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October 27, 2010

Voting 101

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 5:44 pm

Hello Class.  Welcome to Voting 101.  I’m Ms. Dawn and I will be your instructor in this class.  I will be telling you Who to vote for, What to vote for, When to vote, Where to vote, Why to vote and How to vote.

Let’s start with an easy one, shall we:  When should you vote? The next election is on Tuesday, November 2, 2010.  Poll hours vary by location so please check with your local authorities as to the time.

Which leads us to the next topic:  Where should you vote? Locate your voter registration card.  Here in Michigan, you no longer need to present this card to vote, but it will give you the polling location you are to report to as well as information on the various districts in which you reside so you will know which candidates are the ones you should be considering.  Make sure you have a current card since this information may change.  Macomb County just did some redistricting in 2010.  When this happens, a new card is issued.

Sample Voter Registration Card

If this is your first time voting, you may be wondering:  How do I vote? This answer will vary depending on where you live.  I believe most if not all polling locations have staff in place to answer any questions you may have about voting.  They will not tell you who to vote for but they will tell you how to cast your vote.

Here’s a few things to know if you are voting in Macomb County, Michigan.  These may apply to other locations as well and discussion on this is welcome at the end of class.  When you arrive at the polling location you will be approached by lots of people asking you to vote for their candidate and handing you everything from flyers to pens to candy.  I even got a carnation once.  You can smile, take their stuff and then use it or dump it.  Or you can choose to do your best to avoid eye contact and get inside the building quickly.  They have to stay a certain distance from the entrance.  Please note that if you do take any of these items, they must be out of sight once you are in the building.  There’s usually a trashcan inside the door or put them in your pocket or purse.  Locate the room where the voting is taking place and have your driver’s license ready.  They will walk you through the rest.  Smile and be pleasant to the poll workers even if you have to wait in line.  Many are volunteers.

I’m sure many of you are asking:  Why should I vote? The answer is quite simple.  It is your responsibility as a citizen of the United States to make your voice heard.  And I always say, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.”  If your candidate doesn’t win, you can say “Don’t look at me.  I voted for the other guy.”  If your candidate does win, you can contact them and say “Hey, I voted for you.  Now get the job done.”

I’ve left the two largest topics for last and we will discuss them together:  Who do I vote for? and What do I vote for? No one can answer these questions but you.  It is your duty to be an informed voter.  Find out if your local newspaper puts out a Voting Guide.  I recently picked up one at the library that is put out by the League of Women Voters of Michigan Nonpartisan.  Don’t stop there, however.  These are just a starting point.  You also have to remember that many of these “guides” are put out by people with agendas of their own.    They do have a few excellent purposes.  They will give you a list of everyone running.  And most will have a section that you can write your choices in, clip and take to the polls with you.  I find this especially handy if there are multiple proposals on the ballot.

sample of a voter guide

example of a clip it & take it with you

Your next step should be the internet.  Everybody including my neighbor’s dog has a website.  I can guarantee you that the candidates do.  Research those running in your area.  Vote for the candidates and proposals that match your moral guidelines.  If the candidate has been in office before, find the ones who’ve voted the way you would vote if you were in office.  Remember that their job is to represent YOU.  Watch out for the mud-slinging.  Focus on what they are saying about themselves, not about their opponent.  If you want to know about the opponent, go to their website.  And you should look at every candidate not just the party that you are registered with unless you are only allowed to vote for candidates for the party you are registered for.  It has been my experience that voting along party lines usually happens in primary elections.  However, I recently was informed that some states do this for all elections.

So, we’ve discussed when to vote, where to vote, how to vote, why to vote, who to vote for and what to vote for.  There’s one more thing that you need to do and that is stay involved.  Once that candidate gets in office, hold him or her to their campaign promises.  If they promised free ice cream on the 3rd Thursday of every month and there’s no ice cream, tell them about it.  If there is a bill up for discuss on the fact that all toothbrushes should be blue and you agree or disagree, tell them about it.  The internet is right there.  They all have emails.  If you are on Facebook, there is an application called Visible Vote.  I haven’t used it as much as I should have but it seems to be a good way to keep informed.  There is also a Visible Vote application for iPhone, Blackberry & Google Android.  

