March 29, 2011

March 29th, 2011

Dear Sofia,

Today I am home with you for half the day - hooray! I am loving every minute of it, and catching up on political news while you nap.

I'm all fired up now, because I've been reading about the current attack on Wisconsin State Supreme Court nominee Prosser, who is the avowed conservative candidate. The union thugs are rallying support for his opponent - Kloppenburg - simply because she is not conservative. Now, you don't have to be a genius to realize that's a pretty dumb reason for voting FOR somebody! But, here in Madison it seems that people love rhetoric more than they love choosing the right candidate for the job... so "a vote for Kloppenburg is a vote for Walker" is spreading like wildfire.

I'm not worried though. There is plenty of support for Prosser around the state (believe it or not, the rest of Wisconsin is pretty conservative - just look at the November election results!) to get him into the seat. I just hope people remember to VOTE ON APRIL 5TH! =)

In other news, I dug up this list of major contributors to political campaigns and figured I'd pass it around. There are many reasons a company might contribute money to a politician, baby, but one obvious reason is that the company stands to benefit by using their financial influence. Meaning, they give money and hope that will convince the politician to vote for things in their favor.

So, seeing that AT&T is a big supporter of the DNC ("Democratic"* National Committee), it makes me wonder if they are being allowed to charge so much for miscellaneous fees because of local tax laws? They sure are making a lot of money by squeezing out the competition for cell phone coverage, internet and cable. In Madison, you pretty much have two cable choices - AT&T and Charter. Pretty scary when there is no competition! It means you can either give in to one of two companies and suffer under the costs and poor service they offer, or you go without. (Hint, hint: capitalism is good for everyone.)

I'll just post the list below for others. I've been wondering about big donors like this since a coworker told me that Madisonians are planning to boycott the annual Brat Fest because some of the meat comes from Johnsonville, a Republican campaign donor. Yes, they are going to boycott an event that donates its profits to charity because one of the sponsors supports candidates they don't like. Candidates, mind you, not elected officials! Sheesh. People around here need to get their heads straight.

Here is the list. I know this is your first lesson on money, so I'll explain all this again later. For now, we'll just think about where our precious money goes, and maybe someday we'll share a Johnsonville brat!

Love, Mom

March 11, 2011

March 11th, 2011

Dear Sofia,

You are a beautiful creation of God. He made you a certain way, with a certain personality and preferences. He intends for your life to be a certain way. We praise Him for you and every way that He has blessed you with your uniqueness.

However, along with your unique personality and preferences, you have a sin nature that will come out in its creative ways. Will you be rebellious like your mom, pushing the boundaries because you need structure? Will you be a "popular" kid who manipulates her peers and is very insincere? I don't know where your sin will first show itself, but I am certain it is there.

A certain pop singer says that no matter what you were born like, you were "born this way" and there is nothing wrong with it. Nor, she says, is there "any other way" for you to have been. This includes, for her, the group you identify your carnal passions with. [Which I won't name here specifically because I'd like my daughter to hear about these things from me directly, not read them on a blog - even if it is intended for her. But I think my adult readers know what I am referring to.]

I've read Christians and non-Christians debating these lyrics. Some say her message is godly, because she encourages people to accept how they are as God's creation, different as that may be from the "normal" types they see on television and in the media at large. That's a good thing, right? I loathe the day in the future when you come to me with a magazine picture and say, "Is that what I'm supposed to look like?" I'll likely respond in a similar way as this pop star sings, "You're beautiful in your way." As in, God's way. Women really are beautiful only when they allow themselves to be molded by God. Until then, it's just vapid, worldly prettiness they harness.

But others lament these lyrics as being in abstinence to God's sovereignty, since they are also encouraging people to embrace their sin natures (i.e. within the context of sexuality). Throughout the rest of the song the singer also brings a message of universal love ("just love yourself and you're set") while claiming that God made everyone "perfect."

