Saturday, May 23, 2015

School's Out!!!!

Another wonderful performance of our children put together by Mrs. B.  She is beyond words amazing.  I've never seen anyone choose such challenging and wonderful pieces.  The kids perform them so expertly that they are actually excited to sing.  They know their parts cold.  They stand tall, smiling with confidence.  And that's saying something because these pieces have so many parts!  I've never seen kids this age perform so well.  Heck, I hardly ever see anyone of any age perform this well.  Can you tell I love it?!?!

The night started out with the 6th grade girls singing several songs.  They did a STUNNING job.  Then the sixth grade boys, including Dallas, did a few and got HUGE applause.  I could tell that even though Dallas was nervous, he was loving it.  Especially the song where they really hammed it up: If I Only Had a Brain. 

It wasn't corny, stupid, or too childish.  It was just clever.  The perfect kind of funny for this age.  I was proud of Dallas, because some of the boys dropped out of choir (Mrs. B doesn't force anyone to sing), but Dallas loves music and was true to himself.  I wouldn't have cared if he quit.  I just want him to be himself, and do the things that make him happy using the gifts God gave him.

Later the upper grades sang their fabulous pieces.


On a different day, we came to watch Samuel perform his civil war play.  Mrs. B outdid herself again with the songs.  There was a bit of acting interspersed with music and recitations.

The Recitations were done by the entire class in unison: O Captain! O Captain!, The Gettysburg Address, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The songs were: The Battle Cry of Freedom, The Union Forever, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, Suppertime, Goober Peas, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier, The Cruel War is Raging, Tenting on the Old Campground, The Blue Tail Fly, Oh! Susanna, Pop Goes the Weasel, Yonder Come Day, Shenandoah, When Johnny Comes Marching, Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Sam is in both of these pictures but he's really hard to see.  Aren't the costumes just great?!  They looked so cool marching in.



The last day of school was overcast, cold and rainy like this whole weird spring.   We've hardly seen the sun since spring break!!

Sadly, one of our favorite teachers, Mr. M is leaving us.  I so wanted Sam to have him next year that I feel deflated and want to return to homeschooling.  It is so rare to find a teacher that is, A)Male, B)Excellent, & C) Excellent!  He has a great sense of humor and he demands excellence from the students.  I will miss hearing about the great philosophical discussions they had in class.  These kids learn about things I never even learned in high school and then Mr. M gives them weeks to just discuss the things they learned in class, working their minds, rather than just memorizing answers.  He taught History, Math, and Science for Dallas.  Dallas excelled, read tons of books, and memorized many important works.

Since Sam is a year ahead in math, he got to go to Mr. M's class too for math.  Dallas is a year ahead too, but we just taught him at home and he sat in the 6th grade class doing 7th grade work.

Our other favorite teachers, Mrs. S and Mrs. H.  These ladies gave Dallas (last year), and Sam (this year) the confidence to not only be their best, but to have fun!  This is the first school year Sam has done from start to finish.  He became so responsible and made great friends. He took care of all his own work, packing lunches, getting up and ready, while getting A's! 

My friend who just had twins is moving away.  I'm so sad.  I've been driving her daughter to and from school most days so that she wouldn't have to take these babies out in the cold.  Super mom!

I've been helping my other friend Chantelle also; getting her daughter home from school and her house ready to sell.  She is also possibly moving away and has been going through a lot, to put it mildly.

Anyway, lots of good happened this year at school and we are so glad it's now summer vacation!  Lot's of big decisions to make this summer.  Evan's year at home wasn't that great.  We really did have too much going on for me to focus on that very well.  He'll have to continue into the summer.  Girl's camp is coming up in just a couple weeks, then Pat's camp the next month.  It seems my school will never end.  It's not over until the end of July.  College is rough.  Drives me crazy.  Best thing about it is that I get to meet with these awesome people every Thursday night.  I need a better picture; four people are missing.  But I get to meet with an actual Albuquerque policeman!  And a female boxer! And Santa Claus!  All members of the church.  All awesome.
I went to my work out group pretty consistently this whole school year.  Now we break for the summer since swim lessons are early in the morning for most of us.

