Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What do They Say about June?

I was trying to think of some whimsical saying about the month of June and cannot think of any. It doesn't really matter, we have found June a beautiful canvas on which to finger paint so many wonderful things. New food creations in the kitchen, fabulous people, colorful birds, Father's Day celebrations and visits from Gramma.

Here is our June:

Father's Day with the best Daddy in the universe

First Annual Father Daughter Cootiepalooza

Cooties is serious business around here

Father's Day Gin Cocktail Hour

Some of our favorite peeps in Pittsburgh celebrating their Men

The Lovely Lydia and Beet eating Gabriel

Phil and Henry

Taking a break from beets and whole wheat pasta to eat a creamsicle

Being a Dad means wearing the tie you are given/made

Watching for Birds

We caught one!!

Mama, can I have ONE MORE blackberry?

Tom Selleck (a little low)

Pursy occupying herself by measuring out some parsley for dinner

One night for dinner I was just trying to make something quick without having to run to the grocery store. It was also 90 degrees and I didn't want to turn the oven on or stand over the grill outside. This orzo pasta with fresh peas, basil and parmesan sauce I am calling Summer Macaroni and Cheese. It is so light and fresh, made with supplies we had on hand and the babes gobbled it up. I would love to share the recipe but it was an Amelia Bedelia creation. A little of this and a little of that with no measuring cup in sight.
Basically I cooked the orzo and reserved a large ramekin of pasta water before I drained. I gave the peas a quick simmer in the reserved pasta water then added a good amount of freshly shredded parmesan cheese to the water and peas. Seasoned with salt and pepper then tossed the orzo back in the pot. Stirred everything together and added the fresh basil once the sauce had thickened and become just a little creamy. I added a few hits of red pepper flakes to my bowl for some heat.
Served with a German white wine for me and juicewater for the babes. Light and delicious and oh so pretty. Summer Macaroni and Cheese.

Kid Tested

Knox, do you like it?

Naked Abacus-ing

Eating Popsicles with Gramma

Happy June to All! Here's hoping July brings it's own beauty and new discoveries.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This is Hard

I try and be as honest as possible on this blog, mostly because if you have two minutes to read something I have written I would prefer to share something true and real. I don't share EVERY feeling and thought because I would also prefer you not to walk away feeling like the world is a dark and lonely place. Because sometimes I have dark and lonely days- even when surrounded by husband and babes and all good things.

If girls like me can have dark and lonely days, no one is safe.

I was born with the innate ability to make the lemonade. See the silver lining. Drink the glass half full with gusto and a pinky out. Find the shiny thing in the big pile of dog crap. In other words, I am the Webster definition of an Optimist. With a healthy dose of Idealist and Excitement-ist to make me officially the happiest person on the planet. Seriously. I don't like being sad or disappointed or frustrated or God forbid, resigned.

This has served my family so well over the past 10 years. Grad school in New Orleans and me with a BA in Anthropology needs to support out family? No problem. Swanky stationery store in uptown needs a girl with a great smile and willing to make $22K/year. Evacuated from a hurricane? Let's go shopping for new clothes to replace what we lost. Living with your parents while we figure out what to do? Sounds like a hoot. Itty bitty garden apartment in DC with reefer smoke coming down through the vent system? Going to clinicals during nursing school smelling like pot is hi-larious. And that enormous old house in Bellefonte which even our realtor tried to talk us out of because it was so much work and square footage? The two of us will fill it up with laughter and antique furniture and dinner parties.

I have never been unhappy anywhere we have lived, and we have lived in a lot of places. I love change and new things and starting over. I really do have an amazing ability to work hard and find something good about every situation. I just need time and energy and I can do it.

