Monthly Archives: February 2012

He’s in the Navy Now

As seen this week on (2/22/2012):

The other day, maybe two weeks ago at most, I get a phone call from the oldest boy (the 20-year-old).  When I answer the phone with my sing-songie “Hellooo-ooo-oooo,” he laughs and says, “Hey Mom!  I’ve got something to tell you!”

Freeze frame.

Picture it, if you will.  Me, standing at the kitchen counter, and my free hand immediately goes to the edge and grasps it.  Oh dear God, he’s got something to tell me.  They’re pregnant.  Oh God.  No, not that.  Too young.  But even more importantly, I am too young to be a grandma – a grandma with an almost four-month-old baby!  OK, breathe.

Unfreeze frame.

I say, with a big ole question mark in my voice, “Oh yeah?  What’s that?”  Stay calm Mom, stay calm.  He answers, “Um, my orders have changed, and I am shipping out for basic training on March 1st instead of June 4th.”  Oh no!  Oh wait.  Do what?  Tell me that again so that I am sure that you’re not saying that you’re pregnant.  But wait again.  You’re leaving for the Navy in, what, a few weeks rather than months?  Oh.  Oh wow.  Okay.  I think I’m okay with that.

So I get off the phone and relay the info, what little I got, to Erikka.  I say that I would like for us to have dinner with him and his wife before he leaves, and maybe invite her mom, his dad, and our parents.  Shortly after that I get a phone call from his dad.  He says, “Did you get a phone call from our oldest son?”  I laugh and said, “Yeah, and he scared the crap out of me by the way he started out.”  Then HE laughed and said, “Oh he must have told you the same thing he told me – ‘Dad, I have something to tell you.’  My first thought was, ‘When is she due?’”  We had a good laugh over that, and were soon discussing plans for a dinner for them about a week or two before he was due to leave.

Nicholas with his baby sister in her sailor suit :)

Somehow, over the course of a few days, the plan changed and morphed from a dinner with family, to a dinner with family and friends, to a Sunday afternoon luncheon at a rented space with family and lots of friends.  My wonderful and lovely wife, and his amazing bonus mom, is a party planner extraordinaire, and was able to throw together quite the soiree in about a week’s time.  We catered a fantastic Mexican food lunch, had a few people bring a few things, and then it was done!  Everyone was so helpful and cooperative, including my mom (wow!), Erikka’s parents, the boys’ dad and other stepmom, and my daughter-in-law’s mother.  When the time came for guests to start arriving, I sat back with a sleeping baby on my lap and watched as our friends, family, and their friends arrived with so much love, hugs, and support for my boy and his wife.  It brought tears to my eyes to see so many people taking time out of their Sunday to come and do this.  At one point, while everyone was eating, I got teary-eyed as I looked at the “kid table,” and wondered where all the time had gone.  At that table sat six young adults, ages 16-22 years old now, and as I looked at them, I remembered them sitting around a table at some church youth group event, only they were little and in elementary and middle school.  These “kids” have known each other since they were young, and now mine is married to one of these girls that I watched grow into a beautiful woman – now wife.  Another of the girls is also married and a Navy wife as well.  Another is in college and a live-in nanny.  Her brother is the youngest of the group here, and he is now a successful sports jock in high school – I remember when he was in kindergarten!  And still another is currently trying his hand with acting!  Where did the time go?

Funniest. Photo. of. the. Day. My three kids – FANTASTIC sibling photo.

It was a good day, spent with such a wide range of people from all different walks of life.  But I think that Nicholas really enjoyed it and felt special and loved.  Towards the end, it hit me that in ten days, he would be gone, shipping off to Chicago for two months’ of basic training.  I know that he is all grown up, almost twenty-one years old and married for a few months now.  I know this, and am perfectly okay with the progression of life as it has gone.  But for some reason, this step, him going into the military and leaving, makes it a whole lot more real.  I think I would be a whole lot more nervous if he had gone into the Army, and I don’t fear for his safety as much going Navy.  I’m proud of him, SO proud of him, for taking this step and moving his life into a definite direction.  I don’t see him all the time now, since he has been gone and living on his own, but I at least have the option if I want to.  I am going to miss him terribly, but I know that this is part of growing up and starting your own life.  I know that he will attend basic training in Chicago, and then I believe is supposed to go to Pensacola for A-school.  After that, I’m not sure where he will be stationed, but I pray that it isn’t so far that we won’t be able to be a part of their lives (especially when they DO start a family).  I want his younger brother and sister to know him, which means at this point, that we have to make an extra effort to make it happen.