Friday, May 22, 2015

10 Ways To Be Hospitable Without Going Nuts

Copied from http://www.ahappyhomemedia.com/2012/04/10-ways-to-be-hospitable-without-going-nuts/

10 Ways To Be Hospitable Without Going Nuts

April 17, 2012 ·
1.  Remember that people are more important than things.  Having plastic on the furniture or carpets that cannot be walked on without first dubbing fresh socks speaks loudly that the house is not to be used to relax in, but to admire.   If your family members can put their bare feet up on the coffee table or just grab a glass (any glass) to get some drinking water with, it won’t be a big effort for your guests to do the same. Does your home welcome people or make them unsure of where they can and cannot sit?
2.  Keep the house tidy as usual (whatever your state of “usual” is) but don’t wait for everything to be bleach-clean before opening your home to guests.  Furthermore, if someone  stops by when there’s still a pile of laundry to fold, welcome them anyway and either fold while you talk or put it off for a while.  There’s no need to apologize; this is your home and yes, there is work to be done in it.  You don’t necessarily need to stop your work when people come over; they can visit while you tend the everyday needs or toss the salad.

Pizza is an easy meal to prepare and serve. This is sourdough crust topped with sausage, spinach, mushrooms and cheese.
3.  Do have food and drink on hand, especially for those surprise, last minute guests.  There is always *something* you could offer.  For ideas, be sure to listen to my podcast, Fast Food: How to Feed People on the Quick.  I have a designated tea drawer that my friends know they can just come dig into when they come in.  You could have something similar for kid-friendly snacks, or at the very least, a lemon or some mint in the fridge to add to a fresh pitcher of water.  Also have on hand a decent first aid kit for those inevitable boo-boos.  You don’t want to offer a toilet paper wrap when a bandaid would be better.
4.  Have a bin of toys for toddlers in various places so that when you have a mommy over, she can keep a close eye on her babe easily.  For example, I have a shelf of toys in the kitchen, and a couple in the living room.  It’s also easy for me to pull out a small bin of magnets or whatnot for an older child to play with at the kitchen table.  For more ideas on toy organization, listen to Toys and Their Organization.  This really helps with (a) mommies who are new to your house and don’t want to lose their child into unfamiliar places, and (b) helping you to quietly encourage and keep children close to their moms when you feel they are a little too wily to be beyond mom’s reach.

Have a place where people can easily hang coats (and hats!).
5.  Just because you have folks over doesn’t mean you can’t “help” them leave when the time is right.  Sometimes my kids will be getting really tired and *done* with visitors, and I’ll politely excuse myself or our family by saying something like, “….well…I’m so glad you took time to come over!”  Or, if the visitor isn’t getting the hint, something like, “Well, I’d love to visit with you longer, but I really need to let you go so I can (bathe the kids….get to bed at a reasonable time….prepare for supper…).”
6.  Do consider giving your guest your attention.  That doesn’t mean your work has to necessarily stop (see #2), but it does mean leaving the phone to the answering machine and especially NOT checking your Facebook updates, tweets and emails!  If you must take a call that you’re expecting, be sure to let your caller know that you are currently with a guest and will call them back.  Give the person who is in front of your face priority.

You could always use paper goods, but real dishware is a real nice touch.
7.  It’s all right to say “no”.  Being “hospitable” does not mean you need to have an open door policy to anyone who wants to drop in at any time they want to or need to drop in.  That being said, being hospitable does mean being available for emergencies and having some flexibility.  Some folks are just plain needy and will take up all of your time if you let them; others would never drop by unannounced unless it was urgent.  Use some wisdom to know when to bend, and when to stand firm and graciously say, “I’m sorry, I cannot give time to that today.”
8.  If you’re having someone over for the first time and there’s a meal involved, it is all right (and appropriate) to inquire regarding allergies and so forth.  But that does not mean you need to overhaul your own cooking to meet the needs of picky people (who always need their non-fat, only organic, homemade salad dressing on the side…or won’t eat anything made with salt….or must have a cocktail with their meal…or who have children who will only eat hot dogs, etc.).  It is one thing to bend your meals to accommodate, it is quite another to receive the menu you “must” create.   Personally, I never make separate meals for picky children (note:  picky, not allergic)…but if their parent wants to bring or provide them a peanut butter sandwich instead of having my lasagna, I’m not offended.  It’s their deal and they’ll figure that mess out at some point (we hope!). In that same vein, don’t stress if your overnight guests demand amenities you can’t or don’t want to provide.  You are not a hotel, and they can (a) appreciate what you do offer, or (b) graciously stay someplace else.  It’s amazing what people will sometimes expect (or demand) from you to meet or gain their approval!  Just do the best you can in meeting their needs in love, and let them simmer in their own sauce over areas that are over the line for you or your family.

