Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Religion is a Part of Parenting

I recently read a blog that said, "My children do not have a religion. We do not believe that it is our place to give them one." Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I find that statement anti-parenting. We're allowed to teach our children not to hit or bit. That they must share their toys with their sibling and pick them up when they're done . We require them to try every food on their plate. But we're not allowed to decide what church to take them to when they're not even old enough to write their own name? That makes about as much sense as an unschooling family I recently met who don't believe in forcing their child to brush their teeth if they don't want to.

Parents have certain responsibilities. Our responsibility to society is to raise our children to obey rules ( no hitting or stealing toys) and be good citizens (share your snack with your friend who just dropped theirs). But we also have a responsibility to our families and to our cultures. Our religious views are a part of family heritage. I'm not saying we should force our religious views on older children who decide to explore other faiths and beliefs, but young children should be given a religious education (if the family believes in God). That instruction doesn't even have to come from a church if you're not the church going type. Teaching your kids God loves them and wants them to be nice to EVERYONE isn't forcing an identity on them.

More and more often people I meet (who don't go to church) immediately stereotype me when they hear I'm a member of a church. I suddenly transform into a close-minded bigot who believes their faith and culture are superior to everyone else. Unfortunately, the stereotype often extends to my children. Apparently, because I take them to church they will grow up to wage holy war against Muslims and not believe in evolution. Really people? Is that we've come to?

I teach my children about God. And I teach it from the Christian perspective. But when we're with my parents, they take my girls to temple and we sing in Hebrew (my step-father is Jewish and my mother converted). When, my youngest child's Godmother (who is Hindi) is around we end up celebrating what to me seem like random Indian holidays. Yes, I see the irony in having a non-Christian Godmother but she's a good person who is a great role model for daughters.

I'm not blind or stupid. I understand there are some Christians out there who for lack of eloquence are f*cking nuts. Every religion has them. But that doesn't mean having a religion or imparting it on your children until they're old enough to decide is wrong. The Amish don't baptize their children until they're adults because they want them to chose their religion, but they still take them to church with them when they're children. Religion is simply a part of parenting. It's not the only part of parenting, but it is a part.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Going Old School with You Tube

Most people will tell you the most beautiful thing they have ever seen was their child when they were first born. I now disagree. After several almost disastrous attempts, I have finally created a thing of beauty: a homemade loaf of bread. It was more beautiful than I can describe. A perfectly rounded top with a soft, warm inside. My husband at least pretended to play to my insanity. He asked if I was done worshiping it so he could have a piece.

Don't ask me why I decided to make bread. But I'm stubborn. When I make a decision, no matter how ludicrous, I will blindly follow through with it. But bread making (especially when you refuse to use a bread machine) is quite a chore and requires skill. Problem one: I had no clue how to make bread so as a child of the modern age what did I do? I scoured the internet.

And I found bread101. A wonderful website that taught me the basics. Now armed with more information than before but much less than I would actually need I embarked. Rule one of breadmaking. Don't use recipe from a bread machine book. They don't list cooking times. Oops.

Off to I found the perfect recipe! I even mashed a potato so it would be real potato bread. And... it never rose. Off to blogs about bread making. Yes, they actually exist. Hours later I learned to proof my yeast. Apparently, if the yeast you own has been sitting in your frig for a year, it doesn't work.

Off I ran to the store for new yeast. All looked as if this time I would succeed. (Don't ask what attempt I was on) And then... it failed to rise again. I nearly cried. More on-line searching. Rule two of bread making. You have to knead bread for a several minutes (~10 or so). Oops.

Off to You Tube. Yes, You Tube. Where else am I going to be able to watch someone knead bread. I sat there in front of my laptop staring at some strange woman as she pushed and pulled bread dough. Silently, I tell myself. Yeah, what's she's doing there. I need to do that too. After some on-line kneading lessons... a beautiful loaf of bread. SUCCESS!!!!!

I have a masters degree. I'm highly educated. But I couldn't make a freaking loaf of bread. I find that terrifying. So much spent on an education and now I'm learning life skills from You Tube. Says a lot about our society. We've forgotten how to do the simple stuff for so long, it's no longer simple.

Monday, June 7, 2010

An Odd Day for Rembrance

Today is the anniversary of my father's death. For most people, this would be an odd day to remember their loved one. Buy for me it makes perfect sense. My father died shortly before my 7th birthday and two years after the surgery to remove his brain cancer turned him into a perpetual three year old. I have one memory of my father before his surgery: playing on the deck he was building. I tight rope walked down the boards and jumped off the edge repeatedly. All while my father watched and laughed at me. And that is it. That is only memory I have of him before his surgery changed him from my father to my younger sibling. So in a sense, all I can celebrate is his death because that's all I remember of him.

The Relay for Life was this weekend and my family participated. It's stated purpose is to raise money, but really it's an odd celebration of sorts. You're celebrating those who survived cancer, those who are battling cancer, and those who lost their lives to cancer. Usually in our culture, we run away from death and pretend it will never happen to us. It's not until we old and infirm or chronically ill that we face our mortality. But unfortunately, I've had my reality checks. We all have, but usually we don't learn from them. Most recently, a friend died. She was 32 and left behind a five month old and two year old. She died two weeks after learning she had terminal cancer. So, yes, even young moms can die.

Philosophers argue over what makes us human. I believe it is death: knowing we have an expiration date. Embrace that one idea and then live your life. Really live. Don't just exist and tell yourself you'll take that big trip in a few years. Live everyday. Read a book to your kid and do the dishes later. Snuggle with your spouse and fold the laundry tomorrow. Have coffee with a friend and pay your neighbor's kid to mow your lawn instead. Make as many memories as you can because you never know. Don't try and cram all your living into your two week vacation. Spread it out over the year. Things aren't mundane if you do them with the people you care about.

We can't beat death. Someday it will knock on your door. All we can do to prepare is to spend time with those we cherish so that we may live on in their memories.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The First Month

We're roughly a month into going green. I know my personality (and what my dear hubby can tolerate) so I'm slowly phasing into this. Otherwise, this is going to be a short-lived trend. I've decided to start with food. A month ago, my carnivore husband grudgingly allowed me to make one meatless dinner a week. Apparently, it went over well because last night I was granted permission to make two dinners a week without meat. Needless to say, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. What really changed his mind? He discovered the family that owns the local, grass-fed cattle ranch are members of our church. He despises corporations and likes the idea of supporting local businesses, especially local business people we know. Somehow, this has translated into more meatless meals. I don't pretend to understand his logic.

Other aspects of our food transition haven't gone quite as well as I would have liked. The natural style, organic peanut butter scared my husband. Like there's a big, freaking spider in the shower with me scared. Finding an inch of oil on top of the peanut butter when he opened it was off-putting to him. I tried to explain why the oil was on top but to no avail. Luckily, I found a no stir, organic peanut butter so I'll see how that works.

But the processed food is being used up and for the most part not replaced. Since I have two little girls, I have had to spurge and get some organic graham crackers. And I don't see goldfish leaving our house in the near future.

In some ways, this is like a edible game of Where's Waldo. I live in a small community and the nearest Whole Foods or Trader Joe's is two hours away. So my shopping is piece meal. But I am slowly claiming victory. The Farmer's Market supplies most of my produce and there is homemade ice cream there. It's made from local ingredients so the calories don't count. I've located local eggs, cheese, meat and chocolate truffles. I'm no longer sure this going green thing is good for my waistline!

It's also becoming apparent I'm not adequately communicating with my hubby. He was completely against organic milk. I assumed it was the price (it's double the cost of regular milk). But, no! When I finally confronted him about this he adamantly stated, "I don't want them drinking unpasteurized milk!" I explained it was pasteurized and what an organic label on milk actually meant. I got a "Ohh..." Lesson learned for both of us.

Thus far, no major hubby tantrums. Girls don't seem to care. And our grocery expenses haven't changed. So even my budget is happy! Time to see what happens in month two.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Local Issue?

The hot topic in town everyone has been discussing is whether or not a strip club should be allowed in town. A friend from church wrote a heated letter to editor decrying strip clubs because they degrade women. I strongly disagree. Banning a strip club to "protect" women is the equivalent of bailing one bucket of water out of a flooding basement and deciding that will stop the problem. Women today are under siege but often it comes from the oddest of places.

When I altered my career plans and switched from genetic counseling to stay-at-home mommy, I was told I was a sell-out and personally setting women back to the Dark Ages. Silly me, I had been raised to believe I could be whatever I wanted. I never realized being a mother didn't count as a career. Sorry, I choose a Little House on the Prairie life instead of being post-modern.

Had I opted for a "real" career, I would have been expected to place my job before my personal life. And if decided on kids, I would have been rewarded for motherhood with only 6 weeks of maternity leave. Then when my kid was sick and I couldn't come to work, people would be cursing me under their breath for making their day harder. (It used to be me rolling my eyes.)

Women are told, most often by other women, that should we should dress nice and look good. Otherwise, we won't get a guy. Is that all we really should be striving for? Am I less of a woman because I wear sneakers and tee-shirt? I'm still a woman even if Sex in the City or total submission to my husband isn't my ideal life.

We aren't even allowed real control over our bodies. Sex ed in school is usual abstinence only or not much more. Birth control (barring condoms) is not easy to obtain. Abortion is slowly being eroded away as an option. Even in pregnancy, we're scared into tests we don't want and procedures we don't need. If we question our OBs, we're told we're bad mothers.

We are supposed to have it all. Be perfect mothers. Hard working career women. Run the PTA. Be loving wives. And love every minute of it. More women are unhappy because they try to live the ideal than figure out what will really make them happy.

We need to accept that women don't need to be protected. Thanks for caring but leave me the hell alone. All we should be asking, especially from other women, is that our choices be respected and we be allowed to put our families first. Otherwise, the next generation will be even more screwed up than ours.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I've never been computer savvy by any stretch of the imagination. For years, the computer was to write papers, research for work, or send e-mails to friends I rarely got to see. But oddly, as I've gotten older the online world has found a niche in my life. It all started innocently when I "discovered" the Jericho message boards. Then a friend introduced me to Facebook and from there it was a short jump to Twitter.

Now I have Twitter friends. People I have never met, yet I speak with them daily. And I met them simply because we have a common interest: a scifi show called Caprica. So if I'm ever in Italy, Texas or New Brunswick; I'll have someone to visit. I'm learning to go green by reading blogs instead of getting books from the library.

My entire world view is changing, and not because of a single person I've met face-to-face. I think globally and investigate different viewpoints better than ever before. Being online has allowed me to understand why people are pro-life or atheists. It's easy to ask someone very personal questions when you can't see their face.

As I have risen, my husband has fallen. Once upon a time, you would hear me say "Make it work" (referring to the computer). Fast forward a decade, my husband comes home from work and asks me "What's Skype?" The truly scary thing is he expects me to know and I actually do.

I'm now an addict of the online world. I blog. I download torrents. I watch web series. The Guild is quite impressive. Somehow, this doesn't seem like me. But this isn't a bad new me, it's just a new me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Going Green?

So I've decided our family shall go green. Problem is, I'm not really sure what that means. It's a completely amorphous goal that kind of feels like me saying and tomorrow I shall perform open heart surgery. Where do you start? How do you learn about this sub-culture/cult thing? Is recycling enough? How green to I have to be to make a difference? What does it mean to make a difference?

Honestly, I feel like an idiot. Here I have made this life style choice and I know virtually nothing about it. Green living is an all-encompassing thing. So do I take my family cold turkey into this unknown realm? I can't see my husband giving up his deodorant for a baking soda paste, and I definitely can't give up bananas (it's not like they're local produce in Washington).

How do I start? Well, thus far I've checked out a dozen books from the library in an attempt to absorb all the knowledge I need to begin my new life. I've learned some. A lot more than I knew a week ago. But there is a lot more to learn.

What started all this? It's been brewing in my head for years but I'm finally getting to the point in my life where I understand that even if it's not easy I can't be selfish. I have to find my balance with Mother Nature or my kids won't have a liveable world to raise their children in.

So back to the most basic question. How do I start? I think the books are a good beginning. And I've instituted Meatless Monday. From now on no meat in our Monday night dinner. It's not a lofty goal and it's a starting point. In a couple of weeks, the local farmer's market will begin and phase 2 will start. Our produce for the summer will come from local, sustainable farms.

I know it's not much but everyone has to start somewhere.