Category Archives: history

How we became engaged

Ah, Miss Hallie over at Betty Beguiles has issued another invitation, this time to share engagement stories. She is such the romantic and it’s great because I am kind of a cynic so she pulls the romance out of me. LOL! OK, so the story of how the Mister and I came to be:

Scandal Alert! I actually met the Mister when I was dating another guy. I was in my first year of Graduate school and I had joined a Karate School to get some exercise in, other than my daily run on the ‘deadmill’ and weights. The relationship I was in was nice but I guess he just wasn’t the right one for me. This guy was the second that I had EVER broken up with and it was the hardest thing to do in my life because he was the perfect man, just not perfect for me.

So, the Mister and I had been dating for about 2 years when I started getting antsy. OK, I’ll be honest. I was getting jealous because “everyone” else around me was getting engaged and married. For me the big crux was when HIS BFF proposed to his girlfriend after less than a year of dating (now the caveat is that THEY had been friends for about six years before they moved into the relationship rhelm, but I chose to ignore that fact. Yes, I was pouty-face.)

It was January 2005 and I was set to graduate from Grad School in May. In August 2004, the Mister had moved to Chicago to take a job and so we were doing the long-distance thing, me in Madison WI, him in Chicago. We would see each other on weekends, but that’s about it. I was interning at the State Crime Lab, but knew that after graduation I was most likely going to be moving to Chicago as well. The Mister was coming up that particular weekend as he had scored tickets to see “The Phantom of the Opera.” I had never seen the production and I really wanted to see the film with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum and The Mister decided that I needed to see the actual show before seeing the film version.

Before the show, we had dinner on the Capital Square and then walked over to the Overture Center on State Street. It was January in Wisconsin, so it was cold and I opted not to wear a coat, but it was a short walk. We get inside and get to our second row seats and sit down and the show starts. I am absolutely enthralled! I know that it is so gauche to like Andrew Lloyd Webber Productions, but I do, so there. The Mister was a little annoyed, however, because there was a couple behind us that kept talking throughout the entire first act. He decided to talk to the usher at intermission to see if anything could be done but as the show was sold-out, there was nowhere for  us to go, but the usher did give the couple a stern talking to.

Once the show was over and we were all filtering out, I was on cloud nine. I really enjoyed the production and really felt for the Phantom. We walk out of the Overture center and the Mister decides that we should go for a cocktail. I agree and start powerwalking, again, because it’s cold and I don’t have a coat. Now, on this particular weekend, they were having a cross-country ski competition AROUND the Capitol Building, so we were relegated to one side of the square. As we were walking, the Mister kept telling me to “Slow down!” and I would call back “No, hurry up! I’m cold!” Once we came up next to this cute little Episcopal Church on the Square (Grace Episcopal if you know the area) he gave a slight tug to my arm to stop me.

He stepped in front of me and said:

“OK, I kind of lied about “Phantom” being a birthday present. I wanted to make tonight special because you are the most important person in my life and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Then he gets down on one knee, in the snow, and says:

“Karianna, will you marry me?”

Of course I say yes, and I start to cry (which I never thought that I would do) and I start telling random passers-by that I just got engaged. We called friends and family (not to mention that it was close to midnight, but who’s counting?) We did get our cocktail (extra-dry gin martini for me, Johnny Walker Blue for him) and the rest as they say is history! (And let me tell you, it’s been a great history, present and looking forward to the future!)

What was kind of funny is that he had the engagement ring (as pictured below) in the glove-box of his car for a few months before the proposal! He drove up to Door County Wisconsin to pick it up when he dropped me off at my friend Jen’s wedding shower! A brave one he is.

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Head over to Betty Beguiles for more engagement stories or to share your own!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under family, history, marriage, Tuesday

Setting the Record Straight

I’ve been kind of fired up about things in the past few days. I don’t know if it’s the mess that is going on in Wisconsin or just the climate in general but before I continue, I want to make something very clear:

My history is closer to that of Mary Magdalene than that of the Blessed Mother.

