Archive for July, 2013

A Baby’s Room on a Shoestring Budget (Pt. 2)

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

by Kristin

In between working on the sewing projects for the baby’s room, Ryan and I made a wall shelf and a matching wooden railing for the change table dresser. We were able to use scraps of wood from the garage for both of these woodworking projects, so apart from our time, the cost of the poly-urethane, and a few hooks, nails, and screws, the shelf and railing were almost free.

Here are the pictures of the baby’s room:

The three matching frames over the baby’s bed I scrounged from a box of picture frames in our basement storage room. They were black, and I painted them a light blue with acrylic craft paint. The mobile’s ‘arches’ are off of a baby play gym my mother-in-law gave me, and I made the mobile’s clouds with cotton balls and the rainbows out of tissue paper and cardstock.

The crib and the dresser were given to us by neighbours, so all told, this baby’s room probably cost us only $100 – $200, but I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I love the bright colours in the room (yellow, blue, and green), and the throw blanket on the glider chair determined the theme (Noah’s Ark), which wonderfully ties together the rainbow-and-clouds mobile, the stuffed toy animals lining the wall shelf, and the safari animal change table pad.

I would like to add a pillow and make some art in keeping with the Noah’s Ark theme, but for now this is how the room will be. 🙂

[See “A Baby’s Room on a Shoestring Budget (Pt. 1)]

Women in 19th Century America: A Frenchman’s Perspective

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Excerpted from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Vol. II, Part 3, Ch. 12.

[Emphasis mine]

…In no country has such constant care been taken as in America to trace two clearly distinct lines of action for the two sexes, and to make them keep pace one with the other, but in two pathways which are always different. American women never manage the outward concerns of the family, or conduct a business, or take a part in political life; nor are they, on the other hand, ever compelled to perform the rough labor of the fields, or to make any of those laborious exertions which demand the exertion of physical strength. No families are so poor as to form an exception to this rule. If on the one hand an American woman cannot escape from the quiet circle of domestic employments, on the other hand she is never forced to go beyond it. Hence it is that the women of America, who often exhibit a masculine strength of understanding and a manly energy, generally preserve great delicacy of personal appearance and always retain the manners of women, although they sometimes show that they have the hearts and minds of men.

Nor have the Americans ever supposed that one consequence of democratic principles is the subversion of marital power, of the confusion of the natural authorities in families. They hold that every association must have a head in order to accomplish its object, and that the natural head of the conjugal association is man. They do not therefore deny him the right of directing his partner; and they maintain, that in the smaller association of husband and wife, as well as in the great social community, the object of democracy is to regulate and legalize the powers which are necessary, not to subvert all power. This opinion is not peculiar to one sex, and contested by the other: I never observed that the women of America consider conjugal authority as a fortunate usurpation of their rights, nor that they thought themselves degraded by submitting to it. It appeared to me, on the contrary, that they attach a sort of pride to the voluntary surrender of their own will, and make it their boast to bend themselves to the yoke, not to shake it off. Such at least is the feeling expressed by the most virtuous of their sex; the others are silent; and in the United States it is not the practice for a guilty wife to clamor for the rights of women, whilst she is trampling on her holiest duties…

…It is true that the Americans rarely lavish upon women those eager attentions which are commonly paid them in Europe; but their conduct to women always implies that they suppose them to be virtuous and refined; and such is the respect entertained for the moral freedom of the sex, that in the presence of a woman the most guarded language is used, lest her ear should be offended by an expression. In America a young unmarried woman may, alone and without fear, undertake a long journey.

The legislators of the United States, who have mitigated almost all the penalties of criminal law, still make rape a capital offence, and no crime is visited with more inexorable severity by public opinion. This may be accounted for; as the Americans can conceive nothing more precious than a woman’s honor, and nothing which ought so much to be respected as her independence, they hold that no punishment is too severe for the man who deprives her of them against her will. In France, where the same offence is visited with far milder penalties, it is frequently difficult to get a verdict from a jury against the prisoner. Is this a consequence of contempt of decency or contempt of women? I cannot but believe that it is a contempt of one and of the other.

Thus the Americans do not think that man and woman have either the duty or the right to perform the same offices, but they show an equal regard for both their respective parts; and though their lot is different, they consider both of them as beings of equal value. They do not give to the courage of woman the same form or the same direction as to that of man; but they never doubt her courage: and if they hold that man and his partner ought not always to exercise their intellect and understanding in the same manner, they at least believe the understanding of the one to be as sound as that of the other, and her intellect to be as clear. Thus, then, whilst they have allowed the social inferiority of woman to subsist, they have done all they could to raise her morally and intellectually to the level of man; and in this respect they appear to me to have excellently understood the true principle of democratic improvement. As for myself, I do not hesitate to avow that, although the women of the United States are confined within the narrow circle of domestic life, and their situation is in some respects one of extreme dependence, I have nowhere seen woman occupying a loftier position; and if I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply-to the superiority of their women.

Kristin’s Notes: May our society one day regain an understanding of the God-ordained roles of men and women, and demonstrate a similar respect for women, that we may build upon the successes of 19th century American society, and learn from its shortcomings.