Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Latest Look

Like most kids, Natalie loves to look at pictures of herself. Here are some of her favorites as of late:

Me: Look, you're trying on mommy's shoes.
N: No mommy! Those are BOOTS.

At the indoor mall playground. A very important place when it's 95, humid, and your toddler is full of energy.

Oh, my high fashion girl!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's a strange, blessed land

There are many things I've been wanting to write about living in Florida, and how it differs from my native California upbringing. Though we've actually been here since last October, it wasn't "real" for me until we moved into our house in May. When we first arrived here, we were in limbo. Not sure if we were staying in Florida, or moving to Denver or somewhere else entirely. Each new job interview for Dean brought on possibilities. So now that we have settled in, and I am truly living the Florida lifestyle, I've had some time to reflect upon things, and some time to realize just where we have landed. For the most part, it's been great, but I was not prepared for the culture shock. I know a particular girlfriend of mine is laughing hysterically as she reads this, but I didn't realize how liberal California was until I left.

I truly was not expecting the large emphasis on church-going and religion. Within weeks of moving to our new town, I must have heard someone saying how blessed they were at least once a day. Often more. As in several times in a single day. To the point where I was commenting about this to Dean, to my folks and to many of my old friends. I don't have a problem with people saying this, but when your norm is people using these words only in regards to big life changing experiences, you notice it.

As evidence, here are a sampling of actual quotes I've heard since moving here:

"I'm so blessed (insert reason here)" (heard at least 432 times so far)

"I have to pick up my kids at vacation bible school"

"He's an interior designer. Oh, but he's not gay, he has kids!" (um, okay.)

"I've always known I wanted to be a surrogate mother"

"We're christians so... "(insert explanation for actions here)

"I don't know, doesn't the Montesorri Method teach independent thinking?" (oh, sorry, I didn't realize that was a bad thing)

The clincher for me was the day I took Natalie to a park and while pushing her on the swing, a busload of kids unloaded (clearly a summer camp) and proceeded to sit down at the picnic area. A few moments later, I hear these lovely little voices ring into the air singing "God is good, God is great". Luckily, no one else was at the park as I just started laughing hysterically, not believing my ears. It was just so perfect that this would take place while I was around to witness it. I don't know, perhaps someone is trying to tell me something?

While I won't go into all my spiritual beliefs here, suffice it to say, I believe in God, consider myself spiritual but am not a big fan of organized religion. How being around all these blessings will affect Natalie, remains to be seen. For now, I'll likely be enrolling Natalie in the Montessori preschool next year and trying to meet the other 10 liberal parents who live in the area. The funny thing is, that I don't consider myself a hard core liberal by any means. I have very liberal tendencies in some areas (I could care less if you are gay and I think pot should be legalized), but I also think that if you want to own a gun, it's your right (with some background checks) and I don't have a problem with capital punishment (if it fits the crime).

But if I have to pick between being labeled as a liberal in a conservative land and sending my kids to vacation bible school, bring on the liberalism.