Enter this season of life with a 3 year old Purslane, an 18 month old Knox and a husband who is establishing himself in a new job working late nights and early mornings. Enter working evening shifts at the hospital and coming home at midnight, knowing that Pursy will be awake and ready for breakfast at 6am with no respect for what time I actually fell asleep. Enter two babes who need and want me around every second of the day because their worlds are exploding with new accomplishments and scary obstacles and mastering skills. Enter Grant who is a really good friend and wants to have drinks on the porch in the evening so he can introduce me to the new National album. Enter a house that is still not self cleaning, laundry that multiples at an alarming rate and a damnable desire to feed my family healthy, homemade foods.

I don't feel like I ever get enough sleep. But that isn't a big deal- coffee helps with that. And I don't beat myself up about the sticky kitchen floor or the goldfish crackers smashed into the rug because that is just life with little babes. I am fine with lunches of cherry tomatoes and cheese and pita chips and peaches because along with being easy it is good food. I don't need to MAKE something for every meal. The every day life stuff I feel is as good as it can be. I accept the chaos and smudges on the window and just enjoy a second game of Ladybug with Pursy.

And I feel so cliché complaining about it even a little bit because the scale is tipped overwhelmingly to the Good Stuff side. No major health problems, money to explore the awesome city we live in, two gorgeous children, resources to buy fresh, local food, friends to sit around our table, and a marriage that is great despite two people who could not be more different mashed together and making it work.

But having two small babes is all consuming and full of anxiety and second guessing and frustration as I come to terms every day with the fact that what I desire to do and what I am forced to do are different. I want to give them fantastic childhoods full of adventure and free range experiences, but with two of them at the age where running away from Mom is great, I have to constantly balance letting them explore their world and trying to keep them alive. It is hard to let go of all that responsibility after they go to bed, so evenings are usually a frustrating time of trying to transition from exhausted Mama to sexy, interesting wife. It doesn't sound so hard to let Grant put a beer in my hand and force me to sit on the back porch and listen to the Pirates game with him, but it feels like a supreme effort most nights.

And I get angry that my best friend has to beg for my attention. I forget birthdays and miss phone dates and don't return emails for weeks- people are so understanding but I feel like such a bad friend. Books go unread and recipes go untried and concerts go unattended and camping trips go unplanned. Grant sent me a text this morning after leaving for a conference in Baltimore that simply said

"I miss you and me before we had kids."

And I was so relieved to hear him say it first, because I don't need anything else to feel guilty about. Certainly not admitting out loud anything that would sound like regret about having children. And that's not it at all- there was no regret in his words. Just an acknowledgment that having kids is hard sometimes. And all that time we had to focus on each other was good and is missed. The ease of going out to dinner, going to a show, watching a movie, making a four course meal out of Food & Wine just for the two of us, sex on the back porch, sleeping in until it was ridiculously lazy...

I miss that too.

These dark and lonely days have been coming more frequently. I keep trying to talk myself out of it or even shame myself out of it with things like "you are so blessed and have no reason to not love your life". This is the optimist in me that refuses to give up and just be sad about the things I cannot do anymore. I adore these two little people who run my life at present. But I really liked the girl I was before babes and the life I used to have too.

This is hard.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pin Ups and Flappers

I am a huge fan of the pin up girl. I have one tattooed on my left thigh and our 2012 calendar was Gil Elvgrin, one of the more famous pin up artists of the early 1900's. I love their confident smiles and their gorgeous outfits and the way there is overt sexuality, and always just shy of risque. They were scandalous in their time but with a society now that wants more and more exposure and the illusion of a naked body isn't enough, I find the pin up girl lovely and refreshing.

She is gorgeous, obviously. Posed and preening, of course. These aren't Olan Mills photographs with the faux library shelves in the background. She is the image of female beauty not hiding demurely behind anything but in your face and daring you to look away. You can't, she is beautiful. But she is always alone. I'm sure there are variations of pin up photography that have men in them, taking her sexuality and femininity from something she owns to something she is giving away. Her heels and lipstick now something that someone else would like.

But the classic pin up is just her. Maybe a breeze catching her skirt or a wave pulling down her top. But its all about her. Confidently owning the body of a woman and daring you not to at least look twice.

