Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Mr. Mimic’s Birthday

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I recommend not listening to the sound. It was already bad and the audio quality makes it worse.

He wanted a birthday pie, so Anne bravely made him one. (It tasted great, but she was very upset about how it turned out, so don’t talk to her about it.)

Cloning and Mormonism

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

just read The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir and it is hilarious and a little sad. I was really worried it would bash Mormons too much but it was too honest for that. No hate here, no prejudice, just honest reality. I liked it a lot. As someone who has actually thought about my faith and grappled with its major questions and problems, but have still chosen to be Mormon, I can really relate to her. But at one point of the book a guy the author dated asks her about cloning. It really throws her and she doesn’t have a good answer, except that it’s not possible to clone a real thinking person. I can see why she thought this but she is wrong. I wrote a response to her: what I would like to tell her in person.

First off, cloning doesn’t go against any of your Mormon religious principles. In Genesis it says that God created the world, but the Hebrew word is actually better translated as “organized” the world. Thus God took matter that already existed and sculpted it together into the world as it is. God is not a magician – He did not say “Abracadabra” and POOF! the world appeared. He is a scientist. He is a genius. He organized the world and everything in it using scientific principles. As we delve deeper into physics, astronomy, biology, and other sciences, we merely discover what He always knew. The human body is merely an extension of this. The name of our first father, Adam, literally means “earth.” Out of the same components that God used to make the world, He organized our bodies. And when we die, we will “return to dust” — our bodies will break down into those components once again.

We have, in the pursuit of science, discovered how an egg and sperm interact to begin building a new body. We have developed this knowledge to the point where we can “clone,” or faithfully reproduce an organism. Basically, we are learning how to organize a body with available materials. As in all things, we are children groping after the perfect knowledge of our Father, and as time goes by we collectively learn more and more as generations pass. However, this does not mean that we are anywhere near God’s level of knowledge and genius. We are like a toddler with a plastic hammer, emulating a parent who can with his own hands build a mansion. This is both naive and wonderful of us, and an indictment of our vast and fabulous eternal potential. Does it make us able to author life? No.

Cloning already exists. Any set of identical twins are genetically the same, just as a clone is genetically identical to its “parent.” We have learned, in our childish (but wonderfully inspired) endeavors, to reproduce an organism near-perfectly. However, we can not, and never will, grant the breath of life to that organism. We can build the body out of clay, but we can not usher souls into it. This is a divine power which is too powerful to be given into the hands of inexperienced and naive children. Only God can breathe life into clay. With a set of identical twins, they may look alike, but each body contains a very different soul. Ask any parent who has raised a child–that child’s personality and spirit came pre-formed. A preschooler will naturally be shy or gregarious, studious or active, and nothing that the parent tries will change this. I recognize in my four-year old son many traits that I possess myself, and yet he is undoubtedly his own, separate, and firmly formed person. He was born that way. The spirit that God ushered into that little skinny, blonde body is completely unique.

If cloning does progress to humankind, and if a fully formed human is cloned, it doesn’t break any rules of religion. We are merely fumbling around with God’s building blocks. We create the body out of clay. Will God fill it with a soul? I don’t know. I can tell you this: if He does not, that body will not live and breathe and walk around and talk. If He does, then one of God’s spirit children has been assigned to that body, just as we all are assigned to a body, and it will live and breathe and laugh and love just like the rest of us. There is nothing we can do to influence this process. If God chooses to put a soul into a cloned body, He will have a great reason to do so. Just because the creation of that body was influenced by His clumsy children doesn’t mean that it’s not a suitable vessel for one of His precious children.

Cloning may seem like a scary concept, but in truth it is just one of the ways that humans, working together, have tried to elevate our state closer to that of God. Whether or not those who desire to clone a human reach their ultimate goal, God is completely in charge of what follows.

It’s a Double Rainbow

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

For those of you who may have missed this, I present: Crazy Double Rainbow Guy

The Mysteries of the Inter Nets

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

This is a conversation I overheard this morning at breakfast. E is 9 years old. S just turned 7.

