Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas

Mostly pictures for the Christmas post.


For Christmas, we went to McKay's parents'. His dad is a mall Santa, so we showed up in line and surprised him.

We had packed everything in the back of a van that we are borrowing from a friend because we spent Christmas Eve there and opened up all the presents there.

We had chocolate.

Christmas morning we opened presents.




 Legos!




And a few cool presents: Linda got an alphabet board book.

 I got Elly Blue's Bikenomics!

Margaret got a new bike, with a bell!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Regular Life

I haven't blogged much because I think we've been doing regular life things and they don't need a lot of note.

This month:

I spent a week with nipple pain because the baby's molars are trying to come in. She's not biting, it's just that teething makes saliva more caustic (to help teeth erupt) and that has an adverse effect on my skin. The whole week I kept chanting to myself, "This will pass; this will pass." It did. I haven't blogged much about breastfeeding. I'm also pumping for some friends who have adopted a baby. That's a new experience, too. My pumping experience was mostly me relieving engorgement in Margaret's early weeks, now I have a little more.

We went to Fairyland. Also parks. I turned 28 and saw the Improvibles do a show on my birthday. Yay free birthday date.

Santa at Winter Fairyland
The baby has taken to standing on her own for a few seconds at a time. Walking may happen in the next month or so.

We finished the "toy room" and this weekend did some sorting of stuff from the office. We bought new dining room chairs yesterday. They are used and could use reupholstering. Margaret wants Pikachu fabric on one chair for her and Isaac wants dinosaur fabric. At first I wanted to say, "No! These are nice! We should have at least one set of things that match in this house!" but now as I think about it, why not? When the kids grow up and leave I can have them my way.

As I type this, the neighbors upstairs are watching a movie and the ceiling is rumbling from the bass. I keep having mini-panicks that it's an earthquake.

Christmas also happened. Any bikey presents will be featured in future blog posts. I haven't oploaded my Christmas pictures yet, so we'll wait on that


New Years is about to happen. I didn't make any resolutions last year because a baby was expected, but I am making resolutions this year.

Also, a cherpumple will happen this week. Yes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Homeschool December

So our "ES" (Educational Supervisor) just left and so I guess it's time for another "what we did to meet our homeschooling requirements" post this month.

Once again, we had to give 4 samples: Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies.

Language Arts: worksheet on opposites from a dollar store workbook.
Math: worksheet on the number "4" from a dollar store workbook.
Science: We cut off the bottom of our Christmas tree and counted the rings to find out how old the tree was (12 years). She glued the piece to a paper and wrote on it "12 rings, 12 years."
Social Studies: Drew a more accurate map of how we walk to the library. She included houses we pass by and streets we cross, but don't go down.

Margaret also read a short book to our ES to show she's been learning to read.

So that's it for our bare minimum. We've been doing other things that aren't required to be turned in as well as Christmas-readying. Trips this month have included Fairyland, the library, getting the Christmas tree, and lots of park days and clay classes. I think next semester we'll enroll her in a woodworking class, too.

Library: made snow globes!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Christmas Tree Day

We got our Christmas tree today! It was fun and adventurous! We got it from the Cal Forestry Club Christmas sale. They go up to the Sierras and cut down trees that are too close to others and won't make it to full maturity anyway, then bring them back and sell them as Christmas trees. It's eco-friendly Christmas for only $6/foot. The trees aren't the "prettiest" but they have "charm."

Ready to embark on our tree hunt. Trailer for the tree, kids in the Madsen.


Tree found!

Tree bungeed in (put a Finch on it).

McKay and the tree.

In the house. Looks a little sad, but hey, it cost only $36.

Decorating.


Aww...

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

December

Hey,

It's December. Bet you hadn't noticed. What happened to November? Well, I had pink eye for 2 weeks (yay contacts), went to Disneyland, did some programming (taking Python), journaled a bit, gave a talk at church (it was fabulous!), made 8 pies (also fabulous), had Thanksgiving dinner, and finally did turn the office into a toy room, though we are still working on redecorating the rest of the house (plus Christmas!).


That, in a nutshell is it all. There were some up times, there were some down times. Park days happened, LLL meetings happened, conference calls happened, podcasts were published, and installing the BionX happened. It's all happening. And I have almost no time to blog. That's life for you.

I'll chime in when I can. I have Linda's stocking to knit, Christmas cards to get out, programming to finish (I'm currently programming an Asteroids-type game), Christmas presents to figure out, and piles of things to sell on Craigslist. It's a party here!

Oh right, I shaved my head last weekend. No more helmet hair!


Friday, November 22, 2013

November Homeschool

So we've been busy. Turned the office into a toy room, but we still need to organize all the stuff that used to be in the office. Hoping to finish that before next week.

The ES from the charter school came again today. Since I've been sharing what we've done for the ES, I thought I'd do it again.

Language arts and math: more worksheet pages from the $1 workbooks I mentioned in last month's homeschool post. Pretty easy, straight-forward

Social Studies: Margaret drew a map.

Science: Liquid nitrogen ice cream.


Violin is also going well. She has a holiday performance in December so rehearsals for that are starting.

Last day of Lego class was yesterday so our Thursdays are free again! She loved Lego class and is hoping for Legos for Christmas. We'll see... Legos are so expensive!

The unschooling group hosts a yearly holiday homeschool craft fair benefitting the Berkeley Women's Daytime Drop-in Center. We might be going to that next month. I don't think I have the time to run a make-and-take table, though.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

NaNo

For those of you who follow me over at the Exponent, you know that I'm sort-of-but-not-really doing NaNo this month. I'm doing a modified version I'm calling "NaJoWriMo" and doing journal writing.

I have a "journal" as a google doc and I just type up my day and other thoughts there. I haven't journaled for today, but over the past two days have done 3741 words, which is right on track. The entries are just a couple of paragraphs about the day and then I type up some stories from my past so that they are preserved before I forget them. Whether or not anyone will ever read it is up to a guess.

I'm thinking I'll give you all weekly updates of my word count just for support. I also have a couple of other projects happening right now: a programming class, other writing projects, knitting projects. Things are happening, and I think they are good things.

Friday, October 25, 2013

October Homeschool

Last month I shared what we turned into our ES for our charter school, so I thought I'd do it again this month. We have to have 4 samples: English, math, science, social studies.

For English and math, I found a couple of $1 "workbooks" at a store. We don't do work from them regularly. She just did a page from each of them to turn into the ES today: things like "count the red balls in the picture" and "match the lower case letters with the capital letters." Tear out the pages and turn it in!

For science, I just printed out this picture to give a copy to the ES. This is from Lego class. The Lego teacher said that the bridge project is usually a whole day of day camp and he had never done it in an hour and a half before, but Margaret's class did it!


When the ES was here last time, she said social studies in kindergarten can focus on the family, so Margaret simply drew a picture of her family. Easy peasy.

So those are the hoops we are jumping through for the money this month. The money pays for Lego class and clay class. She comes home with 2-3 new pottery pieces every week, so I think that's a success. This week's finished objects were 2 bowls and a Halloween spider.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Train of the Thoughts

So some thoughts today. Maybe I can make some sense out of things.

I haven't blogged much about birth/breastfeeding lately. But still doing that breastfeeding thing. I've been breastfeeding for over five and a half years straight! Wow. That's kind of intense. Still helping people out with the breastfeeding stuff, too. Here're a couple of older links I've been sharing with moms that might be useful to some of you:

Maximizing Production. This is a Stanford video that shows techniques for breast compressions during pumping to help maximize what you're pumping. The video is especially geared toward premies and newborns.

Best for Babes had an article about skin-to-skin and laid back nursing as a way to overcome latch problems. I've shared this with multiple moms and it has helped moms wean from the nipple shield and get better latches, so I'd say it's good stuff.

Being 9 months out from having a baby, I don't feel like I'm in the birthing world much, but I was recently approached about a non-profit in Oakland that deals with birth, pregnancy, and parenting support. The people involved are good people and so I think I'm going to see what I can do for them. When I have more info, I'll share here.

And on life. It's funny- I've blogged about the guilt of not having a clean house before, but I think I've really turned a corner on that. It's always messy and even though I've said I'm ok with it, I haven't always been. This past week, though, when I thought about the messy house, I started fighting back by asking the guilt, "Well, what should I give up to have time to clean? My homework (taking a programming class)? My knitting? Taking my kids to their classes? Eating?" Until I find something that's less important than cleaning the house, it's on the bottom of my list.

Though, I am wondering if we should make a "play room" for all the kids' stuff. We have toys in the living room, toys in the dining room, toys end up in the kitchen and bathroom and hallway and sometimes in the bedroom. And it sounds like a good idea to have all the kid stuff together. It'll take a lot of work to move everything (shelves! wardrobes! huge things!) but maybe. We have a busy week with classes and Halloween parties and such. And knitting. That's important too.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Ordain Women Trip

Two weeks ago, I was in Salt Lake for the Ordain Women Action. I haven't blogged about it here for a couple of reasons: first, I wasn't sure what to say that hadn't already been said other places. Second, this is a highly controversial topic in Mormondom and I didn't want to alienate readers.

I was originally going to write about how I made the decision to go, but that's included in this Exponent post. I think instead I will write about the actual experience of going and maybe include any reactions from the ward (so far), which aren't many.

I was very excited and nervous to go. I took the train for expense reasons and because I swore I'd never drive across Nevada again. It was a nice ride and I spent it with Heidi, who wrote up her experience at Rational Faiths. For the record, I'm the one who took the picture of her reading Buffy on the train.

Donner Lake from the train
When it got to be bedtime on the train, I put the baby to sleep in the wrap and tried to sleep sitting up. Unfortunately, the baby stirred every 30-45 minutes and so I didn't get to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time. I also happened to wake up right when we passed big destinations: Elko, Wendover, the Morton Salt factory. When it got to 2:45am, I decided to officially "wake up" and gather my things. We got into Salt Lake City at 3:05. My friend April picked me up and after I got everything together, she drove us back to her house where a bed was waiting. Very grateful for that.

Linda decided to wake up early and so we got up and had breakfast. Linda and I were still tired, so we took a nap that morning and slept through the first session of conference. Oops. Lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich, Linda played with April's kids (whom she loved!) and in the afternoon, April and I got ready to go to the park where we were meeting everyone.

April and I did some chatting. She had been on the local news stations the weekend before. One of the complaints she heard about Ordain Women was that it was so public. She said, though, that OW didn't send any press releases out. They were contacted by the press for interviews only after the Church sent out a press release and linked to OW. If the Church had just ignore the whole thing, it wouldn't have been as big of a deal.

April's house has stairs! Our house doesn't have these.
I left Linda with April's husband and children. She was very tired because she hadn't had a nap since the morning, so I figured she'd go to sleep. April and I drove to downtown and found parking and made our way to the park where the OW people were meeting. I also got to take a picture of Salt Lake City's bike share.

There were opening exercises with a prayer, hymn, pep talk and then we lined up to walk to the Tabernacle where the stand by line was positioned this year. They passed out cards with names of women who said they wished they could be there, but couldn't. When I had dressed for the evening, I had written down names of my children and other people important to me that I was going to be there for and put the list in my sock. It actually stayed in my sock until Sunday afternoon when I finally got home (didn't have time to change out of the socks!)

I was there as the "official Tweeter" for the Exponent, so I was taking pictures and documenting the events as they were happening. The Exponent is dedicated to all women's stories, so I was careful to only document, not give my opinions. The next day, Mraynes at the Exponent put together many of the tweets and you can see what happened here.

Two weeks prior to going, I had a thought/impression and it said, "Are you prepared for the possibility that this is going to hurt and you're going to cry?" I had been so excited and upbeat about it that I was shocked that this came out of the blue. Then, when we were turned down as a group and it was decided we'd go up individually and ask, the thought came back with, "This is why you needed to prepare for this." I don't cry a lot. I didn't even cry at my wedding. As I got closer to the front of the line, I figured out what I was going to say to the usher: "Is there space for me?"

In all, the interaction with the usher was fast. I was near the end of the line, so all the media which had been taking pictures of each person at the line had gotten tired. I don't have a well-done professional picture of me up at the line like many of the other women. Almost on accident, a person walking by took a picture of my back at the front of the line and tweeted it. It got around to me.

I was one of the last ones to ask and so not long after, we had a "closing song" and then walked back to the park. Almost everyone listened to the session on their phones and other devices. April and I walked back to the car so I could get back to my baby and on the way we ran into some of McKay's family.

At April's, I learned that Linda had only a half hour of nap, so after getting out of our dresses and into comfortable clothes, April and I drove to dinner, hoping she'd fall asleep in the car. She didn't. At dinner, I was able to talk to Kate Kelly (who I have so much respect for- it's hard to be the public face of a movement!) and she told me that my profile was the very first one up on the website, OrdainWomen.org, by about 15 seconds and that's why it's at the very bottom on the right. Also note to self: send in new non-pregnant photos of myself!

After a good meal, April dropped me off at the train station. The train left Utah at 11:30 and the baby still hadn't slept. It was cold and I got some criticism about my baby not wearing socks, but once we were on the train, it was ok. She ended up teething the whole way home and woke up every half hour crying. I felt bad for the other passengers on the train, but there wasn't much I could do. I think I got about 5 hours of sleep on the way home counting nighttime sleep and a small nap.

When we got home to Emeryville, I had to walk home with all my stuff because McKay and the kids were at Margaret's first violin performance. I happened to get home when they were arriving home, but I didn't get to crash and sleep until 11pm. I never made up the sleep and 2 weeks later I'm still tired. It hasn't helped that the baby was teething and then got a fever the Wednesday afterwards, followed by Isaac on Friday and Margaret on Saturday. I was lucky and got mastitis on Saturday, too! Then this week Margaret got food poisoning (we hope) Wednesday.

I think we're done recuperating. I was sad I didn't get a picture of me asking that included my face. I asked around and the guy in the Twitter picture with a camcorder and purple shirt, did catch everyone asking on camera, and while the footage isn't available for everyone to see yet, I got a chance to snag a screenshot. I was nervous to watch the footage. It felt a lot like watching the video Linda's birth: it's so different to be outside of yourself in such an intense moment. It happened so quickly on the video, but so many thoughts were going through my head. I showed it to McKay and if you watch my face, I smile through most of it, but once I turned away so the next person could ask, my chin immediately scrunched up, ready to cry. Watching it reminded me of how sad my kids look when they are sad. I know where they got it from now. Like the Spirit warned me, I cried.


I think the biggest testimony to me that this is what I should be doing is that while planning for this event and going to it, I've felt more spiritual promptings than I have in a long time. The small voice that I might end up crying was just one of many premonitions about myself and other people that turned into deja vu moments. The universe and God are looking out for me and I think we're on the same page.

It wasn't about getting into the session. I'm absolutely fine with separate meetings for men and women, but I'm not fine with automatically exempting good people from leadership positions and spiritual experiences because they are female. We were there to say, "Hey, we're ready to take on the extra responsibility of priesthood and we're not afraid of what that entails." I went because so many women could not without harming their own family or church relationships. McKay is supportive of me and so is my ward. I'm in a particularly blessed congregation in the Mormon world where they really do live Big Tent Mormonism and are inclusive of everyone.

I don't shout my opinions of Ordain Women everywhere. Heck, I wasn't sure I'd put it up here on my own blog. If I wanted to shout about it, I get the chance to every fast and testimony Sunday, but I don't take it. It is plausible that no one in my ward knows that I'm associated with Ordain Women. But I know they know.

On the Tuesday after General Conference, I went to our ward's Relief Society book group. One of the women came up to me and with great interest, asked me how conference was and if we got in. I had never mentioned OW to her before, yet she knew.

Last March on the day before the profiles went up, Carol Lynn Pearson announced to a room which included many people from my ward and stake, including the then-RS president and our current bishop, that there was this new site being launched the next day called Ordain Women and everyone should read the profiles. At the time there were only 20 profiles up, so if they did go to the site the next day, it's highly likely I was noticed.

Still, no one has said anything. In June when the Sunday School topic for the youth was "Priesthood" I was asked to substitute teach the youth for three weeks. The teacher who would be out of town on vacation knew I was on the OW website but still wanted me there to sub. I actually didn't ever talk about my opinions about women and the priesthood, though I guess I could have.

Later in July, during adult Sunday School, an older high priest commented that he hoped that women would get the priesthood someday. My ward is good people.

In the temple recommend questions, I think the hardest question is the one that starts, "Are you honest in your dealings..." I think it's a trick question; saying "yes" is obviously a lie! Interestingly, the question doesn't ask about being honest with yourself, just other people. Five years ago at church in Provo, I promised myself that if women get the priesthood in my lifetime and I am a 90-something year old woman making a comment in Relief Society, that I'll say that I hoped and prayed and fasted for the priesthood to be available to all worthy people and that I did everything I could for it. And I think that so far, I've kept that promise.


Friday, October 11, 2013

DIY BionX install, part 1

So...

After asking around to bike shops and being turned down, we are going to install our BionX ourselves. Bike shops will install the BionX if you buy from them, but since we bought the BionX last winter, mistakingly thinking that was a good idea, we are out of luck with that.


With some round and round with frame builders, we ended up with Ed Litton in Richmond for adding the rivnuts so our BionX battery has a place to hang out. Last Thursday, McKay took a cargo Zipvan with the bike in it up to Richmond and we now have rivnuts!!





Next up? Installing the wheel.

First issue: we did not have a freewheel remover. But in that little venture of removing our wheel, we gave our derailleur a bit of a tune up. No more poor gear switching!

One of McKay's coworkers is really into biking and he brought a free wheel remover to work for us. McKay and he took the bike apart during the lunch the other day to discover that we need a freewheel. These days, most bikes have cassettes, especially bike with lots of gears. Free wheels are more common in smaller gears. According to the Madsen website, the Madsen has 8 speeds, however, by some strange surprise, ours has 9 sprockets! So not only do we need a freewheel for lots of gears... we need one for the extremely rare 9-speed set up. That or we remove a gear and get a new derailleur and do only 8 gears.

So that's where we're at: looking for a good 9-speed free wheel. We called REI and they couldn't help us, so I think we'll just order one online. We also need to buy extension cords for the BionX so the cords can span the long length of our bike. But at least we have an idea of what to do next. To the Internet!

Oh, last week, our bike met a friend. It's a folding Xtracycle with a Hooptie for 3 kids! I'd love to upgrade to an Xtracycle when the baby is bigger. The folding one fits in the BART elevators! Ooooh...


Friday, September 27, 2013

Schooly things

So I think we know what we're doing. Margaret is taking violin, Lego engineering, the Waldorf kindergarten class, and now clay. A friend of hers takes clay and really loves it, so they sent us a coupon to try a free class out. When I picked her up, one of the instructors told me she never left the wheel and she showed me the three things she made: 2 plates and a flower pot. They were painted with glaze and just needed firing in the kiln. So I guess that means she likes pottery! Luckily, our charter school will pay for that as well. Yay! Now we need to clear off a couple of shelves for all the stuff she's going to be making- 3 pieces a week?!

Our ES (I think that stands for Educational Supervisor) came by today. In order to get the funds, the school has to "prove" that the students are doing learning, so we have to supply work samples monthly. We have to do 4 samples: language arts, math, science, and social studies. I thought I'd share what we did.

Language Arts: I found a printable online of lots of letters and the student is supposed to circle the vowels. Margaret is learning to read and I'll give her "rules" like, "When there's the e there, it makes the vowel say its name," so having her identify vowels fit in.

Math: Printed this out and had her color it, cut it, and write the answer to all the questions on each page.

Science: Did one of those simple sink/float demonstrations and she wrote down which things sank or floated in the bucket of water. Nice and simple. She's actually been really interested in conservation lately, so I think next month we'll do an environmental project. Maybe. Or label the parts of a pumpkin.

Social Science: Printed out a copy of the California state flag and she colored it.

They just want the bare minimum. The teacher said that the gardening in the Waldorf class or the construction in the Lego class can count as science, so if I want to take a picture of her doing those things and send that in, that's fine. Drawing a picture of the family can count as social studies. You pretty much can't mess up kindergarten.

What about Isaac? Well, while Margaret is in her Lego and clay classes, we go to a nearby park. It would a waste of time to cycle home and then turn around and cycle back to pick her up at the end of the class.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Separation

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how I got a little anxious dropping Margaret off at Lego class on the first day so I felt somewhat empathetic to other moms dropping off their kindergarteners for the first time at school. I get very cerebral and my brain was doing this:

Ok. Dropping her off. I read so many "drop her off" posts on Facebook recently. It's normal to be nervous, but don't don't don't be the clingy mom. Turn and go. But the teacher- I don't even know him. I'm sure there's a background check. It's a class full of other kids, what's going to happen? Oh and there's her one friend. At least she'll know him. I don't think I've ever done a "drop off" class before. Let's make sure it's drop off. "Is this a drop off class?" Ok it is. "Alright Margaret, I'm going to go. I'll be back. Do you want a hug?" Oh goodness, the hug was not necessary and I'm just being clingy. Abort! Abort! Get out of there before you turn into the clingy mom! "Um. Ok, Margaret. Bye!" Ok. Walk away, walk away. Am I walking funny? Do I look natural or like a nervous clingy mom. One last time: she's fine, you'll be back soon. Now you need to go grocery shopping.

In my brain I was very paranoid. But you know, I did get over it. Then this week, Margaret started going to a once a week Waldorf kindergarten class and one of the other students is also in her Lego class. The mom came up to me and mentioned that she was watching me drop Margaret off that first day (Oh no! She could see right through me!) and said that it was the best drop off she's ever seen and I didn't look nervous and Margaret was totally fine and confident.

So yay! Watch me pull the wool over everyone's eyes! I'm totally confident and instill awesome confidence in my children. Haha!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weddings and such

Since I have The Exponent as a Mormon blogging outlet, I haven't needed to do much here. (Self-promotion: if you teach YWs, The Exponent now does YW lesson plans as well as RS lesson plans and I posted this one last week for an October lesson.)

But I read the Slate article, Sorry Your Friends Can't Come to Your Mormon Wedding and had lots of thoughts.

First, let me give some background. I got married ridiculously young (20) and got extremely lucky in the craps game of finding a spouse. Really lucky.

Also, I grew up Mormon (still am!) and the thing about Mormons... well, we really get ourselves involved in "marriage." See exhibits: that polygamy thing we try to ignore and Prop 8 (which the Church is also doing a pretty good "ignore" on).

Anyway, I grew up with lessons that emphasized getting married in the temple over not. Which is funny because my own parents did the "get married civilly, then a temple sealing a year later" route themselves.

Mormons like to tout the "families are forever" message as one of the most important aspects of the religion, and to be able to have an "eternal family" you need to be "sealed" in the temple. This typically revolves around the marriage relationship: couples are sealed together at marriage (or afterwards) and then children are sealed to the parents, thus keeping the family "together forever." The Slate article above demonstrates that in places in the world where weddings must be public, a Mormon couple can be married civilly then sealed not long afterwards. In places where governments don't require that, there is huge pressure to be married in the temple first and not have to wait a year for the sealing. One drawback: only other adult temple-worthy Mormons (temple worthy means you are baptized and pass an interview with 2 local leaders), so that leaves out a lot of people- even younger siblings (my sister was my 1 bridesmaid and she couldn't attend our sealing).

My family who came. Four of them (McKay and I and my parents) saw the sealing. Four out of nine is a failing grade.
To be honest, I'm not particularly close with a lot of my extended family (and admittedly, even siblings), so it didn't bother me too much that some people sat outside during the sealing. After all, it was just what you did. Although, now that I think about it... wow. HARSH. I need to go and apologize to the grandparents. During the sealing there was some obvious imbalance. The side of the room that my family sat one was very empty. There is the cultural pressure to be sealed first to "prove" you hadn't sinned. If you had premarital sex, you wouldn't be "temple-worthy" and would probably get civilly married and sealed a year later. Without that cultural pressure, would I have gotten married civilly first? I don't know, maybe. I hope the Family First Weddings site get a lot of traction and the policy changes because it is so obviously policy and not doctrine.

Another thing I never gave much thought to was vows. The sealing is specific and the ceremony has to be said exactly how it is said, but no one talks about what is said. I didn't know my vows ahead a time and it would have been impossible for me to know. Of course, I was practical about vows and it really didn't matter to me. In fact, I didn't get why people cared to write their own vows: no matter what you say, marriage is the same on paper. I could write my vows to say that every night after dinner we'd play laser tag, but once the marriage certificate is signed, I would get the same legal results of any other marriage: visitation rights in hospitals, legal requirement to support subsequent children, tax benefits of filing jointly, etc. So really, who cares about what the vows say? As shallow as it sounds, it wasn't until the "Royal Wedding" and hearing that they wrote their own vows that I finally "got it" and realized: oh! it's supposed to be a way to confess your love to the other person in front of your friends and family. The whole purpose of weddings just went right over my head. I probably should have just gotten married at the courthouse.

Not totally related to Mormon-ness, but sort of... When it came to the other aspects of getting married: wedding colors, bridal party, venue, photographer, etc., I felt like I had to prove that I wasn't a bridezilla. Except for the colors (purple and light blue), everything else was done so that I wasn't a burden on my parents. The photographer was a NASCAR photographer, so no experience with weddings, but he was cheap!
Look! The temple is sideways! That's because you have to pretend we're racing around in circles at ridiculously high speeds. 
I wish I had gotten better pictures, though. I lied to my parents about the cost of my wedding dress and made up the extra out of my own pocket so I could have the one I wanted.
I look like a cupcake and I rock the cupcake look. Poofy!
My sister was the only bridesmaid and she got to pick a dress that was on clearance on the Internet that matched the colors. I didn't get my hair professionally done- I got up at 6 in the morning to do it myself and it was so humid that day that by the end of the pictures it looked like I had dreads (which are fine, but not the look I was going for) and I pulled it back for the reception to hide my amateur curling job. Also, I forgot to wear the very expensive wedding hat my mother-in-law bought for me. Yeah, I was just impressing all the people that day...

Dreads gone! Also, when it was time to cut the cake, I kind of went ahead without McKay because I had never really been to many weddings and didn't know how it was "done." I just wanted to share the wealth of cake! Also, people get upset if you cut the cake by yourself. Tradition!
I was totally fine with a reception in a boring church building- and part of the room was under construction... yes. I let my mom pick out the centerpieces (I actually liked them- no qualms!) but food was finger foods, no dinner. Music was off my brother's iPod. I attempted to turn it into a party, but it just wasn't. I felt most badly for my high school friends who came. They probably expected a WEDDING PARTY and I gave them a half-done cultural hall with appetizers and an iPod. They were the nicest people and gave us gifts from our actual registry, too. And not the cheap gifts! I feel like a loser to have done that to them.

See the wood behind me? Yeah... that's not supposed to show. Yay construction. Yay "cultural hall."
Our second reception was similar- I let McKay's mom pick out everything because I didn't want to be a burden. It was fine for a Mormon affair, but it didn't scream "wedding" and I worried that all these random family members I was meeting for the first time would think that that reception was a reflection of the things I liked. No, it wasn't. Also, unfortunately (through no one's fault), I started my period the day of that reception, so I was crampy and bloated and in all the pictures I look worried. Honestly, during one dance, I asked McKay if he thought no one would notice if I went into the bathroom and just cried for a while. They would have.

My worried look is seen here, but you can see it in pretty much all the pictures from the California reception.
But what can we do? I guess all I can do is do better for my own children, if they decide to get married (right now Margaret doesn't want to get married because she'd rather live with us in our house forever- haha!).

And I think this leads me to another thing I've decided. I want us to have a vow renewal. Probably at our 10 year. This past August was our 7th anniversary, so we've got 3 more years to save and plan. "Save" because I'm thinking that if I want my extended family there, we're probably going to have to pay their way- after all, they already came out for the first one. Or maybe it'll just be a small thing with McKay and me. But I'd like to do things on my own terms without pressure for anything. And I want a party- an actual party where I'm actually happy and not stressed about periods and hair that doesn't do anything because it's too humid in August in Illinois. Basically, this is a long post saying I want to actually celebrate the awesome thing McKay and I have and have the small people we've welcomed in to our family present. And I'm a little vain. And I think Mormon weddings need to change. I'm happy I'm married and that we have a life together, but we probably could  have started it off with a little less NASCAR and a little more fun. I need a party.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

And They're Off!

Guess what! We got into the Lego class and the charter school is paying for it! Yay! She had her first class last week and she loved it. I got to feel the "dropping your kid off with a stranger you've never met before, but have to trust that the state background check is thorough" moment just like all the other back to school families. That's the nervousness that everyone else feels, yes?

We decided against 4-H this year because it looks like she'd be able to go to only one of the projects regularly and that project happens right before Lego class and... I couldn't do the commute that fast. But no worries, there is always next year. 4-H isn't going anywhere.

She's taking violin and Lego engineering. We're not sure about the writing class yet. The school won't pay for it because the person offering it is not a vendor with the charter, but we'll check out the open house for it anyway. That class won't start until October. Even if we don't do the writing class, I want to keep that teacher in mind. She teaches literature classes for homeschooled high schoolers- this year it's a class on American women writers.

There is a local person who used to teach Waldorf kindergarten and she has a class that is all morning once a week where the kids do water color and gardening. We might look into that.

So yeah... our week is filling up! But it's fun. And Margaret has already started some early reading. She sounded out "Stop" while we were on the bus on Labor Day. And she spent this morning copying down the words of a short story. Why? For fun, I guess. It was her idea. When she was about 2/3 of the way done she complained to me about how long it was taking and I told her she could stop whenever she wanted. It took her over an hour, but she finished reading and copying the 6 sentences, all the while being interrupted on occasion by her siblings. That girl has focus.

Now I have to figure out where to spend the rest of the money the charter gives us. To the Internet!

Monday, September 09, 2013

New Bay Bridge!

Labor Day weekend the Bay Bridge was shut down and BART ran service around the clock while the new eastern stretch of the Bay Bridge was being set up. It's now up and running and much prettier than the old Bay Bridge (even though the Bay lights were fun!).

Also, there is a bike/pedestrian path! It only goes out to Yerba Buena Island, but in a couple of years, it'll stretch to San Francisco. Until then, it is the world's longest bike pier. Haha! Here I am on the path (but not at the end yet!). Also, the sun is in my eyes.


The East Bay Bicycle Coalition led a bike tour when it opened last Tuesday, but I was not able to go on opening day. Instead, I went with my friend Sariah on Friday night. She had gone on Tuesday and said it was very crowded. Here are the two bridges next to each other:

The trip out is all uphill, but it's slight. I was by myself on the bike, so it was pretty easy (no children!). The whole trip from the house to the bridge and back was 11.7 miles- and I live pretty close to Emeryville! The path closes at 8pm, so afterwards we had smoothies and rode home in the dark!

 Random candid shot:

Me and the new bridge. We're best friends.

The old Bay Bridge. It will sadly be demolished.

Oakland is that way.

Sariah and I together.

And by the old bridge. With a police officer on the side. Imagine having that job! "Um, I stand on the end of the pedestrian/bike path to make sure no one tresspasses onto Yerba Buena Island. Pretty intense."