Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Religion Poll

Over the past couple of days my local newspaper, The Oregonian, has published the findings from one or two religious polls taken recently. In today's paper was a small summary of where Oregonians fall within the larger poll.

In a nutshell:

The Winner: the unaffiliated. 16.1% of those surveyed say they are not affiliated with any religion, more than double the number who say they grew up in an unaffiliated household. (in other words, people are "quitting" the religion of their childhoods.) This group includes atheist (1.6%), agnostic (2.4%) and what the survey called "nothing in particular" (12.1%, although 5.8% say religion is important to them.) 25% of those ages 18-29 are unaffiliated.

The Non-Winner: the Catholic Church. More people leave Catholicism as they age than any other major religion, with one-third of those raised Catholic no longer being Catholic. While the overall percentage of Catholics held steady (25%), that was because of the large number of Catholic immigrants (1 in 3 US Catholics are Latino, as are 45% of Catholics under 30).

The Aging: Protestant denominations. 6 in 10 age 70 and older are Protestant, but that falls to 4 in 10 for those 18-29.

I find this so interesting!! See, these numbers reflect me personally. I was raised in a Catholic family, but no longer consider myself Catholic. AND, as an added bonus, I would say I now fall squarely into "unaffiliated", going so far as to say the term agnostic applies to me. It seems I am not alone.

I feel sort of bad about pulling away from that common thread of Catholicism with my family. We went to church pretty much every Sunday when I was a kid. I hated it, of course, but had to go. I pretty much just went to see who else I knew was there. I people watched. I checked out what people were wearing. I looked forward to the donuts afterward. I didn't listen to the sermon, or sing the songs, or anything. I never felt comfortable in church. Not ever. So when I was a grown up, do you think I continued attending services voluntarily? HELL NO. But, to keep the peace with the family I got married in the Catholic church, minus the communion part. Mr. Chick didn't grow up with religion and we didn't want to highlight that fact by offering communion. Plus, that just made the ceremony longer. And, we had the kids baptized. Which I think is total bullshit, but it couldn't hurt, right?

I think I declared my independence (freedom?) from religion and church in general when we didn't go to Mass on Christmas Eve. That raised a few eyebrows in my family. But I stuck to my guns, said we would just meet everyone for dinner after they got back from church, and didn't elaborate further about how I felt that attending services is a slow form of torture for me. How it makes me feel very hypocritical to go. How I struggle to understand how seemingly bright, educated, intelligent people can really believe that a supposed virgin had a divine child, celebrated in December when it's unclear if that is even the "real" birthday of Jesus (many speculate he was actually born in the summer months, but when the church was sweeping across the lands, forcing conversion, they made a few changes to better accommodate the pagens and help make their conversion easier by better matching up ceremonies, etc.). I don't buy it. Not one little bit. So going to church is clearly out of the question for me.

I prefer to tell my kids that Jesus was a very good, important man in history and Christmas is about celebrating his birthday. More of a footnote to the much more exciting elements of Christmas, like Santa. And really, the connection between celebrating Jesus' birthday and Santa never made sense to me. I like Santa better. And I'll do the same with Easter. We'll leave the religion out of it and focus on celebrating spring. Easter eggs and the Easter bunny. The fun stuff. Not the bit about celebrating that a guy dead 3 days and left in a cave suddenly came to life again and rose to heaven. No, not that. Anything but that. I have more chance of believing there really is an Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and a tooth fairy than that. The Bible reads like fictional mythology to me (not that I've ever read the whole bible - full disclosure. I attempted it once but didn't get far. But I heard the various readings during years of forced church attendance to have gotten a good taste of it, when I paid attention or was bored enough to read ahead in the missle.) Good stories and valuable lessons, but not fact.

Somehow my personal evolution (de-volution?) where religion is concerned has happened in the past few years. Slowly but surely I started really thinking about it (having kids will do this to you) and further solidified my take on it. It hasn't been easy "admitting" to this position since it so obviously goes against the grain - not only of my family (who are not fanatical Catholics, just your garden-variety, go to church on Sunday types) but of the American society at large. Not being Christian is like a fish swimming upstream. But if I'm being truly honest with myself, I'm not Catholic and I'm not even generic Christian. I'm not Jewish. I'm nothing when it comes to religion. Unaffiliated. And since I can't even say whether I believe there is a god or not, I'm even further astray by flirting with agnostic or even atheist. Can someone believe in Mother Nature? In science? That all life on this planet evolved from the primordial soup, and will continue to change and evolve long after we're gone? That when we die, we just die? We don't "go" anywhere for judgment? Oh, the horror - ! What I wish is that there didn't need to be a label for your personal views and beliefs. Why do I have to fall within one camp or the other? I know that this is a very unpopular view/stance to take. To not affiliate, even in title only, with a religion can mean isolation from the larger group. But I think it's more important to be true to yourself than to profess beliefs that you aren't completely down with, just to fit in to the larger group and feel "connected" that way.

I don't begrudge others their views and beliefs. You believe in god? Good for you! I'm glad you find happiness there. We can still be friends. Our kids can play together and we can all be cool. I don't discuss my non-beliefs with my friends - at least, I don't bring it up. If someone asked me, I would share my thoughts. But I'm not out to convert or convince others to think the way I do. To each their own. I hope we can all still play nicely in the sandbox together, even though I'm not religious and you might be. If these polls and surveys are to be trusted, I am not alone and I'm part of a growing group. I do take some satisfaction in that.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I can't explain it. There's no rational logic behind it. It's silly and a time waster. But I just.can't.stop! What is it, you ask? Something important? Something ultimately productive? Oh no no no. It's craigslist. I'm addicted and I just can't stop browsing

Specifically, I'm scouring the listings in my area for dining room furniture. Silly, right? But I can't help myself. I've always loved dining rooms. I think it goes back to my parents dining room - I loved it. It was formal and pretty and special. It represented occasions. Holidays. Good times. Events involving gifts, usually. I always told my mom I wanted her dining room when she died (nice, huh?). Well, my love affair with the dining room continues to this day.
I have a "formal" dining room in my house. It's a small-ish space that can't accommodate a large table and hutch. Which is good, really, when you think about it, because a formal dining room simply isn't used very often. At least not in our house - we have a more "casual" eating space off the kitchen we use for daily meals. At yet, my longing for a nice, formal dining room persists. That's where craigslist comes into play. I check the listing for "used" dining room furniture to see if I can find something that would fit my space, appeal to me personally, and not cost much. There is a definite disconnect between what I like and what I can afford. And I'm finding that the dining room styles I'm initially drawn to aren't the ones that would work well in my space.

Back before kids, Mr. Chick and I found a china hutch at an estate sale. They were asking something like $500 for it but it was late in the day on the first day of the sale. All items were being reduced 50% the next day. So we put in a bid/offer on the hutch for $300 - just slightly more than the 50% off price to increase our chances of getting the hutch. It worked - we got it. I really wanted something to put our fine china and crystal in, so this was a good thing for us to get (see, the china, silver and crystal go hand-in-hand with my love of dining rooms. I love all that stuff!) The hutch we bought wasn't "fussy" - it was an oak buffet/hutch - 2 piece unit - with leaded glass doors. It can hold a lot of stuff! I don't love oak, but our house at the time had a lot of oak accents, so it worked. It was supposed to be a "placeholder" until we eventually got a complete dining room set.

Fast-forward nearly 10 years. We've moved a couple of times, had a couple of kids, but still have that hutch. And it "works" in this house we have now because, like before, it has a lot of "honey oak" accents (all kitchen cabinets, moldings, doors, etc.) It's the perfect size for our dining room. And the style is about right, too, because our house has a more contemporary feel than traditional, and that hutch isn't a formal, traditional style hutch. BUT, when I look at dining room furniture I'm drawn to the more traditional styles. Queen Anne, Duncan Phyfe, cherry wood, etc. What we should get in the long run, if I'm being practical, is an oak table and chair set to match the hutch and the style of the home (late-70's / early 80's contemporary with vaulted ceilings and sunken living rooms). But finding something like THAT is harder to do than you might think. Most of the oak tables are round/oval claw foot styles. That isn't what I want - I don't want antique like that. Or, the oak tables are cheesy with castered, rolling upholstered chairs. High on ick factor. I like a cleaner, timeless look. Chairs and tables without a lot of unnecessary embellishments and carvings and such. I'm not wild about rush seats or caned backs. I like the lighter wood tables, which are easier to find, but fear they wouldn't match up well with the medium golden oak of the hutch. And I want at least 6 chairs, not 4. 8 would be great, but I don't have the space for 8. But I'd like a leaf or two for the table so we could expand it when we entertain at the holidays. See? A conundrum. And so I look - everyday - obsessively. Which is just so damn SILLY of me because it's the LAST thing I should be spending money on. Even just a few hundred dollars. We should be saving it, or investing it, or ear-marking it for a 10-year anniversary getaway. Anything but a frivolous dining room set. But I.can't.stop.looking!! I seriously need help.

Does anyone else find themselves coveting something very unnecessary but can't stop despite their better judgment? Is it just me?

Friday, February 22, 2008

House of Sick

Now with more fever! Last week it was Nicholas who was down for the count, missing the first 3 days of school to stay in bed with a fever and feel miserable. Lauren teased us with a day or so of slight fever, but seemed to rebound quickly, never really getting too slammed by it. So we went to play at my parents lake house over the weekend with some friends. Good fun, except for the brief period in the middle of the night when their middle kid woke up all hot and feverish. Seemed to be but a blip and he was right as rain the next morning. No worries. And the first part of this week was relatively normal. Sure, a few runny noses, etc., but nothing alarming. Clear snot does not alarm me.

On Tuesday morning Lauren's preschool teacher called me (ME! I got the call!) to come help in the classroom that morning because she had hurt her knee and couldn't walk. OK! I'd LOVE to help out! I was eager-beaver about it and looked forward to spending the morning with Lauren at preschool. To get to observe her in her "natural environment", so to speak. Oh my, but the range of kids in that class - ! All levels of ability, behavior, and colors of snot in their noses. I mean really - colored snot = stay home! I think I personally wiped a dozen noses and went through at least 1/2 a bottle of sanitizing gel. So it was no surprise to me when Lauren asked to snuggle with me the next afternoon (Wed) and promptly fell asleep only to wake up really hot. Fever hot. Bright blooms of pink flushing her cheeks. Cccrrraaaappppp! Lauren does NOT nap - ever - so that my first big clue that she was coming down with something. Waking up with a hot fever only confirmed what I already knew was coming. So she was home with me all day yesterday, had a rough night of frequent wakings last night, and continues to be hot today, albeit not quite as hot (just 100.4 vs. 102.something). She wants to be ON me - a LOT - which I'm happy to allow when she's sick. Except that it means nothing else gets done. The house is a wreck and we have a friend coming over for dinner. The fridge is bare and I MUST go to the store in order to feed said friend. Nevermind ourselves. But I hate dragging a sick child out and about. She's a trouper and all, but still - it has to suck when you want to be snuggled in your bed watching Clifford videos and your mom makes you put on clothes, sit in cold car all the way to the store, and then ride around in the cart because you mom says she can't carry you (all 44 lbs of you!) and shop at the same time. Being sick sucks, and being the mom of a sick kid sucks, too. It's the house of sick suckage. Not to mention that I'm extremely tired. Sleeping with a hot, sick child does not allow for much restful sleep. Every time she stirs, she wakes, which is frequent. If she feels too hot, I'm on alert watching her and have had to do fever-reducing stuff in the middle of the night, which leads to tears (hers and almost mine). There is bed hopping involved. I slept in HER bed - a twin - WITH HER - last night from about 4:45am until 7am to spare Mr. Chick the constant restlessness that was going on in our bed. (aka: "I want to sleep next to Daddy." A few hours go by, then we're awakened to her climbing over Daddy claiming, "I want to sleep in the middle", followed yet again by "I wanna sleep next to you, Mama". sigh. It gets exhausting) So now I have this dull throbbing ache in my head, my eyes feel gritty, I'm feeling a bit short-tempered, and I have to get ready to shop, clean and cook today. And oh yeah, be a human Kleenex and lovey to my sick daughter. No problem! Lauren, on the other hand, besides still running a low-grade fever, is on the mend and fairly chipper. The tide has turned, but now *I* need to recover!

