Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Week of February 17

Week of February 17

Sunday: I went to Mormon church in the morning, and Cait joined me at the tail end as she was headed towards REI, where she had an epic shopping trip with Atticus in tow. Cait had a Downton Abbey season finale tea party at night with some members of the ward, which was a lot of fun, even if she thought the episode was lame.

Monday: Another babysitter break consumed by shopping and writing and the bookmobile.

Tuesday: Preschool in the morning. Cleaning up in the afternoon.

Wednesday: We watched one of the kids in the ward so their dad could go to the doctor and then had our story time group after that. We got there late, so Atticus was having a hard time leaving. So the host was kind enough to watch Atticus and Lulah while I went shopping down the road. But when I got back, Lulah had fallen asleep, so we stayed there for a while longer. That night was an Assembly Meeting at the community center where I was announced as the next Assembly Chair. That will only mean something if you live here in Eagle Heights, and probably not even then.

Thursday: I parent helped in the morning at Atticus’s preschool and Cait went to Yoga at night. The complex’s carpenter came to put up our bike rack in the afternoon, so that was exciting.

Friday: Spent the day cleaning getting ready for pizza night that night. We did get some good out in the snow time.

And then we had a nice pizza night at night. The last pizza night with our friends Ida and Patrick before they head back home to Sweden.

Saturday: Cait took Atticus out for a long day at Kids at the Rotunda (which is a different free performance for kids at the performing arts center downtown) and the Children’s Museum while I spent the day with Lula deep cleaning after pizza night the night before.

Atticus carrying his child in a wrap
We went with our friend Brad to FUS at night and had a nice time.

So, a slightly boring week and I didn't even write about it until halfway through the next week. But in our defense, it was also the coldest week so far. So be impressed by what we WERE able to accomplish.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Living Simply (in 600 sq ft or less)

When I told some friends/family members of the internets we were moving into a 600-sq-ft apartment, the response was mixed, but mostly included something like: "how on earth can you live with two kids in such a tiny space? My bedroom is 600 sq ft!"

And in reality, it's actually been very manageable. Since we had virtually no belongings upon moving in, it has not been too terrible to reduce our consumption and say no to things that aren't necessities (or luxury items we use often). I no longer have a KitchenAid, or a Crockpot, and I didn't end up with that fancy Rice Cooker I wanted for Christmas. But we just knead our own bread dough (gasp!) and cook our meals in the oven! And it's actually pretty easy. We use our one cast iron frying pan for everything, and we have a few nice Calphalon pots of various sizes that we acquired in a lucky thrift store trip. We are continually reorganizing and rearranging our kitchenwares/closets/fridge/furniture to optimize the space. It's nice to change things up regularly, and having a small space both necessitates that and allows for the possibility of keeping things orderly.

Another benefit is how easy it is to clean! It's also really easy to get messy, especially since the kitchen is the living room is the play room is the bedroom, so there is really nowhere to hide clutter. Since we have friends over pretty regularly (yes, you can host a party! even in a tiny room with one couch!) we are constantly deep-cleaning the front room. And we like to keep it picked up anyways because since you can't escape the clutter, I would go crazy very quickly.

The sleeping arrangements are fairly fixed now, with Atticus sleeping in his loft bed in the middle bedroom, and me and Tallulah sleeping in the other one. Tim's sleeping position is a bit more fluid, and ranges from the couch to Atticus's bed to our bed, depending on what kind of night it is and how often the kids are waking up. He doesn't seem to mind too much, and we've only recently set up Tallulah's travel crib to see if she'll transition out of the bed-sharing arrangement because she is nursing allllllllll night long. The travel crib is great because it's super small so we can easily throw it in the closet if needs be, and one of the sides zips down so I can use it as a by-the-bed co-sleeper (ps: if you're in the market, the Guava GoCrib is hands-down the coolest and most well-made baby item we've ever invested in... even though we spent less than $50 on it at the REI garage sale.... I may have felt differently if we bought it full-priced).

