Friday, May 25, 2007

miss thing

Bernie discovered these boots in my closet a few days ago and has wanted to wear them ever since. It's kind of cute to see her toddle around the house in them. However, she thinks they are entirely suitable for a trip to the library, park, or grocery store. So far I've drawn the line, more out of safety's sake than anything. We picked up the hat today and she created this ensemble. Really, the hat and boots are superfluous to her attitude, but it's all good.

Friday, May 18, 2007


The other day one of her preschool teachers told me, "A su hija le sale la latina" or "The Latin side shows in your daughter." "Watch," she said, as the other teacher put on some dance music. Bernie and the other children were practicing printing their names. As soon as she heard it come on, Bernie immediately started wiggling in her seat in time to the music. Her teachers both laughed. "Ella baila super bien!" They said. "She's a great dancer."
But is that the Latina side or the Maine girl side, I wonder?


Look who won! The second photo is not very nice of Georgie, but she probably doesn't care.

I think her record is 2 minutes, 10 seconds.


My dad visited us for a few days last week. Lidia had stumbled out of bed in this photo. Can't tell, can you?

We loved having Grampy here!

Monday, May 14, 2007

mitt romney on cover of time

There are a couple of Mitt Romney stories in Time magazine this week. I was interested to read them as my current reading includes Hugh Hewitt's book, A Mormon in the White House? 10 Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney. Karen Tumulty's article "What Romney Believes" gives the background on Romney's position change on social issues, most notably abortion. Another article by Nancy Gibbs entitled "The Religion Test" in the newstand copy and "Romney's Mormon Question" online, looks at the effect Romney's religion has on potential voters. Well, for that matter, I personally believe that Romney's religion could have a saving effect on potential voters, but that angle is not covered in the article. Sorry, I couldn't resist. My dad was just visiting and his puns rub off on me.

In the second article there are several quotes by bigot avowed and proud, Jacob Weisberg, stating that there is no way he would vote for a Mormon and questioning whether a person of our faith would have the intellectual capacity to hold that office. Hugh Hewitt cautions evangelicals, most of whom apparently wouldn't vote for a Mormon either, against lining up with the likes of Weisberg. If the miracles that Mormons believe in can be called into question and held against them, what about the miracles you believe in?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

for love

Kids' birthday parties have never been my talent. I'm too shy, I'm uncrafty, I hate leading games, I get flustered. Last year I had told Bernie she could have a princess birthday party but we never were able to schedule it--our Saturdays were too full of other activities. Not that I was heart-broken for myself, but I felt bad for Bernie. I promised her a fifth birthday bash, no matter what.

She invited ten girls, and nine were able to come. As you can see from the photos, they decked themselves out for the festivities in full princess regalia. Our first activity was decorating these princess cone hats. I made the cone hats out of foam, tulle, ribbon, and a very seldom-used hot glue gun. I can't tell you how proud I was of this accomplishment--more than any A+ paper I've ever written! As already noted, I'm uncrafty. Though the princess hats kept falling off and no one wanted to wear them for more than thirty seconds, they looked darn cute in the photo!

After the craft, Georgie, Lidia, and Neighbor Girl took the girls downstairs to play some games with balloon. I don't know what I would have done without those three! Georgie blew up over fifty balloons yesterday morning before the party. They swept, vacuumed, and dusted while I decorated the cake. They let me order them around with very little complaint. They helped a lot with the princess cone hats, and then they took charge of the games. Those three deserve most of the credit for the party coming off well.

After games we ate lunch. The girls were served by Georgie, Lidia, Neighbor Girl, and Marcus. Marcus was really excited about passing out the "princess pickles." Then we did the pinata. Then we opened gifts. Then we had the cake.

I have to admit I'm proud of how the cake turned out too, though it was completely lopsided (or "lopbacked?"). At least it leaned to the back rather than to one of the sides. Georgie christened it, "The Leaning Tower of Bernie."

