, and the market.

2. You put a lot of pressure on your congregants to exude happiness at all times, they have been challenged to represent Christianity with their glowing stories so that others will see their reasons for hope. There were people listening with very real problems and probably some with depression or other mental illnesses. They don't need the pressure of being the poster child for Christianity.

3. There is also the connotation that non-believers, atheists like myself don't have hope. We can, and do live lives of happiness, our countenance can also be inspiring to others and people can be influenced with our happiness and love even when our basis for that is not rooted in Christianity (or any faith) for that matter.

4. Many Christians speak openly about their faith ad nauseam. It might not be adding to the goal Christians have. Many of the people that are leaving religion (that number is rapidly growing)  are asking very deep, very probing questions. Trite pronouncements of faith and hope and love is not moving the conversation forward.

SO in short, I am very pleased with the concept of showing love more than judgment. Those nuggets I was impressed with but overall I think there was a lack of understanding for the group in which you labeled 'culture' and excluded yourself from being a part of.

It might come as a surprise but to some degree Christians like Westboro Baptists are considered (while completely vile) more intellectually honest. They unabashedly take the Bible at its face value, Christians that move the goalposts, claim truth but speak in vagueness confuse me more.  Address us all as the humans that we are, address your religion with better evidence and that will gain more influence for those not engaging with Christianity anymore.

let me know where I was off base.

Mr Jones talking to the insiders, here. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to school 2014

Back to school cookies tradition continues: 
Vanilla sandwich cookies for Maiya
Peanut butter for Ben
Brownies for Cora 
Popcorn cookies for Ella 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Questioning Mormonism?

Shout out to anyone in the Dallas Fort Worth area, join us on Facebook or meetup at DAMIT "Dallas area Mormons in transition" 

We are having some fantastic Family home evenings and enrichment nights ;) please spread the word to anyone who could use the local support. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Questions atheists can't truly answer... Ok I'll bite.

Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! Which leads to some interesting conclusions…

from here

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?
 In the very unsettling process of leaving the religion I was raised in and the subsequent sadness I set out to learn logical fallacies, biases and the method to determining truth not based on feelings. It lead me to skepticism and I applied it to all religions the same way I did to my own.
2.       What happens when we die?
I can hope that a lot of things happen but the only credible evidence there is, is that the matter that is "us" becomes some other part of nature.  
3.       What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
I would hope "they" or him or her would judge me based on my actions and not my beliefs. Infinite reward or punishment for finite actions is illogical. If that is how the afterlife works it is not worth my mental energy and I will do what I do anyway and enjoy the time I have.

 “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

4.       Without God, where do you get your morality from?
 The same place you do. Most religious folks I know do not consult their sacred text for every moral decision. Morality to me is a combination of treating others the way I want to be treated. Avoiding harm to others and myself and animals and nature. And asking myself if what I do is something EVERYONE else did, would this world be better or worse off?
5.       If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?

Even if there is a god you can do what you want. Believers and non believers murder and rape. Fair secular justice is all we can aim for. Christian believers think those people are worthy of forgiveness solely for believing in Jesus.
 6.       If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
 It has meaning because I give it meaning. I feel meaning and love and accomplishment and enjoy the experiences therein.
7.       Where did the universe come from?
 We don't know. But believing god only moves that back one square. Where does god come from?
We learn more about the Big Bang and the Cosmos everyday. I am open to learning more about all of that. Religion? not so much.
8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
Bias, delusion, groupthink, confusion, motivated reasoning, false memories, etc. This does not further the religious person's cause because for every person who has had a personal experience justifying their belief there is probably someone else who also had an experience that directly contradicts that. Mormonism (modern prophet) Islam (no prophets after Mohammad) Can not both be true. But both sides have miracles as their claim.

"Miracles are culturally accepted false beliefs."
9.       What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
Not relevant to the issue.

Dawkins is an expert on evolutionary biology. I learned a lot from the "Selfish Gene"
Hitchens - profound speaker especially in debate format.

Harris- fascinating information from his perspective on neurology. His book "Free Will" made me a more compassionate person.
10.   If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

We have evolved to patternistic thinking. We look for patterns even when they don't exist, our existential fears are comforted by the notion of a god so we look for notions of a deity to self soothe. Culturally we have also done this to solidify the group. It is pervasive and we indoctrinate our children to it before they even question. Its hard to go against that, so many don't even try, even though I would hazard to guess most harbor doubts.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Strengthen home and family?

