Monday, August 31, 2009

PhD Program Here I Come!

Tomorrow I start my PhD program at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. I'm excited and terrified all at once. I had an orientation this weekend and was thrilled to meet some really great students who come from top-notch MSW programs. I think I will learn a lot from them as well as the professors. The doctoral program director spoke yesterday, and I was absolutely inspired. I love social work! I love the philosophy and mission and values that we embrace. As they told us yesterday, this is going to be "fun, exciting, and HARD!"
August 31, 2009

John and Gwen Visit

John and Gwen visited the Oliphants on their way to Princeton, New Jersey, where John will be starting graduate studies this fall. The whole Oliphant clan hasn't been together in a long time. It was fun to share some time together. We took a bike ride around the monuments and stopped for the Navy band concert on the Capitol steps, barbequed at our house, and had an extended family dinner at the Oliphant home.

(photos courtesy of Gwen)
Good luck at Princeton, John and Gwen! We're glad you're on the East coast with us now.
August, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rainy Saturday

Every day for the past few weeks, we keep saying we have to take advantage of our "last" days of summer before everything changes in the fall. Last Saturday, we went downtown to live it up. The rain, thunder and lightning required the closing of the Washington Monument so we couldn't use our tickets, but we had a great time visiting the newly renovated American History Museum.

August 22, 2009

Big Boy Bed

Joseph now has a "big boy bed." We took down the crib and packed it away. He was so excited to have his new bed, and he hasn't fallen out of bed once. I cried. Not because he can now escape (he climbed out of his crib a long time ago), but because it is one more reminder that he isn't a baby anymore. Everyone else seems very aware of his little boy status. I'm having a harder time letting go of my baby.

At least he still has Mr. Bear!

Joseph is getting ready for bed by brushing his teeth and "shaving" with his toothbrush.
August 22, 2009

Joseph and Friends

Joseph is really great at making friends. This week was his last week of playgroup, and I got several emails from other moms telling me how much they enjoyed Joseph, how they'd like to have playdates with him since we won't be in the group anymore, how happy and fun he is, how their children talk about Joseph when they are home. I feel the same way about him. He is fun and always ready with a smile or laugh.

Joseph particularly enjoys his friend, Anderson, who lives on our street. Here the boys were trying out some adult-size rollerblades they found in our closet.

Summer 2009


When I arrived home from Missouri, I found a piano in our living room! Marc gave me this piano as a surprise for our 5 year anniversary. It is fun having a piano--our house feels more like a home now to me. I haven't played much in the past five years, but I've been enjoying playing again--and hope I can get back some of my lost skill. I also loved how Marc rearranged the living room when he brought the piano home.

The Garden

Marc has had great success with his garden this year. Joseph loves to check for ripe zucchini and tomatoes with Dad every evening when Marc gets home from work. If they pick some, Joseph runs them in to me in the kitchen with singleness of purpose and asks me to "cut these up for dinner." Joseph very proud with this cucumber--the first harvest of our garden (well, actually spinach was first but a cucumber is really so much more exciting).Joseph and Marc eating dinner on our back porch: BLT sandwiches (with tomatoes from our garden) and corn on the cob. This week we've had tomatoes almost every night: fresh salsa, tomato and basil bruschetta, pesto pizza with fresh tomatoes. And of course, zucchini. Here's to summer!

Summer 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Please Read!

Please click on this link to the New York Times magazine and read this story:

The Women's Crusade

Thursday, August 13, 2009


You may have already seen these videos if you follow my parents'/Hannah's blog


Our first stop at the zoo was the new Carribean Cove stingray pavilion where you can touch and feed the stingrays.

Joseph was not sure at first.
But he warmed up to the idea.

And then his ever-present enthusiasm took over.

July 29, 2009


We packed so much in to our Missouri trip! In addition to all that I've blogged about, we also had:

  • Dinner with Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Bob
  • Several visits with John and Catherine with plenty of good, deep conversation and debate covering everything from healthcare, Iran, the Equal Rights Amendment and more.
  • Two trips to the MUNY--one of my all time favorite St. Louis attractions. I saw Godspell and Music Man. The weather was perfect. Thanks, Mom, for watching Joseph so I could enjoy the shows.
  • Shopping!
  • Classic movies. Basically, almost every night after Joseph was alseep we either stayed up talking until late or watched an old movie like Charade with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. I'm not used to burning the candle at both ends anymore, but it is hard to resist.

The morning of our last day, my parents really wanted to take us to the zoo. I didn't think I was up for it--I simply cannot keep up with my parents!! But I agreed to go, and it turned out to be such a fun day. I'm so glad we went. This must be why they never stop--there is just too much fun to be had in life to waste time resting!

Our intense little Joseph focusing on some animals.
Those cheeks beg to be kissed constantly!

Tigers from our view out the zoo train

Sea lion show

Joseph riding a gorilla on the endangered species carousel

Riding the zoo train with Aunt Hannah
July 29, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Making Applesauce