Ok, enough bragging, so here are the logistics of how we do it. I've had a few people ask how we can happily live in this space, and this is how:


All of our clothes are in the closet. The limited floor space means we utilize every inch of closet space instead of having dressers. Tim and I hang mostly everything, and then the little stuff/pajamas/running clothes go in bins on our shelves.The kids' clothes are in a single hanging thing. It holds everything they own and it makes putting away laundry SO much easier.

All the children's clothes, in one six-drawer closet hanging thing

Al my clothes are thrown in these lovely bins because I'm too lazy to hang them up (the top bin is summer clothes and those are extra bed sheets on top, beautiful dark grey organic cotton sheets we found... in the dumpster)

All Tim's clothes are hung up (plus this closet has the kids' car seats and summer gear)

Diapers (cloth and disposable) plus Tim's PJs and underthings in those plastic bins (plus Atticus's
many, many board games)


In case you are wondering, that book is Women's Movements in the Global Era

This picture is actually a few weeks old, we've since had the rack installed for Tim's bike in our bedroom

Living space:

Who needs expensive decorations when you have preschooler art work and family photos?

And no, it's actually not that remarkable or hardcore. We have friends who are moving into 300-sq-ft with their 3-yr-old daughter. Most of the world lives in apartments, houses, huts tinier than this. I think the amount of space is perfect for us, for now, and am happy to be living in it. And I don't feel deprived or wishful of larger spaces (wishful for a washing machine, yes, but that could go in the hall closet! I don't much like trekking to a dank basement communal laundry room. And by trekking I mean walking down two flights of stairs). In a few years though, the townhouses in our complex will be completely redone and the three-bedroom units have their own washers and dryers.... so maybe we'll save up to live in those one day.... :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Week of February 10

Sunday: We started out with the intention of going to Mormon Church, but Atticus saying he wanted to go to Candyland Church (UU Church) was enough to tip the scales that way. All of us, I think, wanted to go to the UU church over the Mormon Church, but because I spoke at the baptism the night before, I think I felt obligated to go in the morning to Mormon church, and Cait could sense that. Anyway, we had a great time at UU church. We got there very early for the 11am Service (because we were leaving [very late] for Mormon church, which starts at 9am), so we had plenty of time to settle in. You can listen or read the great sermon at the FUS website.

Lulah at the child care at FUS. She was getting around pretty good on this scooter
In the afternoon, we had our friends Ida and Patrick and their two kids over for dinner. Cait went all out cooking Thai food, which was all really good and not overly difficult (except for rolling the spring rolls).

Thai soup
Spring rolls

Monday: Babsyitter Jenny came, so I took the time to get some writing done and go shopping and pick up books from the bookmobile. That night, I went to bookclub where we talked about Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier and had dinner. I asked another atendee for a ride, but neither of us knew how to get there, so we spent a lot of time driving around. It was still really nice.

Here's a video of Atticus "zapping" words into sentences, pretending to be Super Why.

Tuesday: I went to parent help at Atticus's preschool, which was nice. But all Atticus wanted to do all day was help with the chores that the parent helper has to do and not participate in what the other kids were doing, which was nice and annoying at the same time.

Lulah in her castle at preschool
Tuesday night, Cait hosted a Relief Society book club, where they discussed Half the Sky and talked about the state of women in the world. That night I joined a recording of a podcast of Mormon Stories Sunday School, which is a podcast that follows the Sunday School lessons and gives them a more liberal perspective. While the author, Jared, tries to keep the podcast fully believing Mormon friendly, he also says this episode is the least in line with standard Mormon belief. Mainly, we have an open discussion about sin and how we might over emphasize it and over guilt it in the Church, and that might sound enough like justifying of sin to make some people uncomfortable. I really enjoyed it, even if I was really nervous (it was a voice Skype call, and I hate phone calls) and I didn’t talk much.

Atticus decided to steal this package from the downstairs neighbors

Wednesday: Our friend Brad and his foster son came over in the morning for breakfast and a play date. Cait came home early and I went for a run. We tried to get Atticus to play outside and he never would. And so Cait took him to an Arabic discussion group instead.

Thursday: School in the morning and then story time at Nina’s house.

Sensory activity while brother is at school

He' s all about my knee brace as a headband
Atticus was really good at story time, helping to clean up all the toys twice and being nice to everyone. It is really nice when his mature self comes through even as other kids are having a hard time. Cait went to yoga at night.