What can you do to make your guests feel right at home?
9.  Try to keep at least one bathroom tidy at all times with a clean sink, fresh hand towel and plenty of toilet paper.  Get the hair up off the floor every day and the toothpaste gunk off the sink.  That way when your unexpected (or expected!) guest needs to freshen up, it will be a pleasant experience.  And on the days no guest is using the loo, you will be blessed in at least one bathroom!  It’s nice to have the plunger nearby too, to save face if a child clogs the toilet; the parent can just quietly deal with it.  And speaking of such, remember that children sometimes have accidents; don’t make an issue of it!  Just sweetly provide clean-up materials and don’t stress over your carpet, hardwood floor, etc.  Remember….people are more important than stuff, and that includes kids!
10.  Bless your guests.  If they are sad, give them some understanding and some cheer.  If they are down, offer some encouragement.  If they are happy about something, try to join them in their joy.  You can pray with them, or at least for them, while they are there.  If there are children involved, I try to never send them away hungry.  Think about how YOU would be blessed in their shoes, and do likewise.  Let them leave your home refreshed and blessed!
Hospitality isn’t about having the perfectly set up home ahead of time.  Hospitality is about serving people with love, and being open (and home!) to welcome them in their needs.  May your guests be blessed by your hospitality, and may you have peace in receiving them. Certainly you can’t please everyone, but you can have quietness and satisfaction in the Lord knowing you followed His lead in how you dealt with folks.
For more ideas on hospitality (without going nuts!), visit the other High Five Moms in the next few days.  Tell them I sent you; I know their little spaces in Blogland are awaiting to bless and encourage you, too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's hard being a tapping, fairy princess.

Leia came to me to say she was "so hungry".  I said dinner would be ready in 10 minutes.

She said, "Is there any melt in it?"

"What?"

"Melt."

"Milk?"

"Melt."

"What is melt?"

"Something that you melt in it, like butter or salt or cheese."

"Yes Leia, there's melt in it."



----
These two, always together.

Earlier today she was eating olives with one on each finger.

She came into where I was and said, "Mom!  I was eating olives and then I saw something hairy, and I looked to see what it was, and it was Charlie!  He woke up from his nap!"

Thinking that was a weird thing to say, but moving on, I asked, "So Charlie's awake?  Where is he?"

"Here I am!", he says with his deep growly voice as he comes around the corner and smiles at me.  Then I get to hold him a while.  And laugh that Leia called him hairy.

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Charlie copies everything people say, especially Leia, almost word for word, in his deep voice, always smiling.  How's that for a run-on sentence?

Last night as we were kneeling to say prayer, we were all talking about something with Charlie repeating every third word like he was part of the conversation.  At the end, Evan said, "I doubt it", and then Pat said to Sam, "Will you pray?", and before Sam could start, Charlie said, "Doubt it."  We all busted up.

------------
Ready for church.

Charles has become a terrible twos poster boy.  As soon as we get in the car he screams to get out of his carseat and takes off his shoes.  He's been yelling wherever we go lately which is really wearing on me.  When I change his diaper I have to hold his legs and arms and body while changing him because he tries to get away.  He makes it as difficult as possible for me to get his socks and pants on.  At bedtime and and naptime he's awful.  He only wants to sleep with me.  If he doesn't like the food he yells, "Don't want it!", and walks away.  Whenever I force him to take a bite he yells, "Stop it!"  He thinks it's funny though, so I think he enjoys it.  He enjoys being a turkey and a royal pain in the butt.  Still, he's a dream come true, because I'm his mom and he really is the sweetest, cutest thing ever!


