Friday, July 31, 2015

Diverse Views

On the evening of the Obergfell decision, a friend made a comment on facebook that I can't get out of my head. I'm too lazy to look up her precise wording (it has taken me over a year to write anything at all here, so humor me), but she essentially said, “My coworkers criticize my habit of unfriending people that don't agree with me politically, but let me say this – it has been awesome to scroll through my facebook feed today and see nothing but love.”

I have the opposite experience on my feed, and I love it. For me, the one of the best parts of my facebook feeds is its diversity of opinion. I'm not claiming perfection – I'll admit that I did unfriend an acquaintance that repeatedly insulted Muslims without cause. But when I go through my feed on any given day, I feel like I'm viewing a sample of the hearts and minds of people in America, and I understand the world so much better for it.

It can be so easy to stereotype people you disagree with. You can label them ignorant, naive, bigoted, willfully stupid, apostate, evil, and wrong. And suddenly, it doesn't matter what is at stake for them in the decision – all that matters is that they are silenced or shamed because you are right. But these aren't random talking heads at Fox News or MSNBC. On my facebook feed, these views are attached to people I know and care about. I don't get the privilege of labeling them other. It reminds me that any hot button issue is a hot button issue because it deals with people's core values.

My feed has diverse views, and I need them all. I need advocates drawing attention to the staggering social costs of police brutality, AND the police officers discussing the almost never considered mental toll of showing up to work every day knowing someone will yell at you and try to emotionally manipulate you, knowing that any given day you will probably see nightmarish cases of abuse and cruelty, and knowing that any given day you may be assaulted or killed. I need the Trump enthusiasts and Sanders enthusiasts; the Mormon Women Stand members and Ordain Women members; the evangelicals and atheists. I need the people that were furious that BSA's decision still allows discrimination against gay leaders and the people that were furious that BSA's decision may open the door to discriminate against religious organizations that use that exemption (was anybody happy about the BSA decision? Not on my feed).

And yes, sometimes what I find there angers me. But then I take a step back and ask, “Why? What is at stake for this person?” And often, I realize the costs are high and the history is messy. Any solution that actually works will only work if it understands and addresses the real concerns of the real people that hold them, not the straw men we hold up.

I'm not saying we shouldn't fight against things that attack our core values – I'm saying we should take the time to understand why we are fighting the battle in the first place.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I recently participated in an interfaith fast one of my friends organized on behalf of the kidnapped Nigerian girls. Over 3500 people participated, and I was given the name of one of the girls to specifically pray for. It was an important moment in my spiritual development.

I don't fast very often. Between pregnancy, breastfeeding, and blood sugar issues, my body can't support the traditional Mormon 24-hour fast. I tried to be extra prayerful when friends and family had specific challenges they were facing, but when most fast Sundays rolled around, I didn't treat the day any differently. But the organizers of this fast provided information on alternative fasting, and fasting practices of different faiths. I decided for this fast, I would try sticking to a diet of very simple foods, and make sure my thoughts always turned towards my assigned student when I did eat.

I learned some important things in this fast. I learned about the value of keeping my heart open to the realities of others. It is easy to feel hopeless when faced with the ugliness of the world, and easy to feel powerless to stop it. Tuning it out would hurt less. But God wants us to mourn with those that mourn, and just because I can't do much to stop hatred and cruelty doesn't excuse me from doing the small actions I can. I learned about how I understand and act differently when I focus on individuals, rather than groups. I learned that even when we reach out to God in imperfect forms, he reaches back. And I am energized to experiment with different forms of fasting in upcoming months. This was a big moment for me, and it will hopefully to continue to be important.

My friend that organized this fast is part of Ordain Women. And many people have told her to her face that if she doesn't like the current system, she should just leave the church.

I have no problem with people saying they disagree with Ordain Women. I have no problem with people joining counter facebook groups asserting their faith in the current system. I don't even have a problem with people saying they just don't understand Ordain Women, given the speaker has put even a little bit of effort into hearing these women explain their feelings in their own words. But what I can't stomach is people saying that if they are so unhappy, they should just leave.

Lots of words are thrown around about the small minority of Mormon women that want female ordination, based on the 2011 Pew survey. Let's ignore the fact that the study was done before Mormon Feminism became the known phenomenon it has become in the past few years, and I'm positive the numbers are different now. Even though it is a small percentage, in a church of 15 million, YOU ARE ASKING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO LEAVE.

I have several friends and acquaintances that have participated in Ordain Women events, and many more that support female ordination. So let me tell you about these women you are asking to leave. You are asking my friend that I mentioned above to leave. You are asking the woman who felt prompted to take notes of my child's beautiful baby blessing to leave (I reached into my bag and realized I'd forgotten my notebook and all I had was a crayon and a mostly-filled coloring book to take notes with – she caught details I hadn't remembered). You are asking the woman that made me feel at home when I attended my first relief society activity in a ward where everybody but me seemed to have kids, and I felt out of place, to leave. You are asking several primary teachers my children have loved and learned important lessons from to leave. You are asking the friend that loaned me her car for SEVERAL MONTHS so I could get out of the house and stave off the baby blues to leave.

And every last one of these women have children, and you are by extension telling them to just leave. Those generations will be gone.

I know these women. They are not the kind of women that attend church when they feel like it, and keep the commandments when they feel like it. They worship regularly, the engage in their faith meaningfully, and they serve diligently. They strengthen those around them. And they feel A LOT of pain from the current structure.

My relationship to Ordain Women is complicated (I'll tackle it another day), but my relationship to the women in it is not: they are my sisters, and I need them. I am better for having them in my life. I need their courage, empathy, creativity, and open hearts. I need their ability to see suffering, large and small, and act to improve it. I need the reminder not to coast through life, but to always examine my spirituality and my relationship to my faith.

So by all means, tell them you disagree with them. But say it with love, and say it in a way that allows me to continue to grow alongside them.

Friday, April 25, 2014


:) I'll start with the baby photo because I know that's what most of you come here for.

Charlotte is at my favorite phase for babies: old enough to sleep through the night, smile, and coo, but not able to crawl around and get into mischief. Not to make y'all jealous, but I got an awesome baby. She usually sleeps for at least 10 hours at night (she's done 14). She has a powerful gentleness about her, and she's really go-with-the flow. She adores being held and holding onto hair. We've finally persuaded her to take bottles when needed. I feel so blessed to have a healthy, happy baby.

Emily adores being a big sister. She's told me that Charlotte is her best friend, and she tells me, "I love Charlotte the most. Not you. Not daddy. But don't worry, I still love myself." (At least the girl has self-esteem, right?). It is fun that she's old enough that she can really help. When Charlotte wakes up partway through cooking dinner, and Emily can hold her and give her a pacifier, I think to myself, "why don't all babies come with big sisters?" Both kids love Charlotte's interactive phase. They drop whatever they are doing and come running if they can tell Charlotte is having a smiley period, and laugh and laugh every time she smiles at them.

I feel so blessed the transition to three has gone so smoothly.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sunny Days

When I was in college, winter was my favorite season. I loved midnight sledding in the moonlight, cozying up in fleece hoodies, and the fact that everything I was allergic to was pretty much dead. Except cats. For some reason, people take them inside.

Enter parenthood. There is still the creativity of making snowmen with my kids, listening to their joyful squeals as they sled down little hills, and enjoying the adorableness of their loving to be wrapped up in blankets and given hot chocolate after a good romp in the snow. But winter brings complications, too: my unwillingness to keep my newborn out in snowy weather for extended periods; the perpetual rotation of colds through the family; my kids inability to buckle their carseats while wearing the winter clothes that take forever to put on; the absence of the playground to run off energy. Not to mention the fact my county cancels school for minor offenses like it being rather cold, and there still technically being some snow in the grass.

I've realized I enjoy my motherhood much more in other seasons. I'm more spontaneous - when sunshine streams through the window, I'm much more likely to ignore the growing laundry pile and go pick dandelions with my kids. We're too busy splashing in the pool for me to worry if I'm letting them spend too long playing sesame street games on the computer. I'm ten times more social – I don't have to clean my house to invite someone to come to the playground with us. Plus, there are camping trips, beach outings, nature walks, and pick-your-own produce farms to frequent. The other seasons are really fun.

Truthfully, winter has become my least favorite season. It still has its joys, but let me tell you, I've never felt more relieved to see spring approach.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Family life, as family size increases

On Laundry:

Child 1: I'm washing laundry every day because I don't know how to slow my crazy milk production and everything is perpetually covered in spit up.

Child 2: Something is always soaking in Oxiclean

Child 3: I've been washing the same laundry load for three days because I keep forgetting to move it to the dryer.

On Sleep Training:

Child 1: I could never let me baby cry it out – that is so heartless!

Child 2: I know you need sleep. You know you need sleep. If you insist on waking up the second your head hits the mattress, you're just going to scream until you fall asleep again.

Child 3: Oops, I was so busy pulling my 3 year old off my 5 year old, cooking dinner, and coordinating a meeting over the phone that I just Ferbered my baby without meaning to.

On the advice to bond with your child by watching them nurse:

Child 1: I'm so painfully engorged, bonding is the last thing that would happen if I watched the feed.

Child 2: Finally, some “me” time – I'm going to read a book!

Child 3: Yes, the older kids are busy, and I'm going to enjoy some one-on-one time with this little girl by watching her eat.

At some point I'll write a real update, but things are going well. Charlotte is a really good baby, my family has been awesome at making sure I get some sleep, and Emily and Elliot are adjusting pretty well. I'm enjoying this new, busy, beautiful life.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Charlotte Florence

Charlotte Florence made her arrival! The delivery couldn't have been smoother. My contractions didn't start until after I'd already woken up for the day, we made it to the hospital just in the nick of time for my epidural, and I only had to push through two contractions.

Emily and Elliot love their sister. Emily just perpetually wants to be holding her, which was adorable until Elliot came down with the flu, and we've had to quarantine the kids away from her (so sad). But they are very, very sweet to her, and I'm so proud of how well they are adjusting.

Charlotte seems to be a very good-natured girl with good self-calming skills. From all her frolicking about inside me, I thought she was going to be, um, assertive, but she seems very gentle and curious. We love her already.

Monday, December 30, 2013

November and December

Wow, this has been my worst year for blogging productivity yet. Here are our updates from the past two months.

We just had another ultrasound, and the verdict is – a girl! They think. There isn't much moving room left for this little one, but that is their best guess. I'm really glad to know. The reality that there will actually be a little person coming out of me in the next few weeks has finally set in. We've finally started assembling the crib, locating the carseat, and all that other good stuff. It is weird to think that I'll technically be full term this Friday. I've forgotten so much about what precisely one does with a newborn.

We've enjoyed a few small snows, and the kids have adored playing in it. I went sledding for the first time with them, and it was a wild success. Our other seasonal fun has been my annual tradition of taking the kids downtown to see the trains at the Botanical Gardens, the lights at the LDS temple, making cookies, and our annual Christmas Eve dance party where the kids make shakers, Rob and I play piano and guitar, and the kids dance around with their shakers while we play Christmas songs. I've really enjoyed making our own family traditions for different holidays.

Christmas was a hit with the kids. You know you and your family hit it out of the park with gift selections when your kids don't even ask to eat their Christmas candy until 3:45 because they are having too much fun with their new stuff. I've always felt like I really suck at gift giving, but I've been working at it, and I think I'm getting a lot better at it.

Rob and I celebrated another anniversary by having an overnight date in Old Town Alexandria (thanks, Pretty Mahana, for watching our kids!). I love that I can be absolutely myself with him, and he loves me all the more for it.

Preschool has been a wild success with Emily. I love her program. It is at an area high school, so she always has a teenager assigned to be with her, and they are graded on how well they do it. She's in paradise. She tells me that some of her friends go to preschool, but she loves her teenagers most of all. Add the mass volume of crafts they do there, and she's a happy, happy kid. And Elliot can't wait for his turn next year. He literally cried the whole way home the first six days we dropped Emily off.

Happy new year, everyone!