A ranty post with all the feels today.

This is a perfect storm of emotions. The final crack of the whip  is still sounding through the air on the excommunication of Kate Kelly from Ordain Women. I listened to this podcast this morning and while I did not have a visceral reaction to her excommunication other than "how very very stupid of the church to do that" I was overcome with emotion listening to others describe the emotional violent nature of the church to women and questioners.

Then I am entangled in my own career/motherhood/'what the hell am I anymore' angst. I started last fall making personal goals to return to work and Occupational Therapy specifically. That led to continuing education, shadowing hours and crossing my t's and dotting my i's. I was done with national certification and Texas had received everything needed to process my state license. I reached out through networking for job prospects and got a JOB!! I was floored. Things were looking up. They were so excited for me to start I was calling the OT board daily and on Monday of last week a slightly confused but kind gentleman gave me my license number over the phone. I was so excited!! And set to start working.

Two days later someone else called to take my license away.

In Texas you can only procure a license one of two ways by endorsement (meaning you are currently licensed in another state) or by having recently taken the examination. The person who gave me my number over the phone was not supposed to have done that. I am back to square one it seems. I have passed on the job for now. I have also spent several days sulking. Which hasn't made for a fun summer for the kids.

I think its made all these frustrations bubble to the surface that I usually keep tamped down with moderate success. So I need to talk again ...

YES AGAIN about the emotions I've been working through leaving religion behind.

Many people who come in contact with the sticky problems of truth claims in the church decide to stay for reasons besides the traditional testimony reasons. The community, the culture, avoidance of ruined relationships, etc. I get that, I do. But the one I don't get anymore even though for a brief time period I said it myself: "I'm staying for the sake of my children"

I want to sit and chat (sincerely) with every church member staying for their kids.  I'm not bullshitting at all I'd talk to them all if I could.

The church is preparing kids for a world that doesn't exist really. Girls will grow up with no limitations anywhere besides the church for having a vagina instead of a penis. Personal Progress that seems more about preparing them for "home and family" than higher education and upward mobility in the world is not really preparation.

No one with friends and colleagues that are LGBT and can get to know them can continue to respect the church's position. Each time in history where the church meets up to social causes the church has been wrong and takes far too long to come around.

So here I sit.

I LOVE MY KIDS to freaking bits. They are hands down the best thing I got from being a Mormon woman. I was sort of self righteous about my open womb for Jesus on this very blog (I leave that up for humility's sake)
But now I am struggling to return to work. The license department tsk-tsking me that I didn't maintain my license. Saying "I prayed about it and felt I shouldn't" doesn't mean shit to them.
We gave over $70,000 to the church yet we have no retirement and STILL will be paying our own student loans when our children start college.
With six kids, our groceries rival our mortgage and our kids are only going to camp this year because of generous donations from the freethought community. Activities/extracurricular things for six are not really an option. I am floored by what our gas costs will be to go see family in a week - why? BECAUSE WE HAVE TO DRIVE A BUS.

The church prepared me for what I feel like now is a untenable situation that is not conducive to mental well being.

I filled two grocery carts to the brim today, I couldn't be overly concerned with organic or even healthy because it was more like "how can we make this money work for 3 meals a day for 8". Ella daydreamed outloud about being a lawyer and I thought to myself a few years ago I would have made some statement about balancing that with motherhood and today thought SCREW THAT.

instead said "that is an absolutely valid plan Ella." There is nothing stopping you.

I'm not raising my kids under any organization that thinks they know what god wants you to do and that depends on your genitalia.

My path is a bit set for me now, we will figure it out. I'll keep making phone calls and making the decisions that get me to a career of some type. I have skills man, and damn it people like me.
We will have a happy loud home with bologna sandwiches instead of organic smoothies. I'm so grateful that Kyle works so hard for his family. Others have it much harder than us.

We will do great. But my girls won't be doing personal progress that indoctrinates them into what it means to be a "daughter of heavenly father" They will get to make their own goals. I'm not doing that for them. And I'm sure as hell not letting a church do it for them either.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Book of Mormon

Still an admitted podcast addict here, the line up changes over time and I move with the topics that interest me. I have slowly moved away from Mormon podcasts. Except when this one came across my field of view the idea made me laugh. An non-believer completely unfamiliar with the LDS church is reading the Book of Mormon, cover to cover stopping to add his impressions along the way.