It isn't about size or color or pose. These women were doing exactly as they pleased. Challenging the societal idea of hiding women away behind corsets or floor length skirts or parasols.

Their older sisters were the flappers. Marvelous women who simply did what they wanted. Smoke in public, dance the night away, take lovers. They wore shorter skirts, makeup, feathers in their hair, and drove men crazy. I would argue the most appealing thing about the flapper was not the exposed skin or brawdy behavior, but the attitude that told the world that they could ask for what they wanted. And because they became a culture, the word spread. And introduced the "radical idea that women are people". (Rebecca West)

I have been thinking about this idea since reading the blog post about what feminism is by Jezebel blogger Lindy West. Thinking about what I want to tell Purslane about what being a woman does and does not mean. The things worth fighting for and the things she should not waste her time on. But more than that, I have been thinking about my own view of womanhood. After all, how I carry myself as a woman will speak more to her about what I believe than any theory will. Am I a feminist? I don't think I know what that means anymore.

 I do know that when I think about what it means to view women as people I don't think about what we look like near as much as I think about how we act. So what will I tell my daughter as she grows up in a culture that is sure to be even more demanding of how women are to look and act then it is now?

I will tell Pursy that she is loved deeply and without reservation by her Dad and I. I will tell her that no one can make her feel any way about herself without her permission. I will tell her that she owes no one anything and is responsible for everyone who has not been given as much. That being a woman means noticing when her strength is needed to pick up someone weaker. When her courage is needed to make a wrong into something right. When her humor can bring healing to something unfixable. And she can be whoever she wants and know I could not be more proud of her.

I pray over her every night that she will know she is loved by God and she is lovely because He loves her. Her worth is tied to nothing other than that.

The flapper and the pin up girl had something to teach us if we can get past the lingering idea that they were just all about sex. These girls were colorful and beautiful and unafraid of a society that tried to define them. They were shamed and labeled and denied things the other girls who played by the rules were given. If Pursy chooses to move with the rhythm of her culture and let herself be defined by their ideas, there are many fabulous women who have used that smoother path to make a great impact. But if she chooses to be a modern day flapper, I will be right there handing her pearls and telling all the critics to watch out.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Long Way Home

When we were first married I tried to get Grant to call me Pretty Baby because of this song- I just loved the protective intimacy of those two words together. And I had been called a lot of things in different seasons of life, but never anything like that soft affirming possessive nickname that only a lover would use. Pretty Baby didn't stick, but I have accepted the variations of Babe and Baby that Grant settled on for me. It never seems patronizing or typical. Rather, coming off his tongue it has come to sound like a second given name.

I love this song. The soul of a lover admitting the desire to wander. But home is always with you. Even if I take the long way.

I love you Pretty Baby but I always take the long way home.

Caryn and Chris are Engaged!

Last weekend we hosted an engagement party for our friends Caryn and Chris who are going to be married this September. We met these two lovebirds not long after we moved to Pittsburgh and after watching them come and go a few times Grant (literally) clotheslined Chris and told them they were coming to dinner. We were instant friends and are so excited to stand up with them as they exchange their "I do's" in a few months!

I should mention that Caryn is a photographer and it is scary business taking pictures of a photographer... but here are some photos of their engagement party, which was super fun and attended by people just as fabulous as Chris and Caryn themselves.

Chris decided to cut his hair right before the party and surprise Caryn
Not sure if the surprise is going well...

Caryn telling me to mind my business
Chris retreats outside with a beer
Caryn adjusts to the new Chris and makes pasta salad

The Outdoor Table
The Indoor Table
The Party Gets Going

I Love this Girl

Honestly, how cute ARE these two??
Chris imitating the look on Caryn's face when she saw his haircut... far enough removed that
she is mildly amused or at least too much in love to care anymore

My Babes are no longer the Babies!

Caryn and Chris are Getting Married!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Sweet Spot

In the land of Parenting, the sweet spot is an elusive urban legend.

The sweet spot is where no person, anywhere, at any time or under any circumstances can have anything negative to say about your parenting.


