Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat

Austin asked me to blog the other day, I believe to relieve his boredom at work, but alas my mind has just not been in a writing mood recently. Probably because it's filled with phlegm. I caught this 3 week congestion thing, so...random blog post.

-Sammy has caught on to the fact that when I tell her that Santa Claus is a tradition, that means he's not real. After a few renditions of "Santa's not real, is he, Mom?" I finally had to tell her that when we believe in Santa, we believe in all the good things that he represents, blah blah blah, so we should choose to believe in him. Austin, on hearing about Sammy's disbelief, seemed appalled that I haven't done more to promote the myth and cult of Santa, so I've been talking him up more. We're even giving the girls presents from Santa this year instead of just stockings.

-Last night the girls and I had a sleepover by the Christmas tree. I thought it would be so magical. It wasn't. In fact, at the two-hour-past-bedtime mark there may have been some snarling involved.

-I am gaining weight at the rate of about a pound a week. 17 weeks left!

-Austin and I agree on one baby name so far. No, I can't tell you, what if you hate it?

-My emotions have all floated closer to the surface. It could be pregnancy, it could be a Cici/cold-induced lack of sleep. People and the irrational things they say annoy me more than usual, but on the other hand I feel worse about being annoyed. I just wish people would use their brains more!

-I vowed to avoid all stores other than the grocery store for the month of December. However, I decided to get some pictures at Costco, because it wouldn't involve me walking more than 30 feet into the actual store. It took me 45 minutes to get my pictures. (And that was with being aggressive and waving my belly around.)

-The best time to go shopping in December is early on a Monday morning.

-Thought provoking question for your holiday season:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crazy People


Awww..look at that cute little face. It's hard to find an ultrasound picture that doesn't make your baby look like an alien, so this one was a keeper. I've emailed and facebooked the big announcement, but in case you didn't catch it, we're having a girl. 

Just a quick endnote here: The ultrasound tech was great, but she might have thought we were a little crazy. She asked at the beginning if we wanted a DVD of the ultrasound and I said no. I just didn't see myself ever watching it or forcing anyone else to watch it. She made some comment about how some people don't have TVs, so either she thought we were really poor or really strict. I didn't tell her I own a TV, I just don't want to watch a video of my ultrasound on it. Then I asked what the ultrasound gel was and she wouldn't tell me.  As she said, "I don't want to say the wrong thing." Maybe she thought we were natural nuts who didn't own a TV and who would freak out about the contents of the gel? Then at the end she asked us if we wanted a CD of the pictures and asked if we had a computer...Austin said yes, we were pretty tech-savvy, and she looked confused. I took pity on her and told her I just didn't think we'd ever watch a DVD, but pictures were great. I don't think she thought we were crazy anymore, but I'm pretty sure she chalked us up as bad parents.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Messiah and Marimbas

Tonight I went to a Messiah sing-in. Remember how I was whining about going to one last year, only to find that the audience didn't even get to join in with the choir on the choruses? Well this one had no choir and no director and no orchestra. We didn't even have to bring music. We just showed up. It was very modern. The music played on the auditorium screen for us and scrolled along as we sang. For the recitation parts in between choruses, LDS clips of Christ's life played during the music.

Their sound is gone out...

Now let me take a break from Handel for a moment and talk about one of my secret hobbies. My experience tonight reminded me of it. In college I thought it would be fun to take a percussion class to release some stress and become a cool drummer person. It turns out that drums weren't really my thing--not musical enough--so I focused on learning to play the marimba.

I became pretty good at it. By the time I left school I was up to four mallets and could play this song:
(At least listen to past a minute where it gets cool.)

I don't know if I'm still any good at it, because it turns out that marimbas are expensive and hard to fit in your house. So now it's not my hobby, it's just my secret hobby.

One day during class, the better percussionists were going to play a song one of the others had written. They hadn't practiced all together, but they went ahead and put three marimbas in a 'U' and the guy who wrote the song directed it. It was a mess. They weren't sure when to come in and were dropping notes right and left. They stopped, defeated. Then one of the seniors in our class stepped in. "Come on, try it again. I'll direct." With confidence and verve he led the group on to a rousing performance of the student composition.

All we like sheep are gone astray...

Now I will share a moment from the sing-in. Right before we started singing, the guy who put this thing together asked who wanted to sit while we sang. Only a few people in the large audience raised their hands. The lights went down. The music started. I looked around me to find everyone sitting. I stood up. My little brother stood up. Everyone else stayed sitting as they sang. Halfway through the song, I sat down, defeated. Sorry, bro.

We definitely needed a director to tell us when to stand, (Because really, who sits as they sing the Messiah? Especially after they voted not to?) and bring us in at the appropriate places. We also needed a choir in front of us to make the "rough places plain," i.e. make us sound good, and maybe a small orchestra to get some energy flowing. (Or we could have gotten off our tushies and stood up...)

After I sat down, my dad leaned over and patiently whispered to me how when everyone else was sitting you can't really stand up because you'll block their view of the music. Thanks Dad.

The quest to find a decent sing-in continues.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Name Game

Next week we find out if we're having a boy or a girl. I can think of pros and cons to both genders, so I've decided to think that either would be good. (Although if you look/sound disappointed if we announce it's a girl, I will probably punch you. What's wrong with girls?) Once we find out the gender, then I can finally start thinking about names. As a parent, you have to consider not only the first name, but nicknames, middle names, first-name last-name combos, what the initials spell, how many other kids have your child's name, and what's going to sound really dumb in 20 years.

I like discussing names. I go by my middle name, so I've had quite a few name discussions over the years. Going by your middle name is great. You get a distinguished initial in front of your signature. You can go with whatever name you feel like that day. In fact, if someone calls me on the phone I can tell who they are and how well I know them just by what name they are calling me. I like finding out that someone I know is also using their middle name, because then it's like we're both members of a secret club. The Cool Middle Name Club.

However, there are a few things that annoy people who use their middle name. And by people I mean me. (Mild annoyance, not I-will-instantly-go-home-and-viciously-blog-about-you annoyance.)

1. The question: "What's your real name?" I'm not a superhero, people. My middle name is on my birth certificate, thus making it "real." Perhaps you meant..."What's your full name?"

2. Forms that assume everyone goes by their first name and only have space for a middle initial instead of my full middle name. Because then do I put my middle name under the space for the first name? Because it's not my first name.

3. When a receptionist asks me what my name is and I sound stupid because I go, uuuuuhhh...and try to remember whether I previously gave them my first name as my name (for easier medical billing) or my middle name as my name.

4.  People who leave off the first initial when writing my name in formal situations. (Like on my credit card. Or my temple recommend.) The E. in front makes my name dignified. Leave it off and my name looks like a snowman without a head. Just not that impressive.

Which leads to the dilemma I faced when I got married. I couldn't really figure out what to do with my maiden name. Lose the first initial and use my maiden name as my middle name? Not a chance. I love that first initial. Hyphenate? Overkill with middle name usage and hyphenation usage. Keep it? Disrespectful to the concept that my husband and I are becoming one. Make Austin use my maiden name instead of his? Really, really tempting, since I had an easier last name. I didn't want to look like a dominating wife though, so I just dropped my maiden name altogether. Maybe I'll use it as a middle name for this next kid.

So now for the question you've probably already asked me if you know me. "Why do you go by your middle name?" Well, I have had a lot of answers for that question over the years. Here are some: (My first name is Elisabeth by the way. With an S.)

1. I had a really bad nickname. Lizzy. Sometimes "Lizard Breath." How did I get the worst nickname for Elisabeth? There's not even a 'z' in my name. I really like Liz, but right when I got old enough for that we moved, and there was a girl in my class named Elizabeth who went by Liz so I didn't want to seem like I was copying her.

2. In conjunction with this, growing up, I didn't know any other Lizzys, but once we moved I met a couple more Elisabeths...and I didn't really like them that much.

3. My parents named me Elisabeth because it was the only female scripture name that fit with their "A,B,C,D," + "scripture name" naming pattern. (I have actually realized recently that my parents could have named me Esther.) I like the biblical story of Elisabeth, but my middle name has a rich heritage and interesting story behind it, and reminds me of my great-grandma who also set aside her more conventional first name, Mary, in favor of using her middle name. Which is also my middle name.

4. I asked people to start calling me by my middle name when I was 12. It was a very transitional time in my life. I was going through an existential crisis and searching for my identity. I knew it wasn't "Lizzy."

These are are all good answers to the question of why the middle name, but the truest and also shortest answer is that I just like it better than my first name. I would splash my name all over my blog here, but sometimes I blog about stuff I don't want my husband's coworkers to read, and I'm 100 percent sure it would turn up in a google search for my name. (And no, I'm not being paranoid, apparently they google spouses from time to time.)

As far as our girls go, our Polish last name made it hard to get too crazy with the first name. (Hopefully they will get married someday, but I can't predict a good name combo for that.) Our strategy has basically been to pick first names that we both think are special and have positive associations with. Both middle names have been my pick. Sammy's middle name, Gene, is a variation on her dad and grandfather's middle name, so she has a bit of heritage there. Cici's middle name is Page, because I love books but also because her first name was more of a risk and she needs a solid second option. Both of our girls could actually go with their middle names if they don't like their first names, but that's for them to decide. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Errand of Angles is Given to Women

There is a fancy Relief Society poster in the lobby at church that boldly proclaims, in cursive script, that "The Errand of Angles is Given to Women." Now, we all know that it is far too easy to find things at church to make fun of, so I usually refrain, but every time I pass it I can't help but laugh and try to think of some clever mathematical joke involving women and the "Errand of Angles."

I'm still drawing a blank on jokes of that variety, but I will say that after thinking it over, I'm not sure which is more intimidating: the message that women are expected to fill in for mathematicians, or that they have a mandate to act as if they were heavenly messangers. I'm leaning toward the second option as actually less intimidating, mostly because we don't know much about what angels really do with their time.

Anyway, the intimidation factor of angels and angles aside, I was thinking that this time of year can be intimidating as a woman, and especially as a mom. I know that as the person that sets the tone for the home, if I want the holiday to be special and Christ-oriented and family-oriented and fun and peaceful and my house to always be clean and smell like cinammon, and oh yes--for every family member to feel loved and remembered and get the perfect gift, that I have to be the driving force to make that happen. Yesterday I was making lists (one of my favorite activities), and ended up with three basic lists for the Christmas season: To Do, To Buy, and Traditions I Want to Have. I don't want to give away anything, (Sorry. I know blogs these days are all about giving away things.) so I thought I'd share the "Traditions I Want to Have" list.


-Put up Nissemen. (It took me one year to copy the cutouts, one year to color them, one year to buy a flesh-toned colored pencil to color their faces with so they don't look too pasty, one year to lose them in a move, another year to re-copy, re-color, and buy a laminator, (must have had a lot of energy that year) and this year I'm finally cutting them out! God willing they will make it onto my walls as well.)

-Wrap books. (Heard about this in Relief Society. You wrap 24 Christmas books and let your kids pick out one a night to unwrap and read during December. I am 15 Christmas books short of 24, so I cheated and checked them out from the library today--I've already wrapped 19 of them!)

-Magnetic Nativity. (My friend gave this to me. The kids put up a magnet piece each day.)

-Stocking for Savior. (I will try this one out this year. You know, you write stuff and put it in stocking. My kids are still pretty young, so it could be lame.)

-Paper chain. (Red and green paper chain links, each one has something about Jesus on it. "Jesus is kind." "Jesus is the Prince of Peace." etc. The kids rip one link off each day. At this age, it's all about ripping things, magnets, stickers, etc.)

-Nativity dress-up. (Sammy loved it when we re-enacted the story of Noah for Family Home Evening one night. She made me tell it every day for the next week and act it out with her. I think she would really have fun with this one, but again, there's the age thing and we only have four people.)

-Meal in Living Room. (We ate Christmas Eve dinner by candlelight at our coffee table last year. It was fun and simple.)

-Watch Nativity video Chistmas Eve while eating treats. (Also simple.)

-Go sing in Messiah. (I usually fly solo with this one and leave Austin with the kids. I'm thinking Sammy might be old enough this year. It's just hard to find a good sing-in near our home though. Last year I went to one nearby and the audience wasn't allowed to sing, we just had to listen to the choir. I left halfway through in disgust at those music hogs.)

-Put family pictures on piano. (I don't have any family pictures downstairs. Why? Because the four of us are not photogenic enough to get one good picture together. I'll just put us on seperately though.)

-Take treats to next-door neighbors. (We did this last year. I usually dread awkward stuff like that and only did it because it was our duty, but it ended up being a great evening of visiting.)

-Service. (Must do something service oriented that doesn't cost money. Babysit for people so they can do Christmas shopping? I'll think about this one.)

-Slideshow. (I thought it would be cool on Christmas to watch a slideshow of our past year as a family. Nothing fancy. I think I could make this happen.)

-Book to hang on tree. (Just a little book for us to write Christmas memories in each year. Except I know it would just be me writing unless I made people do it. And by people I mean my husband.)

That's it! Here's to a great month ahead.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Thousand Strange Places

Life is returning to normal...I'm decorating for the holidays, touring schools for Sammy for next year, and I just got back from my first official midwife's appointment. During which the police showed up at my house. You know. Just normal life.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't post pictures on the blog about a time when life was not so normal...a time when we sailed the wine-dark sea and walked the alleys of the East...a time when we viewed a thousand strange faces and a thousand strange places, and through it all clung to our quest for bold adventure:

Fish pedicures
and a firm knowledge of who we were and where we came from:
Formal night after a couple weeks at sea
So now, without further ado, I give you: Italy, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Crete!
Yes, that's me.



And back on our ship...

Austin gets bored and starts making these small towel animals...
And back home...
where Sammy calls me "Nana" for a week and Cici won't let me out of her sight...the girls have commandeered our empty suitcase and go on frequent trips. I don't plan on going anywhere for a while. These epic trips sure take it out of you.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's Not the End

Back in the United States! And the first order of business...the elections! I waited in line to vote for over an hour with my two kids, but at least we all got stickers! I was disappointed that Romney wasn't elected, mostly because I like change (Yes, we can!) and I was curious to see what he would actually do after all his flopping around on the issues. But let's be real: Romney was one of two uninspiring choices, not the prophesied Messiah. And in that spiritual vein, here are some fun Mormon myths to read about:


I'm not very passionate about politics, but I am proud of our country. In Egypt, the people don't support their elected leaders if they didn't vote for them--they throw rocks and burn buildings to show their disapproval. At least we haven't gotten too far past rants on Facebook. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Moment I Knew

I remember laboring in a hospital bed, feeling like I was about to die, when the anesthesiologist finally showed up with the pain medication. I don't remember what I said, probably something really short like, "Not happening!" but I do remember the general gist of what I was thinking: "Get that idiot out of here, I'm about to have a baby!" And then I had a baby. I was totally unprepared for my fast, no-pain-meds labor. It was really a traumatic experience, and amongst all my mixed up post-partum feelings I felt betrayed by the friends and relatives I had talked to who had given birth naturally. I felt like they tricked me. Did they just leave out the part where they wanted to die? Maybe I was just a weenie with no pain tolerance...maybe my pain was totally different from theirs since I had all my labor contractions squished into a couple hours...maybe the pain was my own fault since I hadn't prepared at all, and we all know that fear = pain.

Don't ask me why I was drawn to a natural birth again after all that. I'm not a masochist, I don't have anything to prove, and I'm not superwoman. (All my common misconceptions about natural birthers.) In any case, the moment I knew I absolutely had to have a home water birth was when I was talking to this gal my parents know about her recent water birth. (Mentioned her in previous post.) She had an epidural with her first, then went natural on purpose with her second. "I wasn't prepared for how painful it was," she said. "I felt like I wanted to die." I listened in awe. Finally, someone I identified with! For her third she had an epidural again. I have asked myself on various occasions why I shouldn't just go get induced and have an epidural since it went so well the first time, so I identified with this too. Then with her fourth, she decided that she really wanted to go natural again, so she did and kept doing so until baby number seven, when her husband got on board with the home water birth thing.

"It was amazing. After I got in the tub I was just having these really short contractions so I asked my midwife if my labor was slowing down. She said no, that the water was dulling them so I only felt the most intense part of them." "Did you ever feel like you wanted to die?" I asked eagerly. "No," she responded. "It was way better than my other natural births. I never felt that level of pain where I wanted to die, except right there at the end for a couple pushs I remembered what the prevous labors had felt like."

Can I get a hallelujah!?! The heavens parted. If I could only bring that natural pain level down one notch, then I absolutely knew that home water birth was my number one option. I'm banking on the water, people. If nothing I try with this next birth helps alleviate the "I want to die feeling" of natural birth, then it's back to the epidural for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Midwhiffery: The Midwife Ramblings

First off, did you know that midwifery is pronounced "mid-WHIFF-ery"? After my midwife said it that way I started trying to remember if I had said "midwifery" in my conversations with her, because I had probably said it wrong. We English majors don't like to say words wrong.

And now to the ramblings:

I started my search for a midwife with Melissa, the midwife my sister-in-law used for her home birth. We walked in and I felt like her waiting room was a secret tool to psychoanalyze us...are we the sort of couple that chooses the birthing ball, the beanbag, the shiny leather sofa, or stools? Austin and I sat upright in the sofa, (Yes, analyze that--we are not super natural people.) I was feeling really nervous, and yet a little powerful--I didn't know you could interview your healthcare provider...I always thought you just looked online and then went in for an appointment and hoped for the best.

With this appointment, Austin thought Melissa and her assistant were nice but trying to hold back their fanaticism, (although he later admitted they might have just been passionate about what they do) he asked some questions about his main concern, insurance, then he was super bored. The whole interview was an interesting experience to me, not only because I was the one actually having the baby, but because normally if I want out of tests or question why things are done a certain way, I feel like I'm an inconvenience to my health care providers--rocking the boat, so to speak. Here I felt like I would be out of place if I wanted every standard pregnancy test available without asking what it was and what the point of it was. I felt like I was welcome, my questions were welcome, and I could totally see myself giving birth with these women standing by. They ended the appointment by giving me a little plastic model baby the size of the baby I was currently carrying, which Sammy immediately appropriated when we got home, dubbing it "Peach Baby" and locking it in her treasure box.

Picking a midwife is kind of a big deal when you're doing a home birth. She is there all the time, from exstensive prenatal care to labor to postnatal baby and mom care, not just dropping in for 10 minute appointments and (hopefully) showing up to catch the baby. I called my sister-in-law to ask for some advice for interviewing, and she said, "The first thing to do is to make sure the midwife isn't crazy." That seemed a little broad to me, but the more I thought about it the more I saw the truth there: make sure your midwife is ready and willing to send you to the doctor if you have risk factors, make sure she has a good track record, make sure her world view dovetails nicely with yours, etc.

So back to my first interview: I felt like I could give birth very confidently with Melissa, but is using the first midwife you interview like buying the first house you look at? It seemed precipitous. Austin was rooting for me to give birth with a midwife in the hospital to save him thousands of dollars, so we also went and interviewed with a midwife associated with the local hospital. I didn't like that she charged me 25 dollars for the meet-and-greet first off, (normally they are free with midwifes) but I tried to keep an open mind. She was like a lesser version of Melissa. She was very nice, but didn't inspire quite the same confidence. Also, even though the hospital she's associated with bills itself as natural-friendly, the more she talked about how I just have to deal with the hospital procedures, try to ignore them, try to get through them as fast as possible, and oh yes--how they won't let her bring a birthing pool in, the more I realized that I just can't have the birth I want in a hospital, no matter how natural-friendly. Sorry, Austin.

After that, I wondered if I should interview more midwifes, just so I was doing my due diligence and not buying the first house. I googled "Midwife Red Flags" to see if I had missed something important in my interview with Melissa, and the more I read about all the things a midwife could do wrong, the more I felt like my midwife was a rock star based on the information I had about her. After prayer and birth stories and conversations that helped me know my decision was right for me, I let Melissa know I wanted to use her as my midwife. I immediately felt like a rock star myself when she sent me a ton of information: what books to read, food to eat, what all the prenatal and infant tests mean, labor positions, etc. You know the sort of care that Angelina Jolie must get when she goes in to her health care provider for prenatal care? I felt like Angelina Jolie. I suddenly viewed my previous health care providers with scorn, and vowed to never return to a practice where I'm not treated like a Very Important Person.

Thus ends the ramblings for now. Before I decided on birthing at home, I knew I wanted a midwife no matter where I had my baby because I needed a lot of physical, mental, and emotional support throughout pregnancy and labor. I had heard that I could get that with a midwife, and it looks like it's true!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"The Way of the Peaceful Birther"

 Austin's first diaper changing job on Sammy

With Baby #1, I had a positive, induced epidural hospital birth experience. With Baby #2, I had a negative, natural hospital birth experience. When I first found out I was pregnant with baby # 3, I decided it was embarrassing how little I had researched birth, so I went to the library and just started checking out random books from the birth section. I wanted to be fair, so I checked out the whole spectrum, from books titled something like, "Your Medical Options," to the sort of book I would usually make fun of: "The Way of the Peaceful Birther." (This is actually a real title, complete with pregnant woman in misty wheat field on cover). I have to admit that the natural books were more interesting. Who are these crunchy granola/placenta eating natural birthers? Why do they love plant names for their children, conspiracy theories, and Native Americans so much? And why do I want to join them????

While I haven't jumped on board with encapsulating my placenta yet, (although it's supposed to be quite beneficial) I have officially committed to doing a home birth this time around. As my father-in-law put it after hearing of my intentions, "She's gone to the other side."

It's really hard to explain my decision to people.

Why do I feel like I have to justify the home birth to people? Probably because I think I know what they're thinking. They get the "that's nice" smile and don't really say much.

Why do I care what people think? I don't know, I just do. (Especially when it comes to my mother.)

I want people to know that I know natural birth and home birth are not for everyone, that I respect their birth choices, that I don't secretly look down on them, that my real passion is not for home birth but for every woman to educate herself about birth, the birth process, and the options available to her.

 After chatting with a woman who just got done doing her first home water birth after 6 kids birthed with epidurals and au natural in hospitals and birthing centers, I decided to basically copy and slightly personalize her explanation for why she went for a home birth, because it's easy for people to understand the reasoning behind it:

"The thought of going to the hospital again stresses me out. I have really short labors and I don't want to spend transition, the hardest part of labor, in the car and filling out forms." People get that sort of explanation--it's harder for them to understand my ramblings about my mental and spiritual journey to home water birth and the decisions I tried to make from a place of positivity, not fear. Still, to someone who I felt was really interested, I would probably talk about how I think there's a spiritual element to birth, the possibility of women having a sacred experience as they briefly become portals to another world and archetypes of Christ, something vague but important that I'm having a hard time grasping in the hospital. (All the while trying not to sound too New Age and trying to remember what their birth experience was so I don't offend them.)

So I'm not sure what you think about it, but the journey has begun. My midwife accepted my acceptance of her today, and I will be blogging about that soon!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

You Know What This Means

No worries though...we have this:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Solitude and San Francisco


We got back yesterday from a little jaunt to Yosemite/San Francisco. With our long cruise coming up in a few weeks, I felt a little guilty, like I didn't really deserve a fun trip, but with a lot crowding my mind it was a much needed break--not to think about everything but to not have to think about anything for a few days.

The wilderness was refreshing. Down in the valley things were a bit crowded, but when Austin and I got above it all we found the peace and quiet we love about the wilderness. (That's me in the picture above!!). Along with the massive scenery we also saw some unique wildlife--a bear (almost hit it with our car), a "mountain lion," and a "small peasant." I suspect the last two items may have actually been a stray dog and a small bird respectively, but I guess I'll have to take Austin's word for it that a ferocious wildcat and petite Russian √©migr√© were both wandering around by the road.

The city was energizing and exhausting at the same time. Austin was conferencing during the day, so I explored by myself most of the time. I always have to gear myself up to go out in cities because the sounds and smells and people and general hubbub can be overwhelming. You've got to have your wits about you. But once I'm out, I love trotting about briskly being a part of the glorious wash of humanity. I made several good discoveries, including the fortune cookie factory and cream puff shop, perfected the art of not looking dumb when you are lost in the city, (Halfway down the block, when you realize you are going the wrong direction, pause, gaze pensively at the store window in front of you, wait until people right behind you have moved past, then turn around) and generally enjoyed myself people-watching. My favorite find was the guy decked out head to toe in camo, accessorizing with a pink Hello Kitty bag. Sometimes in the city it can be hard to differentiate between ironic fashion statements and mental illness.

I will share one last memorable moment, filed under A for "Awkward." On one of our cab rides our driver decided to chit-chat and asked us the standard question: "Where are you from?" Me: "We're from Utah." Driver: "Are you English?" Me: "Uhh...no." And that was pretty much the end of all conversation for the rest of the 30 minute drive.  

All in all a successful trip. It's hard to go wrong with a combo of granite cliffs and luxury hotels.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Have the Courage to Claim Your Gifts

This post started out as a recap of our Mt. Timp hike on Saturday. I guess I can still do that. It was hard. It was pretty. Enoch was sick as a dog but still beat us off the mountain. I like hiking. Here are a few pictures:


And now turning to the topic on my mind. I've been doing a lot of reading lately about women in history, women in religion, and women and parenting. I was lent some focus for this post when my sister-in-law blogged slightly apologetically about having a job--presumably because she also has a child. In my culture (the people I know, associate with, read,) there seems to be a hierarchy of jobs for mom, with voluntary full-time working mom of small children being the most looked down upon and mom with part-time job from home (preferably something interesting or crafty) being the most desirable--in this day and age trumping mom with no job other than raising human beings. (For some diabolical reason referred to as "I don't work. I stay at home with our kids.")

To me the ideal as a mother seems to be having a part-time job or hobby that takes you outside your home and away from your adorable offspring for at least a little while each week. Trying to work at home with kids underfoot or in your precious evening relaxation time sounds very frustrating. (Yet more economically viable, I know.) I still can't figure out the what and when of this myself, so take my opinion for what it's worth. I'm still trying to "have the courage to claim [my] gifts," especially the gift of writing. Blogging has been a small result of that. As a mom my day is full of accomplishments that are immediately destroyed and thus hard to take a lot of pride in. Whatever your hobby or job, I would say do something you see a lasting end product of. It will bring you joy.

And now for the quote section, (most of which I thought applied to my husband as well as myself) and some finishing thoughts:

"Woman can best re-find herself by losing herself in some kind of creative activity of her own" -Ann Morrow Lindbergh

"Sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children..." -M. Russell Ballard

"We believe that women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but that they should stay behind the counter, study law or physic, or become good bookkeepers and be able to do the business in any counting house, and all this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large." -Brigham Young

"I like the idea of having both a vocation and an avocation—a trade and a love. For women, homemaking must be at least our vocation (for some, it might be an avocation as well). We might also prepare for another vocation, but in addition, we should cultivate as many avocations as we would like. Women who have an avocation of music seem to be particularly blessed, and their families are blessed, too. I have seen women enrich their families with their abilities in art, science, mathematics, gardening, sewing, cooking, interior decorating, carpentry, sports, shopping, nursing—there are as many possibilities as there are women." -Petrea Kelly

Finishing thoughts: I have tried to write this paragraph over and over. How do I communicate the fact that I have become less judgmental of our work/hobby choices as women yet more cognizant of the duty placed upon us when we become mothers? How do I convey that the minutia of motherhood and especially being caretakers of young children involves time and effort to find grace in and that as I wonder that so many moms go back to work full-time when their babies are just a few months old I don't wonder that they want to? I really like this topic. So much potential for offending people! So much effort not to that we never think about what we think about it! I think these real life issues really wake up our brains and force us to stretch.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Mormon Feminist Conference

I went to an interesting conference this past weekend. It wasn't actually called the "Mormon Feminist Conference," (although that probably was a working title at some point), but had the much more respectable name of, "Women and the LDS Church: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives Conference." I don't even know where to start with telling you about this fun, thoughtful, controversial conference. You name a hot topic within the sphere of women and the LDS church and it was covered, often to the boos and cheers of an enthusiastic crowd.

Here's a list of suggestions that were made in connection to the conference:


Note: I don't think this list mentions disciplinary councils, but I think it would be a great idea to have old Stake Relief Society Presidents or whomever would be the high council equivalent be part of those.

I didn't agree with some of the suggestions made on the list and at the conference, mostly because I felt some practical issues with some of them were being overlooked. But I did agree with a lot of them. If the number one reason women leave the church is because they feel marginalized, why not change some outdated policies to give them a more visible face and active role in the church? 

The popular saying in the church that "men have the priesthood and women have motherhood" (ergo, women do not need to be involved in traditional visible "priesthood" roles) really irks me, because first, it ignores the all-important father aspect of men and second, it ignores the great sisterhood of women, Relief Society. Yes, mothering is the most important work women can do on this earth. Likewise, fathering is the most important work men can do on this earth. "Father" is God's preferred title, his most honored role. The false dichotomy of motherhood versus priesthood can much more thoughtfully be replaced “with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood" -Spencer W. Kimball.

In the great new book, (that hopefully will soon be studied by men and women throughout the church), Daughters in My Kingdom, we read: "In harmony with timeless principles about the sacred nature of home and family, Melchizedek Priesthood quorums help men fulfill their responsibilities as sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers. The Relief Society helps women fulfill their responsibilities as daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers." Somewhere between the awe-inspiring vision of Joseph Smith for the Relief Society and the current organization we have today, I feel like the parallel of this sisterhood to the priesthood has been lost. In our idolization of mothers we have overlooked the very institution God gave women to become the best mothers they can be.

In "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," we read that "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners." And again from Daughters in My Kingdom: "The word motherhood defines women’s eternal roles; it describes their nature as nurturers. Nurture is a rich word. It means to train, to teach, to educate, to foster development, to promote growth, and to nourish or feed. Women have been given the great privilege and responsibility to nurture in all these senses of the word, and the Relief Society has the responsibility to teach and support women in their divinely ordained, indispensable roles as mothers and nurturers.28 

I feel like women could use their responsibility (and for many women their gift) to nurture by playing a greater role in nurturing the church. Sisters should be joining the brothers as "equal partners" in training, teaching, educating, taking care of physical needs, etc., starting in our homes but not staying in our homes.
This whole thing sounds a little dangerous, especially that blasphemous list at the beginning. Are you tired of quotes yet?

Joseph Smith: "We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them — even if they knew it was wrong. But such obedience as this is worse than folly to us. It is slavery in the extreme. The man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise this idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves." — Joseph Smith, Jr. Millenial Star, Archive Volume 14, Number 38, Pages 593-595

From a 1945 ward teacher's message: "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan–it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy." President George Albert Smith responded to this statement with the following words: "Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church."

Time to think about our practices and traditions! The thing I liked most about the conference was that it got me thinking. It left me with the question, "What is my identity as a Mormon woman?" I went to church the next day pondering this and proceeded to watch our bishop call up on the stand a young woman and her leader who had just completed the Young Womenhood Recognition. (Lame name, I know.) He talked at length about what they had done to recieve it and invited them to speak to us about it. I thought it was an awesome example of not only talking about how we love and honor women just as much as the men in our church, but showing it by how he behaved towards them and made them public examples of good. Let's look around now at changes we like and build on those.
Feminists, unite!

Because I dislike scammers so much.

Yesterday I posted my sister-in-law's wedding dress online for sale, and today I had this interesting exchange:

Mystery Texter: still for saleWhite Wedding Dress with Sleeves

Me: Yes it is (Hmmm...no space, no question mark.)

Mystery Texter: Okay good but before i do I will like to know the present condition of the item because i live in 1350 S.E. 29th Street, MY and i want to get it for my friend who live in Downtown but recently move to west Africa about mid week of last week, i will like u to find out the shipping cost to him and let me know the total cost of everything, i will b paying u through My paypal, do u have an acct with

Me: Please don't text me again.

(MY is not a state abbreviation, you mentioned Africa and PayPal in the same sentence, why would a guy need a wedding dress, and I really need my nap.)

Mystery Texter: OMG! HOH....I understand how you feel and what do you think I can promise you that if I help pay for the item including shipping costs and any costs order which is why I said that we should use PayPal to the PayPal payment is so safe and secure for both buyers and sellers on-line fastest way to pay and 100% free of fraud are really interested in this article, I will not afford to lose,

(Is there anything worse than ending a sentence with a comma? And HOH? Don't you mean LOL? Seriously, I need my nap.)

Me: If you text me again I will have my husband track down your real address, find out who else you have defrauded or tried to defraud, then I personally will prosecute you in my free time. In fact I am considering doing this even if you don't text me again because I dislike scammers so much.

And that was the end of that. Maybe if I wasn't so tired I would have had a little more fun with this person before I tried to scare them. On the bright side, it was yet another reminder of the practicality of majoring in English--the detection of bad grammar is a sure-fire way to protect yourself from a malicious scammer.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Summer of Life

I feel like we're in a nice spot with life right now. There are ups and downs of course, but mostly deep days that manage to be full of nothing at the same time. It feels like summer.

Our annual camping trip.
(New favorite spot to camp: our backyard.)
Though we still didn't get much sleep.
Sammy heads back to school.
On our way to becoming self-sufficient: picking our home-grown crab apples!
Family reunion, friends, and food...
And the ping-pong match!
Dad almost managed to convince Aunt Terri that the top bunk was made out of oak and the bottom one was made out of pine, so the bottom one was softer.
Sand and dirt and rocks and cousins kept us entertained for a week.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

There and Back Again

We started out our summer peacefully, pulling weeds in the fresh mornings, taking luxurious naps in the lazy afternoons, and playing board games long into the quiet gloaming. Well, I got to take naps, anyway. Our relaxing/boring summers seem to rapidly morph into these massive journeys, and this year was no different. We left our mountain home in July and travelled to Nebraska, Paris, Venice, and Chicago before finally returning about a month later. I think we can all agree that the main point of going on vacations is so that you can bore people with your stories and pictures when you get back, and since that's the way its been for hundreds of years, I see no reason to break with tradition now.


We loved hanging out with Nana and Poppy in Omaha, and our favorite thing to do there was playing by the lake. We almost always ended up being mermaids--Sammy gave Cici the mermaid name of Kayak, and her name was San Diego. She must have ran out of good names by the time she got to me, because I ended up with the name Trampoline. Austin turned 29!


Paris didn't start off on a great foot. Our airport bus dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe, and after we checked it out Austin thought it would be a good idea to give me the map and have me tell him what street we were supposed to walk down to get to our hotel.

That's the Arc in the middle

With my famed navigating skills, I managed to take us all the way around the massive traffic circle (under the scorching Paris sun) until we ended up one street away from where we had started. Oh man.

Look, we're really in Paris! Right after we took this picture, (probably as revenge for earlier annoyances,) Austin told me to look down at the river, where I was greeted by the sight of a hairy, Speedo-clad Parisian man soaking up the sun. Thanks, Austin. Now one of my lasting memories of Paris.

As part of our romantic vacation to Paris, Austin took us to the Sewer Museum. This is a picture of him standing by a display of stuffed rats. Basically, you pay money to walk around the sewers of Paris and like all museums, end up in a gift shop at the end. (With toy rats though.) I was very disappointed with their bathrooms. You would think the bathrooms in a sewer museum would be pretty incredible, but instead they were pretty gross. I came across an incredible variety of bathrooms during our travels. Someday I will write the coffee-table book, "Bathrooms of the World," and offer advance copies to any readers of this blog. !!!


Ahhh, Venice! We got upgraded to a tower room...I never wanted to leave. I've always wanted to live in a tower.

Getting lost was actually kind of enjoyable in Venice. You can't go too far wrong on an island.

Goodbye, Venice! Back to the good ol' U.S.

On the way back, I discovered the real reason people like airport lounges: it's not the drinks, it's the airplane-shaped gummies.

I also discovered the real reason we went to Europe: so Austin could experience the new 747-8I business class on the way back. 


Hello Chicago!

Hello San Diego!

Thanks to Nana for staying with us in Chicago and for taking us fun places like the Children's Museum.

They expect a lot from the kids there.

Good thing I know a lot about sewers now.

And now back to our humdrum real life: