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8/8/14

My Disapproval of 'Fifty Shades of Grey', and Why I'm Not A Prude

The movie trailer for 'Fifty Shades of Grey' (featured below this post) was recently released and fans of the book, including the likes of Oprah, were excited about the film arriving in theaters on Valentine's Day 2015. Some of us, though, were less than thrilled this film and its accompanying book trilogy became popular, due to the nature of the content.

Let me start off by saying that I'm certainly no prude. Yes, I have been open about my upbringing in a Mormon community and I'm sure this still has an effect on my opinion of sex, though I haven't been involved in religion since I was about 20 years old. I'm not going to get into the reasons why or the misunderstandings people have about secular individuals (that's for a different post altogether!), but I mention this to prove that it's not just the conservative groups who find 'Fifty Shades of Grey' distasteful. I will also point out, lest I be criticized for being judgemental, that I, in no way, think that what goes on in my bedroom should be the norm for others.

What I don't like about 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is how it normalizes, and subconsciously encourages, sexual abuse and controlling behavior. Sex between adults (whether in a marriage or other type of relationship) should be completely consensual, mutual, and empowering. While I don't particularly care for BDSM -- an acronym for "bondage & discipline, sadism & masochism" -- I do recognize that for some individuals, they enjoy such acts. As Amir Afkhami, a psychiatrist for the Center for Sexual Health at George Washington University, summed up regarding sexual practices like BDSM, stating, "Consensual relationships, where fantasies are allowed to be played out in a safe environment, are healthy."

Clearly, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is anything but that. In the story, the main male character, Christian Grey, explains to his love interest, Ana Steele, his own reasoning for wanting to engage in such sexual practices is due to his abuse as a child and seduction into the BDSM world at the age of 15 by a much older woman.
So, you mean to tell me that when an adult seduces and engages in sexual acts with a minor, in real life, we persecute the individual but as long as it happens in a book we, as a society, embrace it? As a parent, this is disturbing. Teenagers are on their way to adulthood but they do not yet have the cognitive understanding, knowledge, and maturity to completely separate fact from fiction. They still need us to teach and be a positive role model for them, so when I hear about a 15-year-old being taken advantage of (whether in a story or not) I am disgusted. At that age, parents should be guiding their child and channelling their surging hormones by empowering them about their bodies and sexuality, not allowing it to be exploited. While I definitely think it's important the human body and sexuality should not be a shameful or hidden topic, as doing so only perpetuates body shaming which has been proven to lead to an increase in rape, we should be teaching it appropriate to age.

Our children, young and old, learn from us and seeing their guardian openly seeking this type of taboo can make them curious about what is contained in the pages. If a child is able to read or witness the kind of content 'Fifty Shades of Grey' contains, they do not have the ability to know that such a story is not a normal example of a romantic/sexual relationship. The character of Christian Grey is not privately exploring a new sexual topic with his significant other, he is requiring his newly acquired partner to sign contracts regarding their sex life and even goes so far as to require Ana to only eat from his "approved" list. That level of controlling behavior does not fall into the category of an open, mutual discussion with a spouse. This is the type of behavior that victims of domestic violence describe their abuser having exhibited.

Ultimately, sex should be a private matter between a couple and children should be raised that, once they are an adult, healthy explorations with their significant other (assuming the other has also been taught accordingly) is not necessarily wrong, but by embracing a culture that openly accepts public displays of abuse, we are actually telling them that causing your partner pain or needing a "safe word" (because apparently "no" still isn't good enough) is normal. We, as parents, will make mistakes and no one can be perfect, and children should also not be raised in a bubble either, instead giving them the necessary emotional tools to be confident and successful as an adult. But when they are essentially being taught that the type of relationship in 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is normal, they grow up with a skewed understanding of what a relationship actually should be. For this reason, for the sake of my children's future relationships, I refuse to bring 'Fifty Shades of Grey' into our household.


The 'Fifty Shades of Grey' trailer... watch at your own discretion:

6/7/14

Blueberry & Oatmeal Muffins

Having you ever been running errands with your kids and you suddenly realize it's snack or lunch time? You still have 1 or 2 places to go, and it would be a real pain in the butt to drive all the way home only to have to go to that store later in the day or tomorrow? We live 15 minutes from "town" but after packing up 2 kids (one of them a 1-year-old) to stay satisfied for a couple hours, the last thing I want to do is making a full-fledged lunch for all of us while we're out! It would be so easy to just go through the fast food drive-thru then everyone is satisfied, right?
Well, that's what I call the "fast food trap"! It's convenient, quick, and not to mention you don't have to do a lick of work to makes the Little People happy. But it's also laden with bad fats, processed oils, GMO's, and probably a week's worth of sodium! I try to do the best by my children but being a parent is tiring whether you have 1 child or 5! So how do you get the necessities done AND keep them happy & healthy?

By bribing them!!!

No, wait, that's not where I was going with this...

