Monday, July 13, 2015

Jesus Didn't Make My Son's Body

photo by Tara Butler
After church a while ago, Graham proclaimed, "Jesus made my body! And trees! Did he make our house?"

After trying to explain how it was possible that Jesus was the creator of the whole earth and a carpenter, but not also a suburban construction worker, I realized another discrepancy in my four-year-old's declaration. I tried to clarify:

"Graham, I made your body."

"No, Jesus did!"

"Actually, I did, with the power of God. I grew your body with my body."

Then I can't remember what happened, but it probably involved Graham running away to get a snack (11 o'clock church is rough).

photo by Tara Butler
I don't fault my son's Sunday school teacher for this at all. I learned the same phrase, and I've probably repeated it. Of course, all life comes from His power, and all bodies are formed from matter from the earth He created, but I don't think it's accurate to say, "Jesus made my body." That's oversimplifying the truth and foreclosing an important discussion about the role and power of women.

I make an effort to emphasize the amazing contribution I have made to our children in creating their bodies. I don't do this to brag or impress my children, or usurp the roles of God or our Savior in their lives. I do it because I believe that the creation of bodies, however universal, is a uniquely divine process, a power and privilege given to women. It is one way I contribute to the eternal progression of God's children (there are, of course, other vital ways women participate in God's work). I want my children to understand that women and men have equally important roles to play in God's plan for them. I feel that I am glorifying God in acknowledging a concrete way that He allows me and His other daughters to participate in His work.

Would you ever say that Jesus baptized you? No! Because He didn't! A man, through the power of God, baptizes you. Just like a woman, through the power of God, creates and gives birth to your body.

Ruby on the day of her baby blessing
When we generalize that "Jesus made my body," we are missing an important opportunity to acknowledge the role of women in the Plan of Salvation. I don't think it takes any glory away from Christ when we recognize that women are serving Him and God's children by creating bodies through His power. Just like our reverence for the priesthood and the respect we show to those ordained to offices in that priesthood doesn't diminish our worship for our Savior. Acknowledging that women play a vital, irreplaceable role in His plan actually increases my love and deference for Him because I am humbled that I have been entrusted with such an important part of His work, I can see how He loves and entrusts men and women with His power in equal measure, and my experience with and knowledge of the process of procreation informs my understanding of the atonement.

photo by Andrea Oates
Next time you're discussing the importance, divinity, and origin of our bodies, consider acknowledging that it is women through whom this power and blessing flow (literally!). Instead of teaching your kids that "Jesus made your body," maybe try something like this, "God and Jesus gave me a very important job! I'm in charge of making bodies for the kids in our family. It's a really important job and God gave me a special, sacred power so I can make bodies. Our Heavenly Parents and Jesus all have bodies and they wanted you to have one, too, so you could be like them. With God's power, I make bodies."

photo by Andrea Oates
My husband agrees that this contribution of women shouldn't be minimized, and I love to hear him teach our children about the divine power of my motherhood. I feel supported and honored as a daughter of God and mother of our children when he teaches them that my gift of a physical body is just as important as his subsequent gifts of baptism, confirmation, etc. Our society often discounts the importance and miracles of birth and bodies, or dismisses the process as gross and commonplace. Changing the words we use when we teach important doctrines about bodies and birth, mortality, and the embodied nature of God reclaims the divinity of the procreative process, establishes that women are connected to God's power, and creates an empowering paradigm for our daughters to recognize their procreative powers as an important facet of their identities as servants of Christ.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ridiculously Easy, No-sew Baby Doll Carrier Tutorial, + Random Life Tips

I'm no Martha Stewart, but sometimes I have good mothering/housekeeping/crafty ideas. Here are a few random ones that have made me particularly delighted:

-When you're on vacation or an outing that you want to Instagram the heck out of to show that you actually get off your couch sometimes ... but you're out of memory on your phone! Curses! You don't want to spend ten minutes going through your photo stream to find and delete the forty pictures that your toddler took of her toes, because the moment is about to pass! The pony ride is about to be over, people! Instead, pick an app to delete. You can easily reload it later when you've had a chance to transfer your pictures to your computer. I usually delete my BBC or CNN apps. News can wait when you're making memories (make sure you read this in a grandfather-from-a-Nicholas-Sparks-novel voice).

