Sunday, July 21, 2013


We have had quite the busy summer. I have pictures from Fairyland, park days, Pixar events, little vacations, etc. But I'm going to skip all that and go straight to PEDALFEST!

Oh my goodness. Pedalfest was a blast. Really really awesome. I don't know why we didn't go last year (other than I didn't know it existed last year).

There was a kids' bike parade, so we had to bring them. Bungie cords to the rescue! Put a Finch on It! Margaret's bike was attached to the front of my bike and Isaac's was on the back of McKay's.

On the way to Pedalfest, we were passed by a tall bike ridden moustached man with a banjo. I had just watched this TED talk the day before and turned to my husband, "I think that was Tall Bike Bobby, but isn't he supposed to be in LA?" Then we were stopped at a railroad crossing and TBB was there again. I snapped a picture and shared it on TBB's Facebook page and yes, it was him. Here's we are, though, waiting for the train to pass.

We got there and searched out the Oaklandish booth, where they had streamers and tape for the kids. The kids decorated up their bikes and rode along. It wasn't particularly organized. I think it would have been better if someone led the parade with a boombox or something. It was kind of just kids meandering through crowds.

I tried out a Mundo. It was cool and can fit 3 kids. It was one of the fancier models with a radial gear shifter or something and there weren't distinct gears to choose from. It was more analog. Weird. I also looked at the Xtracycle, which can fit 3 kids, too. When the kids get too big for our Madsen, we'll upgrade to one of those, probably. This is my friend Kristi who took her boys and Margaret for a ride on the Xtracycle:

And here's Isaac trying out an Xtracycle:

We checked out the East Bay Bicycle Coalition's booth and got tattoos. My "I (bike) Oakland" tattoo was a hit at church today. They all think I should get a real one now. Maybe I will... it really depends on how I feel about having to take a year off of donating blood.

These say, "Keep Calm (bike) On." Even the baby got a tattoo!

While we had lunch, we listened to the pedal-powered stage. Audience members pedal to create the electricity for the amps and such. There were also pedal-powered blenders for making smoothies. Also, here in the foreground here is a man who uses a solar and pedal-powered sewing machine.

Cyclecide was there. The kids loved that. McKay helped out with pedaling while we waited in line.

Then the kids got to ride. I'm the one in the white skirt and blue shirt pedaling.

At the end of the day we packed up. For the way home, McKay decided he wanted to carry Margaret's bike along with Isaac's.

So that was Pedalfest! We rode a round trip of 9.2 miles yesterday. Not bad.

It was free, it was fun. There were bike safety activities for the kids, trick bike shows, free games, and lots of food and bikes.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Isaac talks about nursing

It's Isaac's birthday! He's three.

He's definitely the sweetest little boy on the planet. Like I did with Margaret, I asked him about breastfeeding, since he's still all about that. He loves to nurse, though we're down to only 1-2 times a day. Here's the resulting interview. He cut me off short so it's not as extensive as Margaret's. Haha. Enjoy his joke at the beginning.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

White Privilege

Cross-posted at The Exponent

Ok all, I have to talk about race. I'm no race expert, but I need to know this issue better, so writing this up with 1) allow me to work through thoughts and 2) allow those of you more knowledgable about race correct me in the comments. Also, I've been avoiding the big race stuff on Facebook. Yes, I made one or two statuses to comment on the Trayvon Martin case, but that (I'm not going to lie here) was so I didn't look like a white person who is trying to pretend race doesn't exist while also trying not to say too much lest I need to put a couple of feet into my mouth.

I have white privilege. It's dripping out my ears. My family is white as far back as I know. I grew up from first grade on up in white Midwesternia: a few years in rural Indiana and the rest in a suburb of Chicago. My graduating high school class had one Indian student (as in India, not American Indian) and a handful of Hispanic/Latino students, but the rest looked like me. I went to BYU which is also pretty white (understatement of the year?). I knew race issues were important, but touchy. So touchy, in fact, that it was easier to not talk about it at all. After all, white privilege allows me to never have to talk about race if I don't want to.

