Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lots of lakes

For those who know Columbia, Lake Murray is kind of a big deal. It's huge and gorgeous and everyone rich has a lake house on it. There is also a public swimming area that you can get into for something like $2 a car, for the simple folk like us. It's right around the corner from my grandma's house in Lexington, so we ventured out one afternoon before heading over to her house for dinner. It was nice, but there were lots of people smoking and it was a little trashy (literally, lots of trash all around including boiled peanut shells from a man eating them on the beach.... gross).

There is a great lake and swimming area out on Ft. Jackson about 15 minutes from my parents' house in Columbia. We've been twice this summer, and both times was so, so fun. It's only open to military families, and it along with other benefits my dad gets has me convinced we need to join the military (it's tempting with Tim's language skills). The first time we went out to the lake, my dad came and got us in and then went grocery shopping with my mom and Tallulah, which was really great because we rarely get just the three of us time with the guy and he loved it. We rented a canoe and stayed out on the lake for an hour then came back in to swim for a few more hours. The water is really clean, and the beach area has tons of imported sand so it's not yucky lake bottom.

The second time, the whole family minus Grammy and the babies went out for a visit. Unfortunately, my mom was watching Lu and Yogi at home and was called in to work so half of the family had to head home. Benny was tired for a nap anyways, and Tim was fine going home too, so Lauren, me, Atticus and her big kids stuck around and played. We also rented a paddleboat for an hour. We got out and after about ten minutes, Gavin was tired and I had to pee, so we called it a day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Grad school in my future

A few weeks ago I had a dream about grad school. I was in class, and there were lots of really interesting people around and I was talking about my research and everyone asked lots of questions and thought I was really cool.

Kind of a boring dream. You probably wish I was in grad school and then raptors attacked and I was running through the stairwells and hallways of Wisconsin planning an escape route and then aliens landed and ate the raptors for dinner and we all sat down and smoked some hookah.

Sorry to disappoint, but the dream was actually really relevant to this post because of how it has changed my perspective of the future. You see, ever since I applied, was accepted, visited, and decided on Madison, I've been really, really nervous. Nervous I wouldn't fit in (what with my two kids and all), nervous I wouldn't be smart enough, nervous I wasn't suave or confident or well-traveled enough to be a grad student. I was surprised I even got in because it's a really good program, and so many little voices in my head tell me I'm not THAT smart. And after two kids, 99% of the time I simply do not feel all that intelligent. I almost picked Rutgers based on the fact it would be a heck of a lot easier. I dreaded starting because I could just see myself floundering and looking like an idiot in front of my cohort.

But I think this dream was my subconscious telling the other part of my subconscious: "get over it obviously you are smart enough and you will shine!" Ever since I dreamed myself there, the image has imprinted in my mind as the more likely situation, and I have felt a lot more eager to begin. And next week begins class registration and I'm taking: 1) French 2) Feminist Political Theory and 3) Statistics. I love all three of those things so, so dearly. Living at home with six kids, and solely caring for my two kids all day has me all giggly at the thought of being able to go to campus (without a diaper bag!), sit down in a classroom (sans kids!) and have a conversation with intellectual people (without being interrupted!) who also love feminism and politics (no one will think I'm overreacting to sexist memes on Facebook!). What a life.


Blessing Tallulah

In the LDS church, when babies are born, they are given an official name to be placed on the records of the Church and a blessing for their life by a male priesthood holder, usually their father but sometimes grandfathers, uncles, close friends of the family. It is a beautiful tradition, and I found this article online when I was researching baby blessings [also, some funny stories where the dad named the daughter's future husband or told her she would marry a millionaire, etc]. Cait and I love how Margaret Blair Young describes it:

"As an infant, my parents' firstborn, I was taken in my father's arms and given a name and a blessing. There, I was at the center of a priesthood circle. Other men (probably my uncles, though of course I don't remember), joined Dad as he blessed me. They each put one hand under my little body and one hand on the shoulder of the person standing next to them. They literally and symbolically supported me, and joined their faith with my dad's. This circle—a prayer circle, if you will—is a common one in our community...

I suspect my father was tearful at the miracle of my tiny body, and at the responsibility I introduced."

On Sunday, July 15th, Tallulah had her baby blessing at Cait's parents' church. We were going to do in Sacrament Meeting, but Les (Cait's dad) had drill (military stuff) and needed to be there in the morning, so he came on his lunch break and we did it in the bishop's office post-church meetings. It was a little rushed and crowded and Atticus talked the whole time, but it was still a special occasion, and the Spirit was most definitely in attendance. It was a beautiful blessing, and we took some lovely pictures afterwards.

I get chills looking at the happiness on Lu's face, she knew it was her special day

Uncles Ethan and Devin, Bishop Bronson Titus and Poppy also stood in the circle 

Some people might think this is a little weird, but I really want to put the blessing up here for those who weren't able to attend (grandparents, aunts/uncles, close friends), or even for the simply curious of what is said at a Mormon baby blessing:

Heavenly Father. By the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and in the name of Jesus Christ, we give this baby a name. The name by which she will be known will be Tallulah Fern Carroll-Browning.
Tallulah, we wish to give you a blessing by this same power, the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood. We bless you that your spirit might be strong, that you might have an understanding of the wonderful power that it is to be a child of our Heavenly Father and Mother. We bless you with an understanding that along with mental, physical and emotional health, that tending to your spiritual health is an important and necessary step in becoming a whole and healthy child of our Heavenly Parents.
We bless you with the understanding that as a daughter of both Heavenly and Earthly parents, you always have someone to turn to that will love you and care for you. Tallulah, we bless you with strength to understand that, through the Spirit, you may make wise and informed choices that will lead you to a full and meaningful life and that you can trust that voice, the Spirit, to lead you on a path that will lead you to your heavenly home.
Tallulah, we bless you with a love for those around you, that through that love you might be a beacon of hope and understanding to those around you that might be experiencing difficulties and trials. Tallulah, we bless you with the love that you will need to reach out to your family and to your friends that they might benefit from the knowledge and the wisdom that you will gain throughout your life.
Tallulah, we bless you with an understanding of the love of your mother. Know that you can trust in her for an example of what is to be a true daughter of our Heavenly Mother and Father.
Tallulah, we leave these blessings with in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Four months

The day we returned from the beach, we celebrated Tallulah's four month birthday. I can't believe she is only four months old. I feel like a year has gone by since she was born. She has an old, wise soul.

She's started sitting up and you can tell she is getting ready for being a real baby. Allison swears she rolled over once, but I'm not convinced. She hates tummy time and isn't too great at lifting her head up that way, but has great control when she is sitting up. She seems very interested in food, but we are holding off a few more months. She is growing like a weed, and though we have no idea what she weighs, she is outgrowing clothes and has gained a few pounds in the past month or so. She loves sitting in her swing and staring at the animals as they turn around on the mobile. We've started putting her in the BOB for running trips with Daddy, and she seems to enjoy it. She loves the beach and playing in the waves. She is starting to grasp things and is slowly figuring out how to get something from her hands to her mouth. Watching her brain working is one of the most amazing feats of humanity. She has incredible concentration and sleeps like a log.

She hates taking a bottle and thinks pacifiers are horrible. She has found her thumb and sucks it occasionally, but not consistently (I keep encouraging it, but Tim tells me not to for fear of future expensive orthodontic care). She has these long, gorgeous fingers and toes, the most luscious lips ever seen on a baby, and one adorable dimple that melts my heart. She smiles easily and cries rarely. She is a little cuddler and will nestle up to anything with a heartbeat.

She loves this the most

Big bow

She loves her car seat
Soulful eyes

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beach vacation

Yesterday we returned from an epic week at the beach with all my family (minus Christopher and Hillary, who had school/work). It was the first time in a long time all the siblings have been together, plus the six cousins and my mom and dad. It was a full house, to say the least. We stayed at a lovely home about 1/2 mile from Litchfield Beach on Pawleys Island. We rented a golf cart and bikes with baby seats, and we spent hours relaxing in the surf every day. Atticus was crazy about it. He loved building sand castles and jumping in the waves and riding in Aunt Allison's big inner tube (meant for river tubing, but worked in the ocean too... except when it flipped on us a few times). He loved it so much that one afternoon, Tim had gone with the big kids and Atticus didn't want to go just then so he stayed home. Well, my mom and Lauren came back from shopping (they did a lot of that) and about twenty minutes later, I realized Atticus was nowhere to be seen. Allison had seen him walk out on the porch but didn't really process that he would walk OFF the porch. I ran downstairs and hopped on a bike and everyone else home followed and did the same.  About 1/4 mile later through the wooded path (the wooded path with alligators in the stream, mostly dead ones, sadly, but alligators nonetheless), I found him in the middle of the street talking with a couple in a car who had stopped to help him find his mommy and daddy again. I could not believe I got so distracted that he got that far by himself. He had put his beach hat on and was going to find dad, he told me when I biked him home (in a basket because in my haste I didn't think to grab the bike with the kid seat). Suffice it to say, we had a long talk about leaving to the beach without an adult...

Tallulah was as pleasant as usual, and she loved feeling the sand between her toes as the waves rushed in and out. I loved having a fellow nursing mother there who I could send Tallulah home with when her boys napped because she could feed her and I could stay for a few more hours at the beach. We even took the kids to Medieval Times one night (I had free tickets) and left her at home with Lauren, and I didn't have to pump a bottle (not like baby sister will take a bottle, so yeah, we are working on that)! It was great. Our little family managed to avoid sunburn almost entirely (Atticus got a little red in the face for a day, and I got burned on one tiny patch on my upper thigh that I missed, Tim got a little toasted one day but his doesn't hurt and fades quickly). I hate it when vacations end so soon, it really was a perfect week and I had forgotten how much I love, love, love the beaches of South Carolina. 

Nothing beats beach all morning, sandwiches for lunch, naps all afternoon, and card games at night. I even managed to squeeze in an hour by myself to read my Kindle while the waves brushed against my legs. It was absolutely glorious. I already miss the sticky, sandy, salty sensations.


She did a lot of this

Postpartum Progression Mom would be proud: I dressed very, very modestly (also, my skin is scared of the sun...) 

Yogi wearing Lulu's hat

The cousins are loud... very, very loud 
Bennis the Serious

Nothing like cuddling up with some good books

He actually laid in bed by himself and read for a whole TEN MINUTES. Now if only we could get him to read himself to sleep, we'd be getting somewhere.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mormons and modesty

Feminist Mormon Housewives is currently having an open debate/forum on discussing modesty with children (oh, FMH, how I love thee!). Mormons have this thing about modesty: they are kind of obsessed. We are taught from a young age that we cover our shoulders, wear shorts to the knee, and GOD FORBID you put on that bikini on your honeymoon.

A fairly popular Mormon Mommy blogger posted a Primary lesson on modesty that she taught in her ward. Besides being culturally-insensitive (those immodest Indians!!), it also presented ideals of modesty that go above and beyond what Church leaders encourage (like swimsuits needing to cover what garments cover rather than simply one-pieces and tankinis). I'm not trying to criticize her approach... no wait, I am. Not because she is teaching her children that. Whatever, you can parent how you wish and dress your daughters like nuns and make them ashamed of their feminine figures. But I'm scared as to what Tallulah will be lectured on when I send her to an LDS Primary when she comes of age and she happens to have someone like this teaching the Sharing Time lesson. Yikes. Tim and I have discussed before where we will draw the line on what we want our children to be taught at Church. In our home, we discuss Heavenly Mother right alongside Heavenly Father (I even change the words to Primary songs when I sing at bedtime), and I am dreading the day they are reprimanded for mentioning Her in a prayer in a public setting. Or what if Tallulah is wearing a sleeveless dress to church when she is 9 during a modesty lesson like this? I'm hoping Mormons who believe things like this are few and far between, but these days, I just don't know.

Instead of enforcing strict rules on shorts-length and swimsuit detail, why don't we encourage self-esteem, the beauty of the human body, the power of our bodies, how strong and healthy they are, dressing practically for the situation (like you wouldn't wear a swimsuit to Church). It seems to me that settling on arbitrary cultural ideals on how we should dress is not that important to Jesus, nor is it that important to teach our children, especially when many of the children probably do not pick out their own clothing.

I mean come on, woman-- Peter Pan's tights?! Really?!??

And I also love these photos someone linked to in the comments on FMH (Abinadi: immodest, King Noah: modest, Stripling Warriors: immodest).