Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 7-13


We had a great Deliberate Discussion night at the Lassen's house. Deliberate Discussion is a discussion based communal gathering that I've started to organize once or twice a month. This time we watched a film 11'9"01 September 11 which had different fictional representations of 9/11 from different countries around the world. It was interesting to see how different countries, or at least different directors saw things in the years right after.


I had my film class at night. We watched The Way which is an Emilio Estevez film starring Martin Sheen, his father (all of the older people watching the film with me were so impressed that I knew this and dubbed me a film expert), about the Way of St. James which is a Catholic pilgrimage through Spain. I've always wanted to do a pilgrimage, and now I really want to do this one.


A Whole Foods trip in the morning.

Another installment of my mindful parenting class at night. This one was also about self-compassion, and I was in a lot better mental state this time than I had been for last week's, so it was a lot more enjoyable, even if my feet still fell asleep while meditating.


I went to FUS and did some work in the library there in the morning. Cait went to an oil painting class at night. She loved it and has it again tonight.


We had a gathering with other 20's and 30's at FUS at night for Chili and Beer. I was afraid it was going to be a singles meet and greet, but it ended up being about half families. I still have the assumption that anyone nearing thirty is desperate to get married, but that's not true. It wasn't even true in Utah, of course, but it sometimes felt that way. Chili and Beer is not a favorite combination of mine, I learned.


Church in the evening. Both kids got to go to childcare, which they loved, because Atticus's Sunday School class was cancelled. A hail storm came at night, bringing much joy. Atticus also learned about Hell (he's been asking about where people think they go when they die) so that was a nice tie-in.

Ready for summer

Hail party


Church again in the morning, because they were having a special choral performance/children's event. The kids got to hang out with a guy with lots of snakes and turtles, and I tried to listen to the performance, but it was packed and I was out in the hall where the sound was not so good.

Blowing the hair out of the eyes

Not so excited
We played around home the rest of the day. And sold our couch.

Lulah stares into your soul

Lulah whacked her head on the bed chasing brother right before bed and had to get some stitches in the ER. Poor girl.

And finally, this video is a little quiet, but should be enjoyable for some:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A feminist man

Here's what I strive for:

"For both men and women, Good Men can be somewhat disturbing to be around because they usually do not act in ways associated with typical men; they listen more than they talk; they self-reflect on their behavior and motives, they actively educate themselves about women's reality by seeking out women's culture and listening to women...They avoid using women for vicarious emotional expression...When they err-and they do err-they look to women for guidance, and receive criticism with gratitude. They practice enduring uncertainty while waiting for a new way of being to reveal previously unconsidered alternatives to controlling and abusive behavior. They intervene in other men's misogynist behavior, even when women aren't present, and they work hard to recognize and challenge their own. Perhaps most amazingly, Good Men perceive the value of a feminist practice for themselves, and they advocate it not because it's politically correct, or because they want women to like them, or even because they want women to have equality, but because they understand that male privilege prevents them not only from becoming whole, authentic human beings but also from knowing the truth about the world." Kay Leigh Hagan as quoted in bell hooks The Will to Change, p. 186.

This whole book, The Will to Change has been really powerful for me. I obviously fall quite short of this definition of a Good Man. I don't take criticism well; I am sometimes attention seeking in my feminism (full disclosure, I'm doing this right now), and I don't intervene as often in misogynist behavior as a I could (but honestly, my discussions with other adult men are limited to around 2 a week and at least one of those is with Brad Jones, so opportunities are limited). But I do have the will to change.

I love the phrase above "practice enduring uncertainty" in both of its apparent interpretations. One, that I have to actively practice making it through feelings of uncertainty and wait for truth to be revealed. But also, I can have a practice of cultivating long-lasting and fundamental uncertainty. Uncertainty is so often a negative, but especially when it comes to confronting privilege in its many forms, uncertainty has to be the default, because the privilege clouds the decision-making process so thoroughly.

I'm lucky to have a great partner to work through this uncertainty with me. bell hooks, after giving the above quote, then goes on to say, talking to those who wish for a world of Good Men: "Many of us have lived the truth that recognizing the ways we are wounded is often a simpler process than finding and sustaining a practice of healing. We live in a culture where it has been accepted and even encouraged that women wholeheartedly stand by men when they are doing the work of destruction. Yet we have to create a world that asks us to stand by a man when he is seeking healing, when he is seeking recovery, when he is working to be a creator." The Will to Change, p. 186.

I realize that it is often messy and unattractive for Cait to see me and stand with me while I go through the process of working through my privilege. I get frustrated and insecure, I retreat to old patterns and withdraw emotionally. I'm lucky to have someone to work through these issues with me with kindness and patience. Thanks love.

Monday, April 14, 2014

March 29-April 6

Saturday 1:

We made a game attempt at playing outside for most of the day. Went pretty well. Church in the evening.

Sunday 1:

I went to a lecture by Chris Crass, which was awesome. Here's my review of his book. Then we had the Lonsdale's over for lunch. And then we went to the Jones's for desert and a book discussion of A Prayer for Owen Meaney. Very enjoyable, if busy, day.


