Friday, February 29, 2008
Mr. Fob's cousin wrote a "four years ago" post on her blog, and it really struck me how long four years can be. It doesn't feel like that long ago, but our lives were very different then. S-Boogie was only six months old. We were living in our dark brown apartment in Orem (brown carpet, brown panelling); Mr. Fob was working part-time at the library and I wasn't working or in school. We were dirt poor, so that much hasn't changed in our lives. I had just gotten called to the Primary presidency, but didn't yet know that in a few months I'd end up being called to be the president. I didn't know that I'd get accepted to BYU and actually do a master's degree. Nor did I know that I'd actually enjoy teaching and want to go on to get a PhD. I didn't even know about blogging yet or imagine the friends and connections I'd make. Looking back makes me wonder where our lives will be in another four years. I guess we'll have to wait until my next leap year post to find out.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
This entry is another one of those catching-up sort of things. February is almost over; it's not quite spring, but the last two weeks (almost) have been sunny and warmer. Trees and flowers are starting to bloom and the earth is waking up. It will still be cool here for quite a while, but the increased light and green are really helping my brain out.
I'm going to Davis next Thursday and Friday for a visit. I feel really weird--like my first day in the MTC or driving home from the hospital with S-Boogie in the backseat. I have a new label--"graduate student"--and it doesn't quite fit yet. I feel awkward and unsure about what I should do or say while I'm there. Anyone out there done this before? I sure haven't. I also feel somewhat unexcited about the trip. Getting away for a few days is great, but I don't really like being by myself. And there's the stress of trying to arrange babysitting, compounded by the fact that the next week we need even more babysitting because Mr. Fob has play rehearsals in the evening. Being a working mom is complicated.
Also, I feel some sort of guilt/awkwardness among my circle of friends. And I know it's just me, because I have so many good friends here who love me and are really supportive. But I hate being the odd one out and I'm the only mom I know who works and does stuff like traveling by herself for school for two days. I feel somewhat embarrassed by being different, not because it's a bad thing, but because it's different. And I always feel uncomfortable asking others for help with things like babysitting, but we need a lot of help with that.
Finally, I did go shoe shopping last weekend. I decided that part of my problem is that I hate most shoes. I spent several hours at the mall and was unimpressed by 99 percent of the shoes out there. They are either too flashy, too awkward looking, or too clunky. I'm way too picky. I did try on some Danskos that fit well, but I'm not sure I like the look of them. Last night I found these shoes on Endless and I think I'm going to order them. When I'm in Davis I'll be walking a lot and I want to be comfortable.
So that's where I'm at right now. Teaching, spending too much time on the internet and not enough time reading, fighting the urge to make brownies or cheesecake cupcakes, enjoying the sunshine. February has been a nice little month; hopefully we'll survive the chaos of March.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I've never really considering being a vegetarian since that point. I did grow up in a house where we ate meat somewhat sparingly and ate lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and unprocessed foods. I was grateful when I met Mr. Fob to find out that he was used to a similar diet; neither of us likes soda and we try and eat pretty healthily. We do share a common love of sweets, and while I rarely buy cookies, I bake frequently. Lately we've both been talking about a new phase in our lives: transitioning to minimal, environmentally-conscious meat consumption. After reading stuff like this, or this, or this we both don't want to eat meat anymore unless it's been organically and humanely raised. Plus it seems like an optimal diet actually includes very little meat. We probably won't go completely vegetarian; we like meat, and I'd rather eat a clean, organic hamburger than some sort of heavily-processed fake meat substitute. I'm trying to cook with fewer processed foods, less high-fructose corn syrup, and more organics. We buy organic milk and recently started a home delivery service that brings organic produce to our home twice a month (we could do it once a week, but really can't afford it).
