Reading to Iddo

Categories: Books

Picking out some good booksA friend asked this weekend what we’ve all been reading lately. In my case I’ve been reading the following books, repeatedly:

We have a thing for Sandra Boynton at our house. Brett has his own list of her books that he reads to her on a rotating basis at night, with a few other authors thrown in for variety.

We love reading to Iddo. She loves turning pages. She’s trying to be a speed reader and flips through the books real fast. One of my favorite things to watch her do is when she sits down next to her books and pulls them all out in a big stack on and around her lap and goes through them.

I did an online quiz recently to see how much I know about how important it is to read to children. I got one of the questions wrong. The question was about how many parents thought it was important to read to children from a very young age. I thought a lot more parents thought it was important than actually do. I thought it was kind of silly for us to get a book from the hospital when Iddo was born and then from our pediatrician at her 6 and 9 month appointments, but it’s probably the case that those might be the only 3 books some babies and toddlers own. Which is unbelievable to me.

Every week we get on the web camera and do story time with my mom. She reads a story to Iddo (current favorite is A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka) and they sing a song (she likes the chorus for the Hokey Pokey right now). Then Iddo pokes Grandma’s nose and says “beep.”

We went to story time at the library a few times but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it. It’s a bit of a drive from where we are, it was right when she wanted to nap every afternoon, and the story teller there wasn’t that great. Which was really sad for a library. She had a real hard time connecting with and interacting with the kids. Which is crucial for helping them learn to love reading and communicate.

Several years ago I attended a workshop by PBS Ready to Learn. They emphasized how important it is to not just watch shows that teach (like Sesame Street, when the child is old enough) but to also read books related to the idea and do activities with the idea. Interaction is key.

I was recently contacted by the authors of a new children’s book called Pictivities. It’s a book designed to help adults engage with children while reading to them. The Deseret News did an article about it a week or so ago – Utah couple writes children’s book that helps parents interact. They are trying to raise enough money to print this as a board book, which would be the perfect format for a book like this. Check out their project and see if it’s something you’d consider contributing too.

His daughter

Categories: Family, Gospel

We talked adoption. The idea came up a lot. I read blogs by adoptive parents. But the idea never felt right to either of us. And adoption is not something you just do and it is definitely not something you do unless you are full heart and soul committed.

One of the adoptive blogs that I still love to read is The R House. They have three sons and speak with such love about their adoptions and the wonderfully open relationships they have with their birth families. The love just spills out of their home. They’ve taught me a lot about adoption and how expansive family can be. They are particularly careful with the language they use for adoption. It’s a very positive language. Children are placed, not given up.

One night several months ago I was singing to Iddo as she drifted off to sleep. As I sang “I Am a Child of God” to her, as I do most nights, the truth of the words struck me. And I started to think of my relationship to her in terms of adoption, and especially an open adoption.

Brett and I are the parents of her mortal body. But Heavenly Father is the parent of her immortal spirit. She was born on high. God did not “give her up” when He sent her to us. He placed her with us. With great love He has charged us with raising His child. I want her to have an extremely open relationship with her Heavenly Father, to know where she came from and what that means.

The Father has never relinquished his claim upon the children born into this world. They are still His children. He has placed them in the care of mortal parents with the admonition that they be brought up in light and truth.
- President Joseph Fielding Smith, “Bringing Up Children in Light and Truth,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith.

There are so many people who love our Iddo. But I especially want her to know the love she brought with her and the heritage that was hers before she was ours.

Math and technology items

Categories: Books, Education, News

Three times now I have brought up string theory and quantum physics in small talk at parties. Only once did it go over well. The other two times resulted in a mix of blank stare plus confusion. Seems I have a little work to do on my small talk topics. Perhaps I could talk about these topics? Or I could keep trying string theory. After all, it has worked once before.

NPR | People Wonder: ‘If They Gunned Me Down,’ What Photo Would Media Use? – Surely bias in the media is a good topic. Frequently the media uses photos posted to social networks. What photos would they have available for you?

Scientific American | Does death change our online networks? – Are social networks the answer to immortality? Would I want to live forever in a social network? Pretty sure I’d like to live in memory only. I’ve made it so Brett can have full access to all of my accounts when I eventually die and he has my permission and direction to shut them down.

Scientific American | Net Loss: Is the Internet Killing Solitude and Downtime? – I’m pretty sure I could agree with this book. But I’ll have to get it and let you know. In the mean time, when was the last time you had some down time and didn’t turn to the internet?