-Instead of peeling the safety seal off your vanilla (or other extracts or liquids you usually only need a small amount of), cut a small slit in the seal so you have more control over how fast it comes out. If yours comes in a plastic bottle, you can even give it a little squeeze to fill that teaspoon a quarter-second faster. You'll spill less and will neatly sidestep your phobia of accidentally wasting half the bottle of your expensive Madagascar bourbon vanilla if your hand twitches.

-Here's how to make a super-easy, no-sew baby doll carrier with which your kids can adorably imitate you. Seriously, this project will last as long as Donald Trump's political career.

Lay out  an old t-shirt and mark it for cutting like so:

Note my summer toenails.
Cut through both layers. 

In case you skipped kindergarten and don't know what "cutting" means.
One of your scraps can be used as a chic dickie.

You have to make this face when you're wearing a dickie.

Your project should look like this now. I forgot to take a picture of the next set of cut lines before I cut them, so I added them in digitally. I love technology.

Cut on these lines, but THROUGH ONE LAYER.

Unfolded, it should look like this. I love that down arrow.

It's like a disembodied bunny coming in for a hug.

 More cut lines. Again, THROUGH TOP LAYER ONLY.

All done!!! 

Now to put it on. Tie the waist straps at the back.

Remember to support baby while you're securing the carrier. Just kidding, it's just a stuffed polar bear.

Cross straps across the back and tie in front.

Support the neck!!
 So cute. Make another one. Goodness knows you have BYU t-shirts to spare.

Baby carriers are practically clothes.

Little mama.
 Awesome! If you make one, send me a picture and I will put it on the blog along with an interview where I highlight how amazing you are at being a person.

Gotta go make some lentils. Adios.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

When I Die

I know some intense stuff has been happening around the world lately, so I'm going to write about something more light and fluffy to soothe your frazzled internet nerves: 


Why is a 20-something mother thinking about such morbid things as the passage of time? I'd argue that no one is more acutely aware of the speedy jaws of time than someone who has approximately four minutes to shower in peace until an enraged toddler starts throwing things at the door. Also, I'm a really deep person who thinks about metaphysical stuff all the time. Okay, so I was actually just looking at my arm and noticed a weird configuration of freckles/marks that may come in handy for the public to know about in case I go missing and die in a ditch and need to be identified later by the small town lady cop who finds me and works my puzzling case, all while she's in the midst of working through a divorce from her high school sweetheart, opening an e-bakery to fund her mother's chemo treatments, and managing her micro-farm. It'll be like Fargo meets Eat, Pray, Love, plus The Fault in Our Stars, for the cancer.

Here are the marks, on my right upper arm, FYI:

They needed a little something ...


Now when my missing person poster goes up on the cork board by the bathrooms at Panera, it can include such vital knowledge as "grimacing ghost face birthmark on upper right arm." You could substitute "melancholy" for "grimacing" because he looks a little frowny. Or maybe he's just whiny?

Over-legislation ghost.

Accidentally-transracial ghost.

Ironically-capitalist hipster ghost.

When I die, I'd also like everyone to know the details of my death, especially if it's untimely. Don't be vague about how I died, because that drives morbidly curious people like me crazy! If I choke to death in the pantry because I was pounding a cupcake too quickly in an effort to avoid my children seeing and asking for a bite, put that in my obituary! "She died selfish and happy, with the smallest smudge of chocolate buttercream nonchalantly smeared across her lips, once so warm and slightly-chapped in life, now so cold in death."

Other important details: bury me with a 32 oz bottle of DevaCurl conditioner because I'm worried Amazon Prime doesn't deliver to the spirit world, and I want my hair to be looking hydrated and fabulous forevermore.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Definitive Mother's Day Anti Gift Guide

There are loads of bloggers out there who are more rich and posh than I am who will tell you all the things you could buy for your mama/baby mama for Mother's Day. I will tell you what not to get her, beyond the standard no-no's of shapewear, cleaning products, or a Norelco beard trimmer with your name on it.