We put the kids to bed together when she got home and we celebrated Valentines by watching Downton Abbey together. SO romantic.

Friday: Limited school for Cait and then I took Tallulah to my chiropractor appointment and Whole Foods and then Brad and Jenny were the sole attendees at our Pizza Night. We weren’t really up to hosting a big group this week anyway.

Here's a video of the guy making up a song. Notice the fear of death that our faith crisis has instilled in him. Also, Lulah is desperate for the camera again.

Saturday: We spent 6 hours at what supposed to be a light brunch at our friend Ida and Patrick's house. They are great hosts and Ida always puts together the best food. Mainly delicious pancakes and lots and lots of fresh fruit. We stayed so long that we had a late lunch there too. In the evening we went to FUS with our friend Brad, where the pastor talked about the role of democracy in the FUS community and in broader society. Then we a had a few snacks and hot drinks and then had a nice walk home until Atticus said he had to pee and wouldn't go in the snow so I had to run home. A lovely cleaning urge caught me at 9:30, so I got the house all nice and clean for Sunday.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Keeping me here

Disclaimer: This post is a long one. It also starts out rather negative (but ends positively). However, this will probably be my last post for a while, so you might want to give it a read if you are interested. The scope of what I want to write about my faith journey is eclipsing the format of allowable by a blog and will probably end up in a ebook sometime soon.

So, I've left my faith journey story at a very dark place on this blog for a while now, first with the primary program and then with "standing up." I still stand by both of those posts. I am, however, not in as negative a place toward the church now as I was when I wrote either of those posts. The night before I wrote the primary post I had told my very cool and understanding home teachers that they might not be my home teachers anymore because I was probably going to write a resignation letter. "Standing up" I published recently, but I wrote not long afterwards (but published only recently), mainly as a response to all the negative feedback I got from the primary post.

Since then, I have arrived at a fairly different place spiritually. In fact, for a while after thanksgiving through the New Year, we were attending church every Sunday, although now it's been several weeks since we have gone. I'm reading the scriptures and other church materials more than I have in a long time, but I am also reading more about spirituality from a wider variety of sources than ever before.

I still have some pretty serious moral issues with the church, that haven't really come much closer to being resolved. I think I've always been at a place where I can forgive disappointing and contradictory history, because any organization with a history of any length is going to have some skeletons. I also think that many of the doctrinal issues that bother me are easy to get passed when they are placed in the context in which they were received and the obvious humanity of the men (mostly just Joseph) who received them.

What has been and remains my issue from day one is the conservative social stances of the church, which seem aimed at keeping the church in the 1950's when everything was great...for white upper-middle class straight men. Of course, there has been some movement on all sorts of issues since the 50's: race, gender and sexual orientation. The main problem was and is that the church always seems to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into any progress, and is consistently late to the table on any issue of social justice or equality. If they didn't move on these issues at all, at least there would be some validity to the claim of remaining true to eternal principles (although it would now be seen as hopelessly backwards). Instead we get consistently begrudging progress.

What I'm saying is that, if the Mormon church was liberal, I would have almost zero problem being a part of it, end of story. I would overlook history much darker and doctrine much more disturbing if the church would just take the lead on issues of social justice and equality, instead of being dragged slowly from behind. However, the apparent preference of the leaders of the church to maintain institutional power and stability rather than prophetically guiding the church to a place of progressive moral leadership, causes me the see the history and doctrines of the church in a similar light of a Mosaic demand for obedience rather than Christ-inspired love and social change.

I say all that simply to qualify what comes next (and congrats for making it to the positive part, finally): I'm still a Mormon. I can't promise anything about next week or even the end of the day, but right now, this morning, typing while Lula plays with books at my feet and Cait and Atticus sleep peacefully, I am a Mormon. And I would like to explore why, because I'm not so sure myself.

1) To try to change the Church.

I have this vision of what the church could be. Eternal doctrines about the oneness and equality and shared potential of all human kind have the untapped power to make the church awesome in its power for creating a more peaceful and just world. The church as I picture it has the potential to be would be better than any organization I've joined, with the doctrinal depth of the church in its early days with the openness to truth from all sources of the UU church as it is now.

