Thursday, March 1, 2018

Shape of you

I can not fix them, I can not teach them, I can not train or cajole or badger them into submission. I can only survive them and love them as best I can while we travel along together for a time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Put your shoulder to the wheel

I'm so proud of myself. I gave a lesson on Sunday that I absolutely detested, and managed to not rant my whole way through it.

The lesson in question was lesson 13 in the Gordon B Hinckley manual, "blah blah temporal SELF RELIANCE." You know why I hate lessons on self reliance? Because invariably they're given by rich white guys who have no idea what it's like to be poor. Case in point, the lesson tells us that,
“My father had an idea that his boys ought to learn to work, in the summer as well as in the winter, and so he bought a five-acre farm [about 20,000 square meters], which eventually grew to include more than thirty acres. We lived there in the summer and returned to the city when school started.
I only know one other family that had that kind of work experience. The dad in the family I know is the CEO of a company. Going out and buying a five acre farm simply so your kids can learn the true nature of hard work just reeks of privilege. 

There are dog whistles around every corner. The most blatant, of course, is the 

Those who have participated as the recipients of this program have been spared “the curse of idleness and the evils of the dole.”

I'm pretty sure President Hinckley didn't know many poor people if he thought they're idle or if he thinks asking for government assistance is an evil thing. The quote itself, "the curse of idleness and the evils of the dole" comes from President Grant who was the president of the church during the great depression. That statement is one that was used widely at the time to indicate a resistance to the New Deal and expansion of welfare to help those made destitute by the combination of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. It's a phrase that's continued in popularity among republicans.

And it's a phrase I hate.

Why do people go on the dole? Right. Because they want to eat. I am all in favor of working hard and contributing positively to the society in which we find ourselves. But I also recognize first, that there are those who can't for reasons beyond their control (disability, age, etc.) and second, that there are a lot of jobs that simply aren't compensated at a level that reflects the importance of that job to society (mothers in particular, but really all low-skill, low-wage labor. Low-skill is not equivalent to low-importance).

I wish that we as a people would, instead of talking about the value of self-reliance, start talking about the social contract that binds us together as a society and that only works if everyone (or most everyone) holds to it. It's true that everyone needs to contribute, and everyone should be striving to contribute at least as much as they take out as long as they are able, but at the same time when you're contributing to society the society then has an obligation to compensate people. A stable, free society can only come from a system where people feel their contributions are adequately and appropriately valued. Undervaluing people, and then compelling them to work through fear, is only a short step removed from slavery, particularly when we produce so much and are so wealthy as a whole.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I'm Wide Awake

I am the lamest mom ever.

Fortunately, my kids don't care. They know I love them anyway. Or so I hope.

Kip's birthday was about as uneventful as could be. I took the dog for a long walk in the morning, then spent the rest of my time before church frantically preparing for a lesson I was teaching in Relief Society (Families as the basis for a righteous life or something like that; terrible lesson, but that's a different story).

All three kids were reasonably behaved in church--I only had to get up three times to take care of issues (toilet, argument, toilet) and everyone went reasonably happily to class and stayed there. In nursery they sang to him and drew him a card, which I would like to point out is way, way cuter than any other store-bought card my kids have ever gotten, and because nobody knew it was his birthday that was it. Half an hour after church I managed to get everyone into the car and we drove home. I made pizza for dinner while the kids played minecraft (Paul and Sylvia on the new Xbox and Kip on my laptop) and we had banana splits for dessert because that was as close as I felt I could get to the banana cake Kip kept requesting (I only had green-yellow bananas. Can't make cake with those!).

Then everyone went to bed. Kip didn't get any presents, I didn't make him a cake or do anything really out of the ordinary for the day. I don't think he cared. Next year he might, the year after he probably will, and the next year he'll certainly expect more. So, I suppose it's good I've taken advantage of the ease of this year's birthday. Regardless, happy birthday my littlest one.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


When Kip says 'Sylvia' it comes out something more like eea, with a slightly guttural sound before the e's and some other irreproducible vowel-ish sound before the a. It's a bit like when Sylvia says, 'no' these days, which is very much in the Adelaide style and sounds more like noe and almost has two syllables. 

The problem isn't the 's' or the 'l' sound; he's perfectly capable of pronouncing those sounds correctly in other words. When I try to reproduce the way he says it he tells me I'm saying her name wrong and shows me the correct pronunciation, and will only accept when I say her name correctly. I think it's pretty cute, but then I'm the mom.

That ended today. He looked at me while we were in the car driving to pick up Sylvia from school, and after pronouncing her name his normal way he said, "No, Syl-vi-a." Like a little language lightbulb went on in his brain, and now it'll stay lit forever.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Counting stars

Let's be frank. Most jobs are crap. Most jobs are pushing paper or managing other people, or dealing with the mounds of regulations that simply have to be dealt with. There's a certain satisfaction in all of them, but really, most of them just aren't curing cancer or fighting fires.

I don't think that's a bad thing. At all.

I like my paper pushing, regulation enforcing, people and stuff managing job. It's a great break from the caring for my kids job that takes up the remainder of my time and mental space. I feel relatively productive, I support other productive people and help them be more productive. I'm a force multiplier.

I'm also cheap.

I don't have to be expensive because DH makes enough to keep us financially solvent (and because we live pretty frugally). I've spent my entire adult life having really pretty crappy, poorly paying jobs that I couldn't support myself or my family (especially my family!) with, which is really a pretty privileged spot.

The thing is, there are a lot of people who are living on the equivalent of the crap, poorly paying job that I get to enjoy. Instead of getting to luxuriate in the joy of working just for the sake of working, they get to work much harder than me and then stress out because their job doesn't quite give them enough to live on.

The part that irks me most is that there's plenty of work to be done in the world--taking care of others, cleaning, making good food and art and other soul and body nourishing things--but people aren't willing to pay for that work to be done. It's like we really don't value one another all that much, you know?

We have a government in the US that's a democracy and so supposedly is us, but doesn't seem to serve the average and lower classes all that well. It's a longer conversation why we fail to value the humanity of the poor and even average among us, but I do think the government needs to be  heavily involved in the fixing of this situation in which we find ourselves.

I think it would do our country a lot of good if we were to fund the government at a level more equal to its importance to the economy (so, more than 20% of GDP) and allow it to hire the people that are needed by our society at large to do more of the jobs that need doing. We need more teachers, we need more street cleaners, we need more people working at national parks and at the DMV. We need more people doing the jobs that keep the country going. We need to pay more taxes to do that, but on the other end we'll have a more smoothly functioning country (I say, living in a country that has no idea how well things work for them) and, even better, more people who are employed in stable middle-class jobs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I am the highway

For the first four years of Derrick's and my marriage we spent anywhere from a week to a month driving around the southwest, visiting various places in the southwest, but always including the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado. The whole time we listened to music--usually Derrick's CD's. Audioslave featured prominently in the rotation, and so now when I hear tracks from the album it feels like I'm listening to the soundtrack of Derrick's and my early travels together.

It was with great sadness that I heard Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Audioslave and Soundgarden, died yesterday. We've lost quite a number of musicians I grew up listening to, and those losses have hit hard in their own ways. The soundtrack of dead musicians from my childhood is growing so long, and will inevitably consume them all.

And yet there will is new music and there will be new musicians. There will be new people to listen and sing along, and more drives to take through beautiful desert vistas and flower-draped mountain passes. There are more words to sing and more dances to dance and words to write, only now by different hands and voices and feet.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

On my own

The rest of this week was far less interesting. I let the kids play lots of computer games and watch a lot of TV, since Sylvia was pretty much confined to the house all week. Paul went to OSHC Wednesday (Inflatable world), Thursday (Aquatic center), and Friday (Sports clinic), which kept him a lot happier than if he'd been forced to stay at home all week. We made a play date with an old neighbor for Thursday, but ended up not making it because Sylvia couldn't walk. When we took the dressing off her stitches on Thursday morning the wound started bleeding a leaking pus, so we spent the day trying to treat her and just couldn't make it.

Derrick got back last night, bringing with him enough food for the next week at least. I am so excited I won't have to cook this week! Sylvia's foot is doing well enough she's hobbling around, and I have high hopes she'll be back to normal in a couple of days. We did make it to see our friends today. It was stake conference, so I didn't feel bad about skipping church to go see friends. Funny how I'm not at all willing to sit through two hours of sacrament-like meeting with my kids when there's no sacrament and no promise of primary at the end. It's been a good day, though. I got a nap and the kids I think enjoyed having their dad back. Glad we don't have to do this again for a while.