Saturday, March 23, 2013

March Madness

Eli at 18 months

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Testimony

Many years ago I read a novel about an unconventional Jewish woman who moves into a neighborhood of orthodox Jews and stirs things up. As a reader, I was supposed to side with the protagonist, criticizing her neighbors for their old-fashioned, backward ways. Instead I found myself sympathizing with the orthodox Jews.

I too am part of a religion that is oft misunderstood by outsiders, and what right do I have, knowing as little as I do of Judaism, to criticize their deeply held beliefs simply because I don't understand them? I felt like it was inappropriate for the author to express her discontent with her religion by writing a novel for anyone to read. Rather than dealing with her issues with Judaism among Jews, she was airing out her dirty laundry for the whole world to see.

Yesterday, I published a post about Mormon women and education. I wrote it on Sunday, but I waited to publish it because I was feeling a bit like that Jewish author - airing out my dirty laundry on the Internet.

We Mormons are not a perfect people. We have flaws. I think it's important to admit and address those flaws...among ourselves. I think it's less advantageous to wave those flaws like flags in front of the whole world because someone on the outside looking in can never have the perspective to understand. I don't want my non-Mormon friends to read about Mormon women and go, "So backwards! So old-fashioned! What is wrong with you people?"

And so I find myself in this awkward position of wanting to express myself on certain subjects in the best way I know how - through writing - and also wanting to avoid giving outsiders the wrong idea.

This post is my solution. An addendum to every rant I ever write about Mormon culture, as if to say, This drives me crazy, but...

I still believe.

There are aspects of Mormon culture that drive me bonkers. There are also parts that I love to pieces. Like how highly we value education and hard work. Like how much we love and cherish our families. Like the fact that you can't grow up in the church without getting over your fear of public speaking, and the fact that by the time you get married, you will have done the YMCA approximately 80 billion times. I love the unity of shared experience I feel in a room of Mormon women, and I love that Mormon men will unabashedly blubber when they talk about the Savior and/or their wives.

But none of that would matter if it weren't for the simple truth of my faith. I believe I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and has a plan for me. I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Exemplar. I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet on the earth today. I believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

These things are the pillars of my faith, and when I doubt or feel discouraged with the church, I come back to these basics, and I find again and again every time that I still believe.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Forgive My Rant

If I could get Mormon women to stop saying one thing, it would be all the variations on the following:

"Even though I always planned to stay home with my kids, I went ahead and got an education because you never know what might happen (i.e. my husband might die or leave me, and I'll be forced to get a job)."

On the surface, that statement seems completely innocuous, and I'm sure the women who say it don't mean anything by it. Preparing for an unplanned future is always a good idea, right? That's one of the bedrocks of Mormon culture.

But when I hear that statement, I can't help but think of the underlying implication: Educating girls is not important. If we could somehow solve that pesky little problem of men dying or leaving their wives, there would be no reason to educate girls at all.

That type of backward thinking was used as an excuse by men for thousands of years, so when I hear it come out of the mouths of women, my skin starts to crawl. And when I hear it come out of the mouths of teenage girls, who are already devaluing their education, I want to shake their parents and leaders.

This is what I would like to hear instead:

I am educated because I am a smart and capable woman, and whether I choose to stay home or work full time or work part time or volunteer my time, the world needs and deserves my fully-developed talents.

--or this--

I am educated because I believe in the power of knowledge and I understand the importance of an educated society.

--or this--

I am educated because I am a daughter of God. I understand my divine nature, and I know my individual worth.

Saying that you only need an education in case you lose your man, devalues girls and devalues education. And just like preparing for an unplanned future, education is a bedrock of Mormon culture. We are taught: "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith." (D&C 88:118). That command applies to men and women, boys and girls. One of the Young Women's values is knowledge. Elder Russell M. Nelson said in an address to youth, "In the Church, obtaining an education and getting knowledge are a religious responsibility...Knowledge brings power; purity brings power; love brings power. We want you to have the power to become all that the Lord wants you to become."

So my dear sisters in the gospel, please stop downplaying your education. You are educated because you're worth it.

*An addendum: This drives me crazy, but...I still believe.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Legos, legos, and more legos...


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Give Me Some Sugar

I started using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone after it was recommended by a friend. I'm not always consistent about using it, but it's interesting to look at my nutrition data. I've learned that I have no problem reaching my protein quota (despite being mostly vegetarian), and if I average over the course of a week, I generally get enough calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. But oh the sugar. Everyday, two times my recommended daily allowance of added sugar.

I vented to Michael, "I don't feel like I eat too much sugar. I have sugar at breakfast, a mint after lunch, and then a small dessert after dinner. How can that be too much?"

Then the next day: "I don't understand how I'm supposed to eat so little sugar. That's just crazy!"

And the next day: "The recommended daily allowance of sugar is only two tablespoons. Two! Who only eats two tablespoons of sugar a day?"

Until finally, Michael was like, "Quit talking about sugar!!!"

So mostly out of curiosity, I decided to see what it would be like to eat less sugar for one month. Would my sweet tooth reset itself? Would I feel healthier? Would I go insane?

Michael said, "You're going to be really grumpy."

It has been one week since I started, and Michael is right. It didn't help that last week was the week from hell, and sugar (chocolate specifically) resets my emotional level back to neutral on days when I feel stressed, tired, or overwhelmed (or on days when I want to knock a couple child-sized heads together).

But the worst, THE WORST, has been breakfast. Thinking about eating a savory breakfast first thing in the morning kind of makes me want to throw up a little, and that's not a good way to start the day. But without oatmeal (sweetened) or granola (made with honey) or toast (topped with jam), WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT?

So dear friends of the internet, I need ideas for breakfasts without added sugar, and that includes granulated, brown, powdered, honey, syrup, jam, jelly, and juice (which is apparently so refined and concentrated that it counts as sugar rather than fruit).

Suggestions, anyone?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caught Reading

caught reading

Friday, March 1, 2013

Oh February, My February


The real reason that February is the shortest month of the year has to do with the Romans and the way they organized their calendar, but in my opinion, February is short because it sucks and we all want to get it over with as quickly as possible.

When we learn about the seasons in elementary school, we're taught that winter is comprised of December, January, and February. In reality, winter starts on December 21st and ends on March 19th, putting February smack dab in the middle of winter. So it's partly our own delusion that makes February so rotten - by the time we get to February, we think winter is almost over, but really we're only halfway there. But it's also February itself, that craftiest of months, which alternates the worst winter weather (the biggest snowfalls, the coldest ice storms) with 60 degree days and bright sunny skies until, like the month of February itself, we begin to be a bit bipolar.

This month, we went to the park and played on the playground and rode bikes, and we had snow days and school delays and our backyard turned into a mud pit. We celebrated Valentine's Day and had a birthday and spent time with good friends, and we got sick and then got sick again and then got sick again. This morning, I woke up and announced to the boys, "On Monday, we're getting back into the old swing of things. Now that February is finally over."

Good riddance, February.

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