Christmas Confessions

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit at a loss. Like I don’t have much to say.
 
Which is probably more than a little ironic, seeing as one of my main complaints these days is that I don’t have enough people to talk to.
 
This should solve that problem, right? To just blather out everything I think in the middle of the world.
 
It doesn’t. It doesn’t make sense to me.
 
Anyway, I wrote that whole other post about getting into the holiday spirit…but the truth is I haven’t. I love the tree and I love the time off that my family will have soon, but I haven’t gotten into the whole present/gift/happy buying spirit yet.
 
I haven’t bought the first present yet.
 
ISN’T THAT AWFUL?
 
Shameful. I know. It is.
 

There are people on my Facebook and Twitter and wherever else who have been buying gifts and planning since September.
 
SEPTEMBER.
 
Josh and I traditionally wait until Christmas Eve. 
 
I don’t see that changing this year.
 
And what’s worse, one of the main reasons I wait so long every year is that I just damn despise most people. We went in WalMart the night we put up the Christmas tree, and after the fourth person ignored Lucy’s, “Hi! Hi! Hi!” and the second old lady stood UNDER OUR ELBOWS at the checkout, I turned to Josh and said, “Oh my god I fucking HATE CHRISTMAS.”
 
I know. It’s harsh. But sweet Moses, what happened to grace? Manners? Decency? Personal space? Isn’t this the season of good will and brotherly love and all that shit?
 
I know I don’t exactly sound like the poster child for any of those things…but here in Baptist Town should it be me?
 
So anyway, this week is Christmas. Shop local. Be nice. 
 
Ho ho ho.

Guest Thankfulness

(Today the lovely Kelly from MomGotBlog is posting. About all the thankful. I asked her to guest post because I follow her on twitter and you guys….she’s just so cool.)
(looking for the giveaway?)

My 30-Day of Gratitude List-Cliff Note Version

As this is a month that many are doing a 30-day gratitude post, tweet, what-have-you, I thought I would cut to the chase and list them all at once. I am trying to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where I have 30 days to pen a 50,000 word novel. I’m already behind, so this short cut works for me and hopefully you too. You don’t have to wait to see what I am grateful for! WIN!

Ok, here goes in no particular order (other than #1. If they were not first, they may disown me.)

30 Things I am Grateful For:

1. My Family
2. My BFF Kim who makes me laugh, always.
3. My health
4. Morning runs (not the bathroom kind)
5. Coffee
6. Wine & Cheese
7. Good food
8. That I can make good food.
9. Sunflowers
10.Whoever invented peel-n-stick envelopes (I love you)
11. Sunny days spent on the patio
12. That we caught hubs cancer early
13. The ocean
14. Watching old (B&W old!) movies with my father-in-law
15. That we made a ‘Top 3, Must-Have’ Santa list
16. Chasing my dream
17. Making new friends
18. Never having to go camping again.
19. Seeing U2 in concert. Best. Ever.
20. Chocolate
21. Smelling the roses
22. Cereal of ANY kind.
23. My imagination
24. Liking sports
25. A good book
26. Beautiful artwork
27. I can now give rather than receive toys that make noise. Karma.
28. Christmas Music. It makes me happy for 24 days.
29. That I can cry at a commercial.
30. Finishing this list.

Ok, that last one was kind of cheating, but I needed a 30! Some things on this list are silly and some serious…I appreciate ALL things big or small that make up my life. I really am grateful for all of it. As the Thanksgiving Holiday draws near, I hope you will be able to sit for a moment and reflect on all that you are grateful for. Even the silly things! :)

One last bit of gratitude I have is for Emily and asking me to be a guest here! I think she is very cool and am honored that she has invited me to post on her blog! See? Number 17!!
Thanks Emily!!!


Kelly Pugliano | Writer, Blogger
Founder of Mom Got Blog
Contact me today for freelance or advertising needs.

www.momgotblog.com

Twitter: @Kpugs
Facebook: Mom Got Blog

Thoughts on competition

(looking for the giveaway?)

So we’ve talked about the competition that I’m in for the blogging scholarship. A normal person would link to the voting thing right about now, but I’ve pretty much given up hope of winning. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Which is good, because it frees me up to say what I really think.

I mean, I was never officially hindered, but if I were talking trash and then I accepted ten grand from them that would be a little bit of bad form. Which I try to avoid. Sometimes.

But I won’t be accepting any money from them, so I’ve got some things to say.

Within a few hours of the email announcing the finalists, several of the finalists had hundreds of votes. Within a day or so, the numbers had escalated to tens of thousands.