By pre-making a healthy snack that they will love! (THAT'S what I meant.)
Welcome to my "cheater cheater muffin eater" solution to satisfy my checklist for homemade and non-processed and also keep the Little People happy.
*Note that I used organic and home-raised/acquired ingredients for these muffins. Because that's how I roll! You don't have to do the same but I would like to inform you (disclaimer alert) that conventional items still contain things like GMO's and refined sugar, so if you're trying to avoid those things do try to stick to this as much as humanely possible. I will forgive you if you make a couple substitutions! (And possibly still help you eat them.)



Blueberry & Oatmeal Muffins

  • 1 1/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup organic oats (not instant)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon course ground sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic, no sugar added applesauce
  • 1/4 cup organic almond milk -- be aware that the vanilla kind is delicious but has added sugar
  • 1/2 cup local, raw honey (microwave that bad boy for a minute just so it drizzles nicely into the batter!)
  • 2 eggs, beaten (and give your chickens a pep talk: "Alright ladies, this is the moment we've all been waiting for!" You don't do that when collecting eggs for a recipe???)
  • 1 cup organic blueberries
  1. In a small-ish bowl, beat the eggs like a Michael Jackson song. Make them all nice and frothy.
  2. Add applesauce and milk to eggs and whisk until incorporated.
  3. In a separate yet larger bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, sale, and cinnamon. Whisk together and add the applesauce-y mixture, and whisk non-aggressively until fully incorporated.
  4. Drizzle the honey in the mixture and whisk again.
  5. Do the same with the blueberries. (I used frozen blueberries because my Little People managed to eat all the fresh blueberries we had. They're devious like that! I also keep frozen organic berries from Trader Joe's in stock for smoothies, oatmeal, etc, so it worked just fine but if you grow your own like a super hero it will probably taste better!)
  6. Oh yeah, you're supposed to preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. I always forget to add that step in the beginning... I dig right into the ingredients step!
  7. Spray a muffin/cupcake tin -- I love the extra virgin coconut oil spray from Trader Joe's -- and spoon batter about 2/3 full. (I also used my mini-muffin tin to make bite sized versions for the 1-year-old!)
  8. Bake the muffins for 16 minutes for the minis and 16-18 minutes for regular muffins.
  9. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

1/13/14

Reflections: A New Year's Post

January is in full swing and the hustle of the holidays is over. Another year in, another year gone. While most people were busy making resolutions to ensure 2014 would be even better than 2013, I had time to think about what I want out of this new year. While it would be easy to fall into the classic categories ("I want to lose weight", "I want to make more money", etc) I decided not to make any resolutions of the new year's variety. While having goals isn't what I found to be at fault, it was the typical response to the end of the year coming to an end. Forbes.com suggested last January that only 8% of people achieve their New Year's resolutions. Whether or not that is true, there's a reason why companies which market diet pills, nutritional powders & bars, and other "health" foods see higher profits in the few months after Christmas than any other time of the year.

I feel what profoundly changed, for me, was what 2013 contained. It wasn't about doing the same thing last year as the year before, instead, 2013 held events that could not be matched by any other year (save for perhaps the year my son was born).

For us, 2013 was the year our daughter, our second child, Evelyn, was born. What a joyous day in April it was! What started as a happy occasion, though, quickly detoured into a two-sided emotion within a matter of hours: worry & hope. The bliss of her birth had to be put on hold because she had to be rushed to the NICU, having been born completely lifeless due to the umbilical cord getting compressed during birth leaving her without oxygen for well over a minute. (See my unfinished post HERE about her birth story.) Two weeks and an eternity later, we brought our beloved home.

This was the first time I was able to hold her,
four days after she was born.


After the events of spring and summertime, I returned to work only to have my milk supply dwindle then completely disappear despite all my exhaustive efforts, which sent me spiraling into depression. I was put on medication, which ended up having a worse effect on me than the depression, so I made the conscious decision to stop the medicine. By doing so, I began to binge eat again and I gained back the ten pounds I had lost on the medication. I felt like I was at an emotional stand still.

Then, one cold December evening, it snowed.


It hardly ever snows here and when it does, it's usually a little slush on the grass that melts away in an hour! I spent the entire evening playing outside with Rick and Damien, throwing snowballs and enjoying what I knew would melt away in the coming days. I so immensely enjoyed having blissful family time that I forgot all about the rest of the world.

After Damien went to bed that night, I stood outside in the navy blue-tinted darkness, watching the snow flakes fall gently to the ground, framed by the soft twinkling of our neighbor's Christmas lights. It was so quiet, so peaceful. Time stood still and all was perfect.
In that moment, my depression was lifted.
(I only wish it were so easy for others suffering with depression as well.)

I will never regret what 2013 gave to us. It certainly was a true roller coaster of emotions, but the most important thing to me is that we came out stronger on the other side. As my work schedule returns to normal and Damien is back in school from Christmas vacation, I am moving on from the complexities of the previous year without forgetting both the good & bad moments, and what both gave to me as a life lesson.

So while it is true that I am not making resolutions for 2014, I am beginning to do what nature does on its own: welcoming the new. My goals for the near and distant future may be similar to those making a New Year's resolution, but where I differ is that I am making a "better life resolution" for myself and my family.

Better life, but not necessarily more money. Just better, emotionally. And that's where they become goals for life, not just a resolution that will be broken in two months.


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