So if you think about it, for the next couple of months, please keep my oldest boy in your thoughts.  His wife will stay behind and live with her mom, and we will make sure that she doesn’t get lonely or sad.  And soon?  We’ll be planning our trip to Chicago for his graduation!


A Morning with Rick Santorum in North Texas

As seen this week on (2/15/2012):

So as most people already know, we are well into an election year.  We have been watching for weeks as various Conservatives battle for the position of Republican party candidate.  It seems as if each passing week brings us new levels of crazy among them, and I shudder at the thought of any of them in a position of power or leadership.

Among the candidacy-seeking, we find Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum (thank God Rick Perry has already dropped out of the race).  Last week, Santorum visited our area and met with local pastors.  I was planning on going to cover the event in person, take photos, and try to get a question in to the ultra-conservative campaigner.  When I couldn’t find anyone to watch the baby, I thought about taking her and introducing her to all the fundies as our gaybie, but ultimately decided to just stay home and watch the live feed.

The event was to be at the Bella Donna Chapel in McKinney, Texas.  It’s not a church but a beautiful event and wedding venue not too far from where I live.  It was supposed to start at 9:30 AM, but Santorum was late.  Once he did finally arrive, they ushered him in where he and his wife, Karen, were seated on the first row pew.  One of the chapel owners, Donna, introduced the event and Santorum by talking about plans for painting angels in the arches of the chapel.  She revealed a painting of Santorum’s daughter (who battles with a childhood disability), and told them that she was to be painted on one of the arches in the ceiling (her name is Bella).  She said it was a “God thing,” and also gave Bella a key to the chapel on a necklace, saying that the family was always welcome there.  After this presentation, she introduced Rick Santorum and he stepped up to take the microphone.

Santorum started off saying that he really believes that the foundation of our country rests on two institutions:  the family and the church.  He said, “Without those two institutions, we can’t be free.  Faith + Family = Freedom.”  Now once upon a time I would have believed every word that this man said, simply because he claims to be a “man of God.”  I’m so thankful that I woke up to the blind follower that I had been raised to be, and now think for myself.  He also said that he doesn’t like the term “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion” that is often used.  He says it’s not about just WHEN you worship, but what you do in public.  He says that the Obama administration’s “attack on religion” is about trying to stop people from living their faith in public.  Every time I hear one of these candidates speaking of “Obama’s attack, or war, on religion,” I am always surprised!  I have never gotten that impression from him or his family, and I thought I had been paying attention!  Silly me!
Santorum soon moved into his topic of choice:  abortion.  He said, “I don’t think that God will bless this country when this country chooses to take over one million innocent lives per year through abortion.  There’s one thing about VOTING pro-life, and there’s another thing about TALKING pro-life.  You can be the most conservative person ever, vote for no government, and you’re fine.  But once you speak out on moral issues, you will have your head out of the trenches, and you will be shot at.”  But wait a minute…didn’t Santorum’s wife have an abortion?

While fighting for moral issues and against partial-birth abortion, Santorum’s wife became pregnant with their fourth child.  When they had the sonogram, the doctor told them that the baby was going to die.  They went to a children’s hospital and had a doctor perform surgery on the baby in utero – it was successful.  Everything would be fine, the doctors warned, unless his wife got a fever, which would indicate an infection in her uterus.  Ultimately, she DID get an infection and developed a fever, and Santorum was called home.  They were told that she was going to die if she didn’t “deliver,” and the baby boy was going to die.  She labored and she delivered him alive, where he lived for two hours; they named him Gabriel.  So is it an abortion if he was born alive, just way too early and unable to sustain life?  The definition of abortion, in the dictionary, includes the following:  the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy; any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months; an immature and nonviable fetus.  In the Santorums’ case, it was technically an abortion, because all parties involved knew that the baby would NOT survive once extracted from the womb.  And this is the same man who has publicly said that even in the event of rape or health crisis, that a pregnancy resulting from it should be carried to term no matter what.

