Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria

(This started out as a response to tarable’s comment to my previous post, but it got a bit long…)

I think we can all agree that parents are responsible for their own children and have the right and duty to use whatever protections and restrictions (within reason) they feel are necessary to keep their own kids safe. However, I cannot respect fear of or unfamiliarity with technology itself as a reason for completely banning something such as blogging.

It’s true that my oldest child is only 6 (though she’s 7 in January). I hear that kids undergo a personality derangement when they turn 13, so maybe in six years I too will throw up my hands and start banning whole categories of interaction. And since I can’t even potty-train my 3 year-old, I probably have no credibility as a parent anyway. And I’m not even tech savvy, really. I’m just lucky in my husband and in my confidence that if there is something I do want to know or learn, I can. Continue reading

Get thee a blog!

I feel a bit awkward writing on this topic as I’ve been quite delinquent in posting the past couple months (to your great sorrow, I’m sure). But I heard such a disturbing thing a couple days ago that I cannot remain silent — surprising as it may (not) be that I feel rather strongly about something.

A certain well-meaning father told his daughter that she could not start a blog, that she could not have a blog of her own. Because, as I heard it fourth-hand, he was aware that some girls use their blogs to discuss (brag about? encourage in others?) unseemly behavior, including the kind of stuff that I certainly hope to steer my own girls away from as they grow up.

Ban the books! Burn the computers!

My first thought was that Dick’s reaction to our daughter’s desire to start a blog would be opposite to this father’s. Not that he would attempt to make a unilateral decision like this in the first place. Dick knows what aspects of our lives he’s in charge of; I’ve told him what they are.

If Sally were to tell her father that she wanted a blog, Dick would be delighted. He’d help her set it up, pick a platform, choose a theme, brainstorm topics to write on, work through any technical difficulties, support her in taking pictures for uploading or scanning schoolwork for posting. And what does that translate into right there? — lots and lots of time spent together.

As Sally posted and explored her own thoughts, feelings, experiences, goals, frustrations, triumphs, what would we do? We’d comment on her posts, encourage her in her goals, congratulate her on her triumphs, commiserate with her frustrations. In short, we’d know even more about what’s going on in her life, what her hopes and dreams are, and we’d know how her writing, reasoning, and reading skills are coming along, and we could probably figure out ways to challenge her to improve where needed.

If we thought she could use some more spirituality in her life, we could suggest that she post a favorite scripture or inspirational quote each day, or that she use a meme or other writing prompt to examine where her life is now and where she wants it to go. She could write birthday wishes to friends and family members or post a goal each Sunday and be held accountable for her progress on it as she reported each day.

We could keep track of links incoming and outgoing and comments made. We could make sure she never used her real name or any identifying information and only posted pictures that represented her in a way she would always be proud of. And if any mistakes were ever made, or bad things happened, we would do whatever is possible to fix them. It isn’t a perfect world, and the world of blogging isn’t perfect either, but it’s worth living in.

But you don’t have to take my word for it: I have it on the best authority (Dick heard it from someone who heard it from someone who knows) that the Apostles of the LDS church have an internal blog where they can share their thoughts and experiences with each other. I hope that’s true (and I wish I could read it), but either way it sounds good to me.

And here’s something I’ve been thinking about since I taught the R.S. lesson on “The Women of the Church” from Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball:

Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world. … Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days. (my emphasis)

Perhaps it is incorrigible human nature to be afraid of new technology (ipods terrify me). But if we’re willing to concede that not all books are bad just because some books are very bad, I think we need to explore web 2.0 (as Dick would say) possibilities. It is not only our right, as women of the church, to have blogs of our own, but, as they provide unsurpassed opportunity for developing our articulateness, it might just be our duty.

Ode to my baby–only 11 days late

I don’t plan for Spot Grace to be my last child, but for now she is my baby, and she is also my third child. Makes me think of Ender’s Game, and of the looks I imagine getting in some parts of the world when talking about my third. Not in Utah, of course. Spot was born on Friday the 13th last October, but the 13th part was probably not an omen since she was induced. Yes, an elective induction before I was enlightened about childbirth (my current enlightenment is purely theoretical, but I’m eager to make it actual).

A lot of Spot’s life in milestones and pictures has already been chronicled on this blog, so I’ll just recap a few of her recent ‘isms that make me want her to stay a baby forever, when I’m not wishing that they would all just leave home, already. A couple months ago, Spot would do a froggy swimmer’s kick whenever we held her up in the air. She stopped doing it, just when I was finally thinking of getting the video camera out. Trust me — it was adorable.

Now she does a great squirrel imitation, crawling rapidly across the floor then rearing up on her knees as she waves her hands in quick, abbreviated motions; I think her nose even twitches. Other times she does an emphatic hand bounce that reminds me of Wallace’s (from Wallace and Gromit) “Wensleydale?” cheese tick.

It’s time for weaning, but again I’m having a hard time with that, mostly because I’m lazy, and if I’m busy doing something else important (like reading) it’s too easy to just stick her on the breast instead of getting out food and utensils and the high chair. Spot’s serious, even at the breast. She picks at my clothes with restless hands and concentrates so hard, though now she also gets easily distracted.

I love the last feed of the day. I take her down while Sally and Susan play with their cousins, and we’re alone, and I know that soon we won’t share this anymore (she does have eight strong teeth, after all), and I squeeze her to me and squeeze her again before I lay her down.