So many cling to it (I did) giving it merit that if read with any degree of critical thinking is not really merited. At its core the Book of Mormon is racist. Native Americans are dark because of a curse.

Ancient Isrealites came across the ocean and had epic battles of thousands to millions of  people with steel swords. Oh and horses, and elephants.... I don't know that it can be held up at all without severe cherry picking.

With some twitter exchanges with David and a few emails later, I was interviewed.

I think I deserve a cookie for condensing my 'story' into under 2 minutes.

My Book of Mormon Podcast, Episode 16 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Benjamin at this moment.

Benjamin (or fine.. Ben) at this moment has all grades above an 85, he is well liked by his teachers and I am complemented often on what a good kid he is. Next year: HIGH SCHOOL!! He got his very own computer for his birthday and tomorrow morning he reports to his very first job. Here you can start working at 14.
I can't believe how fast this is going. We are so proud of him. He wrote this acrostic for his leadership class and his teacher sent me an email saying how impressed he was by it:

E ... Embrace Challenges with the strength and courage of a bull.
A... Accept punishments and accusations with firm responsibility.
G... "Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." Henry Ward Beecher
L... Lie if you want to be lied to, if not speak with truth and honesty.
E...Every elder you see has gone through what you have so treat them with respect.

L...Learning to stand and tolerate insults is like learning to act as an adult.
E...Everyone can sacrifice time or money but only when you give something you love does it count.
A..."As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy
D... Drawing up the composure to not attack someone or do anything foolish is the ultimate tool.
E...Empathy is not about forgiving someone but understanding them.
R...Realizing when you have done something wrong and stood by your mistake is integrity.
S...Serving someone is not loyalty, but believing and staying by them is.
H...Having a good attitude is the key to having a good life.
I...I would stand and persevere anything for family and good friends.
P...Preparation is the key to success.

What does Eagle Leadership mean to me? To me eagle leadership means to be yourself while being the best you can be to get people to appreciate you and live a good life.

-Benjamin, May 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Life in Words, Part Twelve: Gender roles

My mom's story continues, this is one of my favorite stories of my Me-maw lighting her brother on fire, The memoirs began here, last installment here

when Janie was born, so was her chore list

The relationship between my grandmother and her mother had a very  profound impact on her interactions with her daughters.  My grandmother’s birth was seen as the birth of household help for Lizzie.  That is not to say that she did not love her daughter, but in the early part of the 1900s, gender roles were very strictly defined.  If Lizzie had had only sons, she would have had many beds to make and meals to cook.  Sons would not have been seen as a help for their mother unless it was doing physical labor such as bringing in wood, or carrying heavy burdens.  They would not cook and they would not have made beds, washed clothes, or ironed.  It just was not done.  But when Janie was born, so was her chore list. 

She would seethe with anger

  She often told of cooking when she had to stand on a stool to do so.  That act of standing on the stool at the stove was seen differently by me and my grandmother.  She saw it as a child being forced to do something before she had the maturity to do it.  She often told of making beds.  And it was NOT the bed making we know today of slipping on a fitted sheet, then snapping open a flat sheet so it could float down to cover the bed.  It was anything but a happy activity.  The mattresses were made of feathers and any depression upon the bed meant that the making of it had to be restarted.  Janie would complain about fighting to make the beds in the time frame her mother expected – no, demanded.  The only problem with this time frame was that it occurred when her brothers, or “the boys” as she called them, were out hunting.  They would then come home from the hunt, or from their morning masculine chores, and do what came naturally – they flopped down on their beds.  The feather beds.  The beds that their slim sister had fought to make perfect enough to avoid her mother’s wrath.  She would seethe with anger.  

blazingly clear

This went on for a few years until the time came when the man courting her, my future grandfather, heard her complaints about bed making.  He merely thought of a way to possibly  change the behavior of her brothers, by suggesting she take a cigarette paper, slipping it between a brother’s toes, and setting fire to it.  Sounds good in theory and would probably even work in practice.  If the brother in question, Audrey, weren’t such a sound sleeper.   So my grandmother, being a young 15 year old who had never been out of 20 mile radius, and in the absence of her suitor, made a decision without thinking it through to its inevitable consequences.  She took newspapers, wrapped them around her brother’s foot, tied them on, and then set the match to her innovation.  Yes, it woke him up.  His screams also woke the other brothers up.    While it made for a funny story years later, he ended up in a hospital, which was indicative of a serious injury in the 1920s.   Later, I chose to believe that it wasn’t as serious as it was described because as is the case in most stories passed down through the generations, the acts become bigger, the results more astounding, and the aftereffects more unsettling.  But there were no permanent injuries that I am aware of and yes, my grandmother’s true feelings about bedmaking became blazingly clear!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Thanks Joseph Smith, Jr.