I love blogging, I love reading parenting blogs, I get inspiration and comfort and anxiety and support and laughter and red eyes from reading about the experiences of Parents around the world. There are some amazing and talented and loving parents out there who are brave enough to put their lives on the internets for the rest of us to read over the din of children or the rims of wine glasses.

But for every blog I come across that makes me feel less alone, less crazy, less impatient, less prepared (in other words, allows me take a deep breath and get back into the fray with a little more kindness and courage) there is a blog that really makes me wonder why in the world I turn on my computer. I would never stick around to hear the end of a conversation like this with the actual human being saying these things, why am I reading their online diary? I forget sometimes I have the choice to walk away.

To walk away before I start to doubt the choices I have made in parenting my children. Walk away before I get defensive or stuttery or protective. Walk away before I begin formulating the response in my head which usually begins with 'why in the world do you care so much about what other people do??' (which is an ironic response as in that moment I am caring so much about what that other person is doing).

The thing I love about blogging is that I am free to write about whatever I want. Mostly it is about parenting or wifeing or cooking or just living, but I do love that when something gets me going I have a forum to write out my thoughts as I process through them. I am an external processor and usually when I am really ruminating about something Grant knows to just grab a beer and sit and listen until my thoughts are all spilled out. It can take hours. But talking (or writing) about my thoughts makes me feel far less tired and crazy then when I just let them tumble around in my head. Verbal processors gotta process.

And parenting is one of those things that I ruminate about a lot. And I am learning after three years of doing this job that I will never find the sweet spot. Purslane and Knox will always be over or under exposed to real life. Too much or too little sleep trained. Too free or too restrained. Too mouthy or too timid. Too breastfed or too solid food fed. Too childish or growing up too fast. Too much TV or too much independent play.

And as a Mama I will be too organic or too processed. Too strict or too loose. Too involved or too absent. Working too much or working too little. Suffering too much or not allowing myself to acknowledge that parenting is difficult enough. Setting reasonable boundaries or letting them learn on their own. Too much alone time or not enough. Doing the natural thing too much or enjoying the luxury of modern conveniences.

It has become TOO much. Trying to find the elusive sweet spot that I am 127% convinced will never come to be. And we as parents all know this, we just don't live like we do. We constantly look around us noticing how other parents are doing- not so we can give them a high five and encourage their decisions but so we can see how we line up.

Ian and Pursy, probably seconds before one of
 them punched the other in the throat
One of my favorites is my sweet friend Allie who is wonderful in her own human right, but is also fantastic to parent with. She has an Ian who is a few months older than Pursy and will (hopefully!) drop Baby Boy #2 in the next two weeks. One of my favorite qualities about my friend is that we find the same things hilarious. Particularly when it comes to parents and their children in public. I think we could all agree that we take ourselves too seriously, yes? It does a body good to laugh at yourself and Allie and I are right there helping you out by laughing first.

We were at the zoo a few weeks ago wandering around trying to get to all the animals on Ian and Pursy's list of must-sees before Allie had to pee or I had to change a diaper. We stopped for a second at a drinking fountain where all three babes were splashing each other and fighting over whose turn it was to get a drink. A little guy wandered over, obviously entranced by the spontaneous water party, and got close to the fountain to join in. His mother RAN over and scooped him up. As she walked away- very much still in earshot of us- we heard her say "This Mommy does not let HER child drink from drinking fountains".

Allie and I busted out laughing- earning us a scathing over the shoulder look from the woman who will one day get a big shock when she finds out that her kid eats boogers just like every other kid.

I Knew It When...

Almost a year ago, we were new to Pittsburgh, had a two year old and a 6 month old, were trying to figure out where to grocery shop and a little too desperate to make friends. We were invited to a dinner party in the backyard of a family who lived down the street and we nervously showed up with a salad offering in hand, trying not to look too eager.

As it usually happens, the other guests were polite and interested and we made our rounds introducing ourselves as the New Kids on the Block. The babes settled in with balls and other toys, including a water table that Knox discovered he could pull himself up on and splash for a second before falling back on his big cloth diapered bottom. Grant and I were standing off to the side watching the kids play, when a little guy around Pursy's age gave Knox a pretty good splash of water to his face parts. Knox fell backwards and sputtered, totally surprised at the water bath that he didn't cause.

About 10 seconds later a tall, pretty, dark curly haired broad strolled over and surveyed the situation. She looked over at the group of us standing there and asked "Whose kid is the little guy my son just splashed in the face?" Grant and I probably nervously responded thinking that we were being exposed for a complete parenting fail because neither of us had gone over to Knox, who at this point was already pulling himself back up and going back for more water play. She watched for another few seconds then said "Would you like me to do something about that or leave it alone?". Surprised, Grant and I agreed that both boys seemed to be just fine and there was no point in creating a problem that wasn't there. The pretty Mama took a sip of her beer and nodded. Then she looked at me and said:

"I'm Allie".

She is going to be terribly embarrassed that this post is devoted to her, but I love using this blog to introduce beautiful things to the world, and she is definitely a beautiful thing. Allie is a wife to Phil, mama to Ian and in utero baby boy, professional at the Buhl Foundation, camper/hiker, foodie who appreciates a good guacamole hot dog, Anglican, and a fabulous person to watch the Oscars with.

Finding a friend who makes parenting an easier job is invaluable, particularly in these early years when none of us know what we are doing. Being able to talk to another Mama whose end goal is to raise children who love God and love the world around them helps me put things in perspective, especially on the days when Pursy and Knox seem like tiny carnies placed in my life to bring chaos and bizarre entertainment. A perfectly fine day can spiral into disaster if I am focusing on one small thing and losing my mind because of it. Allie parents Ian with the worldview that emotions are what they are (from Mama and child), there is nothing a good run around the backyard can't fix, and apologizing to your kid when you screw up is more important than anything. She is simple and direct, two qualities I admire deeply in other parents.

Allie is truly one of the loveliest people I have come across. One of my favorite qualities, probably selfishly because it's about me, but she and I can rival each other for noise and laughter. She doesn't make me feel loud and obnoxious because she is eating up life with as much excitement and humor as I do. Allie, I love ya. And I knew it the day your son water boarded my son.

Monday, June 10, 2013

They Never Said Anything About the Curious Monkey

You know the old saying "Curiosity killed the cat"? Well, we in the Martsolf home now have a variation of that sage (but boring) piece of advice. I haven't workshopped the exact wording yet, but it will involve a monkey and poop.

If I were a Mom Blog Purist I would show you a picture of the bowel movement sitting jauntily atop the yellow Curious George Big Book of Curiosity, but I am also a nurse who believes that human feces is simply a data point to be recorded and evaluated for signs of illness or disease process. Nothing about poop is entertaining or needs to be shared with people I respect (my friends and readers).  The fortunately very short lived stage where Pursy was very proud of her goings on in the bathroom and wanted our dinner guests to come take a look was horrifying to me. But I wanted to encourage her pride in her achievements and so allowed our friends to be taken by the hand (those who were either too shy to say no to a two year old or were just good sports) and be shown the marvel that is a child's stool.

The most impressive of these dinner guests is our friend Chris who is 1.) a single male with no children and 2.) over the age of 10 and under the age of 80, which I feel is the demographic least likely to casually bring poop into everyday conversation. One day when Pursy is old enough not to die of embarrassment I will tell her that every time "Miss Chris" came over to have a beer on the back porch he was her favorite person to ask to come see her achievement in the toilet. Grant and I tried to head this off as often as we could, but I am pretty sure there was one day no one was around to save him. He is still our friend, which speaks volumes to his good humored character. And his gag reflex.

