Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dear Troy

Dear Troy

Tonight they killed you

Like they hung your grandfathers from the trees

Like they beat your fathers in the streets

Saying “This is justice”

And I don’t think the word will ever get clean again

In America we talk about fair trials

And reasonable doubt

Until we are blue

Until you were blue, and cold

That officer’s widow is still a widow

The hole he left still gapes

Unsutured by your death

And twice as wide now

It is a hole in all of us

Tonight they killed you

And we are less with your passing

Less free

Less ourselves

Smaller in the face of darkness

But we will shrug tomorrow that what’s done is done

And we did all we could

Didn’t we?

You should have seen our facebooks, Troy

Monday, September 5, 2011

for those who "can never find a good guy"

i had a list, growing up, of the qualities i was looking for in the perfect mate. most girls i know have/had such a list at some point. some keep it secretly in a diary, some bust it out to compare with the lists of others, and for some it is less formal - they say they are looking for someone who is like some character from a book or person they look up to, which implies a list of characteristics. now, when i had my list i thought it was a pretty modest and sensible one. honesty and sense of humor were on it, but income wasn't. height was on it, but that seemed only reasonable to want someone as tall as me. and every time i dated someone or considered dating someone, the list was in the back of my mind and i was taking mental notes (often subconsciously) and seeing how my date measured against the list. i figured that when i found someone who checked all the boxes, i would know i had found "the one". and i often lamented that it was so hard to find someone who met even a majority of my qualifications.
the best decision i have ever made was to ditch my list.

when i got rid of the list, i could finally start seeing the men i dated as individual and complex humans, rather than as potential checkmarks on a list. i spent years lamenting that it was so hard to find a guy who would see the real me in all my diversity, but at the same time i was refusing to see the real them. there is a lot of talk about how men objectify women, but i think there needs to be more talk about how women objectify men. women want to be taken as a whole, but want to choose a man based on certain ideal characteristics. it is common for men to physically objectify women, but it is just as common - perhaps more common because it is so socially acceptable - for women to emotionally objectify men. i'm not saying that it's bad to want to be with someone who has similar values and goals, but focusing too hard on ideal qualities often means missing the whole picture and the individual qualities a mate may bring to the table. if you think of your absolute favorite ideal meal to eat and then go trying to find a restaurant that serves exactly that meal, you'll never find it. you'll go hungry, and miss out on an amazing array of good food. obviously that's a very simple metaphor, but the concept is the same. if you already know in your head what the "perfect mate" is, you'll never find that in real life and will miss out on love.

i said for years that i didn't want to marry someone shorter than me. a few months after i tossed my list, i met the love of my life and the best man i have ever met. my incredible husband is 5" shorter than me, and only a few months before we met i wouldn't have given him the time of day and would have totally missed out on love. there were lots of small things where on the surface it didn't seem like he matched up with my list. but when i lost the list i was able to see past the surface, and to get to know him as a unique and complex human. in hindsight, he does have all the really important qualities i was looking for - he is honest and funny and kind and hard working and places a high importance on family and knows where he wants to go in life - but if i'd had my list in mind, i would never have gotten down to see those layers. and, the more i got to know him, the more individual qualities i saw in him that i would never have thought to put on a list but which made up his amazing whole that i now cannot live without.

i guess all of this is to say that if you are single and lamenting not being able to find "a good guy", i would urge you to stop and think for a minute. if your definition of a good guy includes someone who will love you for you, then you have to start by letting go of abstract, ideal qualities and start getting to know guys for who they really are. you'll probably be surprised how many good guys you find when you take the time to get to know them without your list in mind. let go of the agenda, and start looking at guys as real human beings rather than as potential list fulfillers. you will probably find what you're looking for. just my two cents.

*the gendered language in this post was simply the easiest way for me to write, since i write from the perspective of a straight female. but i think you could switch out "guy" and "husband" for "girl" and "partner" and it would still be true.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a confession

