All Proceeds Go To the Front Royal Pregnancy Center

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Club: Beyond The Birds And The Bees

     So, for our second Book Club review, I have Beyond The Birds And The Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids by Greg and Lisa Popcak. I found it to be eye opening and a bit healing for me, due to my issues in regards to my own femininity, which will be the subject of my next post, if not more. The most striking thing for me is the idea that sexuality is more than one's sexual orientation, who one is sexually attracted to; that it involves the whole being of a person as a representation of who they are at the core and informs their interactions with the world around them. The idea that sexuality has more to do with femininity and masculinity than what one does with one's genitals is revolutionary to me. The idea that a person who follows all of the prescribed rules regarding chastity and modesty yet is ashamed of, say, their femininity actually has an unhealthy sexuality is mind boggling to me. Turns out I've been doing it very wrong. 
     Anyway, for someone who doesn't remember any sort of sex talk, and has been ashamed of herself and her body for so long, the advice was much welcome and needed. Giving examples of how parents can speak of the body and sex in respectful, matter of fact ways is extremely helpful. Showing how chastity and modesty are positives and not negative mandates is brilliant. But it really all boils down to teaching parents how to help their children grow up as well integrated people, people who know their worth and the worth of others, and are willing and able to do what it takes to preserve their dignity and that of other. 
     I dunno. I guess that wasn't really much of a book review. But I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether they have children or not. At the very least, it gives a different perspective than what is commonly held and heard today, even by those in the Church. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Compulsory Gift Giving

     The Christmas season. The most wonderful and magical time of the year. Unless you are contemplating not doing Santa, or shooting for a minimalist Christmas gift-wise, or not actually doing presents on the 25th at all. Then you are vilified, because children need magic and imagination and special things in their lives, you horrible old Scrooge.
     Valentine's Day. The day where if you don't go out of your way to do something uber-duber romantic, you are thought of as an unfeeling, cold, and insensitive person.
     Easter. A time where we welcome the long awaited spring, with bunnies, chicks, flowers, and chocolate. Unless you don't want the children to inadvertently focus on Easter baskets and their contents instead of Jesus rising from the dead. Then you're a horrible magic killer, too.
     Ah, Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day. If you don't give your parents a call, send a card, order flowers, then you are an ungrateful, insensitive child. Don't you know what they went through, all they gave up in order to make sure you made it to adulthood alive?
     Finally, birthdays. The idea of not having a large party, let alone not actually celebrating much at all, is faint-worthy to most people. Looking for a good way to ruin your child's life? This might be it. 

     As the tone of the previous paragraphs might imply, I am not a big fan of what I call compulsory gift giving. Each of the cases above are examples of times where society expects, if not demands, the giving of things to and doing of things for people, regardless of whether or not such actions correspond to your personal beliefs and circumstances. Even if you are inclined to not follow the crowd, more likely than not you will do so out of fear of being publicly shamed for all eternity. Well, not me, not anymore. 
     I've been thinking on it for a while now, and I've decided, at least where I giving/doing/acknowledging me is concerned, I would rather you didn't. Receiving presents on Christmas or my birthday or Mothers' Day means very little to me, because they are perceived as obligatory. I would much rather gifts and acknowledgement be given whenever, out of genuine desire to show love and appreciation, just because. Why should "special" things be reserved only to certain socially mandated occasions? If  you see something you think someone would like, don't save it for a "special occasion" like birthday or Christmas - let them know you love and were thinking about them as soon as possible. I'm willing to bet they'd appreciate more. 
     Perhaps this is just me. Of the five love languages, gift giving is my weakest. I don't do it well. Add to that the expectation of giving and receiving gifts around certain times of the year, and it's all over. To be honest, it didn't really bother me too much, until I read a blog last Advent season, which said things which really bothered me. I can't find it now, and yes I've tried googling it, so I'll do my best to summarize what I remember. It was in response to the "We aren't 'celebrating' Christmas" viewpoint, and the writer was of the opinion that it is a horrible thing to not celebrate Christmas with the whole shebang, because children need it, etc., and there was a family at her church that had recently lost the mother, and what she wouldn't give to be able to give those little kids a bit of the magic of Christmas that they were used to, so how dare you deprive your kids of it willingly. Right, so that isn't verbatim, but it is pretty much the gist. What irked me was the tone and underlying idea that Christmas is the only time that could be considered magical, without any consideration to what a family might do the rest of the year. The thinking that if families choose not to celebrate whatever holiday according to society's standards, that those families don't celebrate anything nor do anything special at all, ever. 
     It struck deep, most likely because I don't like to celebrate big or in a manner which everyone else would consider celebrating at all. I wasn't going to have a party for Jose last year at all, maybe not even cake. I don't want to do presents on Christmas, and would prefer to focus on Jesus being born as much as possible.  Sunday was Mothers' Day, my third, and I really didn't want to be acknowledged at all; none of this "It's your day" junk. But my not celebrating those days in no way implies that I don't ever do special things for the people I love. Far from it! I do random special things all year round, and more often than not I get the question "Why? Today isn't special."
     And it bothers me. The idea that doing special things for people should only be reserved to special occasions has been so ingrained in us bothers me. Because you know what? You are special; you are special to me, all of the time. Every day is a special day because you are special to me. And you shouldn't have to wait until a socially acceptable time to be shown that, nor should such seasons be the sole measure of the affection our loved ones have for us, or any measure of that at all for that matter. We deserve better than compulsory affection. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Best Cookies EVER