Oftentimes, parents are afraid to talk to their children about drug use because of their own past drug use. They fear being seen as hypocritical or telling their kids “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, I can tell you, the only illegal drug that I ever consumed was alcohol before I was 21 (I was and am far too paranoid for anything more,) but I did find myself making what I now consider to be poor moral choices when I was a young adult.

I had grand plans of saving myself for my husband and that pledge to self was easy enough to keep in high school. I was not part of the popular crowd and I didn’t really hang out with the partiers, I was more of a floater… but I was really into my studies and I was a band geek (in fact I was a drum major.) So, yeah… kind of nerdy. But my studies paid off as I received a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I started Madison in the Fall of 1998 and I did a pretty good job to balancing the studies with the party lifestyle that I adopted. I managed to keep my resolve not to go “all the way,” but that didn’t stop me from engaging in some heavy petting. (Yes, this is kind of weird to write considering that I am pretty sure my mother and my mother-in-law both read my blog, but it is what it is.) Sophomore year, I really spent too much time partying and drinking and as a result, failed Organic Chemistry which effectively killed my dream of being a doctor. Now, keep in mind, I was on scholarship at this point and as it was an academic scholarship, failing classes is not really part of the deal. Basically I was told to straighten up and fly right or kiss my scholarship good-bye. Failing that class was a wake-up call for me and I never earned less than an B since then. Junior year started and I had been dating my boyfriend at the time for the entire summer. We were doing the distance thing, so we were only together on the weekends. Then a weird thing happened… September 11. For some reason, that horrible act lead to me to decide that we could all die tomorrow so it was time to “Carpe Diem!” I slept with my boyfriend not too long after then. I was 21.

He and I broke up later that fall and it was after that break-up that things got kind of crazy. I really bought into the notion of female empowerment by being able to pick up a guy in a bar. But I can tell you, with every “conquest” I felt crappier and crappier about myself. For a few hours, I was loved, I was admired, I was favored… and then I was discarded. I fell into depression and was under treatment by a Cognitive-Behavioral therapist for almost 3 years. While in therapy, I learned how to form healthier relationships and it helped lead me to where I am today. I really wish that I could write that the Church had more of an influence on me at that point in my life, but I really can’t. While I converted in 2002, I didn’t start learned about the Church’s teachings on sexuality and contraception until after the birth of the Bear, in 2007. (I used contraception, both chemical and physical, from 2001 until 2006. Since after the Bear’s birth, we’ve used the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning.)

The Soon-to-be-Blessed John Paul II wrote that the opposite of love is not hate; it is use. It seems, with sexuality, we tend to take two avenues: repression or free-for-all. Neither method is healthy nor works. Why am I putting all of this out there and writing about such sensitive and private topics? Because maybe one of you reading is where I was in 1998… in 2001… in 2007. Ignorance is bliss… but do we really want to live life blind, deaf and dumb? So, what am I planning on telling my daughters (and/or sons if we are blessed in the future?) I will teach them that sex is a beautiful and powerful act. It is simple but at the same time incredibly complex. It has the power to create and the power to destroy and the only difference is in how it is wielded. I will teach them that we all make mistakes and we all may have regrets, but in acknowledging those mistakes and desiring to change, to be better than yesterday, is the mark of maturity.

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Filed under Catholic, family, feminism, history, life, marriage, mothering, political

Reminiscing: the Dress

Again, I was hanging out with Hallie and the girls at Betty Beguiles, and she started a trip down memory lane about wedding dresses. I’ve been married for 5 years and I admit, I was curious as to the fit of my dress.

But, first, the story. The Mister and I had a pretty uneventful engagement, except for a massive disagreement with the parents over a wedding detail. And to be honest, I really can’t remember what the issue was today. Anyway, we became engaged in January 2005 and I graduated with my Masters in May 2005. We attended our Pre-Cana session that summer and were planning a small wedding for September 2005 with plans for a larger event later in 2006. (We didn’t want to live together before getting married, hence the smaller wedding.) So, the weird thing is that, we were planning on getting married in Door County, Wisconsin and Wisconsin law states that you have to have your license something like 30 days before your wedding AND the clerks office is only open M-F, bankers hours. I was in Madison, The Mister was in Chicago and we were not exactly near Door County to get said license. But we had a plan.

