Friday, July 25, 2008

Just call me plebeian.

This blog is the grown up sister of a series of journals that I kept in my teens and twenty-something years. The most formative of those years were during my sojourns to England, where I hobnobbed with the social stratosphere of "public" (british for private) school attendees and sipped sherry at functions in World Heritage sites. In those years, my journal was my constant companion.. that, a cup of coffee and I am embarassed to admitt, a pack of "fags". I wanted so badly to be a modern day beatnik or something of that sort.

Flash forward to my thirty-somethings and I am trying to maintain some semblance of cool that I once embodied. I don't smoke anymore. I don't sip sherry and hardly drink wine. My coffee these days has a whole different purpose. I actually need it to get awake, not just STAY awake. I see 4am about as frequently now as I did 10 years ago, but for a wholly different reason, and for necessity, not choice.

In my junior year at Bucknell, I left the states, to enroll in the University College of the University of Durham, which happens to be housed in Durham Castle (links to left). I lived in the Castle Keep, room 44. My roommate was a very accommodating Swedish girl named Louise, who I think I thoroughly abused and wish I could apologize to. In that room, I lived in a ephemeral and intense emotional state. I learned that how you perceive things isn't necessarily how someone else does. I learned that communication is more than words. I learned what it was like to fall in love with ones self, to fall in love with a place. I am still learning how, with time, some memories become clear like crystal and others fade into shadow.

There are moments in life that are foundational. Moments and impressions that change a person and how they think. Part of growing is allowing those moments to define you without imprisoning you. To truly live, you have to grow and allow for those memories to change in meaning in relation to the rest of your life.

When I started writing this blog, I was dying to title a post, "I used to live in a castle". I mean, honestly, WHO gets to say that? But on second thought, I am more happy to say, I don't live in a castle anymore.

Friday, July 18, 2008


On June 28, 2008 we hosted our first annual Pink Ribbon Tea Party in memory of Teresa June Lewis. We raised funds for The Susan G. Komen Foundation and St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Thank you to those that joined us!

Keep flipping through the pages to see what else we've been up to!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Racial Divide

Some random thoughts on a black and white topic...

In 2007, Don Imus referred to members of the the Rutger womens basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." He said it with the cameras rolling and the microphones on. The following days we saw Reverend Jesse Jackson protested in front of NBC, was interviewed on The Today show, and would talk to any camera he could get in front of, in order to chastize Don Imus.

Flash foward to 2008. Reverend Jesse Jackson is caught, microphone on, using far more explosive language that Don Imus ever muttered...

"Barack...he's talking down to black people...telling n—s how to behave."

Why is it okay for a black man, a Reverend, a man who has had aspirations to run this country, to EVER use the n-word? Why aren't we protesting him now? Why is okay for a black man to call a black man a n---?

I am a white woman, so I am sure I just don't get it. I watched the video of Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View. She was in tears asking Whoopi...'we do live in the same world?' Whoopi insisted no, we don't. Well, if it is okay for a black man to refer to his own black community in such derogatory language perhaps the black community is perpetuating the two world that Whoopi says exist? I don't think you can have such a double standard that Don Imus gets protested and loses his job and Reverend Jesse Jackson can say the n-word and it is okay. Something has got to give.

For me... people are people. Some people are stupid. Some people are smart. Some people are gorgeous. Some people aren't. Others are tall. Some short. I do think we are drawn to people like ourselves. Its natural, its comfortable. Some people thrive on diversity. Before I married a man not unlike myself, I dated many a man from other cultures including two black men. People are people. Some are worthy to be loved. Some aren't.

In my book, its not easy to preach racially equality when you don't treat the race you advocate with respect. Reverend Jesse Jackson should receive no more air time as a representative of the black community.... his language does not a community build.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dallas Watch continues...

So, despite the never ending delay, Erik's Dallas watch continues.... word on Friday is that he is still in the running for the job of all jobs. It is the perfect fit for his education, would be sufficiently challenging without being beyond his ability. It would be more than job, it would be a career with a seemingly resourceful corporate citizen.

We are the masters of the dream though... and despite now having a familiarity with all current listings on the northwest coridors MLS, we must remain grounded. We must. We must! I have gone from one extreme to the other, giddy to remorse. I have just spent an hour making a Happy Go Lucky playlist for my IPOD. Need immediate intervention.... anyone? anyone? If I see one more house with 4bed/3bath for less than $200,000, I am going to combust!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

We tried to wait...

But Xanthe made up her mind. She is ready for food! She even wanted to do the spoon herself first time around. Little miss independent! We still intend to do baby led weaning with real "foods" starting in 2 weeks!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sex, forgiveness and things that make you go hmmmmmmmm....

During the sermon this morning, Pastor Robb talked about having gone to see Kitt Kitteredge in the theater on Saturday. She said that she was sad that the movie would be labeled a children's movie because then the themes of the film would be undermined... that it really is a movie about being a good neighbor and loving them as you love yourself...

And I sat in the pew and the guilt started to ice me... like God was taking a Redi Whip can to my head. What movie did I see this weekend? The first movie I've seen since... I-can't-remember and the last I will see until kingdom-comes... Sex and the City. And it was for our anniversary. Erik is a good man.

But, then I started to realize that the themes of Sex and the City weren't all that far off from what is usually served up from the pulpit. The plights of Carrie, Big, Miranda and Steve, its all about forgiveness. If you've seen the movie, you know that they carry this theme without much subtlty... but still, how many men in America have refused to see this film because it is a chick flick? How many people have scoffed at the film due to its title? Its out-there-in-your-face-unabashedly-unapologetic-sexiness?