     Yes, so that title there might be a bit of a hyperbole, but I recently discovered some pretty amazing cookies that I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO SHARE. Now, before you all get too overly excited, I do have to warn you:  They are not traditional cookies. You might be hesitant, or even a bit repulsed perhaps, when you read the ingredients, but I promise you, these are revolutionary cookies. Revolutionary

     So for a brief bit, I was going gluten free, and that usually means no fun treats like cookies, etc., because traditional flour is just loaded gluten and is the easiest way to produce baked goods. But I wasn't going to let that stop me from satisfying my sweet tooth, which isn't actually very sweet, but that's sort of beside the point. Anyway, Pinterest is a wonderful source for all sorts of things, gluten free recipes among them. I had decided that I wasn't going to put the money or effort into things which require multiple types of flours, or generic gluten free flour, so most of the recipes I pinned called for ingredients which one does not normally associate with baked goods. Such as chick peas, black beans, or, um, sweet potatoes. While I'm not continuing with the gluten free thing (not sure I noticed a difference), I am really kind of smitten with the idea of cookies that are actually healthy and good for you. Okay, so the gluten free ones that basically consist of only a nut butter and sugar might not be all that great for you, but these sweet potato ones are.

Yes, those are my slippers. 
Original recipe found HERE.

     The basic gist of the recipe is mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, almond butter, and cinnamon. Yup, that's it. You can stop making that face now. Mix it all together, plop on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, bake @ 350* for roughly 15 minutes and cool on a rack. Boom. Healthy cookies.

     I've discovered that I'm not really a follow the recipe exactly kind of person, so I ended up modifying the recipe a little. I used leftover sweet potatoes that had coconut oil and a little cinnamon mixed in; opted for peanut butter instead of almond, roughly measured; and added in dark chocolate chips, because I like them. I highly recommend using the parchment paper - even with spraying my sheets the cookies stuck a bit. The original recipe recommends flipping the cookies between 10-12 minutes, but I think I'm going to skip that next time. 

     Taste? Great! I didn't notice the sweet potato at all, thanks to the peanut butter. Of course, the chocolate helped a little too. Consistency was like that of a very moist cookie, and I opted to store them in the fridge, which helps blend the flavors better, I think. And the best part? No guilt about eating ten at a time! Because it is basically like eating a serving or two of sweet potatoes, only yummier! Not that I've been one to fret about eating as many cookies as I wanted, but it is nice to know that these are actually a healthy choice when I want a treat. Check out what The Paleo Mama has to say about the awesomeness of sweet potatoes in her post about her version of sweet potato cookies (also on my  list of cookies to try):  
  • Have massive amounts of beta-carotene, an important antioxidant
  • Contain twice the amount of fiber as white potatoes
  • Have high levels of B6 and Potassium
  • A potent source of manganese (helps stabilize blood glucose levels)
  • Are rich in vitamin C and E
  • Contain iron, magnesium, and vitamin D
Yeah. Basically guilt free cookies. The best thing ever.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Stress Eating

     She sat, looking at the cinnamon roll on her plate. It was a good one, gooey with cinnamon, topped with a cream cheese frosting. Well, not really a frosting - it wasn't thick enough for that - but neither was it the thin consistency one typically pictures when thinking of a glaze. She shrugged her shoulders; ultimately, it didn't matter. This was her favorite kind, and it little mattered what the topping was called. 

     It had been a long day, she was tired and just needed a break from it all. She picked up the roll and began to dissect it. Some people like to eat them from the edge on in, but not she. No, she preferred to find the edge of the roll and unroll it, eating it one piece at a time, savoring the buttery blend of cinnamon and sugar that comprised the filling, plentiful on every bite that way. As she popped the first piece in her mouth, she could feel her body relaxing, releasing the built up tension from the day. 

     "When did it come to this?" she asked herself. "Finding solace in food?" She sighed, thinking back on her life. It wasn't always like this. The food was healthy enough growing up. When there were treats, they were just that, treats, and more often than not home made ones at that. Even now, grown woman that she was, she still had ingrained in her that three or four cookies was the "limit". Excess wasn't the problem, thankfully. 

     College didn't change her eating habits too badly; if anything, it made them slightly better as a result of the not so great food served up at meal times. Eating what many would consider non-filling junk for so long leaves one longing for real food. She smirked at the memory. Marriage hadn't changed her diet much, either. So what was it? 

     "Children," she breathed, "it was the children that did it." Only it wasn't that simple. It wasn't the children, necessarily, that caused her so much stress - it was the food. Silly, yes, but that was how it was. Mostly dinner. For some reason, she was finding it difficult to merge the boys' dinner time with what would be her husband's dinner time, due to the early bed time that the boys had. Oh, and the fact that dinner prep time coincided nicely with super fussy time, which made even the easy, quick, healthy recipes seemingly impossible. 

     "Who has time to actually prep things?" she asked, nearly aloud. "Clearly not someone with little people tugging at their pant legs, crying because who knows why." She sighed, and her head dropped. It started because trying to cook real food was stressing her, so she opted for quicker, not so good for you food in order to keep her sanity. Then it somehow snowballed, going from 'food is stressing me, I want comfort food', to 'I am just stressed, I need comfort food'. 

     Her eyes started to moisten; her current bite of cinnamon roll stuck in her throat. She hated that she felt this way. She hated leaning so unhealthily on food. She hated her inability to stop, even though she knew it was just a vicious cycle. Stressed, comfort food, guilt about comfort food, stressed, repeat. 

     She sat, looking at the gooey center of the cinnamon roll, her absolute favorite part. The frosting had melted down, nearly covering the entire morsel, mingling with the syrupy cinnamon which was also concentrated there. "My favorite part," she thought, as a tear slid down her cheek, landing with a soft plink on the edge of her plate.