Friday, September 4, 2015

FFF #30 2015 No title craziness

Sorry I haven't posted much this week.  Life has been super crazy.  I will ramble for a few minutes and try to catch myself up and see if I have any coherent thoughts running around in there.

I needed to take a few days off because my head was spinning and I was trying to figure out if I was going to blog about it and/or what I was going to say if I did.  My sweet daughter came home from high school this week to inform us that a boy was using the girls' dressing room during her PE class.  It was making her uncomfortable, which I am assuming it would most of us.  She was wondering what she should do about it.  So we, as her parents, counseled her to speak with someone at the school and if necessary fill out the 'I am uncomfortable about this' form (because we wouldn't want to call it a 'complaint form'--that would be too logical, ugh!).  She did speak with the most reasonable person on campus and was told, "What you think is happening, really isn't happening.  I can't tell you what is happening because I would be violating privacy issues, but he is protected by California state law to be doing what he is doing."  What??!!  That is nuts!!  What about the privacy of all of those girls in the locker room?  They are not protected by some privacy laws?  Pretty soon the football players are going to be expressing their desires to dress in the girls' locker room.  Since when do we value and protect the rights of one citizen over another?  Last I checked, this country valued the position that all men are created equal.  What ever!   Our issue is only being resolved by the counselors telling the girls if they are uncomfortable, to change in the toilet stalls.  Seriously?  Why not just provide that young man his own dressing room???  Or stop requiring the kids to dress down, your choice!  Good grief!! 

I am not trying to say that his feelings are invalid or that he doesn't have rights, he does and they should be protected.  But so should the rights of every other person in that class or school.  One person's rights should not be protected at the violation of another person's rights.  That is all I am saying!

For a couple of days, I was a hot head!  I was pretty sure I could not discuss it rationally, without causing a fatty stink and making things difficult for this young man or his family.  I am still struggling with it, to be honest.  It is wrong.  We need to be able to find solutions that protect the rights of all, not of some or not specifically a select group at the exclusion of others. 

So, while my head is still spinning with all of that, my washing machine bit the dust on Wednesday.  I had been working on the laundry at my house for a few days, so most of it was caught up.  But I was washing Scuff's quilt that had been put away during his mission, so I can mail it to him at college.  I went to put it into the dry, but the washing machine was full of water.  It will wash the clothes, it just won't drain that water, rinse the clothes, and spin them.  Great!  I had to have Sport help me get the comforter out of the washing machine and put it into the sink, as it was way to heavy for me to lift being full of water.   We finally got that done and then we had to scoop all the water out of the washer with a pitcher.  We tried to wring the quilt out, but we ended up leaving it in the sink over night.  The next morning I ran a clothes line out in the back yard, twisting the line together (because I don't have any clothes pins).  Then we hung out the quilt to drip dry until it was dry enough that I could stick it in the dryer.  It ended up drying on the line and now it smells AWESOME!!  I LOVE line dried sheets!!  Anyway, we ordered a new washing machine, but it won't arrive until Tuesday.  So I went through the house and asked people if they could manage their clothing until then.  I did need to run one more load.  So I ran that one, rinsed them and wrung them out in the sink, line dried them, and again removed the dirty water with a pitcher.  It has been crazy!

While I was working with that, yesterday the internet was down all up and down the west coast.  The rumor is that is was out all over the nation, which maybe it was.  But ours is fixed now.  But we had banks shutting down, vendors not making transaction, grouchy people everywhere (at the dentists' and the grocery store, where I was----at Drew's office and at the school).  But we got all of that taken care of and it is obviously up or I wouldn't be able to post.  And I think if it was really out all over the nation, it would have been reported on CNN.  Instead, it is only in our local paper, indicating that it mostly affected the north coast.  Man, people can really talk!!

OK  That is my report.  Now I am going to go and quilt with the girls and forget about all of this craziness going on in my life.  I am going to return to a time when life was a little simpler and remember what it was like to gather with the sisters from the neighborhood, talk about life and family, and just do some old fashioned sewing.

Have a great weekend!!!  I get to sleep for three days!!!  Yea!  And then my washing machine will show up and I will have a week's worth of laundry to do, but a new machine to do it in :-)

PS Don't you think it is interesting that it is the rainbow that today currently represents the homosexual movement when originally it was God's symbol to Noah, not to flood the earth?  Interesting huh?  Makes you think.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Big Boy Job!!

Slim got his first 'real' job on Friday!!  He will be a tutor at an early college high school and periodically substitute teaching in their English classes!