This is his chasing chickens outfit.
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I just want to take a moment to say that I made it to my goal of not eating any sugar for 30 days.  This means I actually had to skip EASTER!  Crazy.  It's been hard, but not hard.  I miss my jordan almonds.  But mostly chocolate.  Now, I've continued this on for almost another month, but I've had sugar a couple times.  Once on a date and Pat MADE me share dessert with him, and once for a movie night when everyone was eating popcorn and candy and I had a bite.  Man- it's tough being in a house of sugar freaks.

I think the only way I was able to do it, was that I got a used book called, "Fit for My King, by Sheri Rose Shepherd.  The book helped me focus on being healthy to better serve God, not just to have perfect skin and fit into those jeans again.  Which is good, because I've only lost like 5lbs and my skin hasn't changed at all.  I don't feel amazing or different really.  I feel a bit cheated.  For how much I have to say no to foods I feel like I should have lost 50lbs.   But I am glad that now when I get a sweet tooth, I go for yogurt w/honey or fruit.  I know that is better whether or not I look awesome.

We've been ordering a box of local, organic vegetables weekly since we figured it is how much we normally spend on fruits and vegetables.  These are better for you, but I don't get to pick what is in the box necessarily.  So, I've been trying a lot of new recipes, because I can't stand to waste anything and not eat it.

Beet burgers-delicious!

Mujadra- Indian Lentils with heirloom tomatoes

They gave us a pineapple that wasn't too sweet, so I cut it up, sauteed it in butter and brown sugar and then dumped it in a bundt pan, topping it with my favorite pound cake recipe.  Look how gorgeous!!!
Now for the glaze.  Perfect.  Of course I couldn't eat a morsel of it.  But it was still beautiful.
Leia thought it needed pink sprinkles.

I got a picture of her cute new dress from the Mullen Grandparents with a bracelet that matched it.  So pretty.

We have the weirdest things going down the freeway.  We captured something for once.  I think it has to do with the aliens.

Roasted golden beets with sweet potatoes.  Yum.

We planted a garden last week.  A small simple one that the kids are in charge of because they were the ones begging for it.  We did it for family night, and as soon as we came inside, a storm blew in.  It has barely stopped raining and snowing for days now.  Who knows if any of this will survive.  So sad!!  Glad for the rain, but it's late May!!!  This is crazy!!  For weeks we have barely been able to get up and down our super muddy road.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Weather....

We need the rain but this week has been full of mud and now it's snowing like crazy!  It's May 16th.


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Children. It's about the children.


(This is copied directly from asktheBigot)

