Sarah Joy Albrecht

Quote: Roger Ebert’s Tweet on Breasts

Apr
27

Gustav Klimt : The Three Ages of Woman (detail)

“Am I odd? Cleavage doesn’t awaken my feelings of lust, but those of the hope to be comforted. Cleavage. It speaks to us from the time before memory of love, comfort, warmth, softness and food. Cleavage. Oh yes. Cleavage.” – Roger Ebert, via Twitter. (Tweet #1) (Tweet #2)

This is a beautiful quote describing the nurturing aspect of breasts! (Did you know the word nurture and nursing have the same Latin root, nutritus?) I’m making a note of this quote for the next time I teach on breastfeeding during my Bradley Method natural childbirth classes.

Reminds me of the feeling of peace and comfort captured in Isaiah 66:11-13 :

For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance. For this is what the LORD says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

As we see here, the Creator even uses breasts in an analogy, demonstrating that He knows and cares how we humans think, feel and function, and that such wording would resonates within us with understanding. I can’t even think of a clearer metaphor, can you?

God made breasts. God made the warm fuzzy feelings of both desire and comfort that humans naturally associate with breasts. He made these feelings work together to form a loving bond – between mothers and babies, and between husbands and wives.

Praise Him!

As Christians, let’s not be embarrassed to tastefully mention breasts, m’kay?

By the way, Klimt is one of my favorite painters. A large print of Mother and Child (detail from The Three Ages of Woman), used to hang in my living room back home, just above the rocking chair where I would often sit and nurse my babies.

(HT to @clergygir1, my Twitter friend Jen, who is a breast cancer survivor, for ReTweeting this! Please check out her encouragement-filled blog, Clergygirl : Waving a flashlight through the murkiness of life.)

Fishy Forgiveness : Thirty-Eight Dead Daffodils

Apr
26

Thirty-eight.

That is how many one-inch stemmed daffodils my two oldest boys picked today from our landlord’s garden. I am really sad because it was my older kids who know better, but chose to picked the flowers anyway.

I found out about the flowers when one of my sons brought two of them to me for my windowsill.

Recognizing that they were not our daffodils, which would have been easier to overlook, but instead the frilly ones from the landlord’s driveway-ditch garden, I ran out to to the garage only to find the boys whacking a heap of daffodil heads with sticks.

When caught, the boys claimed they had been picked for me. However, if they had intended to be given as a gift, I don’t understand how mutilating the petals with sticks would make them more presentable.

Shocked by the size of the pile, I counted the flowers while the boys watched.

The landlord came out of his blue-tarp covered shed and walked over towards us. I bowed deeply and apologized for the destruction of his flowers. I made the boys bow and also offer a more formal apology.

The landlord laughed. His ancient face wrinkled into a thousand lines.

He shrugged and said in English, “Okay!” He then reached down to a clump of growing daffodils, plucked them by the heads and threw them on the ground. I said, “No no no… gomen nasai … Not okay!”

I am pretty sure he understood what I meant, but I honestly did not understand his response. It was certainly not an acknowledgment of the apologies, and I couldn’t tell if he really didn’t care or if he was pissed off about the flowers and was showing me that there was nothing that could be done to save them at that point.

I marched the boys into our house, disciplined them, and then reviewed the obvious rules for playing outside which included, “stay out of the rice fields and irrigation channels” and “don’t take things that are not yours.”

Later, the landlord brought over a large, pungent, dried headless fish as a gift.

Tabitha gave him a handful of teriyaki-flavored dried squid tentacle snacks in return.

He thanked her and wolfed them down happily.

As for what to do next? I will probably write up an apology and ask a friend to translate it for me. I think it will recognize the hard work the landlord has put into his gardens and apologize for their picking the flowers without asking. It needs to be in real Japanese, not my undoubtedly poorly pronounced attempt to communicate.

Even if it turns out that landlord doesn’t care, it is never ‘okay’ for my children to take things that do not belong to them, no matter how well-intentioned.

I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with this fish.