He is super excited and we are excited for him.  Of course, it couldn't be a full-time job because then they would have to offer him benefits!  Ugh!  But, it is a job in a field he desires, will give him a network of people to work within and give him work experience in that field!  Yea Slim!!!

He called Friday afternoon to tell us after his Friday morning interview.  He was pretty stoked!
Speedy and Shorty had a camp out this weekend.  Poor Speedy didn't get home until four that afternoon and had to leave at four fifteen!  He threw stuff together and headed out.  But he sent me this photo the day before:
Cracked me up!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How I feel about feminism...

A friend of Slim's asked for my opinion on feminism.  I liked my letter so much, that I thought I would publish it.  There are so many misconceptions out there about the topic and they are so influenced by everyone's definitions, which are so different from one another--a superbly charged topic!  I hope I did justice to explaining what I think and feel without falling into any particular definition.  So, here is my letter....
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

August 29, 2015

Dear Isa,

Slim mentioned to me that you would like to hear my opinion on feminism---which I will gladly share with you.  However, I am not necessarily sure you will agree with me, which is fine too! :-)  Because it is my opinion, not ours :-).

Two things, first, I do not like the word feminist, not because I do not appreciate what they have done (quite the contrary), but I am not very excited about where they are heading.  (I will explain.)   And second, I am going to speak with you as I would to one of my daughters and in person (writing) as I prefer that to rhetoric and platitudes.

Back to where they have been and where they are heading.  I think most people have differing definitions of feminism, based in their ideologies and political leanings thus their immediate connotations of the word brings strong feelings for good or ill, which is why I just try to avoid it altogether.  That being said, I believe women should vote, receive equal pay for equal work, not be discriminated against in the work place, or anywhere else for that matter.  I think women are brilliant, educated thinkers capable of almost anything a man is.  She is an amazing, talented, gifted, creative being who can solve problems, work hard, and make decisions for herself, her family, her education, and her career.  She can be very independent.  She does not need to be dependent upon others.

But here is where I believe the world has swung the pendulum too far.  I do not think she should be independent.  Let me explain. :-)

Women have inherent gifts unique to them.  We are typically more compassionate, kind, and service oriented.  We reach out to help others because we see a need and recognize our ability to do it and BOOM  we take care of it---no questions, no arguing about whose responsibility it is or who is picking up the tab, no committee to organize or consult before we act.  Oh, someone needs something?  I can do that!  Here is the help.  We are more mercy driven—our hearts and hands reach out to help the widow, the orphan, the baby, or that cute, fuzzy chick.  Anything little that needs attention?  We will do that.  When things are over our heads or more than we can manage, we are more likely to get and receive counsel or ask for help or just an opinion—from a girlfriend, a professional, or a book.  And when it comes to the moral teaching and training of children, I think we are uniquely suited to that mostly because of our interactions with and knowledge of those children.  We can speak directly their hearts and influence their choices.

Now, do all mothers do this?  No.  My mother didn’t and maybe yours did not either.  But wise mothers do.  They recognize their intrinsic ability for influence and from the time that babe is in their arms until he/she leaves the nest and even beyond that—a mother is whispering morality into those little ears and training and educating them in the ways the mother sees fit.  If she is choosing not to directly shape this life, then her example for good or ill does.  The mother who teaches ‘do what I say, not what I do’ has severely limited her influence.

Now, let me ask you something, Isa—
Who has more influence over the hearts of man (men and women)—the one who spouts rhetoric from political platforms and argues, however articulately, across the television and social medias, or the one figure who has been teaching, training, and nurturing that child for twenty or so years?  Whose influence carries more weight and power?

The difference is my influence is not a public presentation.  Mine is not motivated by self-interest. It is not motivated by greed or popularity—but by love and growth for the individual.  The woman who rocks the cradle really does rule the world!  The problem is, we don’t have enough people who understand the real power and role of women.

Society has seduced us into thinking that we need to be exactly like the men.  What a crock!  We aren’t men.  We shouldn’t aspire to be men or compete with men.  Our gifts and talents are unique to us!  As we learn to embrace and appreciate the gifts and talents unique to women, we will change the world—through kindness and charity, not through committee, lobby, and legislation.  We will learn to work in harmony with men and allow their unique gifts and talents to shine through.  We will learn how to be interdependent—where men learn to recognize and rely on our unique talents and we learn to recognize and rely on their unique talents.