This reason for staying is fading quickly, however. I mean, there are all sorts of organizations that I think would benefit from being more liberal, is it my responsibility to join and attempt to reform all those organizations? When I realize how far off what I view the church as needing to become with how comfortable most of the members of the church are with where it is now, I don't know if it is even possible, or even fair of me to expect it to change, and by change, I mean shifting to a consistently liberal church over being a conservative one, because I fully expect the church to continue to shift reluctantly away from its more conservative positions as social forces demand.

2) Because I have sympathy for how hard that change would be

This is more of a return to my more forgiving position from the early days of my faith crisis than a radical new position. I felt, and still feel, that there are very obvious reasons why a church would find more success and strength in conservative positions than in liberal ones. Conservative people make the best members, in a lot of ways, because their loyalty is more predictable because they hold tight to a shared moral history. The evidence seems to make it clear that more conservative, rigid churches retain membership better, for any possible number of reasons. I think there is a much higher cost in retaining disaffected liberals than in keeping conservative ones. One is that, in their openness to truth from all sources, many liberals find value enough in the church to stay even if they view it as one among many, but if conservatives lose their faith in the church because it liberalizes, they won't stay out of some commitment to openness.

Before, I was a little more likely to see the church's adherence to conservative positions as stemming from the unwillingness of the general membership to change, and to believe that the leaders of the church would make it more progressive if they were free to do so without the fear of losing too many members. Now, I don't think that as much. While I see some possible good reasons the God might choose a gerontocracy to run the church (the Greeks seemed to think it was a good idea), there is no denying the fact that the leaders of the church are old white men, sharing very similar socio-economic backgrounds, and that they are going to bring their inherent cultural biases to the church.

I think, maybe, I am simply in a more forgiving place for this cultural bias than I was before. However, recognizing and forgiving the cultural biases of leadership is no reason to stay in the church. Recognizing some of the reasons that a church is slow to lead doesn't change the fact that it does not lead.

3) Liberal Mormon role models

This one is a bigger deal then you might think. I have be sincerely impressed by the number of thoughtful, considerate and wholeheartedly liberal people who have found the strength to stay in the church. I almost always find that they have spent a great deal of spiritual, mental and emanational energy on finding a place where they are comfortable, and that they are almost always better people for doing so. In fact, as a group, I find liberal Mormons among the most admirable collective in the world.

Also in this point, we've made lots of good Mormon friends here in Madison, whether liberal or not, and that helps to pull us in. But when we move, as we inevitably will, we will not be able to count on former friendships to keep us in.

I also feel that there are extremes of certainty on both ends of the spectrum, both in belief and in non-belief, and I am not really anywhere close to either one of those ends. Of course, liberal Mormons aren't the only ones to occupy some middle ground between the two, they do seem to do it really well, with a focus on compassion for and acceptance of the viewpoints of others.

Just because liberal Mormons are cool is, once again, no reason to stay in the LDS church. I've found more than enough cool people in the FUS church to feel connected to like-minded people. And maybe there will be a mass movement of liberal Mormons away from the church (bigger than the already large exodus), and so I don't want to have my membership depend on the example of others.

4) A correcting influence

I have become increasingly liberal in all sorts of ways over the past few years. I am now pretty much a social libertarian, an economic socialist, and a religious polyglot. Pretty much, I'm a European. Anyway, I feel that the conservative values that the Church espouses and holds dear act as a good counterweight to my liberalizing tendencies. Of course, there are plenty of other groups I could join to get this same influence.

5) A belief in the space of the gospel

I really believe that in the context of the gospel, especially in the teachings of Christ, there is a lot more room for dissent and doubt than I was willing to admit to earlier in my life. I think there is a modern focus on approbation from Church leaders as the ultimate signal of a righteous and good life, but I think that is in many ways a recent shift, driven mainly by Church leadership. So, the powerful men in the church say the most important thing is to listen and follow the powerful men in the church. I used to see that as absolute, now I just see it as circular. The New Testament, and most other scripture, is full of people going against what important men feel is correct, and still doing the right thing. The apostles of the New Testament were always being too strict and imposing of rules and often kept people from coming to the true source of truth in Christ, who seemed desperate to pull the people away from Mosaic checklists.

