Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I support Ordain Women

This post has been a long time in coming. Initially I wanted to keep it to myself. I was one of the first 16 people to have a profile on Ordain Women (OW). Kate Kelly told me last fall I was the first profile up by about 15 seconds! To be honest, I didn't think the website would get much attention and it would fade into the background like other similar websites had done.

Some supporters, like my friend Suzette, have been upfront with their ward and stake leadership about their involvement. Suzette let her leaders them know when her profile was up, when she went to the Salt Lake Priesthood session actions, etc., and let them know she was open to any questions they might have for her about her involvement. I admire this. She's a good soul. I was not so forthright for a couple of reasons.

First, I try to not bother a bishop unless I have to. I don't want to take bishops away from their families if I don't have to. I save bishop meetings for temple recommend interviews, tithing settlements, the rare confession, and if they ask to meet with me for a calling. Other than that, I don't think extra meetings are needed. I don't want to be known as the woman who bothers the bishop for everything. My relationship with the Church and my relationship with my ward are two different things. I want to be known as the person magnifying her calling, accepting requests to give talks and prayers, bringing meals to people who need it, etc., not the one who calls up the bishop about things she puts on the Internet.

I also wanted to give the bishop and stake president plausible deniability. If there was any push from Salt Lake to discipline people on the site, they'd have the ability to go, "Oh? We had no idea she was involved with that! She never mentioned it to us..."

So I put it up as quietly as I could, which actually was not so quietly. The night before the site went live March 17, 2013, a person in my stake (excitedly) announced to a group of people in the stake, including the stake president and my current bishop (new as of fall 2013) and lots of ward members that this great Ordain Women site was going up the next day! My OW invisibility in my stake was gone before the site went live.

I just secretly hoped that people forgot what the url for the site was or that they had lives too busy to bother with the Bloggernacle.

And no one said anything to me, so that was good. I continued to do my calling, do my visiting teaching, all the normal Mormon-y things.

In October, right after we got a new bishop, I went to the Priesthood Session action, pretty quietly. I didn't tell many people about it. I didn't even tell my brother who lives in Utah that I was in town.

In November, McKay and I were asked to give talks at church. So we did. If the bishopric knew about my trip to Salt Lake the previous month, it apparently had no bearing on whether or not the bishop thought I'd be welcome to speak in sacrament meeting (btw- I rocked that talk!). At tithing settlement in December, the bishop was the one who brought up OW and I mentioned, "Oh, you know I have a profile up, yes?" He said he had read it when it was first up in March.

I went to the April 2014 action, this time with a little more openness. People in my visiting teaching group asked if I was going to the Priesthood session action and I was honest that I was.

I was getting good support and responses from people in my ward so by the time May came I thought, "Hey, I'll be open and spill it all out here!" But when I went to write this blog post, it was too long and wordy (as you can tell).

Then I heard that the fMh podcast was doing a series of episodes where OW supporters are interviewed. I thought, "Oh! That'd be a great way to shorten the post- tell it all there and then link to the podcast!" I signed up and recorded my interview.

The week after the podcast interview, it was announced that Kate Kelly had an impending disciplinary council.

That was a roller coaster for us all. I planned our local vigil for Kate Kelly. It was lovely and multiple people from my ward came in support. I have been so lucky and I'm grateful for my ward. I know they want me there and that they feel I'm an important part of the ward, even if I have some kooky ideas. Heck, even this past week I substituted for the youth Sunday School class and subbed for piano in Relief Society.

So, here I am linking to the interview if you want to listen. It was recorded before any discipline regarding Kate Kelly was made public, so that'll explain why that was never mentioned. I actually haven't listened to the podcast yet, so if the editors cut down the audio to say I hate kittens, I'm really sorry. I like kittens. If McKay weren't allergic, I'd get a cat.

So that's it!

I have an Ordain Women profile here. It was written March 2013, so if it seems "short" that's because we were told to keep it short and we had only so much room. I've seen longer profiles and I've been a teensy bit envious.

You can listen to the podcast episode here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Bike Camping

A couple of weeks ago, we biked to the ward campout. The campsite was 16 miles away and the trip included a 1000ft elevation climb.