We could do it
If anyone could, It would be us
I'd navigate my doubts
And we would be an anomaly

Then you said,  "This."
"This, I won't talk about with you"
That moment told me more than ALL the books
It was a vast library in one statement

If tables were turned
I would have read every book for you
Faced every question you asked,  "This"
"This I will talk about with you"

You never yelled, never got mad
You put it in a compartment and ignored
Being ignored hurts more
Solitary amongst the noise

It faded away, talking waned to typing
typing became mere texts
You still can't talk
And I can no longer be ignored

Water moved under the bridge
A sea of change in droplets
The new question now was - What hurts more?
Watching it rot? or Watching it burn?

If you would only talk to me
What scares you more-
That I might be hateful?
Or that I might be logical?

The erosion of friendship painted a mural
A game of percentages
Day to day casual of the 75 percent yet never
Authenticity for the whole

I went all in
And called the bluff
Talk to me or I've had enough
Again I heard that I had heard before

"This, I won't talk about with you"
Out of self preservation
I toe tagged the friendship

Had I killed it or only admitted defeat?
Put out on the table
What could not be said

Can the devout walk with those who doubt?
Can the apostate and the believer
See eye to eye?
They can only try.

But us?
We could not talk about it. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where in the world is Janie...

Oh blogging.... I can't give you up but I often let you down. My mom's story sits there looking at me. I wait for her next installment. She is quite a writer isn't she? I've had to assure people in my life that no she is not making it up. Those are real people, they are/were characters but very very real. I love how her words have brought the stories back to the surface and brought them to life. This past Sunday watching Cosmos -- The part where the ode to the written word of humans is highlighted I thought of my mom's story and was immensely grateful to her for putting it down for me and future family members to read.

So this is my "one year post" Yes its about religion so for those who are sensitive to that topic you can tune out now.

I can't believe I don't have a specific date for the 'last Sunday' we attended church. It was such a long time coming that when we actually stopped it was a non-event in a way. I have a few snapshots in my mind. Like the phone call about a ride to scouts. And me saying "We won't be doing that anymore."

Like for this week/month?

"No like ... ever."

A few last things related to callings dropped off and a few final emails. And then that was about it. The living room and bishop's office sit-downs had already occurred.

In honor of this post, I even looked up my very first email to friends from the nebulous beginning of my questioning:

So I am having a crisis of faith apparently and I think Kyle doesn't know what to say to me anymore - so I have been praying about it and I keep thinking I need to talk about it. Because 1) you are smarter and more learned in the scriptures than I am and 2) I don't think my mumblings would negatively affect your faith.

I've tried to kind of quell my own mumblings but my thoughts get circular on the subject and its frustrating. Then I thought I'd bring it up one day in person - but that may be awkward.  So anyway - its so cliche too - A LDS woman struggling with the topic of polygamy - but I am struggling whether it is cliche or not.

Specifically about Joseph Smith.

And it all really boils down to the fact that my whole life I did not know he had what? 30 wives - to this day I still don't know details - and its very precarious to try to research it online - you know what kind of stuff is online - which I have avoided. 
but through what I feel were honest sources (not anti) I did find more. And it was unsettling. Mainly this point - that he hid the marriage ( to a girl who was only 17) from Emma and quote :
Book of Mormon witness, Oliver Cowdery, felt the relationship was something other than a marriage.  He referred to it as “A dirty, nasty, filthy affair...”
those words keep echoing in my mind, 
So I tried to let it go and turn to the scriptures only and choked spiritually on section 132 like I have before.

I feel like I could overcome the topic if it didn't seem hidden by the church. How many members today if asked would only know Emma asJoseph's wife - do these other women not deserve recognition - they bore him children... If it was my daughter I would not want her swept under the rug.

I feel like I can't move away from this and when "Joseph Smith" is said in church I ache. I mean if a man did that in the ward right now he'd be ostracized.

on a similar vein - Men being able to be sealed after the death of their wife and women not being able to. I can't. get. over. it.

anyway. I am going to pray more and fast.

I am sorry - feel free to think I am crazy and tell me to take it up with the bishop. 

