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activist mom

shut it down

kudos to all of you who get the above liz lemon reference.

 

so, i feel kinda weird having 2 blogs, when i only have 1 life. i assumed i would just write on here about all things baby, and people who were interested in that kinda stuff could read it here. and i would write about everything else at the Little Somalia blog.

but life isn’t compartmentalized, and it is all the same 3 people reading anyways.

plus, i have been getting really weird spam on this site, which creeps me out.

and so–shut it down.

or just re-direct, more like.

i will continue to blog about ramona, the kingdom of god, and the evils of nestle here.

ps, on a side note, for all those who wonder:

is blogging about my baby exploitive? here is my answer in a nutshell:

a little. and as ramona gets older i will definitely try to stay in the realm of we only tell cute little anecdotes. but honestly, i blog about babies because i think there needs to be a lot more transparency and honesty in the world of mothers (and fathers). everybody is always walking around like they got it all perfect, and i just want to be someone who says, occasionally, hey–this is pretty much the roughest thing ever. and it is worth it.

and, of course, i always want to remind people that the kingdom of god comes through babies.

see you in little somalia!

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Princess Propeganda

A couple of weeks ago I read the book Cinderella Ate my Daughter: Dispatches from the new Girlie-Girl Culture and it pretty much terrified me.

I have a 9 month old daughter, and already I am worried about the implications of our culture’s obsession with gender disparity.

Think I’m overreacting? When was the last time you stepped into a Pottery Barn Kids? OK, if you are like me the answer is never. But trust me, you should. As Peggy Orenstein, the author of the above book says, it’s like apartheid in there. Pink and purple and flowers and fairy’s for girls–blue and green and sailboats and trucks for boys. But really, you could go into any major toy store and notice the difference. Being obsessed with princess culture is now an established rite of passage for any girl in America, and it is seemingly inescapable.

But why should I care if my daughter loves princesses and all that comes with it? Is there anything so wrong about glitz and glitter and pastels and wands and dressing up? Am I just turning into one of “those” mothers who don’t let their kids watch T.V. and only serve PB&J’s on sprouted-whole-wheat bread? Do I just need to take a deep breath and calm down?

Perhaps.

But maybe my unease with the girlie-girl phenomenon is coming from a real need to understand gender differences as they relate to both me and my daughter.

The problem of princess propaganda lies in the narrowing of what little girls choose to play with, the narrowing of the stories they reenact, the messages they are told that define what a girl is. When I was little, I rode a gray bike, played with dolls and stuffed rabbits equally, and generally mucked around outdoors all the time. I loved Disney movies like any good American child, but I remember distinctly only pretending to be Ariel as a mermaid. As soon as she got legs and lost her voice she was boring. Does this make me a tomboy? Compared to little girls today, it does. By catering to what little girls want, companies have systematically eliminated all but the best-sellers from their toy lines. And princesses sell a lot of sippy cups.

Why does this happen? It’s no coincidence that marketers are targeting younger and younger children. As they leave toddlerhood, children enter a stage where rigidity is important in all areas, including ideas about gender. If you are a little girl and a princess is upheld to be the epitome of femininity, then that is what you will want to strive for. Or else, in the mind of a four-year-old, you aren’t a little girl. Playing princess and waving wands is not exactly harmful, but the progression of always striving to conform to the societal representation of femininity is not something that any mother wishes for her daughter. Disney Princesses lead to Barbies which lead to Bratz dolls which lead to Britney Spears (or Miley or whoever the next fallen starlet is).

Growing up in the church I was raised with rather conflicting messages about femininity. By the end of a couple of years of Bible college I felt like the church, much like the pigs in Animal Farm, was telling me that God created all of us equal, but that some of us were more equal than others. Women were created in the image of God, but were not allowed to be the head preacher. Women were given the gifts of the Spirit, but were more prone to emotionalism and more easily deceived than our brethren.

I am starting to wonder if my ideas about women being inferior to men have led me to eschew the more obvious aspects of girlie-girl culture. I rail against Cinderella not because there is anything inherently wrong with the story–rather, it so neatly sums up a narrative that I see as too feminine. If men and women are not equal, then I want to be on the winning side. Forget princesses and their boring waiting games. I want action!

So obviously, I am a nut job and have somehow linked Disney with complementarian theology.

But seriously, does anyone else think about these things?

Lucky for me God is using all of my reading and pondering to heal some things and to help me identify some lies that I swallowed unconsciously for a very, very long time (for the record, my parents have never taught me that girls are inferior in any way, shape or form. In fact, my mom is one of my heroes, for she is both sassy and deeply spiritual).

What are your thoughts? If we focus too much on princesses, do we set girls up for a life based on rigid cultural expectations? If we go too far the other way do we teach girls to de-value the feminine aspects of themselves?


My Empire of Dirt

Ok, I am jumping on a bandwagon here.

The bandwagon of simplifying my life.

Sometimes it feels like all I do is organize and clean all the stuff I have. Even though we have a tiny apartment, even though we have a tiny budget, even though we don’t like to buy things that aren’t secondhand–it seems like our place is bursting with superfluous stuff.

So, time to edit our lives.

This site laid down a gauntlet for the next 5 weeks, and I am gonna go for it. This week? The closet. Taking a good, hard look at what you wear (those 10 things you always reach for) and getting rid of the rest. This was rather hard for me to do, as I find myself in that strange place of “I just had a baby 7 months ago”, where I am fatter than usual but not fat enough for the fat clothes. I know, right?

