Don’t call us, we’ll call you

October 28, 2011

Pictures for the Weekend: We graduated!

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: — llcall @ 4:39 pm

You all knew that, right?  I can’t remember if I officially announced it.  Neal finally finished his double majors in Media Arts Studies and English, and just a hair past age 28.  Not too shabby . . .

Most of the time I think I’ve molded Neal far more than he’s molded me, but caring about graduation/pictures of graduation is one area he’s clearly won out.  As in, I didn’t care.  Very much.  Or at all.  And I have to say, it’s a good thing I wasn’t super invested because many of them didn’t turn out all that great.  But here’s a representative sample:

I kind of like this next one, even though admittedly, it isn’t a great picture of either of us.  There’s something emblematic about it — I think it kind of captures our life together.

With our fan club/supporters/family members:

The last pictures we took in front of the house we called home for the last four years:

I miss that place.


October 21, 2011

Pictures for the Weekend: Pony tricks

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 4:00 pm

We were thinking we had a budding gymnast for awhile (you know, after this famous pic) but now we’re thinking circus performer.  Oh, the things this girl and her bunny can do!

TA DA!!!

Thank you, thank you!  And I’d like to take a minute to thank my honorary Uncle Brandon for the DinoRider that helped hone my (obviously natural) skills!

October 20, 2011

Public service announcement

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 10:00 pm

If you’re looking for pumpkin recipes to help you enjoy the season, look no further than this blog post from my friend Stephanie (I’ve mentioned her before).  The pictures were laid out so nicely and looked so tasty, it almost made me wish I was going to make one of the recipes.  No, scratch that, it made me wish I lived near someone who was going to make one of the recipes.  I gotta get me some friends in So Cal!

Thesis Thursday: Acknowledgments

Filed under: Incarceration research, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 12:00 pm

I know you thought Thesis Thursday was over since I finally graduated, but alas, there’s still plenty of thesis-related work in my life.  A couple of papers still to be finished and submitted, a book in the works, and a conference presentation next month (the presentation is for this paper and thus the reward is that I’m going to Disneyworld!  Huzzah!).  Despite these loose ends and new projects, I have been taking a pretty extended break from all things incarceration-related.  But before too much time lapsed, I wanted to post my thesis acknowledgments page.  Really, I wished I had more space because there are so many people, especially some of you ever-encouraging blog readers, that helped me keep on trucking and git ‘er done.  So consider yourself acknowledged!

I entered graduate school with very specific plans for my thesis research and the fact that I was able to accomplish precisely what I set out to do is a testament to the assistance and dedication of so many people.  First and foremost, I thank Dr. Randy Day, who believed in me and my ideas (even when they took longer than expected to come to fruition) enough to connect me with all the right people to make this project a reality.  I also thank my committee members, Drs. Bahr, Israelsen, and Ward, who were always encouraging even while offering constructive criticism.  I express appreciation to Dr. Justin Dyer who is undoubtedly one of the best people I have ever worked with from both a professional and personal standpoint, and his wife Aislin who offered practical assistance and friendship when this research took me to an unfamiliar city.  I thank all the University of Illinois undergrads I was able to work with, but especially Brandon Lesch who will no doubt remain a lifelong friend.

I thank so many friends and family, especially my parents and grandparents.  It’s impossible to overstate how much support they offered, from babysitting to editing to dinners, not to mention unending love.  I thank Kirsten Allen because only a true friend would format statistical tables for me.  I also thank my baby girl, Addison, not because she helped with this thesis (she mostly hindered it—in wonderful ways, of course), but because she will always be the most important legacy of my grad school years.  Most especially, I thank Neal, my partner in this—not everyone would move cross-country and go into jails with me—and everything.

Most of all, I thank the men I met in the jail who shared their experiences with me, especially those 12 I spent so much time with.  They are the reasons I persisted even when life threw some curveballs—I never stopped wanting to tell their amazing, heart-breaking, beautiful stories.  I suspect I never will.  They were all seeking a better life.  I pray they found it.

October 19, 2011

Volkslauf 2011

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 5:23 pm

Pre-race shot: Neal, Chris, Rish

Like last year, we headed to Bakersfield so Neal could do a 10K mud run/obstacle course with my brother and sister-from-another-mother.  I suspect this will be an annual tradition.

Uber-cute cheering squad

See the distaste? Addison wanted nothing to do with that dirty dude!

Here's where Rish veered off-course and I started frantically yelling, "You're going the WRONG WAY!"

A little side note about my experience at the race: when we arrived, we parked at this obstacle, which it turns out is maybe the hardest of the whole course.  Most people can’t scale that wall alone and so you see a lot of people helping each other, often very spontaneously with perfect strangers running over to assist people who are struggling.  And being the weepy mess that I am, I pretty much cried for the first ten minutes we were there.  I never thought that I would feel so emotional at a hot, filthy race, but it was actually incredibly moving to watch.  (Maybe this whole exercise/race running thing has an upside after all — I kid, it still seems terrible to me.)
Neal came in at 1:13:53, which was a good improvement over last year’s time of 1:15:38 since there were more obstacles this year.  Chris and Rish were about 15 minutes behind both years.  And the uber-cute cheer squad fared much better as well since it wasn’t 1000 degrees out!

I can’t resist posting last year’s victory shots, which are totally representative of how miserable the little ones were: drenched in sweat, bright red, and completely worn out (and we were only there for about 30 minutes).

But we’ll brave the heat any day to cheer on Neal, Chris, and Rishy!  Way to go!

October 18, 2011

I guess I’m back in a blogging mood . . .

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 10:39 am

I’m taking that as a very good sign; a sign that I’m feeling more like my old (hyper-communicative) self, more at ease in our new locale, and less worn out (although the fact that it’s past 3:30 am now and I haven’t been able to sleep is probably going to derail that).  For a variety of reasons, this move was hard on me.  I actually like moving (or did before I had two additional hanger-oners).  I liked that I could fit everything I needed into my small SUV and it only took a few hours.  I also liked the adventure of a new place and the attendant adrenaline rush, even if the move was just cross-town.  I think that’s one of the keys to the difficulty of this move — there’s not that feeling of newness.  It’s not like coming home (I mean, I only lived in this particular house for about two years and that was over a decade ago) but it’s also not all that much of an adventure for me.  I’ve got a few scattered friends in the area still, but it’s also not like coming back to a ready-made group.  No problem, because I like to meet new people, but then there’s the whole worn-out thing.  I just haven’t been able to put myself out there too much but I think Addison would benefit from having some friends.  It’s a work in progress.

A far broader issue is just my general ambivalence about living in Southern California again.  Oh how I wish my parents and brother lived somewhere else!  I want to live near them and have Addison know her only two cousins (thus far), but So Cal was just not my scene growing up.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my friends and a lot of things about life here (like Disneyland!) but it’s always been more like a place I would like to visit rather than live.  Between the high cost of living and the image-conscious, consumerist feel, it’s kind of an odd place for a pathologicallyfrugal fashion victim like me.  Pre-Addison I never thought I would move back here, but kids change a lot of our calculations, I guess.

So “the O. C.” is where I am (and no, we didn’t call it that growing up) and where I’m going to stay for awhile, so I’m working hard to appreciate it.  It turns out, it’s kind of fun to come back to your almost unchanged high-school bedroom.  I’ve been leafing through old yearbooks and Trapper Keepers (who remembers these?).  It’s taken me back to a simpler time when Velcro was freaking awesome.  I have a feeling you’re  going to be privy to a few of these trips down memory lane when I get the wherewithal to scan some things.  Oh boy!

October 17, 2011

The one where I’m contemplating death and end up writing about teeth . . .

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , — llcall @ 10:36 am

It’s 2:30 am and I’m wide awake, having just had the sweetest little night-time visit from our angelic girl.  It looks like we’ve got another chapter of teething on our hands — heaven help us!  Have I mentioned that she cut FOUR teeth in the month after we moved to California?  She really tries to be good-natured about it, but it is quite a disturbance to her usual temperament and sleep schedule.  Of course, that’s not surprising in light of the pediatric dentist’s assessment of her teeth issues.  I think the technical term he used was “jacked up.”  Yeah, that was it.  Apparently, that’s what comes of HUGE adult-size teeth trying to fit in an itty-bitty baby mouth — her bottom teeth are right on top of each other and crooked as all get-out.

Although this post was going to be about me and my middle-of-the-night musings, as long as I’m on the subject I might as well give the brief history of Addison’s teeth.  It’s for posterity.  I’ve already mentioned on here that she got her two top front teeth when she about 12 months old.  Definitely a late teether, but so was I.  Those two teeth, they were dillies . . . most people likened them to rabbit teeth.  Here’s some pics from February/March I never posted:

First teeth coming in

In their full glory

After that she got one bottom front tooth, but it was very clear there was something problematic going on because it was super crooked and seemed to be almost sideways, meaning that she was around 14 months old and could barely chew anything.  If you’re not well-versed in baby-teeth order of arrival (we’re definitely not, thus Google and Wikipedia have been consulted on multiple occasions), this is already a slightly unusual pattern since most kids get their bottom front teeth first.  What happened next was decidedly unusual: she got all her molars.  This was definitely good news because she could finally chew a bit.  Soon she also got her top lateral incisors.  But after a couple of months with no visible tooth action on the bottom and a lot of apparent pain and crankiness, we finally took her to the dentist in July (at 17 months) to make sure that there was nothing majorly wrong.  (By the way, if you’re in the Provo/Orem area, Orem Pediatric Dentistry was awesome!  No wait, tons of toys and fun stuff, videos on the ceiling to keep them occupied while in the chair, and super professional.)  It was very obvious from the x-rays that while her top teeth were quite large, they were basically normal and straight.  But the bottom, yikes!  The dentist didn’t shudder or anything, but he immediately said, “I can definitely see why you’d be concerned.”

In any event, he just wanted us to wait it out and see how things went by the time she turned two.  But he assured us that teeth pulling and orthodontia were likely in our future.  About the time we were moving, she finally got her second bottom front tooth, and since then they’ve come on like gangbusters.  I remember reading a parents’ discussion board about teething while I was pregnant and a lot of the parents were saying that teething is not a big deal and our culture makes more of it than is warranted.  I was resolved that I would neither exaggerate the effect of teething nor attribute every temperamental moment to it.  But it turns out we’ve got a hardcore teether on our hands.

No doubt this particular post is only of interest to a select few (grandmothers?) but it’s the sort of thing I wish I knew more about myself as a child so I’m willing to bore everyone else to tears to record it.  I kind of hijacked my own blog post, but it was likely going to be long and rambling about death and facing our own and our family members’ mortality, so maybe it’s better this way . . .

October 14, 2011

Sometimes I study things other than prisoners . . .

Filed under: Personal Finance — Tags: , , — llcall @ 7:24 pm

And sometimes (rarely, as in once) those studies make The Atlantic’s Study of the Day feature.  Like yesterday.  This study, “Materialism and Marriage: Couple Profiles of Congruent and Incongruent Spouses,” was the very first I co-authored in graduate school.  It was “in press” so long that I didn’t even realize it had finally come out, so thanks to Emily for pointing that out!

BYU News has a bit lengthier article about it as well as links to all the news outlets that covered the article if you’re interested in the topic (ABC News and Deseret News did the most in-depth pieces).  And if you’re really interested, I’ve got the full text waiting for you . . .

Pictures for the Weekend: What we do on Fridays around here . . .

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pictures for the Weekend — llcall @ 6:24 pm

October 13, 2011

I should be going to bed RIGHT NOW . . .

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , — llcall @ 5:28 am

But first, something about Addison that I want to be part of her permanent record: she is amazingly sweet.

I got back from my brother/sister-in-law’s house last night.  There’s nothing like being with other kids for six days (I have two nieces — three and 18 months — but by some twist of fate I was actually watching six kids at one point during the trip.  ME??  I know!) to bring into sharp relief your own child’s strong points and less-than-strong points.  I noticed something about Addison that I’ve seen before, but never so consistently.

So first, a backstory.  I went to visit my amazing friend Rachael before I left Utah.  She had her first baby a couple of months before (coincidentally named Addisen) and her little Addisen was having a not-so-happy day when we visited.  I was trying to calm little Addie down (my Addison has never been jealous of me holding other babies, perhaps because she adores babies and me holding them helps her get a better look) when my Addison went over to her diaper bag, grabbed her beloved bunny (her #1 comfort object that will soon have to be called dirty, filthy bunny since she loves on it so much) and favorite blanket and gave them to the baby.  She tried to cuddle them right up to her to help her calm down.  Honestly, it kind of surprised me because even though I already knew Addison was a sweetie, she loves her bunny with such a fierceness, I never expected her to give it up so willingly.  (Was that story super confusing with all the Addisen/Addie/Addisons?  Maybe I’m just tired, but it seems really convoluted . . . )

So fast forward to last Thursday when I was watching six kids at once, and an almost four-year-old inexplicably started sobbing.  It happened so suddenly and I honestly had no idea why, so I just sat her down on the couch next to me and tried to give her some squeezes.  The other kids just went on with their play (especially her six-year-old brother, who perhaps had something to do with the tears as brothers so often do) but Addison spent the next several minutes searching the room for comfort objects or diversions, gently laying them on the couch next to this little girl.  A blanket, a stuffed animal, a toy, a book.  I was totally taken by her concern and persistence in trying to find something to soothe this twice-her-age girl.

It happened often over the weekend — another child was crying and she would follow the sounds to see why they were crying and if she could help.  Once when my three-year-old niece was crying in the bathroom, Addison wasn’t sure if she should enter.  So she summoned me to the bathroom and made a sad face (her “sad lip” is definitely one of her most adorable expressions).  She pointed at her bottom lip and then at the door to be sure I understood that there was a sad child on the premises.

Our girl is an expressive little thing . . . she still pantomimes and reenacts all her hurts (which this weekend involved her violently slamming her head into my sister-in-law’s ottoman because, you know, she wanted everyone to know that she had JUST slammed her head into the ottoman) and somehow it seems tied to her watchfulness and concern for others’ hurts and sorrows.  Of all the strengths that a child could have, this feels like a wonderful one to observe in my little girl.

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