in target the other day i was passing through the baby clothes and saw an awesome sweater. it had a pirate scull and crossbones on it and was blue and grey. it was so cute and my first thought was "what an awesome sweater, i should get it for haven!". i should go with my first thoughts more often, i think. my second thought was "it's a boy's sweater. too bad girl clothes aren't that cute". i'm ashamed of that second thought, and more ashamed that i listened to it. what exactly is it that makes a sweater a "boy's sweater"? because it was blue and grey? because it was in the boy's section? because an advertiser decided to market it to boys?...i think that last one. some of my favorite sweaters have been "men's" sweaters. does it mean that i'm dressing "like a man"(whatever the hell that means) when i wear them? no. nor do people think that i'm a man when i wear my sweaters. so why should i give in to all that bullshit when it comes to haven? the truth is that my daughter is no more defined by her clothes than i am. too often in the past year i have given in and gone with the "girly" clothes simply because i get frustrated correcting people who call her "he" when she wears any color other than bright pink. i'm ashamed of that frustration and how i've handled it. why should i give a fuck what some stranger assumes about her based on their narrow preconceptions of gender. this weekend i am going back to target to get haven that sweater, because it is awesomely cute. and from now on i am going to buy her clothes based only on awesomeness and functionality, not on what aisle they are in at the store. my daughter will not live in a box. i will continue to encourage her love of cars and dogs as much as her love of dress-up. i will watch myself and make sure that i tell her every day what a beautiful person she is, but not that she looks pretty just because she's in a dress (i already make a point to refer dressing up or wearing makeup as "looking fancy" rather than "looking pretty", but i've noticed a disturbing trend lately of "you're so pretty" being the phrase i say to her most frequently). i love her tutu and all her cute dresses, but i want more than cute dresses for my daughter. society will try to place many limitations on her throughout her life, and i will not be able to protect her from them all. but right now i can at least lay a foundation that will enable her to find her value in her intelligence and spirit and kindness, and not in her looks. i can teach her from the begining that clothing does not make a person, nor do possessions or hobbies. and it can all start with a bitchin pirate sweater. she is going to look so cute in it this fall, worn with jeans and her black sneakers. and if anyone tells me how cute my "son" is, that's fine. i will feel sad for them in my heart that they live in such a small box, but i will not put haven in a similar box just to fit in.

Monday, August 1, 2011


because i'm super proud of my progress, i'm going to post pictures of the rooms that i get totally clean and organized. so here is my progress so far. a lot of rooms are almost done, but these two are finished and sparkly.


all the clothes size newborn-4T are organized in bins by size, with the curent size hanging. and all the equipment (basket, bouncer, bucket seat) fits in the closet now instead of around the room.

weeded out a lot of toys, and organized what was left.

dining room:

now the only stuff on the table is what belongs there, and it is usable for eating.

my "helper":

haven has been sorting (and chewing) the storage containers for me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

the great purge of '11

i have been on a crazy organizing kick for the past week. purging lots of junk.
i have always been a packrat, but i've realized that living in the midst of so much stuff is stressful. it is weighing me down. i save stuff because "i'll use it someday", but it sits around taking up space and making it so i have no room to do whatever project i was saving it for. or i save things because they "have sentimental value" but then forget about them because they get burried in mess. so i'm reading minimalist blogs, and getting rid of a lot. i don't think i'll ever get to minimalism, by any stretch, but it's inspiring. i just want to get to peaceful and livable.

so far in a week i've gotten rid of 4 bags of clothes and accessories (i already got rid of 4 bags in january, and i still have more than i strictly need after 8 bags gone), and 3 bags of garbage. i have reorganized all the upstairs closets, and totally cleaned the master bedroom. it feels great. all that's left upstairs is to clean off the desk in the spare room and set my sewing stuff up on it.
downstairs is still awful, and it's harder to clean because haven runs around all day making messes as soon as i clean anything. but i feel like i'm on a roll now.

i feel so serene and proud of myself when i walk in my bedroom, and i want that feeling in the whole house. i want to breathe a sigh of calm when i come home, rather than sniffing the full garbage. i want to be excited that company is coming over, rather than frantic.
and i want haven to grow up with that sense of calm. i have to teach myself how to not let stuff be my master, so that i can teach haven. i want her to learn how to live simply from the start. it's hard to unlearn the messy ways now. and i'm realizing that a lot of my packratting is emotional. i never had a "childhood home" - i had about 10. each move, what made the new place feel like home was that i brought all my stuff along. so the way some people feel about the house they grew up in, is how i feel about boxes of stuff. clutter is my security blanket. but the blanket has gotten stuffy and constrictive, and it needs to go.

today i want to get pictures hung in the bedroom, and clear off the dining table. i've got a cold, and haven is teething, so i'm keeping to small tasks today.
wish me luck.

