Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update on Baby Isaiah James

According to Life Site News Baby Isaiah James has been granted more time in order for lawyers to perform medical assessments. As you may remember Isaiah was born after a long and difficult birth and was not expected to thrive. His parents, Isaac and Rebecka May, have cared for him in the hospital since his birth. They watched his condition improve and were stunned to receive notice from the hospital that he would be removed from life support. For those of you interested in following the story more closely, you may join the Facebook Group Prayers for Baby Isaiah James.

Friday, January 29, 2010


When I was in the fifth grade, my reading group read and discussed a story that my teacher decided was important enough to read to the entire class. It was called "A Child Called X" or something similar. I remember the premise very clearly:
Two parents decide to raise their only child free of gender stereotypes. They accomplished this monumental feat by explaining their noble cause very clearly to all involved, including the child. Everyone cooperated fully. One day they would dress the child as a girl, the next as a boy, some days as a combination of both. They called their child "him" or "her" indiscriminately. It describes the parents' care that not even family members knew the gender of the child. The "story" began when the child became old enough to enter school.

It wasn't a very well written story, I don't remember there being any dialogue or action. The entire story was written in a benevolently toned third-person exposition. It certainly wasn't worthy of any discussion as literature. It was merely a propaganda piece pushed on kids poised to enter the fray of puberty in a few short years.

The class generally disliked the idea. The teacher kept pointing out how much better life would be without silly ideas about boys and girls. She quoted the blissful descriptions of the child's happiness and carefree exploration of his or her personhood. We questioned her about which bathroom this kid would use. She explained how limiting gender roles were. We wondered why only boys were allowed to play Dodge Ball in this story. She explained that none of the girls wanted to play the boys' games because they were limited. She took off on a long tangent about being sure children are not influenced by toys, providing girls with trucks and boys with dolls to help broaden their experiences. I watched the clock. I was ready to play some serious Four Square.

I'm sure this wasn't my first experience with the idea that gender is merely a social construct, it was merely my first memory of actively thinking about that idea. I wish I'd held on to my early common sense because I eventually succumbed to the notion.

I started to want to be a boy.

I didn't look at it that way. I looked at it as exploring my full potential. I could be anything I wanted, do anything I wanted, aspire to anything! But with that message was the caveat as long as you don't want to do "womanly things." Being a mom, staying home with the kids, all of that was out. Almost equally frowned upon were the more traditionally womanly jobs such as teacher and nurse.

Since childhood I've been dripping with maternal instinct, As a young girls I always had a doll on my arm. As a teen I was a highly paid babysitter because I actually played with the kids. I shut it off for years to find acceptance as a Real Woman. Eventually I stopped progress on my teacher's credential and concentrated on Literature in college. I went into media and marketing. I even sold insurance. This is from a woman who if there are children in the room, she would soon be talking to them.

I developed an active scorn for housekeeping, cooking, and all things feminine. I put off marriage and children. I did not teach. Those of you who know me now as an organizer, a very good cook (allow me prove it to you sometime), and a former school teacher who can never seem to resist a "teachable moment" would wonder how or even why? All I can say is: I wasn't myself.

In my 20s you might not have been able to guess that I actually even liked children.

Feminism failed me by belittling what I wanted most--variations on the theme of child rearing. My teaching years, when I finally allowed myself the luxury of becoming a teacher, allowed me to explore the human mind, to witness the struggle between nature and nurture, to point down the paths of further study and watch a student begin a life's work. It was what I was meant to do, I thought.

Then my first child was born. What a shock to discover that my teaching was an outlet for and an expression of mothering. All of the gears that engaged as I taught a roomful of other people's children torqued even more powerfully as I watched my own son reach developmental milestones. It was as if I could see the workings of his intellect and personality before my eyes.

Then I did the unthinkable--I quit my job! My identity, my income, my anonymity, my value as a person disappeared the first August my friends went back to school and I didn't. Somewhere, somehow I had learned that a woman was only a woman of value if she worked.

My Catholic faith helped me to unlearn it.

Catholicism is a very big tent. Ideally (and yes you can argue the logistics and theology of this all you want) the entire world fits under it. There must be room for everyone, including women of all kinds and varieties. There will be purposefully childless women. Women with many children. Women devoted to study. Women devoted to God. Women of limited means. Women of great gifts or wealth.

