Wednesday, March 31, 2010
We recently watched the documentary The World According to Monsanto (watch it here, read other reviews from TwilightEarth and Greenpeace). It was originally in French (it was dubbed) and for someone who doesn't read or speak French that is a little distracting because of some of the visual aspects (which I'll explain in a moment).
There is a lot of information in this film. It is packed full of primary source interviews--meaning interviews with people who were there, not just people who heard about it later. There is not a very smooth flow to the film though; it sortof jumps from one thing to the next. The overall message is clear: that Monsanto is and has been doing very shady things with our food production, from bovine growth hormones (rBGH) to roundup-ready seed to suing farmers out of everything they have. Most of the information was not new to me, as I had learned it from other sources (notably The Future of Food), but while FoF focuses on Monsanto's effects on the USA, this film spent more time on the international ramifications, including the way the company is making small independent farmers from Paraguay to India dependent on buying their seed and herbicides and is pushing monoculture (to the destruction of the traditional small family farms). It traced the infiltration of Monsanto's roundup-ready corn hybrid into Mexico's ancient corn strains, and showed photos of the truly disturbing results (if you know anything about how corn is supposed to look, these photos will give you chills).
The downside of this film is that it feels like an amateur movie. The numerous interviews and world traveling indicate a big budget, but the main transition method in the film is a woman (the filmmaker) sitting at her computer and googling various terms such as "monsanto rgbh falsify study" and so on. Yes, googling. In French. So that was a little distracting for me. The rest of the content was great, but the transitions (and there were many) were annoying.
In general, I do recommend the movie because of the content (which does go above and beyond other food documentaries I've seen). Just be warned that it doesn't have as polished a feel as some other documentaries.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
They also cleaned the ring, and now the comparison shows just how dirty my wedding ring has gotten. Hmm, guess I need to get that one cleaned too huh? (Hubby says maybe it's appropriate, that the kids are 'bright and shiny' and that he is 'a bit dirty and dinged up'...) I guess I could take off my rings anytime I wash my hands or do dishes or cook or shower...but I'd rather wear them and have them get dirty than not wear them.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The staff of life
Grains are important, and they should be whole grains at least most of the time. With that said, wheat does not have the corner on the market. I don't care for the taste of regular red wheat myself, so I use some white wheat (still whole wheat, just lighter flavor), and I also use oats, cornmeal, and I've recently begun learning to use quinoa. I hope to continue to diversify the grains I use. (I do use regular white flour too, more on that later.)
The spice of life
Variety!! If we ate the same thing every day I would probably shoot myself out of sheer boredom (that is if my family didn't shoot me first). We enjoy eating foods from other countries, we enjoy trying new recipes and new foods. We have vegetarian meals, we have meat-lite meals, we have meat-heavy meals. We eat a variety of grains, a variety of legumes, and a variety of vegetables. Due to our preference for a variety of flavors in our meals, my herb/spice/condiment collection is fairly extensive, and yes we use everything in it.
Moderation in all things
There is almost no food that is "off limits" in my kitchen (mostly just caffeine and alcohol). If I want brownies, I make brownies, with white flour and white sugar and lots of butter. I am not afraid of sugar or butter or white flour or deep frying. We do not do these things often, but it is normal to want something like that sometimes, and I would rather go ahead and enjoy a treat, rather than making it strictly taboo (because that tends to make cravings worse).
'Naughty' and real is better than fake
I don't fancy the idea of mummifying myself before I've even died, so I try to avoid preservatives in my food. Since most prepared foods have preservatives, if I want something I'd rather make it myself. It's true, brownies aren't good for me, but I would so much rather make my own (with all those 'bad' ingredients) and know that there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Living as a Locavore
I'm not a hardcore locavore, in that yes, I do buy some foods from out of state, but I try to get all my perishables from in-state or at least within a few hundred miles. I grow some vegetables, I support my farmer's market, and our dream is to have a small homestead and raise chickens, sheep, a milk cow, and the occasional beef cow. We also hunt and fish for local wild meat.
Foods that are shipped from halfway across the world--even if they are cheap--are not earth friendly. They are not very yummy either, since they had to be picked long before they were ripe, and then shipped thousands of miles to get to me. I would rather limit the foods in my pantry and know that they are fresh. Fresh produce has more flavor--and more vitamins--than pre-picked/chemically-ripened produce.
I know a lot of people who focus on whether a food is organic, but for me that is not as big an issue as whether it is local. I will wash my fruit anyway, and while I prefer that it not have been sprayed with anything (because that kind of farming isn't sustainable), I look for that 'grown in Alaska' tag first.
Ethics Matter more than Dollars
Animals raised on factory farms are fed diets based on maximum weight gain, not on the best nutrition for the animal. They stand in their own filth all day, and are shot full of antibiotics to keep them from sickening and dying before they reach the slaughterhouse. The meat/milk/eggs from these animals are poor at best. So I willingly pay more to get local meat from smaller farms.
Secondly, for things that have to come internationally (such as spices), I try to look for the 'fair trade' sticker. Fair trade means that the workers involved are making a living wage. Firstly I think that's just the right thing to do, but secondly a decently-paid worker is more likely to do good work, so I think fair trade (as opposed to cut-every-corner-to-save-every-penny free trade) brings better products.
As Michael Pollen says, I 'vote with my dollar' about what I think is important in food. No, it's not as cheap, but it is better for us nutritionally, and my conscience tells me it's the moral thing to do. If I really care about what I am putting into my body, then the price tag shouldn't matter!
If you don't know what something is, or what to use it for, leave a comment, I'll answer. ☺
- Bay leaf
- Barbecue Sauce (Hubby usually makes this)
- Celery Seed
- Chili oil
- Chili powder
- Five spice powder (chinese)
- Garlic powder (I also use fresh garlic often)
- Lemon-herb rub (from costco)
- Liquid Smoke
- Mustard (yellow)
- Mustard (spicy brown)
- Sesame seed oil
- Sesame seeds (toasted)
- Soy sauce
- Stir Fry Sauce
- Teriyaki sauce (I like soy vey brand)
- Vinegar (white)
- Vinegar (apple cider)
- Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins brand, yes it matters!)
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Faithful daughters of God desire children. In the scriptures we read of Eve (see Moses 4:26), Sarah (see Genesis 17:16), Rebekah (see Genesis 24:60), and Mary (see 1 Nephi 11:13–20), who were foreordained to be mothers before children were born to them. Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality, but just as Hannah of the Old Testament prayed fervently for her child (see 1 Samuel 1:11), the value women place on motherhood in this life and the attributes of motherhood they attain here will rise with them in the Resurrection (see D&C 130:18). Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood ~JBBeck [link]
In my perception, there are two kinds of women in the world who are without children: those who do not want to have children, and those who do want to have children but are not able to do so (because of infertility or other life circumstances--such as not being married). To the former I would recommend going back and reading post I of the series. It is the latter women who are on my mind today.
I linked several talks in my first post, but here are some additional ones that were only relevant to this post
- James E Faust "Instruments in the Hands of God"
- Margaret B Nadauld "The Joy of Womanhood"
- Shari L Dew "Are We Not All Mothers"
I begin with a quote from Shari L Dew (a single woman herself):
Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it is doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us. This issue has driven me to my knees, to the scriptures, and to the temple—all of which teach an ennobling doctrine regarding our most crucial role as women. It is a doctrine about which we must be clear if we hope to stand “steadfast and immovable” regarding the issues that swirl around our gender. For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.Women are sometimes referred to as 'the gentle sex' or as nurturers. This is because motherhood--that nurturing nature--is part of how we were created. Motherhood is part of who we are.
When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us. ~SLDew [link]
Many mothers carry and birth biological children. Some do so on their own, others with the help of fertility treatments. Some mothers nurture and raise adopted children. Some mothers are never able to call a child their 'own,' but instead reach out to children, youth, and other mothers around them, teaching, helping, guiding, nurturing, and mothering just as surely as any woman who pushes an infant from her womb.
These 'childless' mothers value and honor motherhood, and support the sanctity of family. Perhaps at some time in their lives they will marry, perhaps the time will come when they will be able to bring children into their own homes, via birth, adoption, or some other arrangement such as fostering. On the other hand, perhaps they never will do these things.
As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation. How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? How will our young men learn to value women of God if we don’t show them the virtue of our virtues?
Every one of us has an overarching obligation to model righteous womanhood because our youth may not see it anywhere else. Every one of us can mother someone—beginning, of course, with the children in our own families but extending far beyond. Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord’s kingdom is magnificent and holy. I repeat: We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality.
As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning... We just can’t let the Lord down. And if the day comes when we are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it. For mother is the word that will define a righteous woman made perfect in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a woman who has qualified for eternal increase in posterity, wisdom, joy, and influence. ~SLDew [link]
To those women who are single, prophets have encouraged us to be marriageable: to take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally, so that if a good man should come along we would be someone worth catching. On the other hand, it is counterproductive to become so hyper-focused on marriage that we cease to live in the present. Live life! Pursue education, pursue a career, pursue your dreams. Do not let those things get in the way of a potential (good) marriage, but do not let the as-yet-unrealized possibility of marriage get in the way of living a good, productive, happy life. A marriage is made of two people, not two half people--if you cannot be whole on your own, you would not have much to bring to a marriage anyway.
Some of you, unfortunately, will never marry in this life. That turns out to be the case sometimes. If that happens, do not spend your life grieving over it. The world still needs your talents. It needs your contribution. The Church needs your faith. It needs your strong, helping hand. Life is never a failure until we call it such. There are so many who need your helping hands, your loving smile, your tender thoughtfulness. I see so many capable, attractive, wonderful women whom romance has passed by. I do not understand it, but I know that in the plan of the Almighty, the eternal plan which we call God’s plan of happiness, there will be opportunity and reward for all who seek them. ~GBHinckley [link]
To you single women who wish to be married, I repeat what I recently said in a meeting for singles in this Tabernacle: “Do not give up hope. And do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it. The chances are that if you forget about it and become anxiously engaged in other activities, the prospects will brighten immeasurably…I think that this advice about marriage can apply equally well to the married woman who longs for children but struggles or is unable to have them. Do not give up hope, do not give up trying, but do give up being obsessed with it. I experienced a small piece of this when I repeatedly miscarried over the first 2 1/2 years of my marriage. I genuinely did not know if I would ever carry a biological child to term. I mourned my 'broken' body. I confess I did obsess to varying degrees. Honestly I was not very healthy (mentally or spiritually) during much of that time. It was when I finally found peace, and chose to go forward as I was, that I finally crept out of my depression. I accepted that my family was not going to grow in the ways or timelines that I had planned. I began pursuing license as a foster parent. I found happiness in my life, and then I was blessed to have a baby. I do not mean to imply that everyone who waits, everyone who hopes, will find their desires fulfilled as soon as they get busy with something else. I do, however, stand by the statement that when you get busy living life, then you'll be happier, regardless of what may come next.
