Saturday, August 10, 2013

Has Feminism made us Dislike Little Boys?

         


I was blessed to have 3 sons in a row although many people would not see that as a blessing. I didn't realize this until I had a little girl. Before that when I would take the boys out the comments I would get would be, "Boy you have your hands full!" "Wow 3 boys I don't know how you do it!" Sometimes there would be the occasional elderly person who would stop me and say something like, "Oh how well behaved your boys are." or "I had all boys too and loved every minute." These comments were rare. When I was pregnant with our 4th almost everyone I ran into, even complete strangers would say, "praying for a girl" "I really hope you get your girl this time". My counter-cultural side screamed inside me "well, I hope it's a boy just because EVERYONE wants me to have a girl!" 
       Please don't misunderstand me. I'm sure in many ways it is the same for someone who has all girls.
We all assume what you don't have is what you will want and many times that is
the way it is. I also was definitely not opposed to having a girl and was delighted
when Eliza was born and we in fact DID have a girl!
     The first time it began to dawn on me that our society in general does not
necessarily "like" boys is when I took my little girl out. My husband and I got a
constant stream of comments such as "oh how sweet" "how precious" "she is so
cute" "you must be so proud". We NEVER got these comments when we took
our infant boys out (and I really don't think it had to do with looks since at the
time she looked exactly like her brothers).
     This made me start to wonder if our culture is anti-boy. Other cultures prize
sons as the future of their family, the providers, etc. I think we have lost
something in America. Boys in general don't fit into a feminist mold. We as
women like things orderly. We like strong verbal skills, less action and wrestling.
We like little girls who pay attention and sit quietly in their seats not boys who
wiggle and are easily distracted. I have read several books on how America is
trying to force our boys to be like girls and I'm not just seeing the trend in the
classroom but I am witnessing that trend in our society's attitude towards boys.
       What has happened and how did we get here? My assumption is that most of this
attitude has slowly crept into our thinking by the feminist mindset that men are
pigs or at least extremely insensitive and usually dumb. From commercials to
television starting from probably the 80s if not before men have always been
portrayed as close to mentally handicapped. If it wasn't for the women in their
lives they would blow things up, indulge their children to their own harm, and say the stupidest things at all the wrong times. Slowly these stereotypes and extreme portrayals of men have seeped into our attitudes and in the 21st century we have no respect or love for men even the smallest ones in our society. 
     I am praying hard that those of us who have been blessed with sons will raise then in an environment that encourages their masculinity, that raises them to be strong, effective and Godly men who love and care for women and others in a Christ honoring way. Maybe these men can break societies bias against the male gender?
That is my hope and I am going to continue to fight the attitudes even in myself that try to make my sons like my daughter or like me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Date night

Since the very first week of our marriage (9 years ago as of last week) Ben and I have shared a date night once a week. Adjustments have been made over the years as our family has changed from just him and me to Ben and Mary + 4 but in all of these years I think we have only missed 5 total. At this point we've fallen into a movie/sit-down-meal rotation. So every other week I make pizza or fried chicken or wings (something junk foodish) and we tuck the kids into an early bed routine with books and cds to listen to and we have supper while watching a movie. The other nights we have a sit down meal which usually requires a bit more prep on my part. During this time the kids are allowed to watch a movie while we enjoy a quiet dinner with just each other. I find that every week I look forward to our date night and it helps me manage the chaos of the other 6 days and evenings when we seem to barely get a word in to each other before drifting off into a coma like state only to hit the ground running the next morning.

Our last date night was combined with an anniversary celebration so I made these which have been termed heaven-on-a-plate.


For those of you who know me you know that I don't particularly enjoy cooking so it was pretty amazing that I attempted these. They were absolutely delicious!!

For junk food nights one of our favorite things to have is wings. If you are a fan of wings (especially spicy ones) you have to try this recipe. I have adjusted it, added more spices, and every time we devour them in complete happiness.

I start with Meryln's Seasoning Mix.  With this mix I sometimes add more red pepper, cajun seasoning, or dry mustard or really anything that I feel like at the time. I store this mix in a glass jar. When I am ready to make the wings I take
1/3 cup of the spice mixture and 
add it to 1 cup of whatever buffalo or hot sauce that I have at the time.  

I mix this up thoroughly and pour it over the wings and then let the wings marinate in this spicy goodness overnight. The key to making perfect wings (while baking them at least..I've only attempted frying once and we both thought we were going to have a heart attack that night) is to bake them longer than necessary. I know that this goes against most of you tried and true cooks out there who are very aware that with chicken you normally do NOT want to overcook it. Wings are a different matter. I have found that if wings aren't cooked long enough they tend to taste fatty and are too juicy. Wings are meant to be dipped in dressing, a bit crispy on the outside but they are not as delicious if they are still fatty or too juicy.

Once I am ready to cook these tiny morsels of sauce and spice I place them on a foil lined cookie sheet (mine has holes in the bottom), 
turn my oven to 425 F and cook them for 30 minutes. 
For the last 10 minutes of this cooking time I set the oven to broil but leave them on the lower rack and let them broil until they are starting to crisp on the top. 
Then I take the pan out, turn them over, put more sauce (the sauce/spice mixture left over from the marinade) on the newly exposed side, and cook them for another 20-25 minutes. 
When this is done it is now time to broil them until they reach crispy perfection (about 8-10 minutes in my oven). 
I look to see if they are mostly dry on the outside and the juices on the foil and mostly cooked off. Then I serve these babies up with plenty of dipping sauce..and celery of course.

(Just so I'm being completely honest, this is not a photo of my wings but one I found online because I haven't taken a picture of my wings. One of these days I will post pictures of the entire process in a pioneer woman sort of way)

As you can see our date nights are not necessarily about health. It is also the only time during the week that we enjoy dessert. It is a wonderful and relaxing time for both of us.
I would love to hear what you do for your date night and what recipes I can add to our date night repertoire.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Let the summer reading programs begin!


Most of you are probably way ahead of me in the summer reading program game. I'm blaming our vacation at the beginning of June as the reason we are just now getting started.  If you are anything like me you might be interested to know that there are a lot of summer reading programs available which offer some great prizes. Here are a few I've found. I would love to find out if there are some I'm missing!

  • The local library--this seems pretty obvious but still it's the only place we've participated in a reading program up until now.
  • Barnes and Noble--You just print out the reading journal template and once you have completed it you get to go into Barnes and Noble for a free book!
  • Pottery Barn--You can use the list of books from Pottery Barn to complete both this reading program and the one at Barnes and Noble. If you have a Pottery Barn store near you this would be an excellent one to participate in!
  • Half Price Books--If your child reads 600 minutes in June and July and he will get a $5 gift card!
In addition to all that brain exercise if you need a cool place to go with the kids and some time away Regal Cinemas offers a great summer movie getaway. The movies are every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10 am and are only $1 per person! 

Just a few things to get us all started and excited about the summer. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Real food for baby


You would think by the time my fourth child was born I would be a pro at all this baby stuff but sometimes I feel like instead of progressing I have completely forgotten everything. When Eliza was nearing solid food age I was determined to try to hold her off and start her a bit later then my general MO which, for the boys, was always around 5 1/2 months. However, as with all of them, my resistance was worn thin when just at 6 months she was insatiable! I was nursing her every 2 hours and she still didn't seem to be getting enough. I even started taking milk thistle capules (which seemed to greatly increase my milk production) but she was still ravenous.
Before giving in and plopping a jar of tasteless cereal in front of her I followed my sister-in-law's recommendation and got my hands on the book Real Food for Mother and Baby. After tearing into this myself it is hard to resist the urge to buy a copy for every new mother. This is an excellent book!



Although she deals with nutrition from pre-conception all the way to baby's first foods I was mosty focused on the latter and it reinforced what my instincts were telling me regarding my new eater's nutritional needs. No longer did I feel somewhat guilty about adding salt and flavor to my baby's first foods or feel somehow bound to start with bland rice cereal that offers no real nutrition.

 I did go somewhat against Nina Planck's advice, and I pureed (and still do) all her food before I served it to her. Eliza has an extremely sesitive gag reflex and doesn't manage chuncks well.

 Here are some of Eliza's first purees:

 The yolk of 1 farm fresh egg
A little bit of fish oil (ideally cod liver oil)
1 mashed banana

 ------------

 Roasted butternut squash
Chicken broth (homemade from a free range chicken)
Vegetable of choice (usually whatever we had for supper)

 -------------

 Roast beef
Mashed potatoes
Beef stock

 -------------

Sweet potatoes
Avocado
Homemade Chicken stock (from an free range chicken) 


Nina gives several other recommendations but mostly her point is to give your baby the foods you are eating (with the assumption that you are eating real food as well). 
Farm fresh egg yolks contain an amazing amount of DHA and so many other wonderful brain-building nutrients. Fish oils and cod liver oils do the same. 
Nina also recommends salmon roe which I'm sure is a storehouse of omega 3's but I have yet to be able to afford such luxuries. I do have my sister and brother-in-law to thank for their efforts in providing us and the community with farm fresh eggs and free range chicken. It wasn't until I was feeding Eliza food that I really appreciated all the nutrients we have been blessed with by consuming these vitamin rich foods.


I would love to hear more purée ideas from any of you out there and I highly recommend the book to anyone whether you are feeding a baby or not.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mothering

I have to admit that my husband and I are both very practical and mostly countercultural. If someone tells me I must do something or observe something I often find that I want to do exactly the opposite. This is true in so many areas but one of those areas is societal holidays. Of course we dive into Christmas with the best of them and I devour as much Easter candy as possible before Easter comes and goes (I'm not sure if that counts as celebrating but to me eating candy is always cause for celebration). Most of the other holidays, however, go unnoticed. A few years ago we decided to stop doing things for Valentine's Day. That might be grounds for divorce with some couples but for us it just didn't make sense for many reasons (all of them very practical) and we both agreed that we should not feel bound to do something just because someone else decided it was the thing everyone "had" to do.
All that brings me to Mother's Day. This too has been a holiday that we have not usually done a lot for. We do celebrate my mother-in-law with a Sunday lunch that the women of the family participate in assembling. I also try to give my mom a little something (although this year I completely dropped the ball on that one). In one sense, it's another one of those, "Why do we let society determine when we tell our mother's we love them? Isn't all of this driven by card companies anyway?" Even with those thoughts running through my mind I couldn't help being a bit more reflective this year.
It most likely had to do with the fact that for the past month or so I have been struggling with the job I have been given. This frustration came on gradually but peaked one Saturday evening after an incredibly busy day and week, I found myself screaming internally, "Why do I have to mop the floors right now! All I want to do is take my shower and have a few minutes of quiet before I crash into bed but instead I'm mopping the floors!!!" That germ of discontentment grew quickly into a full fledged virus and those poisonous thoughts soon skewed my whole perspective. I began to think my husband's life was luxurious and mine was only constant pain and turmoil. Soon I had conjured up this image of him skipping off to a glorious job where he receive acclamations all day about what a wonderful job he does while I toil at home to feed and educate HIS kids, clean HIS house, buy HIS food, fix HIS meals...you get the idea.
It all seems so ridiculous as I look back now (he certianly doesn't skip off to work and rarely receives near the amount of praise for his work that he deserves).  I finally had a long talk with him and poured out all of these thoughts. He quickly pulled me back into reality (a reality of which I knew but was choosing to ignore). We are a team and together we strive to serve one another but more than that to serve God. None of us has the better end of the deal and I really believe that to be true. We really do share everything.
I'm not saying all my angst disappeared overnight but as I continued to realign my perspective to what it ought to be things have gradually gotten better. When Mother's Day rolled around I took a deep look at what I am doing. The job I have been given is sobering and so very rewarding if I would only take the time to see those rewards. They don't come in the form of money or continuous praise from my ever thankful children or husband :-) They mostly evidence themselves in little ways. In the laughs we share around the table during the evening meal. In the surprising answers they give that make me realize that they actually do listen to some of the things I teach them. In the love they have for each other, us, and God. I could go on but you get the idea. I was also reminded by my extremely faithful mother-in-law that these rewards will come later as well, when I see my kids leave the home and start families of their own.
To all you mothers out there I wish you a Happy Mother's Day (who says it HAS to be on Sunday?) Your job is huge, often the rewards are hidden but the amazing influence that we mothers hold over our children and the mood of our home is overwhelming and for those who do it well there is much reward in this life but more so in the one to come.

My lovely mother who taught me so many things. Much of who I am today is because of what she taught me through word and action. 
My beautiful mother-in-law who is a constant encouragement and example to me.
My ever supportive husband and the little people who I am trying by God's grace to invest in and impact.
 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A glance back

April at a glance...

Ben found a slide and made a swing for the treehouse and now the boys finally seem to enjoy playing outside (instead of inside with legos all-day-long!)



In spite of the fact that this is a two story tree house with a trap door it took having a slide and cheap swing to get them out there!! 



Another event this month was that Eliza started sitting up and is now trying very hard to figure out the whole crawling thing. She's definitely more motivated than the boys were (that's not really saying much)


She is known as the Clover Queen at church. Last week her cousins made her a clover crown, bracelet and a bunch of clovers to be her wand. 


The end of April is full of birthdays. First Ben's dad celebrated his, then the weekend after that my mom and dad came up to visit and celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. On the 30th there was a party for me and my sister-in-law. So many reasons to celebrate!


Eliza loved having Grandpa here!


Part of my parents gift to me....I think this should last about a week or so :-)


Ben also surprised me with this amazing cup cake. It was chocolate espresso with espresso cream filling. Who could ask for more? I took one bite and decided it was ALL MINE!
I also enjoyed a cup of tea in my new ceramic travel mug (thanks for my mother-in-law). 



Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Progression of Teeth

A day in the life of Warren-my 7 year old son whose life is very much taken up with his teeth falling out. For quite some time his two front teeth have been loose. We started calling him Tow-Mater because one was sticking out in front of the other. In an amazingly strong moment he pulled out both in a matter of an hour. I was very impressed.

This was the Tow-Mater phase:

After he pulled the first one (as you can see he has a favorite pose):

 After both he yanked both of them out: