Monday, July 29, 2013

The Day I Learned to Love Nerf Gun Bullets

I have been thinking this post for awhile. Rachel over at Hands Free Mama blog gave me my blog title today with her blog post entitled The Day I Stopped Saying "Hurry Up".

Look behind the couch, in the curtains, behind my door, in the laundry, in the hallway, on top of the cabinet, under the table, between the shelves, in the cabinet, or in my purse and you will find Nerf gun bullets. They are everywhere. I used to see them, huff, and say, "JOHN, please pick up these TOYS!!!"

One day I started thinking about how the Nerf bullets are here, there, and everywhere and I thought that one day, one day... they will be missing.

John at the Art Museum
Cool stick.
My cabinets will contain only food. The bathtub will be action-figure-free. No one will be singing in the bathroom. Or reading in there for half an hour. No one will be there ahead of me, walking too slow. There will be no sound of boys telling intricate stories in the other room. Clothes pins and sheets will be folded up and put away, no longer forts and hide outs. Closets will contain clothing instead of Nerf arsenals. No complex, ongoing spy games. No whittling. No Legos. No Yugioh. No absolutely up-to-the-minute and current web news. No one running down the hallway. No wet towels hanging out back near the drippy sprinkler.

Toast for breakfast instead of pancakes. Solitaire instead of FLUXX. A few dishes per day instead of two full loads. Refrigerator handles will be annoyingly clean and dry. It will be easy to walk through the front door. Toilets and sinks will be tidy and clean. Stairs will be hazard-free, snow undisturbed, full ice cream boxes. Tape on the door will have no new tick marks and dates, no rusty trampoline in the back yard... already the swing set is gone. No fingernails to cut. No hair to color. No pockets to empty. No tears to dry from hearing of social injustices. No anger at stories of hatred, insensitivity, selfishness, environmental disasters, or unfairness of every kind to share.

No one talking to me about the minutia of an inexplicable computer game or card game. No more stories of bafflingly funny titles of Youtube videos that would never even be on my radar. No giggles and sunny smiles. No more walks in the park listening to his fears and dreams. No more forehead pressed to mine. No more fingers creeping over to hold mine. No one touching my smile with a single finger...

I will miss having a toy-free laundry load. 
For now, I'm OK with it...


I walked around the house for about five minutes 
and found these shots!

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hello, Goodbye

Don't write your name on sand,
   waves will wash it away.
Don't write your name in the sky,
    winds may blow it away.
Write your name in the heart of a friend,
    for there it will stay.  

I hope that some day in your life while you are living and kicking you have the opportunity to say "Good bye" and "Hello Again" to the people that you love.  I  hope you have the chance to explore those places that are new and secret and then to return again to the home of your heart.

It has been incredibly uplifting, grounding, and sustaining, this moving between our two homes.  For we have discovered that it is possible for our hearts to hold more than one place and for our lives to be connected to more than one home.

When we made the decision to move down to Australia, we went through a seemingly endless stream of "goodbyes" with friends and family.  After awhile, all of the farewells felt playacting.  Surely it wasn't real...  But, still, Ciao.
We then went to another country, another continent, another hemisphere and commenced with the "hellos" and "Good Days".  With no expectations, how could we have known that our friendships in this year would come to mean so much to us?  Brisbane is, also, truly the home of our hearts.
But, goodbye.
And this week, as we meet again with our friends and family back home for this brief visit, I don't mind telling you what a sublime experience it is to be welcomed again into the hearts of our friends.  
We know we will soon utter those words of departing and then arrival again on the turning wheel of our lives.  And who can know where we will roll as we live our lives.  But we no longer fear the leaving for we know that we bring our home with us, we never truly leave it.

If you didn't know it already, it is friends and family that make our lives worth living.  They somehow ground us and elevate us.  Nurture those who you live for, for they are your roots and they are your wings.  And your heart, which you didn't know the power of, grows and holds still more people, fully and true. 

HELLO to readers in St. Louis, Brisbane, and all online friends
And, although she will likely not read this,
this song sends you LOVE:  to You Know Who You Are

Friday, July 12, 2013

Homeschooling on the Road

I don't think I'm going to say what you were expecting me to say. disadvantages of homeschooling negatives against homeschooling criticism homeschool is weird

If you Googled How to Homeschool on the Road, you are going to be disappointed because I'm going to say something you won't like.

I think that being on the road is homeschool enough.

We have been traveling SO much this year and we have done very little of what you would call lessons.  But my kids have truly blossomed and have become much wiser people.  Our experiences have been so unique and informing.  I think it will take us several years to truly process all that we have done and seen and learned.

No algebra necessary.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why Atheists Suck Redux

Like many other people on the net tonight I clicked on the Why Atheists Suck post that someone posted onto Facebook and I found the following ten reasons why the author, Jonah Peretti on Buzzfeed, thinks that he is right about atheists. OK. These are Jonah's opinions. That's fine. What confuses me is why Jonah's generalizations deserve any notoriety whatsoever. Why are people reading this?

Jonah’s post is prejudice, boorish, loutish, and simply ranting. Maybe that is the sort of thing that Buzzfeed regularly posts, I really don't know. But, just for the fun of it (read for the Clearing-of-the-Air of it) I'm going to stoop to responding to his claims. I'm not going to write up my own rant piece entitled Top Ten Reasons why Believers Suck. Why not? Because there is no possible way to characterize all believers accurately anymore than one could characterize all atheists accurately. And because that’s mean. But mostly, the reason why I wouldn’t write a piece with that slant is because it does nothing to contribute to the conversation.

Atheists really enjoy being smarter and more rational than everyone else. Have you noticed that about atheists? I have.

NO, I haven't noticed that. However, what I have noticed is that if you choose to engage an atheist as to HOW they are an atheist or WHY they do not accept supernatural claims, then we will tell you why.

If these reasons feel insulting or smart and rational to you, well, it's not about enjoying being smart or rational just to kill your buzz. It is about being rational rather than accepting claims at face value. Go ahead and be insulted when this rational method is used on religious claims, but also know that these critical thinking methods are addressed to every single claim that we come into contact. We do this in our minds and if we are online we share it with our readers.

It’s not what we do, it is who we are and how we move through the world.

Using this type of thinking has brought medical and technological advancements to the world in which we live. It is why you go to the doctor when ill instead of praying over an illness. It is why we are on our computers instead of waiting for riders to bring word from the next village. It is how we can have a probe on an entirely different planet. It is why we use clean medical supplies instead of dying from infection. It is why Erik Von Daaniken is no longer on our radar. It is why we don't read horoscopes to seriously plan our days. It is why we know about germs, moon rotation, diabetes, weather prediction, extrasolar planets, the Mariana Trench, algae blooms, global warming, epochs of Earth, DNA, the Higgs-Boson particle, etc.

Do I, as an atheist, enjoy being smarter than someone who strictly believes in Biblical claims? Not at all, I would honestly enjoy it more if more people used this type of thinking.

Atheists tend to be haters who don't believe in anything. you get excited about something cool and they are all skeptical, asking lots of critical questions, and basically kill the positive energy.

Are you looking for positive energy? Get into astronomy, photography, poetry, opera, politics, community service, geology, physics, exercise, model trains, etc. Get in to these things, ask questions, and you will STILL be able to love and enjoy it. Questioning these huge and beautiful things will never reduce them, only increase them. If you are excited about a thing that is reduced by knowledge, I can’t help but wonder about those things myself…

As for not believing in anything...on the contrary; I believe in SO MUCH!

They love reading, which is a perfectly good site, but they get all smug about how Reddit is better than other sites. Like is there some rule tat if you don't worship God, you have to worship Reddit instead?! WFT?

Honestly, I don’t have the time to research Reddit right now. I’ve never been there and don’t really know what the site’s focus is. But the thing is, without getting too pedantic about wording, I don’t worship things. But I do find many things to be awesome. My thought is that the author if this list hasn't had much contact in the real world with real atheist. I have no doubt that his online interactions with atheists have been highly contentious.

Atheists love to mock hard working, religious Americans who love their kids, work hard, and go to church.

Some do, it’s true. Some do not.
Some religious Americans mock atheist who love their children, work hard, and do not go to church. Some do not. I think a great deal of this huge gap between believers and unbelievers could be eradicated if we all simply agreed to meet outside of a discussion of belief or disbelief and simply looked for human being to connect with.

Atheists think they are rational and scientific but isn’t it more rational and open minded to say that God *might* exist? Should real scientists keep an open mind?

Is it rational to think that God might exist? Well, I used to...right up to that moment when it became grossly clear to me that the concepts around god and religion are entirely man made and so I no longer entertain that idea. My rational and scientific mind did have a period of serious belief, until it could no longer tolerate the cognitive dissonance.

So please understand me and put this one to rest:  I DID consider it. Strongly and for an extended period of time. I found it impossible to maintain a belief is any and all gods after many years of attempting to trust in faith. Now I trust in nature and it hasn't failed me even once.

Atheists are some of the biggest trolls on the Internet. They will probably start trolling me just for writing this post.

Not likely, Jonah. I don’t have the time for such nonsense.
Are there atheist trolls? Absolutely. But, on my atheist, and skeptic sites you will find thousands of Christian trolls. I have come to the conclusion that a person who trolls must have a certain personality trait where argument is appealing to them.

Have you ever known someone who would rather be right than loved? And eventually you are like, “dude, ok, ok, you are right” but you are also thinking “what an a-hole!” That a-hole is almost certainly an atheist.

I would FAR rather be loved. I will not, however, change who I am for you. Nor will I ask you to change for me. I have had enough experiences of people who were wonderfully loving friends while I was a believer who, then, completely left our friendship when I became an atheist.  

I could tell you of the many, many experiences that the kids and I have had where Christians would more likely give us pain and hatred than friendship.

Talk to my kids sometime. They will tell you of their ongoing pain from their experiences with Christian friends who have been so hurtful to them. If you would hear what we have gone through, you just might think about some of those people What an a—hole.
ALSO please know that we have Christian friends who are wonderful and who we love very dearly as well as knowing atheist people who we do not care for.

Atheists are the kind of people who enjoy telling small children that  Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are all fake. Thanks for ruining all the fun, Atheist! I guess you tink a 5 year old knowing "the truth" is more important tan them having a happy childhood.

My kids enjoyed Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Bunny, fairies, and plenty of other magical things until these things no longer made sense to them and they figured them out themselves. After they figured out the truths, I asked them if they would have preferred the stories for the fun or have preferred the facts. They enjoyed the nonsense as well as the discovery. So, we did it right.
I guess we will see what my kids do with their kids one day.

Atheists are selfish. Instead of praising God for good things that happen in their life, they just praise themselves. Like “wow, I really deserved that raise. Praise myself!”

If it is considered selfish to acknowledge one’s own hard work and effort, then call me selfish. If it is selfish to praise the effort of my children for their own accomplishment, then, please, call me selfish. But I also know that this idea of selfish comes directly from the guilt trip of the religion. Some believers have a huge mental block when it comes to discussing personal power.

They just suck. You don’t even need a reason. It is obvious. Just accept it.

Or don’t accept it. It is, as always, your choice how you interact with the world around you. It is always your choice how you relate to the billions of people on our beautiful planet who are different from you.


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Saturday, July 6, 2013

How an Atheist Discusses Religion with their Children

atheist parenting atheist parent atheist parent
I am certain that one of the most-Googled questions by atheist parents is How to discuss religion with my children as an atheist or skeptic. I used to do it, look online for atheist parenting ideas, though the internet was quite sketchy fifteen years ago! I love it that the internet is around making it possible for us to share our questions and knowledge and ideas so freely. A generation ago when lifestyles and points of view were far more private, isolated, and insulated freethinking parents couldn't find each other; I would have felt very alone in my doubt, doubtful of my doubt, fearful of my doubt.

How interesting, how exciting that this generation of parents is the first generation in the history of humankind to have such resources readily available to them! We can get to know intimate details about millions of strangers and how they live their lives, how they make decisions, what they purchase, what they believe, how they solve problems, what they struggle with... It is amazing! And fortunate!

So what Does an atheist parent teach their child about religion?
For all readers who are here, reading and researching this all-important role of being a atheist parent, remember this, raising a child is a process. It starts before your child is born and it continues as long as you live. You will do fine. Start today and keep learning. There is time.
Because our American culture is so very saturated in Christianity, religiosity becomes an issue very early in a child's life. I remember my four-year-old daughter pointing out to me religious references in the world around her, a world that I paid close and deliberate attention to! "Did you hear that, Momma? In God we trust." "Did you hear, Momma, One nation under God." 

As a young parent it clutched at my heart. It helped to know, to remind myself, that she also vehemently believed in fairies, Santa, and magic. Those early years, among other things, are the years of magical thinking, so our children are particularly prone to embracing unrealistic connections between cause and effect, magical ideas and illogical connections. (Think Piaget's pre-operational stages of cognitive development, for one.)
Threes and Fours are more likely to invent monsters in the closet.  Momma got sick because I was naughty. Fairies live at the bottom of the garden. That thing happened because I thought about it. My toys are alive. Something I do make magical things happen.

Without being a complete buzz kill, how do we instill critical thinking into the young minds of our beloved children so that they are able to, when the time comes, separate religion from the rest of the pack of ideas while still encourage imagination and pretend and fun?
Well, Momma and Daddy, begin by educating yourself on normal childhood cognitive development. When you begin to understand the role that imagination actually plays in a development of understanding reality, you will feel confident in encouraging it! You will understand that later years come (ages 7-11) when a child's thinking becomes very concrete and far more unwilling to accept pretend explanations. These are the years when rules are rules, things are black and white, and your child will be more likely to want to understand how the magic trick was possible. These are the years when your child will be very interested in pursuing and understanding principles of science and math.
During those toddler and preschool years you will be reading many many many books to your child. Read some nonfiction. Read tons of myth stories from other cultures as well as myth stories from the local majority religion. Taken all together as pretend, the religion stories of the world will be inseparable from mythology from other traditions. An ark in a flood will be just as improbable as a baby getting a new elephant head or ants coming up from underground and becoming humans.
John and I in New Zealand
Explore the carbon cycle, the rock cycle, and the water cycle together.  Look at clouds. Look through telescopes to see out beyond the clouds, far beyond what our own eyes are ability to see on their own.  Learn about how our feelings and our fears can overwhelm us and make us want to have a parent-like protector. Learn how the human body works:  illness, healing, sleep, dreams, growth, death, life. 

Delight in new technology, appreciating that human knowledge is discovering new things every day. Be in true awe at the world around you. Care for the needs of the people in your community. Recognize that your community is global. Learn to recognize when a person or cause is attempting to manipulate your emotions. Have compassion for all people who struggle or who feel bound by a belief system that causes them to behave in unkind or surprising ways. Be willing to question every single thing. Make your own rules. Create a home and a family that are unique to this earth. It is your creation, your gift back to life.
The kids and I in New Zealand
It is on-going and brave to be an atheist or secular parent. I have found myself in the position several times when I have given my child verbal or tacit permission to consider the possibility that magic has, indeed, happened and the unexplained phenomenon was created by a higher being. I have accompanied my children on walks through stations of the cross, religious memorials, and religious rituals and in every case I provided them with the opportunity to accept the message offered by the event. In every case without fail, my children have found the claims to be unbelievable and/or surprisingly silly.
Raising children is a part of being a human being that I take extremely seriously. Nothing that I have ever done has meant more to me than bringing these children up to be caring, thinking, learning, loving human beings. I have made many many mistakes (just ask my kids!). But I continue to learn and to become a better me. 

And so will you.

Greetings to my lovely readers in the Philippines and Italy.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

On Being an Atheist on Facebook

atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent
Well it happened again.  I said an atheist thing on my own Facebook status last night and it resulted with a minor run-in with a believer.

Last night on a Brisbane newsy TV show was a story about a woman claiming to have been healed of an inoperable lung cancer by some pope, a dead pope.  OK, did you get that?  A deceased pope is being touted as the one who healed this woman of her cancer.  The woman was claiming it was a miracle. The thrilling news was that her claim was enough to make the pope eligible for sainthood.
According to the spokesperson for the papacy, a man who claims that the research of such magical claims is quite rigorous, the official word is that Miracles are generally performed by deceased saints.
As I was sitting here on my laptop, I wrote that unlikely papal quote onto my Facebook status along with a small piece of clip art with the word Skeptic.  Because I am skeptical.  I immediately got this response from one of my husband's friends: 
I mean this in the nicest way possible...why are you bother about the things other believe? It seems you put a lot if energy into denouncing the faith of others. If you don't believe just don't believe. I don't think posts like this with rock the faith of those of us who believe in God.
To which I replied:   I was sitting watching a tv show with a very dubious interviewee, a so-called church authority, who said the most ridiculous things.
I have no intention of
rocking anyone. But I will post my own things on my own board. If you don't agree, please feel free to just skip the post.
I have a problem with being accused of putting energy into denouncing the beliefs of others. I DO and will speak my own truth, but I do not write disrespectful things about the beliefs of others.If you believe, just believe. 
(I know that that last line was snarky.)
She came back with:  Just to clarify, you can not become a Catholic saint until you have passed away normally. So yes, "miracles" have been preformed by deceased saints. Typically decreased is the only type of saint there is.
And I reply:  Yes, I know the rules on sainthood.  If you don't have a problem with the idea of posthumous miracles and saints, then disregard my skepticism.
My question is, how much Christian stuff do you read on Facebook and do you, if you are a nonbeliever, write, HEY, you won't change MY mind by posting stuff like this!  Furthermore, I think you are disrespecting me when you type this kind of thing!
I admit that I don't get this much, many of my friends are very cool and/or skeptics.  But this woman writes tons of Christian stuff about miracles and blessings and whatnot and I never comment at all on that.  Also, just how confronting does my post seem to be???!!!!  How sensitive is she being??!!  Threatened, maybe?  I'm itching to "unfriend" her but she has the cutest kid pics!
Also, I have to deny that I do much, if any, DENOUNCING.   lol...shakes head

WELCOME to readers from the UK and from Poland!
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