1. The Cast Iron Oyster Grill Pan from Sur La Table. No one needs this. Unless your mom summers in the Hamptons. Or is a grill-servant for someone who summers in the Hamptons. Or needs something large and heavy to defend herself with if she finds herself hiding from an intruder in the pantry under the shelf where she keeps cookware she never uses.

The epitome of over-specialization.

2. A side of beef. 320 pounds of it! For only $1329 (plus tax) you can supply your mother with enough meat to feed the panther you got her for Mother's Day last year! Oh wait, you didn't get her a panther? Then don't buy her this much beef.

Watch the video. Too much meat to even be captured by a photo!

3. A fur-covered exercise ball chair. No grown woman should have to subject her office space to something that looks like it was upholstered in Furby-hide. I don't care how swanky PB Teen is (I can only ever think of "Peanut Butter Teen" when I read this), your mom doesn't (shouldn't) want it! The woman wants some back support while she browses Pinterest writes her momoirs. On a different note, wouldn't it be so awesome to have enough disposable income to build a special room in your house that you would fill with these fur balls? In a huge range of sizes? I'm thinking anywhere from small, dodgeball-sizes to maybe a few with 12-foot diameters. You could rent the room out for parties. I would go to a fur ball party. There would also be a make-your-own Italian soda bar.

The aqua one was formerly an extra on Sesame Street.

4. Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers. Only because you should get the entire collection! Don't cheap out on your mom!

5. An all-expenses-paid trip to Cawker City, Kansas to see the biggest ball of twine in the United States. Unless the trip is scheduled for August during the city "Twine-a-thon" when more twine is added to the ball. That could be really intense.

It's not even a ball!
Don't take this the wrong way, but wouldn't that be a great place to hide a dead body? You'd have to do some initial wrapping, of course, but every year during the Twine-a-thon, the other Cawker City citizens would unwittingly do their part to make sure no one every discovered your twine-mummy. Also, if anyone ever suspected that the corpse of grumpy old, ironically-named Mr. Love (the victim, murdered during a botched robbery when you were attempting to steal his prize piece of beef jerky that looks like Ryan Gosling) was within the twine ball, there would be a city-wide outcry at the thought of cutting the ball apart to confirm suspicions. Dibs on this plot idea. I'm going to title the book Love Entwined.

On a sentimental note, happy early Mother's Day to my own dear mother. She's creative, generous, hilarious, and a mean shot with a black powder rifle. Maybe we do have some business in Cawker City ...

Right down the middle!

Best/worst thing you ever received/gave for Mother's Day?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ruby the Fluffy

Growing up, I was never much of a "girly-girl." I had one short-lived foray into dance lessons (tap--insanely boring and lacking the competitive excitement I found in soccer), loathed any clothes with ruffles or bows, and was once mistaken for a boy as I entered the girls' bathroom because my hair was cut pixie-short. I'd probably still be wearing boys' cargo shorts if I hadn't discovered the superior comfort of yoga pants (their gender-normativeness is just a bonus).

But having a little daughter and dressing her up in cute clothes is ridiculously fun. When she's old enough to tell me her preferences, I'll respect them (to a point to be debated on, I'm sure), but until then, RUFFLES. Not the potato chip, people, the fluffy kind.

My friend Olya is one of the most entrepreneurial people I know. One of her several business endeavors is running an online shop selling these gloriously fluffy rompers (love that word! Romp around little baby, romp!!) and tutus for babies. Olya gave Ruby this little peacock outfit to frolic around in right before Christmas (not posting these pics until now because ... three kids=zombie mother emoji).

I dressed her up, got out my professional mother camera, and learned that photographing toddlers is a circus. A circus that is on fire. Metaphorically.

I love Ruby's little side-eye in this one. She kind of looks like a criminal. "If you try to adjust this hair bow I will cut you."

Posing demurely by the Christmas tree.

Channelling the spirit of Cosette in this shot.

Then things got a little hairy. Ruby was tired of modeling and demanded to be naked.

We needed a replacement model ...

"Fertile Elizabethan Pharoah"

Then Graham channelled his inner Zoolander (who else is dying for Zoolander 2?? Fun fact: Nathan told me he loved me for the first time while we were watching Zoolander).

The camera loves Graham.

I'm so excited to have such a goofball to keep me company.
I love having fluffy, fun, costume props around for my kids to play with. Some of my favorite memories as a kid are of dressing up (as detectives, orphans, fortune-tellers, pioneers, etc.). These adorable pettiskirts are fluffy and fun. It's like you are wearing a cupcake. I love them.


Clinging to the edge of high fashion.
Olya's shop can be found on FacebookEtsy, or at Check them out!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How to Save Your Marriage ... From a Dragon!

To start off, let me remind you that I have a degree in Marriage and Family Studies, so I know stuff. My dragon expertise comes from watching the movie Dragonheart several times as a child.

The institution of marriage is under attack. Yes, yes, of course divorce is always lurking in shadows, but let's talk about a more pressing threat to your marriage:


Do you want to dragon-proof your marriage? Of course you do. Then put your marriage certificate in a fire-proof safe and follow these five simple strategies that will protect your marriage from any dragon.


1. Don't plan your date night next to a dragon lair. Decrease the chances of having your marriage decimated by a fiery blast from a dragon's maw by avoiding the scaly beast's neighborhood. I don't care if you have a coupon to the Macaroni Grill across the street from his cave--you're going to have to downgrade to Olive Garden if you want to save your marriage. Send Frodo if you're dying for some of the peasant bread.

2. Have sex more often. Dragons are prudes; they'll stay away.

3. Communication. Use "I feel _____ when you _____" statements. Example: "I feel paralyzed by fear when your giant green eyeball appears outside my kitchen window while we're discussing the family budget." Contrary to what Smaug would have you think, dragons aren't mind-readers! Communicate your needs and feelings.

4. Discover the dragon's love language. Distract the dragon from his physical hunger by feeding his heart. Does your dragon prefer words of affirmation? You and your spouse could sit down and write a little note of appreciation that he hasn't eaten you thus far. Does the behemoth, winged reptile respond well to gifts? Offer your neighbor's annoying dog as a little treat to tide her over while you make your escape. Physical touch? Tough luck!

5. Share the burden. If you want your marriage to survive a brutal dragon assault, make sure you're both doing your part. One spouse can't be expected to chart the dragon's movements and feeding patterns, practice defensive archery, and patch the flame-retardant battlements around your suburban starter home all on their own! Negotiate a mutually beneficial dragon-chore-chart ("I'll mop up the carnage from last night's attack on our ill-prepared neighbors if you spray the lawn with male dragon urine*!" "Ok!"). When it comes to not becoming the next meal for a flying lizard of death, it takes two.

You love each other. You don't want your bones crushed into powder and your flesh ripped to tatty ribbons by the massive, sawlike teeth of a wyvern. Save your marriage from dragons.

*A common dragon repellant, although only effective on male dragons.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Downton Abbey Season 5, Episode 1, Musings of Disappointment

I should probably blog about something more impactful than Downton Abbey (like, oh, my new baby, or else a late e-Christmas card brag-update on our family, or maybe even a lentil recipe?), but too bad. Here are my thoughts on Season 5, Episode 1. Spoilers, duh.

If you squint really hard the chair kind of looks like Matthew is giving her a hug.

Lady Mary is one drop-waisted dress short of an 80s elementary school class photo. While Anna is performing the highly technical task of taking off Lady Mary's necklace, our ice-cold heroine monotones about her worry that she has to choose a second husband without knowing everything (ahem) about him. My loyalty to Lady Mary is wearing thin ... she talks about wanting to have a trial-run tryst with all the passion of someone talking about oatmeal, she treats motherhood like a post-tea-time game of Scrabble, and she's lost the icy fire that played so well against Matthew's warmth and good humor. "I've been reading about crop rotation" is her most exciting line of the episode. Gah. Hopefully Charles Blake will make an appearance in Episode 2 because he at least gets Mary out of autopilot. But what about Lord Gillingham ... ? He gets his own paragraph.

