Saturday, June 30, 2012


After listening to a Daughters of Mormonism podcast a few weeks ago on Unitarian Universalism and their beliefs, Tim and I decided to attend a local congregation of UUs to enhance our Sabbath Day worship. Though I had never attended a Unitarian church before, I vaguely knew about Unitarians as one of my best friends in high school grew up in that church, and her parents were these awesome hippie-granolie parents that you just don't find in the south. After doing a little research in addition to podcasts and blogs about enhancing your Mormonism with Unitarianism, we thought the two would be compatible together. Mormonism has strict doctrines and rituals and hierarchy, whereas Unitarianism is essentially devoid of strict doctrines but preaches values of acceptance, compassion, and tolerance, which is taught in the Mormon church but is oftentimes overlooked in the culture. They essentially think "God is love" and that's all there is to it. Each person in their religion is on a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning."

We headed over post-Sacrament meeting and after Atticus had an hour of nursery (he was ready to leave anyways), and we arrived about ten minutes after their service started. After we got Atticus settled into the nursery (they had a Buzz Lightyear toy, so he had no problem), we settled down with Tallulah in the small chapel during a musical number of "Beautiful"and the sermon soon began (we unfortunately missed the reading of "Ain't I a Woman?") It was given by a guest speaker, a woman from a nearby town that was actively involved in politics, and had a passion for reproductive freedom. At first it was a little unsettling to be talking about contraception, teen sex, and abortion in a church setting, but her words really resonated with me, and she brought up a few issues and perspectives that I had never considered, and her peaceful and rational tone enhanced the message. After the meeting, there was coffee and cookies and fellowship. We spoke with a few people, but didn't stay long because we were hungry and Atticus started making a mess.

Overall, we really liked the service and would probably attend in the future. The UU church in Madison looks amazing, there is a congregation of 2000 (largest in the US) and they meet in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's close to where we live, and we will most likely continue to combine our Mormonism with a side of Unitarianism. I'll let Tim offer his perspective at a future time, he has more thoughts about our venture into uncorrelated Mormonism.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


and the living is easy...

but not really when you have two little ones.

Though it's not easy, it's certainly been these things: loud, hot, tiring, super fun. I thought it was loud before Lauren and her kids arrived, and compared to now, the house was a downright ashram. Heaven help us, but they are some of the loudest kids I have ever seen [heard]. Atticus* has become a total chatterbox recently too and his vocab is expanding so rapidly we can hardly keep up (by that, I mean 90% of his talking we don't understand). Tallulah has even found her voice lately, and is cooing up a storm.

Tiring: though both my kids sleep 10 hours at night (can I get a: HALLELUJAH!) these days are exhausting! Add in miserably hot weather, lots of walking/swimming/chasing/wrestling, and by the end of the day I can barely stand. I think it is also a function of the icky food I'm eating (burgers, fries, chips, ice cream, potato salad, etc). I need to get better at keeping my body healthy so I can keep up.

Tallulah often can't keep herself up either

Like I mentioned previously, part of the reason we are tired is because it is SO. HOT. And by hot, I mean REALLY hot. Let's take a look at the weekend forecast:

To beat the heat, we plan on swimming in various pools around Columbia. So far, we have hit up Ft. Jackson, Trenholm Park public pool, our cousins' neighborhood pool, the Carroll pool in Gaston, and our bishop's backyard pool (our neighbors also have a pool that looks SO tempting all day long, but we are pretty sure they don't want us hanging around). Atticus did swimming lessons the last two weeks, and he is getting awesome at kicking his legs and will now even go under without freaking out (much).

All swammed out

Prior to this heat front, we had a few cool days (you know, low-90s!), and took the opportunity to hit up Riverbanks Zoo for the third time since we've been here. 

Feeding the lorikeets, Atticus prefers to watch

This bird was way creepy and mean, hence my face
My mom with all her cute grandkids (isn't she gorgeous?)

 Not much else going on around these parts, so this is mostly a boring update for the Utah grandparents and any other friends who happen to care how cute Tallulah is. Coming soon: our conversion to Unitarian Universalists, thoughts on healthcare reform, and my new-found love of pottery.


Hipster oneside

* names have been changed for privacy purposes (aka, I'm too lazy to maintain a baby blog anymore... so yeah...)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Haircuts all around

We went on a haircutting spree this past week. Tim cut both his and the guy's hair, and then I went to a salon and had my hair cut (for free!) from my sister's friends. Mine is a little shorter than I would have liked (I was thinking about going even shorter, but then opted for shoulder-length and it's instead at kind of an awkward in-between stage) and we discovered the guy has crazy cowlicks now that his hair is short. I'm hoping it grows back as fine and blonde as it was, but it looks like we might have lost the soft baby hair for good. Lu did not get her haircut, and she felt a little left out, but we quickly reminded her she has no hair to cut.

Our dog, Bear, also got a haircut last week, funny enough

This one shows off Tim's beard better

Monday, June 18, 2012

I am not meant to raise a toddler

I just do not have the patience for Theo these days. Not sure what happened to my sweet little boy, but somewhere between getting a new sister to mom going out of town, packing up our house, staying with three different friends in Provo, driving across the country and moving in with my parents has thrown this little guy for a loop. Maybe the adjustment for me has been even harder than for him (how much I miss having my own home and life is a whole other post). I really need to take a few deep breaths and work on my patience because the kid is exhausting it (and me). I know it's not him, that he is two and a half and his behavior is normal, expected even. I know he is going through some major upheaval in his world. I get it on a intellectual level like all the parenting books say, but actually dealing with it every day is easier read than done. And I get that he will grow out of it and mature into a quite lovely preschooler, inshallah. But GEEZ, it is frustrating and I am not a very patient person.

I miss this kid... and his great hair :(

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our friends the Lees

We made lots of really good friends during my time in Provo. But two friendships, for me (definitely not speaking for Cait) really stand out: The Lees and The Bryners. I want to do a couple of memorial posts to these great friendships. We already did a good tribute post to the Lees here, but our friendship, having lasted so long and gone so deep demands at least one more. Since we're having trouble accessing old photos from our external hard drive, we only have some recent pictures and some videos of A.G. pulling Theo and Theo and A.G. feeding Lu a bottle are up on the other blog because of too many name references.

Those videos and the following photos are from the last few days we were with the Lees. They genererous enough to let us stay with them for the last two days of our homeless stage (the rest of that stage was with Jon Bryner's mother).

The Lees were just all around great friends for us. So many of our housing decisions (pretty much every housing decision post-marriage) was made by a decision on gaining or maintaining proximity to the Lees. I wouldn't be surprised if the number of times we ate dinner together was over 100. And the number of fine conversations we had was probably at least triple that. It was great to see our kids grow together as they were all pretty close to a year apart.

So here's to you Lees. Here's to friendship.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


So, I graduated from BYU. As I'm sure it is for most college grads, the whole experience was rather anti-climatic. It's hard to feel like you've really accomplished something when your sitting in a large room full of people who have done the exact same thing as you.

I am proud of what I accomplished at BYU, however. I didn't earn any major awards or anything, but I did fairly well in a difficult major while spending a fair amount of time working or staying at home with kids while Cait worked. But most of all, I am proud of how much I've felt I've learned while at BYU. While it took me a while to learn how to get good grades, I came into BYU well prepared to learn in a non-GPA oriented fashion. If I had to choose between knowledge gathering skills and GPA gathering skills (which is not a necessary choice for a lot of people and probably wouldn't have been for me if I'd put more effort in high school), I'm glad I had the former.

I recognize, of course, that there is still an immeasurable amount of knowledge to obtain in my life, but I feel that my undergrad experience has taught me how to learn how to learn, and not just learn, but to apply that learning to life and share it in meaningful ways.

So there you have it, there is my endorsement of my experience as an undergrad at BYU. I loved the high level of spirituality at the university and that my "secular" education could mix well with my "spiritual" education. I was also constantly surprised at the high level of discourse and the openness to new and different ideas of most teachers and students (although, especially among the students there were some really closed-minded individuals). Of course, being a private, religious university, there was a lot of bias toward accepted LDS ideas, but at least that bias was almost always openly admitted to and discussed, where I feel that in other circumstances, teachers and students try to conceal a bias that everyone has, whether they admit it or not. This openess about the perspective that we all brought to "truth" really allowed for a lot of personal exploration into what my own perspective on truth was.

I came out of BYU a much more liberal and less doctrinally-oriented Mormon, but I still came out a Mormon. I don't know what would have happened if I'd gone to a university that was more generally liberal. Would I have become even more liberal, or would I have reacted against it (as I reacted the against conservatism at BYU, although I'm not sure to what extent that is true) and become more conservative. I guess we'll find out in Madison.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer laziness

Our summer has been lazy. There is no way around that fact. We don't have real jobs (Tim is working from home a few hours a week), and we spend 75% of our time either at the zoo, EdVenture, the park or the library. When we aren't out and about, we are home reading or playing Wii Sports. We are getting quite good at Nintendo tennis.

"Who, me?!"

With Aunt Allison at the zoo

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Farewell, eye goop!

Tallulah seems to really be growing up these past few weeks. Her clogged tear ducts have cleared up, she is starting to notice objects besides my breasts and face, and she feels like she has gained a couple pounds since we left Provo. Her tiny babyness is like sand running through an hourglass and all I want to do is tip it on its side.

Wondering what if?

I am a doubter. I doubt a lot of mundane things. I doubt that I'll need a diaper because I just changed one. I doubt I'll need to grab lunch because there will be food at the party.

Most of all, I doubt myself. I doubt my past decisions constantly. I am always over-analyzing, re-examining, and most of all, questioning: "what if?" I do not make a decision unless it is so well thought-out in my brain, and many times, I think over these decisions for so long and so extensively I don't take any action at all. There was an article recently in the New York Times about the biology of risk-takers. Read that, and I am exactly the opposite of those things. I know it drives my husband crazy, and quite frankly, it drives me crazy most of the time. I look at my life 99% of the time and think I am so happy with where I am. I am smitten with my husband, my darling children, and my future PhD program. We have so much going for us... we are seemingly living the life, what, with our lack of jobs and free rent all summer. There is not a reason in the world for me to think that past decisions led to a path I was not meant for. And what does that even mean? How do we even know what we are "meant" to do? Should I be going back to school full-time in the fall? It seemed like a great idea at the time, but now I am a little terrified at the prospect of 1) failing and being incredibly silly for thinking I was smart enough to study with all of these brilliant students and professors, and 2) missing my kids so much that every day is a little bit of torture. In my rational mind, neither of these things is remotely possible as 1) I was smart enough to get in and offered a nice fellowship, and 2) I enjoy studying and I loathe staying at home all day.

I think our emphasis at Church (and quite frankly, in American society at large) of having a certain role, a kind of predestination that is set out for us is part of what drives me so crazy. God seemingly knows what we will do, when we will do it, and what will result from what we did and when. I oftentimes take my bigger decisions to Them, pleading for guidance and direction. Most often, I reflect back and think that yes, my prayers were answered and I was guided in such a way that left me and my family safe, healthy, and happy. The outcome was as good as any. Other times, we make what we thought were the right decisions, decisions that felt right in a peaceful sort of way at the time, but we end up flummoxed by the outcome.

This is a minor example*, but we bought our car in February, and thought it was a great decision at the time. We spent hours researching, test-driving, and in the end we prayed about the decision between a few really great options. We did not want to go into debt (per our Church's counsel and common-sense) so we chose a car we could pay cash for. $2000 later, plus a needed repair that will apparently cost another $1500 (though we are hopeful that a cheaper fix will work), the car we thought was right for us and we would drive forever and a day is a liability we are trying to get off our hands. Although not that big of a deal, we are going to lose quite a bit of money and are left frustrated with the process.

Bad decision, or purposeful trial? Who knows? This is the mystery of life. The frustrating, fulfilling, bewildering, exhausting mystery of this life.

Is there a rhyme and reason to it all? Answer me that, friends.

Because really, I'm ready to live life confidently. I'm so tired of worrying and questioning and doubting.

* How I will deal with a major life catastrophe, I don't know. I've never really had one. My life has been pretty freaking cupcakes and roses. Maybe that is why I'm worried about it, because I do not have any idea what tragedy or disappointment feel like.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Guest post on emBody blog

I wrote about my experience growing up very skinny on this other blog. I plan on posting more there and will link to any from here. Feel free to post your comments on the emBody blog.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Living simply (in a small space)

We've been having a recent ongoing debate about where to live in the fall. There are lots of great options in Madison, but we didn't feel like really apartment searching from afar so it was down to the Mormon commune complex or two on-campus options (an expensive, larger townhome or a cheaper apartment). The Mormon commune complex was just a four-plex with other LDS couples living in them... they were larger and cheaper but far from campus. We were tempted by the extra space, but in the end, the ease of living close to campus and right next to a preschool/playgrounds/community center won out. Then, there was the decision between an expensive townhome ($200 more expensive than the apartment) or the 600-sq-ft institutional-feeling two-bedroom. We decided on the smaller one.

After watching House Hunters International for two weeks, I realized I do favor smaller living spaces. I am only a little obsessed with some of the clean, modern, airy apartments that Sweden, France, and Germany have to offer to their citizens. You can't find anything so gorgeous in the US! If the apartment is nice, it's huge. I loved the simplicity of the clean lines and well thought-out storage spaces (and unfortunately, many of these products cost half an arm and leg, so Ikea is the best option in our price range). I figured if we want to live in a small apartment in the future, we might as well start now. With the extra money we are saving, I think we'll go to Ikea and pick out some cool furniture for small spaces. And I know Ikea is cheap and made in China and akin to Wal-mart in Europe, but I love it.

I love the idea of buying a comfy sofa bed that Tim and I can sleep on, then we can free up a room to use as an office:

Ikea Manstad sofa bed ($699)
Now that Lu is sleeping through the night and has firmly decided for now she is not a co-sleeping baby [never thought that was possible, but she much prefers to sleep in her cradle next to our bed], I think we might actually put the kids in a room together sans parents. I figured we would have a giant co-sleeping bed with both kids, but they don't sleep in our bed anymore and they are doing great with it... Theo sleeps in his own bed next to ours and Lu in the cradle. They both sleep through the night and it's a lovely thing.  I think they could share a room together and keep it up... maybe... Of course, that would also mean we would need to spend money on a bed and a crib. Luckily, kid's beds/cribs are easy to find on Craigslist and have great resale value. I've been scoping out Madison's Craigslist offerings a few times, and they have some awesome stuff.

That leaves an extra bedroom for an office for me so I can study and write papers without going to campus on those days with no class when the snow is piling up and I don't want to leave my warm house.

I have always wanted a cozy corner workspace c/o Ikea. They used to have a cooler wood-colored one but this black one is nice too.

We also want to invest in some quality, minimalist items for the kitchen. I am already decided on this from Joseph Joseph [I can't get the picture of just the bowls to save and come up on the blog, so you get the whole ad]:

After living in a house with a kitchen that contains a million appliances/dishes/food items that are long forgotten, closets upon closets full of clothes, 18 different cleaning chemicals, and other miscellaneous items scattered about, I am ready for a simple, minimalist apartment, or as minimalist as you can get with two kids and a mom in a PhD program.

One day I'll write a blog post about our minimalist habits when it comes to housekeeping and hygiene.

Baby Vanessas

When Tim and I first met, I lived with a girl named Vanessa Beauchamp. She was tall and beautiful and loved to get naked and paint her body and then lay all over a canvas. Tim had a huge crush on her (and let's be honest, I kind of did too).

And then Tallia birthed Harrison in our backyard...

Another post

Here's another post because that last one was number 666 and it creeped me out.

I must be watching too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


The most pleasant of baby daughters....

Up on the baby blog.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The most beautiful of babes

I know it is probably just me, but I am pretty sure Tallulah is the most  beautiful, inquisitive, pleasant child I have ever met. She sleeps like a CHAMP. We are talking THROUGH THE NIGHT. And I never believed moms when they said their 10-week-old could sleep through the night because babies gotta eat, ya know? But I do not lie when I say she goes down between 9 pm and 10 pm, and wakes up around 6 am to 7 am to eat once then wakes up for the day around 9 am. I DO NOT LIE. It is miraculous. And that is with no sleep-training, none at all. Nursing, laying down in a marvelously cozy cradle, and that's that. She even falls asleep ON HER OWN. ON HER OWN?! What a concept!

She also smiles like it's going out of style. She will smile at any face as long as she is relatively well-fed and not tired. It's absolutely darling.

I could watch her sleep for hours

Brotherly love...

Be still, my heart!