28 August 2015

Weekend linkage

"The Coddling of the American Mind: How Trigger Warnings are Harming Mental Health."
The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable. And . . . this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.
"A Living Sacrifice: The Beauty of a Body Broken for Others." 100% excellent. The ideas expressed here are helping me come to terms with the changes my daughter have wrought on my own body-- not to wish time backwards-- and to see motherhood's marks as good (because of what they signify), even if they are not objectively beautiful.
We want, it seems, to accumulate life experiences without aging, without damage, without evidence. We want our bodies to operate invisibly, to be emblems of near perfection rather than vessels of service. The fact remains, however, that without tremendous intervention, bodies absorb stress and trauma . . . Our created bodies are meant to serve spiritual purposes, and those purposes often initiate or exacerbate physical deterioration.
Three IG accounts that are objectively beautiful, from Norwegian landscapes to gorgeously fresh food to perfect braided buns: Marte Marie Forsberg, Honestly Nourished, and Twist Me Pretty.

Have you ever heard of the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest? A competition to write the worst ever opening sentence for a novel. It's dreadful. By which I mean, you must read all the entries NOW.

This made me laugh.

This too.

And this one very much.

Ooh, this dress. Come to mama.


What We Have Been Eating:

Honey mustard baked chicken thighs
Coconut chicken curry over zoodles
Peach crisp!
Thai chicken salad with the most delicious peanut butter dressing
Quiche: roasted tomatoes, lots of cheddar, green onions, all the good things
Mashed potato pancakes (for dinner)
Plantain pancakes (for breakfast, and I actually used 2 plantains for 1 egg, making them really hearty... we liked 'em with some butter)
Random pesto sauces, with cilantro and Thai basil and whatever is green in the garden

24 August 2015

and then she said

makeshift porch pool
"I making a zooming car. Zoe DON'T gonna knock it over."
-surrounded by Duplos and keeping a suspicious eye on her sidekick

"Look, I draw a circle for you! Are you very happy?"
-displaying a recent study in crayon

"Daddy am a boy, you a mommy girl, Zoe is a little sissy girl."
-figuring out the basics of life

"Bye-bye! I going to the outer space!"
-from inside her cardboard box rocketship

"I want rice, and hummus, and chicken, and cheese. And green peppers. And red peppers. Oh my goodness . . . dat's a lot of food!"
-planning what we should eat for dinner

Me: Tonight we're going to see friends, and they have a puppy.
Ellie: Oh! Can I touch him?
Me: Sure.
Ellie: Can I chase him?
Me: I guess so.
Ellie: Can I eat him?
Me: . . .

Me: Time for bed.
Ellie: Not today!

Jared: Time for bed.
Ellie: You go to bed! Mommy go to bed! Zoe go to bed!

Jared: Ellie, can you help me clean up these toys?
Ellie: Hmm . . . no thank you.

20 August 2015

Family snippets

weeee can't stop me now
Zoe decided it was time to crawl. So she did. Merrily we roll along, at not-even-seven-months old, forsooth.

Ellie hasn't taken kindly to her sister's mobility, because now Zoe is in Ellie's face all the time, grabbing her toys and pulling her shirt and generally making a nuisance of herself. Since Ellie still believes that all the toys belong to her, she's greatly offended when Zoe crawls over to the basket and helps herself to matchbox cars without Her Royal Highness's permission. ("No Zoe! It's mine! You no touch it!")

But they are often sweet together. Ellie will plop a bowl on Zoe's head, announce "you have a hat!" and they'll both giggle. They play peek-a-boo. Ellie asks for Zoe to ride along on her tricycle, so I put Zoe on the back and hold her there as Ellie speeds around the dining room. When we go to the park I put them both in swings and push them by turns: Ellie chatters the entire time, demanding to go "faster and faster," while Zoe just stares and smiles.

Zoe grew a couple of teeth this month, which was an ordeal for everyone. She's still teething, in fact . . . to judge from her utter abandonment of routine, bellows of panic every time I leave her line of sight, and refusal to nap in the crib. (If you try to make her, she'll just pull herself up, drape her arms over the top of the crib side, and wail like a heartbroken little jailbird. And she won't give up, no matter how long you leave her alone. Thank you God for the Ergo.)

Anyway, getting chompers means that we have started to give her pieces of our food, mostly fruit. Baby-led weaning worked very well with Ellie, and Zoe is just as excited as her sister was to find hunks of peach, banana, and broccoli on her tray. It's all incredibly messy but it keeps her entertained, and I will sacrifice much for the sake of Infant Entertainment.

The weather has been quite dry lately, and since I'm terrible at remembering to water the garden, some of our plants have shriveled. The Roma tomatoes, green beans, cilantro, carrots, and lettuce are growing happily nonetheless. I want to try canning tomato sauce, if I can collect at least 20 pounds of Romas at a time (seems pretty likely, the way they're putting out). The basil looks pathetic so I'll do cilantro pesto instead. Hopefully I'll get to can some peaches by the end of the month.