Scientific American | How to Talk About the Fields Medal at Your Next Cocktail Party – If string theory won’t work at parties, perhaps international math awards would. We could talk about why it took 78 years to award it to a woman. I need to figure out what the other three recipients did to earn it this year. I’d be the hit of the party!

An ocean spilled out

Categories: Family, Gospel, Infertility, Politics, Venting

The Story People story of the day yesterday was about the hidden ocean of emotions we try to hide – Hidden Ocean. If the emotions of my hidden ocean were to spill on the floor last week first would come…

Infertility SUCKS! Our illustrious POTUS is willing to fight tooth and nail to make sure you have “free” access to not just 13 ways to prevent children, but a full on 15, many of which increase women’s risk of stroke and breast cancer to name a few, all in the name of helping women because they can’t help themselves. Yet he does NOTHING to help women have children, to help people become parents (see exhibit A – the form letter I got back about contraception coverage when I wrote a letter about conception coverage). Infertility is a federally recognized physical disability, but we get no help from the federal government, not even for testing! Want to talk preventative care? Carrying a child, breast feeding that child, lowers your risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer. It’s backward what’s going on in this world. And the stupid Affordable (HA! hello higher premiums) Care (what care? doctors leaving the field, increased wait times for procedures and appointments) Act has the potential to overthrow the infertility coverage that some states had already passed. And then there’s the stupid idiotic politicians and lobbyists going around saying infertility treatments are akin to abortion, making a difficult, intimate process even more difficult. What the crap?!?!?
- Me

Which would be followed by…

Rise up

There may be times in our lives when rising up and continuing on may seem beyond our own ability. … Even when we think we cannot rise up, there is still hope. …
Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward.
President Uchtdorf, “You Can Do It Now!” October 2013 General Conference.


I guess what I’ve come to you today to say is that God uses broken things—and I quote:

It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. . . . it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. [“Broken Things,” an excerpt from Vance Havner, The Still Water (Old Tappan, NJ: Flemming H. Revell, 1934). Quoted in Guideposts, October 1981, p. 5]

Our Father in Heaven sometimes uses our pain as a megaphone for very significant instruction.
- Patricia Holland, “The Inconvenient Messiah,” BYU Devotional, 15 February 1982


15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.
2 Chronicles 20:15 & 17

And finally…

On one occasion Jesus came upon a group arguing vehemently with His disciples. When the Savior inquired as to the cause of this contention, the father of an afflicted child stepped forward, saying he had approached Jesus’s disciples for a blessing for his son, but they were not able to provide it. With the boy still gnashing his teeth, foaming from the mouth, and thrashing on the ground in front of them, the father appealed to Jesus with what must have been last-resort desperation in his voice:

“If thou canst do any thing,” he said, “have compassion on us, and help us.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

This man’s initial conviction, by his own admission, is limited. But he has an urgent, emphatic desire in behalf of his only child. We are told that is good enough for a beginning. “Even if ye can no more than desire to believe,” Alma declares, “let this desire work in you, even until ye believe.” With no other hope remaining, this father asserts what faith he has and pleads with the Savior of the world, “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” I can hardly read those words without weeping. The plural pronoun us is obviously used intentionally. This man is saying, in effect, “Our whole family is pleading. Our struggle never ceases. We are exhausted. Our son falls into the water. He falls into the fire. He is continually in danger, and we are continually afraid. We don’t know where else to turn. Can you help us? We will be grateful for anything—a partial blessing, a glimmer of hope, some small lifting of the burden carried by this boy’s mother every day of her life.”

“If thou canst do any thing,” spoken by the father, comes back to him “If thou canst believe,” spoken by the Master.

“Straightway,” the scripture says—not slowly nor skeptically nor cynically but “straightway”—the father cries out in his unvarnished parental pain, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” In response to new and still partial faith, Jesus heals the boy, almost literally raising him from the dead, as Mark describes the incident.
– Elder Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” April 2013 General Conference

And I’d push it around with my foot and hope nobody would notice.

Help thou mine unbelief.

Random Giggles: An ocean spilled out. Help thou mine unbelief.

Articles I read and liked

Categories: Education, Exercise, News, Science & Tech

The Art of Manliness: The Problem with Minimalism – Whenever I find myself thinking about my pioneer ancestors who could put everything their whole family owned in a wagon I wonder why it took just me an entire moving truck (and not exactly one of the smaller ones). But they owned more then they put in the wagon, that was just all they brought with them for the trip. I like that this article points out that minimalism is still obsessed with the possession of things, it’s just obsessed with the possession of a small number of things.

Scientific American: What Do Great Musicians Have in Common? DNA – With practice you can probably be good at just about anything, but we can’t all be great at whatever we want. I really enjoyed Monsters University because Mike was never going to be a good scarer no matter how hard he tried. He needed to find what he was good at and then run with it.

Runner’s World: 26.2 Thoughts You Have During a Marathon – Because it’s funny. Doing math while you run is totally a thing Brett. I’m not weird (for that reason).

BBC News | WW1 commemorations: Royals ‘plant’ ceramic poppies at Tower of London – I think this is a wonderful tribute. The individuality of it is moving.

For some must push…

Categories: Exercise, Family, Happy Things

I grew up running with my dad, starting long before I could run myself. Shortly after I turned 2 I was in the newspaper for the first time, although indirectly.

As with many Utah running events, competitors included everyone from very young youngsters to grandparents. There was even one report of a runner who pushed a baby buggy around the whole course.
“Lindsey Races to Easy 10,000-Meter Win,” Salt Lake Tribune, September 14, 1980

Running with the stroller.

A year and a half later I was mentioned by name and they ran a photo of my dad and I.

There were 250 runners competing to set their personal best mile times and, for at least one runner, the event was especially memorable.
Kent Giles ran the distance alongside his daughter Lisa. While there are many father-daughter running combinations on Utah’s roads these days, Kent will probably always remember the sight of 3 1/2 year old Lisa crossing the finish line in the Brigham Street Mile.
“Padilla Clocks 3:44.11 Mile,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1982

A race to remember.

The article says there were about 300 people there cheering the runners along. I remember my mom being one of them, running pretty much the whole course herself so she could cheer for me the whole length of the race.

Thirty-two years later I couldn’t have been more proud to see this in the digital edition of the Deseret News (Salt Lake City’s Patrick Smyth reclaims Deseret News 10K title, while Ogden’s Taylor Ward wins women’s division, photo #29 is the important one):

The next generation.

The photographer insisted she get a finisher’s medal so he could get a photo of them giving it to her for the paper. She’s had a lot of fun playing with it. Yes, she finished before I did, but she also started before I did too.

I was surprised at how few strollers there actually were in the race, only 4 or 5 total. The rest were all pushed by dads. And none of them were decorated to look like a covered wagon either.

At the start. Ready to go. A strong finish.

We go out for 6 mile runs frequently at home, but they don’t have the descent that the Deseret News Classic 10K does, and all that down hill made my legs sore the next few days. At home we finish 6 miles in about 55 minutes. We took it a little easy for the race and finished in 1:00:35.7 (splits: 1-9:24:68; 2-9:30.34/18:55.02; 3-9:53.28/28:48.30; 4-9:57.69/38:45.99; 5-9:38.75/48:24.74; 6.2-12:12.10/1:00:36).

The race never quite thins out so we were dodging around people the whole time. The last 2 miles or so are down the Days of ’47 Parade route so there was a lot more wiggle room then, and a lot of people cheering for us too (which was why we dressed up a bit, give them something to cheer for).

Despite being woken up much earlier than normal, she stayed awake for the whole race and if she didn’t enjoy it she at least didn’t complain about it. She’s a great running buddy.


Categories: Family, Work

It’s been a year that I’ve been unemployed. Next month my teaching license is going to expire as well. For the first time since 2002 I will no longer be a certified teacher. However, being unemployed is what I’d always wanted, to stay home with our children rather than work for money.

But I was nervous last year. I had worked for so long. I got my first job my junior year of high school and had pretty much had a job ever since. I did not have a job my first two years of college nor while on a mission, but otherwise, I’d worked. I’d barely made ends meet but they had met every month. Last spring I was nervous about stopping my income contributions, paltry though they were, right at the time we were adding a big expense, a whole other person, to our family.

While I might no longer be self-sufficient, I’m also no longer a self. I’m an us, a family. And as a family we are sufficient. As a family, as an us, I do not have to do everything because there are more of us to take care of everything. As a self I had to financially provide for my home as well as take care of the home, clean, cook, laundry, etc. All of that still needs to happen, but we can share the load now.

Archeologists posit that it was the invention of agriculture that allowed for civilization to take the time to invent art. Along those same lines, becoming us-sufficient rather than self-sufficient has allowed us time to develop in other ways. Rather than having to spend the day working to pay the bills, I can figure out what will make Iddo laugh today. And rather than coming home from work and having to vacuum or scrub toilets, Brett can spend his evening keeping Iddo from eating his Latin note cards and see if he can figure out what will make her laugh today.

I really like this us-sufficient thing.