Spot can say Ma-ma-ma, and she loves narrow, potentially eye-poking-out objects: spoon, forks, crayons and pens, though her favorite is toothbrushes. I like how she holds my arm tight when she rides on my hip, and how she lays her head on my shoulder when she really needs comfort, which is luckily (or not) pretty infrequent. She’s taken a few first steps — her first ever towards a chocolate peanut butter cookie. Smart girl.


From her birthday party. I had to smear some of the chocolate mousse cake onto her upper right cheek because she was, for once, not that dirty.

Virtual hate, virtual catharsis?

Our house was broken in to, again. Our house in Florida, that is. Our vacant house that is under contract to close on November 6th, day of grace in the year of our Lord 2007. Some %*&$# people took seven of our fence panels, broke in, and stole our washing machine. Our washing machine was worth 50 dollars!! Maybe. They left a car in the backyard. Marcy says we should be able to sell the car, for scrap metal at least, to cover our losses. Dick says if people stole our fence and our washing machine, they must be really poor. I say, give me a @#$^ machine gun and let me lay waste to that entire vile, ghastly neighborhood. Maybe a tank with a big steamroller in the front to destroy it off the face of the earth. Vengeance is mine (that’s from Mulan).

The police are dusting for fingerprints, and we’re arranging for a security system and fence repairs. I assume that tow truck will be paid for by tax-supported police funds. It’s probably evidence or something. Our buyers have not backed out, because, you know, their parents live two doors down and they’re probably thinking it was a random consequence of leaving the house vacant, not a plague on all people stupid enough to buy a house in such a wretched place.

Happy Birthday to the Middle One

Susan Louise was born on this day three years ago in Dunedin, Florida. She was my easiest delivery, but has made up for that in the years since. (Maybe having Sally and Grandpa Dave and Daddy present for the birth wasn’t such a good idea?). The potty training is going, though where exactly we are headed with it is beyond me. Susan still wants to be “just like Avey,” except in matters of big-girl panties. She asks me “What comes next?” with pencil poised on paper and “What’s this word?” when pointing to a page in a book.

After all the trouble I went to to teach Sally her colors and numbers and shapes, Susan seems to have absorbed them by imitation. Which is a good thing, because my mommy-ness is now divided not only between three children, but a variety of other obsessions of not-readily-apparent significance. Susan says no to everything, even to things that she really wants to say yes to. She can correct her self quickly and she can say the word “yes,” she just can’t not say no initially to anything remotely resembling a question.

Susan is pretty good with the gender-pronouns already, but she does pronounce a lot of things funny. Like “Mousy” for “Marcy” and “cauw” for “car,” but, unfortunately, she’s learned to say “pepperoni” instead of “pappy=roni.”

Susan is super-expressive of expression, and not afraid to show her desire to please Mom or to follow her own desires, as the whim takes her. She’s getting to that age where she demands to say the prayer, and now that I know how short-lived that phase is, I’m appreciating it more. I am fully confident that her extreme devotion to self-determination will one day help her to stand unshakeable in the faith and immoveable in her principles. Also, she is really nice to her baby sister Spot. And very affectionate with her parents.

Susan, we love you!!!

“Do you really think that the guy who created heaven and earth cares what you put in your digestive tract?”

It might be the height of arrogance to think that God concerns himself with petty things like whether Mormons drink tea, much less tequila, and that Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork. I’m just glad to not be part of a religion that forbids something I really like, like hot chocolate with whipped cream. That might truly test my faith.

One of the biggest perks of staying with my sister is that we get cable, which means that I get House. Marcy gets The Office, Dick and Adam get Heroes, and the kids get Spongebob. It’s only a matter of time, I think, before Spongebob is connected with bizzare behavior of some sort or another; perhaps not violent criminalism, but possibly even scarier for being completely absurd.

There’s a Mormon character on House right now, a youngish black man competing for a fellowship spot on House’s diagnostic team. Last Tuesday, House goaded the Mormon character (he has a number, but I can’t remember what it is) into drinking tequila as part of a pseudo-diagnostic test that might save the life of a patient. House’s compelling argument was the “Would you pull an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath?” rationale.

The dialogue was well-written and fast-paced, though one mistake made it clear that no actual Mormons were consulted (use of “LDS” for “Mormonism”; just as you wouldn’t say “Catholic” when you meant “Catholicism”). Race relations, “magic underwear,” and the Word of Wisdom were all addressed in under two minutes. And in my humble opinion, Dr. House shared my disappointment that his argument, reasonable as it may be, so easily swayed the Mormon into a medical drinking contest. As House said, rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people, otherwise there wouldn’t be any.

I love House. He’s an athiest and a misanthropist. And he’s witty. One might even compare his tongue to a wasp’s stinger. When I was in high school and had a crush on Chris Hansen in AP Chem, my friends and I had a habit of assigning code names to our crushes. Levi, who eventually turned out to be not even a possibility was Apollo the sungod, and Chris, thanks to our reading of The Scarlet Letter, was Roger Chillingworth. And I was in love.

Irrational, then, that I married a most mild-tongued man. But I still have room for a major crush on awful, sarcastic, incredibly intelligent, Sherlock Holmes-wannabe Gregory House.