The Mister’s parents gifted us an early wedding gift in the form of a trip to Key West, which we took in late August 2005. The plan was, upon returning from our trip we were going to head up to northern Wisconsin and get our license for the September wedding. But then, Hurricane Katrina stranded us in Florida for 2 extra days and we ended up missing our window of opportunity. But it was all good! Because, while we were in the Keys… The Mister and I eloped! It was a bit of a shock for our parents and what was even funnier was that the first person we called after eloping was our priest, Father Matt. You can see where our priorities were. Ha!

All’s well as ended well and the Mister and I are still very happy together, after five years and two gorgeous girls. My dress, that I wore in September 2006, is a strapless, mermaid cut dress with black detail in the overlay. I loved it then and I still love it now, especially since I still look pretty rockin’ in it! I’ll admit, looking back, I kind of wish I had gone a little more modest. Maybe, sleeves with that silhouette, but what can you do? I also didn’t wear a veil, which could be why I wear a chapel veil at Mass!

(In September 2005, we did have a church wedding but I wore a simple while suit. Very 60s chic!)

suit

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Filed under family, history, marriage, tradition

Getting off the fence

I used to be a fence sitter in the realm of the polarizing topic of abortion. I have close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-choice; I have other close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-life. For the longest time, I would hem and haw and try to tactfully avoid the question or topic for fear of angering or alienating a friend or worse, losing a friend.

I am not very good at memorizing scripture, but there is one chapter of the bible that has really “spoken” to me at varying times in my life: Matthew 10. Quite a few passages from this chapter has lead me to writing this today:

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives voted to strip Planned Parenthood of federal monies that are used for preventative health screenings, which include contraception and cancer screenings. Currently, Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal dollars for abortion services, and the removal of this money cuts off it’s “family planning” side. As an aside, the monies were being provided under the Title X Family Planning Program enacted in 1970. According to the US Health and Human Services Website:

Over the past 40 years, Title X family planning clinics have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals and others. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X-supported clinics provide a number of related preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screening according to nationally recognized standards of care; sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, counseling, testing and referral; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. By law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning. (emphasis mine)

Opponents of the funding cut, use the argument that by cutting the money to Planned Parenthood, we are putting the lives and health of women at stake. But not all Title X recipients are being cut, only Planned Parenthood, which may be the most accessible if not the most well known “family planning” center in the US.

Not every Planned Parenthood office provides abortions, but every office will council and refer to an abortion provider as needed. One question to have, is Planned Parenthood providing abortion as a family planning method? I don’t know. I guess that would depend on why the abortion is performed. According to their 2010 fact-sheet, in 2008, Planned Parenthood performed 324,008 abortions and referred 2,405 pregnancies for adoption. Planned Parenthood is not without other controversies, either. Last March, Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts of America caused some issues when they partnered to do some “No-Adults Allowed” Sex Education. A few weeks ago, the pro-life group, “Live Action” released a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood employees skirting the laws and essentially helping a man posing as a pimp for an underage girl. Planned Parenthood has come out and said that the videos are all hoaxes among other things. For me, though, Planned Parenthood and abortion are intrinsically linked and culturally very personal.

According to the Gutmacher Institute, black women account for 30% of induced abortions in the US. However, according to the 2000 Census, black (or black with something else) women in the US made up 6.8% of the total population. Another percentage from the Gutmacher Institute is that 69% of pregnancies among black women were unintended, but Planned Parenthood is providing Family Planning services? Bottom line is that family planning services do not make money, but abortions do. Abortions are not covered by federal dollars, so the women are paying out of pocket for the procedure. According to the PPFA Annual Report for 2008-2009, the non-profit ended with a profit of $63.4 million. To clarify, non-profit is a tax status, so that means they don’t have to play Government Taxes. (The 2009-2010 report has not been released.)In New York City, 71% of black teenagers aborted their children in 2009. According to LEARN, the largest black pro-life group in the US, between 1973-2001, abortion has claimed more lives than AIDS, Violent Acts, Accidents, Cancer and Heart Disease combined (their stats come from the CDC.) So, what’s going on here? Why are we, as a community, allowing this black genocide to continue?