This goes back to the idea of taking responsibility for finding my own place in the church. I can't let others decide whether I fit or not, because who is anyone else to say who belongs in the tent of gospel and who does not. Even if they lock the doors to the church building whenever you get close, the gospel is not in the church, it's not even in the temple. It is in me.

Here's a quote that I like from Gregory Prince's "Manifesto for Change:"
Own your religion, don’t borrow it. If you are to make it work for yourselves, and especially if you wish to make an impact on the larger Church, you have to read, think, and write deeply for the rest of your lives. Google will not get you there, and neither will the blogs.

6) A belief in the goodness of the Church

To push back against the last point, I believe there is great goodness in the Church, especially when things are done right. Of course, the Church is good at taking care of its own. People know each other, are friends with each other and take care of each other. While I recognize that there is usually enough need within a ward or branch to keep everyone busy, when, occasionally, the church reaches out meaningfully to those outside of the church too it is almost always in beautiful and sincere ways.

But it's not just in internal social aspects that the church nurtures people, it is also in spiritual. But that always occurs within a very human and flawed context. I was listening to a podcast the other day where something like this was said: "We often confuse the LDS church for a perfectly divine institution marred only by occasional human imperfections, when really it is a perfectly human organization, exalted only by occasional touches of the divine" and then the commenter went on to talk about how an organization being human has its own beauty and power. This idea was significant for me. Rather than looking for all the less-than-perfect aspects that all to often reveal the churches flawed humanity, I can choose to look for those fleeting touches of the divine that show its potential to bring men and women closer to God.

At the same time, I recognize that church is a toxic place for many people, where the flawed humanity is so personally hurtful that the divine simply cannot be seen or felt. I recognize the validity of those concerns and know that the same can happen to me. So I work to be very aware of what kind of effect every aspect of my involvement in the church has on my life for good or bad. And then I work to hold close to the good and leave the bad. Does that make me a cafeteria Mormon? Maybe, but I still believe that the church exists for man and not the other way around, and that if we let ourselves die spiritually to protect the church institutionally, we've committed a grave sin.

7) The church is true

This leads to my final point. The one on which everything hinges. Either the church is, on some level, fundamentally "true" or it isn't. Either there is a God that uses the church in some way to bring men and women closer to him or there isn't. I have been surprised how rarely in comments or conversations this point has been brought to me by people wanting me to stay in the church. I feel that every other point above was emphasized much more often.

But this is the only one that really matters. Either the Church has something special in it that will bring me closer to God in a healthy and fulfilling way, or it won't. It's either a human organization that calls me in with it's touches of the divine, or it is a fully human organization that remains interchangeable with any other organization. If that is the case, FUS is certainly going to beat out Mormon church. It is a better fit for us organizationally in almost every way.

Finding out the truth of the Church is always going to be much more difficult than we would commonly state it to be, but it is also the very stuff of what undertaking a responsible spiritual journey is all about.

So, for now, I stay, because, in my own way, I continue to find truth in the Mormon church. I continue to find beauty there. And I continue to find God there. What form that contact with the divine takes changes every day, but for now, it is enough to keep me, in some way, here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Guy's Hair

Atticus and I both had our last haircut on the same day, June 18. We finally had to trim the guys hair back around his eyes because it was getting to long for him, even as he constantly swept it away. Let's take a look at the growth.

This is right after the haircut. It's hard to tell if it is the hair or the aging that makes him look so different now

One of the last pics before trimming
Another shot post trim. He moves around a lot more now.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How we met

Apparently, telling the story of how you met your significant is the ultimate way to show love on Valentine's this year. I thought this year we were showing pictures of how long our child’s hair had grown as a symbol of how our low never stops growing and never stops changing. Oh well, I guess that can wait.

It’s actually a pretty funny story of how Cait and I met. It was a few years after the war and a few years before the Keebler elf came out as gay (it was a surprise to us as well). I had just recovered from minor brain surgery to fix a minor defect which caused me to see everyone with the name of George as ferocious man-eating penguin. It had bothered me for some years, but because George is no longer a popular name, I had put off getting it fixed until I could afford the surgery (my insurance refused to cover penguin surgery). Luckily, I won a very small lottery several months earlier that gave me the exact amount I needed for the surgery.