Forgiveness. I catalog the relationships in my life. They seem to fall into one folder or another.

Folder 1 is titled "Mara is whole".

Folder 2 is titled "Mara is not whole".

Whole is when I loved myself, I forgave myself, I forgave others, and was therefore capable of loving someone else without losing myself.

Not whole is when I was seeking relationships to affirm myself, affirm my self worth, and/or worse, I was using the relationship as a definition, as a crutch, as a weapon or as a filler (not unlike Redi Whip). In the end, I rightfully ended up alone again.

The women of Sex and the City learn that you cannot forgive, you cannot love, until you are whole. And I think that wholeness is when you are unabashedly sexy... unapologetically full of self love... willing to step back and say, I need me.... or, I need me back.

Like a Shakespearean comedy, Sex and the City left Erik & I with a sense that we are right with the world. I am whole. He is whole. Together we are better than the sum of our two parts. Like Carrie, I've been in a lot of relationships... I've had my "Aidens" and my "Alekzandr" and my "Mr. Big".... and in the end, I am wholly in love with my Erik.

I am not sure how Pastor Robb finished her sermon this morning. But at the end I said AMEN and I meant it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

To feed or not to feed.. that is the question.

So, we've arrived at 5 months 1 week and the itch has started. Can we start Xanthe on "solids" now? I love how "solids" in the baby food world really means thinned rice cereal (yummmmm) or pureed vegetables that appetize like cardboard. After giving in and offering a spoon of organic brown rice cereal yesterday, Erik & I have made an about face. I've discovered something called 'Baby Led Wearning'... interesting.... could work?

So, I find the following article about Gill Rapley, Baby Led Wearning researcher persuasive... how I wish her book was out now! Its supposedly coming in Nov. 2008 according to Amazon.

Pureed food 'isn't natural for babies'
Unicef nutrition expert sparks controversy with attack on spoon-feeding from tins and jars

Amelia Hill, social affairs correspondent The Observer, Sunday June 17, 2007 Article historyFeeding babies on pureed food is unnatural and unnecessary, according to one of Unicef's leading child care experts, who says they should be fed exclusively with breast milk and formula milk for the first six months, then weaned immediately on to solids.

Gill Rapley, deputy director of Unicef's Baby Friendly Initiative and a health visitor for 25 years, said spoon-feeding pureed food to children can cause health problems later in life

She blames the multimillion-pound baby food industry for persuading parents that they need to give their babies pureed food. 'Sound scientific research and government advice now agree there is no longer any window of a baby's development in which they need something more than milk and less than solids,' Rapley said.

The industry in Britain is worth more than £450m, compared with £191m in 1989. More than four out of five of Britain's one million babies aged between four and 20 months eat and drink baby food worth more than £120m a year.

Until recently, the words 'baby food' conjured up nothing more exciting than a bit of stewed apple and a rusk. Now, supermarket shelves groan with jars of organic, fresh ingredients, with some ranges even seeking to tempt the discerning baby with 'superfood' options and local ingredients.

Makers of baby food say they are taking Rapley's study seriously. 'This is very new research and we need to look at it very carefully,' said Roger Clarke, director-general of the Infant and Dietetic Foods Associations, a group representing such manufacturers as Heinz, Nestle, Boots and Nutricia.

'UK infant food companies support a flexible approach to feeding infants, but the age at which solids are introduced depends on the nutritional and developmental needs of individual infants and a "one size fits all" policy is not appropriate,' he added. 'Generations of mums and dads have relied on the simple convenience of these special recipes as part of their baby's diet to provide safe, sound nutrition with a wide variety of tastes and textures - from purees that are easy to suck straight from a spoon to soft lumps that encourage chewing.'

But Rapley, who has produced a DVD explaining how to follow a new feeding programme called Baby-Led Weaning, points to an increasing number of scientific projects and government guidance that she says support her programme. 'In 2002, the World Health Organisation backed research that found breast or formula milk provided all the nutrition a baby needs up to the age of six months,' she said. 'That research said feeding a baby any other food during their first six months would dilute the nutritional value of the milk and might even be harmful to the baby's health.'

After six months, Rapley says, babies are capable of taking food to their mouths and chewing, making purees and spoon feeding unnecessary. 'The World Health Organisation was so impressed by the research that it rewrote its recommendations on baby feeding,' she said. 'A year later, the Department of Health for England and Wales followed suit.'

Offering babies pureed foods once they can chew is not only unnecessary, it could delay the development of chewing skills, Rapley believes. In addition, allowing a baby to take as much or as little food as it needs stops it becoming constipated.

Rapley believes that babies allowed to feed themselves tend to become less picky, develop better hand control more quickly and to avoid foods to which they are later found to be intolerant. Rapley was inspired to investigate the widely accepted use of pureed foods during her quarter-century as a health visitor. 'I found so many parents were coming to me with the same problems - "my child is constipated, my child is really picky" - and they couldn't get them on to second-stage baby food. So I started to wonder what would happen if we never took the control away from them in the first place,' she said.

After years spent observing babies and conducting her own studies, Rapley developed her feeding programme, which teaches that babies over six months should be in charge of what goes into their mouths and when. 'Provided a child is sitting up straight and is supervised by an adult, he or she can feed themselves a variety of healthy finger foods with their hands,' she said.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008