Women deserve better than abortion. Of those 324,008 abortions in 2008, we can say at least half of those would have been little girls. I am never a fan of those who criticize without bringing another option. In my opinion, we need to:
– redefine our definitions of “love,” “sex,” and “intimacy.” Intimacy can lead to sex and sex can lead to the creation of life. Sex very rarely, if ever, leads to intimacy or love.
– support pregnant women more, whether it is in their jobs or just personally. A woman should not have to feel compelled to choose between her child and her job. Maybe some of those federal monies should go to Pregnancy Resource Centers/ Emergency Shelters to help pregnant women with no place to go. Let’s give adoption some better PR.
-Stop Glamorizing Teen Pregnancy. Yup, MTV, I’m talking to you. Now, I have to admit, I have NEVER seen “Teen Mom” but what I have heard about it makes me vomit in my mouth a little. Some say it’s a great window to the realities of teen motherhood, others say that it makes girls think that they are one pregnancy away from landing a reality show and FAME!
-Celebrate the involvement of the father. Too often pro-choice voices talk about how it’s the choice of the woman, but there are at least 4 people involved in that choice: The Mother, The Father, The Child and God. In having the abortion, the mother takes away the choice of the father and the choice of the child.

A baby is not just an extension of the mother’s body, like an appendix or gall-bladder. It has it’s own genetic code and is a separate being. Just because it is dependent on the mother for a period of time does not make it more or less valuable or give it less of a right to live. My children are still very dependent on me. Just because they do not rely on me for their oxygen exchange or nutrition, doesn’t mean they are not still dependent. Do I have the right to deny them life because they count on me?

I’ll close with two quotes:

“The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood)

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What are your thoughts? I fully believe in civil discourse, but I do expect a certain level of decorum when engaging in debate. We all have differing opinions and no one person is more right than another and we all have the right to speak our minds. Can’t wait to read your thoughts.

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Filed under Catholic, family, feminism, history, life, mothering, political, race

What makes a feminist?

Boy, oh, boy… I am going to miss our paper subscription to the NYT ( but thank goodness I can still find it online!)

Going through this week’s Sunday Styles, there is an article about a French Author, Elisabeth Badinter, and her thesis that the current ‘green’ movement and the ensuing ‘Mommy Wars’ is really an underhanded way to erase the progress of feminism. Her basic thought is that by choosing breastfeeding, cloth diapering, forgoing the epidural, women are being steered back into the home and away from the workplace.

From the article:

In “Le Conflit: la femme et la mère” (“Conflict: The Woman and the Mother”), she contends that the politics of the last 40 years have produced three trends that have affected the concept of motherhood, and, consequently, women’s independence. First is what she sums up as “ecology” and the desire to return to simpler times; second, a behavioral science based on ethology, the study of animal behavior; and last, an “essentialist” feminism, which praises breast-feeding and the experience of natural childbirth, while disparaging drugs and artificial hormones, like epidurals and birth control pills.

All three trends, Ms. Badinter writes, “boast about bringing happiness and wisdom to women, mothers, family, society and all of humankind.” But they also create enormous guilt in a woman who can’t live up to a false ideal. “The specter of the bad mother imposes itself on her even more cruelly insofar as she has unconsciously internalized the ideal of the good mother,” she writes.

(emphasis mine)
If you are on the internet at all, you can recognize the bolded section as what’s more commonly called, the “Mommy Wars.” It seems as if we mommies will war about anything and everything: cloth v. disposable, breast v. bottle, homeschool v. school, circ v. intact and now feminist v. non-feminist? (To me that’s kind of a misnomer, all women at heart are feminists)

Stay with me here. Feminists fought and are still fighting for the rights of women TO MAKE CHOICES. That’s all. Feminists are not telling women, “OK you HAVE to go out and work and shatter the glass ceiling AND raise kids and have an immaculate home.” They are telling us, “You have the choice to do what is best for you and your family, if you choose to have one.” Kind of like how veterans fought and are fighting for our freedom from tyranny, femisists fight for our freedom of lack of choice. (And before you ask, The Caffeinated Catholic Mama is pro-choice: With those choices being life-based: Raise your baby or place your baby up for adoption please! But I digress.)

