Category Archives: Florida

Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
brad
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

4 Comments

Filed under Boys, Equal Rights, Fathers, Florida, Marriage, parental fear, Parenting, Politics, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness, sons, Teaching kids

Mom Bloggers Tweetup at Seaworld

seaworld

This Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Seaworld with a fabulous crew of mom bloggers. All thanks to Ted Murphy at IZEA and Wendy Piersall at Sparkplugging.com, we were able to spend an entire day at the park soaking up all things aquatic. I had never been to Orlando’s Seaworld before and was very excited to see what all the fuss was about. And while I wasn’t able to bring my children, I got to see the park through the eyes of the other mom blogger’s children – all while plying them with cotton candy.

So who did I go with? Well the wonderful Shellie from Blog 4 Mom , the brilliant Susan from Egg Marketing and Sometimes Parenting Sucks , the wildly witty Britt from Miss Britt, and the beautiful Melanie from Modern Mami. And had I ever met these women before? Well, here and there on Twitter or in passing at Blog Her last year – but for the most part we met as strangers. But c’mon. Give us some credit. We blog, we’re moms, we had pleeeenty in common. We really had a wonderful day together and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to hang out with them and their families.

Now what about the park? From sea exhibit to shining sea exhibit, I had an amazing time. Since it is February, the weather was perfect and the park was not very crowded. We walked casually to each section, we never felt too overwhelmed by other visitors and enjoyed every sea creature we saw.

The dolphin area was amazing. Visitors had the chance to feed dolphins and reach out to pet them if they happened to be at arms length. You could truly enjoy this creatures curiousity – they are such wonderful and social animals. The under water viewing area was impressive. The dolphins peered right back at us, swimming slowly by. I think they were equally entertained.

After checking out some wonderful manatee (and debating with husbands whether they are technically considered “cute” – which they are), we went to the Blue Horizons Whale and Dolphin show. I happened to capture the finale on video to share with my children and all of you.

Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch and then headed over to the shark exhibit. I really enjoyed being able to move through the shark tank and see them swim over us. I also appreciated seeing how thick that glass was separating us and the sharks!

The big event for the afternoon was the Shamu Show “Believe”. We all made sure to get spots as close to the front without technically being in the “splash zone”. If the kids had a choice however, we would have been right down front, bracing for wave impact. Nope. We mom bloggers are practical, we stayed dry. But I did catch that finale on video also.

At this point, the kids had been pretty good about following our agenda so we let them run wild in Shamu’s Happy Harbor while we chatted. Or should I say, the moms chatted and the dads braved the climbing contraption with netted tubes three stories above us. While we compared blog tips and tweeted from iphones, the dad’s sweated their way through it all, each coming back down exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. Be prepared if you head up into that maze yourselves, it is not really built for adults sizes or large crowds and can get very warm!

Our final stop was for the wild at heart. A few of the mom bloggers braved the Kraken – a ginormous roller coaster found at the back of the park. It absolutely took my breath away and was an incredible ride. Awesome for sure, but it left me seeing stars a bit on the way back to the car. (Groan, am I getting too old for roller coasters? …never.)

All in all, it was an amazing day. Seaworld is wonderful park for every aged family member. While it brings a lot of the Florida sea life to visitors, it does a great job giving us real accessibility to the animals. Afterwards, visitors are left with an educational visit and a true appreciation for what is really living in our oceans.  

Find some time when it won’t be crowded at Seaworld and go yourself!

**Update**

Izea is sponsoring a Seaworld trip for four! The contest begins February 11th and ends March 10th and is very easy to enter. Go check it out!

3 Comments

Filed under Animal appreciation, Bloggers, Children, Florida, Reccomendations, Reviews, Theme Parks, Vacation

Inauguration Day: Proud, Patriotic and Pantsless

So here I sit, under a blanket, with a cup of tea steaming on the coffee table. My laptop, with about 10 separate windows open (CNN.com, twitter, various blogs, email, etc.), is sitting on, well, my lap. CNN is on the television in front of me and my two year old son is napping (finally).

And Barack Obama is President of the United States.

Wow.

He’s been president for almost two hours now. And I could not be more grateful.

Someday my sons may ask me where I was the day President Obama was inaugurated. And so I think it seems only right I post today to “archive” it in some way. But I hate to disappoint them. Even though my parents live in the DC area, we are not there. We are home in Florida. Or I am, with C., doing dishes, making dinner and folding laundry. My 5 year old went to school today and my husband went to work and won’t be home until late in the evening. A family trek to DC was not practical or affordable right now. So here we are, its just another day in the neighborhood.

But I know its not. Something has changed. A subtle but deeply felt shift just happened, and we were all moved by it. Our country is now somehow altered with the swearing in of this single man. Hope is an extraordinarily powerful thing and the meaning of an event like today’s inauguation can be felt in every office, work place, and living room nationwide. Even in the far reaches of boring old suburbia, even in a little ol’ living room like mine.

