Saturday, October 25, 2008

What does your family really think of you?

I got this quiz from SuziePetunia. J is 7, C is 5, JJ is 11 months old. D is my husband. My personal favorites are C's answer to #1 and J and C's answer to #6.

1. What does mom always say?
J: That's a good question. Um, I love you.
C: We're going to Connie's house.
JJ: uh-doo
D: I'm tired.

2. What makes mom happy?
J: When we obey you
C: My pictures and cards I make
JJ: Uz-ziss-uh
D: Peace and quiet

3. What makes mom sad?
J: When we disobey you
C: When I don't give her any of those things
JJ: uh-zuss
D: Out of control kids, not being in control

4. How does mom make you laugh?
J: That's uh, I don't know.
C: I don't know (shrugging shoulders.) Mom-- don't write that! MOM!! Erase those things!
JJ: (Grunt)
D: Telling stories about the kids or about your life

5. How old is mom?
J: 26
C: 29
JJ: duh-doo
D: 29

6. How tall is mom?
J: Um. Can't be 20 feet. About, I think... um 8 feet. [Camryn: "That's WAY too small!"]
C: (shrugs) 60 feet
JJ: huh-zee-la-la-la
D: 5'5" point zero

7. What does mom like to do?
J: Go to OMSI [Oregon Museum of Science and Industry]
C: Play with Jackson. Play with us!
JJ: huh-HUH
D: You like to type your blog. You like to relax on the LoveSac

8. What is mom's job?
J: To take care of the children
C: Write on the computer. Pay our taxes.
JJ: uh-zah
D: (alarmed look, like "I hope this isn't misinterpreted") taking care of the kids, shopping, finances, managing the house... I think that's a pretty good list.

9. What is mom's favorite food?
J: Lasagna [???!!?]
C: (Shrugs) Squash. Salad. [prodding from me] Cake.
JJ: hot
D: I don't know if it's your favorite, but the one you talk about the most when we go out to eat is Creme Brulee

10. How do you know your mom loves you?
J: Because she says good night to me
C: Because I'm part of your family.
JJ: uhhhheeeeeeee
D: Just how you act in general... you make me nice dinners, you hold me =]

Girls Weekend Out

So I guess I've kind of fallen off the blogosphere... something about trying to be a responsible housekeeper.... But since I've established that not writing on my blog does not mean that my house looks pristine and my laundry is perpetually in neatly folded stacks where it belongs, I might as well catch up.

Last weekend was my big girls weekend out. Time Out For Women came to Portland and a bunch of ladies I knew were going. I'd been once before and it was good, but I will admit that my main reason for going was just to have a chance to hang out with the girls, have a break from household responsibilities, and recharge. There was a Friday evening session and then it was Saturday all day, so I organized getting a hotel in Portland for a bunch of us to stay overnight and make a weekend of it. This had been planned for over a month, when only a few days before, "Surprise!!"- Dave got called out of town at the last minute on a business trip to Japan. This could have been disastrous, but I found someone to trade with to watch my kids while Dave was gone (thanks SuziePetunia!).

We left on Friday afternoon and drove up to Portland to get dinner. We ended up going to Happy Hour at The Melting Pot. I suppose you could find it ironic that I was going to Time Out for Women and began the weekend by hanging out with all of my good LDS friends at a bar. =] I'm sure the bartender was a little bit bummed (with his expected tip) when none of us got alcohol, but we tried to compensate by tipping really well. It was an AMAZING deal. The Melting Pot is normally $90 for a couple. If you go to Happy Hour, you can get a pot of cheese fondue for $10 or Spinach Artichoke Fondue in a bread bowl for $5 and all of their salads are $3. Plus, they had great Strawberry Basil Lemonade. It made up for the fact that they were short on seats and two of us had to eat standing up.

We raced over to the TOFW seminar and got there a few minutes late. The speaker was OK, but I basically spent her whole talk doodling notes to myself about random topics and trying to decide what the difference is as a parent between inappropriate control and "teaching correct principles." I think everyone thought I was furiously note-taking until they noticed that my note-taking was just as furious during the song.

Afterward we went out to dessert at Pix Patisserie-- my favorite pastry shop. If you ever visit Portland you have to go-- the desserts there are truly works of art. I had only ever been during the day. It turns out that it transforms at night from a quiet take-out shop into a packed, happening dessert restaurant with open windows and an entirely open wall. Everyone got different stuff and we all traded bites. My favorites are the Shazam! (a towering chocolate creation filled with caramel mousse) and the Queen of Sheba (a dark chocolate, almond flavored torte with a moist, melted center and ice cream on top-- basically amazing).

When we got back to the hotel I was a bit hungry and there was a Wendy's next door that was open until 2:00, so two other girls and I went to get a snack. This would have been perfect except that, as it turns out, only the drive-through window was open that late and the drive-through does not allow people on foot to order. Not to be deterred from my greasy food fix, I flagged down the next person to drive up to the drive-through (a guy in a red truck), handed him a $5 bill and asked if he would order 3 jr. bacon cheeseburgers and some fries for us. After giving us a funny look, he very kindly obliged us and we happily had our midnight snack.

The Saturday session had a few good presenters and a few OK to marginal ones. I didn't realize how hard it would be for me to sit for so long without getting antsy. I guess I'm used to always having a fidgeting/flailing/thrashing baby on my lap. (When was the last time when I sat still for more than one hour at a time?)

There were long segments that were performances by LDS pop artists. I have never been a big fan of LDS pop, so I used advantageously used this time to either pass notes or have whispered conversations with friends. It's kind of awkward at LDS pop performances, because stylistically it feels like you should get up and sway holding up your cell phone, but everyone sits there reverently and then claps uncertainly at the end (like "Is this like I'm clapping after a musical number at church?"). I spent the entire performance of an LDS artist who shall remain unnamed (OK, his name starts with a K and ends with "enneth Cope") passing notes to Ranell. I wasn't trying to be rude, he actually has a good voice, but it's just not really my cup of tea. It made it harder that every single song follows the same basic formula (which I outlined in a note to Ranell):
  • Tell random spiritual story.
  • Segue into song.
  • Sing song.
  • Add a random spiritual thought during the interlude.
  • Keep singing song, adding a few firm head nods for emphasis.
  • Look into the distance as the song ends, as if you are having your own quiet moment with the divine.
  • Try to visibly suppress a few tears, if possible.
This wouldn't have been so very funny, except as soon as I passed the note to Ranell he did every single one of the things as outlined, almost as if on cue. We had to try really hard not to burst out laughing. Luckily it happened right at the end of his performance and time for the break so we could finally let it out and laugh.

I spent the last hour or so of Saturday giving up on trying to sit through the musical numbers altogether and just browsing the books in the back. I decided I would rather just poke around and read and it was supposed to be "time out" for me, right?

All too soon it was over-- we were on our way home and I was picking up the kids. Jared talked me into a movie night, so the kids and I popped popcorn, ate Skittles and watched Shrek 2.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Important Groundbreaking News Flash!

Today my entire family made it to 2:00 pm church... on time!!!(please hold your gasps) We even heard 2 minutes of the prelude music before the meeting started. But we were still in the back of the overflow on metal chairs (Dang-it!) and Jackson has discovered that when you beat metal chairs with your hand it creates a lovely resonant noise. (Double Dang-it!) But I didn't have to play the piano or teach or substitute for a single thing today. Dave watched Jackson during Relief Society so I got to actually listen to the lesson. And we had an awesome turnout at ward choir today. Life is good.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Way to Impress

Yesterday was Jared and Camryn's first parent-teacher conferences at school. I, in all of my remarkable foresight and efficiency, scheduled them back to back at 10:00 and 10:20, and had a babysitter arranged for Jackson and Camryn. I showed up, right on time, but I couldn't remember whose conference was first. I went to Jared's classroom. The teacher, looking surprised to see me, informed me that my conference was yesterday and I had missed it, but she could probably squeeze me in today.

She must have been confused. I had purposely scheduled both of them back to back.... Maybe it was just that Camryn's was first and Jared's teacher had written it down wrong. I went to Camryn's classroom. "How nice to see you," her teacher said, "but I think your conference was yesterday. I can probably squeeze you in, though."

So yes, I had scheduled both conferences on Wednesday, but written them down on Thursday by accident (how I managed to do this when I got a reminder sheet, looked at it and checked the calendar is beyond me...). Luckily, both teachers were still able to fit me in for a conference. But so much for remarkable foresight and efficiency....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In Defense of Marriage...

Last week I forwarded a video regarding California's Proposition 8 [that would require marriage to be between a man and a woman] to a mom's email group from my old ward in California. The video was an interview with a couple that lives in Massachusetts, who were shocked to find out that their child's teacher had read the book "King and King" (describing a prince who falls in love with and marries another prince) in school. The video made the point that if Prop.8 doesn't pass, schools in California will be required to present marriage between two men or two women as equal with marriage between a man and a woman.

Today someone posted the following response to the mom's group:

"In case you are interested, I have posted a commentary on some of the arguments for Proposition 8 by Morris Thurston, an adjunct professor at BYU."

In particular, he provides an interesting legal argument that contradicts the message of this video. Contrary to the implication in the video, failure to pass proposition 8 will NOT require teachers in California to teach that gay marriage is okay.

While we may not share the same views, I think we all agree it is important to get out and vote, vote our conscience, and make decisions that seem in connection with the Savior's plan. However, I also believe that these political wars where propaganda is purported to be truth are absolutely problematic. It is almost as though there has to be reliance on fear mongering, faulty rhetoric, misleading information and misdirection in place of actually dealing with the issues at hand. I hope we will all do our best to be well-informed on the issues and then vote our conscience whichever way that might be."
(You can read the article that she refers to by Morris Thurston here.)

I stewed about this email for a long time today. I totally disagreed with her statement, "Contrary to the implication in the video, failure to pass proposition 8 will NOT require teachers in California to teach that gay marriage is okay." Furthermore, I get frustrated when people imply that I take a certain view because of ignorance or a "reliance on fear mongering." (Not to mention that, at least to me, the way the email mentions the fact that he is a professor at BYU implies some kind of church approval of his opinion- never mind the fact that an adjunct professor does not have a permanent position at the institution.)

So after much more stewing than I should have devoted to it, this is the response I wrote:
Thank you for posting the article with the rebuttal to "6 Consequences... if Prop 8 Fails." I read the article and it definitely made me think and examine my views on the subject. I agree that it is important to be as well-informed as possible and to make sure you have a good understanding of the issues involved and the views on both sides of the topic. However, after carefully reading his article, I don't think that it fully addresses all of the issues that were brought up in the video and I disagree with many of the conclusions that Mr. Thurston makes. I have included a summary of what I disagree with below for those who are interested.

I totally agree that there is no place in political discourse for fear-mongering and propaganda and I apologize if the video that I forwarded was perceived as either of those. That was not my intent at all. I totally understand and respect the right of others to differing opinions and I hope that people do carefully consider the issues and vote their conscience. However, I don't like for it to be implied that I personally am relying on "fear mongering, faulty rhetoric, misleading information and misdirection in place of actually dealing with the issues at hand." (That probably wasn't what was intended either...).=] These are complex issues with many ramifications that nobody will be able to completely predict ahead of time. But I don't think that just because I agree with the concerns of the parents in the video that automatically makes me guilty of ignorance or fear-mongering either.

So if you want the more detailed run-down on my response to his response,=] read on... if not, delete. Have a great day!

Mr. Thurston does provide an interesting legal argument that I think is well-worth reading. However, I don't think it addresses all of the issues that were of concern to the parents portrayed in the video. I don't think that his argument proved at all that failure to pass prop 8 will not require California teachers to teach that gay marriage is okay. If anything, it made the point that teachers are already required to teach "respect for marriage and committed relationships," (which I am assuming could be presumed to mean committed homosexual relationships) and that Prop 8 will not make a difference. As Thurston states, as the law in California currently stands:
Pupils will receive instruction to aid them in making
decisions in matters of personal, family, and
community health, to include the following
subjects: Family health and child development,
including the legal and financial aspects
and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.

While the focus may be on "health," I have a hard time seeing how what constitutes a married couple would fail to come up in a discussion of "the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood." While the law may not specifically "require" that teachers teach that "same-sex marriage is just as good as traditional marriage," I think that re-defining what constitutes a marriage will implicitly make that change.

I felt like several of Thurston's arguments were a little bit misleading. True, Catholic Charities has not "closed its doors," but it has stopped doing adoptions in Massachusetts. No, this wasn't because the government forced them to, but because they "were reluctant to undertake a lawsuit that might be lost." I can see how a charity would have a hard time justifying devoting significant financial resources to a lawsuit when their main purpose is to use their resources to provide help to people in need. While it is true that that government agencies may not choose to keep private adoption agencies from placing children only in heterosexual homes, the possibility of a lawsuit from an outside source is not improbable. Just because LDS Family Services (or any other adoption services for that matter) have not previously been sued and forced to place children with a gay couple does not mean that it will not happen in the future. I disagree with Thurston's assertion that passing Prop 8 will not matter if there is a legal challenge because of the current domestic partnership law. Laws can be interpreted many different ways. If that wasn't true, why would we need to have lawyers argue their different views of how a law should be interpreted? It would just be self-evident.

I also disagree with his assertion that Prop 8 would have no bearing on same-gender housing at universities. He says: "To date, however, no private California religious school has been forced to comply with this [equal housing for domestic partnerships] law." All it would take is one private lawsuit, citing the California supreme court ruling that same-gender marriage is legal and equal for that to change. Furthermore, being a private school and having an honor code prohibiting homosexuality does not shield you from lawsuits or legal challenges. You could easily be sued for discrimination: the state recognizes homosexual marriage, so should the university.
As an example, look at what has happened as a result of Title IX (a law mandating that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.) While the intent of the Title IX law is good, this had a huge impact on inter-collegiate athletics-- even at private schools. While I was at BYU, the university had to discontinue the men's gymnastics and wrestling program, in order to comply with the Title IX requirements to have equal numbers of men's/women's sports and sports scholarships. You would think that because BYU is a private university and doesn't rely on federal money that they would not need to comply, but they do receive federal funding: Pell Grants for its students. Failure to comply with Title IX requirements would mean cutting off all Pell Grants and federal student loan assistance at BYU or any other university-- that would definitely create a huge impact. Now you can argue whether equalizing sports between sexes was a good or bad thing, but my point is that just because BYU was a private school, it was not shielded from the impact of discrimination laws and the possible loss of federal funding.

Personally, I think that one other essential reason Prop 8 is important because protecting marriage between a man and a woman protects children. Children, who are the most voiceless and vulnerable segment of society, have a right to be raised by a father and mother.
There is an op-ed piece in the LA Times that I think makes a very compelling case for this:,0,2093869.story

The author states that: "Children have the right, insofar as society can make it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world." We don't live in a perfect world and goodness knows that the ideal doesn't always happen, but I think society has an obligation to support marriage as a way of protecting children and encouraging fulfillment of parental obligations to children.

Well there's my two... or ten or twenty.. cents. =]
(Note: The writer of the original email wrote me back and apologized for implying that I was resulting to "fear-mongering" and thanking me for reading and thoughtfully responding to the article that she sent.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A New Leaf?

Lest anybody get the mistaken idea that my house is ALWAYS messy... (c'mon it's only 75% of the time), I wanted to announce that my kitchen has been pristinely clean for almost 72 hours. My kitchen was clean when I went to bed on Sunday night and I have kept it clean since then... not a single dirty dish allowed, everything immediately loaded in the dishwasher. Silly as it may seem, I am excessively proud of this great accomplishment. Not only that, but I finally conquered my two-hour pile of ironing.

Could it be? Dare I hope that maybe, just maybe, I could be turning over a new leaf? Or does it have more to do with the fact that Jackson slept through the night last night and took a two hour nap today (that must set some kind of record...)?

Finishing Up

Ok, so I've been holding onto this post for almost a week, debating whether I should actually post it or not. I've been worrying that my blog is too much of a downer- filled with detailed descriptions of my messy house and disorganized life instead of presenting my family best foot forward. I decided to overcome my better judgment and post it anyway....
I never finished my last blog post about my long, hard week. I thought maybe it was better to end the blog post on a more upbeat note. Never fear!! There's more ranting to come! =]

Last Sunday morning dawned bright and late, like usual (it is nice to have a weekend when you don't have to be up for the school bus at the crack of dawn). I did have to drag myself out of bed by 10 am because ward choir was at my house at 11. I started to call a few people to remind them, but in the process of trying to pick up the house, bathe Jackson and feed Jackson, I just ran out of time/energy. Choir went well- we didn't have as many people as we have had the past few weeks, but the turnout was respectable.

It took a while for the choir crowd to dissipate, after which we had a visit from our home teachers. By the time they left it was past 12:30. The older kids had not been fed or bathed, Jackson was hungry again, I had no make-up on and needed to change into my church clothes and Dave still needed to shower. Sound promising? Never fear, Karen is here- kicking her rear in gear! I got Jared and Camryn through the bath in record time, got dressed and ready, threw food in the general direction of the kids and before you know it we were... late, as usual. But not horribly late. Again, we made it during the opening prayer. We slipped into the second row of folding chairs in the cultural hall (YES!! We are moving up in the world! We were at the FRONT of the overflow!) and a friend of mine waved hello. At which point I remembered that she was singing a solo in Sacrament Meeting for the musical number and she was being accompanied by... yours truly- who in my haste to arrive five minutes late forgot the music at home. So after depositing children and husband on folding chairs, I immediately turned around and went home to get my music.

After I got back and slid into my seat after the sacrament ended, I realized that in my haste to get out the door to church, Jackson hadn't been nursed since before choir. So I took him out to the mother's lounge and gave him a quick feeding, listening to make sure I didn't miss going up for the musical number. I came back in with about 3 minutes to spare, played for the musical number (which went really well, by the way), sat back down and took Jackson back out to finish nursing before I had to race off to sub for Singing Time in Primary (children's Sunday School).

I have to insert here that subbing for music time in Primary is great fun-I've done Singing Time enough that I don't have to spend any time planning it. I just get up and do activities to the songs and have fun with the kids. When you have to do Singing Time week in and week out, there's only so long you before you run out of ideas and you feel like you're doing the same thing all the time. When you sub, all of a sudden everything you do is new and creative all over again because everybody has forgotten that it was what you used to do every week. Fun times.

The weather recently has been really nice, so after church we ate dinner on our deck and went out to the backyard for a while until I had to go visiting teaching. Of course I had procrastinated until the end of the month and Sunday night was the only night left that worked for a visit. So Dave watched the kids while I went and had a good, albeit really long, visit. Over the weekend I had started to catch Dave's cold-of-death. By Monday morning I was completely stuffy and not sleeping well and Jackson had caught the cold as well so he didn't sleep much either.

Monday morning dawned finding me tired, feeling yucky and cranky, greeted with a Sears-Tower-size mound of dishes from the weekend. The weekend had passed and I felt like the extent of my time with Dave over the weekend was waving at him in passing once or twice (to his credit, this was 100% not his fault, as he had watched the kids while I had something going on for 3 consecutive nights). So with my customary balance and fortitude, Monday was my day to fall apart. Suddenly, life was terrible, hard and horrible. I NEVER got to see Dave. This was definitely because he didn't like me or care about me [not because he was watching the kids for me]. Nothing good ever happened to me. I ALWAYS felt awful and sick. Nobody appreciated me or how hard I worked. And there was no hope of it ever being different than it was that day. (All very level-headed, rational, well-founded thoughts, of course. I'm not ever over-dramatic.)

Luckily, I have learned from past experience that there are three good courses of action for dealing with this type of mood: 1) Call my mom, 2) Call Ranell or 3) Get out of the house. I chose to go with numbers 2 and 3. I got picked up Papa Murphy's pizza, went to Ranell's and let the kids play in her backyard while she compassionately listened to me go off about my sad, hard life. After my rant I felt much better and we ended the evening by picking apples with some other families for Family Night. In talking to Dave that night, I found out that not only does he still like me and care about me, he was kinda sad that we didn't get to spend more time together over the weekend too. (Who'd have thought??) =]

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Moment of Silence

A moment of silence please... in solemn commemoration of a most unusual and momentous event. Tonight, I am going to bed with the kitchen clean. Yes, the dishes are done and there are no towering piles of dried-on food to await me when I wake. The counters are wiped and the floor is swept. I even wiped Jackson's high chair and removed his makeshift food-storage supply from the floor beneath. Truly a momentous occasion. Take a moment and enjoy it with me.... Who knows the next time this event will happen in my lifetime?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stock and Save?

Against my better judgment, I just made another attempt at attacking the Albertson's stock up sale with 3 kids in tow. Has anyone ever noticed that one's ability to count the items in one's cart and make sure they add up to multiples of ten is seriously impaired by the number of children with you? I'm not one to think that counting to 10 should be a trying endeavor... but I seem to spend more time at Albertson's counting to 3 (as in "Put that back by the count of 3 or else!").

I'm back and alive, but this trip was much less successful than my last trip to Albertson's (minus two of the kids) where I paid $35 for my $90 of groceries (coupon doubling oh yeah!). Today I either forgot or couldn't find several of the coupons that I was going to use and made about 7 trips back and forth across the store to get items I forgot. During the last 15 minutes of this shopping extravaganza Jackson was balanced on my left hip as I tried to steer the cart with one hand and nagged Camryn to stop hanging on the side of the cart so I could push it straight.

When I finally got out of the store I asked myself, "What am I really going to do with 10 cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls? Sure they are good, but they are not exactly going to help me lose my baby weight. Sure they went from $1.50 to $1.00 a can if you bought 10, plus I had a couple of coupons, but is that really 'saving'? Wouldn't it still be cheaper to eat oatmeal instead of buying 10 boxes of cereal at $1.50 a box? On the other hand, have I ever actually gotten up early enough to make Jared oatmeal before he gets on the bus?" Hmmm, point taken. Besides, in terms of food storage it would be a lot easier and tastier to eat cold cereal than plain oatmeal in an emergency.

So which is it? Are stock and save sales a great chance to save or just a great chance to spend more money?