Personally, I see Ms. Badinter’s thesis as furthering the victimization of women. Instead of sticking to her feminist roots, she is blaming society on making life harder on women. Does cloth diapering take a bit more time and effort? Yup, but guess what? My husband knows how to run the washer as well as I can. Does eating homecooked foods take more time than running through the drive thru? Yup, but thank goodness for my Crock Pot and Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. Does my husband wish I met him at the door with a dress and pearls on, with a Manhattan and newspaper in hand, ready to speak to him in soft tones while the children play quietly in another room? Probably, but we can all dare to dream. I chose natural birth because I am a control freak and we practice Natural Family Planning for a bunch of reasons, not limited to the fact that I haven’t had a period in 18 months! Yay, ecological breastfeeding! (Yay breastfeeding in general!) I guess what gets me is why we as women allow ourselves to be constantly made victims of this and that. There are times you have to stand up and say, “I chose this life and I have to take the good with the bad!” (Cue “The Facts of Life” theme…) And as an aside, a more equal division on labor helps a ton!

While cruising FaceBook yesterday, I saw how FuzziBuns (FB), a cloth diapering company, was coming under fire for sponsoring “The Feminist Breeder” (TFB) for BlogHer 2010. The comments that followed divided into two groups: women who didn’t 100% agree with TFB’s ideals and therefore were going to no longer buy FB and those who were wondering what the fuss was all about. The most often quoted bit of TFB’s blog that drew the most ire was about The Duggar family, how she doubts Michelle Duggar is raising little feminists:

Q: Where did that crazy name come from?

A: I hard time finding like-minded feminists once I became a mother, and I started to feel like feminism and motherhood may be mutually exclusive. I chose the moniker The Feminist Breeder to prove that even those of us who reproduce can still be concerned feminists.
Q: But wait – I thought feminism meant staying childfree?

A: Don’t be stupid. Where do you think the future feminists will come from if the feminists aren’t breeding them? Do you think Michelle Duggar is reproducing feminists for us? Come on.

If you follow TFB’s blog, you know that she uses humor and is very tongue-in-cheek about things (she also uses some “colorful” language, that I look past!) I can see how that comment might ruffle the feathers of some women, but it’s also TFB’s opinion and she’s entitled to it. I like the Duggar family but I have a hard time seeing Michelle and Jim Bob raising little feminists as well but you never know.

In our house, we make it clear that men and women can do any job they want (except for the Priesthood and, yes, I believe in that as well, but that’s for a later post) and we make it a point to show our daughters that. The Bear goes with Daddy to work and sees that men and women are at the office. Our pediatrician is a woman whereas our family doctor and my OB/GYN are men. We point out men and women doing the same jobs whenever we can.

But feminism is not just about work. It’s about a state of mind. Days when I am having a challenging time with the children are days that I constantly remind myself that this is the life that I chose and to be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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What are your thoughts? Is every woman a feminist at heart? Are we who choose the role of Stay Home mother hurting the vision of female independence? Tell me your thoughts!

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Filed under breastfeeding, Catholic, cloth diapers, eco-friendly, feminism, history, life, mothering

Let’s prevent this with education

I grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I am sad to say that there’s been a rash of sad deaths of infants in Milwaukee. As of yesterday, 8 infants have died as a result of unsafe co-sleeping. Just to be clear, we are a bedsharing/ co-sleeping family. We have a queen size bed (and I’d love a King, especially when the Bear decides to join us) and we typically have the babies in bed with us until they show signs of wanting to leave. For the Bear… it was around 12 months, the Dragonfly is still cozy at 9 months.

We have rules for co-sleeping; if either parent is under the influence of alcohol or medication (NyQuil and the like) they are on the couch. Because the parents need to be 100% in control, especially when sleeping with an infant; I am the cold one in the house, so I sleep in long sleeves, pants and socks so that we are not worried about blankets on the bed; we never allow the children to sleep next to another because the Bear (35 months) is not aware of her sister’s positioning in the night/ while sleeping and would be a danger of overlaying.