It was intimidating, especially considering that the top contender at one point had 64,567 votes to my 75.

Then Friday night I got an email saying that the votes had been reset, due to “ballot stuffing” – which is a term I’ve never heard before. But I suppose it makes sense.

The same people are winning now, which is what was expected I guess.

The reset, though, led to a situation I hadn’t anticipated. I soon received an email from a fellow contestant, and this dude is PISSED. He’s angry that the suspected cheaters were not removed from eligibility (basically there was no way to know that it wasn’t done by a third party, the people said), and he’s calling for people to petition the proprietors. Then the website edits his comments calling for the petition, saying they don’t appreciate “hate mail.”

Hence commences a series of “reply-all” conversations, picking and sniping and keeping serene zen all in turn.

Which brings me to my reevaluation of the entire situation.

I think online voting is a shit way to determine something like a scholarship. I purposely haven’t perused the other blogs because I tend to get down on myself, so I don’t know how I stack up against any of them, hence this statement is unbiased: I think merit and need and all around awesome should be factors in the decision. I think it should be decided by committee or whatever. The current system is obviously flawed.

Besides that, we all know that popular doesn’t always equal best. Ashton Kutcher has five zillion followers on Twitter and Ke$ha is a thing.

Proof provided.

I have the pottymouth kid. Fine by me.

(Just so you know, the pictures don’t have anything to do with my content today. Our town held its yearly Grand Illumination this weekend, so I took some pictures. It was fun times.)

I don’t know about you, but when I was little, cussing was this huge taboo thing. I remember, even watching sitcoms with mom, every time someone said dammit I’d whip my head around to see how offended she was. I did it so much that eventually she told me that people were going to talk like that so I just needed to quit looking at her.

Well, my kids don’t have those issues.

From the time Max was three and got a note sent home from preschool for talking about his nuts, I have done my best to be honest with my kids about the language that exists. No one in my house has a pristine vocabulary, so it’s kind of inevitable that the kids repeat what they hear.

We told them years ago that words were just that – words. That they only hold the power we give them. That some words were best kept at home, where we all understand each other….or, well, where we all know cusswords.

I grew up with a big fear of swear words. Probably from the Baptists. Somewhere around seventh grade, though, I found the delicious thrill of four-letter-words. My language was pretty bad when I let it be, but only away from home.

As I grew older and became a parent, I realized that I wanted my kids to feel exactly the opposite. I wanted their family to be a safe haven, somewhere they can express themselves freely. If they’re angry, I want them to feel they can say so. Colorfully, if they need to. Also, I secretly think that if they’re free to talk the way they want at home, they won’t be tripping over themselves to overuse every swear word in existence when they’re away from me.

Language is an art, you know. That includes the cusses.

Today

Today is Election Day.

People all over will go and vote yea or nay or red or blue.

And I live in Mississippi, where the only time we make national news is because we gave birth to Elvis/Oprah/Britney/a million fantastic southern writers or because we’re the fattest state.

Well, now we have a new claim to fame – today we vote on Initiative 26, and if it passes, it’s a big deal. It’s a precedent for the whole country.

Now, I have opinions about this. Of course I do.

For just a minute, though, let’s not talk about what I think. Let’s talk about what this will mean.

Less birth control, in a state with the highest number of counties (17) featuring 40+% infant poverty. Not to mention the infant mortality rate (10.5 infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births), or the scads of children waiting in foster homes or institutions so they can be placed.

Fertility treatments….sure, as long as they don’t involve selective implantation or frozen embryos.

Raped? Pregnant? You carry that asshole’s baby because the law says so.

There are far reaching consequences regarding ectopic and molar pregnancies that I don’t even have the stomach to research (this is not hard hitting reporting, people).

Under this law, the miscarriage I suffered in January of 2008 may well have been the death of me, because only an abortion stopped the bleeding and saved my life.

The thing that bothers me about this is not that people disagree with my sentiment that this is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard. People disagree with me all the time.

No, what bothers me is that there are fifty bintillion churches who – over and over and over – have pounded into the hearts and minds of their faithful followers that this initiative is penned directly from the heavens. That by voting yes, they are personally winging their way into each Mississippi womb and cuddling thousands of fertilized eggs that may or may not become people.

It bothers me that if my preteen niece gets assaulted and molested, there won’t be a morning-after pill just in case. Her life could change and it wouldn’t have been her choice at all.

I respect the right of everyone to believe what they want. I do not respect anyone telling me how I have to believe and behave. Especially when they do it simply because a pulpit told them that was the right thing.

So go vote. If you live in Mississippi, please know what you’re voting for.

On a lighter note, tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from Lindsey at Campfire Song. This will be totally fun, you’ll see. She even mentions maxipads.

Things My Mom should know now that she has Facebook.

So, this Facebook thing is pretty old hat, right? Pretty much everyone does the Facebook.

My third grade teacher has a Facebook. She’s the sweetest thing. I had erasable crayons in her class. Every time I see her pop up on my timeline I think about those crayons.

Anyway, parents have facebooks, too. This is not a new thing to anyone, because since MySpace bit the big one and Social Network became a huge explosive Oscar winning hit (which I still don’t understand because I pretty much fell asleep every five minutes), everyone and (literally) their mama has been giving the like button some business.

Except my mom. She held out, even though we kept telling her these fantastic things we learned on people’s profiles and pictures we’d seen and etc etc etc.

So for her birthday I made her a profile. I got her a real present, too – lest you think I’m one of those people who’d give an empty box and say it was filled with love – but as an afterthought I jumbled all the info I know about my mother (which is hard to put into words….interests: singing in the choir and cleaning) and I brought her into the Facebook family.

Which brings me to the crux of the situation.

I am myself on Facebook, much as I am anywhere else. The rub lies in the fact that since my mom no longer sees me everyday of my life and washes my underwear, she can maybe perhaps live in a cloud of denial to the fact that her youngest baby girl kind of has a filthy mouth, definitely has a filthy mind, and (GASP) is maybe a little bit totally a democrat.

But you have a blog, you say. How could she not know?

This is an excellent point, one that I have considered. But I think there is a very simple answer to that – I don’t think my mom reads my blog every day. In fact, I think maybe perhaps she actively avoids it. Which is probably sometimes for the best, except now that she is on Facebook we’re going to have to face some things.

So, Mom, I think you should know:

I have friends that are gay. Flamingly, unapologetically, give-you-a-makeover gay. I love them because they are lovely and perfect. You may be okay with this since you watch Modern Family now, but I just needed to put it out there.

You raised me in church. I believe maybe perhaps 80% of what I was taught there was inaccurate, and I am still sifting through the other 20%.

On the subject of church, I know you love your church. I believe it is important and wonderful that you have a group of like minded people to gather with and count on. But I also believe it is a huge social club and 95% of the people there have no idea how to be a real Christian. Nor do they care. You are one of the 5% and one of the most sincere, honest, and lovely people I’ve ever known. And you’re MY MOM. I have extra luck points owed to someone somewhere.

I do not believe that anything about Initiative 26 is okay, and I am totally, completely against it.

I know every cuss word ever.

I will vote for Barack Hussein Obama every time he runs for president, which I hope is every time until I die (yes, I know he can only serve two terms. Let me dream).

You are perhaps the best Mom anyone ever had.

I love you so much. I’m glad you’re on Facebook.

My family is not broken


image courtesy Google Images

I’ve been watching Mad Men a great deal lately.

I like it for the sap, the storyline, and the amazing clothes.

The men in my house like it for Christina Hendricks’ boobs. And maybe I do too a little.

Several episodes I’ve recently watched have made use or mention of the phrase “broken family” or “broken home.”

And I get it. It’s a phrase. People use it. I can even see how it applies a bit. I get the imagery.

“What God hath joined together let no man tear asunder,” or something to that effect.

Well, great. I’m happy that people have a picturesque tableau in their minds and all that.

But guess what, people? Fairy tales are shit. Cinderella’s feet probably got sweaty and fogged up in those glass slippers (I had a teacher in seventh grade who wore clear pageant shoes all the time and her feet did that), and I bet Prince Charming spilled his chamberpot a time or two. And ‘happily ever after’ could totally mean that Cinderella walked away with a tidy divorce settlement and lived independently off her alimony.

I’m not saying people never last forever.

They do.

People stay together through thick and thin and wrong and right. Stubborn people. People who don’t say going in, “if you do x, y, and z, I’m done. DONE.”

In my experience, those are exactly the things that end up happening.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying let someone hit you or hurt you or tell you you’re worthless. Please don’t do that. Please.

What I’m saying is that just because people have a fairy tale picture in their minds as some sort of abstract goal, nothing – NOTHING – backs that up as being true.

I had a pretty wedding. Friends cheered me on and family ate cake.

But it was makeup on a bunch of acne scars, and…well, shit happens.

The next time I was married because I wanted more than anything to be connected to one person – this person – forever.

And I have been. Will be. Through it all.

Our family is strange. It’s true. I watch tv every night with the love of my life and one of my best friends, who also happens to be the father of 2/3 of my children. They talk about football. We all laugh and hug and kiss all the kids.