 Almost like the pain of childbirth, I can't really remember the pain I felt then. I know it was real and deep and agonizing. But I have none of that anymore.
In fact I've come very close to not writing this "anniversary" post at all. But I'm going to do it anyway... what's that they say about an unexamined life...

Questioning in earnest Jan of 2011, Open disaffection August 2012, Left sometime February 2013, Resignation (Names removed) June 2013

So where am I now? where are we as a family?


To answer the oft asked question... so what do you believe now? I took that question seriously when posed to me and I started really diving into what it was that excited me. I have found such a renewed interest in science, specifically scientific skepticism. Found the old copy of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Dove headfirst into some great science podcasts and discovered to my delight there is a vast network of modern skeptics that work to promote the beauty of science and the benefit of critical thinking.

In the social adrift state after leaving the church my natural inclination was to turn to the many crunchy mom groups and natural birth community groups. I have found dear friends in those circles.

Sadly though, I noticed the trend emerge that many things were still dogma based. A set of "rules" that were incontrovertibly true to many in these circles. Science denial often trumps when certain topics come up (vaccines, homeopathy, diet extremism, etc.) I felt I had in a sense jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

One night at dinner with a very cool friend who felt somewhat abandoned by a birth network she was a part of for political reasons she said "I thought one day instead of making myself fit in a place, I'll make my own damn place."

Brilliance!  I was a person with a foot in two worlds. A new found skeptic thirsting for science but still the babywearing extended breastfeeder who had two babies born out of the hospital. So I worked to find my own place to fit. And I started the Crunchy Skeptics group on facebook. It has helped me come in contact with some absolutely marvelous people. I've made wonderful new friends and have some fantastic people as admins. Several scientists, doctors, nurses, journalists, midwives, birth professionals, and more offer support and advice in the group. We chew articles up and debate the real data. We know logical fallacies and point them out readily. I have found the convos there to be unparalleled to most online groups. I know its *just* facebook but its really been a fantastic way for me to focus my time and effort doing what I love: chatting.

Us as a family:

We are now attending Fellowship of Freethought (meets once a month). Always interesting topics and the kids learn some great things about science or the natural world in their classes.
We are hoping to send the oldest three to Camp Quest this summer and Kyle and I will be volunteers.
We are all super excited to be watching the remake of the Cosmos series. This fuels my Neil deGrasse Tyson fangirling which makes everyone only roll their eyes a little bit more at me.
We are going camping with new friends again this weekend.
Wow... Sundays actually spent relaxing. FOR. THE. WIN.

Over the past couple of years I have felt some of the most difficult pain ever. Only rivaled by the pain of losing my father and brother, and it even encompassed that pain as well. I am so glad to be on the other side of it. I think of people like my husband, my mother, my sister, my mother in law, my older children, a few friends who have just listened to me over and over and over again through all of this. For new friends that I never would have met if not for my path of great change. I am a better person for having such open minded people in my life.

I have also lost many friends. And I am close to the point of forgiveness now. At first I felt rejected, then I rejected the relationships myself. It just is what it is. Its almost like a color. I like the color of those friendships very much, I just don't know quite how to incorporate them into the decor of my life now. I hope some day I/we will figure that out.

I was asked the other day if you could go back and not know what you know about the church would you?

At first I would have said yes.

Now? not only no. but hell no.

My life is richer for all the things I've learned.

PS. In other news, Kyle's hair has gotten a lot longer and his vas deferens shorter ;) 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Life in Words, Part Eleven: Biscuits from scratch.

My Mom's story continues, Part One here, Part ten here

And as the day progressed, I learned how to drop the dumplings into the chicken broth, how to fry a chicken, and how to make biscuits from scratch. 

Lizzie, on the other hand, was a strong woman who faced the world unflinchingly.  Kind was not a word used to describe her.  I never saw the mean side, but I have heard that others did.  She was less than soft spoken when it came to her children’s spouses.  But her opinions also changed.  If she didn’t like you on one visit, she may love you on the next.  She didn’t care about your opinions of what she did.  I only knew that she loved me.  She had patience that was in direct contradiction to her reputation.  She allowed me to have so many experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I had spent all my time in the suburbs.  Instead, I know what it is like to walk out to the chicken coop with an apron on to hold the eggs that you were going to steal from the hens.  I thought she was magic because she could walk through the chicken yard without looking at her footsteps, unworried about all the chicken poop she was trudging through.  It was a long while before I realized that she changed her shoes before going inside!  I was too busy delicately holding eggs in the cradle of a cotton apron, dodging poop, and eyeing hens wanting to attack those responsible for making off with their eggs.  After harvesting the eggs, it was time for breakfast.  I was the assistant cook, which meant that I stood on a stool at the stove and assisted.  I learned how to flip an egg so that it was over easy.  I learned how to make toast when there is no toaster.  And as the day progressed, I learned how to drop the dumplings into the chicken broth, how to fry a chicken, and how to make biscuits from scratch.   I would doubt that many of today's foodies would be able to define a biscuit board, much less be able to point one out.  I’m proud to say that Lizzie’s biscuit board has stayed in our family, finding a home with her great great granddaughter.

The story of Lizzie and Ben is another story, and would have been better told by one of their children, but that opportunity has passed.  They had seven children.  Three sons were born first, and I am sure they were despairing of having a daughter.  Audrey came first around 1912.  Then Raleigh Pat in 1914, and Harold Benjamin in 1916.  Finally in 1918, the daughter was born who would one day become my grandmother, my beloved Me-Maw.  They named her Janie Orean Watters and she was born on September 1, 1918.   Four years later, Frank Benjamin was born, and then there was a long spell without the birth of a baby.  Finally Mary Winona came along when Frank was eight, and Margie Faye followed two years later.  That mean that Janie’s two sisters were 12 and 14 years younger than she, but they were close.  In their adult years, Margie and Janie were as inseparable as two women could be.  I doubt that three days went without a long distance phone call.  As the years passed, the closeness of the siblings waxed and waned.  But I grew up close to all my great aunts and uncles, and as it was with great grandparents, my great aunts and uncles were truly more like aunts and uncles.  Three of the siblings – Janie, Frank, and Harold, lived in one block in the suburbs as I grew up.  So for many of my formative years, those uncles were very real masculine role models when my grandfather was working offshore  for a good part of my childhood.  These uncles exhibited the macho stuff – the camping, the boating, the horse riding, the hard drinking.  My grandfather was almost the personal opposite. Never hunted, never drove a boat, and for sure never drank.  More about his horse riding to come, as it plays a very real part in the beginning of my family.

to be continued... 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Life in Words, Part Ten: The last time he would smell fresh air.

On Christmas Day, mom said "I wrote for you."
The story continues, Starting here, Part nine here

To say that I craved sleeping with someone sounds so calm.  Maybe I need all caps in this case.  I CRAVED SLEEPING WITH SOMEONE.  As a reminder, my grandfather was gone most nights, as he worked out in the Gulf of Mexico on an oil rig.  So for most of my childhood, I lived in a house of females.  My grandmother, my aunt, my mother, and me.  When my mother wasn’t available, I would sleep with someone else.  No one turned me down – except for Pa-Paw.  When he would come home, he wanted to sleep with his wife without a child between them.  Took me years to understand that!

The people in my life were not dreamers, or artists, or poets.   They were workers.

Nope.. I didn’t wake up my mother for my school preparations.  That was Me-Maw’s job.  I am quite sure that many princesses didn’t have it as good as I did growing up.  By the time my eyes saw the sunlight of the morning, everything that could be ready, was ready.  My dress was laid out, my breakfast on the table, my satchel by the front door.  Bookbags weren’t invented yet.  I had a little childlike briefcase with cheap plastic straps secured by cheap metal buckles.  I went through several each school year because I tended to be rather rough on them.  Breakfast was the breakfast most kids are unaware of today, unless they go out to I-Hop for breakfast on special occasions.  There was meat (bacon or ham, but most definitely pork), eggs, toast, jelly.  Sometimes it would be grits.  But none of that instant stuff – grits cooked on the stove where I would stand transfixed watching them.  I had a great imagination and I saw them as lava, pulling up into big bubbles until they would pop, sending little pieces of corn meal up inches into the air.  I wouldn’t really see lava in real life until I was in my late thirties on a trip to Hawaii.  And my thought was how much its thickness resembled the grits of my childhood.  I didn’t share that with anyone, however.  I didn’t want to be seen as different.  The people in my life were not dreamers, or artists, or poets.   They were workers.  This is not to say that everyday workers are not artists, it simply means that the mediums they work in are the consumables of our lives.  A farmer grows what he considers to be a perfect squash, but he doesn’t indulge himself with idolizing it or attributing praise to it.  He simply looks at it, thinks to himself how grand it is, then drops it into the bushel with other squash to one day be fried up with butter and onions by another artist whose work is admired by those who eat that perfect squash.  Each artist in that cycle is anonymous to the next, but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful  a process.
My grandmother came from a long line of farmers.  She was the first daughter in a family of four boys and two girls.  For the majority of her life, she was the only daughter.  My great grandparents were Ben and Lizzie Watters.  In talking about my life, I always think of it as a clock that is consistently one hour – in my case, one generation – off.  My grandmother was my mother, my great grandmother was my grandmother, and that leaves my mother as….. well, I really don’t have a good answer for that one.  The closest thing would be to say that my mother was like a sister to me.  I said that to her once and she didn’t speak to me for a year.  But that drama came many years later than the point we are in this story.    