Friday, June 24, 2011

shit, shoot, and poo poo head

haven isn't talking yet, but she's about to turn 1 so i know it's coming soon. and with talking will come repeating words she hears, which brings up the issue of "bad words". i do not have the daintiest of vocabularies, and tony's mouth is worse than mine. however, i do not speak in a way that i believe is morally wrong. if i thought saying "goddamnit!" when i stub my toe was wrong, i wouldn't say it. since i don't believe it's wrong, i'm pondering whether or not to censor myself around haven. i think i've come to the conclusion that there is a way of speaking that i find wrong and will teach her not to do, but that it has to do with intent rather than specific words.
i fail to see any moral difference between "shit" and "shoot". is the "i" sound really more evil than the "oo" sound? is "freak" really more appropriate than "fuck"? i can't see how. if the words are just being used as punctuation/exclamation, i don't believe there is anything wrong with "bad" words (i won't even get into the nerdy linguistics history and how "bad" words are really just the Saxon version and "ok" words are the Norman translation).
i do think there are things it's not ok to say. cursing as punctuation is fine, but cursing AT someone is absolutely not ok. and you can curse at someone and damage them with your words without saying a single "swear". i think it is far more wrong to call someone a "poo poo head" than to say "oh shit" when a drink spills. in the same vein, derogatory "jokes" are inappropriate regardless of the words used to convey the disrespect. words do not have a meaning outside their intent and context. so it is far more vulgar and immoral to use "non-swear" words to hurt someone than to use "swear" words to emphasize the emotional content of a sentence.
i want to teach my children that words have the power to build or to break, and must be used carefully. i want to teach them to speak respectfully and kindly. those things are important. but i frankly won't give a fuck if they say "fuck" when a toy breaks or whatever. "oh fuck" will be fine, but "fuck you" will not....i believe learning that distinction is far more important than learning to simply avoid certain words.
i will teach my kids that certain language is not appropriate in certain places/situations. i speak differently at work than i do at home, in more ways than just word choice. i speak differently when writing a formal letter than when updating facebook. sometimes i even use capitol letters. and that ability to adapt communication style to fit a situation an important life skill to know. but it's not a moral issue any more than wearing shoes (which i also do in public, mostly, but not at home).
maybe i will get shit from other moms when my kids swear around their kids. but i'm covered in tattoos and breastfeed in public and take my baby to rock shows in i'm bound to get some shit from other parents one way or another. and if i know that my children aren't hurting others with their words, then i will feel successful and content in my parenting.
plus, it's super hilarious when a toddler says "shit" in public....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ode to aunt flo

so it really bothers me when women talk about their period as "the curse", or talk about how dumb and useless and dirty and horrible it is.
i think it irks me most because it smacks so decidedly of the old misogynistic attitude that there is something dirty about being a woman. i don't like it coming from men, but expect it, but i absolutely can't stand when women give into that thinking.
there is nothing gross about having a period. it is not "dirty". it is not something to be ignored/denied three weeks a month and then bemoaned and cursed the other week. getting a period means that your body is healthy and functioning. it is an affirmation of the beautiful power of reproduction.
yes, sometimes periods are painful. i have endometriosis and used to spend days in bed, fainting, throwing up, when i got my period. i know about the pain. i'm not saying that getting my period is my favorite time of the month. but it is a time that i respect and am thankful for. it is a time every month where my body reminds me of what it is capable of.
and, i found that once i switched to cloth pads and a menstrual cup, i have far shorter and easier periods. apparently a lot of the cramps, itching, and general yucky feeling i used to get during my period was because my body was reacting to the bleach and weird chemicals and plastics in the disposable pads and tampons i was using. the first month that i wasn't using the disposable stuff, my period was suddenly 4 days rather than 7, with slight cramps on the first day rather than doubling-over pain for two or three days. and it's not just me who's found that. the quickest of google searches will give you hundreds of stories of women who thought they had horrible periods and then found out they actually just had horrible pads and tampons.
but i dislike the disposable products for more reason than just their bad effect on my health. i dislike what they say about menstruation. when i use a cloth pad, i have to come into contact with my period, literally. before i used cloth i thought it would be so gross to wash the blood out, because i had really no idea what period blood was like...i'd always just shoved the used pad in the trash as quickly as possible because it was "nasty"(i always made sure to wrap it in layers and layers of toilet paper so no one would know that i did anything as disgusting as menstruate). turns out menstrual blood is no grosser than any other body fluid. i don't freak out about blowing my nose or cleaning a cut or spitting, so why should i freak out about period flow?
the answer is that i thought it was gross because i'd been told it was the disposable pad companies.
the disposable period industry teaches girls from the start of menstruation to be grossed out by their periods, and ashamed. why on earth would they advertise a quiet wrapper for a pad? so none of the other women in the women's restroom will know that you have a properly functioning woman's body? really? getting your period is so shameful and disgusting that even the sound of a pad being unwrapped within earshot of other women is just too humiliating to bear?
give me a break.
it is impossible to think that a period is gross and shameful without thinking, though probably subconsciously, that your body is gross and shameful. getting a period is about as tied to being sexually a woman as it gets. so when you ignore/deny/hide/disdain your period, you are necessarily ignoring/etc part of your very being.
for those who feel that although they are sexually women, they are of the male gender, i can understand this sort of discomfort. but for women who identify as women, it baffles me. well, not totally. i do get why it is...because i did feel that way. if we tell young girls often enough that a period is a curse, they will believe it until they are taught or realize better. i guess what i don't get is why we let our bodies be slandered by corporations trying to make a buck off the backs of our insecurity.
so anyways, i'll be getting my period next week and i will treat its arrival with the honor that my body deserves. i will wear cloth pads that force me to be in contact with and think about my period. i will celebrate the fact that i have a sexually mature, healthy body, capable of performing enormous feats of strength and endurance and bringing life into the world. i will use a heat pack and take an advil, but it won't be because i'm cursed. it will be because anything good is a little hard, and my period is something very good.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

cleaning up my act

i have never in my life had the urge to clean. i force myself to clean, but it always takes a lot of talking myself into it. but last night i spontaneously cleaned my kitchen. and, even more shockingly for those who know me, i enjoyed it.
it's ok. i'm still me. i haven't been possessed, nor brainwashed by a cult.
i think what makes all the difference is the new cleaning products i've been making. now that cleaning isn't associated with horrible smells and burning, eczema covered hands, it is much less odious. my kitchen smells like dr. bronner's peppermint soap, and tea tree oil, which are so much nicer to smell than clorox and dawn. and i really like getting to play science and mix up my cleaning solutions. it's the same fun for me that cooking is. and then i get to watch my witch's brew cut through grime and work on mess that the old toxic cleaners could never quite get. my stove has never been so clean. my floor sparkles without the sticky feeling that the clorox floor cleaner used to leave. my glass door is clean without having to gag on widex to get it that way.
and, most importantly, it is safe for haven now. she's really into licking the windows and the floors, and now when she does it i don't have to worry because there's nothing wrong with licking up a little vinegar and biodegradable organic soap.
i know the novelty will wear off and cleaning will lose some of its magic, but for now at least my kitchen will be a lot cleaner than it used to be. now if only i could figure out how to make vacuuming fun....

oh, and my all-purpose surface, window, and floor cleaner is:

2/3cup white vinegar
1/4cup dr bronner's liquid soap of your scent preference
10 drops tea tree oil (unless you use the tea tree flavor of soap and then you can leave this out)
fill the rest of the bottle with hot water

you have to shake it up really well because at first the vinegar makes the soap clump up weird, but once it's thoroughly mixed it works so fantastically well. it cuts grease, works on stuck on food, and wipes away totally clear on windows.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

recipe time

on request, here are some recipes.

first off, vegan mac and cheese:

1 box macaroni noodles
1/4 cup olive oil or earth ballance
1/2 cup coconut milk or soy milk (coconut gives a thicker sauce)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 jar butternut squash baby food (optional, but adds some extra veggies/health, and helps with texture)
1 tbsp brown mustard
1 tsp(ish) garlic salt
shake of paprika
shake of dill
veggies of your choice - i like peas and carrots

cook the noodles. i use frozen veggies so i can cook them along with the noodles. drain, and turn down burner to low. add the oil, coconut milk, soysauce, squash, and mustard. mix. add the nutri yeast, and spices. mix again. voila! adjust spices to your liking. basil is a nice addition, as is turmeric for "cheesy" color. i wouldn't suggest minced garlic - way too strong and changes the flavor. go with garlic salt.
the sauce also works great with broccoli, chicken, and rice, but is then not vegan.

laundry soap:

1.5 cup borax
1.5 cup washing soda
1 large bar (at least 4oz) real soap - no moisturizers, exfoliators, additives, etc. dr bronners or kirks or work awesome

dump the borax and soda together in a large tupperware with a lid. grate the soap on the small side of the cheese grater and add. stir/shake it up. use 1 tbsp for a small load or a load of diapers, 2 tbsp for a large load. i get 60ish loads from this recipe, for $3-$5 depending on cost of the bar of soap.

kitchen grease buster/scouring powder:

1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup baking soda
2 tbsp salt

mix together and store in a tupperware. sprinkle on a nasty greasy mess, let sit for a minute, and then wipe down with a cloth. this is the only thing that gets my stove clean from the burn on nast that forms around the edges of the burners. supposedly it can be used as a dishwasher soap, but i haven't had much luck with it in that department...tends to leave a film on the glasses. but it's awesome for any greasy, sticky, stuck-on mess. if you've ever seen how dirty my kitchen gets, you will know that it can handle a serious mess.

dry skin salve:

1/4 cup raw shea butter
1 tbsp grated beeswax
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1 tbsp olive oil
a few drops of rosemary and lavender essential oils
1 large ziplock bag
1 small tupperware

put the wax, shea, and olive and grape oils into the ziplock, squeeze out the air and close. set the bag in a sauce pan of water. boil the water to melt the ingredients. as they melt, use a spoon to smoosh the bag around. once they are all melted, remove the bag and shake it really good to mix everything well. keep smooshing or shaking the bag every minute or so as it cools. once the mix starts to look white rather than clear, add the essential oils and keep smooshing. when the mix is the consistency of frosting, cut a small hole in a corner of the bag and squeeze into the tupperware and close it. let the mix cool and set for an hour or so.
the lavender is just for scent, but the rosemary is important. it is a mild preservative, and also good for circulation. peppermint is a nice add as well, and gives a tingly feeling to the salve.
it works great on cracked hands and feet, and i used it on my belly when i was preggo.

facial cleanser/moisturizer combo:

1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup jojoba oil
1/2 tsp tea tree oil

mix together and keep in a bottle. use on a cotton ball or cloth to remove makeup and dirt. rinse with warm water afterwords. counter-intuitively, oil is a great way to clean skin and prevent breakouts. dry, stressed skin makes too much oil and causes problems. grape seed and jojoba oils do not clog pores, but do grab dirt and dissolve sebum in zits. the tea tree kills bacteria. use it once a day and i promise your skin will like it. it may get slightly worse at first as the grossness is pulled to the surface and the skin heals, but once your skin is in good shape this will keep it that way.

happy concocting!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

home makeover: alt hippy edition

i've decided that if i'm genuinely concerned about toxic chemicals in the environment and in contact with my family, the only truly meaningful and effective thing i can do about it is to change how i live. for years i've complained about the ineffectiveness of the EPA while continuing to use nasty, harmful chemicals every day. in fact, the principle of changing my own life seems to work across the board for the issues i care about. so this year i've been begun making a conscious effort to live in a more sustainable, intentional way. it's a slow process, but i'm making steady baby steps.
so far i have started:

using cloth diapers
making my own, biodegradable laundry soap
no longer using dryer sheets
making and using cloth feminine products
using a water filter and camelback instead of buying water bottles
using only sunlight to light the house during the day
using organic and/or biodegradable body care and cosmetic products
cooking more meals from scratch to cut down on packaging
cutting eggs and dairy out of my diet (did it for haven's allergy reasons, but i'm considering continuing even once she is no longer nursing because of the environmental impact)

by the end of the year, i hope to also be:

using cloth baby wipes
recycling glass and metal
growing my own herbs
using only recycled paper goods
using cleaning cloths instead of paper towels
cutting out red meat consumption
meditating daily

next year, my goals are to:

learn to make soap and start making my own
learn to make bread and bake my own
find a farmer's market and buy all produce locally when it is running (if i can find local, free range, organic eggs i might add them back into my diet then)
have a small veggie garden and expanded herb garden
learn to make basic herbal remedies
only buy used or fair trade clothing
dry on a clothes line

eventually i'd like to live as off-the-grid as possible. hubby and i dream about a house on some land, with a big garden and tool shed and chicken coop and functional kitchen. here in our little, military apartment there is a limited amount that i/we can do, but someday.....and for now i will keep taking my baby steps, and doing what i can in the life that i have now, while i dream of the life i will have then. the EPA will likely always be hogtied by politics. large companies will likely never pay their workers a fair wage, or treat them humanely. but my life and my home can change, and will change. i don't know who said it, but i love the quote that "you cannot change the world, you can only change yourself".

my very favorite blog, about radical housewifery and intentional living, is Apron Stringz. you should read it. she always seems to say exactly what i wish i was eloquent and experienced enough to say.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

feminism is housework

i am a radical feminist. i am also a housewife. those two things are not at odds.

it makes me angry and sad when women buy into the idea that homemaking is only something that women do if they are subordinate, un-inspired, and weak, or only something one does if one has put "real" dreams and a "real" career on hold, or even that homemaking is only something women do.

by choosing to make a career of being a mother and wife and manager of my home, i am choosing to see those things as inherently valuable and worthwhile. i work 18 hours a day at the most demanding, but also most rewarding job i have ever had. it is a job that allows me opportunity to explore my own resourcefulness and creativity, and to show my daughter and husband that they are the absolute most important things in my life. i cannot even fathom the sacrifices i would have to make to get a job outside the home. i would have to put my real dreams and real career on hold to do that.

currently, whenever i'm not tending to haven's needs, i can do whatever i want with my time. i have time to crochet, and sew, and read blogs, and write blogs, and spend time outdoors, and cook fancy foods, and make cosmetics and soaps, and watch movies. i spend time each day doing housework, but usually by the time haven goes to bed at night, i have several hours totally free. when tony is not on deployment, i can be there for him when he gets home from work and needs to talk and de-stress. i can cook dinner at my own pace, with real food. if i were to get another job, i would lose all that. when i got home from work stressed and tired, i would have to spend my entire evening rushing through all the housework, baby care, cooking, etc. i would sleep less. i would feel ragged and trapped. homemaking means more sleep, more freedom, more creativity, more fulfillment, more time with loved ones, more time for myself. i can't imaging giving all that up for anything other than an absolute financial crisis.

a lot of feminists have bought into the oppressive, patriarchal idea that the work women have traditionally done is somehow less important than the work men have traditionally done. virginia wolfe and mary woolstonecraft would be rolling in their graves if they knew what had become of feminism, and that modern feminism has become the greatest perpetuator of the idea that women are inferior. i think it is really degrading to women to say that being a mother is not enough of a "career". the work of the home is still done primarily by women, only now women also feel like they have to have a "real job" too. so they run themselves ragged trying to have two careers, because society, and many feminists, make them feel inferior if they don't. telling a woman that working in the home is not "real work" is as limiting and oppressive as telling her that she can only work in the home. society went from oppressing women in one way, to oppressing them in an opposite way. only now women are oppressed with twice as much work to do.

i don't get a "real job" because i see working outside the home as a less important and less valuable way to spend my time and energy, not the other way around. i am so grateful to tony for having a job that brings in money, and putting up with all the bullshit that entails, so that i can have a fulfilling, inspiring, important job taking care of the non-monetary needs of our family. rather than feeling repressed or subjugated, i feel really selfish that i get to work at something so fulfilling while he is stuck working for money.

i am by no means saying that every woman should be a homemaker or get married or raise children. women and men should have the career that they find most fulfilling, and for many women that means a career outside the home. but women who find that the career that is most fulfilling to them is homemaking should not be looked down on for it, especially by other women. the whole point of feminism is supposed to be to recognize that women and men have equal value, and should have equal opportunities and choices. my choice is to be a homemaker, and saying that it is a poor choice or an inferior choice is about as un-feminist as it gets.
in the same vein, men should also have the choice to work in the home if that is the career that they find most fulfilling. stay-at-home dads are made the butt of jokes in our society, which degrades men in the same way that looking down on stay-at-home moms degrades women. patriarchy doesn't actually give men more choices. it limits and degrades everyone. and, sadly, much of modern feminism has become a tool of patriarchy.

i don't raise my baby, cook for my family, and run my house because i can't do anything else. i do it because you couldn't pay me to give those things up to do anything else. the work that i do as a housewife is real and valuable work.
so as a radical feminist, i will continue to nurture, nourish and teach my daughter, take care of my husband, make our home a place of comfort and acceptance, live consciously and sustainably, and develop my creative interests. feminism means i have the right to make that choice, to follow my own dreams and my own path rather than a path proscribed for me by anyone else, including other "feminists".
and that is my rant.

Monday, April 4, 2011

i've had a lump in my stomach for weeks thinking about broaching the subject of vaccines (and how i'm not comfortable with haven getting some of them) to the pediatrician. she is a military doctor, and pretty mainstream and "by the book", so i've been worried that she'd be hostile to skipping vaccines. but today at haven's checkup i brought it up and was so pleasantly surprised. i told her i didn't want haven getting the flu, chicken pox, or measles/mmr shots and explained my reasons, and she was totally supportive. she told me there were three vaccines she thought were really important, but that the rest were totally discretionary as far as she was concerned. it was such a relief to not have to fight the issue. i know if tony is stationed overseas next then it may come up again, but for the next few years there is a load off my mind.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

the beer is nourishing

i've been posting all seriously lately, so this is a change of pace.
i just changed the picture in my header to one of my favorite pictures of all time. it says "the beer is nourishing". it is an oldtime PSA advising moms that drinking beer will increase milk supply, improve mood, and lead to fat and happy babies. i totally agree. probably the best parenting advice i've ever gotten.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

in defense of premarital sex

i am so glad that i did not wait to have sex until marriage. in fact, i'm not only glad that i wasn't a virgin when i got married, i'm also glad that i wasn't a virgin when i met my husband. not only am i glad, but also feel morally sound. this may be a shocking statement to many of my religious friends, but i don't make it offhandedly or for shock value. before i continue, let me preface with a disclaimer. A) i am talking about premarital sex, not teen sex. they are separate issues that are too often confused. B) i am talking about my own experience, and what i have personally witnessed. if it is different from your experience, great. i'm not judging anyone else's experience.

the way i see it, there are two major disservices done to people by pushing abstinence until marriage. first, those who do have sex are more likely to have unsafe sex. rather than making informed sexual choices and being prepared (condoms, birth control, etc), young people from the "waiting" camp end up taking greater risks with their health. furthermore, they aren't able to seek education and advice because if they admit to having sex the only acceptable response within the church is total shame. you can only admit to being sexually active if you are repenting, never in hopes of finding guidance about physically and emotionally healthy sexual relationships. messages to young single christians always talk about how damaging premarital sex is, but it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. sex without physical education and emotional support is indeed damaging, but it is the church that forces premarital sex into this category and then piously states "told you so" when someone ends up pregnant or emotionally scarred.

secondly, those who don't have sex often develop a really weird view of what marriage is and means. in many singles groups marriage is only talked about in terms of being the appropriate venue for sex, and many young couples get married to satisfy hormonal urges rather than for healthy and loving reasons. rigidly teaching abstinence until marriage is intended to make marriage something special, but what it really does is oversimplify and devalue marriage and set couples up for failure. they marry the first person they are overwhelmingly sexually attracted to, regardless of long term compatibility. alternately, i know couples who so bought into the idea of sex as being sinful that even once they were married they didn't consummate it.

christian singles are told that premarital sex will ruin future relationships and lead to divorce. they are told that any sex outside of marriage is 100% wrong and only about using people. but in my opinion, a major way to ruin a marriage is to go into it thinking it is simply a license to have sex, rather than seeing it as spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, as well as sexually meaningful. and what worse way to use someone than to marry them just for sex?

i firmly believe that my marriage is stronger and better because having sex did not figure into the decision to get married. my husband and i didn't choose eachother as marriage partners simply because we wanted eachother as sexual partners. nor did we get married because we had sex and felt guilty and obligated. we got married because we love and respect eachother deeply, are best friends, and want to be together for life. we had sex while we were dating, and experiencing my then boyfriend as a sexual partner showed me important things about his character that made me want him as my husband. part of why i knew he was the man i wanted to marry was because i knew in the most intimate way that he was respectful, considerate, generous, and fun. getting to know eachother physically while we were dating helped us get to know eachother on many levels. by the time we decided to get married we knew eachother deeply and trusted eachother deeply, in part because we had been sexually intimate. our hormones didn't make the marriage decision for us because we didn't repress them, and instead they helped to build a strong relationship that ended up being something we decided to continue for the rest of our lives.

but for me it goes a step further. i am glad that i had sex before i met my husband. i am glad that the awkwardness of first sex had worn off and i was free to just enjoy him. a lot of my embarrassment with my own body and inhibitions were gone, so i could be a more attentive and joyful lover. i am glad that i had other sexual partners as a comparison, in the same way that i'm glad i had dated other men. that way when i felt a deep emotional, intellectual, and sexual connection with him i knew that it wasn't simply because he was the first but rather because he was the "one".

rather than setting us up for failure in marriage, premarital sex helped us to build a strong foundation of love and respect for and enjoyment of eachother. we went into marriage recognizing and respecting it as a union of souls and lives, not just of bodies.

to be fair, i know that choosing not to have premarital sex is right for some people. many healthy marriages happen between people who are virgins until the wedding night. sex is not the only way to learn intimately about someone. my point is that it is a valid way, and that vilifying sex is often detrimental to individuals and relationships.

furthermore, purity, in my opinion (which i believe to be biblical), has a lot more to do with personal integrity, respect and care for others, and honesty - with what's inside - than with the state of one's hymen. obsessing about physical "purity" obscures the real issue and lets people off the hook of being internally pure. although i was not physically a virgin when i got married, i believe that i entered into marriage in purity...purity of spirit. isn't that what jesus was always talking about? in the gospels jesus chides his disciples for focusing on outer purity (in their case it was dietary laws) rather than inner purity. he said that what comes out of a person is what makes them pure, not what goes in. he talked to the woman at the well about living with a man who wasn't her husband, but the issues were adultury and promiscuity, not virginity. in fact, in all of the gospels i don't recall jesus mentioning premarital sex at all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

love song to my baby weight

my floppy breasts and soft stomach and wide hips are beautiful. when i look in the mirror i am proud to own the body that i see there. my hips are wide because they carried a baby for 9 months and then pushed her out. they are beautiful because they are strong. my belly is soft because it stretched to make a home for my baby, and so that she has a comfy place to lay now. it is beautiful because it is flexible and kind. my breasts are large and sagging because they are full of milk to nourish and comfort my baby. they are beautiful because they are resourceful and generous.

for years i had what many considered an "ideal" body, but i was never happy with it. there was always something i wanted to change, erase, my mind, beauty was about getting rid of things. i liked to think of my body as something i was sculpting, and that beauty lay in taking away everything extra or unwanted. but no matter how low my weight was or how small my clothing size or how firm my stomach, i never really felt beautiful. there was always something more i could work on, so i was never satisfied.

now i realize that beauty is about life and growth and love. my body is only as beautiful as it is generous, open, and alive. i am not a sculpture. i am a garden. the weight, and the stretch marks, and the wrinkles that are added and that will be added in time are signs of life. my body is the soil from which the rest of me springs.

my arm and shoulder and back muscles are growing bigger and stronger from carrying my daughter. teaching my baby that she is loved and supported and protected is having a physical effect. the spiritual/emotional/mental cannot be separated from the physical. i am one being. if i want to be generous of spirit i must be generous of body, because they are one. i find that the kinder and more accepting i am to my own body, the more i am able to accept others.

it is heartbreaking to me to see so many articles, books, adds, etc. about "getting your body back after baby" if your body was something that had been stolen. i don't feel like my body was stolen by motherhood. if anything, i recognized and embraced my body as truly mine for the first time. i want to be healthy and fit, but i don't want my old body back. i want to know when i look at myself that i am strong, and flexible, and kind, and resourceful, and generous. i want to see all the places that i have been, and the love that i have given.

before having a baby my body was firm and small. it was a girl body. but now it is a woman body. occasionally i miss some of my old clothes that i'll never fit into again, or miss looking like the girls in the magazines. but for the first time in my life, i am really happy and proud of the way i look. in pregnancy and motherhood i found an appreciation of and respect for my body that i never had before.

sometimes people ask me what i like most about being a mom. what i like most about being a mom is that i am learning to be myself. it's strange that it took someone else living in my skin for me to become comfortable in it. strange, and beautiful.

Friday, March 4, 2011


these are my new glasses. i haven't worn glasses in years, though not because i didn't need to. i had no idea how clear the computer screen could look. i didn't realize how much i was straining to see things until i stopped having to squint. it's awesome. and i feel very sexy-librarian in them.

cloth diapers FTW

i loooooooooooove cloth diapering! i know how weird it sounds to say that i enjoy diapering, but with cloth diapers i honestly do. changing diapers as a hobby instead of a chore? - i'll take it. the fun of cute cloth diapers is exactly the same as the fun of cute baby clothes, except that i can feel extra good about them because they are so functional and healthy.
i thought it was going to be a huge hassle, and i really only started for financial reasons, but i really like it. i love that even figuring in the cost of fabric and covers, i'm going to be saving $20 per month on diapers. i love that weird chemicals and plastics aren't coming into contact with haven's skin all the time. i love that i'm not dumping those weird chemicals and plastics into landfills to sit for the next 200ish years. i love how cute haven looks with her enormous cloth diapered butt.
it's been trial and error getting started, but i've learned a lot and i'm definitely going to cloth diaper any more kids that i have. i started out using the all-in-one, works-just-like-disposable diapers, because i was intimidated by the old-fashioned ones. but i like the old style diapers better now. there's a lot more flexibility with fit and absorbancy and they are easier to wash and dry. and, i enjoy making my own and using it as a chance to work on my sewing skills.
i suppose if i was a squeemish person i might not like cloth as much, but i don't know....i actually might get less poop on me with cloth because haven almost never manages to blow out cloth diapers the way she would blow out disposables. besides, parenthood is not for those with weak stomachs anyways. maybe it will get way grosser when haven starts eating more solids, but i think the gross laundry will still be less gross than getting pooped on all the time when poo squirts out the top and legs of the disposables.
being on a limited budget means that i can't be nearly as environmentally and health conscious as i'd like. i can almost never afford to buy organic food and household products. but using cloth diapers is a way to live mindfully and protect haven from health risks without breaking the bank. i actually love cloth diapers so much that i'm considering making and using cloth feminine pads, too. we'll see how that goes.

Monday, January 31, 2011

so this is the new year

i didn't post over the hollidays because i didn't have time, and i don't feel like recapping. suffice to say that our visit with family was great.

i've started donating milk to a couple who are adopting a baby next month. it feels really good to be able to help another sweet baby get the best food for him.

only 12 days till tony leaves. my stomach turns just thinking about it. it's going to be so hard to be apart for 8 months. we've never gone more than 2 months without at least a visit.

i've been researching home-made cleaners and am going to start making my own laundry soap and dishwasher soap. once it's warm enough to have the windows open i'm going to make body soap as well. i want to make as much as possible to cut down on the chemicals that come into contact with haven. she's got some pretty serious eczema.

i'm starting to use cloth diapers, and i love them. i only have 5 that i got as gifts, but i'm working on getting a sewing machine so that i can sew my own. even just putting the 5 i have to use i'm saving $15 a month. and haven has never had a poop blow out in a cloth diaper, although she routinely has them in disposables. i can't wait to be able to go all cloth. i should have tried it sooner. tonight is the first night i'm not doing a disposable to sleep in, so i'll see how it goes. hopefully the bed will stay dry. but she had such a bad rash tonight that i just didn't want to do disposables. ---edit--- this blog is taking several days, so the cloth diaper didn't leak. i was impressed.

we did taxes saturday. i loooooove tax refund time. it means finally getting rid of the nasty old couches we have, and getting shiny new ikea living room furniture. it's so much easier to keep things clean when they are nice. i've been depressed about the state of the living room for months, and that's not a great mood for cleaning. i really want to get the whole house cleaned and organized. tony and i purged our closets this week, which was the first small step.

i'm not generally a believer in new year's resolutions, but this year i am making it a goal to become serious about making homemaking my career. that means learning how to maximize my contribution to the family. it's why i'm cloth diapering, making soap, organizing, etc. since my committment to haven means that i can't have an outside job and bring in money, i instead can contribute by saving and maximizing the money that tony brings in. and beyond money, i want my home to be a place of solace and inspiration. i want tony to feel relaxed when he comes home, and i want haven to have a clean and safe place to explore. so for the 8ish months that tony will be gone, i'm goig to be a busy busy will also be a creative outlet to keep my mind off of missing him.

i've been trying to write this post for almost a week, and i'm just going to finish it here.