He then started sharing about his daughter, Bella.  They found out about her disability four days after her birth, and were told that they were lucky that she was alive because babies usually die in utero from this particular condition.  They were told to let her go.  Bella lived for ten days in the NICU, and they brought her home on hospice care; they celebrated her birthday every week.  But she didn’t die.  Santorum said that he had to be “the rock, and had to detach from Bella a little.  I loved her, but I had to detach from her, treat her a little different.”  When she almost died, he was reminded by his other daughter that he hadn’t done anything to save her.  This woke him up and he decided that he couldn’t hold back from her any longer.  This is why, according to him, he is SO outspoken about abortion – because of his disabled daughter.  Even for a dude that I absolutely cannot stand, and I believe that he is a homophobic bigot who is brainwashed, I was still touched by his stories about his children.

Once he finished, he was supposed to take questions from the pastors and then go outside to take questions from the media and his constituents.  I guess because he was late, he was only able to take a couple of questions from the pastors.  The first question, which I couldn’t hear, was something about intolerance.  His answer started out talking about the 9th circuit court decision regarding Prop 8 the day before in California.  He said that “it is intolerance to say that people are bigots and haters if you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  The intolerance of the left, the intolerance of the secular ideology is a religion unto itself – it is just not a religious-based religion.  It is completely intolerant of dissent.  They want their worldview to be accepted without question.”  He was talking, and I just kept hearing “blah blah blah” and watching as countless sheep blindly nodded in agreement.

The second question was asking Santorum who his favorite Supreme Court Justice is, to which he answered Clarence Thomas.  “Because he [Thomas] sees the Constitution itself, but also sees the Constitution in relation to the Declaration.  Because he sees that there is more to America than just the Constitution itself.  Scalia seems to focus a little too much on the original words of the Constitution and its meaning….”  What the what???  Are you kidding me Rick Santorum???  See, I knew that this yahoo has probably never even read the original Constitution – well, and he and his kind are constantly trying to amend and change it to fit their beliefs.

After this, the group of pastors gathered around Santorum, laid hands on him and prayed for him.  He then went back out the side door; was supposed to answer media and voter questions outside, but the feed went dark, so I assume that it didn’t happen.

Wow.  It was pretty insightful to watch him speaking in a small forum, versus the large crowds that we typically see him in front of on television.  I’m glad I didn’t go.  It would have been hard to keep my mouth shut.  I’m very afraid for the future of equality in our country if this man has even a remote chance of becoming President here.  He has openly declared that if he were to win, he would reverse virtually every act of legislature that has occurred in the name of marriage equality, or equality in general.  I have plenty of friends and family who are hardcore Republicans, having grown up both in the south AND in the church.  It gets really hard to choke down the knowledge that people who claim to love me and my family will vote for whomever is the Republican candidate, simply because they are Republican.  The question is constantly swirling around:  If you love me, love my family, and believe in equality, why and HOW can you possibly give your vote away to a person who is openly and blatantly against ME, my family, and equality???  Just because they are Republican?  Shouldn’t our vote be behind the person who represents the closest of those values that we hold dear to our hearts?

Needless to say…it should be interesting indeed.

Two Moms at the Sweetheart Ball

As seen this week on (2/8/2012):

Years and years ago, when I was in college (as an adult), I joined a sorority.  Now, it isn’t the kind of sorority that most people think of when they hear the term.  It wasn’t related to my university, but rather, an international community-based, service-based group of women of all ages.  I met and made a friend in one of my night classes who was a part of this group, and she invited me to one of her meetings.  I enjoyed the friendships that these women shared, and soon they invited me to join them – so I became a sister in Beta Sigma Phi.  We had meetings twice a month at different sisters’ homes, service projects, and social outings.  Up until that, my whole life consisted of being Mom, wife, and college student, so it gave me an outlet to just be around other moms and wives while enjoying fun and friendship.

After being in that chapter for several years, I sadly had to step back and take a leave while I was going through my divorce.  I missed my friends dearly, and because of living so far away from all of them, knew that I would probably see them rarely after I left.  After being out of it for a while, Holly found a chapter near my new house that we decided to go visit.  From the first visit, we really enjoyed the ladies and were soon back into the swing of sorority and joining them.  Sure we missed our old chapter, and Holly eventually went back to that one when she moved back to their area, but it was nice to be involved again.

One of the awesome things about sorority that I always enjoyed was the Sweetheart Ball that takes place every February.  When I left my original chapter, I missed it dearly.  The city council that my new chapter belonged to did not have a ball, so I missed it even more knowing that it wasn’t an option.  A few years ago, the new group decided that we wanted to go to the ball, and that was the first time that I would be there with Erikka.  Needless to say, there was a lot of staring, and not near the friendly “sisterness” that I had known for all of those years previously.  And we looked CUTE!  I think we were engaged that year…

Fast forward to 2012.  In the two or three years since our chapter attended the Sweetheart Ball, we have left it up to the chapter sweetheart to decide if they wanted to go or not.  This year, our sweetheart decided that she wanted to go to the ball, so plans were made and tickets were purchased.  This would be our second time as a group to join, and everyone seemed pretty excited about getting dressed up to go – us included!  It was going to be the first time that I had seen my sisters from my former chapter in a very long time, and I hoped that there would still be that connection from so long ago.  I knew that there were quite a few of the ladies who are pretty conservative, and who either don’t approve of my marriage to Erikka, or who don’t understand (or want to understand).  Nevertheless, I was looking forward to seeing them and hoping that it would be good.

Last Friday night, after spending hours preparing and primping and getting into our new clothes for the ball, we were off.  We dropped off Noah and Harrison at my mom’s, and drove to the country club where the event was taking place.  Erikka looked beautiful in a dark, navy blue shimmery dress, and I coordinated with her in dark navy blue and black.  We looked fabulous!  We found Holly and Tony as soon as we arrived, who showed us to our table – everything looked so nice.  We had dinner and soon all of the sweethearts were lining up in the hallway with their escorts for the traditional presentation of each chapter’s sweetheart.  Our sweetheart is single and had come to the ball solo, so we had decided ahead of time that I would escort her in.  Let me tell you, walking in with a chick in a formal on my arm, while a couple of hundred eyes are staring…well, it’s a bit unnerving.  We laughed and giggled as we walked in and stood among all of the other boy-girl couples that were around us.  After everyone was presented, they then announced that it was time for the Sweetheart Dance – what the what???  Nobody had told us that we were supposed to dance!  So then we were REALLY getting stared at, but we did it!  I was soon rescued from the awkward staring by another sister’s husband, who cut in and finished out the dance with our sweetheart.

Sweetheart Ball 2012

Shortly after all of the sweetheart formalities, we all went out into the hallway and took pictures.  When we went back in, we got out on the dancefloor with everyone else and danced and laughed.  A slow song came on, and I walked over to our table to take Erikka by the hand.  We went out onto the dancefloor, and spun our way slowly around it, amid all of the other couples.  Soon I could feel the disapproving glances and stares coming from some of the older couples, and could even see some whispering.  The most prominent was from an older lady, who was also a tiara-wearing sweetheart from her chapter.  We turned while dancing and I saw her looking at us with a look of absolute disgust on her face.  She then said something to her husband in his ear, and then he turned to look at us with the same look.  They stared at us with that look, and talking to each other, for the remainder of the dance.  Sure, I wanted to walk over and say something to them…or punch them in the face…but of course my wife would not have let me do that.  I mean, really??  Come on folks.  We’re SO normal.  I guess that is why it still surprises me when people are so blatantly and outright ugly towards us.  When we got back to the table, I told my sisters about it. One of them asked me if we ever get used to that from people, and it really made me think.

My response, when asked this question, is typically, “Yes, I’m used to it.”  But I don’t want to be used to it!  I get outraged every time someone looks at me with disdain or disgust whenever they see me with my wife, maybe holding her hand or with my arm around her.  We are people dammit, just like anyone else!  I should have walked over and told her how rude and ignorant it was of her and her husband to behave that way, and that it is 2012 so they need to get over themselves.  I don’t want my kids to ever see me keep quiet and LET someone look at us, talk about us, or be ugly towards any of us and think it is acceptable behavior.  All of that “do unto others” crap that we grow up hearing suddenly goes out the window when it’s something that we don’t like or accept – I am sure we are all guilty of it.  So I will make a conscious decision to “do unto others” in all situations, in hopes that they will “do unto ME” in turn.

Mama on a Soapbox

As seen this week on (2/1/2012):

So I may have mentioned this previously, but it annoys the hell out of me that I have to adopt my daughter.  Yes, it makes me want to run, kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs, about the unfairness of it all.  Well, when it comes right down to it, it pisses me off in a way that I don’t think many things have.  Every time I think about when a hetero couple has a baby, the father’s parentage is automatically assumed, solely on the word of the birth mother saying that yes, this dude is the baby daddy.  The dude doesn’t have to go through the process of having to adopt the kid, just because he didn’t birth it – so why should I???  Because our relationship and our family is dictated by a government full of assholes who SAY that they want smaller government, yet have to keep their fingers in countless people’s lives, marriages, and families.

It’s very hard to be part of an openly gay marriage, as well as be the non-biological mother to our child, when living in a conservative, Southern state.  It’s hard to hear, over and over for years and years, that my marriage isn’t real or legitimate or legal (all three of which it completely IS).  It’s hard to know that people look down their noses at us when we’re all together, disgusted by all of our same-sexness.  It’s hard to be out in public during the day with the baby, and have people assume that I am her aunt or baby sitter, because I can’t possibly be her mother, given the way that I look.  It’s really hard to sit back and watch hypocrites run for office who are SO against marriage equality, yet have in their own history adultery and divorce…multiple times!

In the very near future, I will have to shell out the money for my BFF (aka attorney) to file a petition to the state asking permission to adopt my sweet baby girl.  After that, I will have to shell out even more money (of which I will have to put aside, since it’s not just lying around) to a social worker.  This is my favorite part.  The social worker will come to our house to complete a Home Study – she will examine our home, interrogate me, Erikka, both of us together, and maybe even Noah.  She will decide whether or not she thinks that I should be allowed to adopt Harrison.  If she says she doesn’t think that I should, then what happens?  Well, the adoption won’t happen, but nothing else.  I will still continue to live here and always be her mama, but without those legal protections.  If she says that she thinks it will be okay, I think we then proceed to going to court to stand before a judge.  At that time, then HE or SHE will decide whether or not they think I should be allowed to adopt my own daughter.  Here is where it all comes down to it.  If the judge says no, that’s it, I’m screwed.  IF my adoption request is denied, there is no opportunity to try it again.  That’s it.  I could get all of the recommendation letters in the world, and if we don’t get the right judge, it could all be for nothing.

And THIS, my friends, is why I am pissed off.

There is no question whatsoever, or at least there shouldn’t be, as to whether this little girl is mine.  She has been mine, along with Erikka’s, since the moment that I watched the doctor perform the intra-uterine insemination.  Since the moment we laid the cell phone on the bed, speakerphone on, as the nurse told us that the blood test was positive.  I went to all of the doctor’s appointments, saw all of the sonograms, shopped, worried over her and Erikka’s health, changed my diet along with Erikka, painted, and helped build her little Dr. Seuss world in her nursery to prepare for her arrival.  I got to meet her before anyone else, and I took care of her while her other mommy was recuperating after the birth.

I have bathed her, clothed her, fed her, changed her, sung to her, and rocked her to sleep.  Beyond all of these things or none of these things, I have loved her.  Because she is MY daughter.  I shouldn’t have to prove this, to a social worker or to a judge, just to have the legal protections that I rightfully should.

We need a change in this country, in this state.  We need a LOT of change.  The government needs to stop being such a puss and make the declaration that they have a hell of a lot more to worry about than same-sex couples marrying or having families.  They need to grow a spine and make the decision that they are going to stay out of it, and they are going to cease allowing any of us to vote on anyone else’s equality.  Sigh.  Sounds good, huh?  Too bad it is unlikely to happen.

Soapbox empty now.