What We've Been Eating:

Jamie Oliver's crispy and sticky roast chicken
Shredded pork shoulder
Chicken and vegetables stir-fried with lime juice and soy sauce (plus cauliflower rice)
Chips with fresh salsa from the garden (which is also great on fried eggs)
Chicken apple curry
Italian sausage with white beans and spinach
Oven-baked fries, both russet potatoes and sweet potatoes . . . mmmm
These delicious tacos de pollo (eaten as a fajita salad for the paleo-ish among us, in tortillas for the normal folk)
Baked chicken! We have this A LOT because it is delicious and cheap and flexible: just your basic bone-in thighs roasted with a bit of seasoning and olive oil, 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. But here is the magic part. If you cover them with foil and let them rest for at least half an hour in the oven after turning the heat off-- could be even longer-- the meat gets extremely tender while the skin stays crisp, just as it oughta be.

06 August 2015

putting on my big girl pants

Today is my twenty-eighth birthday. I don't know if that merits excitement anywhere else in the world. It doesn't around here. But even on pedestrian birthdays I like to take a little bit of time to muse on has what happened in the last year: what life brought to me, what I did and became.

This past year was the first that I didn't teach English, after eight years of doing it. I sorely missed teaching last fall and early winter, before Zoe was born. Once she came, I didn't have time to miss it anymore. :) My mind is still hungry for academics, though, so I'm continuing my education mom-style-- which is to say, in an eclectic and haphazard fashion. I take advantage of lots of podcasts and blogs, and am challenging myself to read more non-fiction, in addition to the fiction I more easily gravitate towards. A couple non-fic volumes I have especially liked are Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, 1492: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, and Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.

I have a thing for long titles, perhaps?

I've been part of a book club with more than a dozen other women for several years now. That is always a basket of fun, and our reading picks have ranged from Very Serious to Quite Silly. This summer I also started a monthly club for high school girls, to read and discuss some great lit (classic and otherwise). In the fall that will have to come to a close, since they are all busy with schoolwork. However, I will be teaching my younger sister British Victorian literature, and that should be a nice mental workout!

Young Mother and Two Children, Mary Cassatt

I was stretched in my mothering this year. Ellie turned into a little girl (currently she insists that she is not a girl, she is "a guy" like daddy . . . or a fish or a tiger or a racecar, usually all in one day). She has always been my buddy, and still is. But she does her own stuff now. She invents narratives to act out and songs to sing. She is starting to piece together her own interpretation of the world.

That all means more brain-work for me. I still have to do plenty of physical tasks for her, like pouring her juice and buttoning her dress, but I also need to explain things. Why we need to buckle up in the car, and why we don't pull basil plants out of the garden, and why thunder isn't scary after all, and why there are consequences for disobeying, and why Jesus loves her so much.

Meanwhile, as one mini-me grew up, I got a new one. I'm much better at being a mommy this time around. Poor Ellie has to take the test run on everything; Zoe basks in the benefits of my experience. She has been a happy, snuggly bearcub from day one. Sleep? Eh, it's acceptable. Her bouncing good health and outrageously cute toes make up for her not-so-consistent napping.

Babies always change you. Having this baby changed my vision of God. During the ultra-vulnerable weeks after Zoe's birth, when I was tired, lonely, second-guessing myself, and apt to break down in tears at any moment, God baptized me in a new blazing awareness of His unconditional love. That is something I have always struggled to accept. Not only that I'm redeemed, but that God delighted to redeem me. I am not just one justified saint in a faceless crowd, but a beloved little child, with an affectionate Father who's interested in me specifically.

That sunrise moment (which, talk about breaking down in tears) has firmed the ground beneath my feet. I tend to walk in fear wherever something's unknown. Life currently holds a lot of unknowns, and I suppose it always will. But I keep coming back to the fact that God loves me so decidedly, so generously. And then I sleep in peace.

The other truth I realized this year-- and it has given me the courage to go my own way-- is that, hey, I'm an adult now. I have my own house, and marriage, and children. Other people are free to express opinions and I often benefit from that, but just as often I shrug and make a different decision.

I will potty train my toddler when I feel like it. I will let the baby sleep in our bed. I will prioritize husband time over girl time. I will eat ice cream, and I will not eat bread. I will be quiet in large groups instead of wearing myself out trying to be "sociable." I will buy the clothes I actually like instead of the ones fawned over by every fashion blogger (who wears Ace & Jig anyway? sad bohemian schoolmarms?).

In other situations, awareness of adulthood provides the kick I need to get moving. I must admit that I tend not to try something if it a) looks difficult or unpleasant and b) I don't really have to. But lately I've been telling myself that it's time to put on my big girl pants and Address the Situation [call the insurance company, take out the trash, learn how to can tomatoes]. Jared says I'm capable of far more than I ever give myself credit for, and when I actually try, instead of assuming "this is impossible" from the start, I find out he's right.

It should be fun to find out what I'm capable of this year.