E: When I am a teenager I’m going to have a Faceboog.
S: A face bug?
E: Yeah. You can talk to you friends on a Face Bug.
S: You mean like . . .
E (impatiently): Like you can use a Face Bug to talk to your friends in internets!
S: Uh . . . You mean like a taste bug?
E: Yeah. Taste bugs live on your tongue –
S: -But-
E: -and they tell you how food tastes.
S: Do they come out of your tongue ever?
E: DUH! Yes, when they come out of your tongue they –
S: -they’re on your face?
E: – they go onto your face and then they’re Face Bugs. And then they go in internets and –
S: they crawl into inter nets?
E: Hello, yes, I’m telling you! They crawl into internets and then they talk to your friends.
S: Oh! That’s . . . weird. I mean cool.
E: Yeah. (tosses her hair) And when I’m a teenager I’m going to have one. Because they’re cool.
S: (looks mystified and impressed) me too!

Mundanity Made Magnificent

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I have been unable to find the time to post anything about the Mortensen clan but felt like I couldn’t go another month without posting something. This is from the point of view of one of my player characters from my D&D group at work.

It is odd how the most mundane occurrence can be made extraordinary. Especially when undertaken with the colorful collection of characters comprising my current company. (Oh what a lovely alliteration!) My master assured me this would be a routine journey to acquire some ritual scrolls made available for purchase by a scholar in Winterhaven. Yet here I am, delving into the dank dungeon affectionately designated as Shadowfell Keep. (Another!) All of the activities that we have undertaken seem routine adventures on the surface. Nothing a standard guild couldn’t handle.

Take for instance the rat-infested ruins of the Keep’s southeast corner. My first instinct was to unleash mystical energies in a blast strong enough to clear a safe path through. Standard procedure for adventuring types. But not for this group, no. The first thought for the rest of the group was, “Can we tame one of these giant rodents?” So, of course, several attempt to make friendly acquaintance with the local rodentia. And to my surprise, one actually seems to take a liking to Oskar, our, uh, dwarven ranger. I was mystified by his reaction to success. Instead of having his new ally aid us in ridding this place of evil, he guts the foul thing open. Oh, there was just blood everywhere and all he can say is, “I hate rats. Disgusting.”

So we clear our path through and discover a chamber off by itself, and thinking we might find some interesting treasure, we explore. Unfortunately, what we find inside is a massive, jiggling ochre jelly. My first thought? Horrifying. My second thought? Let’s leave before it decides to jiggle over to eat us. Joben’s first thought? Hit it with his sword. That goes predictably wrong and of course as we sensibly began to flee, the murderous gelatin has decided we’re worth the effort of a chase. So around the dungeon we go, only instead of, oh I don’t know, going somewhere it can’t follow us, our fearless troop heads right into a dead end filed with Kruthiks – the worst sort of giant insect to encounter whilst fleeing a large jelly.

We miraculously survive both the jelly and the insectoids, then head back towards the less decaying parts of the Keep. Near the entrance we discover a foul-smelling half-orc who wants to join our merry band. Do we ask for some sort of credentials or a display of brawn or brains to determine his worthiness? No. We have a dance-off.

The Blight of Suburbia

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

This morning it is snowing, already four inches or so on the ground, and my two school-age children have been outside romping through the drifts in the front yard for 15 minutes, waiting for their walking buddies to show up. (This means that my previously pristine, smooth front lawn is now a riot of paths and bumps, and the trees have deliberately had all their snow shaken down upon young heads. What will the neighbors think? Gasp!)

I sent them to school by themselves when it became clear that the walking buddies weren’t going to show, and not thirty seconds later the very thing I had feared occurred – a neighbor mom in an enormous SUV saw them, pulled over, and offered them a ride.

I am outraged.

First of all, it’s five blocks to school. Six if you go the long way. It’s not hard for elementary school age kids to walk five blocks – in fact, they burn more than that amount of energy just zipping around getting ready in the morning (colliding, panicking, playing, hysterically laughing, and in the case of Preston RIGHT NOW, cuddling three light sabres and tucking them into bed.)

Secondly, KIDS LIKE SNOW. I know this comes as a surprise to those of us who don’t remember childhood. But I can guarantee that my kids, upon looking out the window this morning, did NOT think to themselves, “dammit, now I will be forced to frolic my way to school while pelting my siblings and friends with snowballs and sliding on the sidewalk in my snow boots.” They LIKE walking those five blocks in a magically transformed, white-purple world (which has miraculously become wholly edible overnight.)

And thirdly, and most outrageously, does that SUV mom actually think my kids are SAFER in an SUV which will go join a queue of a hundred other cars and SUVs, sliding on the slush with kids dodging before and behind as they unload? My kids are much, much safer walking to school than driving. Period. But most especially, they are safer in crappy weather like this. What to a driver is a harrowing death journey is to a child an enchanted wonderland. And yes, I am aware that my children probably won’t be injured because of that sheltered, heated, crowded SUV, but that doesn’t change the fact that they would have been better off outside of it.

When did Suburbia become like this? When my grandmother raised her children, she sought out a suburban neighborhood. The kids roamed in packs, playing night games and raiding fruit trees. Now, my children play outside alone unless a neighbor invites them in to watch TV or play video games. And in this lovely, soft snowfall, all the children in my neighborhood can only watch through tinted windows as they join the endless queue to drop them off immediately in front of the school doors. Heaven forbid they have to walk down the school sidewalk. They might have to do something inconvenient, like enjoy themselves.

New Year’s Resolutions

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

It is my goal this year to double the amount of posts from last year. Unfortunately, I’ve been warned that posting about the two children we are currently fostering could land us in trouble, so I can’t borrow stories or pictures from home to post here. I don’t spend nearly as much time with the kids as Anne does, so maybe it’s for the best. I’m hoping she’ll have more cute happenings to relate regarding the Mimic and Captain Flail, but it might be a while before she can post them, since we’ve been both feeling a little overwhelmed at finding ourselves outnumbered so drastically.

I also can’t take the cheap and easy route of posting stories from my sister about her mission, so anyone reading this blog will have to take what they can get from me. I don’t set aside time to read a lot of books anymore. Nor do I watch a lot of movies or TV shows. I really can think of only three things I do in my spare time away from herding cats and children. 1) I read three or four comic books a month — I’m even on a first name basis with several of the employees at Night Flight. 2) After the kids go to bed, I usually play computer games. Some weeks I play all seven nights, some weeks not so much. 3) I have two separate groups of friends I play Dungeons and Dragons with. One group from the homestarmy and one group at work. So that is what I’m left with for content.

Meanwhile. . .

Monday, December 7th, 2009

We had a little adventure around Halloween. The day before Halloween, we received a call from the Division of Family and Child Services saying they needed us for an emergency placement. A woman had been picked up for a minor transgression of the law, but she had given police no help in placing with family or friends the two children accompanying her. Since they had no other option, the children were placed in protective custody and were currently in a temporary holding place (that I won’t disclose on this blog). Unfortunately, the children only spoke Spanish and no one employed at said place could converse with them. So we were basically their only chance to live in a home with someone who could speak with them in Spanish, while their mom sorted out her problems. Of course we offered to take them in. The older was a five year old boy and the younger a three year old girl.

I picked them up that night and I found myself confronted with two very distraught children who had no idea what was happening to them, who I was, nor really where I was taking them. They’d seen their mother taken and handcuffed by police and then spent the night in a strange place unable to ask anyone for explanations. As I loaded them into my car, the little girl began to cry and say over and over, “Quiero con mama. Quiero con mama.” It was very difficult and heartbreaking to hear, especially because I had no idea when they would be reunited for sure. So we drove home and they fell asleep in the car.

I pulled into our driveway and they unfortunately woke up very frightened about being in yet another strange place. I got the little girl out of the car, but the little boy tried to run away. I caught him and dragged them both into the house. Anne had already put our boys to bed, so the two of us tried to comfort our guests, but ultimately had to settle for putting them to bed crying.

The next day went a little better. We had a fun Saturday starting out with cartoons and breakfast and then just playing with toys. I spoke with our little Spanish speakers and they seemed content to be surrounded by toys and other kids. They were both upset about naptime, but they both slept over an hour, so I didn’t feel too bad about it. They had been provided with a Tinkerbell outfit for the little girl and we had Captain Flail’s Optimus Prime outfit from last year for the little boy, so about 5:00 we set out to go trick-or-treating. The little girl got scared by all the dogs and the people answering the door in costume, so after about a half hour we went back home for dinner.

