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.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter weekend

Since well before Christmas Paul has asked me to sing three songs to him before he goes to bed: Jingle bell rock, Jingle bells, and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. Finally, since it's Easter this weekend, he's dropped two of those (Jingle Bells and Jingle Bell Rock) and now he wants the ABC song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Rudolf.

Kip sings the ABC song about twenty times a day. I think of my three kids he's the most into singing. He likes to sing the wheels on the bus, too, but mostly he sings ABC's. It's amazing to me how quickly he's learned to talk very, very well. He's gone from

Good Friday was off (of course), and we had a pretty low-key Good Friday this year. Derrick and I took off early on Thursday so he could go shopping for his field trip this week (Monday through Saturday. Oh Joy.) and then he spent Friday and much of Saturday cooking food to take with him. That pretty much left me taking care of kids on Friday and Saturday, thought I did get shopping done for the week (I hope!) on Saturday. Friday was pretty low key all day, though we did go for a long walk around the Linear park loop in the afternoon. I was the only one of us not on a bike or scooter, which turned out surprisingly well. I didn't take my bike because usually I have to carry Kip and his bike at least part of the way, but he managed to make it almost the whole way without help. The only time I carried him was at the very end, and that was because he wanted to 'go faster' down the hill again and again. Patient as I try to be, there comes a time when I just want to go home.

Saturday was full of running necessary errands and general taking care of kids. That night, just before bed, it finally occurred to me that I was singing in church on Sunday, and Alex, who was supposed to be singing with me, wasn't texting back. She'd warned me she might go camping on Easter weekend, but I hadn't heard one way or the other. Given her lack of communication I realized I'd probably be singing a solo.

So, yes, I've sung solos before. Well, I've sung a true, singing 'till the end by myself solo once. It was okay. I made it all the way through without my voice breaking or without dissolving into a puddle in front of everyone. But it's not something I relish.

Singing a solo on the same day I'm teaching (which is also nerve-wracking for me) AND a day I need to help Paul give a talk (On 'Jesus Christ teaches me the right way to leave') was just a bit much emotionally. I woke up super early, probably 4 am, and just didn't get back to sleep. Since I actually needed the time to prepare my lesson (mostly looking up the scriptures I wanted us to discuss) my insomnia was a bit of a blessing.

At about 8 I took Rosie and the kids down to the park while the Easter bunny hid our small supply of chocolate eggs. I'm so glad I didn't go overboard on the chocolate this year. A single Chocolate bunny and about 23 Easter eggs was plenty for all of us.

I got the kids reading and went to church early (about 12:30) so I could practice. The kids ran around, as all kids should on Easter morning after consuming way too much sugar, and yet I managed to get in a decent enough practice that I felt like I could get up and not embarrass myself. Just as Heather (the pianist) and I finished practicing Alex showed up. We went through the song again with me singing the first verse, her the second, and together on the third.

My kids did remarkably well during sacrament meeting. Well, Sylvia and Kip did, anyway. Paul refused to sit most of the time, but that's kind of the norm for him anymore. Sylvia sat with another family and colored for most of the meeting and Kip was pretty entertained by the large amounts of food I'd packed (having not fed the kids an actual lunch before we left).

Immediately after the sacrament the bishop announced a Relief Society choir would be singing "Come Unto Him." Alex and I tittered as we walked up together. A choir of two is kind of a pitiful choir. The song went well--better than we'd practiced.

During Sunday school I wrote Paul's talk, which I basically made into a talk on the resurrection (it being Easter and all). I dragged him to the courtyard, where we practiced it, and then he gave it while in Relief Society Adrienne (the RS president) showed a couple of videos to stall for time for me. They had technical difficulties, so I even made it back in before the second video was over. Hooray!

My lesson wasn't terrible, but that's about all I can say for it. We read a bunch of scriptures about Christ's interactions with women and children in the bible. I asked the sisters to summarize the story and give an idea how the story teaches us how we should live so our lives can be symbols of Christ, which was honestly a little too much. I'd picked way too many scriptures, too, so we didn't get through everything and didn't have time to sing the closing hymn.

By the end of all that I was so exhausted it took me half an hour to get my kids into the car. It's amazing how the longest, most tiring day at church can get dragged out even longer by kids. They hate going, hate being there, but as soon as it's time to go, they can't possibly get into the car.

I was pretty wasted the rest of the night, so well all just vegged while Derrick finished his prep for the field trip.

Monday was Derrick's turn for insomnia, which unfortunately meant I also didn't sleep. Derrick hadn't packed so he had to get up at like 4 to get ready and I woke up at the same time. I tried to rest, but eventually gave up and just helped Derrick, then took Rosie out for an early walk. I'd hoped to get back before Derrick left, if for no other reason than to say bye, but I was too late, and was met by a crying Paul at the door when I got home. Poor kid. He hates it when we're separated.

I felt pretty lazy, so I let the kids play on computers and tablets and watch TV for the morning, though I did make arrangements to meet a couple of church friends who live on Linear park for lunch. I took my three kids and the other two kids on a bike ride (again, me the only one not on a bike) down to a nearby playground. The playground was fun for like 5 minutes, and then the kids spent two hours playing in the river, mostly wading in the shallows and generally being kids.

At some point they started playing a following the leader kind of game, which I think would have been just fine had Sylvia not stepped on a large piece of glass. She freaked out at the blood, which was plentiful, and had a seriously hard time making her way back across the river. The other kids were unnerved by the blood and wanting to avoid also being cut by the glass. I waded in and was helping Sylvia hop across when I stepped on the glass, but I, being more prepared for it, didn't get cut as deeply. Still. Not fun.

The piece I stepped on was a big round piece of a broken wine bottle. I have nothing but swear words for the individual who tossed their empty bottle in the river instead of a dumpster.

I wrapped Sylvia's foot in a doggy bag to keep it clean and keep her from getting blood on her shoe. Then the other two kids and my oldest two high-tailed it back to my friends house, where she and her husband cleaned out Sylvia's wound. I made my way back much more slowly with Kip. As is, I think, typical of kids, when he's tired it's harder for him to go in a straight line. By the time I got there Sylvia's foot was already cleaned up and the kids were playing happily, though my friend's husband said he thought Sylvia would need stitches. I agreed. I went home to get my car and to clean up my foot with no children present to hear my screams and many swear words. It's awful having to cause yourself pain, even if in a necessary operation. My wound at least wasn't deep, and I was able to get all the dirt out with some saline and a safety pin.

I drove over, picked up my kids and took them home, and then called around to see who would be open on a holiday. There was a place up in Modbury, so I loaded the kids up, grabbed my computer since I was sure the wait would be terrible, and then we drove up. Kip fell asleep on the way up, of course, so I had to drag him around while also helping Sylvia limp from place to place, and keep up with Paul. Man, three kids is so much fun sometimes. Fortunately, there weren't many people there, and Kip slept through being transferred to three different sleeping spots (Thank goodness I have one heavy sleeper!) and so I only had to take Sylvia and Paul into the treatment room. Apparently it was a day for injuring feet. The nurse claimed we were the fifth foot injury in a row, and a little boy came in right after us with another foot injury. He was sent home after a quick inspection by the doctor, which was what I hoped for with Sylvia.

I always hope that I'm being overprotective with my kids, that I'm overreacting to a situation and that medical intervention isn't really warranted. I have never actually been sent home, though, so I think my instincts must not totally suck.

The doctor and nurse looked at it and decided it was a funny looking cut that did warrant some stitches. The doctor pulled out a syringe full of anaesthetic, at which point Paul decided Kip really did need someone to look after him. Sylvia didn't like the local, but made it through. She got three stitches, which I don't think she really noticed. I'd given her the computer while the doctor was sewing her up, and she'd decided to play Minecraft. She took one of my worlds and turned it from peaceful (no monsters) to normal (with monsters) and within seconds she had a zombie after her. Just at the moment the doctor was putting in the first stitch she yelled, "Oh my God!" and started fighting for her life. Probably a pretty good distraction for both of us, to be honest.

After being stitched up and bandaged we went home and had an easy dinner of tater tots. What a way to start a week without Derrick around!