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April 30, 2011

Pictures for the Weekend: There’s no place like Colorado

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 6:37 pm

The good news: I downloaded the pictures from our visit to see the Harrises in Littleton!

The bad news: When you combine my shaky hands and Addison’s penchant for picture avoidance (especially when wearing cute dresses), you get a whole lot of this:

Oy!  Not that I didn’t get any good ones, but far fewer than I was hoping!  In particular, I wanted to get a shot with Addison in the full Spring dress ensemble that the Harrises made and gave her as a baby gift — hat included!  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be:

Addison did not care how adorable the hat looked — she wasn’t having it!

As I mentioned, I got lots of babysitting while we were there and Miriam even did the unthinkable . . . she got Addison to sit on her lap for twenty minutes straight!

I didn’t even know my baby was capable of chillaxing like that.  Apparently, Miriam knows all the best youtube videos to mesmerize the kiddies.

You may notice one glaring omission in the pictures from the trip: my friend Elizabeth!  She sneaked through with no documentary evidence of her presence, aided by some temperamental camera moments.  Next time!  (You’ve been warned, Bubo!)

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April 29, 2011

Thesis Thursday: Already?

I could’ve sworn it was like Monday, or Tuesday at the very latest.  This week has just flown by as I’ve tried to spend every possible minute working on my thesis.  As predicted, it’s not all gone according to plan since the insane sleep deprivation led to sickness.  But all things considered, I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made, though I won’t have my prospectus completed by tomorrow as I had hoped.

Since I’ve spent all week immersed in the literature (have I ever mentioned that I get just a little bit giddy when I see the words criminogenic needs, cause I do — one more sign that I’ve found my true calling, right?), I thought I would share a bit from a very interesting article.  The article, Juvenile offenders as fathers: Perceptions of fatherhood, crime, and becoming an adult (Shannon & Abrams, 2007), presents a series of in-depth interviews with juvenile offenders who have recently become fathers.  Reading it reminded me of one of the assumptions that students in our class this semester often had, at least at the beginning: people who go to jail shouldn’t get to see their kids; they’re bad guys so their kids will be better off without them.  Going into the class, most of the students assumed that if you really cared about your kids, you wouldn’t go to jail/prison in the first place.

But of course, most interviews with incarcerated fathers tell a very different story.  Here are a couple of comments from the article I mentioned above:

I’d do anything to support her (daughter).  I mean, that’s kinda how I got my charge.  Y’know, I was sellin’ drugs to kinda make more money than I was making . . . it’s like I’m justifying, too . . . it’s how I was thinking.  ‘Cause I’d do anything to get her stuff.

When I first saw  my son on my weekend and I wasn’t high, I wasn’t selling drugs, I wasn’t nothin,’ I was just payin’ attention to him it woke me up right there — like, damn, this boy’s gettin’ old and ever since I come back that day I been tryin’ to get my life together.

I especially love that last comment because I feel like it represents something universal about parenthood.  I don’t usually say damn beforehand, but at least once a day I think, she’s growing up so fast and there are just so many things I want to do better before she’s old enough to internalize all her mommy’s flaws.

I mentioned before about rejection from mothers shaping the lives of many incarcerated men.  But of course, the other half of the story is just how many of them had absent or uninvolved fathers, which motivates many of them to want to do better:

I certainly don’t want him growing up like I did, y’know, I’m going to be there for him ’cause my dad wasn’t there for me that much.

But should it really be surprising that it takes time to grow into a parental role when all you’ve seen are examples of what you don’t want to be or do.

April 27, 2011

Call me crazy . . .

But I didn’t realize how widespread the whole Easter basket phenomenon is.  All day I’ve been seeing friends’ Facebook and blog posts showing either their kids’ or their own Easter baskets.  The topic came up frequently at church yesterday with wives lamenting that their husbands did not get them Easter baskets.  And I was just completely dumbfounded.

It’s not that I never got an Easter basket growing up, because I did.  Sometimes.  But I guess my memory was that we only started down that path once we were celebrating holidays with my cousins, who got Easter outfits and baskets, and so my mom did not want us to feel left out.  In my mind, Easter baskets and the attendant gifts were something that my cousins did — and we were lucky enough to benefit from their tradition.

Maybe I’ve been married to Neal, eschewer-of-all-things-holiday, too long, but even when I figured out that virtually everyone (religious or not) celebrates Easter the same way my cousins did, I didn’t feel bad about the omission.  Someday we’ll dye eggs with Addison, but I’m getting pretty comfortable with the idea of postponing all the hoopla until she really gets it and really thinks I’m a mean old witch for depriving her.

We did, however, watch this video together.

And I reflected on some of the dark places I’ve been in my life, how trapped and alone I felt, how excruciating it all was and still is when those times come again, as they sometimes have in the last several months.  And I reflected on that miracle of all miracles: that I have been delivered, again and again, even though I hardly deserved so much mercy.