Back to George and the unfortunate moment where my back was turned and Knox took his diaper off. We had just dropped Pursy off for her first day at the Ellis School's Summer Camp, had a lovely morning coffee with my friend Betsy and were home having Mama/Knoxer time. We had read some books, had some juicewater, changed over some laundry, played with Pursy' toys- all good stuff for a second child to do with his Mama. Then I made the mistake of leaving him on the couch in only a diaper (because I was a super cool Mama this morning and let him play in puddles fully dressed) for 18 seconds while I put some dishes in the dishwasher. The next thing I know, he is running toward me buck naked yelling "Poop! Poop!" with a huge grin on his face.

It was very graceful as far as open air bowel movements go. A direct hit to the middle of a large hardback book. A Clorox wipe, a quick dunk in the tub and order is restored.

Now both babes are in their beds napping or resting and I am downstairs trying to come up with enough words to round-about-ly describe what happened without actually writing a blog post about poop, which is just gross.

I also stood in front of the open refrigerator for a good 3 minutes searching for the other half of a french press that I already knew wasn't there so I could make myself an iced coffee. I just thought that today would be a good day for reality to bend just a little and give me a nice surprise.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My "n" of 2

Being married to a man who does research for a living often means interactions like this one.

Me: So for the past two days I have not taken a shower until Knox and Pursy go down for their naps at noon. It has actually taken away my excuses for not cleaning because it doesn't matter if I break a sweat while cleaning the kitchen floor. Maybe if I don't shower every day I will clean more.

Grant: Well, you have two days of data collection for your theory, which gives you an "n" of two. That isn't even enough to make a causal inference. I wouldn't say with any high degree of certainty that your not taking a shower means the house will start being cleaned on a regular basis. (paraphrased but you get the unimpressed tone. There is also no font that conveys the beginnings of fear in his voice that I will come to the unscientific conclusion that I should stop taking showers except on special days, even for a good cause like cleaning the house)

Regardless of direct or even inferred causation, the reality is that for the past two days skipping my morning shower has had a huge impact on my productivity. For example, yesterday I did not take a morning shower. Here is what I did instead:

1. Changed the sheets on Knox's bed
2. Made blueberry pancakes for breakfast
3. Two loads of laundry
4. Cleaned the kitchen, including fridge, stove and dishwasher fronts
5. Played in the rain for an hour with the babes
6. Had a second cup of coffee while reading the first two segments of my new cookbook The Smitten Kitchen (if you think the hallmark of an excellent cookbook is pictures with every recipe and explanations for techniques- this should be your next purchase. I am totally in love with her colorful stories that accompany EVERY recipe and the way she crushes on her husband. Tots Adorbs.)
7. Made our bed and cleaned up the pile of my running clothes that was taking over a corner of our bedroom
8. Cleaned the baseboards in the upstairs hallway
9. Took the tall ladder down to the basement (since it was still stashed in our laundry room from my painting spree two weeks ago)
10. Washed the cloth diapers
11. Organized the toy box and the book box in the living room and moved everything that was overflowing the boxes upstairs
12. Planned the decorating scheme for an engagement party we are hosting tonight for our dear friends Chris and Caryn

Something about being in scrub pants and a tank top with no deodorant made me crazy productive yesterday. I know it shouldn't matter but somehow I feel like cleaning and organizing is a physical task that makes me sweat enough that it doesn't make sense to do when freshly washed. And my shower at noon felt well-deserved, almost luxurious. It was raining and the babes watched a movie in the morning, so I actually had two free hands to do all this with. That helps too. I have talked to so many other Moms who say that the first thing to let go of if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed with how much close attention small babes need is the daily shower. I have been a Mom for over 3 years now and have always made it a priority to get a shower because I feel gross and behind all day if I don't. Grant has appreciated this small gesture, I know.

I don't know honey... if I can get this much done just without taking a shower, imagine what I could do if I slipped into a pair of Mom jeans and got a sweet Mom haircut.

Monday, June 3, 2013


This week we are experimenting with all things homemade. I am trying to reduce the number of wrappers in our home, and there are lots. String cheese, cereal bars, popsicles... easy snack foods that we can grab on our way out the door or for a spontaneous picnic in the backyard come individually wrapped on purpose, right?