Anyway, so I was just recovering from surgery and I decided to do something to mark my return to a non-man-eating-peguin life. So what I decided to do was hike Penguin Peak (which as everyone knows is the most difficult climb in the bottom third of the southern hemisphere). It was a beautiful day, just after dawn when I began my hike. I received a lot of help and supplies from the friendly penguins along the way (who have developed a communal atmosphere with hikers of Penguin Peak in exchange for Kudos bars, which they love) and the hike had begun beautifully.

Unfortunately, I was not as recovered from my surgery as I had supposed, and by the time I neared the top of the peak, I was nearly delusional with exhaustion and exertion. Of course, if there were penguins around, they probably would have been more than happy to help, but the penguins near Penguin Peak rarely venture up anywhere near the peak, because most hikers expend all of their Kudos bars well before reaching the top.

By the time I reached the top, I was full delusional and seeing all sorts of weird things, like flying pistachios and hula dancers mustachioed. But, strangest of all, I saw approaching me from the opposite side of the mountain the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on, with flowing red hair, which glowed in the light of the setting sun, like some near-flamming cascading halo. I knew this was impossible, because on the other side of Penguin Peak was universally considered to be completely unclimbable, with many of the best climbers in the world trying and failing to scale that path up the mountain.

However, in the moment, I was so exhausted and so delusional that I used the little remaining strength I had to collapse into the embrace of the woman, and knowing her to be only an illusion, I decided I should at least spend my final moments trying to kiss this apparition of other-worldly beauty. To my never-ceasing surprise, the apparition kissed me back.

Here is a picture we captured of that very instant:

The crazy thing about this picture is that, in order to capture it, I had scaled a nearby (but much less difficult) mountain, before dawn, and set up my camera there to capture the moment of my reaching the top of Penguin Peak. Luckily my camera had a 12.5 hour timer, which coincided with sunset and what I hoped would be my arrival at the top of the Penguin Peak. In what I consider an act of divine intervention, the camera’s timer ran out just at the moment of Caitlin and my first kiss. Seriously.

We stayed like this for several moments before my strength utterly gave out and my knees buckled. The last thing I remember of that moment was my fall being stopped by a pair of gentle but strong arms. Caitlin carried me down the mountain, in the growing dark of night, far enough for the penguins to see our need and carry me down the rest of the way (this I all learned later from Cait, of course, because I was passed out at the time). I woke up just in time to snap this picture with my backup camera (I would hike back up the neighboring peak months later to retrieve my original camera) of Caitlin talking to the penguin chief, thanking them for their help. Her hair might look black in this picture, but that is only because of the tricky fog that perpetually covers Penguin Plain, which of course surrounds the base of Penguin Peak.

The rest, as they say, is history. We returned just under a year later to break through the ice of Penguin Bay at the foot of Penguin Peak, where, submerged in that beautiful but chilly water, we held our now-famous undersea wedding. Cait's hair might look brown in this picture and I might look slightly muscular, but that is only the tricky light under the water of Penguin Bay.

We return to the site every year bearing loads of Kudos bars for the penguins. Our kids love it. True story.

Actual story: We met at BYU where, encouraged by social norms there, we married much too soon after our first meeting. However, we are just as happy and attached to each other as if this had been the story of how we met.

If any of the above pictures are your pictures, let us know and we will take them down and bake you a plate of cookies next time you are in Madison. Thanks for stopping in.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Birthday Party

We had a great time at a birthday party for Atticus's friend Felix. It was an Angry Bird themed party, which Atticus loved. It was also filled with what is apparently a Finnish-style smorgasbord of treats and goodies.

This is excited, not frightened

Playing nice with Justus and My Little Pony.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week of February 3, 2013

Sunday: We had a long day at the UU church the day before, and a long night with poorly sleep-trained  kids, and so we all slept in today and didn't make it out to any church on Sunday. This was our first week in a long time not going to either Mormon or UU services, but after 2 hours Friday night and all day Saturday, we were done.