The Catholic stance is that we are all of equal value as children of God. Our careers, our social utility, our political choices, or even our sins do not diminish our value in the eyes of Our Creator. Christ died for each and everyone of us: God Himself suffered to redeem us. That makes us priceless. We are each made in the image of God and made to fulfill His purpose and plan for us. Our nature will best express itself when we are who we were made to be.

I was made to be a woman. I was made to be married and raise a family. In the world and in the eyes of the feminist I used to be, that's pretty small potatoes. In the church and the eyes of God I am the soil and root of generations. In the eyes of my nursing child, I am Mom.

That is more than enough.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Coffee Break

In honor(?) of this weekend's wedding, I thought I'd share this wedding reception video. I enjoyed watching the fun! I hope you do, too!

I can only hope this couple spent as long in discernment as they did on choreography.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Awful Example

When either the government or private insurance starts making decisions about who is worthy of life and who isn't, no one is safe. So many of us, sooner or later, will not be cost effective. We have in this country, at least for now, the option of self-paying for care. I can only imagine the anguish of this couple. Please add them to your prayers.

While the hospital declared Isaiah “brain dead” shortly [after his difficult birth], Isaac and Rebecka have since joyfully watched him defy doctors' prognoses. In a court affidavit, Rebecka explained that doctors had predicted Isaiah would only live a few days, that he would not grow, move, or urinate independently. However, she says he has grown to almost eleven pounds, urinates on his own, dilates his pupils, and opens his eyes on a daily basis...

...Considering his progress, the Mays were shocked last Wednesday when they received a letter from the hospital informing them that Isaiah was not improving and that the hospital intended to remove his ventilator by this Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.

Click on this link for the rest of the story...

Contact Information:

Stollery Children's Hospital
8440 112 Street Northwest
Edmonton, AB T6G 2B7
General Phone Line: (780) 407-8822

Alberta Health Services - Complaints
Mail Slot 57
11111 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 0L4
Toll-free: 1-877-753-2170
Telephone: 780-342-8080
Fax: 1-877-871-4340

Dr. Ernest Z. Phillipos
Phone: 780-407-1305
Fax: 780-407-3030

Office of Premier Ed Stelmach
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800 - 97th Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427 2251
Fax: (780) 427 1349

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Friday Coffee Break

This is just too, too cute not to share with you. Look how well this baby keeps time!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Food for Thought Thursday

Make Dos

Everyone must know this experience: the eyes are coming out on the potatoes and the baby carrots are getting a little damp looking. It's time to dump a bunch of stuff together into a pot before the food turns into compost in the refrigerator. Usually I dump it all in a pot and call it a Make Do Stew. But I really wasn't in the mood for a stew, so this is what I came up with.

If you try this on your own and tweak it in your own uniquely creative fashion, please let me know. It smells heavenly right now as it bakes. Garlic bread anyone?

Baked Chicken Leg Make Do

3 potatoes sliced thinly
1 handful of baby carrots (or 2 medium) sliced thinly
1 onion sliced thinly
3 cups wine and cider rinsed ricotta*
1 can undrained diced tomatoes
1 dozen chicken legs (or 4 chicken leg quarters)
1 cup Italian dressing
1 cup wine (your choice--I used a blush but reds and whites each add their
own lovely notes)
1 TBS thyme
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (a crab/seafood seasoning mix will work adequately
as a sub)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 pan with olive oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking. Layer the potato, carrot, and onion slices on the bottom. Spread the cheese evenly on top of the vegetables. Spread contents of the can of tomatoes on top of the cheese. Top with chicken legs. Pour the wine over the chicken followed by the Italian dressing. Sprinkle chicken legs with the spices, salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for 45 min or until the juices from a chicken leg run clear when poked with a fork. Better yet, check it with the meat thermometer.

Here is the final, product. This Make Do recipe is a keeper!

*Here's a reminder for how to make a wine and cider based ricotta.

Equipment needed:
cheese cloth

ricotta cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup red or white wine
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Line a colander with cheese cloth and dump in a ricotta cheese (store bought or
homemade). Pour the vinegar over the cheese and stir. Pour in the wine and stir. Tie the four corners of the cheese cloth together. Tie a string around the knot and hang to dry (You can hang it from the faucet to drain into a sink or from a cabinet door handle over a bowl). Drain for 5 to 10 minutes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mappity Maps

I read maps like I read cookbooks: for fun. For some of you both of these habits will be even more evidence for the necessity of that "unfollow button" I've so courteously supplied on here somewhere. (look in the left margin)

The foodies among you can nod sagely about the experience of reading through a new cookbook and daydreaming about serving up Beef Bourguignon with homemade bread sticks or maybe a homemade braided French Roll--not to mention the pleasure of indulging in the fantasy of having four spare hours or so on any given day to devote to one dish. There really are people who do these sorts of things and I admit I am such a one as these.