Neither of us imbued any deep philosophical meaning  into those conversations.  We were just friends.

Ben and Lizzie were definitely farmers.  One step above indentured servants to be exact.  They were share croppers.   While they did own some land in “the bottom” as it was known, and made memories there, they generally made money farming land belonging to someone else – someone richer.    I never heard the words poor, or poverty, or needy, or any other synonym we call it now.  They were just “plain folks” who got up each morning, gathered eggs, tended fields, and raised children.  By the time I was old enough to start building my memories, their working farm days were over.  They had moved to “the city.”  And to call Springhill, Louisiana the city was to acknowledge how small was the universe of Ben and Lizzie.  It would be difficult to find two people more diverse than this couple.  While he was a small man, standing only about 5’6’’, she was a tall woman, probably 5” 9”.  My grandmother claimed an English ancestry for her father, but he always looked to me like those described as “black Irish” in that he had dark hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion.  He was an oddity, that his hair never fully turned gray, but kept its dark appearance even at his death in his mid 80s.  Lizzie on the other hand, turned gray very early in life, then when most others are turning gray her hair became white.  WHITE.  Not grayish white, or silver, but white.  It was beautiful, and she was known as a beautiful woman.  As expected, few pictures remain of her, but those that do show a strikingly beautiful young woman, and it is easy for me to romanticize her relationship with Ben.  When they married, he was 32 and she was a mere 16.  At that early age, she was an orphan.  Her mother, my great great grandmother was often called a “black widow”.  She died in her early 30s and left her fourth husband with a young child.  Lizzie’s father was a Newberry and she had many cousins in the southern Arkansas/north Louisiana area.  Ben was known as an honest man and his daughter, my grandmother described him in almost angelic terms, saying that he was the kindest person she had ever known.  I can only say that he was kind and loving to me.  He was the rare adult who treated me almost as an equal.  I spent much of my summers as a young child with my great grandparents in Springhill where I was allowed to do the things that short stories are made of.  Paw-Paw Watters and I planted a field of summer squash.  We would walk every afternoon to feed and walk Buck, his horse around.  We fished.  And we talked.  Long long walks and long long talks.  I wish I could say that I remember those talks, but I think the beauty of them is that I don’t.  They were simply mundane conversations that two friends may share.   Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the crops.  Neither of us imbued any deep philosophical meaning  into those conversations.  We were just friends.  When I was eight-ish, he had a stroke.  It was a terrifying time for me.  I didn’t understand what a stroke meant.  Didn’t know what it was.  When I tried to ask, I was shushed and when I wasn’t shushed, my Me-Maw would cry.  I learned not to ask, but went back to my tried and true routine of simply listening for those snippets of information which I could piece together into some fabric of understanding.  What I didn’t know at the time was that my life with my Paw Paw was forever changed.  
No more walks.  No more Buck.  No more talks.  Just PawPaw in a hospital bed in the middle bedroom.  As the days went into weeks, the weeks turned into months, then years.  He laid in that bed for close to four years until he died the summer of my twelfth year.  So now my memories are mostly of rubbing his feet with lotion, and combing his hair, and singing to him at the request of Me-Maw.  On one of our visits, she got him up and put a robe over his pajamas.  She walked him out to the porch where he enjoyed his last visit outside.  A dear neighbor, Lee Martin, came over to visit with the family on the porch.  Pictures were taken.  Many in the family probably still have an enlargement of that picture in their home.  I  used to look at it and wonder if he knew it was the last time he would smell fresh air, see the sky, or visit with friends while sitting face to face with them.  The rest of his days everything he saw, felt, or sensed was from a prone position.  That makes me sad.