Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The 9 Lies We All Play Along With

9 Lies We Conspire With To Keep Society Going

9.  Farting is socially unacceptable. In Roald Dahl’s the BFG, the titular Giant comments that it makes no sense to be proud of burping and embarrassed of farting. After all, farting is inevitable, while burping can be avoided. And yes, we generally frown on a big gross belch in “polite” company. But farting is always considered worse than burping. Why, exactly?

8.  Red and green or amber and green are the best colors for stop lights and power indicators. My husband is color blind. If a traffic light is sideways, he can’t tell the difference between a red and a green light. He also can’t tell when his Kindle is being charged or is finished being charged (amber/green). I find it highly ironic that a disability that affects more men than women is not catered to in our traffic light system, especially since it was men who designed the system in the first place!

7.  We swear on the Bible in court. OK, maybe a long time ago, this had some weight or validity. But nowadays who really takes the Bible seriously? In a culture where fewer and fewer people attend church regularly, how is swearing on an ancient book going to make perjury less likely?

6.  Children are innocent and pure. While children are ignorant, they are hardly innocent! Any parent knows that a child as young as 2 can manipulate, lie, and exploit loopholes. This doesn’t make children evil at all. But children are inherently selfish and lack empathy, making them terrible examples of purity and holiness, despite what many people like to believe.

5.  We put kids in swim diapers. This is actually hilarious to me. My daughter’s swim suit bottoms were, by themselves, tight enough to “catch” any poop she might have expelled. As for urine, swim diapers are not absorbent. They literally exist only to give the illusion that a child in a pool is not randomly spicing it up with urine.

4.  It’s not OK to eat every kind of animal. I’m not talking about kosher laws. I’m talking about the aversion in the US to eating horses, cats, and dogs. What’s the big deal? Meat is meat. How is a horse different from a cow or a deer? How is a dog different from a pig?

3.  Money has value. Sure, the US has a large stockpile of gold and precious metals, but our currency isn’t linked to that. Money is valuable only because all of us take the government’s word for it. We’ve all agreed that society works better when we have some random token to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. But money has no intrinsic value.
2. Bodies need to be embalmed and encased in expensive wood and concrete coffins. It’s nice that we can embalm people. When my grandmother died, it took us 3 weeks to get everyone assembled for her funeral, and embalming was the blessing that allowed that to happen. But since when is that necessary for every single corpse? And why do we buy super expensive wooden caskets then bury them? Of course, it makes money for the funeral home, but what if we could just rent the casket for the funeral, then bury the body in a shroud?

1.  War has rules. I understand the point of the Geneva Convention and other rules of war. But it is inherently absurd that an enterprise which has as its goal the domination of one group over another by means of deadly force, has rules governing the use of that force. How ridiculous that first you shoot down a ship, trying to destroy it and kill all the sailors on it, but once the ship starts sinking, you suddenly now are obligated to save the lives of those same sailors, even if just to keep them as prisoners of war.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July & the Amateur Gardener

July. The time in a gardener’s life when hands are thrown up and acceptance to the fertility gods is offered, in varying degrees of resignation.
I worked very hard all spring, establishing a drainage ditch, planting various plants along it, and clearing out a mosquito harboring hedgerow. And now, after weeks of torrential downpours combined with an intense heat wave and several days without rain, I survey my yard and accept it. In September, I will rise again. When the heat index is no longer 3 digits, and weeds can once more be controlled. When the rabbit’s appetite is sated and I’m ready to dig out the rocks from the ditch in order to tweak its drainage capacity. When the healing hands of autumn offer a break from the leaden heat and humidity of July, I will attack my garden again. Until then, I am grateful that I left the tags of all the plants I planted, so I’ll know which ones to add and which ones to give up on next spring. Until then, I’m grateful that I got as much done as I did. Until then, I’ll lay on my hammock and enjoy the NC summer with as much grace as I can find.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jael Who? Eight Ways King David is Like Jael

We all know who David is, right? Little shepherd boy who defeated the giant Goliath; humble youngest son who became King, a man after God’s own heart, adulterer and murderer.
But do you know who Jael is? Maybe, if you’ve delved deeply into your Bible or various women’s Bible studies.

Jael killed Sisera, a general hell-bent on oppressing the Israelites. Her story can be found in Judges 4-5. While everyone knows the story of David and Goliath, very few know the story of Jael and Sisera, a story with a number of striking similarities. Let's learn about the woman who predated the man.

1.     David and Jael both killed a key enemy leader, bringing victory to the Israelites. David killed Goliath, a Philistine emissary. Jael killed Sisera, a Canaanite general.
2.     David and Jael both used their own traditional tools rather than typical battle weapons. David used the stones and slingshot that he used as a shepherd. Jael used a tent peg and hammer: as a woman it’s likely that she would’ve been in charge of setting up the domestic tents and therefore skilled at driving tent pegs into the ground.
3.     David and Jael were both underdogs. David was so short and small that Saul’s armor didn’t fit him. Jael was a young wife, not a strong soldier.
4.     David and Jael were both used by God. David articulates this clearly by saying that God is on his side and Goliath is nothing more than an animal. Deborah prophesies that God will use “a woman” to defeat Sisera. Why a woman? Because Deborah’s general, Barak, was showing cowardice.
5.     Both David and Jael faced their adversary alone. David fought Goliath in direct one to one combat. Jael invited Sisera into her tent where they were alone.
6.     Both David and Jael disabled their enemy before killing him. David knocked Goliath down with a stone and then beheaded him, while Jael soothed Sisera to sleep and then impaled his head with a tent peg.
7.     Both David and Jael were outside the official army. David was only present because he was bringing lunch to his brothers. Jael was in her home and there’s no indication that she was a solider.
8.     Both David and Jael were acknowledged as heroes for their actions.

Given all the similarities, why is Jael left out of all children’s Bible story books? Why is Jael never mentioned in Sunday School? How could I attend church weekly from birth through college and not learn about Jael until my mid-20’s?
Some would argue that it’s because Jael didn’t “fight fair.” She lures Sisera to sleep, then murders him. But it’s clear from the song in Judges 5 that Jael’s technique is not shameful. The song recounts Jael’s actions very clearly as praise.
Thinking further reveals the absurdity of this argument about fighting “fair.” Sisera was much bigger and stronger than Jael. If she had openly resisted him, it’s quite likely she would’ve been injured, raped, and possibly killed. Not only was her act beneficial to Israel, one could easily argue it was an act of self-defense. She chose to resist. Yes, she did it through deception. She used her wits to even the playing field.
Are we saying that killing an enemy solider is only OK if you use brute strength rather than trickery? That seems like a pretty fine hair to split. Either killing the enemy is OK, or it isn’t.
Isn’t it far more likely that we don’t talk about Jael because she’s a woman? And that we leave out Deborah’s story for the same reason? Somehow, if we talk about Deborah as a leader, we have to include this morally messy story of Jael, and that’s a problem. Yet when we talk about King David, a “man after God’s own heart,” we’re OK with including the objectively evil story of David’s actions towards Bathsheba and Uriah.

My daughter asks me for Bible stories every day. And I tell her the story of Jael. I tell her that Jael chose to deceive Sisera because she knew she couldn’t fight him and win. It’s time we stopped telling only half of the stories in the Bible. It’s time to start celebrating all Bible heroes, regardless of gender.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Stitch Fix Review!

 StitchFix Day has arrived! I love my Stitch Fix box. Just seeing it on my porch brings a smile to my face. What is Stitch Fix? A personal shopper that sends you 5 fabulous pieces as often as you like. It's easy to sign up: create a login, use the style quiz to define your style, give StitchFix your size information and frequency preference (and Pinterest clothing board for best results), and sit back to enjoy. If you buy all 5 pieces you'll get a 20% discount. If you return all 5 pieces, you only pay $20 for the styling fee. You aren't locked into a monthly Fix, but if you need a Fix you can schedule one right away. Use my referral link and I'll get a discount: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/6057711

So this month wasn't a home run like the last 2 Fixes have been. But there was still plenty to enjoy, starting with this lovely maxi dress. FINALLY, a Maxi dress that doesn't a. look like a nightgown, or b. look like a muumuu. The fit is perfect and very flattering. I loved it with my big pink floppy hat. Today I wore it to church (sans hat) and then to a park birthday party. It was pretty cool and breezy for the first hour, but then of course the 90 degree weather and humidity did me in. Still, I love this dress. Keeping it was a no brainer!
 Next up, a cute black and white wrap dress. Unfortunately, while it looked good from the front, my profile highlighted my little abdominal pooch. I don't care about the pooch enough to work out and eliminate it, but I do like to keep from highlighting it with my clothes!
Wraps dresses are just kind of a crap shoot for me though. Sometimes they are perfect and sometimes they just fail. While I like the pattern on the dress, the fit wasn't good enough for my (rather high) standards. This was a return.

Next up is this black & white striped knit dress. I would've liked a little more color in this Fix, but I accessorized with a scarf that really jazzed up the outfit. Still, by itself this dress just didn't do anything for me. It didn't particularly flatter me, there wasn't an interesting pattern, etc. This one was NOT a keeper.

 Next up, a pair of wide leg dressy jeans and a cut loose top. At first I didn't like the top at all. I felt like it just hung on me like a bag. I did like the pattern and the little strip of color. The jeans were very comfortable and definitely long enough, as you can see in my tree pose below. However, I don't need any jeans right now, so since I already knew I wasn't getting a discount for keeping 5 items, I decided to send the jeans back. I was also leaning towards sending back the top.
As I looked through my photos, I had second thoughts about the blouse. It looked a lot cuter in the photos than I remembered. So I subjected it to my harshest and most honest critic: my 5 year old. I also showed her the black & white striped knit dress. The dress got a solid "No," and the top got a quick "Yes!" Husband also liked the top and not the dress, so I ended up keeping this cute top as well.
Final total: Just over $100, and I got a comfortable elegant maxi dress and a cute dressy blouse. I'm very pleased with Stitch Fix and look forward to another Fix in September!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top 6 Things I Would Do Differently

I have one beautiful wonderful child, and I am officially done having children. HOWEVER, after almost 5 years, here are some things I would do differently a second time around.

6. I would buy the car seat that weighs the LEAST. I always bought big heavy duty car seats, and as my car has aged (nearing 200,000 miles now), I have taken those d*^( things in and out more than any person should ever have to. Using the LATCH system in a car is bad enough. Using it several times a year with a 10+ pound car seat is torture.

5. I would go caffeine free the minute I started breastfeeding. My daughter had an undiagnosed diary allergy that caused both of us a lot of anguish for 2 months. However, she still had problems sleeping after I eliminated dairy from my diet. It took another 3 months for me to eliminate caffeine. My La Leche League leader told me caffeine was a problem - I wish she had told me earlier! Heck, I wish ANYONE had told me that earlier. Instead it was all "Don't eat broccoli" and "breast fed babies don't poop daily." So don't make my mistake: go caffeine free if you're breast feeding.

4. I would've hired a babysitter to give me 2 hours of alone time every day, starting the day of her birth. OK, maybe I'd start once she was 2 weeks old. Having some time to myself daily would've helped me a lot. It might even have eliminated or reduced the post partum depression I suffered from.

3. I would've built our daily schedule around outings. I started Kinder Music when she was 6 months old, and I wish I had started earlier. There were lots of opportunities for us, which I didn't take advantage of, partly because I couldn't make it all work with her napping schedule. If I were to do it again, I would get out of the house for a mommy-baby activity at least 4 times a week. I would've built her nap time around that. Story time at the library. Kid gym programs. Story time at local bookstores. Kinder Music. Getting out of the house was key to my mental health, and I wish now that I had found a way to get out of the house to do things WITH my baby. And yes, she was with me most of the time, but she was with me sitting in her stroller or in my Ergo baby carrier. Not the same as story time.

2. I would've immediately started with co-sleeping. We never got into a really good co-sleeping rhythm, primarily because I have a water bed, which is a "no-no" when it comes to co-sleeping. If I were to do it again, I'd plan to sleep on the regular bed in her nursery, with her.

1. I would use one of those sleep monitors and let her sleep on her tummy. This is probably the most controversial idea here, and I'm certainly not telling you to put your baby to sleep on her tummy. Don't do that. BUT, if I had a time machine, that's what I would do. And I'd get one of those monitors that sounds an alarm if the baby stops moving so I could do so "safely." Why? Because as soon as that little girl could turn over, we put her to sleep on her tummy, and her sleep improved about a thousand times. She wanted to be a tummy sleeper. Heck, whenever I did "tummy time," the second thing she would do would be sleep! (The first thing she did was cry).

So here's my top 6 for Tuesday!