Gay Marriage

gay-marriage
My mother and her partner have been together since I was 10, soon after my parent’s divorce. Since that time much of my life was spent in their home, surrounded by their community of women. They were deeply involved in my childhood and adolescence, and I have fond memories of them attending my concerts, sporting events, plays, graduation, bridal showers, wedding, baby showers and holiday gatherings. They continue to be a loving and supportive fixture in my family.
None the less, I oppose gay marriage. The foremost focus of my opposition to gay marriage is the rights and well-being of children.
I want to be clear that my advocacy against gay marriage and for the rights of children will never include condemnation of my mother and her partner or details about their private lives. Unlike the gay lobby who often uses children as pawns to forward their cause, I will not be sharing specifics about my parents to advance my arguments. What you need to know about my parents and their partners/spouses, is that I love them. They are worthy of dignity, respect and privacy.
Some adult children with gay parents shy away from making their thoughts about marriage public because we do not want to jeopardize our relationships with those to whom our hearts are tethered. Unfortunately, the gay lobby has made gay marriage the sole badge of loyalty to our gay family and friends. The label of bigot or hater have become very powerful and effective tools to silence those of us who choose not to endorse the marriage platform of the gay lobby. However, those tactics are no longer strong enough to keep me silent. Advocating for the rights of children, and how they relate to the institution of marriage, is not something that anyone should be timid about.
As our country moves toward redefining marriage into a genderless institution, the primary question is: What is society’s interest in marriage? Why do we promote this relationship above others?  Is it to validate the emotional bonds of adults? Is it to stabilize partnerships? Is it an instrument with which to give a stamp of equality to our gay brothers and sisters? Adults can, and should, be able to form consensual relationships of their choosing. Barriers to a partner’s bedside in the hospital, shared property rights, and freedom to live the life they desire should never be imposed upon by government. That is why many of us supported civil unions for gays and lesbians.  If society’s concern in marriage is adults, then by all means we can redefine this institution which has spanned centuries, cultures and religions to suit that perception.
But the reality is that society’s interest in marriage is children and our elected government’s primary role in this, and any legislation, is one which protects the rights and best interest of its citizens. Especially the well-being of those who cannot advocate for themselves. What more vulnerable individual exists requiring such protection than children? Children do not have powerful lobbies, flashy publications, and lawyers tripping over one another to offer pro-bono services for their cause.
Each side of this debate argues on the case of someone’s “right.” Those in favor of redefining marriage speak of the “right to marry” and “the right to parenthood.” Unfortunately, rights have lost their true meaning. They are now popularly employed as a label for anything that someone really really wants. This is simply desire based reasoning which is entirely incorrect. What I am referencing here is true rights. Rights which cannot be given by government, but which exist pre-government. Rights which are self-evident, as our founder fathers would say.
When you look at a newborn- if there is no hospital chart or adults cooing over her, cards from friends and family, a birth certificate in your hand- what do you know about that child? What is absolutely undeniable just from that baby’s existence? By counting her fingers and toes you cannot know her housing situation, the number of siblings she has, her living conditions, what school she is zoned for, or her access to food and water. What you know as you gaze at that wondrous and precious child is that she IS. What did that require? It required that nine months earlier a man and a woman came together to provide the ingredients for her existence. That is all. Until the world starts to tell Baby Girl’s story for her thorough whatever cultural or religious context she has been born into, there are two things that are true about that child. Two things entitled to her because, just because, she is crying and squirming and breathing and yawning. Two rights that every child, EVERY child, shares when they arrive in this world.
First, the right to live. Second, the right to have a relationship with their father and a mother.
When a child loses their right to live, at least on this side of the womb, we severely punish the perpetrator. The loss of that right is nothing that government or any human agent will be able to repay or restore. The same is true of the second right- the right to belong to one’s parents.
The law upholds the natural right of parents to have a direct, custodial relationship with their offspring, provided they do not neglect or abuse them. In fact, even a parent who does not wish to be involved in his/her child’s life is required to help support that child financially.
Assistance programs and social service agencies – largely government-funded – go to great lengths to keep families of origin together, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. Presumably, one could argue that some (even many) of these children would be “better off” by certain objective measures if they were quickly removed from their family of origin and placed for adoption. But the burden of proof lies with the government to establish that parents are neglectful or abusive before terminating their natural rights.  Parents who wish to place children for adoption must freely consent to having their natural rights terminated, and indeed when this consent has been uninformed or deceptively obtained (or even just regretted after the fact), heart wrenching custody battles between biological and adoptive parents have ensued.