I hate the fact that eating has become so politicized. I feel defensive even writing this; someone won't understand why we don't like meat; someone will think that dairy is evil and unnatural; other people think that I'm silly for buying into food fads. I feel like we're making a decision that's best for our family based on our health needs and our food preferences. And I'm still trying to figure out all the details. I don't want to turn into the sort of people who show up at family gatherings and refuse to eat the food or the parents who picket the school cafeteria (although I am appalled by most school lunch menus and will strongly encourage my kids to bring their lunch). I'm not sure how we'll do vacations and road trips, since in the past we've relied heavily on fast food during those times. The truth is that this will probably be a long transition and that, like most other things we do, it won't be black-and-white or all-or-nothing. We're just not like that.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Today was definitely the worst so far. It was for the "children's cancer fund" and the lady kept reminding me to "think of the babies". She said more than once "these kids are dying before they even get a chance to live". Uh, thanks. I have a cousin who died of cancer. I know it's a horrible disease. When I declined for the third time she responded: "OK, but think of those sweet babies who are dying and pray for them. You have a nice day." Kind of hard to do that with a giant mountain of guilt sitting on me.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Unfortunately now I have a preschooler. And over the last few months I feel like we've evolved into being the parents I didn't want to be. We find ourselves bargaining over how many bites she has to eat before leaving the table, bribing with the promise of dessert if she'll clean her plate, forcing her to sit in her chair for nearly an hour until she finishes her cereal. Now that she's older, she often doesn't eat because she doesn't like the appearance of the food or because it's something new. Or she is distracted by singing or talking (she really never shuts her mouth, I'm not kidding). I feel terrible, because I didn't want food to be this big of a deal. I sometimes don't clean my plate. I don't expect Little Dude to clean his plate. But I also know that if we don't strongly encourage her to eat she'll wake up in the middle of the night complaining of hunger.
So, now I'm trying to figure out what my options are. I'm tired of every meal feeling like a battle ground. First of all, I think we're going to mostly cut out the treats. And make them unconnected to eating. I'm not sure how to do that, because we were both raised with the mantra "you have to eat real food in order to get a treat". But I don't like bribing my kids. So I think we're just going to have treats at Family Home Evening once a week or if we have friends over. I think I also need to be more strict about afternoon snacks and not allow them after four o'clock. Hunger is a great motivator for eating your dinner. I do serve healthy snacks, but eating yogurt at five o'clock ruins dinner and isn't enough to last all night. I also think we need to stop bargaining on bites. She needs to try everything, but if she wakes up hungry from not eating she's old enough to remember that the next day.
The hardest battle we have is one I don't want to give up though. If we didn't force her to do it, S-Boogie would probably go all day without drinking anything. She doesn't like to drink, but she often complains about pain when she goes to the bathroom. Which she only does once a day at most. I've asked her doctor twice about the possibility of her having an infection, but she keeps telling me it's not likely without a fever. I also suspect that S-Boogie's wiping technique could use some help and could be contributing to the problem. But I think we have a problem with hydration. Trying to get her to finish a glass of milk is like pulling teeth. I give her milk because she refuses to even touch water, even though I know it's not as hydrating.
I guess I've been feeling kind of frustrated lately because I feel like everything with S-Boogie is a major fight. I know part of it is being a preschooler, but it still drives me nuts. Last night she picked "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man" for the opening song for Family Home Evening. However, as we started singing she kept interrupting us because she was sure the words were "the clouds came up" instead of "the floods". When we tried to explain to her what a flood was (water rising up) she still didn't believe us. So we sang the rest of the song with her shouting "clouds" and us shouting "floods". I guess it shows not only how stubborn she is, but how stubborn we are too. Some days I don't know how I'm going to get through the next thirteen years of her life since I'm already irrelevant.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I don't know if I should just give in and tell them "yes" to take the pressure off or if I should wait and see if I get a better offer. This is a great offer, it really is. I don't have a lot of reasons to say "no" at this point. I keep thinking "I don't how to do this"; "I don't know if I should do this"; "I don't know if I want to do this". I think it's partly the classic Imposter Syndrome. All I can think about is the fact that I haven't been in class for nearly two years, I rarely read anything scholarly, and I'm socially awkward. It's hard in academia to feel like you're doing enough, because the nature of research is to discover what you don't already know. The culture, however, is geared toward looking as smart as you possibly can. I've gotten pretty good about nodding politely when someone is discussing a book I've only vaguely heard of. I've also never gotten the hang of verbose academic writing. I tend to be short and succinct and I freak out when professors demand minimum word counts. Surprisingly, my thesis advisors all liked this trait and praised my readability. It's just that sometimes "readability" can be code for "watered-down and poorly thought out". I'm also still a little scarred by the horrible politics in my master's program. I loved my classes and generally had a great time, but I also had some yucky experiences as well. Hopefully if I'm at a school and department that are a little more used to having women with families as graduate students that might help. I don't know.
I also feel lost because I've never been involved in academia before. My dad didn't attend college; my mom did as a returning student while I was in junior high. My grandparents were farmers. I'm the first child in my family to finish a bachelor's degree and I often feel like I just don't know how to play the game. I'm learning, however, to be confident and also how to ask questions when I'm not sure what to do. One of my big weaknesses is an ability to admit weakness and to ask for help, but most people have been surprisingly gracious when I've admitted that I haven't the foggiest idea of how to proceed.
My third big sticking point is trying to decide if going back to school is the best thing for me and my family. Well, I think it would be fun for me. But I've really enjoyed not being in school for this last year. No homework pressure; no deadlines; no thesis writing. Little juggling of schedules so I can get to class. Little Dude still seems so small and I worry about getting a babysitter for him in the fall. I worry about shortchanging my children and having them grow up to resent my career. That being said, I know a number of professors who have successfully balanced teaching and kids so I think it's doable. I'm just not sure if it's doable for me. I also worry about being the freak in the program who can't show up to all the cool extra-curricular stuff or jet off to study abroad for the summer because I have kids and a husband. Or the freaky mom at church who would rather talk about her feminist literature class than shopping at Nordstroms.
So, there are all my internatl fears and pressures vomited all over this blog entry. I think I want to keep going forwards, but the way looks awfully dark and scary right now.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
1. I didn't buy either of the things from Eddie Bauer. I really don't need a new dress or new pants right now, and after reevaluating my budget I decided to err on the side of fiscal responsibility. I'd rather have more money for moving later this year than a new dress right now. But, if anyone out there actually needs and can afford new clothes I wanted to let you know since that is an amazing sale.
2. Tonight we had friends over and made the Greek food highlighted here by STM. It was awesome. I bought cucumber sauce from Trader Joe's instead of making it myself, and I didn't make the potatoes, but the rest of the dinner was fabulous. I love gyros, Greek salad, and rice pilaf. Can't wait for lunch tomorrow.
3. Haven't heard anything back from other schools yet (UC Berkeley and U Oregon). Still kind of leaning towards Davis, although we'll probably have to live in student housing for the rest of our lives. The better weather, closer proximity to family, status of the school, excellence of the library, and a few other factors are starting to win me over. I love our friends in Berkeley, but I applied for the Spanish program there and I think I'd rather do Comparative Literature (which is what I got into at Davis). More on this later. Hopefully by the end of this month will have more plans in place. I didn't apply to Comp Lit at Berkeley because they wanted me to know Latin or Greek.
4. We have moved the kids' bedtime back to 7:00. They still get up early, but at least they aren't as cranky. We're big fans of early bedtimes for children. Now we just have to get an earlier bedtime for ourselves.
5. Someone asked if we have Winco. I think there are some around here, but they are somewhat far away from where we live. A few of my friends swear by it and make the drive every few weeks, but I just haven't yet. I prefer to walk to my local grocery store and make do with sale merchandise. I've also found some surprising bargains at the drugstore right by my house. A few months ago I bought 30 cans of beans on sale. I didn't have the cashier bag them--she just left them in the cart, I wheeled it up to my back door and unloaded, and then returned it to the store. Nice.
6. I have read Wide Sargasso Sea, but it was so long ago that I remember none of it. Perhaps now that I've recently read Jane Eyre again I should give it a try.
OK, I hope that clears some things up. I should just get better about responding to comments. I love the community of blogging and I feel bad for not following up on your thoughts and questions. I guess I'll have to write a post like this again.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
We were justdoing a little research on the web and it seems like Davis would be a nice place to live. It's a smaller city, has good environmental and transportation options, and decent weather. I'm not a fan of the hot summers, but it apparently has mild winters and at this point we're both tired of freezing to death for six months out of the year. It's also quite a bit closer to our families and to some of our friends (not right next door, unfortunately). Plus I just looked up the school district and they have a Spanish-language immersion program in one of the elementary schools. I would love for S-Boogie to be in a program like that and I think she would like it too. Unfortunately Davis has a pretty high cost of living, so that's certainly a negative. Well, I still need to get two more letters so hopefully we'll be able to make some kind of decision soon!
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
S-Boogie, why is going to the bathroom such a difficult thing to do? Why is it easier to just wait for hours and hours until you wet your pants? Why did I find the toilet full of pee this morning with no evidence of toilet paper? And why did you freak out when I asked you to go back and flush and wash your hands? I wasn't accusing you of a major crime, just a lack of basic hygiene.
Both of you, why does the fact that Mommy wants a little privacy in the bathroom or a few minutes to eat breakfast induce such angst? Why can't I just blow dry my hair or eat a bowl of cereal without two bawling children clinging to my leg?
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Also we had another great experience at Deseret Industries today. I've been meaning to get the kids new coats for a while now since theirs are both starting to get small. I had planned to pick some up at the after-season sales, but I waited too long and we haven't seen much in the stores. Today we had a few items to donate, so I thought we'd check out DI while we were there. I still can't believe it. We found a beautiful, light blue coat from Land's End in S-Boogie's size and a cute Columbia jacket in Little Dude's size. The coats are both in great condition, are good quality, and just the sizes we need. Plus we picked up an adorable red dress coat for S-Boogie. For only twenty dollars we have cute, warm children for the next winter or two (S-Boogie's coat is actually a 5/6 so it's on the big side for the moment). I was going to post this tomorrow because I don't think my decision to go to DI today was pure coincidence. I've been stressing about money for the last few months and just the other day actually thought "do people really get blessed for paying tithing?" I guess sometimes they do.
Friday, February 01, 2008
This book shows how something potentially boring--a massive class-action lawsuit that takes years to get through the court system--can be quite interesting if written about well. I have little interest in law or the court system and yet this book managed to keep me awake and reading. I also learned a lot about why lawyers don't always make a lot of money and why big lawsuits don't do much for social change.
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
I'm grateful to whoever made the recommendation that I read these books together. They are both beautiful books and their story is heartbreaking. I found Lucy's memoir especially compelling; her writing turns it into something that's not just about surviving cancer. The book seemed to be about so much more, and Ann's story of their friendship filled in the missing pieces and complemented the other story so well.
Longitude by Dava Sobel
This was a quick little read, but still interesting and I felt like I learned a lot from it. The thing I liked best was the author's ability to convey the spirit and attitudes of the time. For nearly a century "longitude" was the big cultural referent in plays and poems and such. It's funny to consider what people looking back on our society will find interesting and amusing like that.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I first read this book back in high school and I hated it. I didn't like Jane, I thought it was boring, and Mr. Rochester seemed creepy. After spending two weeks watching an excellent adaptation on Masterpiece Theater, I decided to give it another try. I liked Jane a lot more this time around and I generally enjoyed the book. However, I still think Mr. Rochester is weird and creepy. Now I really want to give reading The Madwoman in the Attic another try because I feel like a feminist reading of this book is problematic. On the one hand, Jane is a positive, strong female character. On the other hand, she ends up in a relationship with a man who acts like an overbearing father more than a husband.
Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky
This is not the sort of book I usually read, but somewhere I heard a summary of the plot and it intrigued me. Basically, an upper-class New England white couple has a black baby. Turns out that somewhere back in the family there was an affair that no one talked about. The book was actually better than I expected, though things were fairly melodramatic in many parts and I didn't like either one of the main characters very much.
Poster Child by Emily RappAnother fabulous memoir; although it is ostensibly about her life with disability, I was most moved by her lifelong struggle with the self-imposed pressure to be "perfect in every way". There were a few minor editing problems, which I thought was kind of unusual, but other than that I loved this book.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. LewisThis was a quick read and I have to say that I felt a wee bit let-down. I've never read the book before but I have heard plenty about the story. I wanted to read it before watching the movie (see below) and I'm glad that I did, but I don't think I expected Lewis' style to be so understated. I haven't read much by him. Perhaps all his books are the same way. After I got into the book I appreciated the simple prose, but it wasn't what I was expecting.
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
A beautiful book with well-drawn characters and not much plot. I enjoyed reading this and I am still thinking about the charcters and their stories. Not much surprising in it, but the writing is fabulous and it's a great read.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Although I had heard good things about this book, I resisted reading it because the plot just didn't sound interesting to me. Now I repent of this completely--this is a fabulous book. It is hard to describe the plot without it sounding boring, but the characters and the writing are phenomenal.
This Film is Not Yet Rated
An interesting documentary about the ratings board and the ways in which the ratings system is deeply flawed. I was fairly grossed out because, as an unrated film, it contains all kinds of stuff that has been cut from other films. So, consider yourself warned.
The plot in this movie is fairly standard, but the acting is phenomenal. I especially liked the fact that the director used actors who are mostly unknown so that the characters seem more real. There are also a lot of fascinating things going off with the camera and especially the use of a camcorder. I really like films that try and capture a child's view of things and felt that this one really succeeds in doing that.
This was a fun little film from Argentina. The acting is great and the plot is interesting. The tone of the movie and the family experiences are generally very light and we had a great time watching it.
I actually enjoyed this movie quite a bit, perhaps even more than the book (don't worry, I'll read the books to my kids while they are young and can appreciate them). I found the beginning disconcerting, and while I understand the reasons for adding it I certainly could have done without it.
This movie was a bit slow. Also, the black-and-white photography and general campy style make it a little hard to immerse yourself in. I still really liked it. The story was warm, humorous and upbeat. Johnny Depp was awesome and reminded me why I spent most of my teenage years in love with him (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Benny and Joon, and Edward Scissorhands are so much better than Pirates in my book). I would recommend this movie to anyone; it's rated R for a few swears, but other than that it's fairly clean.