Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Picture catch up

A day at the beach

Friends at the Zoo

Mailing Sylvia to Grandma

The kitchen floor: a great spot for a nap

The F word, WOW

Well, we still need feminism. Not that life is great for men around the world, but especially if life sucks for men, life really sucks for women. I know, some of those examples are overwrought and manipulative, but still, some of them are really striking. More than half a million women die in labor every year? That's incredible in a day when the birth process for American women is so medicalized almost a third of all births are by c-section.

If that article depresses you, cheer up--drinking, even in excess leads to longer life. Unless, of course, you follow the word of wisdom. Then you can just be sad. Like me.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sick house

Sylvia was sick all weekend. Not really bad sick, just a high fever and inability to sleep through the night. Friday night she curled up and went to sleep next to me at about 7 pm, at which point I realized she was quite warm. The fever was pretty high--she wouldn't let us check her in mouth temp, but her under arm temp was over 103. Definitely worrisome. The day before, in a move that I'm sure was calculated to set off my young mother paranoia, Sylvia complained about her neck hurting. I called relatives, spreading the worry over three states, and we finally decided to just watch her, giving her the last of our recalled Motrin to keep her temperature down to a more reasonable 101.

The next morning Sylvia seemed quite a bit better, though her temperature returned around noon. We took her to the doctor when her temperature topped 103.5, but by the time they got her in (almost two hours later) she was barely feverish. The doctor said she had infection in both ears and in her throat and gave us a prescription for a broad spectrum anti-biotic, which I suspected was more for me than because Sylvia actually needed it.

We decided to wait on filling the prescription to see if the fever would come down on its own, and it pretty much did. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, Derrick picked up pink-eye, I'd guess in the waiting room of the urgent care place we took Sylvia to for our peace of mind. With two nights of crappy sleep under his belt he's also apparently picked up whatever Sylvia had because he's coming down with body aches and a sore throat. So now Sylvia's better, but Derrick's sick, and I'm exhausted from a lack of continuous sleep.

Man, I love daycare. Two illnesses in three weeks, both successfully shared with a parent.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bicycle Race

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like.

Sylvia also likes to ride my bicycle, though she much prefers it when Daddy is the one riding since he's faster and more daring.

I've started riding my bike in to Scripps with Derrick. The ride is very nice, but it's kicking my butt. When I get here, I feel like I'm made of Jell-O, and I just want a nap. On the plus side, I'm far more alert the rest of the day (or at least, I was yesterday, which was my first day riding in). I'm looking forward to the day when I can keep up with Derrick, and not be passed by every other cyclist on the road!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fish brain

Last Friday Sylvia asked for a sandwich (which she subsequently didn't eat, but whatever). I pulled out the bread and the peanut butter, then asked if she wanted jelly.

She said, "Jelly...jelly...jelly-fish!"

And then went on and on about her jelly-fish sandwich the rest of the meal.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Promiscuity and cooperation

So, I just posted recently about bonobos and their matriarchal society and apparent deficit of aggression. Bonobos are apparently very sexual creatures, who use sex in part to sort of grease the wheels of social interactions and keep people happy.

People don't really do that. In fact, we pretty much reject that model of society except in some science fiction universes. In a study that reinforces traditional family values, monogamy was found to increase cooperation and the complexity of society. Turns out birds are more likely to help one another if they're pretty sure they're related, which is more likely if monogamy is the norm. It's always interesting to see scientific hypotheses to explain social structures.

Obviously there must be multiple ways for complex societies to evolve since bonobos also live in fairly complex, cooperative groups. I wonder if the gender that monopolized resources makes a difference. Females are more likely to know who sired their offspring, and their parentage is pretty clear. If females are more in charge, then, are they more likely to cooperate with each other and with their sisters' offspring? Too bad I don't know more about birds to be able to ask that question more critically.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finally, summer

It's finally hot. We got here in June and through July and the first half of August it never really felt like summer. Sure, there were a couple of days when the temperature topped 80, but it always cooled back down. I kept joking that we'd moved to the wrong place, that southern California should be warmer than this.

Today, I feel like I'm sitting in a sauna in my front room. THIS is what I expected SoCal to be like.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The talks in sacrament meeting today were all about murmuring, which I found somewhat amusing given I'm currently sick and I get very whiny when I don't feel good. Since I don't feel good, listening to a guilt trip on the sinfulness of complaining just left me thinking of ways to justify the grousing to which I am prone.

I mean, really, there are different kinds of complaining. Some criticism is truly constructive, and some is completely appropriate. If a need isn't being met, or isn't being met well, it's reasonable, especially as someone involved, to bring up problems and suggestions for improvement. When you're truly invested in a project, organization, or relationship it's an obligation to bring up issues that pose a hazard, even if some might call such issues complaints. The complaint then provides the complainant the opportunity to develop or deepen a relationship of trust as the issue is worked out. This is an active and healthy part of my marriage, especially now that we have a kid who complicates my life incredibly. At least, it's an active and healthy part once I get through the blowing off steam pre-complaining.

My blowing off steam pre-issue resolving complaining probably isn't the best thing in the world, but for me it serves a purpose. When I get emotionally wrapped up in an issue, I have a tendency to hold back with the person most directly causing my discomfort, usually giving the excuse I don't want to say anything I'd later regret. Blowing off steam sessions serve two purposes--I get the worst of the emotions off my chest and I get a chance to practice what to say and bounce ideas of how to say things off another person. Admittedly, pre-complaining is also a form of procrastination (and sometimes prevents the constructive phase entirely, though I've gotten better about that as I've become more confident), but I'm unconvinced overall it's a bad thing. For instance, about a year ago I had some issues with my advisor. Rather than send the nasty response that immediately came to mind, I complained to a friend, who then helped me come up with a better way to approach the situation, both in terms of a solution and in terms of how to say what needed to be said.

Unfortunately, I have to watch this kind of complaining lest I get carried away, or inadvertently leave my listeners with an inaccurate and negative view of the situation. It's all too easy for blowing off steam to turn into something that escalates problems rather than solving them. Which is where I think we start treading into murmuring.

Murmuring for me implies that the person doing the complaining on some level no longer cares about a positive outcome for the issue--at least--all the way up to attempting to undermine another, to destroy, or to hurt. That definitely qualifies as a sin. I don't think most of us get to this point very easily. I suspect it takes a severe broach of trust to encourage most of us into this sort of behavior. But it does happen.

This next paragraph may be a little personal (though I'll try to be vague). The reason this topic bugs me so much is because there was a time in my life when I murmured. I hurt and I no longer cared about the damage I did to anyone else with my complaining. I still feel bad about it. Looking back, I know what I was really asking for was reassurance from my listeners. I felt like a horrible person because of the failure of a relationship, because of the way it failed, and I wanted my friends to tell me I was still a good person, worthy of being loved and wanted. Instead of asking for that I mulled over the wrongs committed against me and recited them to anyone who would listen, I suppose hoping at some point the situation and the pain would make sense, that the missing piece of the situation would click into place and a clear, unimpeded view of things would emerge. Needless to say, I don't have many friends from that period of time.

It wasn't me. Not the person I strive to be, anyway. Which is probably why I try to refrain from most kinds of complaining today (as much as I'm able to control myself, that is). The thing is, that other girl, the lonely, ugly, unlovable girl is still a part of me, and when I hear talks like the ones today--the ones that imply you're a bad person if you complain--she comes out and reminds me that I'm a bad person. I'm a big fat, ugly complainer. Which I suppose brings me to the whole point of this exercise--to justify the behavior of a me who even I didn't like. To tell her it wasn't okay, but it was understandable, and forgivable.

And forgiveness is all I hope to find.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Corn silk hair

Perhaps Sylvia misses Indiana's corn fields, or maybe she was inspired by watching me make tamales this afternoon, but Sylvia wanted her hair done with corn husks today. Gives new meaning to the term "corn silk hair!"

Thanks, D, for taking pictures.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bonobo handshake

The Radio West program hosted Vanessa Woods, a researcher who studies bonobos. Most people who are familiar with bonobos know about them because they're very promiscuous. As in, sex is about as common among bonobos as a handshake is among humans and serves much of the same social function (kind of, anyway).

The sex aspect isn't actually why she find bonobos interesting. It turns out they're also matriarchal and don't fight. When stresses threaten to erupt, bonobos have sex with each other to diffuse the situation. It's a completely different behavioral and chemical response to fighting, where instead of stress leading to an increase in testosterone and aggression, stress leads to an increase in cortisol and sexual behavior. Female bonobos stick up for one another, chasing out overly aggressive males. It's hypothesized this very different response to stress and very different group structure came about because bonobos evolved in a very productive region where food was plentiful and it wasn't possible, or even necessary, for males to monopolize resources.

These are our closest primate relatives, so it's hard not to think about the human implications of bonobo behavior. Humans are very different, obviously, in that we're monogamous and our response to stress is more like the chimpanzee in that we increase testosterone and aggression. Humans evolved in a less fertile, more challenging environment (which may have helped encourage the development of big brains) in which resources were monopolized by male-dominated groups. Still, the thinking about evolution in a situation where women are able to control resources is intriguing. We westerners live in a world of plenty, where women control their own resources. We women don't stick up for one another to the point of creating a matriarchal society, but we do strive for an egalitarian society with some of the characteristics of the matriarchal society (like no bullying). Assuming we can figure out how to maintain our standard of living, will the situation of plenty and security promote matriarchy, or simply egalitarianism?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Yesterday a new friend from my ward took Sylvia and me to the San Diego Zoo. Given that the first thing Sylvia asked for this morning was the zoo and zebras, I think the trip was a hit. Here are a few pictures.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I love Jorge Cham

This explains my life so well. So depressingly well.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bearly worth mentioning

So, apparently neither Elisha the prophet nor the priesthood are topics that lend themselves to a segue into gay marriage easily. I'm actually a little impressed, since the SS teacher was the same one who managed to complain about taxes all the way through the lesson two weeks ago on the splitting of Israel into the northern and southern kingdoms. The lack of prop-8 schtuff meant church was predictable and not quite exciting enough to keep me awake for the whole time (Sylvia's 5:30 wake-up time didn't help matters. It's fine when she goes back to sleep, but sucks when she doesn't) so I guess what I'm trying to say is, I have nothing to report.

We had a snooze-fest of a lesson on Elisha where other people discussed the organization of the priesthood and then justified Elisha's cursing the children. Sometimes I wonder why people work so hard at the mental acrobatics to justify questionable behavior in their leaders. Even if the kids in the story were more accurately described as "youths" and potentially more dangerous, how does ridiculing his baldness, or even his status as the prophet, justify cursing them in the name of the Lord?

I sat there wondering if the bears killing kids experience wasn't more the Lord showing Elisha that he would do as Elisha asked, even if it meant killing a bunch of annoying kids. The Lord gave Elisha the sealing powers with the expectation he would use those powers righteously, but Elisha retained his agency as well. That leaves open the possibility for Elisha to abuse his powers (much as Solomon was allowed to abuse his powers earlier. Really, much as we're allowed to abuse whatever gifts we're given today). What if the story is as much about Elisha realizing the Lord will do as he asks, even if his request isn't exactly righteous and subsequently learning he has to be judicious in their employment? What if that story is about agency rather than respect?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The end of flying free

Sylvia turned 2 today, which I think we were far more aware of than she was. She had a great day, swimming in the morning, practicing the skills she learned in swimming lessons; meeting lots of dogs and a few people at the local family day carnival; and opening her big present (a bitty baby--thanks Grandma!). The only failure on my part was the birthday cake. Apparently the carrot cake cupcakes weren't her fav. At least she liked the decorations!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leaping ahead

Sylvia's been in swimming lessons for the last couple of weeks. Actually, swimming lessons is probably a bit generous a description--it's more like play time in the pool with mommy. I'm sure that's how most toddler-parent classes are, really, it just seems a little odd to call them swimming lessons.

Anyway, I don't know that I've mentioned it, but it's been cold here in San Diego. Much colder than I expected, though given our proximity to the coast, I suppose I should have expected it to be cooler here than in the more continental environments I've lived in most of my life. The first week of lessons were actually somewhat painful because the air temperatures were the same or lower than the water temperature, which meant Sylvia clung to me the whole time, just trying to stay warm. The last day of that first week was finally sunny and almost pleasant, and for the first time Sylvia seemed to have a good time and actually do some of the skills she was supposed to be learning.

Apparently the last day of the week is just the day Sylvia decides to step it up because today she did it again. Mostly what you do with a toddler is teach them to blow bubbles, crab walk on the side, get out and jump in, and then you start teaching them to float a little. To help with the tummy float, the teachers tie a fun noodle around each kid and let them float on their own. Sylvia's not into floating, so mostly we just hang out and Sylvia kind of does stuff, but not really. Today, though, when we tied the fun noodle on her, she was off and running. We spent probably a good ten minutes with her tooling around the pool, swimming quite happily. The teacher and some of the other parents commented on how suddenly she'd taken off. I felt like my kid had been replaced by someone else.

I wonder if this is just how Sylvia will learn--in fits and spurts. Will this be a life-long pattern, where she struggles for a while, not making any obvious progress, but eventually breaks through whatever wall she's facing and leaps ahead? Will that frustrate her, or will those moments of surging ahead captivate her and form a goal for her to reach toward?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Goodie, goodie gumdrops

I bet church is going to be really fun on Sunday.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Visiting friends

I meant to post these pictures long ago, but never got around to it. So, here are some pictures of my friends who live in Las Vegas. They were kind enough to let Sylvia and I stay so we wouldn't have to drive all the way from Salt Lake to San Diego in one day, and then they spent their morning off with us showing off some of the fun, free stuff to do in LV. It was a blast! Thanks guys!

Some other friends from Las Vegas visited San Diego last week and took some time to visit with us. Sylvia and their daughter were fast friends.