But by far, the biggest key to bedsharing is whether the mother is breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. (This is not a rant of which is better as we all know where I stand on that issue.)

from breastfeed.com

Studies have shown that breast-fed babies wake more frequently than formula-fed babies. The reason: Breastmilk is the natural food for infants. There is no harsh ingredient that requires extra digestion time. Breastmilk is “processed” quickly and efficiently by Baby, prompting the need for closer feeding intervals.”Babies are nocturnal animals,” says Jolenne Short-Porter, R.N., IBCLC from Exeter, N.H. “In the early months, they need to nurse frequently for their growing needs, as well as mom’s milk supply. Nighttime nursing is necessary. Unfortunately, in our culture, we want our babies to sleep at night.”

This is a huge reason why there was back lash against Enfamil’s Nighttime formula. Babies are supposed to wake up at night, they wake up a lot at night and there are theories that the excessive nightwaking is a survival mechanism

“Human children are designed to be sleeping with their parents,” says Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology and nutrition at Texas A & M University. “The sense of touch is the most important sense to primates. The expected pattern is for mother and child to sleep together and for the child to be able to nurse whenever they want during the night.”

Dettwyler reminds parents that normal, healthy breast-fed and co-sleeping children do not sleep through the night. She is a firm believer that parents need to dispel the myth of needing eight hours of uninterrupted sleep when children are infants. Parents should instead view these nighttime interactions as precious and fleeting.

Before the 19th century, most infants slept in close contact with their mothers – usually in the same bed – and had frequent nighttime feedings. In many cultures, this is still the norm for babies and parents.

from enabling-breastfeeding.blogspot.com

It didn’t become “normal” for a baby to sleep through the night until the 1950s, according to Dr. James McKenna, an anthropologist and director of the University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab, when bottle-feeding with formula exceeded breast-feeding in popularity. Bottle-feeding and baby’s sleep McKenna said he found differences between bottle- and breast-feeding families when it came to the sensitivity and positioning of mothers with their infants. Therefore, for bottle-feeding families, “sleeping is best alongside the bed, not in the bed,” said McKenna. Co-sleeping furniture may be a viable alternative to bed sharing, but none has been tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Anti-bed sharing The AAP discourages bed sharing, noting that it “is more hazardous than the infant sleeping on a separate sleep surface.” Some physicians think the AAP (and several SIDS prevention groups) have gone too far in discouraging bed sharing. Japan has a very low incidence of SIDS, and they sleep with their babies, said Thomas. “So, the problem is not just bed sharing.” When deaths occur in a bed the whole practice is condemned, Thomas said. “We never say that about a crib.”

(emphasis mine)

I tried to find information advocating bottlefeeding and co-sleeping and I couldn’t.

Going back to the issue in Milwaukee, I don’t have the stats but how much do you want to bet that all of the mothers involved were low-income and black? We know that the breastfeeding rates among low-income, minority women are low and this is the exact demographic that should be nursing their kids. After all, breastmilk is free and easy to come by. So, maybe instead of attacking the bed sharing custom, we should be attacking the fact that our children are not getting the best chance they can to survive.

(OK, so I lied. It did become a breastfeeding rant.)

Prayers for the souls of the eight infants in Milwaukee and all infants who are now in the Father’s arms.

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As always, I welcome your thoughts, but keep it clean!

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Filed under breastfeeding, history, mothering, political

…As Texas Goes

If you’ve been following the news, you know that the Texas Board of Education is a hot button issue. TBOE has been debating textbook changes and the reason this is so relevent to the rest of the country is because of the large size of Texas, the number of books that are printed can eventually influence the rest of the country’s books. One of my earliest posts was when I first heard about the controversy and we are getting closer and closer to a vote. So, what are some of the big issues?

– are global organizations trying to undermine US sovereignty?
-the effects of Medicare or Social Security on society and their relation to taxes
– were the efforts against the threat of communism by Sen. Joe McCarthy really that bad?
– is the idea of “Separation of Church and State” really what the framers intended?

But some of the biggest debates surround the Civil War. Ask anyone what the cause of the Civil War was and most people will respond “slavery.” While economic and states’ rights were players in the war both of those are intrinsicly linked to slavery, the Southern states wanted to keep their slaves and the economic plusses that came with them and didn’t want the federal government telling them what they could and could not do. I currently live in Missouri, the reason for the Missouri Compromise. For those of you who don’t quite remember History, the Missouri Compromise created the line that divided the North and the South, not the Mason-Dixon line. The line is at 36’30” (just about the southern border of Missouri)… all states South of the line were slave states, all states North of the line were free states… except Missouri, that got to keep it’s slave status. This line was created primarily to decide the slave holding status of the new states being created West of the Mississippi. Despite Missouri’s influence in the Civil War, there really isn’t much evidence of that historical role. In addition, there is the proposal to change the term “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade” to the “Atlantic Triangular Trade” (the term “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade” won out.) Was the Civil War bad? Sure, in my opinion all wars are bad, but it’s still a part of history and you shouldn’t spin that history to make the US seem like the perfect child.

The board also would like to downplay the contributions of Thomas Jefferson (a political figure) and replace him with John Calvin (a protestant religious figure), to put a positive spin on controversial organizations such as the Moral Majority or the NRA. However, the nasty award goes to the debate about President Obama’s name as reported by CBS news:

Critics had complained that Obama’s full name was conspicuously absent in a high school history course that referred only to the “the election of the first black president.”

When a Democrat tried to fix the omission, Republican David Bradley said “I think we give him the full honor and privilege of his full name.”

The effort snarled the board’s progress on amendments late Thursday evening.

“The intent behind what you’re doing, I think is pretty obvious,” said Republican Bob Craig, urging Bradley to withdraw the suggestion.

Obama’s name gave him his share of trouble during the 2008 presidential campaign. He acknowledged its unfamiliarity to most Americans, and there were times when supporters of his opponent made a point of using his middle name, which was seen as an attempt to cast doubt on his background and faith.

“Please Mr. Bradley, don’t use the middle name,” said Democrat Lawrence Allen. “You know it’s going to have a negative connotation in the press. Yes, it’s his birth name, but you know the significance it will play in the press. We don’t have to deal with it.”

I take issue with this, not because of the significance of the press but the nastiness behind it. Mr. Bradley (ultra-conservative) seems not to have the goal to honor the president by using his whole name, rather would like to draw attention to the fact that out current President has a “Muslim” middle name. The liberals and moderate conservatives want the middle name omitted because of what the press is going to say. But my concern is about all of those little boys, American citizens, who are named Hussein or have the last name Hussein… are the no longer as valuable as an American because their name is controversial?

So the country watches as a group of individuals, non-educators, make major decisions about American History. But you know what they say… history is written by the victors. Or in this case, the majority vote.

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2nd Thursday of Lent- Return of the Latin Mass & Chapel Veil?

Chapel Veil

There’s a saying “What comes around, goes around” and this seems to be very true with respect to the liturgy of the Catholic Church. During the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (more commonly known as Vatican II) lasting from October 1962 to November 1965, the Catholic Church under went some changes: celebrating the Mass in the common vernacular of the area (English, Spanish, German, etc) rather than Latin and increased participation by the lay in the liturgy being two of the most memorable. However, there seems to be a push toward the old tradition by a surprising group… us Generation Xers.

For those of us who grew up in or converted to (in my case) to post-Vatican II Catholicism, there is a certain mystery ascribed to the Tridentine (Latin) Mass as most of us have never been to one. If you have been to a Latin Mass, please feel free to comment on your impressions of the Rite. I, for one, am excited for the resurgence of the Latin Mass. I converted to Catholicism in college and the one thing that really drew me in, besides the real Presence, is the tradition and history of the Mass. There is something reverent in knowing that the symbols, the sights, the smells at the Mass are all ones that have been used since the time of Christ. With the return of the Latin Mass could also come the return of the Chapel Veil!

Most little girls envision wearing a veil on their wedding day and that’s all but how awesome would it be to be able to wear a veil, as the Bride of Christ (remembering that the Church is the Bride of Christ,) every time Mass is celebrated? Veiling can be seen as a controversial issue as it may call to mind the submission of women, but I’d like to argue the contrary. When something is seen veiled, it is viewed as being sacred, something special, out of the ordinary. After all, in the Jewish temples, the most sacred spot- the Holy of Holies- was veiled as well. The Holy of Holies was so special and sacred that the Jewish High Priest could only enter once a year, on Yom Kippur.