Then the little dears went home and I collapsed in relief. I overheard Bernie tell her grandfather, who visited for a few days, "It was the best birthday party of my life."

I hate kids' parties, but I do them for love. Georgie and Lidia didn't enjoy spending their Saturday morning cleaning and blowing up balloons, but they did it for love.

happy mother's day!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

princess party

Thursday, May 10, 2007


There is a film coming out about the Mountain Meadows Massacre called "September Dawn." I did not want to mention this film on my blog because the thought of it makes me want to go eat chips, my anger food. No, I haven't seen it, but it seems that it is a bigoted portrayal of Brigham Young, suggesting that he was a terrorist, Osama Bin Laden-style. Check out this lovely tag line:


[crunching chips]

I did not make that up. It's for real! The movie poster truly says that.

So you can go for that or you can read this post on Mormon Wasp. Look at what an early investigator of MMM said about Mormons: “[c]rime is found in the footsteps of the Mormons wherever they go, and so the evil must always exist as long as the Mormons themselves exist….They are an ulcer upon the body politic. An ulcer which it needs more than cutlery to cure. It must have excision, complete and thorough extirpation, before we can ever hope for safety or tranquility.”

I'm sure his report was most fair and impartial.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

no more babies

Bernie has her fifth birthday today. Here she's holding Felicity, the American Girl doll she's been longing for for about a year. We finally gave in and got if for her. Nana sent the dress and guitar. We really enjoy reading the American Girl books together. Bernie has a good attention span for it. She'll listen to an entire book at once, which is probably nearly an hour of reading. I don't know exactly, I haven't timed it.
Yesterday was a tough day for me. Many of you know that my favorite child age is four. I love that age. It's been a sweet, magical year with each of my children. I love all of my children before they turn four and after they've turned five, but that year in between is special. They are so excited about everything. There are constant discoveries. They are fairly independent and not as demanding as a two- or three-year old, but they still love Mummy. Mummy walks on water. They are not too busy to cuddle. And they say the most hilarious and touching things.
As far as things look right now, I will not have another four-year old. Yesterday I mourned. I did my usual "pretend cry," a tradition with every one of my children's birthdays. The day before the birthday I will suddenly pretend to burst into tears and moan, "The last breakfast with my eight-year-old girl!" These outbursts continue thoughout the day. My older kids roll their eyes, but they love it. Well, yesterday I didn't have to pretend. I was really crying! Bernie comforted me, saying, "Even when I'm five I will still cuddle you, Mommy" and sometimes, "Please let me turn five, Mom. I want to go to kindergarten!" and then "It's good for me to go to school because you want me to learn Spanish, don't you?" The last was said with a tilted head, lifted eyebrows, and knowing smile.
Even the older kids, who see Bernie as hopelessly little, recognize the importance of this birthday. Yesterday Lidia said, "But now we won't have any babies in the house!"
No, indeed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

did it!

Last March, when Lidia broke her arm, I acted on a longing I'd had for at least twenty years. I took the three violin lessons she had to miss. I told myself I needed to get it out of my mind, once and for all, that I could learn to play violin. I ended up loving every minute of it. After years of sitting in on my girls' lessons, it was finally my turn! I even loved practicing. Even when I couldn't seem to get something right, even when I struggled painfully to acquire a skill my children had learned effortlessly, I was in heaven. I took a few more lessons last spring. I didn't have much opportunity to play over the summer, as my free time went to finishing a class and I didn't take my violin for our five-week trip to Maine. In the fall I decided I would have to wait until January to start lessons again because I had lots going on. But I was miserable without it, so I started again in October.

As a graduation gift, my parents and J gave me a beautiful violin to replace the awful rental I was using. When I have some good light I'll have to take some pictures of it.

Yesterday I had my first violin recital. I played Handel's "Bourrée" from Suzuki Book 2. I wasn't aware of how nervous I was to do this until the feeling of utter relief hit me post-recital. I knew the song inside out and upside down, and felt very prepared. It sounds really nice when I play it for myself. However, I knew that nerves could either make me forget it or rattle my hands so that I wouldn't be able to play in front of so many people.

My goal was to get through the entire song. And I did. I think it sounded terrible compared to how I usually play it. My left hand was fine, but my bow hand kept trembling and I couldn't make it stop. Thankfully, there are few half notes in Bourrée, so it wasn't very noticeable. I did stop once, remove the bow from the strings, and start again because I felt like the trembling would stop if I did that. And it did, mostly. But I need to resist the urge to do that next time. And next time, I will definitely pick a piece with no half notes!

Everyone said they didn't notice my bow trembling. I thought they were just being nice until my teacher, who also performed, asked, "Did you notice my bow trembling? It was." No, of course I did not notice. She played beautifully! She made the song come alive. So, that gave me hope.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

helen whitney: missing the mark

I wanted to post another point of view about the documentary. I said in a previous post that I don't understand how my fellow members of the Church can call this an unfair and even negative portrayal of our faith. Maurine Proctor writes this for her online magazine, Meridian, about the PBS documetary on the Mormons. She describes her disappointment with what was left out of the documentary. I understand what she's saying. I agree that Whitney's treatment of the Book of Mormon was lacking. If I were not a member of the Church, I'd be wondering how LDS people could possibly believe this far-fetched story about this supposed book of scripture and what was it about Joseph Smith that made people follow him into such bitter trials? Whitney's answer is Smith's carisma. However, as Proctor rightly points out, most people who became members and eventually made the trek to Salt Lake never met him.

The rest is from Proctor's article:

Parley P. Pratt described his experience when he first read the book:

After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life.

Everybody doesn’t have to feel this way about the Book of Mormon, but the documentary should have at least portrayed the reality that many do. Instead the Book of Mormon is breezily dismissed by Grant Palmer, an excommunicant, who calls it a piece right out of the 19th century and an archaeologist who says there is no evidence for it in Central America. Discussion ended.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

official church response and more thoughts

Here is the official response from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the PBS documentary. It's largely positive. "Those interviewed in the program — even though they hold different points of view — were articulate and measured in their comments, giving serious thought and consideration to the topic." I agree whole-heartedly. I did not see any anti-Mormons on this show. I saw some people who disagreed with the Church in some areas and thoughtfully explained why. Why do some of us perceive this as anti-Mormonism? Last night I was telling J how disturbing I find the negative response from members of our church. What were we expecting, Disney? Is that what we really want? This isn't "The Work and the Glory," (thank merciful heavens). By definition, a "balanced view" would include different perspectives.

The Church response says: "...the historic practice of plural marriage and the tragedy of Mountain Meadows are far from the whole story of Church history or the experience and faith of members today" but acknowledges that you can't fit everything into four hours. I thought about this all day yesterday. J and I talked about it a lot last night. What does the Mountain Meadows Massacre mean to Church members in Bolivia? New Zealand? What should it mean? As Athena so rightly points out, those areas of the world have their own rich and exciting Church history. Notice what the Church said in an earlier release: "Elements of Utah [emphasis added] history, including the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the practice of polygamy, were treated at length." That's how I see it, too. It is Utah history, and it doesn't begin to tell the story of the over 6 million members of our church who live outside the United States. I am not faulting Whitney for excluding them, because she was obviously interested in how the Church is uniquely American compared to other world religions. This program is called "American Experience," so it makes sense that they would focus on experiences of members in the United States.

The Church also says: "...addressing these and other topics in a forthright way seems to have allowed viewers less familiar with the Church to see a new and broader dimension of the Church, shorn, perhaps, of one-sided stereotypes and caricatures." That's what I thought, too.

Becky, I didn't notice the polygamists drinking wine, but personally I think that's small consolation for having to live in that arrangement. ;-)

Athena, I'm not sure I agree with Terina that I would have liked to see "average, normal, non-intellectual, non-poet, non-artist, non-author members of the LDS church" interviewed. I'm not sure that would have added much. After all, it's practically impossible for people to avoid bumping into an average Mormon now-a-days. We're everywhere and I'm not sure we're all that interesting. Or maybe we are interesting, but anyone can talk to us about how we feel about the Church. Personally, I am very excited about the interview transcripts available on the PBS website. This is a treasure trove. Some of our beloved Church leaders respond to questions you don't get to hear answers to in General Conference. I think our LDS scholars are phenomenal and I've loved reading their interviews. This documentary has really piqued my interest in LDS scholarship. The interviews are available here. I hope they put Harold Bloom's interview up. When he appeared in the first segment I nearly squealed, "Oh my gosh, it's Harold Bloom!" [Edit: I realize Harold Bloom is not an LDS scholar.]

Another boon of this documentary is additional content on the web site. There is a wealth of respectful information about our beliefs on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Ml, I have to admit I was also fascinated by the modern-day polygamists. But if they were going to talk about all "Mormons," then what about the RLDS? They believe in the Book of Mormon.

Ave, I agree that the Mountain Meadows Massacre is an important thing for Mormons in the U.S. to know about and learn from.

The official Church response closes with: "At a time when significant media and public attention is being turned to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and when news media is so often accused of superficiality in its coverage of religion, this serious treatment of a serious subject is a welcome change."


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

pbs documentary on the Mormons

I have not yet seen the second part, but J and the girls did. J thought the second part was very well done. The girls watched all four hours, and we've had some really good discussion about it.

I liked the first part. As I said, I wondered at the undue attention to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but in light of Dave's comment that a movie is coming out about it, maybe we should be glad. I thought it was a very fair treatment of that shameful episode in Mormon history. Here is what the WSJ said about it:

On balance, however, the documentary presents even these particularly sensitive topics in an understanding way, overall depicting Mormons more as victims than as anything else. By the time we learn about the 1857 massacre, for instance, we have heard how for decades Mormons were attacked, killed, harassed and driven ever further westward from their homes by other Americans and, in some instances, by threats from the government itself. Whatever really happened at Mountain Meadows, viewers are left with the sense that as awful as it was, the massacre was the result of decades of persecution and the paranoia this created. Much of the other history recounted here could be described as a profile in courage of a misunderstood people.

Really, I'm having a hard time understanding how someone can see this documentary as biased against Mormons. I thought it was very open minded and included lots of different, fascinating perspectives. I can't wait to read all the interviews on the PBS web site. Yes, there were some parts that made me wince. I was fine with the discussion of polygamy in our church's past, but I didn't care for the inclusion of the modern-day polygamists.

There are some wonderful, inspiring stories in our Church's short history. There are miracles and heroes. This is what we talk about at church because we go there to be spiritually fed. However, after reading on the PBS site the many negative comments aimed at the documentary by members of the Church, I begin to think we need to encourage our membership to gain a more balanced view of our history. On the one hand you have the white-washed stuff of Sunday-school classes. On the other hand you have distorted, bitter, anti-Mormon literature "exposing" our dirty laundry. We need to read books like Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling that aim at a more comprehensive view of Joseph Smith, and we need more books like that written.

If it were not for my belief that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, I would not be a member of this church. I don't have a "testimony" of the history of this church. I think that when you remove the Book of Mormon from the picture, you are left with something interesting, but ultimately incomprehensible. My reasoning goes something like this: I have read the Book of Mormon and I believe it to be the word of God. Thus, I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. Thus, I believe he was (though perhaps a strange, enigmatic person in some ways) of good character, good enough to be an acceptable spiritual leader in God's eyes. This does not mean he never made significant mistakes or that he was perfect.

I would like to write more but my kids are sick and they need me.