“I believe that for most of us the best medicine for loneliness is work, service in behalf of others. I do not minimize your problems, but I do not hesitate to say that there are many others whose problems are more serious than are yours. Reach out to serve them, to help them, to encourage them. There are so many boys and girls who fail in school for want of a little personal attention and encouragement. There are so many elderly people who live in misery and loneliness and fear for whom a simple conversation would bring a measure of hope and happiness.” ~GBHinckley [link]
For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led. ~SLDew [link]
We want you single sisters to know of our great love for you. You can be powerful instruments in the hands of God to help bring about this great work. You are valued and needed. Other women, even though married, may not be mothers. For those in either of these circumstances, please be assured that the Lord loves you and has not forgotten you. You can do something for another person that no one else ever born can do. You may be able to do something for another woman’s child that she may not be able to do herself. I believe some compensatory blessings will come in this life and in the hereafter to sisters in those circumstances. These blessings and a comforting peace will come to you if you can love God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” You can still be highly successful in whatever you do as instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work. ~JEFaust [link]
We have special admiration for the unsung but unsullied single women among whom are some of the noblest daughters of God. These sisters know that God loves them, individually and distinctly. They make wise career choices even though they cannot now have the most choice career. Though in their second estate they do not have their first desire, they still overcome the world. These sisters who cannot now enrich the institution of their own marriage so often enrich other institutions in society. They do not withhold their blessings simply because some blessings are now withheld from them. Their trust in God is like that of the wives who are childless, but not by choice, but who in the justice of God will receive special blessings one day. ~NAMaxwell [link]
You can recognize women who are grateful to be a daughter of God by their reverence for motherhood, even when that blessing has been withheld from them for a time. In those circumstances, their righteous influence can be a blessing in the lives of children they love. Their exemplary teachings can echo the voice of a faithful home and resonate truth in the hearts of children who need another witness. ~MBNadauld [link]
Friday, March 26, 2010
Or, better still "would you nuke this a minute longer!?"
NUKE? My food?! Something that I'm going to eat?
Think about that for a second!
We don't have a microwave oven anymore.
And we don't want one.
I know a few people who don't have microwave ovens because they have concerns about cancer or the de-naturizing effects of the micro waves on their food. I've read those articles and considered the matter, but it was never enough to convince my husband to go microwave-free.
When we moved to Pelican, we were moving by air, so anything we wanted to take with us had to fit into a very limited space since we had to pay by the box. We decided that it wasn't worth $50 to bring a microwave, and that we'd make do. Almost as soon as we arrived though one of Hubby's co-workers learned that we did not have a microwave, and offered us her old one because she had just upgraded.
So we had a microwave again.
There was very limited counter space in that apartment, and the only place we could fit the microwave happened to be next to the sink. I was very concerned about water getting under it and causing a short so I made efforts to avoid that, and also frequently unplugged and moved the microwave to thoroughly clean/dry the area as well. But you can't stop the inevitable I suppose, because halfway through our second year in Pelican though the microwave fritzed-out. (Yes, that's a technical term!)
One night Hubby put something in the microwave, but then removed it before the time had run out. He pressed the 'cancel' button and re-closed the door, but the microwave turned on. He pressed 'cancel' again but it continued to run. From that time on, no matter what buttons we pushed, if the door was latched then the microwave was on. It would only turn off if we opened the door. After about 5 minutes of observation we concluded that the microwave had some kind of short (or that at any rate it wasn't safe anymore) so we unplugged it and got rid of it.
My word I had so much counter space!!!
We started re-heating lunches in the oven or on the stovetop instead of in the microwave...it took 10 minutes instead of 3. Ten. Minutes. That is just not very long now, is it. How is it that our culture has become so impatient that we are not willing to wait ten minutes for our food? And you know what else? The leftovers tasted better. I'd long ago started reheating anything with chicken or pork in some way besides the microwave, because those meats in the zapper always tasted weird and got too dry. When we started reheating everything with the oven/stove though I realized that everything tasted better. (In searching online for a photo for this post--which I was unable to find and had to make by the way--I came across a bakery in New Mexico that has a notice on their website that they are a microwave-free facility. What a great selling point!!!)
When we returned to civilization this summer, we first spent a couple of months staying with family. They had a microwave, but we found that after 5 months without one we were not inclined to use it, and rarely did so. When we settled in to our new home, we chose to not buy one. So we are now an intentionally microwave-free home. Hubby wanted something for reheating leftovers at work, and opted for a toaster oven rather than a zapper.
One thing that would have been difficult about the change would have been if we had been using a lot of plastic in our kitchen, because of course plastic is not oven safe. But frankly I don't think that plastic is very food-safe, so we had been getting rid of plastic in our kitchen long before getting rid of the microwave, so it was no big deal.
What do we use instead?
