Don’t call us, we’ll call you

February 28, 2011

Wedding quilt

Filed under: Family, Personal — llcall @ 4:00 pm

Another one of those long-forgotten post drafts; this one was waiting on pictures.  Look at me gitting ‘er done!

In my post awhile back (!) on feminism, I mentioned that my Dad, Elizabeth Harris, and Neal are probably the only people who would call me a little domineering (at least to my face).  I’m not going to tell you why Neal might call me that because, let’s face it, if you haven’t figured that out by now, you’re not even trying.  But I did want to share this picture, memorializing my Dad’s opinion of me.

That, my friends, is our wedding quilt.  A team effort by said Elizabeth Harris, her mom Glo-bug, and sister Mimro — talented ladies, all.

And that is the carefully thought-out (seriously, it took him about two hours to decide what to write) advice that my Dad chose to offer on the eve of my wedding.



February 26, 2011

Pictures for the Weekend: Oh, the humanity!

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 2:00 am

Smiling, happy, bubbly baby pictures are oh-so-cute, but just between you and me, anguished little baby pictures are also very entertaining.

[Of course, I don’t have the nerve to take pictures of my little one while she’s anguished . . . I guess that’s what dads are for, or at least this dad.]

The evolution of a moment:

February 25, 2011

It was a slow week for the blog . . .

Filed under: Incarceration research, Motherhood, Personal — llcall @ 5:32 pm

But I’m very proud of myself nonetheless.  I managed to write two Thesis Thursday blog posts in a row.  Alright, so the second was incredibly brief but that doesn’t negate the fact that I actually worked on my thesis two weeks in a row.

I also made some major progress on one of my other git ‘er done 2011 goals: I am now about halfway through revisions to our paper Post-Detention Likelihood to Succeed Scale: Adaptation to an Adult Incarcerated Population that I so frustratingly chronicled two full years ago.  The paper has morphed a bit to include categorical exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, which Justin tells me is very cool but I don’t understand well enough to know just how cool it is (shhh, don’t tell).  I won’t bore you with too many more details about cool statistical things, but if you want to know a little bit more about the paper, you can look at my reflections on presenting the paper at a 2009  sociology conference.

I’m all the more proud of what I accomplished because I had to do some fancy stepping to get anything done since Neal was on a business trip to Houston (training people to use the curriculum we developed for “the project“) that was unexpectedly extended by flight delays.  I had recruited one of my D. C. peeps Kirsten (I can still call her that even though we both live in Utah now, right?)  to stay with me, both for the good company and the use of her car and phone since Neal took ours (thanks, lady!), but when his trip was extended I had to spend some time fending for myself.  Bumming rides, borrowing random phones . . . mostly we’re glad for all the money we save with a one-car/one-phone household, but when I’m trying to reschedule work meetings and coordinate child care on the fly, it can get a little dicey.

Predictably, I’m spending this morning in bed fighting off a cold that may or may not be turning into bronchitis.  It was a productive week, but productivity takes a toll.

Thesis Thursday: One of the funny moments . . .

Filed under: Incarceration research — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 5:52 am

Me:  Why are you planning to move to Indiana?

Jeff:  Cause in Indiana you can drive without a license without it being a felony.

. . .

Me:  So, what you said about . . . driving without a license isn’t a felony?  How did you . . . did you research that to find out about that situation . . .

Jeff:  No.  I’ve lived in Indiana for a few years back.  I’ve spent about 5 years down there. . . . A lot of friends that drive without licenses.

Translation:  If I move there, then I can keep doing what I’m doing that sends me to jail without racking up felonies.  Sah-weet.

February 21, 2011

Pictures for the (Long) Weekend: By popular demand/threat

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 4:04 am

Addison’s grandmother on the Call side, Lorie, sent some cute clothes to her for Christmas and her birthday. In particular, she requested pictures in the dresses, which has taken a while because 1) it’s winter and how do you keep little legs warm in dresses? and 2) Addison HATES dresses and literally tries to rip them off her body throughout church — apparently, they cramp her style (like mother, like daughter?).  But we’re making progress . . . here’s dress #1:

Last Sunday she wore a cute sweater that first belonged to her aunt Robin-Elise.  I love it!  (Although I don’t love the quality of these pictures — cell phone.)

How freaky does her leg look in this pic?!

We’ll try to take less than two months to deliver the next batch.

February 17, 2011

Thesis Thursday: Doing time on the outside

That’s right, I’m hoping I can make a new weekly habit of posting something thesis/jail/incarceration related, a goal which I alluded to before.  Thesis Thursday because of the alliteration (who doesn’t like a little alliteration?) and the fact that Wednesday and Thursday are my main working days, so I *should* have something new to say.

Have I mentioned this book before?  Doing Time on the Outside: Incarceration and Family Life in Urban America by Donald Braman.  This book is a great read.  If you like nonfiction and are interested in social problems, you’ll appreciate his unique, somewhat apolitical approach to criminal justice reform.  If you like fiction and stories, it’s full of compelling personal accounts — you can’t make this stuff up!  (Plus you wouldn’t want to because some of it is just too sad.)

He makes a great point right on page 4 that I have seldom heard addressed in quite this way:

This book parts ways with mainstream accounts on both sides.  Unlike many liberal efforts, it does not argue that greater protection of the rights of criminal offenders will solve the problems that criminal sanctions exacerbate.  Instead, this book suggests that our current regime of sanctions demands far too little accountability from offenders.  Contrary to many conservative assessments, this book argues that the reforms of the last twenty-five years have done little to advance such accountability.  Indeed, as currently practiced, incarceration not only provides offenders with an excuse for not contributing to the welfare of their families and communities, but it practically enforces their noncontribution.  Indeed, if anything, the sentencing reforms of the 1980s and 1990s have enforced radical irresponsibility and unaccountability, and it is the families and communities of offenders that are bearing the burden.

There is a lot more I could say about why “get tough on crime” approaches don’t work and why instead I favor innovative approaches to criminal justice like restorative justice and alternatives to incarceration like drug courts.  But suffice it to say that a solely punitive approach is not helping anyone: not the offenders, not the victims, not the families, not the immediate communities, and not our society.

So if you get a chance, pick up this book.  It will get you thinking . . . and feeling.

February 16, 2011

Aaaaannnnnd . . . she’s walking

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 9:27 pm

It may be the cutest thing ever . . . until she gets so excited that she starts flapping her arms, loses her balance, and does a face plant.  But whether she stays vertical or ends up horizontal, she obviously expects you to clap at her new skill at least every 2.5 minutes.  Ah, the need for validation starts early.

I love these “Cry for help” e-cards


And . . . she’s one year old.  To celebrate she woke us up screaming right about the same time she was born, 2 a.m.  Coincidence?  Or has she heard about her honorary Aunt Rachie’s birthday tradition?  (Sorry, lady, we didn’t bang the pots and pans, but we did change her diaper.)


Also, I’m apparently in too contemplative a mood to fall back asleep.  How about some musings?

I don’t know if you’ve heard but the word on the street is that this week is all about love.  Every year the same thing happens: I read what people say about their significant others, I notice some common themes, and I fixate on two in particular that just don’t resonate with me.

The first statement is something to this effect: every day is like Valentine’s Day in our relationship.  I think that’s a really great sentiment.  I really do.  The world would no doubt be a better place if everyone was constantly trying to show love and kindness to their partners/friends/family (and also buying them stuffed animals attached to balloons, but that probably goes without saying).  But do I want it to be Valentine’s Day every day?  Ummm . . . pass.  You know, the truth is some days I just want to have a bad day, be a little grumpy, get frustrated over an ultimately unimportant thing.  And at the end of those days I don’t want to have to think, “Oh shoot, I ruined Valentine’s Day!  AGAIN!”  In the end, that’s one of the most comforting things about my relationship with Neal, my parents, my brother, my close friends.  I know they’ve seen me on some pretty crummy days and they’re still coming back for more.

The other statement that I don’t really relate to is some variation on I love my spouse more today than I did the day we got married.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with feeling this way.  In fact, I ask myself if there’s something wrong with me because I don’t feel this way (and we can’t even guess at whether Neal feels this way since he doesn’t even know what love is).  But it just doesn’t feel true for me.  I’ve been wondering whether this is a more common sentiment in the LDS culture with our stereotypically short courtships and engagements.  Or is this notion common in the broader world as well, and I just notice it among LDS people because I interact with a lot of LDS people?

I’ve actually puzzled over this topic a lot because maybe I should feel that my love for Neal is growing over time, but after four years, it’s pretty much holding steady (although let’s be honest, the couple relationship certainly takes a bit of a hit with the transition to parenthood — not necessarily the love, but the functioning, at least in our case).  I remember a few years ago a good friend of mine telling me, after he and his wife had been married for a few years and devastatingly had to bury a child, that he understood better why the leaders of our church encourage couples to get married relatively quickly and not stay in the courtship stage for too long.  He said, “I see now that the love that gets you to the altar is not the same love that’s going to get you through the hard stuff.”  I think there is wisdom in this observation, a wisdom that came from having to go through one of the worst possible things I can imagine.  But still, for me, I don’t see this change.  In our married life we’ve been through family crises, miscarriage, high-risk pregnancy, childbirth, too many surgeries to keep track of (one during said high-risk pregnancy), definitely too many illnesses to keep track of.  But in our pre-married life, Neal nursed me through too may illnesses to keep track of.  I helped him start a small business.  He held my hand for hours while I was strapped to a backboard after our near-fatal car accident.  I moved cross-country for him.  He delivered me to physical therapy three times a week for months.  I waited patiently for him to decide what he wanted for his future and whether the LDS faith would be a part of it.  We played about 370 games of Skipbo in which he talked too much smack and I was alternately pouty or angry if I lost (thankfully, I rarely lost).

Have there been some surprises in marriage?  A couple here and there.   But we’re still coping with things the same way we did before; a lot of talking, too much thinking (that’s my job), strategically-timed Oreos.  He’s the same person I knew I wanted to marry about two months into our relationship, even though it took two years to get to the altar.  When I think of our life together and my love for him, I mainly see continuity not change.

So, I’m curious, what do you make of all this?

February 15, 2011

For Sergey and the others . . .

Filed under: Personal — Tags: — llcall @ 4:00 pm

Tonight while brushing my teeth, I was scrolling through my Google Reader when I came upon this recent blog post from my friend Lauren, who linked to her friends’ website.  I’m reading their story about working to adopt an orphan from Russia and trying not to get all weepy because it’s really awkward to be brushing your teeth and crying and wiping the resultant drippy nose all at the same time (this is a more frequent occurrence for me than one might expect) (and I did get all weepy, by the way, because that’s just the way I roll) (and I did just do a ridiculous double, now triple parenthetical).  I felt so moved by the story of Sergey that I got right on PayPal and sponsored a puzzle piece, part of their clever fundraiser/gift for Sergey.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here before but my first year out of college I did a year of volunteer Americorps service with CORE: Coalition for Residential Education.  The organization’s  mission is to advocate for boarding schools for disadvantaged youth, particularly youth in foster care who are unlikely to find permanent family placements and will eventually “age out of the system” with little to no support.  During the years I worked at CORE, I met a number of youth who were currently or previously in foster care.  I became close with one young woman in particular who told me that no one bought her a toothbrush or taught her how to use one until she was 11 years old.  I thought of her again when I read about Sergey’s insecurities and low self-esteem.  The subtext of what she was telling me was, no one cared enough about me to tell me to brush my teeth for 11 years.  It’s tough to feel that way; it’s tougher when it’s basically true.

I wish a $10 puzzle piece could make a difference in all the suffering in the world.  But I guess we do what we can when the opportunity arises.

February 14, 2011

Breastfeeding, part I

Filed under: Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 5:00 pm

Last week I got together with some friends who have also become mothers in the last year or two.  Not surprisingly, the topic turned to how hard that first stretch of motherhood is.  How much unsolicited advice you get, how many times people criticize your parenting either implicitly or explicitly, how freaking tired you are!

We also talked about that sometimes contentious and emotionally-charged issue in the “mommy wars” — breastfeeding.  We’re four women who made different choices about breastfeeding: yea or nay, how long, how often, etc.  But I think, I hope no one felt judged for the choices they made.  Instead of bagging on each other, we bagged on all the dumb/insensitive/cruel things other people have said to us.  That’s better, right?

Later this week, perhaps tomorrow if the babe cooperates, I plan to record some of my thoughts about my breastfeeding experience.  As I get close to weaning, I want to remember how I’m feeling as I conclude this chapter of motherhood.  There’s no question that I am very pro-breastfeeding; I felt strongly enough about it that I even became a milk donor for other babies.  But it made me very sad to hear some of the comments that my friends who chose not to breastfeed received.  Indeed, some of the comments are based on distortions of the breastfeeding research that I want to, in my own small way, try to dispel.

So here goes, in brief.  When you look at physical issues, there definitely appears to be one group that breastmilk can be critical for: preemies and “fragile” infants.  They are often facing an uphill battle as it is, and formula tends to be harder to digest and lead to more gastrointestinal problems.  This is exactly why human milk banks are so important because these babies really need it.

But perhaps one of the more difficult things to be told is that breastfed babies are smarter than formula-fed babies, and thus a formula-fed baby will not be as smart as s/he could have been.  Do people really say things like this to a new mom who is in a fragile emotional state as it is?  Sadly, yes.  But here’s the thing about that: it is not actually supported by the research.  At this point, it seems to be a classic case of confusing correlation with causation (if you have found a random-assignment study that could get at causation, I’d be very interested).  This article I found from a quick google search sums up nicely what I have found from my own review of the literature: moms who breastfeed are different than moms who don’t.  On average, they have more education and higher IQs.  On average, they spend more time interacting with their babies, thus stimulating their development.  So breastfeeding is confounded with a number of other factors that we know are highly correlated with intelligence.

I think that this distortion is perpetuated by at least two things: media oversimplification and breastfeeding zealots.  In every research article, there is a discussion of limitations where an author will in some manner caution, correlation does not prove causation.  But does that caveat make for an exciting headline?  No; so if it’s mentioned at all, it’s usually buried somewhere at the end of the article.  As for the breastfeeding zealots, most people have probably met one.  Breastfed babies never get sick!  They’ll live to be 100!  Someday, breastfeeding will lead to world peace!

Now like I said, I’m a huge proponent of breastfeeding and I better be since my world has revolved around it for the past year.  But let’s be realistic about its benefits and costs — because it sure as heck is not easy — and for heaven’s sake, let’s not use it as a way to make new mothers feel like less than they are.

February 12, 2011

Pictures for the Weekend: Family pics 2010 (for reals this time)

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 5:56 pm

My dear friend Kaila told me that my first installment of family pictures was actually a bit comical.  I can’t remember exactly how she put it but something to the effect that there was this couple, or at least the arms and legs of a couple, periodically interrupted by a random baby crawling through their pictures.  Hopefully, they weren’t awkward-family-photos-strange, but just in case, I’ll hit you with a few more traditional FAMILY photos today.

If you’ve known me for a long time, you’ve no doubt seen my mouth open that wide in about a bazillion pictures, but I defy anyone to find a photo of Neal with such an open mouth as this:

He’s either REALLY happy or he just threw his back out.

The next picture reminds me that a shout-out is due to my fabulous sister-in-law Rish, whom I talked into cutting and layering my hair, even though she had never cut hair before (!) and I had such a fussy baby I had to hold her squirmy little body on my lap the whole time.

Nice work, right?!

How’d we do at looking like a “real” family, Ms. Brown?

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