After dinner I set back out with Captain Flail and the little boy, while Anne watched the two younger kids and answered our door. We tricked-or-treated until the boys were exhausted. Our little guest eventually figured out how it worked and started racing Captain Flail from house to house to ring doorbells. We walked a little over two miles and they no longer wanted to knock on doors by about halfway back to the house. I had to carry their bags because they were so heavy, but they’d had a great time. They both fell asleep quickly.

The next day we had church which went okay. Anne is in the primary and they spent all their time practicing for the Primary Program in the chapel. A very nice lady in the ward watched both of them there in the chapel, so they kind of just hung out while the kids sang. I taught my usual Sunday School class for 12 & 13 year olds and then went to Priesthood. After church we had lunch and naptimes and then played for a while before heading out to Uncle Cary’s. They were very shy at first at his house and wanted to stay very close to Anne and me, but they eventually warmed up and started playing with Amanda. Cary was very nice about accommodating us and the kids were sad to go home.

Monday, I had to go back to work and I was praying that everything would go okay for Anne. She had to call or email me a few times about how to say a few things and by the time I got home she was exhausted, but she’d survived her first day alone with them. Tuesday went more smoothly in some ways because the kids were getting used to our routine, but that meant they were also no longer on their best behavior, so Anne was again exhausted, but the kids’ caseworker had called to say they’d be reunited with their mom the next morning. So Wednesday Anne drove them up to the DCFS offices and they went home with their mom. I guess the reunion was a little awkward, but I know the kids are happy to be back with their mom. I got the impression they were a little spoiled at home, so I didn’t feel bad in the least about sending them back.

It’s kind of weird to think I’ll probably never see those kids again, but it was a lot of work to care for four kids who were all aged so similarly. Of course, four kids of any age sounds like a lot of work, but we’re probably not too far off from that being a permanent thing for us. We’ve put in word with our Resource Family Consultant (our representative at DCFS) that we are ready for more kids. So we’ll see what happens.

Brief Update

Monday, December 7th, 2009

I want to give a brief update on our Sister Missionary. She’s still trying to learn Spanish. As I recall, it took me quite a while to get over my bashfulness and to feel comfortable speaking with strangers in Spanish. I did better with my companions (who for the most part were native speakers and didn’t speak English.) Anyway, on top of that, she had this to say:

“This week I have just been landed in the most stressful situation I have ever been in. We had transfers on Friday, and I have a new companion. . .She speaks practically no Spanish whatsoever. She was switched from English the day after she got here from the MTC, which was about 6 weeks ago. And she is really struggling to learn. I have been able to learn pretty quickly, and the Lord has blessed me a lot, but I am still very far from being able to converse openly with people. And we are companions. I can make it through the first lesson okay, and the second and third lessons, if you were grading me, you’d give me a C+, so it’s passing, but it’s really not great.”

She’s also been stressed out about having someone come observe her and critique (hopefully constructively) her teaching methods. I guess her spirits are still pretty high though:

“[My] life is a roller coaster of stress and fun. The Lord really wants to make sure I am faithful or something! It will all work out, I know.”

I’ll miss her phone call home during Christmas this year, but I think she’ll be back with us next year.

A typical conversation

Monday, September 21st, 2009

"Mom," says Preston, "When I grow up I want to be a smuster."

"A mister?"

"NO! A Smuster!"

I pause for a moment before saying solemnly, "I do not understand what you mean." This is the only response that will prompt the child to rephrase, rather than to just repeat what he’s said more slowly and loudly, as if to an imbecile.

"You know Mom, when something is strange," he carefully rephrases, as if talking to an imbecile.

"When . . . something is strange." I have no idea what he’s talking about.

"Yeah. A smuster is for when something is strange," he says patiently.

"I do not understand what you mean," I say again.

There is an elaborate sigh, then a pause, then he bursts into song. "When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? GO SMUSTERS!"