Lord Gillingham has lost his marbles. How convenient that he's decided to offer Mary a scandalous week away, right after she voiced such an interest to her maid! It's almost like Julian Fellowes was hiding under the bed, eavesdropping, while Lady Mary shared her secret wishes with Anna, and then he traipsed right over to Gillingham's place to spill the sordid beans. Gag me. And Mary practically agrees to it! I know "times are changing" in this episode, but call me old fashioned--I like characters who have a lot of lovely tension, steal some kisses, go through some drama, and then overcome all odds to get married. No calendared illicit getaways. Lord Gillingham may be a "gentleman," but he is no gentleman. Also, he is as exciting and mysterious as oatmeal.

Poor Lady Edith. She'd better not start hitting on the farmer who's taking care of her daughter (she has shown a proclivity for married farmers), because honestly he might be my favorite character from this episode (his fireman helmet? Ridiculously awesome.), and I can't have him ruined by infidelity. Because infidelity ruins people (not always irreparably, of course--please watch The Painted Veil for a wonderful story of marital redemption. Don't read the book, though.). Also, Marigold is the most adorable name on the show. Edith, once so promising with her writing career and bf, is now pitiful to watch. Oh, Lady Sybil, why did you have to die?? Your sisters are killing me.

Baxter reveals some of her shady past (hint: it's the only shady past lady's maids ever have: stealing jewelry) to Lady Cora in order to free herself from Thomas' extortion. Lady Cora delivers a scathing reprimand to Thomas for his snakiness, but then reverts to her usual dingbat ways and doesn't sack him because he saved Edith after she lit the house on fire. I like Baxter. I like to dislike Thomas.

I want to like Tom's lady friend, the teacher Sarah Bunting, but she is a total jerk. She has so much potential to add some excitement to the cast, but her lack of manners completely overwhelms her refreshing social views. Watch this episode for a lesson on how not to discuss politics at a party. You don't have to pretend to agree with people to make them feel comfortable, but I also don't think you should insult your host for his views and then insist on traipsing down to his basement after he tells you he doesn't want you to. I don't care how much you want to meet Mrs. Patmore. We all want to meet Mrs. Patmore! And there's something patronizing about how she breezes into the kitchen to thank the staff. "Look at me! I know you're real people down here! I will condescend to the kitchens to ask you useless questions about breakfast trays, feigning interest in your jobs while simultaneously subtly dismissing them as meaningless buttresses to outdated social hierarchies! I am so progressive!" I will give Sarah one more episode's chance before hoping she dies in some Julian Fellowes-concocted freak accident.

What Downton Abbey really needs is an Elizabeth Bennett or a Mr. Darcy. I want some wit, some principles, and some drama. Is that so much to ask for?

What did you think of Episode 1? If you cheated and have already watched the whole season, don't give me any spoilers!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Heart of Darkness

I don't consider myself an especially emotional person, unless you count experiencing near-constant cravings for Panera's Greek salad as emotional (Kalamata olives are my Prozac). Being pregnant, however, makes me weepy sometimes--especially when it comes to anything involving the pain (hypothetical or real) of my husband or kids ... or anyone who is or was ever a child. Maybe this is how God tries to prepare me for having kids--by having hormonal empathy crammed down my throat so hard it leaks out my tear ducts.

Disney documentary on flamingos featuring chicks getting left behind by the flock to die because salt-deposit manacles have slowed them down? Stories of toddlers with cancer? Anything on the news, ever? Tears. Ok, I didn't cry during the flamingo movie, but I only because I forced myself not to imagine my children as the flamingo chicks, walking innocent and alone across the deserted, salty lakebed, wandering until they starve or are eaten by storks.

From the film "The Crimson Wing"--so depressing. Note the salt-shackled legs.

One day last week I set myself up for failure by following a Facebook link to a blog detailing the end of a beloved husband's battle against brain cancer. I knew it would make me cry, but I kept reading anyway because I'm human and I was putting off getting off the couch and out of my bathrobe (I'm so over maternity clothes). So I cried and cried while Graham and Ruby did who knows what in the kitchen. I finally pulled myself away, tried to shower away my puffy eyes, and took the kids to our new ward's playgroup.

Graham is at a hard age. He's too old to be interested by the toddlers (although he and Ruby crack each other up at home), but too young to keep up socially/physically with "the big kids," despite his best efforts.

One day he won't hold the brush like a caveman. If my child development professor is to be believed.

He was the only boy his age at the playground, so he was very interested in hanging out with a couple boys a year older than him. Developmentally, "almost four" is very different than "almost five." For the most part, Graham was oblivious to his position at the bottom of the totem pole, happy to trail after the boys, under the impression that he was fully involved in their games, whether or not he actually was. Then eventually he came to me, explaining through his tears that one of the boys had told him he couldn't play with them.

I don't want to demonize the boys--it was only an hour earlier that Graham had growled at a two-and-a-half-year-old who wanted to play with his ball. I think children are the worst ageists there are. It's normal. It's still sad when it happens to your kid, but it's normal for kids to find extra security in their own age-defined identities by excluding others. I remember the most important factor in determining who my third-grade best friend would be: after looking at the birthday board on the first day of school, Megan and I discovered we shared a birthday. Instant best friends, no questions asked.

Ordinarily, I would give him a hug, offer some sympathy, and suggest he find somewhere else to play on the playground. But I'm pregnant, so my heart broke even more than it usually does when this happens, and I found myself fighting back tears, hoping my incessant blinking would keep the other moms from noticing my ocular distress.

I distracted Graham with a ride on the swings while a fellow mom went to talk to the boy, who then came over and very nicely told Graham that he had been kidding and invited him to play. Graham was all too happy to forgive and forget and hopped out of the swing to return to a game of monsters/rock-throwing/running-around-screaming/whatever-boys-do. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. The sweet mom who had talked with the older boy echoed an apology and I lost it. The lump in my throat refused to be swallowed and I just burst into tears. I started blubbering about feeling bad for Graham, being pregnant and emotional, and then added something incoherent about the man who I've never met who died of cancer.


She gave me a hug and I kind of pulled myself together ... but I'd revealed my most vulnerable (pregnancy-augmented) soft spot: my kids' feelings.

I'd also revealed myself to be a crier. But I'm not a crier. I'm a pregnant crier. Not that there's anything wrong with being a crier, pregnant or not-pregnant. Cry on me whenever you want! Just don't think I will return the favor, unless I'm pregnant and someone was just mean to my kid. Or if I'm on the phone with an insurance company and getting mad. I also cry then.

It was just embarrassing, okay? It's one thing to care about your kids, but it's quite another to have a proxy cry long after your kid has gotten over the initial offense, and especially in front of people who don't know you very well yet.

When was your worst awkward cry? I remember an especially ugly cry in front of my high school English teacher ... the one who had a rule specifically forbidding crying. But how could I not cry when she gave me a B on my Heart of Darkness project after I'd spent hours analyzing the themes of greed and colonialism and cutting out coordinating photos of Africans and gold from my dad's beloved National Geographic collection? She was so cold about it ... that's what made me mad, which in turn made me cry. She's the one who obliterated my desire to be a high school English teacher, but I guess I should be grateful because instead I married an oil baron (cough*analyst at Exxon*cough) and now live a cushy life full of Amazon Prime shipping, and completely devoid of novels by Joseph Conrad.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Poodle Reviews: Walking with the Women of the New Testament

One of my favorite bloggers, Heather Farrell, has a new book out: Walking with the Women of the New Testament, and I was sent a copy to review. It is a beautiful book, and it looks much better on my Ikea coffee table than the newsprint Harbor Freight Tools ads that pollute my mailbox ceaselessly and somehow never make their way to the recycling bin.

Besides the gorgeous cover and beautiful photographs inside, this book is filled with amazing stories and insights into the lives of women of the New Testament. I'm sometimes frustrated by how the scriptures are dominated by the stories and reflections of men, but this book offered a wonderful collection of scriptures, ideas, and historical contexts that all shed light on the immense value Christ placed on women throughout His ministry, as well as the important roles those women played in their Savior's work.

The book is divided into sections profiling nearly all the women mentioned in the New Testament. In each section, Heather Farrell provides scriptural references to the woman's story, offers clarifying historical context and insights into how the translation of the text can increase our understanding, and includes her well-constructed thoughts on what we as modern women can learn from our ancient sisters in the gospel. Her reflections often go much deeper than the Sunday-school interpretations we hear over and over--you can tell that she has pondered the lives of these women as real people rather than mere characters in a morality play.

This book has been especially moving to me as I prepare for the upcoming birth of my third child (I feel especially thankful for insight into Mary's story--I'm due the day after Christmas!). While this collection of stories makes it clear that Christ also values women for their contributions beyond the sphere of motherhood, there is a prominent theme of women being central both physically and symbolically to doctrines and events surrounding birth, nurturing, and resurrection. I've felt a greater connection to my Savior as I've read about the respect and compassion He had toward mothers.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how the provided historical and cultural contexts add significance to the Savior's interactions with women. A small section dedicated to menstruation and the concept of being ritually "unclean" added a lot to my understanding of the story of the woman with an issue of blood, as well as to the symbolic meaning behind that part of the Mosaic law. Sections on marriage, death, divorce, and other topics were interesting and informative. Understanding the low social position of women at the time helped me appreciate how radical Christ's interactions with women must have been at the time as He taught them, treated them as equals, and invited them to contribute to His ministry.

The stylized photographs in the book are stunning and helped me imagine the women as real people. I felt better able to relate to their stories when I could picture them as women similar to myself. One critique, though: nearly all the women who modeled for the pictures are Caucasian. Personally, I felt like all the models should have been either historically accurate (Middle Eastern, Greek, black, etc.), or else should have represented the entire spectrum of races. I wonder if the latter option would have enhanced the book's ability to present these stories as relevant and relatable to the New Testament's diverse, modern, global audience. Otherwise, I did appreciate the variety in the models' ages, shapes, and physical features. The posing and costumes were also lovely.

I love this book, and I'm excited to add it to the "women and the gospel" section of my library. This would make an excellent addition to your own library, a great "welcome to Young Women" gift, or a wonderful Christmas present for anyone (men should learn about women in the scriptures, too!).

Amazon has a 30% deal on books going on right now, with the code HOLIDAY30. Use it to get a copy of Walking with the Women of the New Testament!

*I know this glowing review isn't written in my usual dorky, satirical style, but I didn't want there to be any confusion about how I really feel about this book--it's beautiful and inspiring and I legitimately recommend it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jogging Stroller Craigslist Ad

Besides this blog and my eternally-unfinished novel manuscript, I don't have many opportunities to write anything but boring "I'll be at playgroup, too" emails. So when I finally decided to let go of my first jogging stroller, I decided to take the chance to have a little fun. I'm reposting it here because I've sold the stroller, and I'm tired of getting texts asking about it so I'm taking the ad down.

Baby Jogger Jogging Stroller--$25

If you're looking for a bare-bones, threadbare, seasoned jogging stroller, then look no further. This jogging stroller will not teach your baby how to speak Korean, it won't play music to motivate you as you push through the sleep deprivation, but it will keep your baby snug in a lovely sling-like cocoon as you jog (or "jog"--I'm not judging). It even has a hand brake and safety tether if you are worried you'll lose control of your precious cargo while running down one of Houston's legendarily steep hills. A simple foldaway canopy will provide your wee babe the protection from the sun that your pediatrician has totally stressed you out over, and a handy pouch is available behind the seat for stowing your water bottle, grody sweat towel, and fitspirational photos of a postpartum Gwyneth Paltrow.

This stroller would be perfect for someone who has lofty ambitions about running off the baby weight, but would like to prove their commitment before investing in something with more bells and whistles.

Buy this stroller for little more than the cost of three Chick-fil-a runs. It will eventually feel great to run again, you will eventually stop leaking through your sports bra, and when you can finally run three miles like you're the Beyoncé of 5ks, you will get pregnant again and upgrade to a double BOB. Until then, here's the perfect set of wheels for you.

I sold the stroller the day after posting the ad, and have since gotten at least ten other inquiries. I'm kind of kicking mysef for pricing it so low, but at least it's out of my garage and some other parent is enjoying the constant guilt of having an unused jogging stroller.