My kids run down the driveway every day to catch the bus with no clue that people think our home is “broken.”
Lucy, Max, and Ava don’t love each other half way. That shit is full on.

Our situation is rare but it’s not broken. It’s exactly the opposite. We are each better because of the way we choose to live.

Max throws the football with Josh, plays chess with Dan (who actually has enough patience for it).
Ava paints nails with me, plays ball with the boys, shares her old clothes with the baby.
Lucy steals iPhones out of pockets indiscriminately, and we all turn on Yo Gabba Gabba or play peekaboo at least once a day.

Give and take. Live and learn. We pick up shoes and we do dishes and we cook meals. We bicker and fight and annoy the shit out of each other all in turn.

And we do it not to fix something that’s been destroyed, not to put a mask on something that’s completely false…

We do it because we are the whole. We aren’t a broken family, a blended family, or anything like that.

We’re a family.

The end.

Looking back. Reflection and stupidity

I was doing some reading earlier – reading of old entries and how things have changed and not.

I found this post, and it made me think about a lot of things.

It’s almost exactly a year later, and things are so much different that they’re kind of startlingly the same.

As far as God and purpose and meaning go, I’m still kind of lost. The hit our faith and confidence took during our time in Jackson was severe, and to be honest I’m not sure we’ll ever fully recover.

We were so sure we were doing the right thing.
We were so happy, and then we were miserable.

But now? Not in a million years did I ever think we’d be where we are now.

Well, not really physically “where we are,” because really all of us living together is pretty much an epic adventure and it’s become second nature to us all.

But where we are in the sense of goals and progress and general good will toward humanity.

I was sure when we left Jackson that we’d never fully be happy and fulfilled ever again.

Dramatic, sure, but cut me some slack I WAS GROWING A PERSON.

If I could do and say anything I wanted, I’d say things to those people we left.

I’d say to Ellie, thank you for hiring me. You were more of the face of good in our months in Jackson than anyone else we met. You meant more to me in those days than I can ever say.

I’d say to Michaele, you are me with red hair and better boobs. I miss you more than anything and I would never have made it without you.

I’d say to Jackson commuters – really? Suck it up and put down that bowl of Cheerios when you’re going 80 down the interstate. Eat a damn granola bar if you’re that hungry.

I’d say to Priest 1 – you were the biggest disappointment. When we met, you were awesome and inspiring. You were hip and down to earth and we both loved you immediately. The confidence we both felt in you – as a person, as a priest, as a friend – was completely cracked and really disheartening. You never seemed like a lap dog…until you were.

I’d say to Priest 2 – I reached out to you. I needed you. And when you ignored that? I have never felt that degree of worthlessness. I trusted too much in what I needed you to be.

And to Priest 3? I could fill a book. The level of hypocrisy and disillusion that I equate with you now is staggering. I don’t know what I believe comes after this life – I don’t know if I believe we just end, or if we go on…

But if we go on? If there are saints and angels and streets of gold? I don’t want to be there if you are. Whatever Paradise is supposed to be, you can’t be a part of it and it still be Paradise.

so there it is.

I suppose I’m still bitter (who am I kidding), but I’m also hopeful. I never thought I’d have that again.

I do. We do. And I think that’s the best revenge.

art shamelessly stolen from Natalie Dee

This won’t be earning me any friends

Generally I refrain from posting things I know will upset or irk people.

I suppose that’s not really true.

But given the general temperament of my Facebook feed, this may raise hackles.

Meh.

Last week, we were fully immersed in getting ready for the return to school. Backpacks detrashed, lunchboxes found. Ava’s obnoxious feathers placed.

Late one afternoon, I received a call from the number I have saved in my phone as “AUTOMATED SCHOOL DEMON” – the number that calls when roads are flooded, a kid has disappeared, or cattle are loose. I turned on the speaker (but didn’t speak – I’ve caught myself talking to that machine too many times and now I’m wise to the game), expecting a reminder about not bringing guns or knives, or maybe a last minute nevermind-school-is-postponed-forever message.

Instead I got a recorded message inviting me not to forget about the upcoming “prayer walk” for parents of kids in the schools.

Now let me make one thing very, very clear.

If you are a kid in school and you want to say a prayer before you eat your lunch or take a test or walk on linoleum, I support that.

If you are a teacher and you want to send up a silent plea for mercy before you try and explain the branches of government, I support that.

If you want to bring your prayer rug and face Mecca between classes, I say go for it.