Consider this from Fisheaters.com

“Note what Paul says, “But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” We don’t veil ourselves because of some “primordial” sense of feminine shame; we are covering our glory so that He may be glorified instead. We cover ourselves because we are holy — and because feminine beauty is incredibly powerful. If you don’t believe me, consider how the image of “woman” is used to sell everything from shampoo to used cars. We women need to understand the power of the feminine and act accordingly by following the rules of modest attire, including the use of the veil.”

If the idea of covering your head seems intimidating to you, there are other options available other than the chapel veil: Scarves, Berets and… the Church Hat.

Church Hat

Growing up in a Black Baptist Church, my memories of Sunday Services are filled with images of women in their Church Hats. I thought they were just being fashion forward, but didn’t know that they were honoring the Most High! From Gospel Connoisseur:

“Don’t wear a hat wider than your shoulders. Don’t wear a hat that is darker than your shoes. If your hat has feathers, make sure they are never bent or broken. Sequins don’t look good in the daytime. Easter hats should be white, cream or pastel — even if it’s still cold outside. For a look that is both elaborate and demure, try a chapel veil.”

Remember what I posted about getting out of your comfort zone? Here’s another chance! And for a rockin’ Chapel Veil, check this out! (Pssst… it’s a St. Louis based company as well!)

Pax Christi!

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Thursday after Ash Wednesday- Psalm 2

First of all, I’d like to ask for prayers for a dear friend of mine, who has decided to let go of long held grief this Lenten Season. Prayers for healing and growing for you!

And now…

This past Sunday, The New York Times Magazine ran an article on how Conservative Activists on the Texas Board of Education want American textbooks to be clear that the authors of the US Constitution intended the country to be a “Christian Nation.” You can read the entire article for yourself here. As a former Science teacher, I take issue with a board of well meaning, but non teachers making textbook and standards decisions but that’s a topic for another post.

For me, what sticks in my head is: Why? Why is there a need to explicitly declare that the US is a Christian Nation? In the same vein, what type of Christianity are we talking about? During the Colonial Period, there were two major Christian factions: the Congregationalists and the Anglicans, both of which came from England. These two factions felt they were it and made other faiths (Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, etc) unwelcome, if not out right persecuted them. Fast forward to 2010 and we see that nothing much has changed. Sure, sure, we can say that persecution of one group by other (Jewish vs. Gentile; Catholic vs. Protestant; Believers vs. Non-believers; Pastafarians vs. The Kansas Board of Education) has been that way since the dawn of time, but does that make it right? Further more, there is the crux that history is written by the winner and that the loser has a very different point of view.

Which brings us to today’s Psalm. Psalm 2 is a royal psalm in which the speaker is speaking to rebellious Kings of the time. The speaker of this Psalm reiterates that by divine decree, the Israelite King is the earthly representative of God on Earth and that all other Kings are to obey him. This Psalm has a Messianic interpretation and the Israelite King is understood by Christians to be the Christ. With this in mind, I go back to my original question: Why is there a need to declare the US as a Christian Nation if by being Christian one already believes in the Kingship of Christ and that He is Ruler of all? In declaring the US as a Christian Nation, will this make other nations more or less apt to take issue with US policy?

People like to talk about “Freedom of Religion” and others read it as “Freedom From Religion.” One of the many things that makes the US great is that freedom, that no one has to follow one faith or another. I love being Catholic and I sleep well at night knowing that I will take up the next morning still a Catholic. Let us not focus on what divides us as Christians but rather what unites us. As Christians, we are all part of the catholic (little c) Church… the universal belief in Christ.

I guess Psalm 2:10-11 sums it up:

And now, kings, give heed; take warning, rulers on earth. Serve the LORD with fear; with trembling bow down in homage, Lest God be angry and you perish from the way in a sudden blaze of anger. Happy are all who take refuge in God!

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments about this discussion!

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