American Mormondom is pretty white. Even after moving to Oakland, I have the option to isolate myself into my mostly-white Mormon ward and my husband's mostly-white coworkers, and my mostly-white moms groups. Here are the screenshots from the US 2010 Census data webapp about my "census block group," or the ~1000 people in my immediate neighborhood.

My neighborhood is 34% white, 47% African American. The other 19% are Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native (AIAN), or identify with other races or multiple races. That's a lot of people of color in my neighborhood. That's a lot of people I can choose to ignore because of my privilege.

It is important to point out that talking about racial privilege isn't about making white people feel guilty. No one's arguing that you chose to be born white or that you, yourself, were responsible for slavery or other abuses of people of color. Also, no one is saying that white people have everything handed to them on a silver platter. White people work hard for their achievements. But white privilege does give a "boost" in many many situations. A good list of examples can be found at this article, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." Go read it now.
I think one of the hardest things for me on Facebook this weekend was seeing my black mom friends talk about how, "Moms: we need to take action! This is not ok that our children are not safe!" I was not sure how to respond. I wanted to show support, but I also realize, as the mother of white kids, my children are not in the same danger that children of color are. And then I end up making no remark, which I then worry looks as if I don't care and once again, I'm hiding behind my white privilege and not talking about race.

And you know what? It's really uncomfortable to talk about racism. It probably should never be a comfortable feeling to talk about hoe people judge and hurt each other. But we still need to talk about it or it'll never go away. Here are some of the things I try to remember.

Racism is Real. We are not in a post-racial world as much as I'd like to be. If I want to be an ally to my neighbors, friends, and community, I can't pretend racism is over.

No Gaslighting I have to listen more than I speak. It is wrong for me to tell someone, "You're reading too much into it, it's not related to race at all."

I am probably going to say/do something that is racist and mess up badly and I'm going to have to apologize. No, I don't like to think I'm racist. And as a person, I try really hard not to be. But do I have racist thoughts? Do I make assumptions about the people around me because of their race? Yes I do. Is it right? No, it's not. When a person of color tells me I say or do something offensive, I need to apologize and try hard not to do it again.

I'm going to have to get out of my comfort zone. It's comfortable to be surrounded by people who are like me. But you know what? I really should start going to the community education meetings about race relations so I can understand it better. Oakland has a history I'm not a part of. If I'm going to understand, I need to go and talk about race instead of ignoring it. Actually, probably I should do less talking and more listening. Always more listening. And asking honest questions and backing off when I'm told I'm out of bounds.

There are people of color who are angry. Just like it's absolutely ok to be angry about sexism and be the "angry feminist," it is ok for people to be angry about racial prejudice. This will sometimes translate into people of color being mad at white people and it's going to feel unfair to be lumped into the oppressors. I have to resist the impulse to say, "But I'm a good white person!" Let it go. More than one of my mom-friends of color have posted something on the lines of "Privileged moms: please don't say anything to me right now. Please," this last weekend. People are hurt, people are angry. That's ok.

No commandeering the cause. Yes, show up at the rallies, the meetings, participate in the email lists. But if I show up and decide to lead up some new action and I didn't first listen to what is needed, I'm overstepping my bounds. Sure, I might be qualified to help out, but guess who are more qualified? The people who are living in brown skin every day. Only if my idea is well-received and agreed upon and there is no one else to take the reins, should I lead up an action about race.

It's not even just race. Race issues intersect with women's issues. They intersect with class issues. It's going to take a long time to really know what to do and understand how I fit in it all.

It's not bad to use my privilege. It's bad to assume or expect everyone else has the same opportunities and experiences I do, yes. But privilege isn't inherently "good" for "bad." It can even be advantageous for fighting racism. For example, in the link above, number 30 states, "If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have." The next time Aunt So-and-so makes a racist joke? I can use the power of my privilege to say, "Hey. That's not ok," and I have a good chance of being heard. That is the power of allies.