But I am talking about a rarer bird: the mappie. Yes, there are a few mappies out there, and yes, they do subscribe to National Geographic, but not for the articles or photos--for the centerfolds!

Mappies are the happy few among us who toss the magazine aside and sit down to ogle their lovely map inserts. "Cool," you might hear from the mappie if you happen to be the unfortunate spouse of one, "I wonder if this is the trench they were talking about with those worms that breathe sulfur? Look how deep it is!" There will be an attempt to clarify how deep the trench is and how steep via further discussion about contour lines. The spouse, who actually read the National Geographic article, will likely attempt a clarification about the facts of marine life and that the "worms" in question were not actually sulfur breathing but were, in fact, non-photosynthesis dependent. Both attempts will meet with that well worn look that clearly asks, "Why are you sidetracking this conversation?"

One of my guilty pleasures in life is reading the maps on the walls of my son's ENT. I have not gone so far as to rejoice in ear infections, but I have never minded the wait. The doctor has got the entire US coastline represented in various maps around the waiting and exam rooms. How cool is that? Providentially my son had an appointment at the same time a friend was living in Saint Kitts. I was able to estimate a sailing route there from both the Florida Keys and the port at Norfolk before we were called back to another exam room.

Like the foodie plans meals, the mappie plans routes. This mappie recently had the pleasure of pointing out that Bethlehem is within 5 miles of Jerusalem during an on-line conversation about the Nativity (a fact I happen to know because I'd recently read a map of the area). That conversation was not nearly as exciting as the further study of the area's maps and a pleasurable interlude with Middle Eastern maps in general that it engendered. Did you know that Google Maps shows public restrooms and gas stations in Nazareth? Or that there is a Latin Quarter where you'll find the Church of the Annunciation? (Attention Mappies: that's a link to the actual map! Have fun! See you in a few hours!)

That link alone will be worth more than the entire blog post to the average mappie, and since they are now eyeball deep in Israeli maps, we can carry on this discussion without them. They'll be back, though. I have the temptation of more map links at the end of the post, so we'll need to be quick about it if we want to say anything derogatory.

Yes, maps to the mappie are like cookbooks to the foodie or LSD to the hippie. They open up a whole new world of possibilities. The veil of the ordinary is lifted temporarily and the imagination becomes the driver of the intellect. Mountain ranges become scalable to the middle aged and out of shape. Oceans depths fathomable to the air breather and thalassophobic. Travel is possible to the single income family of seven!

Well, at least possible for the mappie. No one else is interested, really.

Until now!

I have great pleasure to announce the development of another mappie in the family. Although his interest may be temporary, my son has begun to study maps! We have a map of the world on our living room wall--yes, for me, it is like a Van Gogh--and lately he can be found standing on the couch with his nose to the wall studying it. What gives me great hope is that yesterday he drew his first map! It was of his room, and guess what? He drew a picture of it first and then mapped it and then proceeded to explain to me the differences between the two!

I couldn't have been happier. Not only am I proud of him, I may finally have someone to read my atlas with! And maybe, one day, when someone asks him where his Maga lives, he will point Northeast before saying, "In Virginia." Just like Mom!

Some favorite Maps of Mine:

This just in from @amethystsees! Collections of maps! I'll be blogging again in a few months!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We've all caught the wedding bug here in Texas...

Two very special people are getting married in just a few short weeks. The groom is precious to our family as a Godfather to our adopted daughter. The bride is precious to us because she stepped in and cared for our children and ran the household when I was hospitalized a little over a year ago.

In fact, their courtship began, long distance, while she was staying at our house. One of the memories of that awful time when everything was going so very wrong was of hanging up from her announcement of their beginning on this road and sobbing in relief and happiness. Finally, finally, something was going right!

If ever two people were meant for each other, it is these two. There's no way, in one blog post, to express all the ways this couple is so well suited, just suffice it to say they are.

So now, here I am writing a song for their wedding. I couldn't be happier. Neither could they, I think, for very different reasons, of course.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Spaghetti! It's What's for Dinner!

I have been enjoying the mayhem of the Advent and Christmas Seasons with my family. Blogging took a back burner. I wanted to share this fun pic with you--my facebook friends have seen it!