As the crowds gathered on the Mall this morning and I gathered my robe around me while I watched, I suddenly figured something out. You know this whole concept of change that Obama has been going on about? Yeah, well, I have realized that “change” – or making it happen, rather – is something that we all must to own. It’s no longer Obama’s line anymore. Once he was sworn in, change has become an action that we are all responsible for. We can fix these issues if we all harness the energy of the people on that mall today and commit to making a significant difference in our communities, from where ever we stand. Even if we stand in a spot far from DC, maybe even at the edge of a cookie cutter community in Florida, in a home with stew simmering in the crock pot and a child napping in the front room. 

So back to my point. What was I doing when Obama was sworn in? Well, as Aretha Franklin began singing, I noticed a certain… odor… in my living room. And it wasn’t the stew. C. looked at me sheepishly – and I knew. Yup. I spent Obama’s swearing in changing a very full and fairly horrifying poopy diaper. Afterwards, I let C. “air” out some and left him pantsless. The poor child has had horrible diaper rash. And I dragged out his potty too which he graciously peed in for me – twice – while I caught snippets of Obama’s speech.

That’s where I was when Obama became President of the United States. I was at the helm of my current and very humbling profession, doing what I do best right now, being a mom.

(And you can’t say *I* wasn’t “changing” something during that very pivotal and historic moment in history, correct?)

So here is my two year old, only minutes after Obama officially became president, standing on our back porch: pantsless and patriotic. cinaug

5 Comments

Filed under Deep thoughts, Educating myself, Election, Family, Florida, Giving respect, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Obama, Patriotism, Presidency, Reality check

A Flock of Birds in my Backyard

This morning, my 5 year old came running in to tell me there were lots and lots and LOTS of birds in our backyard. “Uh huh, that’s nice dear.” “No, Mommy, LOTS. Come see.” And I did. And so did my husband with my 2 year old toddling behind us.

There were, in fact, many birds in our backyard. Hundreds potentially. A flock like I had never seen were swooping and swirling and flying just above our heads. And then landing in one bush, weighing it down. And then off they went again. It was close to magical.

I grabbed my video camera and threw this little montage of the scene together. It certainly doesn’t capture the feeling or size of this flock flying all about us. But blog-worthy still. My backyard strikes again.

By the way, I used my Muvee Reveal software for this. It took 5 minutes to put together. The software edits the footage to work right along with the song. Pretty cool, huh?

4 Comments

Filed under Animal appreciation, Florida, One of those moments, Wildlife

Gay Marriage Bans, Discrimination and Fruit

marriageforallredblack

While last Tuesday night had many Americans dancing in the streets (and rightfully so – hell, I’m still dancing), we were also given a sobering wake up call. Bans on gay marriage passed in California, Florida and Arizona.

Forgive me as I state the oh so obvious, but this is very bad news for our country.

While we rejoice the fact that an African American man has become a United States President, there – sitting in the shadow of this wonderful moment – is hate, discrimination and fear. And so, a majority of people in these states voted that two people who love each other – who happened to be the same gender – do not deserve the same rights to marry as they do.

Gender. What the hell does it mean anyway? That I have to sit down to pee and my husband does not? That I have the physiology to make a baby and but my husband does not? Or that at Red Lobster, he goes into the “Bouys” room and I go into the “Gulls”? I mean, that’s it. Otherwise, we are as alike as any two people can be – with the same abundance of love for each other and our children, with the same abilities to think and reason, we catch the same germs when we get sick, we like to eat good food, and drink beer, and maybe he watches more football than I do but we BOTH watch Project Runway, for cripes sakes!

Now, my feminist tendancies are tapping my shoulder to remind me that men and women have not been treated the same since the dawn of man… er… people. (SEE?!?!) And gender is a very complex thing indeed (am wiping my brow remembering a Philosophy and Gender class I took in college). But, that’s not what I mean right now. I am talking about just the basics of gender. And that we are the same – except for some interesting bits of physiology. So, really, what it comes down to is that my husband and I – who love each other very much – are allowed to be married simply because he has twigs and berries, and I’ve gotta peach.

And so, depending on how we shuffle our twigs and berries and peaches, those with only the CORRECT assortment of said symbolic plant items can marry. Therefore, two people who love each other deeply but BOTH must use the”Bouys” room… well, call out the reinforcements and send lightening bolts down from the heavens – they absolutely CANNOT be married.

Folks think about it. When it comes to love and family, gender doesn’t mean anything. Love is love. And no one else should be allowed to tell me or anyone else who I can or can not love and marry.

