Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
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
I can only hope this couple spent as long in discernment as they did on choreography.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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.
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
Dr. Ernest Z. Phillipos
Office of Premier Ed Stelmach
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800 - 97th Avenue
Phone: (780) 427 2251
Fax: (780) 427 1349
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
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.
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
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 map...er...the exam room.
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.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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.