Saturday, October 25, 2008

Don't worry, we are all still alive and kicking here. I could say that I have a great excuse for not blogging, but really, sometimes I would rather just read. So, well, here are a few snippets of the adorableness that abounds at our house. The kids are really cute when they sleep, and even sometimes when they play, but gosh, I sure do love them!

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

I was going to download pictures so I could make a fun and happy post, but needless to say, I can't find the cable thing, so this will be a boring update only.

We are doing fairly well here in Arizona. Dallas is keeping busy with school and work. He is flying to Washington this weekend to accompany some students from BYU-I at the Metropolitan Opera auditions. He is really excited for that. He is getting involved in an opera at ASU, which should be fun as well as a good experience. He is doing really well in his classes and is enjoying taking Harpsichord lessons.

We decided to rent another piano for the remainder of our time here in Arizona. Actually, it is the same one we had at our last apartment! Of course, we are all enjoying the blessing that come from that: Dallas is home more (he can practice at home), Sophie has almost continual music to dance to when Daddy is home, Penelope's puppy has a nice little house in the piano bench (Of course Penelope has to continually purge it of the music books that I had hopes of keeping in there), Gabe has a new fun noise maker, and I just get to listen to Dallas play more, as well as sing myself. We are still loving our apartment. The days have been cooling off a bit, so I have really been enjoying all the windows I can open. There is a really nice park nearby that the girls can ride their bikes to, while I push Gabe in the stroller. We love to get outside now that the weather allows it.

Sophie is in preschool this year. She is doing well and can nearly write her name all by herself. Poor girl had a horrible time at the doctor's office yesterday. She had to get 4 shots and a TB test. The nurse told me to hold her hands down so she could give Sophie the shots in her upper arm. I couldn't distract Sophie from watching the nurse as she stabbed the needles into her poor arm just inches away from her bugging eyes. Though I hated watching my kids getting shots when they were babies, at least babies are kind of oblivious, and they forget a lot sooner. Poor Sophie was pretty traumatized. Shot after shot Sophie just watched not really crying, but kind of moaning in a horrified way. Sticking five needles into a little girl's arm one right after another seems pretty ruthless. Needless to say, I have decided we need a few days of recovery before I take her in to have her blood drawn for a lead test, which the preschool requires that she have.

Penelope thinks she is in preschool this year. She has more homework than Sophie and she has to have it with her everywhere, even in her bed with her at night. She and I do go once a week with Sophie to volunteer while Gabriel stays with his new friend Reagan. She was really shy at first, but is getting more and more comfortable being there and really enjoys playing and learning with all the other kids. She mostly stays right by Sophie's side, but I don't mind that they are best friends. I hope they always are. I have been trying to get Penelope in a Preschool to help her with her speech, but she is talking so well these days, that I think it may not work out. At her last evaluation they told me that even though she has some speech issues, they are mostly considered within the normal range for her age, so we will see. They did have some concerns about her continuously hoarse voice, so I am waiting for a referral from our pediatrician to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist to make sure there isn't any problem there. It totally stresses me out, but I am sure it is just from all the screaming she does. So, we shall see.

Gabriel is getting bigger and naughtier! Seriously, he has started to be naughty just to see what kind of reaction he can get. He loves getting into whatever drawer or cabinet he can and getting out as much stuff as possible before I find him. It is usually then that he looks at me with a surprised look on his face and points to the mess, saying,"Ah, ah!" While I'm trying to clean up that mess, he runs as fast as his little legs can carry him to make the next mess. He certainly keeps me on my toes! But he is so sweet at the same time. He is one I can always count on to snuggle with or get a hug from. He really loves me, and though he is the best at making messes, he sure does love to pick up and help out!

I am doing really well. I really miss all my family. I think about my mother often and still grieve her passing. I have many things to be thankful for, though. My husband is wonderful and my kids bring joy into my life. I am really thankful for the gospel. I just want to thank everybody who has been so kind to me. I am not very good with official thank you's, but I can't begin to tell you all how much your phone calls, messages, and gifts have meant to me. Now before I make Dallas throw up, I am going to be done.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Recent thoughts...

So I have a list of things I've been thinking and wanting to write about for a while.

First on my list was to write a critique for Breaking Dawn, the 4th book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Emily and I recently read it, and to put it bluntly we were both very disappointed. I'm not afraid to admit that I quickly became a fan of the series after reading Twilight earlier this year, not so much for the author's skill in writing but because the plot is so engaging. (Though that is not to say that there are not some powerful, inspired moments in her writing, e.g. the 'time-passing' part of book two)! Anyways, book 4 (and even book 3 in some respects) really was a disappointment to me for various reasons. Emily and I have discussed the weaknesses, and we both intended to write full-length critiques. But our anger and frustration has since cooled so I don't think I'll take the time to get into details. There also might be a portion of this blog readership who haven't yet read the books, and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. So it will have to suffice to say that Breaking Dawn sucked in my opinion, and I apologize for not taking the time to explain why.

The second thing is related to another book that I just finished a few days ago: Next, by Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park). I've been doing a lot of non-fiction and academic reading lately and I was in need of a book of higher entertainment-value. Next is somewhat similar to Orwell's 1984, presenting a plausible future and warnings for society. This story is set in the present or very near future and deals with genetic modification. There a few 'creatures' in the book that are essentially genetically modified animals, imbued with human genes. This gives them increased intelligence and abilities similar to humans, and the division between man and beast is blurred. It was thinking about this where I came up with the point that I wanted to mention here. What all these genetically-modified animals had in common was language ability, and it was primarily that quality that made them seem more human (or at least less-bestial). I think that this ability to create and produce abstract language is possibly the single-most important attribute of humanity. Language is fascinating!

The final point I wanted to discuss is political in nature. Don't get alarmed, my discussion here will be neutral and it is not in my agenda to persuade or dissuade. Let me explain... here in Arizona there is currently on the ballot a proposition which intends to amend the state constitution by defining marriage as between man and woman, effectively prohibiting gay marriage (which is currently not legal in this state either). I have many colleagues, friends, and acquaintances who are opposed to this proposition, and have heard many arguments against it. These range from civil rights-based arguments to those dealing with the church/state division that our government is supposed to preserve.

Some of these arguments made me think for a minute, thinking that why should our government be involved with what is clearly a moral issue? After thinking a little more I realized that our government was established on a moral basis, and that moral standards always have been and continue to be the foundation for law and the moral reasoning of the majority of Americans. The doctrine of separation between church and state merely implies that our government should not favor any one religion (establishment clause of 1st amendment) or prohibit religious beliefs (free exercise clause), not that our government has to steer clear of any moral issues. The gay marriage issue is not an issue of exercise of religious belief for any one religious group, and thus is not an issue of being contrary to the Bill of Rights. (In researching this it was interesting to find a parallel to rulings against polygamist Mormons dealing with the extent of the free exercise clause, though. Here the court ruled against polygamists, as we know, explaining that the free exercise clause doesn't necessarily protect actions, just opinions or beliefs.)

The civil rights argument is a little more difficult, though, and that's because it become more a matter of opinion of where one must 'draw the line'. Much historical injustice against minority groups has been cleared up due to laws which attempt to provide fairness and equality of opportunity for all. But at some point a border must be drawn, and this current debate about gay marriage is essentially one of defining where to place this border - is legal marriage for homosexuals an unalienable, civil right?

I don't presume to know the answer to this question, and will refrain from extemporizing my personal opinions here, since it is not my intention to cause a heated discussion but simply to elucidate some of the issues and arguments.

In my local ward we have been directly told to support this proposition, which was very surprising since in my experience the church usually seems to avoid taking a clear stance on political issues and never has told members how to vote. Somewhat stunned, I decided to do a little research on the church's opinion on this matter. I came across two interesting articles. The first is an official press release discussing the church's stance on this issue in California, Arizona, and Florida, and the second is the transcription of an interview discussing the LDS view of homosexuality in general. They are both very interesting (although long) and a worthwhile read if you're interested. (They are also both credible resources coming directly from the church's site.)

It makes me wonder why there is so much support for gay marriage to begin with - is it a matter of receiving financial benefits that can only be obtained through marriage? Is it to solidify a relationship? Is it merely to 'eradicate discrimination' and legitimize the gay community? I would like to know the main motivational forces behind the opposition of this proposed amendment, but unfortunately since this issue is so polarized it might be hard to get unbiased and uncolored 'facts'.

Anyways, those are my musings.

It's important for us to think. Think about our actions, decisions, and choices. It's also important to try to understand our motivation behind these choices. That can help us much on our way to being better people.