Monday, June 30, 2008

Good News

So, I clicked on a link to an article on marriage this morning, and was pleasantly suprised to read the following about divorce rates: "At last count, America's divorce rate had fallen to 36%, it's lowest level since 1970. That's because, on the whole, most of us like being married, and so do our spouses." (Reference: New Rules for a Good Marriage at

I feel like our Sunday school class has generalized about how sinful the world has become over and over for the past month. I think things are much more complex and that it's very limited to only see the problems in our society. We need to be realistic about the problems around us, but I also think we should not lose sight of the fact that we also live in amazing times where people are doing incredible things.

We've also been talking about preparing to go to the temple and temple marriages in Young Women's the past month. This has been an incredible opportunity to reflect on how much I love being married and how blessed I am to be married to Tim.

We always hear that depressing 50% statistic, so I thought I'd share the good news that divorce rates have fallen and people do value marriage!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Wallpaper Pledge

Tonight I pledge to never, ever put up wallpaper. Dan helped me begin the tedious job of removing the 40 year-old avocado green, fuzzy wallpaper from our entry wall this past week. Amazingly, we've managed to remove the hideous paper using water, a power sprayer, scrapers, and lots of determination. We even discovered how plastic can help by accident (we were protecting a light switch). If you spray down the wallpaper with water, cover it with plastic, then leave it, the paper is much easier to remove later. Tim came home and added a scoring technique to all of this. He is now determined to get the paper down tonight (yeah!). Here are some pictures of how the wall looks now. I can't wait until this atrocious paper is history! Once we get this wall painted, I'll post some pictures.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Maybe it's Just Too Personal...

After reflecting on the comments on my last post and thinking things over, a new perspective came to me. Maybe it's not that the art of dialogue is gone, but just that some things are too personal, some choices are too close to home, to talk objectively about. I've come to the point with political discussions where I'm just hoping people will be polite, but if I'm truthful, I'm longing to have a discussion with someone who shares my views and passions. It's truly an adventure living in the midwest, being active in the LDS church, and being politically liberal.
I'm also more comfortable talking with moms who have parenting philosophies that are similar to mine. Then again, I've never liked being just like everyone else, so maybe I thrive a bit on being different in my own way too. I definitely get my back up when someone seems to disparage my choices or make assumptions about me based on them. And I'm not usually grateful for unsolicited information or advice. And, when it comes to health and food issues, it can be difficult to stand by when you think someone else's choices are dangerous or ill-informed. There's a reason so many groups of similarly minded people flourish - we all thrive amidst affirmation.
We all privately look around us and choose to adopt what we admire in the choices of others and let go of the rest. I guess the trick is to learn to do so without needing to feel like our choices make us superior or that we always have to declare our dissent. This is definitely something I could work on. It's so personal trying to figure out when to speak up and when doing so serves no useful purpose or can actually harm a relationship. In order to have great relationships with friends and family, sometimes it's better to let some topics go.
Despite all of this, I still long to master the art of dialogue, to find that friend that loves to talk and discuss more than she loves affirmation, and who can bring that quality out in me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Art of Dialogue

I met two new moms at the pool together last week and ended up talking with them for quite some time. They were clearly great friends and it came up in conversation that one mom home schooled her son and the other sent her kids to public school. In the course of our conversation, I loved how they obviously respected each other's choices and had no difficulty talking about schooling. The mom who home schooled her son said she did it because it was "right for her son," but she didn't know what choice she'd make with her baby. I talked to her about the reasons I want to send my daughter to preschool and school and she nodded with understanding. She then said something to the effect of, "You just have to do what's right for you and your child. It's not about one thing being right for everyone."
I was thrilled - and I hope I run into her again at the pool. So often, we get so defensive about our choices, especially when it comes to our kids. At times, I feel like talking about parenting is like stepping in quick sand with some moms. I trust myself as a mom, I respect other moms, I take in different ideas, and then at the end of the day I decide for myself. I wish we could just talk about our ideas and choices without worrying about convincing everyone else - where I have my baby, where my children are schooled, my religion, my political views, what my family eats - I wish we could just talk about these things without feeling that we have to convince everyone that our way is the only way or feeling that a dissenting opinion is a criticism.
I'm not sure where this came from today, but I've been reading different blogs and talking to people lately and it was on my mind. Sometimes I'm worried we've lost the art of real dialogue and finding it with these women was like discovering treasure.

Enjoying Company

We really enjoyed having Tim's family come to visit last week. We had elaborate plans to see the sites, but spent most of our time simply enjoying the sun and each other's company. We were sad to see Grandma, Grandpa, and Kim go on Sunday, but we're excited to have Dan with us another week. Here's a few photos of Ella enjoying the sun with Dad and Dan. She also had Grandma Nancy wrapped around her finger - here they are reading together. I can't believe how many new words Ella picked up this week as well with so many people teaching her new vocabulary!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Meeting Up in Nauvoo

Ella is absolutely thrilled by all of the attention she's receiving this week. Grandma and Grandpa Farmer have come to visit, along with Uncle Dan and Aunt Kimberly. Tim, Ella, and I drove to Nauvoo to meet them yesterday morning. We toured the town, then they came to stay with us in Jacksonville for a few days. What a treat to have so many people to play with!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer Splash

Ella and I put on our swimsuits yesterday and took advantage of the gorgeous weather. Tim picked up a little pool for her recently and we've enjoyed dipping our feet in the cold water. Once Ella gets used to it, she loves to splash around go "Up. Down." in the water. Here's some fun photos of her enjoying the heat.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fresh Paint

We've finally reached the painting stage in our home and I really wish we'd done this sooner. Our baby blue kitchen is now a bright white with one red wall, red fronts to the cabinets, and red and white accents. We started on our living room this week and I'm thrilled. Tim was dubious about the color at first, but now he likes it. I bought samples of 2 colors to try on the wall - good plan, because he thought one of the colors looked like baby poop (it didn't). Once we get everything painted, I'll put some photos up.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Get Your Groove On!

Ella's our little dancer. Everyday she goes up to the cd player and pushes all of the buttons until a CD starts. We listen to lots of kid's music, but she also loves anything she can really move to. Tim and I usually spend a couple of times a day dancing around the basement with her. Here's some photos of Ella's signature moves.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Speaking Up

The other day, Ella and I were watching a children's show on PBS and they started listing the contributors who made the show possible. I was shocked to hear the announcer say their sponsors included Kraft, a subidiary of Phillip Morris. I immediately wrote a letter to the station and to PBS in general because I don't think they should be accepting money from a tobacco company for children's programming. I received a personal response from the local station manager this morning assuring me that Kraft is no longer part of PM. He also told me he'd contact PBS about the announcement mentioning PM. I truly appreciated his taking the time to personally respond and address my concerns.
This experience reaffirmed my positive feelings about speaking out on issues you care about. I've written numerous letters and emails and signed lots of petitions. Many have been unanswered, but I've also had local politicans respond personally and letters to the editor published. When I feel small in such a big world, these kind of experiences demonstrate that our voices do matter and one person can make a difference.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Historic Day

Barack Obama became the first African-American to run as the presidential candidate for a major political party tonight. As I watched his speech, I felt such a thrill. I'm excited to record this in my journal and share it with Ella one day as a great historical day in our lives.

We listened to him speak and I will print and save this speech for my daughter. Here are some of his remarks I found so moving and motivating:

Obama declared, "Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States."

He later went on to say, "In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom’s cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that’s better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America."

Monday, June 2, 2008

I can't believe I'm doing this...

Well I figured since this is a family blog maybe I (Tim) should do my part to contribute and get in on the blogging craze at the same time. Anyway, I must be getting old, because I never thought in a million years that I would ever be interested in making a garden. I spent enough tortuous days helping my mom in her garden when I was a kid that it never occurred to me that the desire hadn't been completely eradicated from my soul. I guess even those BACKBREAKING, HOT summer days of rototilling, digging postholes, weeding, etc. couldn't compete when the whole "be prepared" bit finally decided to hit home for me. So I decided to try this squarefoot gardening thing. It ended up costing us more money than I wanted but hopefully it will require almost zero labor to come.

I built this wooden frame first. The chicken wire cage thing is to keep the rabbits out and can easily be lifted off the top of the frame.

Then I covered the bottom with landscaping cloth, and then proceeded to build our own soil (one part peat moss, one part compost, and one part vermiculite). Then we planted a bunch of different stuff, one thing in each sqare. I've told myself that if this garden doesn't produce a whole farm's worth of veggies, I'm never doing it again, but I hear that this is one of the easiest ways to get a whole lot of harvest with hardly any effort. The setup was hard but since then we havent done a single thing to it (it's been raining here every other day or so so we haven't even had to water), and things are starting to sprout! I can see a tasty, organic-vegetable filled future for our family! After one week of doing absolutely nothing, this is what it looked like (except for the tomato plant; we bought it like that):

And the next day (today):

I hope soon we have more veggies than we know what to do with!