Unconditional Parenting

I asked for (and received) the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I have broken into it and read the first two chapters.

So far, I have been told that time outs are no good, praise is no good, corporal punishment is no good… and I still have at least two more chapters to read before I find out what the heck I’m supposed to do to raise my kids to be decent human beings with a sense of self-worth and the motivation to do good unto others and stuff.

While I am not totally sold on the precepts (yet?), I think it will be an interesting read and something that is worth considering in my quest to be the best mom to these kids that I am capable of.

Until then, I guess I should just let chaos reign in my house as there is no way to enforce any rules I may implement. 🙂

Christmas at my house

Close up of the tree:

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

The kids in their Christmas Eve pajamas.

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Being sweet together.

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Hugs on the night before Christmas.

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

O Christmas Tree

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Christmas morning, opening stockings in Oliver and Hazel’s room

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Conner in the morning

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Me, first thing

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Miss Hazel

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Father-Daughter dancing

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Me, modeling Conner’s new Iron Maiden hoodie.

From 2008-12 (Dec) – Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

What a generic blog title, eh? How many of THOSE will there be today?

Whatever. It’s after midnight, it’s officially Christmas, and Santa is on his way.

So, I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday.

Temple Visit

Every year, the LDS DC Temple has a “Winter Lights Festival”, where they set up a bajillion lights outside, decorate a bunch of Christmas trees inside the visitor’s center, and post about a hundred sister missionaries all around to guide you, answer any questions, and basically get in the way.

Since this is likely going to be our last year in the DC area at Christmastime, I wanted to go and take photos of the lights.

Now, first, I should say that my pictures turned out horribly (which a skeptic might be able to say is due to my total inactivity in the church–perhaps God is punishing me?). As I don’t buy into the God’s punishment theory, I’ll go with the fact that I didn’t set my ISO to a higher speed, and I was trying to take pictures while wearing Hazel, which is way trickier now that she has mobility and a mind of her own and stuff.

Also, I’ve always found it weird that the lights are set up as flowers and spring-y looking things. At a winter lights festival, I want to see something winter-y—show me skis or mountains or something. Anyway…

So. Here’s the story:
We drove to the visitor’s center (where the festival was), and pulled into the parking lot. There were four missionaries with lightsticks to guide us along, and they stopped us and said they were reserving that parking lot for handicapped people, and could we please park at the temple next door. Not a huge deal except that it was way below freezing outside and we had the two small children with us. Also, a bit baffling–did they really expect 100+ handicapped people to drive to see the lights that night?

Obligingly, we drove to the temple, pulled in, and were directed by another missionary with a light stick to a row of parking spots. We pulled in to the one that was closest to the vistor’s center, and proceeded to get the kids out of the car. I noticed that there was a darkened sign that said that the spot was reserved–but at 6:30 at night, does it really matter if you park in someone’s reserved spot? I generally feel like the answer is no. Someone pulling out of another spot stopped, though, and told us that we needed to move the car, because it was the temple president’s spot. Conner, in poor judgment, swore at him. (And then moved the car.)

We walked into the visitor’s center, and were immediately swarmed. Two children! They’re beautiful! How old are they? Have you been here before? You have a beautiful family!

Oliver’s fear of strangers (“No! Don’t talk to me!”), which I usually try to socialize out of him (“Oliver, say ‘I don’t feel like talking right now’) came in handy, and he, Hazel, and I were able to make a hasty retreat, followed only by the missionary who I think wanted to touch Hazel. (She’s cute–who doesn’t want to touch her? :))
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Ahhh… gratuitous photo…

We made our way over to the circle of the Books of Mormon in all the languages that it is printed in, which is admittedly kind of awesome. Conner and I have always wanted to spend some time looking at them, looking at the languages, etc. Conner is a language geek, and I like seeing the non-Roman alphabets. Another sister missionary approached us to ask us if we spoke any of the languages. We demurred. (Which is my euphemistic way of saying that Conner became slightly rude and I walked away while she was talking to him.)

We went to look at the Christmas trees they had set up, which I found incredibly boring, but Conner and Oliver enjoyed it. They have nativity sets from all different countries set up in a room, but Oliver didn’t really get the whole ‘look but don’t touch’ decree, so we didn’t hang out in there for long. There was also a room full of photos of Jesus, where we were approached by an older missionary. In there, Conner just acted Mormon because it was easier.

Then we walked around the rest of the grounds, took a lot of photos (which mostly look terrible), and got really cold, and went home.

My lessons from the evening were:
1. ISO matters.
2. If you are a part of a male/female couple and Mormon missionaries approach you, if you are the male, you’re stuck. If you’re the female, you can walk away because they will ALWAYS talk to the male before the female. (This works in my favor.)
3. Camera batteries do not last very long in the freezing cold. Buy a backup.
4. Don’t park in the temple president’s parking spot. If he shows up at 7:30 on a weeknight, he will not be okay with parking a bit further away, even when there is a huge festival going on next door and nobody is allowed to park in that parking lot.

My Comments on a Twilight Review

One of my incredible friends (who I can only hope is a real person and not just a hairy man named Fred since I haven’t actually met her in person) asked my opinion about this blog post discussing the Twilight books and their relation to Mormonism. Here were my comments to her:

First, I should say that the stuff I found relevant to Mormonism does not appear to be the same stuff that this woman is finding, but then, I don’t usually read to go searching for the symbolism or deeper meanings or stuff in books, but read for the sheer pleasure of getting lost in the story.

Her points:
1. Deification. I can see where that’s coming from. While most Mormons will be hesitant to call it deification, it is a principle of the church that a person who dies can become like God–meaning a god also. I think that there is not a lot of clarity about whether you become as god-y as God, or if it’s like a lesser god type being. (Conner always interpreted it as Jesus becoming the God the Father of the next generation, and the normal people who attained celestial glory (what they call it) would just get to create their own worlds within the framework of Jesus being the God of all the worlds.)

2. Afterlife. It seems like a stretch to me.

3. Family – also a stretch. What mainstream group/culture isn’t mostly about the family unit? It’s not just Mormons who are glad that they have kids.

4. Celestial Marriage. This person’s doctrines are way off and not what Mormonism teach, nor really consistent internally (in that paragraph) or with what I find in the books. In Mormonism, you don’t get married temporally (outside of the temple, “till death do us part”), and then get married in the temple. You CAN, but they generally want you to get married in the temple if at all possible. (To the extent of me not having my family at my wedding.) It is true that men can be sealed to more than one woman. It is NOT consistent with current Mormon doctrine that a woman could be sealed to more than one man, ever. In other words, Mormonism leaves the door open for possibly polygamy, but not polyandry. I don’t remember in the book–did they have another ceremony to bind them for eternity?

5. Bella as the Christ figure. I can kind of see that… I guess. But is that about Mormonism, or a hyperbolic presentation of childbirth and motherhood in general? And she wasn’t a virgin when she got pregnant, which isn’t very Mary-like. Also, regarding the doctrine that God had a physical union with Mary to get her pregnant… like many of the old ideas in Mormonism, this came from Brigham Young (who is, in my opinion, unQUESTIONably the most controversial prophet). He certainly said it (or said something like “Jesus was conceived in the usual fashion” or something), but does that make it doctrine? Well, what makes something doctrine is one of the sticky widgets in Mormonism and could stand for its own debate. There are many things that Brigham Young taught and specifically said that they were doctrine and plain and precious truths and not to ever be denied… that the church no longer teaches and disavows completely (not by saying that Brigham Young was wrong or didn’t say it, but by becoming apologetics or by ignoring it completely). FWIW, I think that it’s generally understood that you follow what the current prophet says, even if it’s different than what a prior prophet said. I had trouble with this when it came to factual things that shouldn’t change based on who is prophet.

6. Uh, this isn’t about Mormonism at all, really. Nor is it especially coherent lol.

7. Native Americans: Also a stretch. I think it took place where it did because vampires who were going to make a permanent settlement wouldn’t go to Miami Beach. As for the Native Americans being the wise ones or whatever, that’s a common practice in many American authors–sage native people? I don’t think it’s a hearkening to the Book of Mormon.

8. As for imprinting on children–I also found this disturbing in the novel (the idea of it in general), but I am hyper sensitive to child sexual abuse/stuff like that. I thought that given the weirdness, she did a decent job with it. This blogger did not connect it to Mormonism, and Mormons have no doctrines about mating with children. Granted, creepy fundamentalist weirdos who live on compounds probably take on 14 year old wives or whatever, but that’s not mainstream Mormonism, and would be something that Stephenie Meyer probably finds disturbing as well.

Then, this blogger says something about reaching the “upper echelon” of Mormonism. This is total bull and there is no such thing. It’s not like you are going along and all of a sudden one day you go to a special meeting where they say, “ok, so, God and Mary? Actual sex. Cool, huh? And polygamy? Yeah, we did that. Possibly will again in the future after you die, or whatever.” Nope, doesn’t happen. I hate it when people say stuff like that. There is plenty to criticize about the church without making crap up. Plus, it’s totally condescending to tell someone that they aren’t privy to the doctrines of their own church while this outsider knows so much more than them.

So, that’s my response to the blogger.

My Twilight Adventure

My friend Alana and I went to go see Twilight a couple of weeks ago. We both had some major beef with the book, so we knew we’d have a blast. Photos might explain our night the best:

Me, getting ready for the evening:
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My super cool shirt:
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Alana and I. I believe that I might have screamed when Edward came on screen. Because what better than a much-too-close-up to make a girl swoon?
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Ahhh! He’s fine. And that’s glitter on her face… not sweat… unless this was a Carlisle scene… then I think she might have been panting next to me.
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Washing her hands of the whole thing (and possibly vowing never to go out with me in public again…)
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I knew she’d relent eventually, though. Who can resist some Katy-love?
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