But beyond that, I need to assess why I feel like holding on to ripped bridesmaid dresses and ill-fitting sweaters. And I can’t find a single good reason. So, out they go.

And without further ado, here are the pictures:

Our closet, before:

Ramona’s wardrobe (one of 2, I might add. plus she has a closet. that girl is swimming in clothes) before:

Our closet, after (please note the leopard print snuggie, which made the judicious cut):

the after

Ramona’s wardrobe, after:

Ooh, that felt good. And don’t worry, I didn’t throw anything away. My mom recently started a clothing closet for low-income individuals in Parkrose, which is where all of our surplus will be going (check it out here). The only thing I can’t figure out what to do with are certain, oh how do you say, unmentionables, that a certain husband bought for a certain wife that are hilariously garish. I really don’t think we should donate those.

All in all, it feels good to be actively relinquishing the hold of materialism. The desire for more is the type of sickness that creeps up on me slowly, and is hard to put out for good. Short of moving to south Sudan (which would actually be awesome), I have to prepare myself to fight the soul-crushing tide of advertisements and billboards. And it really is a fight, and one we all should take rather seriously, as our spending habits are responsible for many of the wars and other atrocities (sex trafficking, sweatshops). Oh but look at me, rambling on again. Let’s move on to what you really came here for:

A picture of a cute baby! Ok, having stood on my stool and judged the world, I actually bought something for the Ramona baby the other day. At babyGAP. I am obviously a sinner in need of redemption. But here’s the thing: they were selling discounted sunglasses, the kind that make you look like a grandma from the 1970s, no matter how old you really are. I couldn’t resist the empire on this one, folks. But it turns out the joke was on me, for the Ramona baby didn’t look like the hipster child I envisioned but was instead the spitting image of Elton John. And with that, I will leave you:

tiny dancer.


tuppence a bag

yes, today we are going to talk about feeding babies. not birds. excuse the title, i have just had that song stuck in my head all morning.

ramona is halfway into her six month, and we are eating real people food around here! well, not really. rice cereal doesn’t seem like anything i have ever eaten. and that one day with the mashed up yams was met with mixed results. but we are trying!

i put off feeding ramona for a long time. firstly, because she is still behind developmentally (still has a wobbly neck and all that) and secondly because it seemed so overwhelming. in the exhausting haze of new motherhood i read everything i could get my hands on about newborns (i was supposed to read about babies during the last 2 months of my pregnancy. oops. learn from me all you preggos: don’t wait to prepare!). and now i am just starting to realize ramona ain’t going to be a newborn all her life. now what? i guess i have to re-check out all of those books from the library.

anyways, the food thing seems overwhelming. because you know what? the food system in america is overwhelming. i have watched all of those movies talking about production, sourcing, agriculture, corn syrup, gmo’s, rice farmers in india, etc etc and it makes my brain hurt. and for many, many years i was content to put whatever was cheap and delicious in my mouth.

now, i am a rather haphazard eater. we made a commitment to go organic on the meat and dairy products last year, but we have slipped a few times. we go for the free range eggs, and organic fruits and veggies if they are on sale. but it all changes when you have a baby, right?

or does it?

we are on WIC (Women, Infant, Children) which is a program that provides low-income families with vouchers for certain foods–milk, eggs, juice, some fruits and veggies, formula–and up until now i have been more grateful than anything for what WIC provides (the formula vouchers alone save us $150 a month). but now that we are starting ramona on solid foods, WIC only gives us 3 options for baby food, none of which are organic.

i honestly didn’t think it would be that big a deal for me–hey, practically a whole generation was raised on gerber–but it is starting to become an issue.

for starters, it really isn’t that hard for me to find some organic veggies to cook and mash. and it isn’t that expensive, either. but there is the other part of me, the cheap part of me (i have always considered myself cheap instead of frugal, which can get me into trouble) that has these vouchers from WIC wasting away on my dresser. I need to get 17 jars of baby food, darn it!

which leads me to an interesting dilemma. in my mind, here are my choices:

1. use the vouchers and feed my baby the WIC food.

2. use the vouchers but only use a couple to feed my baby. donate the rest to a shelter.

3. don’t use the vouchers.

ok. here are the arguments that my brain makes:

1. of the three choices available to me, all are owned by evil corporations. gerber=nestle (see my post here for more on my feelings about nestle). beech nut=some swiss company. and i can’t find any information about the other company. i am sure they are evil too. what i do know is that i can’t trust people who can’t even tell me where or how the veggies/fruits/meat are grown. gross.

2. i could always use the evil corporate food for emergencies, or traveling, or when i am too sick/busy to make my own food. and then i could donate the rest to help out other people. but here is the rub: if i don’t think that this food is good for my baby, why would i want to give it to another? that brings up all sorts of icky ideas regarding who should get good food and whatnot, and makes me rather mad at WIC in general. would it kill the government to spend an extra couple of quarters so poor people could give their babies organic, local food?

3. i could be really principled and not cash in the government’s money for something i see as not only sub par, but part of a larger, more corrupt, system. the activist in my likes this one, but then my brain is all like: the government doesn’t care. which is true.

so anyways, what would you do? what have you done? i am not one of those moms who is super self-assured and knows what is going on all the time. we let ramona watch an episode of House M.D. the other day and she only owns about 2 organic shirts. so.

let’s end this on a high note, shall we? pictures of the Great Yam Experience, 2011.

god told me he didn't care if i never cleaned my apartment

so excited about yams.

 

meh.

i would post more pictures but my computer is being stupid. which kind of describes how i look in the first picture. also, god told me it was ok not to clean my apartment. so don’t be judgin’.