We store leftovers in pyrex dishes. The lids are not heat-safe, but the dishes themselves can go in the dishwasher, oven, fridge, freezer (or yes, the microwave). On average, depending on the size of the dish, they cost $2-9 each, but boxed sets as the one shown here (and linked) are more affordable. I have containers ranging from custard cups to full casserole dishes, and use all of them. I pack Hubby's and Wolf's school lunches in portion-size containers, save full meals in the freezer in 6x10s, and so on. I love that I can see through the glass too because that way I always know what I have in my fridge. It's pretty sturdy glass, and while it can break if abused, it will hold up to years of regular use (no need to be paranoid about them!). When Wolf takes them to school (where his only heating option is a microwave) I don't have to worry about the plastic from his dish leaching into his food. Incidentally, pyrex is also made in the USA. Just a note--take a dish straight from the fridge or freezer and put it into a cold oven, then turn on the heat. The glass will heat gradually as the food does, and will not break this way. ☺)
I use glass or ceramic mixing bowls (some pyrex brand, some others), so I can set the whole bowl in the oven to soften butter, speed bread rising, and so on.
We use corelle dishes, which are also oven-safe, so sometimes we reheat food directly on our plates. Yes, this does mean that our plates get hot (oh, wait, don't fancy restaurants bring out meals on heated plates? Why yes, I think they do!) They are classy looking like china, and technically breakable, but still sturdy like the pyrex (I think they may be made by the same company actually). My grandmother gave an extensive set of corelle dishes to my mom because she (grandma) had had them for a couple of decades but very few had broken and she was tired of the pattern and wanted something new.
Sometimes I have to adapt a little, such as when the recipe says to melt chocolate chips in the microwave, I use my double boiler pan (or a saucepan on low heat with lots of stirring and careful watching). Anytime I want to cook with butter I have to plan ahead enough to get it out of the fridge to soften, or at the very least I have to set it in the oven for a few minutes to soften/melt a bit. On the other hand, when making cookies requires forethought, it's a good way to curb impulsive cookie-making, don't you think?!☺
Yes, living without a microwave means that many things take longer, but good things always take time.
So, the short version of living microwave free:
- Plastic-free (or mostly plastic-free) kitchen
- More counter space
- The food tastes better
- The food gets heated more evenly
- The texture of the food is the same as how it was originally made (crisp pizza crusts in the oven, soft pasta on the stovetop, just think about how the original dish was made and reheat in the same way)
- We slow down and think about what we're eating before consuming it
- And, just in case microwaves do cause cancer, well, we're avoiding that too
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It immediately made me think of my mother, because she used to call us "starvin marvin" when we bellyached about dinner not being ready yet.
Then of course I began to think of the other things she used to call us, and thought I would make a post of it.
Helpless Hannah/Helpless Harry--someone whining about how hard something was, or asking someone else to do it, when they were entirely capable of doing it themselves.
Hungry Mungry--(admittedly stolen from Shel Silverstein) someone who ate more than expected, or ate rapidly...often what came after being a Starvin Marvin I suppose!
As I was thinking of this post I think I had more, but now I can't think of them. Perhaps my sister will remember some and comment (please!)
Do you have any others from your households?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I cannot respect an uneducated opinion,
or the one who holds it
There is a lot of heated emotion (and discussion and debate) swirling around right now in regard to recent political happenings in this country. Wild arguments rage on facebook threads and I imagine in many other places as well. I see people that I generally respect posting opinions with which I completely disagree.
Occasionally, very occasionally, politics and morality overlap. In those cases there really is a right and a wrong answer. But the rest of the time--truly the vast majority of the time--there is not a right and a wrong so much as just varying opinions. It makes me sad to see how difficult it is to find a solution that is satisfactory to everyone, and I wish it were simpler, but we are all different people in different situations with different priorities so different opinions are inevitable. I hope that continued efforts at changes will bring more satisfaction to a wider spectrum of the population.
In the meantime, I just have one simple thing to say to everybody out there who is sharing their political opinions: please do your research. If you want to bash on a certain system, make sure you actually know about that system (not just that you've heard a few disgruntled stories). If you want to praise a system, the same applies. Don't be passive. Write letters to your congressmen--whether you love things or hate them, you have a right to tell your representatives so, because you voted them in and you can vote them out again. Once you have done your research, write blog posts or letters to editors. And finally, be open to shifting your views (I frequently find that the world--especially the political world--is not very cut and dried, and that there is good within 'bad' things, and bad within 'good' ones). I have always had a lot of opinions about things, and they have not always all stayed the same--the world is always changing, we are always changing, and it is only logical that our opinions should change with us.
Monday, March 22, 2010
First of all, for those of my readers who are not LDS, I will briefly mention that we do not believe in the teaching of original sin. We believe that each person is held accountable for what they do, but not for anything that anyone else does. So Eve's choice in Eden had consequences for her, but does not bring punishment (or need for redemption) to anyone else. We also believe that her choice was a necessary thing, but I will get to that later.
While in the garden, Eve was named "the mother of all living" and Adam was named "many." So the actual bearing of children is not prerequisite to motherhood or fatherhood--they are innate parts of us, which we may or may not realize (carry out), but it is still part of who we are.
Eve bore many children. I cannot imagine the pain she felt when Cain murdered Abel, but she did not give up. I imagine that watching her eldest son make such horrible choices was disheartening in the least--it's hard for me to watch one of my little boys disobey or tell a lie or hit his brother (I feel like some degree of failure every time, wondering how it is that they still do those things when I'm trying so hard to teach them right). But Eve persevered, and she went on to bare Seth (after the murder) and taught and raised him and he became a righteous prophet.
When Eve says that the serpent beguiled her, we typically understand that to mean that he "deceived" her. However, the word beguile has a broader meaning than that. It can also mean to distract someone, or to engage their interest. We must also keep in mind that our English scriptures were translated from other languages, and that verbs differ from one language to another and that it can be difficult to transfer exact meanings. One woman in class yesterday shared something she had read about the Hebrew verb that was translated to 'beguile,' and that the original verb carries more depth than the translation, including implications of careful thought and an intentional choice. I have always believed that the translators of the Bible did their best, but I've also always believed that men are imperfect and that some errors are inevitable (which is why I'm grateful for personal revelation and modern prophets).