If you want to organize an event where people who are so inclined walk the halls and sidewalks of the school and pray for the students who will soon be present, I’m all for it! Bathe the desks and walls in prayer, and maybe that way my kids won’t eat boogers or mouth off (I may find religion if that works).

I will defend your right to do these things until my very last breath.

What I do not support is the use of school equipment, funds, and information to promote a religious function.

I never said, “Hey, sure, keep me posted about your rituals and gatherings.”
I didn’t say that because chances are I’m not coming.

It’s not because I don’t believe in God or I hate all religion or I think everyone should know that they know that they know whether they’re going to The Hell or not.

It’s because school is for LEARNING ABOUT THINGS THAT AREN’T RELIGION.
It’s because my son has already teared up more than once because he’s afraid his parents are going to hell.

Church is for religion.
Church schools are for the people who want everything to line up with what they believe.

School is not church. Amen.

I would rethink my stance if, say, I knew everyone’s beliefs would be equally welcomed. If the Muslims wanted to have a Q&A. If the Jews wanted to explain all the candles. If Pentecostals wanted to demonstrate hairspray usage. If the Mormons wanted to model Jesus underwear.

But that’s not happening. At least not here, because the vast majority of people believe the same way.

And that’s fine. What you believe is your business.

It’s when it starts being shoved at me and make it my business that I start caring.

I realize it’s election time and the superintendent was making sure everyone got catered to so as to put a good face on his campaign.

But just because the majority of people won’t care about the prayer walk phone call, or may even celebrate it, doesn’t make it okay. I’m not even sure it’s legal.

So please, pray. Fast. Sing. Speak in tongues.

Just don’t make me listen. Or watch. Or use the money I pay in taxes to promote it.

And in return, I will refrain from being an ass. Kind of.

Or not.

First Guest Post Ever

Sometimes a different perspective is important. With that in mind, I asked my friend Marty if he’d guest post for me. After you read what he has to say, drop by his blog at http://www.martyestes.com to read my guest post for him today.

Ok, um……hi. I’m Marty, the goofy one on the left up there. I’m a 31 year old youth pastor who blogs over at http://www.martyestes.com, and I’m going to admit I’m pretty nervous about this whole “guest post” thing. I mean, it’s pretty easy to see just from a casual glance over mine and Emily’s blogs that we write for two pretty different circles of people. And that’s ok.

Really, it is. Ok. Take a deep breath and….

They probably don’t know this, but Josh and Emily came into our lives at a time when we really needed them. It all happened almost 3 years ago when I got asked to be a pinch hit groomsman in a mutual friend’s wedding. I packed up my bags and took off to Athens, AL, leaving my wife home with our barely 3 month old baby girl and her 1 and a half year old brother for a one night whirlwind trip. It was there that I met Josh and Emily in the flesh for the first time. Can I be honest? I was afraid to approach them. Here’s why.

My wife and I had kinda been blogstalking them for about a year.

That’s right, judge if you want. We’d been reading about their lives for a year or more, all the while thinking they were very interesting people and that we’d like to meet them and hang out someday. And then, there they were. The guys ended up hanging out late that night at an IHOP (a WILD bachelor party, I know!) and pretty soon Josh and Emily were coming to our house and we were firing up the grill like old friends.

We needed them. Yeah, they were different, but different was good. Both of us were away from our friends in a town where people just didn’t seem to “get” us. Either that, or they just don’t like us very much. We needed friends. So slowly, cautiously, the four of us entered into this friendship we now share. Honestly, I wanted to just swoop in and smother them immediately, desperately asking if they liked us, but better sense prevailed and pretty soon we realized they DID like us, and we didn’t even have to ask!

And all the while, we’ve developed something that is pretty hard to come by in today’s world: trust. I trust these people. I know that if something happened and our world fell apart, they would be there. They would do their best to help us, just like we would and have done for them. When they moved to Jackson, I drove the moving truck and waited with them while their stuff was unloaded. When they had to come back, I helped unload that same truck again. Through ups and downs, ins and outs, we’ve been there for them, just like I trust they would be there for us.

And there, right there, is the glue that holds true friendships together. That’s the stuff that transcends status…

and religion…

and background…

and upbringing…

and how you dress…

and how you look…

and how you talk…

and what you like (or don’t)…

and all the other stuff that pushes people apart. It’s that glue, forged from trust, that keeps people in your lives.

I’ve just realized that this has gotten all sappy very quickly, but I don’t apologize. I’m blatant and unashamed in my thankfulness for friends who will love us just like we are, not judge us, and will stick by us through thick and thin. For THAT kind of friendship, and for some amazing burgers and conversation, I am thankful.

Now, see, that wasn’t bad at all, was it?