Cait had an Arabic playgroup in the morning and a movie night at night. Austenland, apparently.


Cait and I got eye exams together. Adorable. Cait was shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that her vision is worse than mine, although I have an astigmatism, so whatever. We then got lunch together and froze our butts off waiting for the bus. At night I had a movie night at FUS where we watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which all of the (quite older) crowd had seen, but I had never heard of before it was announced and I started reading the book. I really liked the movie and the book.


I had a great morning with Lulah and a terrible afternoon with Atticus and Lulah, but mainly Atticus. I don't know what it was, but it seemed that from the second I picked him up we were locked in a constant battle of wills. The parenting class we had at night on self-compassion made me feel only more like a chump for not being able to relate to my own kid. A rough day.


Cait took Lulah in the morning to play with some friends. I had a meeting at the community center for Assembly business in the afternoon, took the kids and then we played there for a good long while.

Saturday 2:

We went to a large science expo on campus. A lot of the exhibits were over the kids heads, to be honest, but there were a lot that they really enjoyed. We also had a good family run on the way there and back, including a nice moment on the lakeside where the kids played for a while in the nice weather.

Atticus had his child dedication in the evening. When Lulah had her dedication (a secular child baptism-like ceremony) a year ago, we decided that Atticus was probably too old to take part, but he brought it up frequently enough that we decided to go ahead and let him do it. We are glad we did. It was really nice to have a moment just for him.

Sunday 2:

I taught Sunday School in the morning, had a library committee meeting after that, and then we all piled into a borrowed car to head to the house of our friends Bob and Kelly (who we met at FUS). They were doing a controlled burn of some grass on their property and then grilling out afterwards. It was a great summer-is-almost-here experience. It was also nice to connect with some people a generation above us and get a feel for their thoughts on life. It was a really lovely afternoon, with lovely people in a lovely setting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another attempt at ethical eating

Recently, we have decided to re-embark on the journey towards more sustainable and ethical eating. Prior to this decision, we have been consuming a fairly hefty amount of dairy and eggs, and while we try to buy organic and humanely-raised of these products, we sometimes don't. I was reading an article the other week about the animal industry in the United States, and how incredibly wasteful and inhumane it is, and felt hopeless at convincing Americans to change their habits and then I realized that in a way I am also contributing to this when I buy these products, even in small quantities. Tim and I discussed it at length and decided we would give veganism another shot.

I have qualms about veganism as well -- I'm not entirely convinced that Weston Price doesn't have it right, and we need mass amounts of animal products for a healthy body. I think full-fat milk products, local organic eggs and meats are probably pretty wholesome and delicious. But I do know that the way more animals are raised in our country, and most of their by-products, are produced under horrible conditions and are a huge waste of energy and pollutants. It is hard to be vegan without relying on the fake meat and cheese products -- and these are chockful of weird ingredients and preservatives, which is also something we avoid. So... what do we eat? So far, Atticus loves tofu (and we found an awesome local producer), we are fine with milk substitutes, and we've been doing lots of greens, micro-greens, potatoes, and broccoli, waiting for the bounteous crop this summer from our CSA. My friend Karen is moving back to Utah, and we raided her food storage and took home cans and cans of beans and oatmeal and whole wheat. One of my recent favorite discoveries has been creamy pasta sauces made with cashews. But this is a question we are not entirely sure of, so we welcome your feedback. Leave your favorite vegan recipe, or snack ideas, or kid-friendly cuisine, websites, etc. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The joy is in the journey

When Tim was out of town in Austin, the kids and I walked up to FUS for a "market breakfast" and small Farmers' Market. We walked slowly and deliberately, it was a beautiful, clear late winter morning and we were not on a time schedule. I thought about all of these moments we have had as a family, since ridding ourselves of owning a vehicle, and how if we decide to buy a car it will be one of the things I miss the most. Since we've been car-free, we have not often left the two-mile radius around our home besides the occasional long trip by bus or community car. However, we have come to know intimately the area around our house, and people know us. I have strangers approach me in Whole Foods or at the park, and say they see us walking everywhere and know us as that couple with the yellow Chariot. I love that! I love that we are learning about our community and are making friends as we trot about to our various activities. I love that our kids are seeing an example of deliberate, intentional living. I love that we get to have these amazing moments like today, when we were running home from the Wisconsin Science Festival and we stopped for half an hour at the lakeshore and the kids explored about and threw rocks. If in a car, we would have gone from parking lot to home without the moments in between. We are so, so privileged to live in such an incredible place, and I don't want to miss it all flying past my window while zooming down University Avenue and clogging up this crisp, clean Wisconsin air with yet more pollution.

How glad am I that those mounds of snow are melted! At last!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Abandoned photos

Most of these have been instagramed. But for those who don't groom the gram, here you go. This is basically a chronicle of our desperate attempts to pretend like it actually Spring:

We had a great dinner with a strange Verdelli/Corry's. Thanks guys

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Our life lately: the good, the bad and the ugly

The good (in no particular order of importance or time):

1. Today I went with my friend Jessica to two school rummage sales. One was at the Waldorf School and had a fairly disappointing selection but I found a beautiful handmade dress for Lu (handwash only though, which means she will probably never wear it), some wool jammies for camping in the summer, and lavender-scented bean bags. Then we went to the rummage sale at the public elementary school where it was mostly picked over but I for $3 I bought about 10 t-shirts, a few cotton dresses, several pairs of leggings, and two pair of brand-new Hanna Andersson undies (unfortunately they are boys for Atticus, when it is Lu that needs new ones). I was excited to find two Salty Dog cafe shirts in Atticus's size, an Italia shirt, and one from Lebanon. Atticus has been wearing Tallulah's too-small leggings ("but they are so comfy, mom, inside and out!") so I finally got him a few pair of own in the right size (they are also HA). I have a feeling he won't be wearing his jeans anymore. I was pretty happy to get an entire summer wardrobe for the kids for $10. Mission, accomplished.

2. Atticus is so into Star Wars lately. We were trying to avoid the obsession as long as possible, because guns and violence and scariness, but we finally caved in when he asked to take home some books from the library. At least the bad guys are fascist dictators and the good guys are revolutionary freedom-fighters. I told him I'd buy him a pair of the Star Wars PJs for his birthday, and he is counting down the days.

3. The snow is finally melting, for good, and the days after getting longer and longer. We walked home at 6:30 and the sun was still a shinin'. The summer is so close I can taste it.

4. Tim and I are really into Parks and Recreation the past few weeks. It is just too, too hilarious.

5. I ordered these amazing cloth menstrual pads and they are so pretty I almost feel bad to use them.

The bad:

1. Tallulah started feeling cruddy last week and spiked a fever for a few days. We chalked it up to teething because she had no other symptoms and wasn't eating well and saying "ouchy, mouth" and so simply dosed her up with a little ibuprofen and called it good. Finally, after the fever ended, the blisters in her mouth appeared, her gums started bleeding really bad, and we realized we were dealing with HFMD/Coxsackie virus again. When I realized it, I began having horrible flashbacks to when Atticus contracted it from Annabelle when he was 2. It is an awful, awful sickness and we didn't sleep for a solid three days.

2. Because of Parks and Recreation watching, I am getting very little accomplished in the evenings and the work is beginning to pile up (and now I'm writing a blog post, for even further procrastination).

The ugly:

1. Tallulah's HFMD transferred to my nipple. OUCHHHHHHH.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My faith in my children

I guest blogged over at my top 5 favorite blog, pale cetacean, check it out. How much does our love for our children really mean?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

To car or not to car: that is the (current) question

I've really been wanting to buy a car these past few weeks. There have been a few moments of frustration that have resulted in my sitting down on Craigslist and searching for a nice little used Prius for several hours. I am tired of trying to bum rides for the four of us when we are going to a farther away activity than we can bike to. It would be really helpful in the summer for going camping or traveling in Wisconsin, for taking the kids to their swimming lessons, for going to Costco when my friend Eleanor moves away. But on the other hand, if I am going to buy a car, I want to buy something reliable, eco-friendlyish, and comfortable. After our last not-so-great car-buying experience, I am nervous to do the process all over again. It was stressful enough before we had a crap experience (though looking back, perhaps it wasn't that terrible... we lost a few thousand dollars in the course of a year but we did get a car that moved us across the country twice and helped us move and settle in to our Madison life), but now I am hesitant and nervous and I don't know how people spend so much money on a whim. But we have more money now and could easily pay cash for a decent enough car. But we don't have the prospect of a future salary of any kind and what happens if it needs repairs? I hate the idea of paying taxes and registration and insurance and all of that expense that comes with owning a car after not having those expenses for over a year.

I have also been thinking a lot about the ethics of driving lately, and with the death of two men cycling in Utah at the hands of a driver, I am terrified of being behind the wheel again. And at the same time, I am scared to bike my kids long distances to the nearby state parks in the summertime, though biking in Madison is much safer than Utah by leaps and bounds, there are still some scary sections of the city and biking is still dangerous at times with careless, fast drivers who do not know how to share the road with cyclists.

Tim does not care either which way. He is fine driving the Community Car, and still does not like the financial and moral obligations that come with owning a vehicle. He thinks we can camp in our backyard or the nearby state parks by bike. I agree with him on so many points, and that's why the decision is all the more difficult. I don't want to go spend $10,000 without him fully on board... and even if we did go buy a car, I really have no idea what we would buy. We are pretty sure we are going to be a two-kid family for forever or a long time at least, and so we do not want to get a mini-van. We love the idea of a hybrid but they tend to be priced much higher than a non-hybrid. I've been looking at Honda Fits and the smaller cars but if we do end up moving by car that would not be nearly enough space. I still love Subarus, but am nervous about getting another one. I love the Prius V but it's way out of our price range, and we don't really want to finance. If money was not an issue, and we could buy whatever car we wanted, this is probably what I would buy:

Or we could keep up with the car-free-ness for a few more years (keep saving the money that comes from not owning a car) until Tim or I have a real job and then buy whatever new, cool, awesome electric family car is out there on the market. Or we'll get jobs in some awesome Danish city where cars are a thing of the past.