Just Another Rainy Day in April

Apr
24

Rice Fields on Fire : View from Today's Trip to Misawa

I’ve just returned home from a two hour trip to Misawa today, a drive over woodsy mountain roads, snow still lingering under the cover of the deep conifer forests lining the roads, to pay yearly Japanese transportation taxes. We were the last customer to slip in before they closed their doors.

We brought with us, this time, the offending library book – an orange board book called “Opposites” – that had prevented us from borrowing the stack of books we’d chosen last time from the library’s shelves. It’s hard to find good books there, sometimes, amidst the Best Sellers and Neocon Captain-America titles. So, having had put the effort into finding the carefully selected books, only to be rejected at the front desk by the meticulous male Japanese librarian whose fingernails are glossier than mine, because patrons are forbidden to borrow more books if a borrowed book has yet to be returned, to be able to borrow again felt like we’d been vindicated. In the true fashion of someone who has just been allowed to do something once forbidden, we borrowed about 30 books. Hopefully, every book will remain in the library books adjacent to the couch this time — and not find its way underneath the couch this lending period.

I had selected a few books today, but placed them back upon the shelf. They were books that merely affirmed my thoughts instead of presenting a challenge to them. I kept a book on herb gardening, something I’m attempting to do in containers in my concrete yard that is mockingly situated on acres of untouchable rice fields and greenhouses, and an updated AP Stylebook in hopes my herbs will be hearty and my punctuation improved.

In the children’s section, Tom found an audiobook version of Inkheart, a self-contained listening device that we hooked into our stereo, and we listened to six chapters during the winding drive home in the dark. Aiden said it frightened him, although nothing particularly scary has yet happened in the story. The description of the character Dustfinger was a bit menacing, however. To admit he was afraid was to admit that Aiden was listening, a backhanded confession that made me laugh given the protests that had come from the same child’s lips moments before.

Green cloth grocery bags are scattered all over the kitchen floor. It is midnight. My children are still awake. I will put away the perishables, and call it a night. Tomorrow, well, when the sun is up at least, because it is tomorrow already, hopefully before my Saturday completely escapes me, I’ll sort out the items that go into our upstairs make-shift industrial metal shelves pantry and those that will go in the limited space of the Japanese kitchen cupboards. I’m thankful for the inexpensive meats, pasta, canned tomatoes, broths, and baking supplies that can be purchased on the base, but the two hour distance means that we must stock up on such things if we want to have a supply on hand in between infrequent trips.

Tonight, as the children spent their energy on the indoor playground, I talked to an atheist friend for a while. She had many questions for me — mostly about the inconsistency of Christians and about why God does what He does.

Quite simply, there are many confused, inconsistent Christians out there and God can do whatever He pleases, no matter how arbitrary it may seem to us. And, no, I do not think every naturally occurring disaster is because God is trying to punish someone or because He is judging people. Rather, we live in a fallen world, and it’s a wonder any of us are still alive and breathing given the circumstances. God isn’t any less God just because His actions make us uncomfortable.

Before I left, she said, “I hope that you’ll still speak to me and be my friend even though you now know I’m an atheist.” I assured her I would and thanked her for the conversation.

Confessions of a Not-So-Super Mom

Apr
23

Confetti Sunrise by Gale Phenicie (My Mom!)


Confession : I was really angry this week because someone called me a supermom.

I hate that word.

It does not represent me.

For example, I should be packing right now. You know where I am — here.

Then, I realized that the image that I show to others, especially those who only know me through my writing, where I tend to focus on positive things, only scratches the surface. Therefore, I have no right to be upset if people are only responding to that projected image. It’s my fault, not theirs. While I don’t revel in the darker side of me, nor do I complain often, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that I do not get angry, sad, or annoyed. I do hope people consider this when they think of me.

For the most part, yes, I am one of those obnoxious people who always looks for the silver lining. My slip-on shoes, for example, are completely falling apart and I can hardly hold them on — but when I put them on, I smile and think while I scuff around in them, “it’s better than stepping on a sticky floor!” Perhaps this optimism comes from knowing how bad things can be, and just being thankful for the smallest things, as if victories over the crap life can dish out sometimes.

Truly, though, there are times when I can’t find the silver lining anywhere and I get really really angry. Because I can hardly see straight in my anger, I rant in tangents and everything pretty much crashes around me. My husband is beyond patient with me to even entertain such arguments. I frustrate him probably more than he frustrates me — and yet, he is still married to me.

In the end, I usually realize the anger is with myself. Deep down, no matter how much they frustrate me, I love my family very much. They are not the root cause of my annoyance. Rather it is my own procrastination, lack of motivation, need for attention, or frustration with meal planning that I turn into Electromelon. I paint myself into a corner more than I admit, even to myself. Basically, I get caught up in self-righteous pride where I think it’s everyone’s fault but my own… and that’s a kind euphemism for my behavior.

“Bad days and moments don’t define you,” my mom reminded me this morning. “The way you love defines you.” Thanks, mom. I needed that hug this morning!

If you are curious about what my heart looks like when I’m not being gracious, you’ll find it in a single post under the pen name Sabira O. Talbot. Yep, that’s me. Tired of hiding from myself. Might want to put on some earmuffs first.

“There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” – Betsie ten Boom

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Why Don’t We Teach Children About Death and Burial?

Apr
22

Chandelier at the Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

… and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. – Ecclesiastes 12:7

Just as American children are far removed from the connection between slaughtered animals and the food on their plate, they are also unnaturally removed from human life and death. I find both to be sad.

I do not want my children to be afraid of death… or life.

(As a childbirth instructor, I have shown my children videos of birth, and they have a pretty good idea where babies come from. Yes, my oldest is nine.)

Today, and I forget how we arrived at the specific conversation, although life and death are always part of an on-going conversation, we discussed two different burial practices used in places where there is limited amount of space for burial.

These are two of the sites we visited today and discussed as a family:

The Tibetan Sky Burial: In Tibet, where the ground is so rocky that it can only be dug down a few centimeters, burial in the ground would be very difficult. Instead, people are given a ‘sky burial’. The nude body is washed and then wrapped and taken to a ‘burial’ ground. The body is sliced open and incense is lit nearby. The smells of the incense and the blood attract hundreds of vultures who then eat away the flesh and carry the remains into the sky. Because the brain is encased in by the skull, when the birds of prey are done with the rest of the body, the burial practitioner cracks open the skull and the vultures finish their feast. The bones are then scattered down the mountain for open-air decomposition. In a culture that believes in reincarnation, such a burial is considered an honor.

Ossuary (Wikipedia) : Another solution to burial in places with limited space is to store just the remaining bones once the flesh has decomposed. Bodies to decay in temporary graves, sometimes covered with a pile of stones, or even in dirt. They are then washed, labeled, and stored.

Some places get a little creative with the storage of bones, such as the Sedlec Ossuary. Part of a Roman Catholic chapel in the Czech Republic, human remains in this ossuary are used as decoration, including in the form of an elaborate chandelier.

* * *

For what it’s worth, I’ve found that there are very few non-fiction books about death and burial for children outside of studies on ancient Egypt. I could not find a single book for children on modern American burial practices or even a matter-of-fact book on the career of being a mortician. Thankfully, there are many books available on grief.

Why don’t we as a society talk much about death and burial?

If you do talk to your children about such things, what resources to you use?

In what ways would openly talking about death and burial in society as a whole change how we think of and value life?

Do you think toxic embalming chemicals would be used as widely if people weren’t so afraid of the natural decomposition process?

Photo Credit: B10m via Flickr

Easy Dessert Recipe: White Chocolate & Banana Chip Strawberries

Apr
19

Spring is here! It’s strawberry season! My Bananaberries recipe is being featured on Lifehack this month.

In my Lifehack article, you’ll find step-by-step instructions with photos, tips for finding the perfect berries, and a streamlined process complete with a mise en place guide to help you make this recipe in just a few minutes flat.

Bananaberries are the perfect dessert to bring to potlucks and picnics because they are an easy-to-eat finger food… not to mention they are lovely to behold and add an air of elegance to the table.

I invite you to make a batch for yourself… and leave a comment about how insanely delicious they taste! Don’t forget to share them with your friends!