Without question the serpent lied to Eve when he told her that eating the fruit would not bring death, however he also told truth when he said that it would make her wise, understanding good an evil as God does. I don't think Eve was a pushover by any stretch. While in Eden both Adam and Eve were in an innocent, childlike state. They could not have children, and therefore could not fulfill God's command to multiply and replenish the earth. Eve, though childlike in her understanding, realized that their two commandments (to multiply, and to not eat the fruit) were in conflict, and that one must be broken. I believe that, when presented with the fact that eating the fruit would bring knowledge, she realized that knowledge was necessary in order to progress (to move beyond their stasis in the garden), and so she made a choice. She had to disobey one commandment in order to keep the other, so she made a choice between one good thing and another. She sacrificed a good thing in order to have a better one. We all face choices between things that are good and things that are better--I like to think that Eve is a good example to us of being willing to make those choices, even when they are hard, and even when they require some sacrifice.
Finally, some thoughts on the "punishment" of Eve.
Generations of Christians were taught that women suffered in childbirth as punishment for Eve's actions. I can understand how that caught on in a religion that believed that we were as guilty as she, but with the understanding that we are not accountable for anyone else's actions, we also are not punished for them. In other words, I do not believe that bearing children (neither birthing nor raising them) is a punishment, and certainly not a punishment for something that someone else did. I also don't believe that bringing forth children 'in sorrow' specifically means that labor is supposed to be painful. If labor were supposed to be terrible, then it would be that way for women of all cultures, but it doesn't take long to realize that western (Christian) culture views birth quite differently from, say, the Vietnamese woman who squats beside the rice field to deliver her baby, then returns to work; or Sacajawea who delivered her son along the trail while traveling with Lewis & Clark; or dozens of other indigenous cultures where birthing is a rite of passage but not a trial by fire.
To more fully illustrate my point, I've copied over just what it does say in scripture about this.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.
By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground
2 Nephi 2:11, 22-25:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. [No] life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility...
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
The footnotes indicate that Eve's 'multiplication' refers to the growth of pregnancy. So 'greatly multiply' (to my mind) indicates many children. That's not a punishment, that's a fulfillment of the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth.
The footnotes cross-reference 'sorrow' with 'pain' and 'suffering,' not just in reference to Eve, but to Adam as well. Because it applies to both of them, I don't think it is specifically talking about labor, but rather about living life outside the garden (having to till the earth for example), and also about raising children. When Cain murdered Abel, I'm sure that these parents felt sorrow, pain, and suffering. A certain amount of sorrow is par for the course when raising children; that doesn't mean that it's a punishment, it's just a natural part of the process. I think Gods words to them here were more by way of information than condemnation. As Nephi teaches (via the words of his father), without sorrow we could not understand joy, and God wants us to be happy, therefore, He must also allow us pain.
In re-reading these references, I noted again that God says the ground will be cursed "for thy sake." God could have made it easy to till the earth and raise food, He could have made food grow spontaneously, but He knew that there is value in hard work, therefore He gave us the blessing of cursing the ground.
Finally, in regard to the part about being ruled over by her husband: God's world is a world of order. There is a simple patriarchal hierarchy, and while it is never appropriate for a man to dominate or abuse his wife, still it is his role to preside. So in telling Eve to submit to her husband, God was laying out the plan He'd always had for families, not punishing Eve.
In conclusion, as a daughter of Eve, and one who could never have been born without her transgression. I am grateful for Eve and the choice she made.
Friday, March 19, 2010
When I took driver’s Ed these past two months I was told I would have to go on six drives, and I was a little nervous. However, all nervousness faded after my first drive, when I met the driving instructor. She was everything an instructor should be, calm, business-like, and cheerful. She would politely point out when I should start to stop, when I should turn, and about when the wheel should be moving for me to successfully make the light. Everything went great on my first two drives, and I was absolutely confident in myself when the third drive came around and I was told I would have the sub, Derek, because my instructor was going out of town for a wedding. I smiled and said okay, not worrying about it because of my past experience with driving instructors. The day came and I hopped happily into the car with the driving instructor, who, sadly for him, had the misfortune of looking like a certain older brother of mine who is famous for having a need for speed. In his own way Derek was just as polite as my other instructor. He insisted on singing a solo of lady gaga for me the entire way and I was forced to smile and nod, smile and nod. Derek was an absolute gentleman. There was no need for me to drive, thought he, and he gallantly relived me of both wheel and brake. As we drove along, I had one side of the wheel, and he had the other. I controlled the accelerator, but long before we reached the stop light, he politely used my brake, despite the fact my foot was already easing down on it. When I turned a corner, I signaled, and he turned. When he told me to angle park, he explained it, drew a picture of it, and then did it himself. I not only felt like a bad driver, I didn’t feel like a driver at all. Even in the parking lot, going five miles an hour, he insisted on letting me relax while he told me how to, and then demonstrated all the various kinds of parking and passing. I did my best to smile and nod, when I now realize I should have taken this time to take finish my book. It’s really sad I left it at home, but when I left I had no idea I would have the opportunity to read! At one point he asked me how I would back from the parking place I was in, to one on the far side and far end of the lot. I told him I would put the car in reverse, pull out of this spot, back along until I reached the other, and then back into it. He told me he had a serious problem with me backing for such a long time. “What I would do,” he told me, “would be to back out of this, pull forward to the next one, and then back into that.” I was confused and asked him if it was just me, or if he had really said “Back from this spot to that one.” He told me that is exactly what he said, but that there was no need to back the whole way! Needless to say (unless you are one of the rare breed of Derek-understanders) I was confused. It ended up okay though, because he did it for me. After that drive my confidence was in need of patching up, but it was partially repaired when at my next class, the other students who had had the pleasure of being chauffeured by Derek, said he did the same thing to them.
On my next drive I was once again with my normal instructor. After getting into the lesson car and adjusting the seat, she asked if I had practiced parallel parking. “Well,” I said, “Derek did.”
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Hubby and I met on a riverboat on the Mississippi River. I had my books and was seeking a Twainesque experience, Hubby had lost all his money at the tables...He saw my book and we started chatting about it and then about other things... I thought he was funny and I bought him lunch.
Who knew lunch would lead to this?!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
It is not because I like meat and am just unwilling to give it up. That reason might apply for my Hubby, but not for me. I don't like beef much. I rarely eat pig products (even though I like pork) because they give me gas. I do like chicken, but I don't care for turkey or goose. Lamb is pretty strong and I'm not fond of it either. Ironically, given that I live on the coast of Alaska, I really don't like fish and I won't touch any other seafood.
We do not eat as much meat as the SAD ("Standard American Diet"). Rather than a chicken breast per person, I use 1 or 2 breasts (or thighs) cut up and mixed in with the pasta or rice or whatever. I cut steaks in half, and even roasts--I cut it in half before bringing it to the table, and one half goes straight into the fridge to be cut up for use in other meals such as stew or stroganoff. Sure, sometimes we have burgers or ribs or some other meat-centric meal, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I believe that meat is part of a healthy diet, but not the basis of it.
But yes we do eat meat, and will continue to do so.
From a geographic and environmental standpoint, we live in a cold climate with a short growing season. Fresh produce is not as readily available as in warmer places. The higher fat content of meats, including the omega 3s of fish, help support our systems through long cold winters with little sunlight. If we wanted to be vegetarians we would have to buy food that was almost all shipped great distances, and that is not sustainable (nor is it economical, nor is it as healthy as eating fresh local foods).
From a genetic standpoint, our ancesters were all northern european (mostly scandinavian), meaning that they adapted to live in a climate similar to the one we have here in Alaska. If their genetic makeup adapted to that regional diet (which included meat), then it seems that our genetic makeup would also thrive on that same diet.
From a physiological standpoint, our bodies are not constructed the same as vegetarian mammals--we have much shorter digestive tracts for one thing. They are not as short as the average carnivore either though, because we are omnivores. Yes, most of our teeth (the 'choppers' in front and the molars in back) are plant-eater teeth. However, we also have those four corner cainines--meat-eating teeth. Considering the ratio of meat teeth to plant teeth, I certainly believe that meat should be a small part of our diet...but I think the simple fact that we have meat teeth is a clear indication that meat does still have a place in the human diet.
From a religious standpoint, we have The Word of Wisdom, the dietary policy which makes us teetotalers and non-coffee drinkers, but also includes a long list of "dos" with all of the "do nots." It talks about eating foods in season, and using all foods with gratitude and thanksgiving. It also says that it is appropriate to use meat sparingly, but especially to use it in times of winter, or cold, or famine. Considering that I live in a cold place with a long winter, there is the final reason why I am not--and am not considering becoming--vegetarian.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Women are not men, nor should we try to be, or want to be. We are called ‘the fair sex’ and ‘the gentle sex’ and so let us live up to those titles. Modest femininity is far more attractive than flaunted sexuality. Gentleness and patience are Godlike virtues. Women have great influence on their husbands, and mothers have great influence on their children. Truly, it can be said that behind every great man is a great woman—and it is ok for us to stand behind our men. Our calling is to keep the home and to make it a haven from the world. Our calling is to raise our children and teach them to live moral lives. Our calling is to support and sustain our husband in his roles as provider, protector, and presiding head in the family.
I can hear the comments now “what about being an individual?” “doesn’t a woman lose her own identity when she becomes a wife or mother?” To this I respond that wifehood and motherhood define womanhood. A woman (or a man) is not able to reach her (his) full potential alone. She may be great, but she will not reach the extent of the divine possibilities of womanhood without incorporating these integral aspects of it. I appreciate that some women genuinely do not have the opportunity to marry or to raise children in this life, but our loving God has promised that each worthy person will have an opportunity to fulfill these roles in the next life if they have not done so here. I know that doesn’t make it feel much easier right now, nor is it permission to stop caring about or seeking these things in the present, but it is some comfort to know that good intentions ARE worth something, and that sooner or later good things are in store for all those who truly seek them.
I invite you to check out my series on motherhood:
Part 1-Why Motherhood Can’t Wait
Part 2-Mother at Home
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Marriages and families are pillars of strength in society. They are the center points from which we all face the world, from whence we determine our lives’ directions, and within which we form our values. Any society must stand on the shoulders of those within it, and those within it will not have the strength to hold up very much unless they are built together in the framework of families. Without families, marriages, and homes, we have nothing, and our society cannot help but crumble.