Did God create perfection? Yes! In Eden. But then something happened: the fall from grace. Adam and Eve, it could be said, decided to "love themselves" more than God when they chose to live how they wanted to, not how God commanded them to. And ever since that Fall mankind has been created with that sin nature present. You might interpret the introduction monologue to the song as touching on this truth; the singer ponders how a truly good (righteous) race of people could exist without the simultaneous existence of evil. The answer, obvious to a Christian, is that it doesn't.

The singer got the message wrong in the most important way. She says that there is "no other way" than to live as you were born. To us, that means you'd have no choice but to live as a sinner. Thankfully, this is not true! There IS another Way, and that Way is Jesus Christ. He gave Himself as our sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God against sin. We were not born perfect but, through Christ, we are imputed His righteousness and perfection.

We did not start out perfect. Not even close. But through Christ, we can be reborn this way!


March 7, 2011

March 7th, 2011

Dear Sofia,

While I'm at work, I overhear a lot of conversations. Today's was about kids' toys.

"I bought him the [branded] truck and he only played with it once!"
"He has so many toys, I want to just donate them all to goodwill because he doesn't play with them."
"She'll just throw it in the corner after she opens the package and plays for one day."

It's important to ask this question: What kind of toys are they talking about? Even though they are different functioning toys - some action figures, cars, electronic games, dolls - they all fall into one category: branded toys. Meaning, toys that are associated with a movie, tv show or other type of media.

Well, baby, I will not be buying you toys like that. Plain Legos, generic dolls, pretend kitchen and plastic food, yes. Dora the Explorer activity backpack or Leap Pad electronic learning center? No. Bratz dolls? Definitely not!

It's not that we can't afford to buy you those branded toys. We don't get them for you because we know their value is only in the name and, outside of the prescribed story associated with them, it's likely you won't imagine other stories to put them in. It will limit your imagination, your creativity, your ability to think abstractly.

That probably sounds like a fancy way of justifying not spending money to you. But I really have thought about it. I've already spent a lot of money on you; when I think something is quality and you will enjoy it for a long time, I go ahead and buy it.

Branded toys are boring. You have to play with them a certain way otherwise, you're not playing "correctly" with them. Branded toys are dumbed-down. You already know their names and what they are "supposed" to wear, how they are supposed to act. It takes the thinking out of playing.

And, branded toys can be dangerous because of what they represent. See those Bratz dolls pictures above? That is not what real women look like, but you'd be alarmed at how many results you'll find on a google search for "Bratz make up tutorial." To be nice, you could say it makes girls look like clowns. But there are a lot of not-so-nice terms along those lines that people are likely to think if you walk into the grocery store in a Bratz-style get up. [Also, they're call BRATZ. As in, brats (misbehaved, rebellious girls). That's not a name I ever want applied to you, Sofia. And I'm certainly not going to encourage it.]

You'll have no shortage of things to play with. Pots and pans, water, the outside world (hopefully, someday, a garden), blocks and legos, dolls and dress-up clothes (I already have a trunk full waiting for you), me, daddy and your cousins! You'll have plenty to do and you'll never miss not knowing who Dora is.



March 4, 2011

Readers, I need your help!

Butterbean needs a unified logo presence!

Help me out here if you have a minute. Please visit my etsy shop, see my items (yes, I know I need to take better pictures; weekends projects abound...) and then answer this question:

What type of logo or clip art would suit me? Beans are out, unless you think there is a way to make a cute one (but butterbeans themselves are not all that pretty). I like birds, owls, matroyshkas (nesting dolls), whales, bright colors and graphic patterns. That should be obvious just by looking at what I make!

I'm tired of using something different for every thank you card I send. My business cards have an owl clip art but I can't use it for mass production. My mind is too fickle, and I need some help marketing what I sell! I honestly believe my analytics would reflect growth if I have consistency to my label. Gosh, don't I sound market-savvy? =)

Anyway... if you have a moment and could give me some advice I'm all ears. I won't be defensive because I know how I'm packaging it all now isn't working! Thank you in advance.



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