I would love to learn how to make cheese, but I think that food requires quite a bit of equipment and patience- neither of which I have. Plus the cheese at Trader Joe's is inexpensive and delicious. I am trying to move towards block cheese which is even cheaper and reduces waste a little- plus adds a few extra moments of thoughtfulness when it comes to snack food.

Cereal bars are a big one for our family- Grant grabs one on the way out the door for breakfast and the babes love the "A Strawberry Walked into a Bar" kind from TJ's. These have no preservatives, HFCS or other superfluous additives, but are pricey for what they are and still processed. So I found a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for thick, chewy bars that have a reasonable amount of sugar, butter and good stuff in them. I bypassed lots of recipes for homemade cereal bars where the first ingredients were flax seed, wheat germ, etc that probably made them incredibly healthy but not very delicious. And I don't really care that P and K eat sugar or butter in their food- just that they are eating real food. We don't live on chocolate cake, so I don't stress about it (too) much.

I also found this recipe for Creamsicles from one of my faves, A Beautiful Mess. Super easy to make and the babes loved them. Also completely delicious.

A Peaceful Protest

Grant and I have been talking quite a bit recently about Christian Pacifism. We have been discussing what it means to be anti-violence for a few years now but started reading more intensely after the Newtown school shootings and subsequent national gun control debate and legislation proposals. Then there was the stabbing incident at our local Target in March (read my thoughts on knife vs gun in this blog post). We aren't ready to label ourselves as anything, but are wrestling hard with the ideas behind our rights as citizens and Christians. And also our beliefs about what it means to bring in the kingdom of God with peace.

Grant and I are both anti-death penalty because we are convinced that it is not up to the government to decide when a person is beyond redemption. Despite the depravity or heinousness of the criminal act, we do not believe that humans have the right to decide when life should end. And certainly not carried out the way it is in our penal system. Interestingly, on the death certificate for an individual who has been killed by the death penalty, the cause of death is Homicide. And physicians are not legally permitted by the AMA to perform lethal injection because it violates the Hippocratic oath. Let those tumble around in your head for a bit...

I used to believe the only thing I would peacefully protest was abortion. I am pro-life across the board. I believe life begins at conception and there is no point in the development of a human being where the cells transition from non-person to person. (another interesting point in our penal system, if you kill a pregnant woman you are charged with a double homicide. That means two people died, even though one was in utero) I do not take this issue lightly and my opinion has been evolving for several years; I just believe in protecting human rights. Regardless of gender or age or utero status.

I am reading Sister Prejean's book Dead Man Walking after hearing her interviewed on NPR a few weeks ago and think I could peacefully protest the Death Penalty as well. The inconsistencies when it comes to the law, the actual carrying out of the sentence and the implications of how we as a society view human rights are just too much in conflict with my personal beliefs of right to life.

Grant and I were actually sitting on the front porch last night drinking High Life (sorry Gina) and discussing Sister Prejean's book when we noticed a peaceful protest going on right in front of us. A bird hopped up on our recycling bin and perched. We didn't think much about it until a guy rode by on this bike and stopped cold, yelling up at us "Did you see this bird?? He didn't move at all when I rode right by him- he is just sitting there! I thought he was dead but he is looking right at me, not afraid at all. Just sittin' there." The man then rode away, leaving Grant and I staring at this strange bird perched silently on our recycling. We both got as close as we dared (in case bird decided to dive bomb our curious faces), shook the bin a bit, tossed a can into the bin...nothing. The bird was unafraid and undeterred.

We took this as a beautiful example of peaceful protest in the natural world. No fear, no violence, but no backing down. We have no idea what this bird was actually doing there, but it sparked a discussion between Grant and I as we sat there and talked about the death penalty and what it would look like for Christians to take a stand against something we consider morally wrong. To exercise our rights as citizens and say that we do not believe the government should have the right to decide when life should end. Regardless of what that life/human has chosen to do.

The Peaceful Protest: