So, a little off topic, but…

I want to share some personal stuff with you. I’ve never been healthy. I grew up on processed food, have always had terrible skin, get sick easily, and now that I’ve had two kids, I’m about 70 pounds overweight. I also have a debilitating skin disease called hidradenitis suppurativa (Don’t Google it, you’ll be sorry. Or do Google it if you want to know the pain I must suffer.).

But wait, there’s more! About 6 months my first daughter was born my OBGYN put me on the birth control called Mirena. A few months later, I started experiencing ocular migraines, constant pounding headaches that nothing would ease, and a massive weight gain of about 30 pounds. My eyesight began to deteriorate, and I felt useless because I couldn’t do anything. After seeing a neurologist and having a lumbar puncture (OUCH!) I was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension, or IH. This one, you can Google. It’s not too bad.

So as you can see, I have my share of health problems. I’ve tried counting calories, working out hard core at the gym, and countless other “fad” diets. Of course, nothing worked. So now, I’m 31, overweight, sick all the time, and sick of everything. I was never taught how to be healthy, and I worry that my girls will follow my lead. You know what? Not gonna happen. 

I have dedicated my life to setting a good example for my children in terms of morality, responsibility, education, and love. But health? Not so much. I do not feed my kids junk and sugar. They eat much healthier than I do. They drink very little juice, lots of water, and they eat their green veggies. But I don’t. I love my Starbucks, chocolate, crusty breads, and pasta. But it’s time for all of that to go away. I need to practice what I preach, if you’ll pardon the religious reference.

A couple of months ago, my husband and I started eating primally. (That’s primally, not primarily!) We work out three times a week with a personal trainer. And this week, we’ve started juicing to add a nutritional punch to our diet. So what are the results? Nothing spectacular…yet. But we both feel better, and my hidradenitis suppurativa has been oddly calm. I usually have a couple of flare ups per month, and bad ones, but this month I’ve had only one very mild one.

So the goal is to drink more water (a goal at which I epically fail), continue eating primally and cutting out the processed crap, juicing for health, workout regularly, and be a good example for my girls.

So now you know about my terrible health issues (I told you not to Google it!) and what I’m doing about it. I needed to say this in a very public way to make sure I’m held accountable. Fortunately my husband is all about this and we have each other for support. We can do it!!

The Church of Atheism – Family

I’ve heard fundies say that atheism is a religion, which is complete bullshit on many levels, but it is a (lack of) belief that brings like-minded people together. I’ve found that group of people on the Internet. The problem with atheism is that it can get lonely. There is no church family to support a freethinking family when times get tough, when someone dies, or when the kids need social interaction. Church families are truly tight-knit, and there’s a support network for church members when something unexpected or bad happens. There is no church of atheism, except for what exists virtually. I used to think that wouldn’t be enough, but I’ve since changed my tune.

It was suggested that my husband and I join a local Unitarian church so that we would have the support of the church family. But we decided two things:

1) Going to  church and hearing all about a god we don’t believe in is uncomfortable for us, even if the faith accepts all people of any creed. It feels like a waste of our time. And…

2) We really enjoy spending Sunday mornings together as a family.

Reason number 2 for not joining the church is really the most important. We’ve come to love our Sunday mornings together. We cook breakfast together, we run errands (while others are at church and therefore places are less busy!), and we spend time just hanging out as a family. Our family has become our church, and we are tight-knit. We are lucky to have other family members who love us and help us when we need it, and we do the same for them. We may lack the community of a church family, but our family unit is close, happy, and rich in love because of the time we spend together.

The point of the story? It may feel lonely at times, but raising freethinkers is rewarding. Honestly, I could never go to church just for the fellowship. I’d rather put my time and energy into raising my girls and nurturing my marriage.

The Sleepover Incident – Please Weigh In

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter, who is 5, has a best friend whose parents are extremely religious (Christians). I allowed my daughter to have her first sleepover with her best friend last weekend. In the house were the two girls, and the friend’s older brother, who is autistic. I do not have an autistic child, but I realize they can sometimes be difficult to handle. I also realize that they are very sensitive and need special care when it comes to behavior.

When we were getting ready for bed the next evening, my daughter began using the word “paddle,” as in “spank.” She told her stuffed animals that they were bad and were being “paddled” and sent to their rooms. She began to spank them on the bottom and tossed them onto her bed. My husband was in the room and promptly stopped the behavior, asking her where she heard the word “paddle.” It’s not a word we use. In fact, we rarely spank at all and had recently decided that we were going to stop spanking completely. We never tell her she is “bad,” so this was not something she got from us.

She explained to my husband that she learned this while playing with her best friend. Then she told him a story about the brother. She said that the brother was bothering the girls in their room, and that the boy’s father came to get him. When he wouldn’t listen to his father, the father slapped the boy in the face…within the sight of my daughter and his. Now, I’m not an expert, but there are several things that bothered me (and my husband) about this story.

First, I can’t believe he slapped a child of no older than 8. Secondly, I can’t believe he thinks it’s ok to deal with an autistic child’s behavior this way. Thirdly, I can’t believe he allowed my child to witness it. It obviously made an impact on her because she felt compelled to tell us.

I’ve heard stories of Christian parents being abusive, but have never witnessed it. I was spanked with a belt as a child and vowed never to spank my children in that way. They never explained what I did wrong or how to correct it, and as I got older I realized the ineffectiveness of this mode of punishment. So, I ask you, readers, what would you do? Would you allow your child to see her friend again? Would you allow your child back at this house? Would you tell anyone? Is this abuse? Is this the proper treatment for an autistic child’s behavior (I highly doubt it!)? Does the “paddling” scenario bother you? Am I overreacting?

I would love to hear your thoughts. I’m so torn because my daughter loves her friend. But I don’t want her to be around violence toward children, especially those that cannot help their behavior. I also don’t want to get a family in trouble if they don’t deserve it, but my gut tells me that I should speak up. Please weigh in.

The Oatmeal – How to Suck at Your Religion

If you haven’t seen this, you must. How to Suck at Your Religion. It’s correct, hilarious, and has made a lot of people really angry, which means it’s correct.

Released Time for Religious Studies in Public Schools

My child has yet to reach this age, but upon talking with a neighbor, I learned that Berryhill Public Schools, the school that my child will attend this fall, participates in a released time program for religious studies. I do not yet know in what grade released time begins, but I know that my children will not participate, no matter how “Constitutional” released time is.

If you are not familiar with release time, check out the Wiki. According to Wiki: “Released Time is a concept used in the United States public school system wherein pupils enrolled in the public schools are permitted by law to receive religious instruction. The principle is based on the constitutional right of parents to direct the religious education of their children.”

Everything I know so far about Berryhill’s released time program tells me it falls under the Constitutional guidelines in the Wiki. However, the neighbor informed me that kids who do not attend are ostracized. They are seen as outcasts and are bullied, and, according to the neighbor, the administration looks the other way at bullying in general. Scary stuff. The neighbor also says the “religious education” is held at a Baptist church. Always. There is no teaching of Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, or anything other religion. The question for my readers – do you think it’s still Constitutional since only one religion is promoted? Based on the Wiki, it’s hard to say. I do believe it’s ethically wrong.

I also read some reviews of the school online, and one states that having their children in Berryhill is like having them “in a Christian school.” Great. Before we moved here, we asked everyone about the district. All said it was a great school. Now I know why. They do have good test scores, but their ethnic diversity is low, and obviously their religious makeup is mostly Christian.

My hopes for this school are not high. And if you’re wondering why I called the school by name, it is to serve as a way for researching parents in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas to be able to fund this information. I wish I’d known before we moved here.

Final Statements of Death Row Inmates

This post poses a lot of questions. I would love to know what you think about this. Please share your thoughts, but let’s be civil to one another.

Would you like to read something creepy? The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has kept a record of the final statements of those they’ve executed since the 1980’s. They include pictures and the stories behind most of the criminals as well. Many of these people claimed innocence up to the very end. Whether they were innocent or not, we will never know. Because, you know, death is final, after all. But why do they claim innocence when they know there’s no hope for freedom? Do they truly believe they are innocent? Are they really innocent and a major injustice is occurring?

I find it interesting that one of the most (if not the most) “Christian” states in the Union has also executed most inmates than any other state. Why do these people, who claim forgiveness is possible when one turns to god, kill in the name of justice? I know there are a million arguments both for and against the death penalty, and I’m not really writing this to hash all of that out. I just wanted to share this link because it’s a reminder that these people on death row, though they committed violent crimes, are still people. They still have cares and concerns. They still love. They feel regret (many of them). Most of them have converted to Christianity out of some final grasp for hope that god will have mercy on them, I’m sure. Whether you’re for or against the death penalty, you can’t deny that these statements are profoundly sad, especially the ones that claim innocence. I began to cry about about 10 of them. Some of them count down because they know death is seconds away, and they kept talking until the end.

This one asked for forgiveness and told the victim’s family that they must forgive him to “gain the kingdom of heaven.” Then he says, “I don’t require your forgiveness, because God has forgiven me.” But then asks for forgiveness again. Death for killing a man over his wallet. Why would he justify stealing a wallet as reason to kill? It’s hard to understand.

Another interesting thing is that some of these murders occurred during robberies, and usually for no more than $500 or so, maybe a car stereo. Why are people willing to kill for such small amounts of cash? Where have they failed or who has failed them? Does it all being with parenting? Or does it go beyond that, like the whole “it takes a village to raise a child” thing? Are our cities, communities, and governments failing people? Are they just inherently evil? Do you believe people can change, even murderers?

One more interesting fact, which I hope doesn’t spark a massive debate: most of these crimes were committed with firearms.

I know this post was a little odd, but I stumbled upon that site this morning and wanted to share. It caused human feeling to well up inside me for these people, even though I know they took human life themselves. It’s such a difficult thing, to care for people who do harm to others. I think we need more of that – just caring for others and their problems and their humanity.

 

The Bunk Stops Here

Geez, I hope that title hasn’t been used before. But it’s the truth, and I wanted to say it. The nonsense stops with me. My kids will not be raised to accept mythology as truth. Honestly, I’m exhausted by those around me (both virtually and IRL) who fill kids’ minds with nonsense.

“Say your prayers!” “Thank god for your good life!” “Get your heart right with god!” “God has a plan!” All lies. All harmful. It teaches kids that they don’t have to take responsibility for their choices, that god will work things out for them. It teaches kids that some people aren’t good enough to receive god’s blessings, like children whose parents are deadbeats or those who are starving in the streets. This nonsense teaches kids that death is more important than life. I can’t stand it. It stops with me.

It kills me to let them go on believing that the tooth fairy is real, that Santa is real. But the difference (and it’s a big one) is that Santa and the tooth fairy don’t send you to hell when you do something they say is wrong. They don’t bless some people while ignoring others. They don’t allow pain and suffering to go on in the world. That’s how I justify it anyway.

I like to think I’m helping to raise a new generation of freethinkers. I’m not afraid to raise my kids this way, and I won’t be afraid to stand up when I know their freedoms are being compromised. I’m sure you’ll hear more on this later because the public school in our district is said to basically be a Christian school.  Just wait. You won’t believe it. But, I digress. I know a lot of parents around my age who are raising their kids to be freethinkers. We’re saying the bunk stops here. The lies, the money-grubbing, fear-mongering,  denying of the real truth…it all ends with my childhood. I commit to never giving up or giving in, and to always fight for what is right and verifiably true. Let’s do it. Let’s raise a new generation of kids who value our planet, and scientific exploration, and discovery, and equal rights for all. Let’s raise a generation of kids who care about the greater good. I commit. Do you?

Quick Update

To all my readers, I’m so sorry I haven’t updated in so long. I’m finishing up my bachelor’s degree by going to school full time, all while working full time and raising my kiddos. It’s a busy, but amazing life. To all who have commented and shared your thoughts – thank you. Your support means more than you know. I will work to keep this blog updated.

My girls are now 5 and 3, and they have a million questions about life, about which I encourage them to think critically and form their own opinions. I’m very pleased with how they’re growing up, and though I will never force them to believe anything, I think they will have the capacity to realize how harmful religion is, and how wonderful science and rational thought is.

Thanks again for stopping by, and please let me know if you would like me to write on a particular topic! Thanks!

Edit: We’re becoming less religious, and it’s awesome! 

My Truth Saves “Testimony”

I didn’t even realize they put this online! :)

http://truth-saves.com/brianna-from-tulsa-oklahoma/

My little girl has a best friend…

…and her mom is very religious. We’re attending the new friend’s birthday party this weekend and I must admit, I’m a little nervous. I spoke with her mom today and we had a nice conversation and got to know each other, but it became evident very quickly that religion is important in their family. The sad thing about this is that it doesn’t matter one bit to me, but I know if they find out we are a freethinking family, my daughter’s new friendship will be in jeopardy. The woman asked how I was raised while we were on the phone, and I told her honestly about my religious upbringing, but left it at that. I didn’t mention that I’ve left that behind, and now I feel as if I’m betraying her and myself.

I’ve promised myself that I will not lie to her, and if she asks, I will be honest. It’s the best I can do. If she is willing to forbid her daughter to be friends with mine because of my beliefs, then perhaps they aren’t a family we need to be associated with anyway. Right? Right?

Sigh. I’m so nervous…