Shoot, if all marriage boils down to is an assortment of the correct kinds of fruit, well then you may as well tell me that I couldn’t marry someone because he or she was shorter than I am. Or has a different shade of eye color. Or a different shade of skin than I do… (oh wait, we’ve done that one before).

Not allowing two human beings to marry – AND I DON’T CARE WHAT COMBINATION OF TWIGS, BERRIES AND PEACHES YOU’VE GOT – is discrimination people. It’s as simple as that.

So before I get any further stewed up and start hurling more fruit epithets your way, I will leave you with this. Please, PLEASE watch this special comment given by Keith Olbermann last night. He gets it so right for me and for all of us. Love is love people, and it’s simply a human right.

keith-olbermann        CLICK HERE TO WATCH KEITH OLBERMANN’S SPECIAL COMMENT.

13 Comments

Filed under Election, Equal Rights, Feminist tendancies, Florida, Marriage, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Holding My Breath on Election Day

100_3658
Ok Folks. It’s all come down to today. Forgive me for not really having many words. I am very busy wringing my hands and muttering to myself. And desperately trying to remember to breathe. I’m am grateful to have voted already because I can’t possibly imagine having to truly function today. But I will, of course. I will distract myself with writing that needs to be written and playgroups that must be played at. While I rock my Obama T-shirt proudly, I will ogle the voters that are already lined out into the parking lot up the road from here. On my way to kindergarten pick-up, I will drive past the fields of campaign signs that seem to have sprung up overnight. And I will over hear those conversations in the grocery store line: “Whats the difference between Barack HUSSEIN Obama and Osama Bin Laden? They both know someone that bombed our country… har har har.” And I will keep my mouth shut. Because today it’s time for this country to quiet down, focus and finally decide who they want in charge. The majority will tell us which direction we are headed next.

Make your voice part of the majority.

Please vote today.

Deep breaths.

I’ll be back to talk to you on the flip side…

6 Comments

Filed under Election, Florida, Obama, Panicking, Politics

An Election Poll: The Bumper Stickers I’ve Seen in Florida.

I am facinated by bumper stickers. I always have been. I can’t help but look to see what people have to say, what they believe in and what they choose to support publically as they drive around town. It’s no suprise then that I have a few bumper stickers of my own. Lots of people I know don’t like bumper stickers, they argue that they are even unsafe since they give away a lot of personal information. But, well, I just couldn’t help myself. My car is hardly very flashy as is, so I see no harm in spicing her up with a little bling.

However, my facination with bumper stickers has been fanned and ignited from a mild interest to a full blown obsession with this election. You see, I live in a suburb in Florida that is kind of a big deal right now. According to the polls, it is still one of the fewer areas in Floirda that they cannot predict for this election. And our state overall is still on the fence as to which way it will go. So depending on how my neighbors vote, the results for this county might actually help determine whether we become a red or blue state tomorrow. The people driving in the cars all around me could help decide who our next president will be. So when I started seeing campaign stickers plastered on the backs of cars in my area, I couldn’t help but take notice. I was literally seeing who these drivers will vote for.

Last September, I started a little poll in my car. Since about the second week of that month, I started keeping track of every Obama and McCain bumper sticker that I saw. I was curious to see if my poll might reflect the polls for our state. Plus it helped me feel like I could have some sort of “heads up” about which way the area I lived in was voting. I was curious if I was the only Obama supporter for miles. It turns out I’m not.

I should also note here that I didn’t count any signs or other parphenalia that I saw. (Until recently, the large majority of signs were for McCain.) And I tried to be very careful never to count the same car twice. (For instance, kindergarten pick up means seeing many of the same cars everyday.) And even if a car was covered in Obama stickers, it was only counted once. I also continued my poll if I drove out of my area. I drove to Orlando twice during my poll and counted the stickers I saw. I am not sure how scientific my methods were but, for the last month and a half, I have been on hyper bumper sticker alert, hunting down stickers at every traffic light, traffic jam and parking lot I found myself at.

And now – cue drum roll – a day away from our national presidential election, I would like to present you with my results.

Total cars with bumper stickers: 114

Obama bumper stickers: 62 (54%)

McCain bumper stickers: 52 (45%)

It looks like Obama won, right? Well, I should also tell you that I attended an Obama meeting and counted 9 stickers there (I am sure there were more but thats as many as I actually saw). So, if I hadn’t attended that meeting, Obama would have only won in this poll by one bumper sticker.

So what does it tell me? Of the sample of cars I saw during my drives around town daily, the polls reflect pretty much what I saw. Elections results for this area of Tampa are going to be very CLOSE tomorrow.

And now, back to wringing my hands and hoping all goes well tomorrow. But before I go, I am kind of into this polling thing recently. Who are you voting for?

6 Comments

Filed under Cars, Educating myself, Election, Florida, McCain, Obama, Politics