We live in a culture (at least in the USA) which promotes independence and selfishness, but it is only with interdependence and selflessness that we can truly be strong. United we stand, divided we fall. If we desire a sustainable society, it is imperative that we be dedicated to supporting and promoting strong marriages, families, and homes.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I’m sure that many people think of ‘spiritual strength’ as referring to testimony—the surety of Christ as Savior, a validation of faith, and so on. This is true, of course, but it is only a small part of the spiritual strength that we can receive from the Holy Ghost.
Since all things were created spiritually before they were created temporally, therefore all things are spiritual. So when I am at a loss over how to teach my child something, and suddenly I remember something I read in a book last year—that is strengthening for me, because it helps me fulfill my role as a mother. Sometimes I have a ‘lightbulb moment’ when I figure out how to do something. Yes I am intelligent, but I’m not so vain as to think that all of those ideas are my own—I know that often the Holy Ghost is helping me—and since two heads are better than one, my strength is constantly increased by His presence in my life. When I mourned the loss of my third miscarried baby, and heard in my mind the message “Be Still and Know that I am God,” I was still, and it brought me peace, and strength to get through a difficult time.
Last week our Relief Society lesson in church was going to be about hearing the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The teacher called me several days ahead of time and asked me to be one of several women to briefly share a personal experience where I was prompted about something. I spent three days trying to think of a good experience to share—in spite of being frequently aware of the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life, it seems that it is so continuous that recalling a single experience was difficult. I pondered over the many ways that the Spirit can prompt us as I went about my daily life, but was still feeling unsure about what experience to relate for the lesson.
On Saturday night I was snuggling my kids into bed and, because it was on my mind, I said “who knows who the Holy Ghost is?”
Wolf said “I do”
Bear said “I do!”
“What is it?” I asked Bear (curious to know what he knew).
“I don’t know”
“Why don’t you ask Wolf to tell you”
So he did. And Wolf started explaining everything he could think of about the Holy Ghost--which, I realized, amounted mostly to His role as a comforter. Although I’m fairly certain that we had taught him more than that, it was the only part he remembered (a good reminder to us parents that we need to teach our children these important things over and over!). So I told my boys about the other things the Holy Ghost can do. Wolf was particularly impressed when I explained that if he studied hard, and worked to learn all the things he was supposed to, then if he prayed before a test the Holy Ghost could help him remember the things he had studied.
So that was my story of a prompting—I felt inclined to talk to my kids about the Holy Ghost, and was able to help them learn something which (in spite of prior discussions) they hadn’t really realized before.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
And our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.
We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity…
We know who we are, where we came from, and where we are going (or at least where we can go!). Genuine understanding of our divine heritage gives us the power to stand firm in who we are, in spite of the buffetings of the world. Knowledge of the divine heritage of our fellow sisters (and brothers) gives us the desire to reach out and serve them.
Honestly, I’m not really sure what else to say about this. The words are so simple and yet so powerful, that anything I can say would only diminish the poignancy.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
From its inception, the Relief Society was an organization for uplifting and supporting each other, both physically and spiritually. In our Sunday meetings we study and discuss gospel topics. We have other meetings for personal enrichment, learning, developing skills, and serving others. We take meals to new mothers or ill church members. We make quilts and medical kits and school kits to ship around the world. Here in my ward we recently collected items for a local women’s shelter. Our motto is “Charity Never Faileth” and our goal is to be the hands of heaven on earth.
The following statement was released a few years ago by the general (churchwide) Relief Society presidency, and I keep it hanging on my wall because it inspires me every time I read it. (click the links to see the posts I have written about the individual topics)
Over the rest of the month I’ll be posting about these topics. I hope you will join me in discussing these things, and if you are LDS, consider taking this opportunity to write about the Relief Society on your own blog.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
- I don't eat my placenta--if I hemmorhage I'll take pitocin or something, thank-you-very-much--there is a time and a place for interventions!
- I do cut the umbillical cord (rather than carrying the placenta around in a bowl with the baby until the cord falls off naturally). (Seriously, does anybody else think that lotus birth is pretty strange?!)
- I think planned Unassisted Childbirth is questionable and in some cases a really bad idea, for the same reason that they don't let surgeons operate on family members (the family is 'too close' to the situation and if something should go wrong it's better to have someone who is not as emotionally involved).
- I ♥ root beer.
- I also enjoy white flour, white sugar, and chocolate.
- I use normal cheap shampoo and conditioner (until I learn to make my own at least).
- I take sudafed if I'm that stuffed up. It's worth being able to sleep.
- I give my kids (of all ages) ibuprofin or acetamenafen if they have a fever that's keeping them awake. Sure, fevers are part of the immune system's natural fighting process, but so is sleep, and I'd like my sleep too, so at night I have no qualms about drugging them.
- I wean my kids when I want to, not necessarily when they want to. Sure, I believe in nursing for two-ish years, but Bear wasn't wanting to wean and I insisted anyway.
- It didn't work out with Bear, but I have every intention of getting Eagle into his own bed (out of mine) around a year old.
- Eagle loves his binkie.
- I let my kids watch movies and play video games. Almost every day.
- I don't like dredlocks. I know they're supposed to be the most natural thing you can do with your hair, but I really really don't like them and would never do them. Long hair, yes; but I'll take the time to comb it every day thanks.
- I like wool, but if I'm knitting sweaters it's gonna be (chemically-treated) washable wool. No sense spending that many hours making something I can't put in the washing machine!!!
- I love, I mean REALLY love milkshakes. I like the eggnog and the blackberry and the chocolate oreo...and I really really like the uber-fake strawberry ones.