Surely a parent’s right to be in a direct, custodial relationship with his/her offspring lies not within the realm of property law, as if the child were something owned. Rather, this right is a natural one that is universal and self-evident. The child’s right to be in a direct, nurturing relationship with his/her parents is its reciprocal. Children “belong” to their parents only to the extent that parents “belong” to their children.
Connections with birth parents matter to children. Why has there been a dramatic shift toward open adoption? Because there has been a near universal recognition that children benefit from having as many connections with their family of origin as possible. It is why many states now require that adoption records be open to children.
Step back from the gay marriage debate for a moment and look at the lives of children you know. Perhaps look at your own life. When a parent has been lost because of death, abandonment, estrangement, or divorce there is harm. There is pain. The child grieves, is angry, and mourns. Whether it is a longing to know the mysterious missing half of one’s heritage or a life-long gaping wound, losing a parent brings pain. It is a loss that cannot be restored by government or any human agent. No mentor, teacher, grandparent, Head Start program or case worker can take the place of that absent mother or father. Even if the parent resurfaces later in life, each day that the parent was absent has been permanently lost.
This is how one gay father describes his daughter’s loss:
SOMETIMES when my daughter, who is 7, is nicely cuddled up in her bed and I snuggle her, she calls me Mommy. I am a stay-at-home dad. My male partner and I adopted both of our children at birth in open domestic adoptions. We could fill our home with nannies, sisters, grandmothers, female friends, but no mothers. My daughter says “Mommy” in a funny way, in a high-pitched voice. Although I refer the honors immediately to her birth mom, I am flattered. But saddened as well, because she expresses herself in a voice that is not her own. It is her stuffed-animal voice. She expresses not only love; she also expresses alienation. She can role-play the mother-daughter relationship, but she cannot use her real voice, nor have the real thing.
To institutionalize something is not just to permit it, to “live and let live.” With the redefinition of marriage, we are not simply allowing people to form relationships of their choosing. They have been doing so for decades. I can assure you that in the eighties and nineties, the community of women with whom I had extensive contact were free to love whomever they chose to love. That has been the case for decades in every place where gay sex has been decriminalized.
When we institutionalize same-sex marriage however, we move from permitting citizens the freedom to live as they choose to promoting same-sex headed households. In doing so, we ignore the true nature of the outcropping of marriage. Now we are normalizing a family structure where a child WILL ALWAYS be deprived daily of one gender influence and the relationship with at least one natural parent. Our cultural narrative becomes one that, in essence, tells children that they have no right to the natural family structure or their biological parents, but that children simply exist for the satisfaction of adult desires.
When marriage policy and cultural narrative deviates from the reality that one man plus one woman makes a baby, we end up with scenarios such as the one described by author Andrew Soloman:
When I met John, who is now my husband, he told me that he had had some friends, Tammy and Laura, for whom he had been a sperm donor, and that they had a son named Oliver, of whom he was the biological father. A few years later, they asked him to be a sperm donor again, and they produced a daughter, Lucy. A good friend of mine from college had gone through a divorce and said that she really longed to be a mother, and I said how much I would love to be the father of her child. And so we decided to produce a child through an IVF process. John and I then wanted to have a child who would live with us all the time, and we decided to use an egg donor, and Laura, the lesbian who had carried Oliver and Lucy, offered to be our surrogate as a way of thanking John for providing her with a family. So the shorthand is: five parents of four children in three states.
This is truly human trafficking. Manipulating children into existence to satisfy the desires of adults. In Andrew Solomon’s “post-nuclear” family, as he calls it, the four children living in three states were conceived with the intent to separate them from one of their biological parents.  The desires of the five adults were satisfied.  The rights of the four children- to be known and raised by their biological parents were not. The UN gets this one exactly right. Article 7 in their Convention on the Rights of the Child states, “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.” The right to something that you cannot produce yourself is no right at all. As soon as a homosexual couple can produce a child without any assistance from others, then they absolutely have a right to have a child and the right to marry.
It is not just about a child’s rights, though that should be enough for any court, political initiative or piece of legislation. It is also a question of the child thriving. Beyond the superficial stereotypes, gender is a real phenomenon. Men tend to be risk takers, initiators, more active and aggressive and competitive, and continually seeking new enterprises and conquests. Women are more oriented toward relationship, tend to seek security, are naturally nurturing, more verbal, and prefer intimacy over action. So, it is no surprise that these gender differences manifest themselves in unique and complimentary benefits regarding child development. As children age, they benefit from daily interaction with their father and mother:
Men are more likely to play expansively with their children than to do mundane care taking; women tend to be more practical. Mothers tend to be more responsive to their child’s immediate needs, while fathers tend to be more firm, more oriented to abstract standards of justice (right and wrong). Mothers tend to emphasize the emotional security of their children, while fathers tend to stress competition and risk taking. Mothers tend to seek the immediate well-being of the child, while fathers tend to foster long-term autonomy and independence. Kids need both.
Even during infancy, studies have shown that children respond differently to male and female faces and voices. For those who feel that there is no significant difference between men and women in a child’s life, I hope that they would take that philosophy into every other area of human interaction. They should not object to an all-male Supreme Court because women, after all, do not offer a unique perspective. We should not care if a low-income school district has all female teachers because strong male role models are unnecessary.   And, if all of that is true, I expect to see our president surrounded by an all-female secret security entourage.
The reality is, that to say gender makes no meaningful difference in any scenario is silly. I am shocked when someone makes the case that genderless marriage will not affect the most vital societal import of all – child development. Children are most likely to thrive when they are raised by their mother and father. And if those parents are incapable of providing proper care of the child? The most appropriate approximation of the family unit is their right; a male and female union.
We have all the social evidence needed to authenticate the truth that children need both sexes represented in their parentage. When a child is raised outside of an intact family, specifically without the involvement of their father, we see that the likelihood that they will be incarcerated skyrockets, they perform poorly in school, live in poverty, fall victim to trafficking, are sexually active at an early age and experience both poor physical and mental health. Fathers and mothers are staples in the diet of emotional food that children require. Without one or the other, they are emotionally malnourished.
Allow me to address some common objections.
I am not saying that same-sex attraction makes you a bad parent. My mother was an exceptional parent. She modeled self-sacrifice, healthy communication, and was continually nurturing and involved. I never went through a phase where I was ashamed of her or her partner. Not even that morning when I was cornered by a crowd of girls who were taunting me for having “two moms.” I am grateful that both my mother and her partner are involved in my children’s lives. Conversely, being heterosexual does not a good parent make. Parenting is a skill that gay or straight can learn.
I am not saying that those in same sex relationships are incapable of commitment of fidelity. My mother and her partner could hold a clinic on both of those. Fidelity and commitment are daily choices that homosexual and heterosexual couples must make.
Some might object with, “But marriage has never been about children, because many heterosexual marriages don’t produce children.” If that is the case, then why have some gay marriage advocates sought, bought, and/or trumpeted the “studies” which are aimed at “proving” that children do not suffer any ill effects by being systematically separated from a natural parent? (None of those studies were conducted using randomly-derived participants, mind you.) Why then are gay marriage supporters so quick to point out that many gay couples are, in fact, raising children together, apparently as a means of demonstrating the suitability of same-sex relationships for the institution of marriage and driving home the moral necessity of legally recognizing their relationships? If marriage isn’t about children, who cares?
If they are right, that mothers and fathers are interchangeable and one or the other is unnecessary, then perhaps Hollywood should make another Parent Trap. In the re-make Hayley Mills stays in London because, obviously, her longing to be known by her father is invalid. She is actually very happy only knowing her mother.  She is wrong to want a relationship with her father.  Tell the other Hayley Mills that she doesn’t need her mom either. She is perfectly happy with only her father regardless of what her heart tells her. Tell them both that their feelings are baseless and unfounded. For that matter, you should tell every child who has an absent parent through death, divorce, abandonment or third-party reproduction that their sense of loss is illogical. Have you met any of those kids?  Are they unaffected by the loss of their parent? Truth is, you will not find a child in those gay marriage affirming “studies” that have come to their same-sex parents through any means other than death, divorce, abandonment, or third-party reproduction.  And yet the “studies” show no ill effects?  These are quite obviously mutually exclusive outcomes.
What if we looked at it another way? Consider the heterosexual couple that chooses not to have children. Does it follow then that they do not have a real marriage? Again, we need to take our cues from the self-evident.  Not every romantic union can or will produce a child. But every child has a mother and father.  If marriage is a child-centric institution, then we do right by children when public policy reflects this biological reality. Children are made by a man and a woman. In the optimal scenario, they are also raised by them. As a society, we should make policy to reflect that reality. The ideal.
Some argue that two loving and caring men make a better home than a drug-addicted single mom. What fool would disagree with that? I actually traveled internationally with two women who were willing to adopt a girl with special needs. Those two women were game to take on a child that no heterosexual couple in her home country, or ours really, would adopt. Clearly, that precious child will have a far better life with my friends than in an under-staffed, under-funded foreign institution.
But let’s be clear, in all the above scenarios we are talking about degrees of brokenness. For the child, there is no such thing as an “intact” home when they are in a same-sex headed household. Just because in a few cases a child who has found themselves in a horrific situation would be better off with two parents of the same gender does not necessitate writing out of civil code the right to a relationship with one’s natural parents. Just like the children I know who are being raised by their aunt and uncle because their parents neglected them. Or the grandparents who are raising their grandson because his mother is an addict. Or the child who is being raised by her single mother because her father broke both of her mother’s legs and now the two are constantly moving to stay away from him. Brokenness finds children and the people in their lives do their best to pick up the pieces. However, we do not institutionalize or incentivize the grandparent-headed household, or the aunt-and-uncle-headed household, or the single-parent headed household. Why? Because public policy should not encourage or endorse brokenness for a child because a couple, or “throuple” wants to have a family. Children are entitled to parents. Not the other way around.
I understand and lament the personal and emotional challenges and hardships that many same-sex attracted people have suffered in their lives. I grieve over the decades that some have spent “closeted” or feeling as though they could not be honest about their inner turmoil or attraction. The way to right those wrongs is throw open our hearts and homes to our gay family and friends. It is to hire people based on their experience, qualifications and education and not their sexual orientation. It is to include them in our activities, parties, and Thanksgiving dinners. It is to give them the freedom to establish relationships and communities of their choosing. But the remedy does not lie in eliminating or minimizing the rights of children.
I am not so naïve as to say that gay marriage is the biggest or only threat to children having access to their mother and father. Pre-marital sex, cohabitation and divorce are statistically a greater risk to children. But please note that there are no wide-spread efforts to institutionalize, glamorize and legally incentivize those family arrangements. Frankly, if there were? I would oppose them too.
If marriage is for adults, then what institution is for children? Maybe your answer is public education. The problem with that argument is that a student who isn’t having their emotional needs met at home is more likely to flounder in school, as any teacher will attest. But if you get the family right, then you get a higher likelihood of academic health thrown in with the deal. In fact, a married “in-tact” home is the single greatest weapon that that society has in the fight to lower incarceration rates, to reduce the number of children living in poverty, curtail child trafficking, promote mental and physical child wellness, and so on.
If society’s interest in marriage is children, then why are we promoting a family structure where a child would have to be denied a relationship with their mother or father just so the adults can have the “family” they desire? Why, if some believe that they are “born gay,” does the gay lobby seek to legally sever the much more self-evident truth that children are “born” to both a mother and father? Why, if the gay lobby’s mantra is that they do not want the government to tell them “who to love,” would they tell children that being loved by one of their natural parents is unnecessary?
For much of my adult life I was content to keep my opinions on the subject of marriage to myself. I was (and still am) sickened by the accusation that I was bigoted and anti-gay for my belief in natural marriage. For many years those tactics kept me quiet. I didn’t seek a venue where I could share my views. But I have come to realize that my silence, and the silence of others, has allowed for the conversation to be dominated by those who claim that only animus, ignorance, or indoctrination could lead one to oppose “marriage equality.”
If you are one of those who support the redefinition of marriage which promotes a family structure that necessitates the permanent loss of the rights of children, what counter-balancing measures will you take? How many laws will you have to introduce to ensure that children will not be systematically separated from the natural order of parenthood in order to satisfy the desires of adults? Will you outlaw third-party reproduction? Will you compel adoption agencies to consider gender as a qualification for adoptive couples? Will you repeatedly state that despite the newly redefined institution of marriage, that children should not be separated from their natural parents except in extreme cases of abuse or neglect?
Or will you possibly recognize that you cannot have it both ways? Truth is, you cannot redefine marriage AND recognize that fathers and mothers are both critical to child rights and child flourishing. What you will find yourself doing is political double-speak as President Obama did in a speech last February. Our President, who intimately understands the pain of fatherlessness, first said that “there’s no more important ingredient for success… than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.” But because he has now “evolved” on the subject of gay marriage, he had to add that “loving, supportive parents” can include gay and straight parents. So how do you “promote marriage and encourage fatherhood” when some marriages will not include fathers? You can’t.
You can either believe that fathers and mothers are valuable and children have a right to both, or, you can redefine marriage to promote a family structure where a father or mother will never be present. Period. When gay couples have “equal access” to the institution of marriage it means that children will not have “equal access” to parents influencing and raising them the way nature intended.
You must either side with adult desires or side with children’s rights.
You cannot do both.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Prayer

Last night Leia said the prayer and somewhere in the middle she said "Thanks for God, thanks that we can listen to him, and help us to Choose The Writing, because writing in our journals is important."  Her prayers are always looong and so cute. 

The crew on Mother's Day.

Charles painting.