April 24, 2011

All messed up . . .

Filed under: Incarceration research, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 10:54 am

My sleep, that is.  For the last week, I have gone to bed sometime between 10:30 and 11:30 pm (pretty good, right?) — and not been able to sleep until 4:00 or 5:00 am.  What the?!!  The only decent night I’ve had was last night when, I’m not gonna lie, I doped myself up on sleeping pills.

Even though I’ve battled insomnia since childhood, I somehow thought that parenthood had helped me turn the corner.  I’m not talking about some kind of magic . . . but rather, being so freaking worn out that I couldn’t possibly lie awake for hours.  Guess not (and lest someone make the connection that the last time I wrote about such disordered sleep, it was on account of being pregnant . . . um, no.  Definitely no.).

Surprisingly, though, I’ve been able to make these late night vigils more effective than usual.  I was inspired by a Facebook post from my friend Jen (who moved to Arizona today — boo) about how she had to get her daughter some water at 4:00 am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so she took a take-home final.  At 4:00 am!  Usually the best I can muster is blog surfing, but this week, I wrote another section of my thesis and finished gathering my literature.  If all goes according to plan, I will write my lit review on Monday/Tuesday and send my completed prospectus to my advisor on Wednesday.  Obviously, it’s not all going to go according to my plan (if it did, I would not be a fourth-year Master’s student, would I?), but I’m pretty confident I’ll get the prospectus done sometime this week.  [And in case, you’re wondering where that leaves me in the whole scheme of thesis-writing, I will have three sections done (intro, lit review, and methods) and three to go (quantitative results, qualitative results, and discussion)].  Actually, I’m pretty pleased with where things stand on the thesis-front; I’ve got momentum . . . and I haven’t had momentum since like 2008.

May is going to be a big month for me — I can just feel it.  Besides the thesis, I want to submit a paper to a conference, deadline May 27.  And hopefully, I’ll finally wrap up the draft of the paper that will not die (unexpected delays on account of some missing data that I should have noticed a long time ago — official Doh! moment-of-the-week).  My productive May will be made possible by Neal finally getting his wish and officially becoming a stay-at-home dad (no work or school), at least for a couple of months.  Here we go . . .

April 23, 2011

Pictures for the Weekend: She’s always been a fan of sweet eyewear . . .

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 7:32 pm

April 22, 2011

My baby’s (still) a bully

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 8:00 pm

I realized when I was looking back through the baby’s nine-month update (in preparation for a one-year update, which is still coming despite being months late) that I promised to tell her latest bullying story and never delivered!  Well, now it is entirely too late to be her “latest,” but two incidents still bear recording.

Last November, when Addison was about nine months old, we got together for dinner with the Dyers.  They have two adorably precocious girls and a new little “man cub” in the house, who was about seven months old at the time.  Anyway, we left the two babies on the floor to get acquainted while we had dinner.  They seemed to be enjoying each other’s company until about midway through the meal when we looked over to see Addison doing this to the poor little guy:

I’m not. even. kidding.  I don’t think I moved right away because I was so stunned.  But he was certainly a good-natured little man cub; didn’t even scream out in anger.

Of course, it created one of my ongoing parental quandaries: do you try to snap a quick picture of your child doing something unfortunate, but incredibly funny before rescuing the poor victim?  Perhaps only parents of bullies have to deal with such questions.

Since I generally opt not to whip out the camera, I just have to rely on Google Images — I’m still not sure what to think about the fact that the only way to find pictures resembling some of the things my daughter does to other children is on martial arts websites (but what should I expect from a baby who was doing this at six months?).

The second event, which was just about a week later, falls more in the relational aggression category.  My niece Ayda, who was almost three at the time, was making a wall with wooden blocks.  She most definitely had a vision of what her wall was going to look like and was quite disturbed by Addison continually trying to take a block out of the wall.  Marisha was continually encouraging Ayda to share the blocks with Addison, but she wanted to share other blocks — not the ones on her wall.  I’m not even sure I can do justice to what transpired as Marisha and I looked on, but Addison, sensing the attachment to those particular blocks, began to quickly put her hand on a wall block and then quickly pull it away, pretending to take the block.  This happened multiple times as Ayda’s agitation rose.  Until finally Addison did grab a single block from the wall and held it behind her back.  Of course, what happened next was the truly disturbing part . . . she then pretended to hand the block back to Ayda before quickly putting it behind her back again.  Oh, the mind games!  Marisha and I couldn’t stop laughing through the whole thing, which probably seemed rather rude to Ayda whose blood pressure was about through the roof by this time!

Those experiences are just two more reasons why Neal and I thank our lucky stars that Addison is such a shrimp — imagine if she was a bully AND bigger than kids her age!

April 19, 2011

Does this resonate with you?

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , , — llcall @ 8:00 pm

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.  Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure . . . We ask ourselves: “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?” Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.

Marianne Williamson (sometimes erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela — in my quick search for proper attribution, I realized there a number of variations floating around so I can’t say definitively that this is her exact quote . . . but I digress)

I’ve been meaning to ask this for a long time . . . does this quote resonate with you?  Does it seem true in your life?  Do you like it?  Why or why not?  (Formal essays accepted but not required.)

April 18, 2011

Making history . . .

On Saturday morning, Addison and I hosted a small book group — it was meant to be a bit bigger, but most of the planned attendees had to cancel at the last minute.  But no matter because two of my all-time favorite ladies came to chat: Jen and Sara (listed in alphabetical order to indicate that I could never choose between them).

We read the book Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, which you may remember I mentioned before when I was quoting one of Jen’s fabulous blog posts (did you follow that?).  I was glad to finally read the book since Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a history professor, visited BYU when I was an undergrad studying history.  I was quite taken with some of her more esoteric work about the historian’s craft, particularly on how to use material culture to tell the stories of those who, for various reasons, did not have a voice.  Alas, I decided not to become a historian . . . *wistful sigh*

There is a lot that could be said about the book because, seriously, it covers A LOT of territory.  From Amazon women to runaway slaves to second-wave feminists to medieval artists and writers — whoa!  But since I don’t have time to cover that much territory (paper still not quite finished on account of hitting a wall health-wise on Saturday, after aforementioned book group with cranky baby), I wanted to give you the very final sentence as some food-for-thought:

Well-behaved women make history when they do the unexpected, when they create and preserve records, and when later generations care.

You can “misbehave” and make waves in the world and other people will write your history, for good or ill.  But you can also “behave,” keep to a smaller sphere of influence, and write your own record — and I promise, you will make history.  Someone, someday will care about what you have written, no matter how mundane it might seem to you.  My good friend Jenn (with two Ns, not to be confused with the aforementioned one-N Jen) is writing her memoir and posting it on her blog (I would link to it, but I’m not sure if she would want that — I’ll have to check).  It’s a tough endeavor, not like shooting out a blog post with little premeditation.  It’s brave to undertake something like that with two small children craving your constant attention.  And it’s even more brave to post what you’ve written for the world, or even just your family and friends, to see.  Jenn is making history.  I marvel at that.

I think that’s what I love about blogs so much — so many women (I know some men blog, just not the men I know), who in the past would have been invisible, are making their own history.  Keep doing it.  It’s amazing.*

*I just started tearing up, which I know is like par for the course with me but still, it means I really mean it.

April 17, 2011

Pictures for the Weekend: Apparently, we don’t take “traditional” family photos

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 9:28 pm

That’s what I learned from the responses to my first two family picture posts.  The first was a bunch of appendage/baby pics and in the second, Neal and I were never both looking at the camera.  Duly noted.

Even though we’re relatively new to this whole family picture business, Neal still had ideas.  He wanted an “industrial” feel and scouted out some locations around BYU campus.  As I mentioned in that first post, he had picked out one particularly strange location.  Angie, the photographer, was nice enough to humor him . . . but seriously, it was just bizarre.  So without further ado, the infamous “steam pictures”:

We initially tried posing in front of the “super cool” steam pipe, but Neal definitely wanted the steam to figure more prominently in the pictures, which is tricky when you’re trying to keep a bare-legged baby from being burned by, you know, BURNING HOT STEAM.  I’m not even sure if these pictures do justice to how dang funny the whole situation was; I was terribly amused but just tried to go where I was directed.

Can you believe there are still like four or five more locations I haven’t shown you?!  Angie was certainly a good sport!

These two pics are some of my favorites from the whole shoot, not because I look so great (Neal pointed out my double-chin, so no need :)), but because they so subtly capture Addison and Neal’s adorable relationship.

April 16, 2011

A momentary vent . . .

Filed under: Personal, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — llcall @ 12:17 am

You know what one of my pet peeves is . . . oversimplification.  When I said yesterday that I was glad to complicate my student’s worldview, I was very sincere.  This isn’t to say that one can’t confront complication and still come out with strong, definitive opinions (because if you don’t know I have strong opinions then, really, where have you been?!) but to ignore the complication and imply that there is only one way to see things, especially big, important things, is just maddening to me.  Political rhetoric in general excels at this kind of oversimplification and it drives me nuts — no wonder I have such a love/hate relationship with politics.  But after seeing a link to this Twitter post making its way around Facebook, I think, God help us, if we’re now into Twitter politics.  I’m sorry but I just don’t think an issue like abortion can or should be boiled down into 140 characters or less.  Period.

I’ve been working on my paper diligently for the past three days, but I’m happy to say that it’s almost where I want it to be.  So if I’ve neglected your phone calls or emails recently, rest assured that I won’t for too much longer.

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