Thursday, January 31, 2013

Back to school

Although it feels like it has been a really lame Christmas break because we haven't traveled beyond two miles from our home in a few months, life is really quite lovely here in our little corner of the world. Though the kids have been sick a lot, we've gotten into quite a nice groove. Now, if we could get past teething and sleep deprivation... that would be another story. Poor Tallulah has FOUR top teeth on the verge of breaking through, and have been that way for weeks. She is grumpy, and it makes me grumpy. Atticus had a nasty case of the flu, and so we spent a whole weekend cooped up and I realized how much we rely on these weekly rituals... UU church, Mormon church, pizza night, preschool.

I started back to school last week. I've missed being in the classroom, and it feels good to start afresh, though I've felt a bit unorganized and need to crack down on my Facebook time/blogging time (oops)/general not doing schoolwork time. I spent the break reading feminist multicultural romance novels and listening to FMH podcasts, but was able to get in some readings for classes as well, but there is still a lot to do this semester. I think I calculated I'll be writing 150 pages of papers (one 40-50 page one, two 20 page ones and several shorter reaction papers). That's a lot of writing. Add to that two hours a day of language study + 600 pages of reading a week + grant apps for the summer that I should have turned in already = one busy mama student. If I can get in my groove I won't spend much longer than 6 hours a day during the week and almost no time on the weekends, but finding that groove can be hard. Luckily, much of my reading can be done on the iPad while nursing Tallulah at night (which we're doing a lot of lately...) so I get a lot done then. But alas, the work is seemingly never-ending sometimes.

Here is some photographic evidences of life:

Russian pirozhkis in the making (Atticus took this one)

He is getting so good at writing! (he wrote all of To, From, and Atticu by himself... I helped the Felix and the S). Atticus took this picture too.

In a stroller that we bought and then sold.

Baby loves her outside time!

We go to the chiropractor a lot lately (it's helped our kids sickness quite a bit actually)

Monday, January 28, 2013

"What is he DOING with his life??"

There are few things that bug me more than people thinking Tim is lazy because he's isn't DOING ANYTHING with his life. When they would never have that assumption of a mother who was staying at home with her children.

"Oh, Tallulah is 18 months next year, time to put her in daycare so Tim can DO SOMETHING with his life."

Yeah, ok, so he IS DOING SOMETHING. He is being a parent, and a dang good stay-at-home parent at that. And not to compare, but he's probably doing better than most stay-at-home moms. This week, he even organized a storytime play group to beat the winter blues. He is always on time to pick Atticus up from preschool. He packs nutritious lunches. He (could) make dinner every night, but sometimes I co-opt it (because I like to cook). He does the grocery-shopping.... by bike. With kids. He cloth-diapers. He takes the kids to pediatrician appointments. He walks Tallulah outside in the Ergo every time she needs a nap because I let her get too addicted to nursing to sleep. He reads a million books to Atticus and never gets bored of it. He is the best Lego/Lincoln Logs/train set builder (I get bored after about 5 minutes). Our kids spend their days playing in the sink, being run in the jogging stroller, and going to the Bookmobile all while listening to NPR. They are well-fed and well-clothed and Atticus (almost) never watches TV. He has this new app for organization, so he keeps the house clean, reads several books a week, takes a vitamin every day, and does yoga in the living room. How many SAHMs can brag about that??

I will admit Tim struggled at the beginning and I was frequently annoyed with his lack of ability to keep the house clean and kids fed. But... he has really progressed, and let's not let this go unsaid. I do believe he would defend my parenting honor should it ever be questioned (which it won't, because society NEVER, EVER EVER can be critical of a mother unless she is a drug addict). On the other hand, it's kind of cool to have your roles reversed in a way. When Tim is out, people are like "wow, you are a great dad, look at you being nurturing" and then when I'm at school rocking my classes everyone is all like "wow, I don't know how you do it, you're like the best student and mom ever."