I’m going to conclude today’s lecture by addressing those of you in the class who are currently too young to vote.  You may be asking: What can I do? You can be as informed as all those 18 and older.  And you can discuss the issues and candidates with the adults in your life.  One word of caution—get the information for yourself.  I understand that many of the schools hold mock elections and discuss the election topics in classes.  However, those presenting the information to you may have different moral guidelines than you do.  Listen to what they have to say but decide for yourself.  The ability to think and decide for yourself will always be your biggest asset.

Thank you for your attention.  You are free to leave or you may stay for the open discussion portion of the class.  I have only one guideline for this portion.  This is neither the time nor the place to discuss specific candidates or topics.  This is a discussion of the process of voting.  I’d love to hear from others who live outside of Macomb County, Michigan.  How do things work in your area?  What words of advice do you have for first time voters?

October 8, 2010

Do You Know My Voice?

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 11:35 am

Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.  And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Luke 13:22-30 (Revised Standard Edition)

This was the Gospel Reading for August 22 (Proper 16, Year C).  In his sermon, Father Terry explained what it meant to have the householder shut the door at night.  This wasn’t just a matter of throwing a couple of deadbolts.  The doors were shut by placing a large beam or stone in front of them.  It was a major deal to open the door again once it had been shut.  You could knock all you want, but if the householder didn’t recognize your voice, he wasn’t going to make the effort to open the door.  (I’m guessing that Judas holes hadn’t been invented yet, maybe because Judas hadn’t yet betrayed Christ?)

The question Father Terry posed to us was, “Does God know your voice?”  My first thought was, of course He does.  But then I began wondering, does He really know my voice?  And is my voice one He actually wants to acknowledge?

As the parent of teenagers, I have complained many times that my children only want me when they need something.  It’s the only time they call.  Is this what God thinks about me?  Do I only go to Him when I need something?  The voice of a whiny child is grating.  “Mommy!” followed by a list of complaints or wants.  Is this what comes to mind when God hears my voice? “Great, now what does she want?” or “What’s wrong this time/”

How enjoyable it is when my girls want to talk to me just to say hi or to tell me about the good part of their day.  And if I enjoy that, how much more does God enjoy hearing from us when we are not saying “why, why, why” or “gimme, gimme, gimme.”

If it’s going to be a huge effort to open my door, I’m only going to open it when I hear a voice I want to hear.  I’m not going to let in the voice I know is only filled with complaints or demands.  Come on, we’ve all said it “Don’t speak to me in that tone of voice.”  Well, I have to wonder, what tone of voice do I use with God?

Does God know my voice?  Does God want to know my voice?  Do I only call on Him when I need something, when I am having a bad day? Or do I call on Him constantly, telling Him the good and the bad, saying thank you as well as gimme?  What will the result be when I knock on the door?

October 3, 2010

People Who Should Not Parent and the Children Who Suffer for It

Filed under: Life,Parenting — my3daughters @ 9:03 pm

When you have children, you give up the right to put yourself and your needs and wants first.  If you are not willing to do this, don’t have children.

This blog has been building for quite some time.  I wanted to wait until I could be fairly calm before I wrote this.

I am far from being a perfect parent.  But at least I try.  And I care.  That’s more than I can say for some people.  Let me give you at least a few examples (I’m using initials to protect the not so innocent).

N.E. has a beautiful two year old child.  N.E. gets up in the morning and heads off to work, leaving her husband to get the two year old up, dressed and dropped off at the sitters on his way to work.  N.E. is done with work by 3:30 pm but doesn’t pick her child until 5:30 pm because that’s the latest the sitter will watch anyone.  Evenings and weekends, N.E. leaves the toddler with her husband, or more commonly with one of her step-daughters.  N.E. got to have a normal, baby-free life when she was in high school and college but doesn’t feel that her step-daughters deserve the same consideration.  Why did N.E. have a child if she is not going to spend time with that child?

A.E. is a divorced mother.  A.E. spends almost every weekend out on the town with her friends.  While I understand needing time to yourself, take it while the children are with your ex-husband.  The weekends they are with you, spend time with them.  And for pete’s sake, pick them up on time.  Yes, I’m remembering the time I ran into you and you very calmly told me you had picked them up from their father’s almost two hours late because you were getting ready to go out.

E.E. is a divorced dad with teenagers.  He shares custody with his ex-wife.  When the teens are with their mother, he does not attend any of their events.  When they are with him, they are responsible for the majority of the household chores including cutting the lawn in the summer, shoveling the snow in the winter, doing the laundry and cleaning the house.  While I understand that everyone should contribute to the maintenance of the home where they live, this is going too far.  Lead by example, dad.  Do your share of the work.