- I also like french fries. With a LOT of salt.
Monday, March 1, 2010
So, I labeled myself as a crunchy mama, then Jenn over at BabyMakinMachine asked me what it meant, so I tried to explain, and it led to her writing this post in which she pondered crunchiness and whether it was for her. That post then led to nearly 50 comments (most of them lengthy and some of them quite heated)... and I concluded that I was gonna just lay it all out.
I think Jenn put it quite fairly when she suggested that perhaps there's a middle level, somewhere between 'crunchy' and 'soggy' (or mainstream) which might be called 'chewy.' I find myself chewy in a number of things, because I'm not nearly so far off the beaten path as many of my uber-crunchy friends. On the other hand, I'm pretty far off the beaten path!
My reasons for being crunchy (or chewy) come from one main thing, and that is that I believe in questioning the status quo, and doing my own research about things, so that I can make my own decisions about what is best for me and my family. Again and again I discover that mainstream practices were born of the greedy side of capitalism (not that capitalism is evil in and of itself, but the associated greediness certainly is...) and that the things that really seem best are falling into this category called "crunchy." Here are my few basic tenets:
- I believe in not messing with the way God made things.
- I believe that Godmade is better than manmade, and should be utilized if available.
- I believe in avoiding unnecessary interventions/chemicals
- I believe in respecting people and the Earth.
- I believe in logic
- I believe in making things cheap, easy, and comfortable unless there's a good reason not to (you got it folks, I'm lazy!).
I believe in not messing with the way God made things
- My body gives me signs every month of what is going on with my fertility, so I observe them and take notes rather than trying to control or change them.
- My body makes milk for my baby, therefore, I should give it to the baby.
- God made baby boys with foreskins. End of discussion.
- If you're gonna drink cow milk (which is actually made for baby cows you know), then at least drink it whole, or even raw. Its vitamins are fat-soluable, so if you want the nutritive benefits of it, you'd better be getting the fat with it. Oh, and the low/no-fat versions have petroleum in them, just FYI.
- God made some people women, and some people men, and then He gave them each bodies built to fulfill certain roles, therefore I birth and nurture children and keep our home, while my husband provides for and protects our family.
I believe that Godmade is better than manmade
- So infant formula is only for emergencies, not for the average baby.
- Food out of the dirt or off a tree = good, food out of a box = not so good.
- If there's an herb that fits the bill, then I don't want some chemically formulated pill. Ideally I'd like nothing at all.
- I think HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is bad news...I'm trying to restrict it in our diet, though I doubt we'll manage to remove it entirely.
- Partially hydrogenated anything = evil
- I believe in butter. Margarine is the devil (also it tastes like BLECH).
- I've recently found that I vastly prefer natural fibers (cotton, wool, hemp, bamboo) over almost all of the synthetics. Especially now that Eagle seems to break out when he wears synthetics.
- I don't typically wear makeup--I wear the face God gave me.
- The vast majority of women's bodies can give birth without intervention, so they should be allowed to do so.
- If my child is exploring, I don't get in the way unless injury is imminent.
- If (older) kids disagree, I try to help them work it out, rather than stepping in and taking over.
- I think that antibiotics are making superbugs, so I don't use antibacterial soaps or products in my home, and would not seek (or take) a prescription for an antibiotic unless there were a good reason for it (such as post-surgery).
- I don't wear makeup (most of it is toxic to some degree)
- I don't use scented soaps/lotions/shampoos/detergents.
- I try to boycott companies that treat their employees badly (such as Walmart)
- My children do not call adults by their first names. If an adult is more than a few years older than myself *I* usually do not call them by their first name.
- I think it's offensive to do cosmetic surgery on an infant boy's private parts without his permission.
- I follow my infant's schedule, rather than demanding that he follow mine.
- I don't let a small infant cry. I don't let an older child cry for long.
- I try to be gentle and respectful in my parenting.
- I try to take care of myself by eating (relatively) well and dressing modestly
- If I can tell that my infant needs to poop, I often remove his diaper and hold him over the toilet. There's no reason to force him to sit in his own waste for even a moment if I can help it.
- I try to support local farmers, and sustainable farming practices
- I recycle
- I buy second-hand if I can
- I re-use or re-purpose things because I don't throwing away good fabric/wood/etc
- I try to be minimalist
- I try to stock my kitchen (and my kids' toyboxes) with things that will last--things made from wood, metal, or glass.
- I use recycled packaging when I mail things
- I use cloth diapers, wipes, rags, etc. (I do use cloth pads, but this was a very secondary reason for it--the primary reason is below)
I believe in logic
- I make milk + baby is hungry = give the kid a boob!
- I need sleep + baby needs sleep + baby needs to eat during the night = let's all sleep in the same place
- Babies like to be held + mommy needs to get stuff done = babywearing
- Children learn by example, therefore I should be gentle with them if I want them to learn to be gentle with me or anyone else.
- I see the sense in some vaccines (though not all) but I also see the dangers...so the ones we get we get on a spread-out schedule.
- I use cloth pads and cloth diapers because fabric is more comfortable than plastic on tender parts.
- babywearing is cheaper and easier than strollers and carriers (and doesn't require smooth sidewalks, of which we have precious few here!)
- I re-use or re-purpose things because I don't want to spend the money to buy new ones.
- I don't wear makeup--I've got the face I've got and if you don't like it then don't look, I'm not going to paint it for anybody.
Come back tomorrow and hear about my "soggy side"