Welcome to Buttercup Corner. Please share your thoughts!

What can we do to promote world peace?
"Go home and love your family."
-Mother Teresa

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spring Chickens

Sorry, I couldn't resist yet another Spring-themed title. It was just too perfect! Here they are: our spring chicks. My husband couldn't resist them when he went to pick up our illegal milk. (Don't tell.) So now we have two Bantam chickens, sex as yet undetermined. Anyone know how to tell? Chickens, to be honest, I find a little creepy. They seem verrry far away on the scale of evolutionary development. I don't feel even vaguely related. Which is why, I guess, it's possible to eat them? Anyhow, we won't eat ours. They are pets only, and amazingly well-behaved at that! Not a single pecked hand or toe so far, although they do poop indiscriminately, and several of us have been unfortunate recipients.

Below, you see one fourth of our tiny vegetable garden. We figured we would garden for the kids only this year, so it is all stuff that we thought they would enjoy eating or pulling out! For eating: they love kale (can you believe it?), spinach, peas, carrots, broccoli. For pulling out: onions and potatoes. We also added some pansies and a nasturtium, both of which they will pick and eat! Their grandparents up the lane raise organic produce for sale at high-end restaurants, and in the big city chefs love the edible flowers. Because of this, both my children will pick and eat any pansy they come across! I have to smuggle them into vases...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mommy Politics

As planned, I have posted some lovely cozy photos of things I associate with Mother's Day-- my son at age 1 (note the rash on the cheeks-- after months of agony, we discovered he was sensitive to all chemically fragranced soaps or detergents), and the baby quilt my grandmother and I made for him.

But for some reason I just couldn't get excited about this post. All day I thought about how much I love being a mother, how lucky I am to be home with two healthy, beautiful children. But then after supper, I listened to the Women's Circle on my local college radio, and found myself sobbing over the dishes (anyone else experienced this?) Yes, I have done it before, but usually it was for selfish reasons in the past. This time, it was less so. I was crying because of the songs I heard, songs about mothers whose children died in wars, about women who cried together to cope with the pain of losing their children. I thought of how lucky I am, how sad and ashamed I am to be so fortunate here in my safe little bubble while other women's worlds are destroyed by the deaths of their children. Then I began to feel angry.

I never identified myself as political until I became a mother. I felt rather dispassionate politically throughout young adulthood, maybe because I was fortunate enough to grow up unscathed by any major social evils, such as poverty, war, or abuse. With the birth of my first child, things began to change. Her very birth was a struggle-- a struggle to find a place and a doctor who would allow me to give birth in the manner I chose: drug-free and with low interference on the doctor's part. Then, the struggle to breast-feed in a culture that at best turns a blind eye, and at worst, looks away in disgusted awkwardness. And now: the struggle to teach my kids that constant accumulation of more toys, more clothes, more everything is not the way to happiness. The struggle to feed them things that I consider to be food and not garbage. Don't even get me started on trying to avoid/compete with television or other influences that would teach my daughter to mimic adult sexuality in her dress, speech and behavior. Last year my search for toddler-sized flip flops led me to 3 main department stores full of only high-heeled flip-flops!!!

I don't feel like my expectations are too high. I want to raise children who wait until an appropriate age (as in at least 16!) to become sexually active. I want them to have strong, healthy minds and bodies, affected less by the media than by their natural impulses to eat food that truly feeds them and explore the outdoors or act-out play stories of their own creation. I want to raise a daughter who values herself as more than a beautiful, sexual object or a sharp-witted brain. I want to raise a son who values himself more than his ability to win at a competitive sport or excel in school. I don't think it is too much to ask of my country or society that it provide a safe, healthy environment for my children. Unfortunately, it seems increasingly less able to do so.

Granted, my expectations seem ridiculous when compared with the basic requests of mothers across the world who would only ask that their children not be killed. My requests are insignificant in comparison, and I am willing to admit that I am grateful to my country for providing at least this amount of safety to my children. However, my country does not do the same for all of its citizens, and most definitely participates in the killing of children in other countries. I placed the button on my blog last week to start becoming vocal about my feelings on this issue.

With these thoughts in my head, I couldn't help but wonder, what would happen if mothers were a real political force? Just think: REAL maternity leave (ever hear about Scandanavian maternity leave!?), on-site daycare at your workplace, no marketing to children via television, billboards or the internet, more programs to help people recover from child or sexual abuse, school systems that actually produce healthy, happy, thinking children, juvenile detention and prison programs that focus on healing and reconciliation... The list goes on.

How could we mothers, in spite of our differences in race, culture, or religion, not see past those differences to our shared and very simlar bonds of motherhood? I think we could. I think the only thing stopping us is a belief that we cannot make a difference. Maybe we can. We have to start somewhere. Hence my Motherhood Manifesto. :) I would love to hear yours.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Spring Beauties

Here are two of our most beautiful sights this week: Lilacs in perfect blossom, and a nest of Robin's Eggs, so conveniently placed on the climb-able tree! We all climbed up-- C on her own, me on my own, and then lifting J to see. He asks again every day, but then decides it's too scary halfway up. I just can't get over this gorgeous shade of blue. I would have to say it's my favorite color. Speaking of color, I was delighted with the way this shawl turned out-- my first Lace Project! This is the Shetland Triangle designed by Evelyn C. Clark for Interweave Knits Wrap Style book. I wanted to knit this pattern for a long time, but was too daunted. I shouldn't have been! It was a grat First Lace Project. The beautiful yarn comes from Cherry Tree Hill. Since it's a mill-end, it had no name for the colorway, but it was just the colors I was searching for. Can't wait to wear it! Now to sew a matching dress... Have to finish C's sundress first. :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

The First of May: Frog and Cake for Tea

We had our Second Annual May Day Tea Party yesterday with a family from our Waldorf Homeschool Group. Since we are now out in the woods instead of in town, I thought it made sense to invite one family to stay for the afternoon, as opposed to the 5 girls who were dropped off by their parents last year. We had a lovely time eating the Flower Cakes we had made (well, I made). They were lemon Genoise (French Sponge Cake) with homemade lemon curd filling, and Italian Meringue Buttercream Icing. Yes, I am a firm believer in real desserts. Translation: truly delicious and worth eating! And they did take me almost all day on Wedsnesday. But boy, were they good. I probably ate half of the total quantity, sneaking off into the kitchen when they kids weren't loooking.

But the definite climax of the event was when we encountered a garter snake in the middle of consuming a live frog. No doubt about it, nature is riveting. Those kids could not tear their eyes away. Sad, creepy, but soooo fascinating. I love living out here for that very reason. It is the first time I have seen so many creatures outside (and inside, unfortunately) the house I am occupying This week alone we saw the following: insects, of course, snake (with frog), turtle, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, sparrows, and today my first sighting of an Indigo Bunting! This bird is absolutely beautiful, and increasingly rare due to the loss of its habitat in some areas. If you want to see a photo and hear its lovely song, you can go to the Learn Bird Songs website.