H.Y. has a child who worked very hard to get accepted at a good college.  This child worked while in high school and continues to work in college.  H.Y. refuses to contribute to any part of the college expenses, stating that they “can’t afford it.”  My reply to that is, “you could afford it if you quit smoking and sucking down tons of pop every day.”  This child is a good student and is at a school less than two hours away from home.  H.Y. will not even drive to bring the child home for a weekend.  Heck, H.Y. couldn’t be bothered to take the child for orientation.  An older sibling had to do it.

Speaking of college-aged children who get squat from their parents, let me just mention Y.E.  Her parents are divorced.  Dad has remarried, Mom has not.  Mom makes enough to cover her bills with very little left over.  She is unable to help Y.E. financially but does what she can in other ways to give her daughter as much support as possible during her college years.  Dad, on the other hand, doesn’t help Y.E. out with any of her expenses or anything else for that matter.  “I can’t afford it” he says.  Yet his wife is taking classes towards her Masters Degree.  Y.E. is trying to earn her Bachelors Degree so that she can get something better than a minimum wage job and support herself.  Dad’s wife has a decent job and a Bachelors Degree.  Would it kill her to wait two more years to start on her Masters so that they can help Y.E. pay for her Bachelors?  Guess so.

I just recently met A.N.  She was divorced soon after her youngest was born.  She actually bragged to me that her ex was “dumb enough” to think that having the kids for three weekends out of the month meant he would pay less child support.  She didn’t care because it was “more time for me.”  You’ve got to be kidding me, right?

I could go on and on and on.  There are the parents who don’t take their child to the dentist, the doctor, get them extra school help, whatever because it’s just too much of a hassle and a bother and an expense.  Seriously, parenting is a 24/7 commitment.  If making sure your child has what they need means you go without, then you go without.  It is your responsibility as a parent to give your child everything they need to succeed in life.  I’m not talking just financially here.  Heck, if parents were graded on how much they spent on their kids, I would fail.  I just can’t afford it.  But I can teach my children to be responsible, to care about others, to live within their means.  I can be there to support them in everything they do.

Since I believe that life is all about balance, let me finish up by telling you about just a few of the fantastic parents I know.  I could spend hours and not touch on all of them.  Thankfully, they are the majority.  Again, I’m using initials here, this time to protect the innocent who did not asked to be drawn into my rant.

A.R. is awesome.  I wanna be her when I grow up.  She bakes, sews, and takes her kids on all kinds of adventures both big and small.  She makes every day an adventure.  Until I read her blog, I had no idea you could make homemade marshmallows.  And she has four, count them, four children.  Her husband, L.R. is an equally awesome dad.

L.S. is a single mom.  Dad isn’t in the picture at all.  L.S. works two jobs to make ends meet and still finds time to spend with her son.  He is a very well behaved young man and I guarantee all the teachers at elementary school love him.  I’m not saying he’s not all boy because he is.  I just know that he is going to be someone very special when he grows up because his mom has taught him to be caring and thoughtful.

E.L. and A.A. are sisters.  The both scored excellent hubbies in R.L. and D.A.  These two sets of parents know how to make life special for their children.  I mention them together because they not only do things as individual families, they do a lot of stuff together.  So they are teaching their children the value of extended family.

N.H. and H.H. are very special parents.  So far they have one very precious two-year-old.  Yep, they’ve hit those terrible twos.  They handle it very well, working together to make those twos terrific instead of terrible.

Finally we have A.K. & H.K.  Both of these parents work full-time jobs.  Yet they make time for their children.  Ball games, parades, trips to the cider mills, outings with extended family.  Their children know they are loved and appreciated and wanted.

If you break my code, you will probably figure out who at least some of these people are.  Even if you can’t break my code, if you know me, you have heard me rant on this before.  And there are other parents out there that I haven’t mentioned.  While it’s hard to see these selfish, self-centered parents ignore their children, those who are over-protective or over-indulgent do their own kind of damage.

Hug your kids before you go to bed tonight, or if they don’t live with you anymore, call them and just say “I love you.”  And when you run into those kids whose parents don’t give a rat’s ass about them, share some of your love with them.  All of the children I mentioned in the first part are fortunate in that they have an older sibling, parent or other adults in their life who DO care about them.  It’s not the same but it’s better than nothing.  Some have nothing.  Be the something, the somebody they need.

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