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December 29, 2012

2012 Holiday Letter

Filed under: Family, Incarceration research, Personal — llcall @ 7:34 pm

I know I said the blog would get more love over the holidays, but apparently I had not sufficiently consulted with Neal about our plans. No matter; I’ve had a great time hanging with Addison so Neal can get more work time. I did, however, manage to get out this end-of-year letter. Two years in a row? That’s called being on a roll!

Happy New Year! It’s been great to hear from so many of you and we hope this finds you happy and healthy!

2012 was a calmer year for us than 2011, much to Neal’s relief and Addison’s chagrin. If you’re not familiar with Addison (almost 3) and her zest for life and interaction with the world, this conversation sums it up:

Addison: [On the way home from running about 30 errands] I want to go to parties now!

Me: It’s time to go home.

Addison: NO! I want to go to parties!

Me: Home.

Addison: Can parties come to our house? [Note: Over your father’s cold, dead body.]

Besides parties, Addison is also keenly interested in marrying, dying, and driving cars – she can’t wait to grow up and do all those things (we’re still trying to determine how disturbed we should be about this). She is alternately heart-burstingly adorable and frustratingly obstinate, but never, never dull.

In April, Neal formally launched his blogging/writing career and has now officially interacted with more people online in 8 months than he did in person in his previous 28 years. He mostly blogs and draws comics about being a stay-at-home dad at Raised by my daughter, but he also became a monthly contributor to a larger book review blog. His comics have been picked up by some larger websites and bloggers, and he’s amassed a small group of ardent fans. Thanks random people on the internet for believing in his talents!

For me, this year had some ups and downs health-wise, which is why it was such a godsend to get a job as an online adjunct faculty at a university. Teaching in my pajamas? Yes, please! So far I teach a general family studies course – everything from parenting styles to courtship trends, relationship dynamics to abuse – but I hope to pick up a personal finance course next year. One of my pet projects, a paper encouraging financial educators to outreach to incarcerated populations and tailor their curricula accordingly, was accepted for publication this month, so that was a great way to end my year! I still blog occasionally (obviously), though “real life” seems to have interfered with my verbosity.

Wishing all the best to you and yours!


I thought we could get one quick snapshot of all 3 of us looking at the camera, but 20 tries later, forget about it. This is why, when asked what kind of girl she is, Addison says, “I’m always reaching for stuff.” True that. (If you need a hit of her sweet smile, go here.)

Neal perfectly capturing our extrovert-to-the-10th-power:

overly friendly at the park


December 11, 2012

Two lessons from my mom:

Filed under: Family, Personal, Teaching — Tags: , , , , , , , — llcall @ 10:33 pm


In Relief Society on Sunday, I taught a lesson about raising children (because, um, clearly I’ve got this!). One of the questions the manual posed was, What are some “daily acts” that bear witness of our beliefs to our children? When I read that, my mind immediately went back to a conversation with my mom just a couple of weeks before. She had been sick and missed church on the day that many leadership positions and callings in our ward were changed. (The LDS Church has no professional clergy and instead depends on volunteerism and a system of rotating responsibilities throughout the membership.) She was eager to hear about the changes when I returned home. Our conversation went like this:

Me: RN became Relief Society president.

Mom: Oh, she’ll be great! She’s such a powerful speaker.

Me: Her counselors are SJ and —

Mom: She’ll do a wonderful job. She’s so loving.

Me: JT.

Mom: Oh, she’ll be fabulous. She’s so funny and engaging and makes friends easily.

Me: KL and LP got called to be ward missionaries.

Mom: Wow, they’ll be fantastic in those callings!

Me: So, just so we’re clear, do you think they’re going to be great or just kinda mediocre?

In some ways this conversation was such a small thing, but as I reflected on it I thought about how it encapsulates one of the most important lessons of my life: acknowledging and appreciating someone else’s strengths does not diminish yours. What a difference it makes in life to look for and embrace the good in others!


My mom is the quintessential “go-getter.” She never met a certification, degree, or job opportunity she wasn’t willing to assertively pursue. I have that in me too, but as a more introverted person, I think I feel less comfortable drawing attention to myself and my qualifications. I have always felt that the quality of my work would (eventually) speak for itself, so I did not need to spend much time networking. Many opportunities have come my way very naturally, but at the same time, I know I have left some things on the table because I was not willing to make contact with people if it felt even a little like self-promotion.

Last week I attended an online meeting with the university I teach for in which 30+ instructors eagerly discussed potential opportunities to add to their teaching load. Part of the master plan is to add another online class or two to get us to the income level we are hoping for, but I was beginning to doubt whether there would be more opportunities at this particular university as they have repeatedly said that their priority is to have each instructor teach one online course. When I logged out of the virtual meeting, I felt a bit deflated because although we were all on “the list,” the list to be used if the need ever arose, there were obviously a lot of instructors equally anxious to add another class. Still, the thought crossed my mind: I bet my mom would email the Online Scheduling Coordinator right now just to let him know she was ready and willing, with a little plug for how capable she was. So I did it. I sent a short email, something like I’m so glad my winter section carried — I look forward to teaching again! If you ever need another class filled, even at the last minute, I am very flexible and could step in. I have worked with non-traditional students in the past, so that would not be a problem. Also, I’ll DO ANYTHING! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! DON’T MAKE MY HUSBAND GET A REAL JOB!

Well, what do you know? Today, just 2 days later, I got a call from said Online Scheduling Coordinator asking if I would teach a second section of my course in the winter. Um, yes. No real jobs for us! (This is probably not exactly the outcome my mom thought she was promoting. Teaching lessons to kids: it’s a double-edged sword.)


I always thought of myself as being more like my dad: we share similar work habits and sleep tendencies (though Neal beat those night-owl tendencies right out of me). We both loathe shopping and raisins and celery. We both love finances and solitude. But the older I get the more I appreciate the lessons from my mother and how profoundly they have shaped me.

December 6, 2012

Duck Punt

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 7:31 am

Life’s been busy. I think I’m going in too many directions at once. In fact, I know I am after reading the to-do list I dashed out this afternoon:

  • Text Dee
  • Call Rach
  • Send thank you to Robin-Elise
  • Oil change
  • Complete monthly financial review
  • Figure out

Figure out what? The suspense is killing me!

This blog is, of course, suffering from the busy-life situation. Luckily, this will be the quietest Christmas we’ve ever had (probably like ever in my whole life) so there’s bound to be some blog love. Maybe that’s what I’ll ask Neal for for Christmas — another day to focus solely on my blog. I can’t think of anything I would value more. Except maybe two or three days.

At least Neal is doing a good job of recording Addison-related current events:

  • She’s still fixated on death.
  • The crazy hair is gone, replaced by a “shaggy chic” haircut from Neal (blogging AND haircutting — I know, right?).
  • She would like to kick a duck — apparently, that would be “SO special” to her.

Maybe she’s what I needed to figure out . . .

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