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Friday, June 12, 2015

Ashamed & Afraid, Part 1

(Disclaimer:  I've been putting this off for a while now; I know it needs to be written, but I'm still not sure how to go about it. There is just so much; so many little things that all mashed together to create a really big thing. There will more likely than not be follow-ups, and this one will most definitely need to be re-written.)

     When I turned six, I was going to be a boy. At least, that is what Mom tells me. I don't remember; there's actually very little that I do remember in detail from when I was younger. Anyway, my birthday came and went, and I was still a girl; but I wasn't too upset about it since I had forgotten about it by the time my birthday had come.

     As long as I can remember, I've always preferred the company of boys. I preferred they types of games that boys usually play, the rough and tumble ones, the sports-like ones, to those of baby dolls and house that most girls are inclined towards. I was outdoorsy and didn't mind getting muddy and playing in cold puddles. While perhaps a little on the smaller side, I was never particularly dainty. 

     There was more to it than that, though - you see, the girls I knew were mean. And I don't mean just a little bit mean, I mean really mean. Mom tells me of a time when I came home from first grade in tears, because the girls were teasing me for "flirting" with one of the boys. I was six; I didn't even know what flirting was. Somewhere between 6 and 8, though I'm inclined to think closer to 6, I was at a birthday party for a girl, and the other girls teased her so much she left her own party in tears. My parents stopped allowing me to sleep over my "best" friend's house because they were tired of the midnight call saying that I wanted to go home, because she teased me so badly. Perhaps I was an overly sensitive child, but it does not change the fact that I was affected deeply by my experiences. 
     I was (and still am) afraid of girls. Oh, there were some that I got along alright with, but we were always the odd ones out, the rejects of the girl cliques. The meanness was still there, even as I got older, even among the more rough and tumble sports minded girls. There was one time, at a soft ball game, where on of my team mates asked me what it was like to be home schooled, and not even a second into my answer she turned her back and started talking to someone else on the bench. I was excited that someone was actually taking the time to get to know me, but a person learns quickly to to keep to stick to herself after such encounters. 

     Boys, on the other hand, were cool. And much nicer, in comparison. I don't remember ever being teased by the boys I knew and hung out with. Oh, there was the typical pick the girl last for the team stuff (which I will address in another post), but it was sort of expected and only made me try harder at whatever game it was, so maybe next time I wouldn't be dead last. Boys were so much easier to get along with, to talk to; and they still are. Even now, in mixed gatherings it takes pretty much all of my willpower not to join the menfolk and listen in on whatever it is they are discussing. Granted, having the boys to watch makes not doing so a little easier, but the temptations is still very much there. 

     Ugh. It's getting late, and my brain is foggy. The basic gist of this post, if you've made it this far, is that females of the human race terrify me, and have done so for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately for me, I am one, which makes things rather complicated, because most everything (sports, the bathroom, etc.) requires that I be in close proximity to others. Plus the fact that I don't like girls but am one kinda messes with one's head. Anyway, as much as I could, I chose the company of males, which proved to pose it's own problems, which will be the subject of my next post. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Club: Beyond The Birds And The Bees

  (Disclaimer:  This is not a very well put together post, and I missed a lot of the points I originally wanted to make, so at some point I will be re-writing it. Apologies.)
     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.