You know Slim.  Do you think he would be the man he is today if I had raised him alone?  What if Drew had done it alone?  Either way, he would be a completely different person.  Slim snowed me all the time.  If ever he wanted to do something, he knew what to say to me and how to do it to get his way.  Easy as cake!  The only problem?  He could never get around his father.  As much as I tried to be the gatekeeper, I was miserably unsuccessful.  And if Drew had been in complete control, Slim would have been more rebellious than he otherwise was.  The best place for the child was between the two very different viewpoints.  But instead of competing for control, we complimented each other in each of our roles.  Sometimes I gave a little, sometimes he gave a little.

True feminism, in my opinion, would remind us of who we are and our true power and influence--not try to cry that we are treated unfairly, or unequally and encourage dissent.  I do not want to be treated like a man, because I am a woman, not a man.  I find joy, fulfillment, power, and influence in my role as a wife and mother.  I am not tied down, nor is my freedom inhibited because I have embraced this role.  In fact, it is just the opposite—my influence is 10 fold what it would have otherwise been!  Why?  Because I have participated in companionship with my husband in bringing life and love, teaching and training to nine souls, who will then turn around and choose nine other souls, similar to theirs in ideology and philosophy and start the process over again.  My righteous influence will live on for generations!  Facebook posts or social media comments may not last for weeks.

When our society awakens and recognizes where a woman’s true influence and power lies and then we choose to embrace those qualities that are uniquely given to women instead of fighting to become like a man, that is when we, as women, will experience true fulfillment--because we will recognize who we are and what we can do.  Marriage and motherhood don’t bind us down, they lift us up and ennoble us!  No woman is more like Deity than when she is using her God-given talents and gifts to lift, teach, and train another soul.

Does that mean that all women should or will be mothers?  No, but all women have motherhood DNA—those unique gifts and talents, the ability to nurture souls, and reach in and touch hearts, soothe aching feelings, counsel and calm angry and aggressive attitudes, those gifts are an innate part of every woman.  And as she learns how to use those gifts for the nurture and admonition of mankind, her own children or not, she will have a greater understanding of who she is and the power and influence she has.  To that degree, she will find greater personal fulfillment and joy than she will ever know.

And that, my dear Isa, is how I feel about feminism.

Friday, August 28, 2015

FFF #29, 2015---How Tammy became Ours!

I don't think I have ever publicly shared this story, so I think it is about time.  I know when I read blogs, I can sometimes glean information that doesn't seem to fit, so I seek the answers through some of the other blog posts the author has written.  Sometimes I can't find the information I need to put two and two together.  I don't want this to be one of those places.

Tams is the same age as Spanky and really close in age to Slim and she is the only one who we use her name and not a nick name so it is obvious something is different.  Here is the story, and why it is different.

When we moved here to California, we had four children, Slim, Spanky, Scuff, Sport and were 20 weeks pregnant with Speedy.  Drew was called to be the ward mission leader almost immediately upon our arrival.  The stake president literally ran us down (on foot, not in his car) in the parking lot our first Sunday in the ward.

One family the missionaries were visiting and teaching had two daughters, Tammy and her older sister.  Tams was six.  Her father was an inactive member and her mother was the investigator.  Neither Tams' father, nor her mother were in good health.  It was difficult for both of them to get around.  Shortly after Ann's (Tams' Mom) baptism, I was called to be her visiting teacher.  I visited her every month.  They were difficult visits in that Tams' dad didn't want to give up his smoking habit and Tams' mom was on oxygen.  They had lived a rather rowdy life.  Ann was trying to live her newly made covenants, but Frank (Tams' dad) wasn't quite ready to give up his vices.

As time went on, it was obvious Ann's health was in a steady decline.  She wasn't going to last too much longer.  We had many discussions about her plans for her funeral and what she wanted for her daughters and what plans she had in place for them.  The only thing she stressed was that she wanted her daughters to be happy and successful.  As probably one of her only consistent friends near the end of her life, I promised Ann that I would do whatever I could to help ensure her wishes would be met.

Tams was 10 when her mother passed away, about four years after her mother joined the church.  By then, Drew was the Bishop of our ward.  When their mother passed away, my sweetheart tried to make sure there were women visiting that house and checking on those girls weekly.  Because I don't know anything that is going on in the Bishop's office, I don't know who was asked to do what, but I do know of three women who stepped up to the plate and kept a rather consistent eye on the girls---I love each and everyone of them!  (Judy Bingham, Ellen Messerly, and Heidi VanBuskirk).  I know other women were asked and would not help (I do not know who they are, thank goodness!)  I was kind of out of commission because Sun was just a baby (1), Speedy was three, and I was expecting Shorty, with my other four children who were 12 and under.

It was a rough couple of years.  But it got more difficult when Tams' father passed away a few years later.  She was 13.  At that point, I was ready to file the papers to bring those girls to my house and raise them myself.  However, after many discussions with Drew and lots of prayer, it became obvious to me that the rest of Tams' family needed an opportunity to step in and try to help those girls.  Tams had an older half brother, who lived with his sweetheart and they had two children about the girls' ages.  And there was an aunt who wanted the opportunity to help out also.  There were custody battles and other issues, but Tams ended up with the family and her sister went to a home that was more suited to her needs (she has some mental disabilities).

By this point in time, I was in the Young Women's organization.  As part of my responsibilities, I kept tabs on Tammy---just checking in with her periodically and seeing what she needed, emotionally and otherwise.  I became friends with her family and they trusted me to help them out and check in on Tammy.  Periodically we spoke of Tams' sister and made arrangements for the two of them to spend time together.  It was really difficult for me to watch because I just wanted to rescue Tammy.  I didn't want her to have to experience the life she was living with her relatives, none of whom were active members.  But the truth be told, I was swimming in my own family.  I realistically could not have managed Tammy's and her sister's needs at my house, as much as my heart desired to save them.  But I could keep a watch from a distance and periodically step in and help or facilitate the help they needed, which I did.

Custody battles, lots of emotional discussions, and court appearances were all a part of this time of our interactions with Tammy and her family.  Judy, Ellen and Heidi continued to be an asset and help in tending to Tammy's and her sister's needs.

By the time Tammy was 14, she was attending the same high school as my boys.  I drove her to and from school every day.  She hung out with us.  Some other families also became involved in her life.  She had piano lessons at the M's.  She had family home evening with the Davis' and when ever she just needed a break from life and some space, she hung out with the Craig's, whose children were all grown.

By the time Tams was 16, things became very strained at her home, where she was living with her half brother.  Things were pretty intense and emotional.  One day things blew up and Tammy left the house and walked to my house about two to three miles away.  It was normal teenage drama with lots of tears and hurt feelings, but it became obvious that things were not going to be reconciled and Tams was going to need another place to stay.  I again revisited the options with Drew about filing for custody and bringing Tammy home to live with us.  As we prayed about it, again the answer was, "Not now.  This is not for you to do."  Again, I was not happy with the answer.

Tammy's brother came over to visit with us.  He was really only comfortable with two families he knew in the church, us and the M's.  He knew Sister M because he had been the one dropping Tammy off for piano.  Since we were the only two families he knew, we were the only ones he was comfortable with allowing to file for custody.  Since Drew and I had prayed about it and knew the Lord didn't want us to do it, the M's were the only option.  We called the Bishop (not Drew) and let him know of the details.  He had been in the loop all along.  I don't know who spoke with the M's or how that worked or was approached, but that was what ended up happening.  Tams moved in with the M's and became a part of their family.

That was really difficult for a lot of us.  I am sure the M's meant well, but in hopes of acclimating Tammy to their family (I am assuming), Sister M cut off all of Tammy's interactions with the other families who had stepped in and made her a part of their families. She kind of cut off all of the support network we had built around her, which was really difficult for all of us.  But due to Tammy's amazing resilience, she still blossomed!

I continued to be Tams' venting place.  When things were stressful or she needed to talk or cry, she came to me.  I had been there for a long time, watching over her and loving her and caring for her.  In my heart, she was mine and I cared about her that way.  It was really difficult for me when she would pour out her heart and I wanted to come running to her defense.  It was usually my husband who would say, "Carin, remember you are only getting half of the story---her half."  I knew he was right, but it didn't stop me from feeling very protective of her.

She lived with the M's until she was ready to go off to college.  When she comes home, she stays with the M's.  She loves them!  That is great!  It is wonderful that she has two families---us and the M's.  When we have family anything, Tams is a part of it.  And when the M's have any family thing, Tams is a part of that.  We have to share her, but that is alright!  After what she has been through, she deserves the love of two complete families---one with mostly sisters, and the other one full of brothers.

And that is how Tams became a part of us, and she always will be!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Good bye Scuff!! Have a great BYU year!

Scuff left yesterday for the Y.  In the morning, he was still sleeping on the couch.
The rest of us were gathered around for family prayer and reading.

Then it was time to leave.  Gather up stuff, and last minute hugs.

Loading up in the car.

More hugs at the airport and flying out with a friend leaving for her mission!
That was a nice surprise!

Then the guys sent me this:
So that I would know, all is well!!
Sure love those guys!