Ok, thanks for letting me vent. I'm just hoping I don't catch it because Sunday is the Oscars and that means I'm getting together with some girlfriends for our annual Oscar party (I'm not hosting this year, thank god) and some time away from the kids. I haven't done any "research" yet, but I'm hoping that this year will be MY year for winning the ballot competition we do. Oh yeah!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Baby

I'm not very big on Valentine's Day. Or any other "made up" holidays. Mr. Chick sees to it that I'm well-aware of his feelings for me on a regular basis, so I don't need a certain day to make sure that happens. It happens all year long. A lot. I'm a lucky girl.

But it IS Valentine's Day, after all, and I AM a lucky girl. And it's been a long week chock-full of sick kids. Nicholas missed 3 days of school this week and stayed home with a fever. He was very, very worried he'd miss school today and the Valentine's Day class party. He'd worked hard writing out his valentines - all 28 of them - and then he got sick. Mama to the rescue: I inserted all the stickers that came with the Harry Potter valentines into the pre-perforated (at least, most of them were...) slots and taped on the heart-shaped chocolate treat to each of the cards. He was ready. And when I was taking his temperature this morning it was to the background chanting of Nicholas' desperate plea: "PLEASE be under 100 degrees so I can go to school! PLEASE be under 100 degrees so I can go to school!" And it was! And he did! Which left me with just Lauren today, who seems to have the same fever Nicholas just had, plus a lovely cough to go along with it. No valentine's day class party for this preschooler. We dropped off her valentines cards instead, which she also filled out herself. Later we picked up the ones given to her by her classmates, which she is gleefully going through this very minute.

In between the valentines drop off and pick up at the preschool, Lauren and I ventured downtown to see Daddy. A surprise - he wasn't expecting us. I had a card for Mr. Chick and had Lauren deliver it to his office while I waited outside the door. It was an invitation to lunch. He loved that we came to see him. We had a quickie lunch together - the three of us - which was nice. And cool that it was just with Lauren, for she is our valentines day baby. Conceived, not delivered (Nov. 8th - you do the math). I don't think Mr. Chick even remembers this little detail, but I do. So sitting there at lunch with my husband and daughter was a nice way to spend the afternoon. He got lunch with his girls, Lauren got some unusual one-on-one time with her parents - no brother in sight - and I got to remember how this man and I made this precious girl 5 years ago on this day. Cheesy, I know, but nice nonetheless.

And as a total sidenote: I've re-entered the 21st century and finally got a cell phone again. Yes, I was THAT person who didn't have a cell phone. We got rid of them when Mr. Chick went to law school and were in no hurry to get one again. We were out of the habit of having one, and didn't relish the expense when it wasn't really necessary. But, the kids are both in school and have more activities, and I'm working. So having a cell phone makes more sense now, and I can have my home phone and business phone forwarded to my cell phone when I'm out and about. Plus, it came with free Bluetooth, which the ONLY way I'll even CONSIDER taking a phone call while I'm driving. Cell phones in cars are dangerous and I'm not down with that. In fact, my phone rang today on the way to see Mr. Chick and even with the Bluetooth I could tell that I was distracted. I had to pull over to finish my conversation - it made me too nervous. We'll see if I keep the phone - I have one more week to decide risk-free. I know many people can't understand not having a cell, but for me, it's hard to justify the expense. I don't like talking on the phone in public - rude, mostly - and don't like talking while driving. So it's more for emergencies, I guess, but even then, is it worth $40/mo?? Still trying to weigh the pro and cons.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wonders Never Cease

No, that's not an altered picture: Lauren really DOES have pigtails in her hair! I KNOW! Amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I had to be an utter dork and take her picture just to prove it. It only took two cookies to bribe her into letting me do this (one for each pigtail). A ploy I've tried before but failed every time. Maybe these cookies were extra good? Regardless, I seized my chance and ran with it, baby.

What's better? SHE KEPT THEM IN MOST OF THE DAY! Through preschool and gymnastics. Even at home. My daughter, who has shunned all manner of hair clips or bands for nearly two years now, willingly kept pigtails in her hair. The next thing you know she's going to be asking for vegetables or chicken for dinner. I don't think my frail mother's heart could take it.

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