Anyways.... next time you are tempted to think a SAHD needs to be "doing something" with his life, you can think it, but don't say it out loud, especially to me. Unless you want me to write a blog post praising my wonderful, feminist husband, then feel free.

Tim says this one looks like he's taping Lu's mouth shut while Atticus is playing iPhone, thus showing his inferiority as a parent. Actually, Atticus is learning to type his name and Tim is wiping boogs off of Boogs. 
Tim is so creative with his sensory projects (snow on a cutting board).

Yoga.

The color experiment (one of Atticus's many art activities).

Pre-bed Mr. Rogers watching.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week of January 20

Sunday: Sick kids. I went to UU church in the morning, but most of the rest of the day was devoted to dealing with sick kids.

Monday: More sick kids. Everyone was sick of being home all day, but there was no where to go because everyone was sick and it was cold outside.

Tuesday: We went to the doctor today to try to figure things out, but they had nothing they could do for us.

Wednesday: The last really sick day. I went out in the afternoon to go to the dentist and the library. What would have been pretty easy with a car, was quite an adventure on the bus. Although, it was very snowy and that would have made driving a pain. After I got back, Cait went to teach yoga to the young women in the ward, and even though only one showed up, she really enjoyed it. We'll see if it inspires a different career course.

Thursday: Atticus was finally better and went to school, which was certainly a blessing. At night, we had a lecture night at our house, which is something that some people in our ward started a while back. I lectured on Twilight and how it reflects and complicates Mormon themes and how it is hard to really judge whether a book is good or not with some Jungian theory thrown in. It was nice.

Friday: A relaxed day at home before a well-attended pizza night. Thanks for coming everyone!

Saturday: Chores in the morning with a birthday party in the afternoon for Atticus's friend Felix. It was Angry Bird themed, which Atticus loved. It was also put on by Felix's Finnish mom, which apparently means filled with sugary sweets, which I loved. Also, we got a new niece! Congratulations Hillary and Devin. We also had a nice night babysitting a lovely little girl named Lilly. If only our kids could be that chill once in a while.

Lincoln Log house made by Guy and Mom

Beginning to figure out utensils

Talking to Grandma Betsey

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bathtime baby(ies)

Trying to recreate this pic, but Tallulah wasn't very happy to be taken from her toys.





"Where's the water?"




This is the best way to feed her yogurt. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Names

Sometimes I get a little sad about Tallulah's name. I always thought she'd be Clementine, and I still love that name so much. But I've resigned myself to the fact she is not Clementine, and there will probably never be a Clementine, and Tallulah is just my Tallulah and always was and always will be.

Sometimes I listen to other people when they tell me my kids have weird names and why couldn't I have just named them something normal?

But then I remember that my kids' have freakishly awesome, kind of unique names. And when I see awesome companies with those names, I get really excited. It's even better that most of them are sustainable, local, ethical brands.

Like the Atticus clothing company,

or Tallulah Cosmetics.



Maybe one day we'll eat at Tallulah on Thames or peruse books at Atticus Bookstore or camp in Tallulah Gorge State Park. And my kids will be glad they have such cool, special names.





(and maybe we'll even have a Clementine one day, because she's got some pretty awesome stuff too: art supplies, bakery, consignment shop).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Resolution: Less White Guys Books

One of my resolutions for 2013 is to read more books written by authors other than white, English-speaking, middle-class men, or about them. Part of engrained patriarchy, which I see as a big problem generally, is the willingness of the public to continue to consume media put out and focused on the main players in that patriarchy. Anyway, I've read enough books written by WASPs.

Largely I will be focused on reading books by women, but I will also try to read books from other cultures besides Western Europe and Russia. I've always wanted to read more books coming out from the Middle East, which is a really great source of quality literature. So bonus points for books written by women in an ethnic minority in a Arab country.

I'm also really looking for recommendations. I'm going off a few lists:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/wmn/index.htm
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1336.Best_Middle_East_Fiction (not sure if you have to log in to see these goodreads lists)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1337.Best_Middle_East_nonfiction (this one has some Western men writing about the ME, I will likely not read those)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/852.Jezebel_s_Books_All_Women_Should_Read (also some Western men on this list)

So, any other essentials? I would love some help forming a good list.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Car-free so far

We've been car-free for almost two months now, and it has gone pretty well. The weather in Madison hasn't been as cold as it has been in Utah, but it hasn't been as warm as last years non-winter either. We've continued to add to our collection of snow gear to keep ourselves warm, but it is mostly stuff we would have had to buy anyway. We've been lucky that there hasn't been too many snowstorms, because those can be hard to ride in and can leave the roads tricky for days afterward, especially since they avoid using much salt on the roads here for fear that it will pollute the lakes.

We're still considering better options for hauling the kids, but our cheap trailer has done pretty well and the kids have gotten more used to it and wearing their helmets. Most of the time I (Tim) am hauling the trailer, but Cait has successfully pulled it too, on the new bike that she got (her "Call the Midwife" bike, she calls it). Drivers in Madison have been very courteous and we've avoided any close calls on the road so far. We're proud of sticking with it, and have only borrowed a ride twice (once before Cait had a bike and once when Cait went to Costco).

Not having a car has made doing errands a little bit harder, including necessitating more frequent trips for groceries and such, but more frequent trips have their upsides too. It's great to hop on my bike, cruise down to Whole Foods, sans bike trailer, pick up one or two things, and not having to scrape off the car window or feel like a chump for driving, polluting and wasting gas for sour cream and some salad greens.

This probably comes off as boasting, but that's okay. We're pretty proud of going car-free at the coldest time of year in one of the coldest parts of the country with two kids and making it just fine.

Here's some pictures of us going to church, on one of the coldest mornings so far.



The plastic cover goes down for wind blocking

Monday, January 14, 2013

Boogs at 10 Months

Tallulah is definitely working her personality. Combine that with some teething and an extended cold that was an ear infection, and you've got a month of a lot of different aspects of Boogs.

At 10 months Tallulah likes:

Following anyone into the bathroom, but especially Mom
Wrestling on the bed with dad and brother
Walking around with the assistance of a little push walker
Dancing
Reading her own book
Whatever her brother is doing
Being outside
Doing the "pffft" thing with her tongue
Pulling pictures off the wall that mom taped up

She doesn't like:
Being left out
Not being able to reach
Being hungry

I'm blonde too! Let me play!
The rare binky shot. I think her record for keeping it in is 5 seconds.

Give me a break mom, I stand all the time.

Pfffffft

She's becoming a little more selective with these big smiles, but they still get me every time.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Zoo trip

I'm back. With a very old zoo trip. Exciting. Consider it easing back in.

I, or we forgot, a coat for Atticus this day, and it was rather chilly, so he spent time with my hat and then my coat.



Still Atticus's favorite part of the zoo.


A picture Atticus took on the way out



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Living authentically

This post has been stewing in my head for several months, but it didn't have the spin I wanted so I neglected writing it out. I was afraid it would turn into a justification of "but hey my life is great! I love my life! What are you talking about?" and sound really defensive, and that's not what I meant by it. I wanted more to reach out to others, while celebrating the path we have chosen to live a more authentic life that suits our needs rather than conforming to what mainstream American culture would have us live like.

I've had several people tell me lately that I seem sad... that I don't seem to be "myself" and that my lifestyle now is just an "act" and not who I really am. Besides that latter statement being incredibly hurtful, I found it puzzling. Honestly, I feel more exhilarated and satisfied with life than I have ever in recent memory. I live in this fabulously tiny apartment with very few possessions, we are car-free and loving it, we eat wholesome foods that we cook ourselves. I have this two amazingly delightful children. My husband cuddles with me and watches Call the Midwife after our kids (sometimes) drift off to sleep peacefully. We live in a pretty awesome city with the coolest activities for kids, the most amazing bike paths and natural trails. I get PAID to go to school and learn about awesome things like feminist theory and global feminism. I really cannot imagine what there is to not love about this life.

Then I found the bridge, on a not-so-recent but recently discovered by me episode of the FMH podcast, about darkness and light, Lindsey says something that really struck me. She said her family and friends told her about how she seemed so "dark" after going through her faith transition and doubting the Church. There is this rhetoric in the LDS church that Mormons look somehow different, more wholesome and good and full of light. Then, when they fall away, they just seem dark and empty because the Spirit has left them. I like what was said in this podcast about everyone having this darkness, but those of us courageous enough to confront it tend to wear it on our sleeves. There are many who seem full of light and happiness, and drown the darkness that is inside in unhealthy ways (note the high rate of porn addiction, drug abuse, eating disorders, and plastic surgery in Utah). Lindsey says everyone told her she was just so negative during this time, but she was feeling happier and more satisfied with life than ever before, as she says: "this is me being authentic and it feels so much better." This is exactly how I feel with my life. It feels so, so much better.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Deborah the Prophetess

In the Book of Judges in the Old Testament, there is a story about Deborah.

It says:

"And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.... the children of Israel came to her for judgment. 

And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?

And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go." (Judges 4: 4-8).

HOWEVER, in the Sunday School manual for the LDS Church, she is simply called a "friend": never referred to as one of the judges (which she was for 40 years, and one of the only judges to remain righteous through the scriptures) or a prophetess (which is just... huge). They emphasize Barak's role, that he was commanded by God and Deborah was simply his "true friend" that encouraged him to fulfill God's plan for him. They allow the man to be the doer, and the woman to be the sidekick, when (although the scriptures are a tad vague) it would seem that Deborah perhaps received the revelation from God. Moreover, they completely fail to mention that she was prophetess, perhaps nervous about the implication that she might have been ordained to the priesthood to be in that position. In doing so, they diminish her status as a leader of Israel. I suspect there were many more women in positions of authority in ancient times, but their stories have been plotted out by misogynist scribes who were products of their own time as well.

Here is yet another small, but simple, fix that would improve gender equality. We could also sing about her in Primary.... (as an additional verse in Follow the Prophet)

"Deborah the Prophetess judged her people well
As she served the Lord and lived in Israel.
She led them to battle with her friend Barak
They defeated Sisera who never more would mock."**




** I didn't make that up, lyrics from here. Also, how awesome is she? Feminist Primary lessons. I can't believe I have never read her blog before.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

German New Year's Brunch

Living in Eagle Heights means most of your neighbors (and friends) aren't American. Across from our apartment is two guys from Pakistan, and we have a Chinese couple living below us. Our building and the ones sharing our playground have families from Taiwan, Japan, Spain, Bangladesh, India, South Korea... etc. We've made some really, really great friends and we have yet to talk about them on our blog! Mostly because taking pictures is kind of awkward in social situations, and I usually forget to take the camera. 

But, alas! We hung out at our friends, Nina and Juwe's apartment on New Year's Day for traditional German brunch -- actually not sure how traditional it is, but it was made by Germans, so there you go! Ida and Patrick (who lives in Sweden but are Finnish and German) joined us with their two sons. 

The food was delicious, and the company was splendid. The kids finally consistently play well together (Atticus and Felix had a rough time for  the first couple of times we hung out, mostly because Atticus is very sensitive and Felix did not know how to interact with him). But now they run away to the back bedroom and we hear nary a peep for the whole five hours we are together. It's so awesome. It also helps that the parents get along so well. I think Tim and I are meant to be Europeans.

The stroller got stuck halfway up our hill and we had to take the kids out and carry them the rest of the way. 


YUM.







Atticus and Felix.

Sweet boy Justus.


Tallulah, displaying her snotty nose + bonked forehead.

Atticus and Juna are only a few months apart in age, but she is at least a foot taller. Girl is tall!


I LOVE the path behind our apartment. It's not long, but it's the perfect little jaunt in the woods. 





She loooooves being outside in the snow.

Home again, home again.