I carried all the kids in the Madsen and McKay pulled the equipment in the trailer. Here we are getting ready to go:

Our plan was to bike up to church (only 7.5 miles into the trip, but up 700ft) and refill the water bottles, have a potty break, and change the baby's diaper. And then from there, finish the route.

When we bike to church on Sundays, it is usually in the morning, right after a good breakfast. It is also not normally hot out, nor am I carrying all 3 kids- McKay takes one in the trailer to even out the weight we are carrying. We get to church in 45 minutes- it's easy and we have no stops or trouble.

But on this day, it was hot, lunch had been 3 hours earlier, and I hadn't been keeping myself hydrated. So before we made it to the church building, I had to stop twice because of feeling nauseated from dehydration and heat. I might be doing a triathlon in September and the fact that I couldn't do a ride that I normally can was disheartening. True, there was an extra 45 pounds on my bike this time, but still! I had an assist!

Oh well. Then we continued. 8.5 miles to go. I hadn't quite used half of the power on my assist yet, so that was a good sign.

We went through some neighborhoods (more water stops, more hills, so many hills) until we found a hill that we learned later is notorious for being a terrible, no good, very bad hill. If you are a cyclist in Oakland, you may know it as "Butters Hill." I looked at that hill and knew for sure there was no way I could get up that with the kids. McKay pushed his way through the intimidating hill, using his assist at full. I made the kids get out and walk. Still, pushing that bike up the hill was no picnic. I think the bike is about 90 pounds on its own (with the assist and battery) plus the baby, who I did not take out of the bike... it was rough pushing that up the hill!

The hardest part of this leg of the ride was just that once we were on Redwood, it was all windy streets, motorcyclists and drivers passing us too closely and too quickly. There were no good places to stop. One of our fellow ward members passed us on his own bike- his wife and baby took all the equipment in the car. We gave him some water and watched him ride off on his 20 pound carbon frame road bike.

When we were about 2 miles out, the bishop came up and offered to take the kids. We took him up on that offer and so the last bit was a lot easier for me. McKay's BionX was completely drained by the time we got there and mine was down to almost nothing. But we made it!

 We tried out our Biolight.


I woke up way too early.


Linda was a bit muddy. Also, she liked this- it was "flying!"

The raccoons came and checked out our bike overnight.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Biking to the Fairgrounds

Last weekend, we biked to the county fairgrounds.

Sort of.

Last fall/winter, it was decided that bikes are allowed on BART at all times, if the cars are not crowded. I assumed I'd never be able to bring my bike on because it's 7 feet long and definitely not something I could carry on the stairs. But I wanted to try.

To enter my knitting into the county fair, I had to take it to the fairgrounds on one of two days. Now, I could rent a Zipcar, but I thought it would be fun to try to bike. I was also thinking we'd bike over to Livermore after going to Pleasanton (where the fairgrounds are), but we ended up not doing that.

I have a friend who has a Madsen in Dublin and I asked her about bringing her bike on BART. She said that the elevators in Pleasanton would be able to accommodate it, but she couldn't vouch for other BART stations. So there was hope!

First, we headed downtown. At the first BART station (19th Street), we discovered the elevators were too small. Then we tried the 12th street station, where they were also too small. There was one more station nearby, so we biked over to the Lake Merritt Station. Also, too small.

But there's a secret about me that's not too secret: if I think I can do it, I probably will do it. And I was going to get that bike into that elevator.

So I did. My 7 foot 70 pound cargo bike is somewhat vertical here.

Funny thing: I got myself stuck behind the bike in such a way that I could not push the button to go down into the BART station. I went with my bike first, then my husband and kids pushed the button so they could get the elevator when I was done. It opened the door and look! They saw me there! So they pushed the button for me and I got the bike down the first elevator! The people doing Tai Chi in the BART station loved my bike (and my kids).

We paid for our tickets and had to find the next elevator to go from the ticket area down to the tracks. And when we found it, we discovered we were the luckiest people in the world. The bike fit in this elevator!

 So we got onto the BART and rode to Pleasanton. The bike kind-of fits in the "bike parking" spot on the BART.

Biking in Pleasanton is... not nice. It's very suburban so the people aren't used to seeing bikes, even though we rode in bike lanes almost the whole time. In suburbia biking is more often recreational activity and not a commuting activity. I saw lots of people biking on sidewalks, which we rarely see here (and is illegal at least in Berkeley).

But we got to the Fairgrounds and here's a selfie in front of the building that my knitting now sits in.

It had been a long day and the day before, we started dog-sitting for a friend of mine. McKay was worried about the dogs being alone while we were gone, so our plans to go to Livermore were ditched and we came home.

On the way home, someone was sitting in the seats by the bike priority area, so the back end stuck out into the doors a lot more than on the way there.

Someone had told us they thought the Ashby BART would have larger elevators than the Oakland ones, so we switched BART trains to go up to Berkeley. On this train, no one was in the seats by the bike area, and our bike actually did fit and did not stick out into the door area.

Group selfie on the BART

Linda was being cute. That's McKay's bike next to mine.

Babies dig the BART.

When we got off at Ashby, we found the elevator: too small. We let other people go while we tried to figure out what to do. Suddenly, the service elevator opened up behind us and lo! The bike fit! If we BART with our bike again, I now know to bike to the Ashby BART. I need to learn if any of the San Francisco BART elevators can accommodate me. If they can, then a whole new world of adventures will open up to us.

I'd love to take the BART to SF and bike the Golden Gate Bridge.

Anybody know if the SF BART elevators can fit long cargo bikes?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Facebook breastfeeding policies

I have so much to catch you all up on! Carfree biking adventures! Mormon-y goodness! Knitting! And of course, life things.

But first, for those of you who have been following this blog for the past 6 years, you might remember a little thing called the Facebook Nurse-in of 2008!

Remember that? Remember how Facebook was all, "We're the man and go away!" Well, slowly over the past few years, we've had more nurse-ins and they've lightened up on their policies. They really didn't have a policy at all 6 years ago. Then it became, "It's ok as long as no nipples are showing..."

And now it's officially ok to have breastfeeding photos on Facebook.

A local lactivist, Paala, just sent me a video about how Facebook has made this (quietly) official. They mention me in the video. I'm the "Utah Mom Heather Farley..." Also, you may recognize the photo of me nursing Margaret from 6 years ago.

It's a bit satisfying to see this play out and watch the discrimination disappear. Hooray!

Linda is having a celebratory drink.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cyclofemme and Elly Blue

A couple of weekends ago, I rode almost 50 miles in 2 days. I decided to cut out part of my riding mileage, so it was only about 45 miles total.

The first day I ended up going all the way out to the Oakland Coliseum with the Oakland Library and Elly Blue.

On the second day, I ditched the last hour of church (because Mother's Day) and went to Cyclofemme.

It was a busy weekend for biking, but it was fun! The day after Cyclofemme, I hit 100 miles for the month of May!

Friday, May 23, 2014


A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to see a screening of Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland at PLACE for Sustainable Living. You can see a snippet/preview here.

I came to the movie without a lot of understanding of Critical Mass. I'm knew to bicycling and bicycling advocacy. I had heard Maria Schur's account of stumbling upon Critical Mass in 1992, but that's all I knew.

I really enjoyed following the story. Today while listening to the Sprocket Podcast, I heard Joe Biel described his movie as demonstrating how advocacy and activism need each other for movements to happen. With Critical Mass, advocates who were using committees and votes to transform the bicycling community in Portland claimed that the activists of Critical Mass were hurting the cause, and vice versa. I think that Aftermass gives us an interesting case study in how activists and advocates are both needed for change to happen.

I think it spans causes and in my own Mormon feminist world, I think it's an important discussion and something I've been thinking on lately.

I think if you're interested in activism or advocacy in any cause, it would be good to watch Aftermass. It's not long and Joe Biel is doing a screening tour this summer, so see if it's in your area. The DVD is about $20 and if that's too pricey for you, maybe it isn't too pricey for your local library- I know our librarians love recommendations for new acquisitions!

Oh, and a little selfie with Elly Blue, who I got to meet at the screening.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Inquisition Monday: Homeschool Classes

Last week I got this question.

I follow your blog and was wondering how you found out about all the cool classes Margaret is in.
This is kind of a big question because I find out about classes in lots of different ways and all due to community. We're lucky that we live in a large metropolitan area. More people = more homeschoolers in the area = more classes/groups/support.

When I first wanted to connect with the homeschooling community, I did a general search for homeschool groups in Oakland, and a search for Yahoo groups in the Bay Area. If I were searching now, I'd probably increase my search to Google groups, Meetup, and Facebook Groups.

With my initial search for Yahoo groups, I found like 5 various Bay Area ones. There's a lot of overlap between them all, but they all seemed fairly active and so I signed up for the emails. Through those initial yahoo groups, I get emails from other homeschoolers who are sharing classes that their kids are in. It's actually a lot of email, but I skim it for "Oakland" or "Berkeley" or other close cities and ignore the rest. I you are in the Bay Area, there are a lot of homeschoolers in the South Bay and Peninsula. I see "San Jose" and "Santa Clara" listed a lot.

It's through those yahoo groups that I found the Lego classes that Margaret took.

Also, as I go through those emails, I note if there is a cool class, but it's offered to an age or grade level above where we're at. If it's run by a company (for example, the Lego classes were by Play-well), I go to their site and "pin" them to a Pinterest board, noting the age/grade level. That way, when my kids get bigger, I have places to look for other interesting classes.

In the midst of the initial search for homeschool groups, I found 3* groups that meet in the Oakland area for park days. I tried each out and chose one to keep going to based on distance from my house and day of the week.

I started going to our homeschool park group years ago. My kids made friends with other kids and I also hear about homeschool classes through word of mouth. For example, I discovered Hacker Scouts/Curiousity Hacked because it was founded by one of the moms in the homeschool park group we attend. She advertised it in a few of the Yahoo groups, too. This is also how I've found out about the California Academy of Sciences homeschool days. Check out museums to see if they host homeschool days!

California Academy of Sciences Homeschool Day!
Another really great resource for homeschooling connections is the HomeSchool Association of California. It has a page about how to legally homeschool in California, and that's how I found about charter schools with independent study programs. Then with that knowledge, I asked around to my park group and found out which people used those and the pros/cons of signing up with different schools. We chose a school that gives less money, but doesn't require as much busywork as another. There is even another school that gives even less money than ours, but to make up for that, they have a very strong community and offer cheaper classes through the school. In California, you are limited to charter schools that are in your own county or are in a county adjacent to your county, so I think we have just those 3 charter school options.

Through the park day group, I found out what other kids with the same charter school were doing and that's how we got Margaret in clay classes. She got to be with her park day friends and use similar funding amounts.

If you can find your state's homeschool coalition, they may have information about ways to homeschool and you might find resources like that. Or they may link to emails of people who are involved with local groups.

Another great way is to go out in public and run into other families who have kids at the store/park/post office/etc during school hours. I haven't found a lot of people that way, but I've come across one or two.

Lastly, I found her Waldorf Kindergarten class through our neighborhood email list when one of our neighbors was looking for more kids for a class. Our neighborhood has both a Yahoo group and a Nextdoor group.

Another way is to start your own classes or ask someone. I imagine if I wanted my kids to do a bike maintenance class, I could ask a local bike shop if they would do something for a class. I've seen other homeschool parents set up fire station field trips and science museum classes that way.

As I write this, I see how long this is and it might look like it's a lot of work do to that. But really, I just put my feelers out there- sign up for all the email lists, get connected with my community. I don't read everything- just skim for key words. I always read the library's newsletter for events and check community bulletin boards. And things come my way. It's just about being aware of events.

Search out classes like this:

  • Yahoo/Google/Meetup/Facebook homeschool groups
  • Local museum homeschool days
  • Your state's homeschool coalition
  • Libraries/bulletin boards
  • Social media- search Twitter or Pinterest for #homeschool or #yourcity'sname 
  • Make your own

I hope that helps! Really, finding the local park day group has been the best resource because from there I hear about the state coalition and charter schools and other community events.