Monday: Babysitter Jenny came today, so I got my beloved 3 hour break, which I spent eating at the Chipotle copycat across from Whole Foods, doing some work for Writer's Domain and trying to figure out how to get my Book of More Women podcast up (it's very close, but I am stuck at getting it into iTunes if a tech savant wants to help me). Then I took the kids to the bookmobile, which is our lame winter substitute for a real library (that bike ride is hard, yo). One of the books was about an Indian-American kid making Roti with his Dada-ji, so we decided to try it out. It turned out fine.

Here's a video that shows how every fun activity in our house ends (and also our secret to delicious Pizza Dough (Atticus feet spice):

Tuesday: While Cait had a very long day of school, I stayed in the house and got stuff done while playing with the two kids, resulting in my most productive day yet, according to my app buddy homeroutines.

I actually got to 80 on Friday. I have also promised a post about things that have helped move me from a terrible housekeeper, to a sub-par bordering on acceptable housekeeper.

Kids playing while dad cleans

Wednesday: Our friend Brad came over with their foster son, and we had a really great play date in the morning. Cait came home early so I could go donate blood (I only do it for all the treats) and then was kind enough to take care of the kids while I slept off the blood loss, which wiped me out more this time than usual. We went to the international potluck at night, to which we brought Spaghetti, the old American stand-by. The food was really good, if fleeting. For entertainment, we had Chinese dancers celebrating Chinese New Year.

Thursday: I woke up very early to catch a bus to go to the dentist, but the bus slid off the road before it got to me, and for some reason no other buses came, so I had to call our friend Brad (from yesterday) to give me a ride, which he was kind enough to give me. I came home to trade off with Cait who was "parent helping" at Atticus' preschool, and then stayed there until school was over, helping out the teachers, which is a lot of fun. Lulah loves going there to play with the kids and took a nice nap at the end.

We made some really good Brazilian stew at night (I pretty much followed the recipe, except we used pineapple instead of mango and no chiles) and brought some to Brad and Jenny in thanks for the ride.

Friday: Another day of trying to get a lot done around the house to pacify my iPhone app. Cait took Atticus to kids night out at his preschool, where she was supposed to get some studying done, but filled in for a sick parent helper instead. Atticus had a great time pretending to camp out in his school.

Saturday: Today was a day of unsuccessfully trying to get Atticus out of the house to do something fun. Sometimes, that kid just really wants to stay home and play. It's tough when you know they're going to like what you are going out to do, but he just fights tooth and nail every step of the way, and is playing so nicely (most of the time) in the house, that the whole fight just doesn't seem worth it. Oh well, have a day inside kid, it is cold out there.

At night I went to a baptism of Charles (christened "Cheeto" at this baptism for some odd reason), a nice man from Zimbabwe who we've met a few times (if you're wondering, my new bike goggles worked great). I invited him to pizza night once, and that was apparently enough for him to want me to speak at his baptism, so I gave a little talk about the Holy Ghost. I made it very clear to the Ward Mission leader that I am probably considered "inactive" and am struggling with my testimony, but he's a cool guy and said that was fine, just say what you can without being controversial. It was a little tough, because I'm not sure what I really believe about the Holy Ghost, but I just defaulted to pretty standard doctrine with emphasis on birth imagery and called it a night. Someone else's baptism is no place to make a statement. That's what this blog is for. There were a lot of people there and a lot of them were good friends, so it was a nice night, and, in keeping with my goal to cut down on sugar this month, I only ate one of the many delicious cookies provided as refreshment.

Afterwards I went shopping for the dinner we are having with our friends Ida and Patrick on Sunday.
It seems natural that when Americans invite Europeans over, they try to cook them authentic Asian food, so I went to the local Asian market to pick up some stuff for spring rolls and coconut soup which Cait decided she wants to make. I'm pretty sure I paid too much for the authentic stuff at the place, but I'm just proud of myself for finding all of it when it was all in very Asian languages that I can't even distinguish from one another, with very small English translations hidden somewhere on the package. Also, I bought all the produce at Whole Foods, which is corporate.

Cait's week: Sitting in front a computer and typing. Reading Designing Social Inquiry (aka KKV) and lots of other PDFs on the iPad. Sitting through a lot of classes.