It's going to take time. There's no magical post-racial fairy who will come and *poof* us into utopia. There's no one way to fight the systemic racism in our lives. But I can check my thoughts and actions every day. And I can keep trying to "mourn with those that mourn."

I don't normally like "challenges" prompted by blogs, but I want to challenge you all to do something to break down your comfort levels regarding race and learn a little more. I'm resolving to go to a community education event where the film Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible will be screened and discussed next month. Look into what you can do. Does your community have race education event? If you are a person of color, what do you think is the most important thing for white people to understand about privilege? Also, feel free to critique or add to my list. 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

What Grownups Do

Last weekend, our local neighborhood association hosted a "stroll" where local businesses offered discounts and activities. We walked up and down the street, poking our heads into art galleries, yarn stores, cafes, and other eateries.

Margaret learning about screen printing from a local art gallery and indie screen print artist.

At the Actual Cafe.

YARN! Also, Margaret holding a magnifying glass. And a small tiny bit of Stephen West's (yes, the famous knitwear designer) head.

When we got down to Pepple's Donut Farm, home of vegan and organic donuts and previously known as People's Donut Farm (a la People's Republic of Berkeley), I read something on the wall that said their donut business started 5 years ago.

Five years ago some people got together and said, "Hey! Let's start a donut shop!"

It kind of blew my mind. I looked at myself: 27, capable. I could open a donut shop if I wanted.

A few weeks ago, I read an article about a professional helicopter pilot. Of course people like that exist- but why was that never on my radar?

I was good in school. I got A's, honor roll, math team, AP classes, college. Everything I did as a kid was set up into a particular story: go to school, do well, get a job for a company. The "Mormon" part of the story included getting married and having kids and staying home. Never were options like "become a helicopter pilot" or "open a donut shop" given to me as viable options. I was a "good student" so my career track was "above" trades, art, and manual labor, so they weren't even presented as options. And I just accepted that.

If you had told me I could open a donut shop, I'd have questioned why you think that would be a good idea. Who does that? I mean, aren't Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme enough? And what would you study to do that? If there wasn't a "major" in college associated with it, it didn't exist to me. It would have been 100% inconceivable to me to put some money together and start up a shop. But people do that! Because that's what grownups do. They create things, they don't just fill holes in cubicles. Well, they can do that, too, if they want. But they don't have to.

I feel like I am just now as an adult seeing the options available to me. Just now, in my late 20s, I'm seeing that there are more options than my guidance counselors and teachers and professors and parents even mentioned.

I made a point to tell Margaret, "Do you see those people? They started this donut shop! You could start a donut shop some day."

I also tell her, "Look, that woman is driving the bus. You could drive a bus someday."

"Look, that person is a librarian. You could do that."

"Look! That person is an artist. You could do that."

"Look, that person makes violins. You could do that."

No one told me these things. There was one track and it ended in working for "the Man" because that's where the money is and therefore that's where the happiness is. Well, actually for me, it ended in being a SAHM with a husband working for "the Man." But still. The Man is involved.

I think this is one place where I think homeschooling my kids will give them a greater advantage than me. There aren't guidance counselors discouraging them from taking non-honors classes because they have to take as many AP classes as they can. There aren't parents taking them out of band because it's "distracting." I'm hoping that stripping down the school system for my children will also strip down the notions that you have to study certain fields to get certain "acceptable" jobs and have a certain acceptable life.

My kids can get a "regular" 9-5 job if they want, but they can also open a donut shop.

And I could get a 9-5 job if I wanted. Or I could open a donut shop. Or become a helicopter pilot. Or start a knitting and cycling podcast. And become a published knitwear designer. And edit and write children's books with people I've met online. Because again, that's what grownups do.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Pride 2013

So SF Pride happened again!

This year I was a contingent monitor, which means I had to go to a training to learn the "rules" like "Don't throw things into the audience." Yep, I had the almighty job of keeping a group of Mormons under control at Pride. Rowdy Mormons...

I marched with last year's sign again. Because I can't not. It's too cool.

I tried to come up with another clever sign, but couldn't really. This was the best I could get for "clever" and it was McKay who suggested including the question mark.

And I really wanted to make a sign commenting on the DOMA/Prop 8 SCOTUS decision last week. It got a little wordy, but parades are slow and people have time to read, yes? My friend, Julia held these signs.

My friend Monique came and brought a couple of people from her ward. Tears of happiness happened as we marched in the parade. Monique said we should do this instead of church every week.

 My ward didn't represent like last year, though I did get an email from a fellow Oaklander lamenting that they came to the parade late and by the time she caught up with our contingent, we had finished the parade. Alas!

The parade this year was BIG. I heard it lasted 6 hours. I'm really glad we were near the front. McKay dropped me off at the BART on the way to church and then picked me up from BART on the way home- perfect!

I really loved these signs. There was another I loved that I didn't get a picture of. It said, "In my family tree, I'm the fruit!" By their fruits ye shall know them, yes?

Some more pictures of us getting everything together:

The sign:

Laura of Mormons For Marriage, and family:

It's Reese Dixon and family:

The Chronicle wrote about our contingent the morning of the parade.
And the Daily Kos did a write up afterwards and I'm in the second picture. There are some more Mormon ones at the end of the article.
And when the Associated Press put out their article on the summary of the parades across America on Sunday (New York, Portland, Chicago, etc), we were the featured photo!
The family that held the banner with Mitch are the ones in this video.

Mitch Mayne did a write up, too!

And someone caught us on video and put us up on youtube. I was on the far left and you can't see me until about 18-19 seconds and I'm on the far left of the screen in a green shirt, hat, and my rainbow shawl is around my waist.

In the first few seconds of the video, you hear the shock of the crowd. That was one of the most common remarks I heard, "I can't believe I'd see the day!" There were lots of "Thank you!"s and "Happy Pride!" And like last year, people came up to us to share their stories about how they have Mormon family. Reactions ranged from, "Yeah... we don't talk to them much," to "They helped pay for my wedding! I always tell people to not paint Mormons with a broad stroke."

Last year I remember 3 negative comments yelled from the crowd, there year I only heard one. "Leave the Church!" Haha, good one.

Reese Dixon's sign said, "Gay kids grow up Mormon. I'm here to keep them safe."

So now I'm going to do a little plug for the Family Acceptance Project. The Family Acceptance Project is a project by SFSU and they take peer-reviewed research and make booklets on how to react to a child coming out and how your reaction can affect whether or not they turn to drugs or other risky behavior like unprotected sex, suicide, and even whether or not they want to be parents themselves some day. The Family Acceptance Project even has a pdf that is specifically Mormon-centric, using quotes from LDS leaders and sources. The rejection of LGBT youth by Mormon families and Church leaders shamefully leads to homelessness, suicide, and the tearing apart of families. We need to change that.

And Happy Pride!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Quick Poll: Baseball Fashion

So on Wednesday I'm going to a baseball game. After the game, we are staying for the fireworks as an early Independence Day celebration. Yay Red, White, and Blue!

The game? Well, I'm in Oakland, so I'm obviously going to an A's game. Go green!

The opponents? The Cubs. I grew up in a suburb on the northwest side of Chicago. Go Blue, red, and white!

I'm going with a bunch of A's fans, so if I'm going to fit in, I have to go green!

But... but... does that make me a fair weather fan for the Cubs? Who's going to believe in them if I don't? I can't do that! We'll win the World Series again someday, we will!

But, I love Oakland. And I'm going to be here for the rest of my foreseen life. If it were any other A's game, I'd be donning green and yellow like a proud Oaklander. Two of my kids were born in this town.

Help me. I need to go to the store to buy some colors or wear. Green and yellow? Red, white, and blue?

Who do you root for? The team of your childhood or the team of your future? Share in the comments.