There is a tradition among homemakers, especially in the American Mormon church, of canning and preserving food. My mom joined the church as a young adult and quickly tried to adopt all of the doctrines and customs of the church. She canned pickles and applesauce, tomatoes and jam. She baked bread and made homemade yogurt. This woman who never planned to have children became homemaker extraordinaire with eight children underfoot. That said, from my understanding she never really enjoyed the canning. In fact, she tells the story that one night after spending all day prepping tomatoes, and all night canning tomatoes (she didn't like the dangerous pressure canner on during the day when children were awake), my dad told her that he thought the children needed a happy mother more than home-canned tomatoes. That was the "permission" she needed to overcome the cultural expectation; she never canned another tomato! I guess I've felt some of that cultural expectation, too. I've never quite reconciled my desire to be the ideal Mormon woman with a beautifully decorated home, wholesome home baked goods, well dressed and behaved children with the reality that is me: we've moved eight times since I got married five years ago so there doesn't even feel like we have a "home" to decorate. I'd much rather go out for ethnic food than bake bread or cook anything, really. I only have one child. I don't like to shop. I let my child pick his own clothes so he often looks a little scraggly. Yet, I've stayed home with my Joseph and in some ways tried (and often failed) to meet my personal and cultural expectations. I hear "stay-at-home" mothers talk about the satisfaction of creating something like a sewing project or garden or canned food. I think maybe if I tried it, I could find satisfaction, too. While I was in Missouri, my mom helped me to can applesauce. I learned that one day doesn't yield an overabundance, that it is actually less expensive to buy applesauce than to make it, and that Joseph much prefers the kind from the store---even before trying mine. But I did have a fun day with my mom. And I joined the ranks of women who have canned. The box I brought home filled with jars of applesauce has my mother's handwritten label, "Pears, 1980." I like the continuity of doing what my mother did, using her jars, and now I will follow her footsteps in hanging up my canning apron.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Tribute to My Parents

My parents celebrate 35 years of marriage today. Happy Annniversary, Mom and Dad!

35 years of marriage, 8 children, 7 grandchildren with one on the way: looking at these two reminds me that life is good. They make it look easy, but 35 years takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
Mom taught seminary at 5:30 am for years--starting when she had six children under the age of 12. She has homeschooled 3 children. She has been to girls camps and cub scout camps and been the Relief Society president more than once. She is the most determined person I know. When I hear the phrase "life long learner," I think of my mom. She is always telling me about a book that she's read or a study on health about which I should know. Mom is also a listener and lover--she scoops up everybody around and spreads love on them.
Dad earned his PhD at Vanderbilt University during the early years of their marriage. He worked as a research biochemist at Monsanto/Searle/Pfizer for 30 years. He has multiple patents and publications about things I can't even pronounce! Dad served people in the bishopric, high council and stake presidency for years. He took a week of vacation each summer to go to boy scout camp. I remember him being at every youth conference and most stake dances I ever attended. My dad is a hard worker, thorough, honest, humble--exactly the kind of guy everybody wants on their side.

To my beautiful, brilliant, generous parents: Happy Anniversary and thank you for your wonderful example.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Swim Day

One of my favorite activities was going swimming at Wapelhorst (pronounced Waffle Horse by Joseph). Joseph, the cousins, Hannah, Grandma and I had a great day. I was nervous to start, but Joseph did everything without fear including the slide. He approached it in his typical passionate way. He dove--body first--into the water and practiced swimming all throughout the shallow water. By the end of the day, his stomach looked like it was covered in rug burn, but it was actually from scraping it against the bottom of the pool during his "diving" and swimming.

I had such a fun time watching Joseph's sheer joy in the water.


Our trip to Missouri was packed with fun. There's nothing like a trip to visit my parents. These people seriously know how to party. I can barely keep up with them. Actually, I can't. Joseph kept up his early morning rising. After the first morning there, I just turned on the toy room light for him and went back to bed. My mom or dad would come downstairs and play with him when they woke up and I languished in bed. Usually, I would get up to feed him breakfast, but by the end of our stay I had abdicated that parental duty as well. Ahhh, it is nice to go home and be the "kid" again.

We went riding several times on the Katy Trail, a great trail that runs along the Missouri riverbed. It is a former railroad track so it is nice and flat. I brought our bike trailer and pulled Joseph behind me. Dad, Mom and Hannah go out on the Katy Trail a lot. They even have a new hitch and bike carrier that Marc would envy. While I was there, our longest ride was 14 miles.

Here is Joseph reclining as he listens to the Wild West storyteller at Grandma's library. I particularly love this picture because Joseph is still! Joseph is rarely still. We joke that Joseph makes 12 movements for every necessary one. He is a blur of constant motion! But the library program was on our first day. The day before we had driven all day (Joseph is not a good car sleeper) and stayed up late playing with the cousins upon our arrival. Since none of that deterred his 5 am wake-up, by story time, he was finally worn out. He didn't sleep, but was at least still. I should add that though he may have been physically still, his iron will was not weary. The stories were interactive; at one point the storyteller asked for suggestions for a name for the doorman in the story. Joseph suggested "John," but the storyteller chose another child's suggestion. She continued on with her story using the other name. He kept saying, "John" and she would respond with the other name. It was like he thought she must not have heard him, so he kept repeating. She was a good sport and laughed and said, "You're persistent. I bet you get your way a lot." No kidding! I try to tell myself persistence is a wonderful quality, maybe just a hard quality when you're his mom.

My parents and Hannah took Joseph with them to their ward Pioneer Day breakfast while I stayed home and had a quiet morning all to myself. Joseph had a great time playing croquet and overindulging in all the treats.
July 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I cannot overemphasize how much Joseph loves "the cousins" as he refers to Dan's kids. We had lots of cousin time during our visit--and made our rounds of the local parks.
Joseph and his cousin, Ben, in the "sprayground" section of Zachary's Park, which just happened to be spotlighted in the BYU alumni magazine this month.

Here Joseph poses with the girls. Ally, Lexy (who just won the Northern National Championship for her softball team), Gracie and Joseph.

Uncle Dan likes to take his four kids to Sno Biz for Hawaiian shaved ice. They invited us to join their tradition. They take the pick-up truck and the kids all climb in the bed of the truck to eat and play. Joseph was certainly won over by Sno Biz; last night as he said the blessing on dinner here in Arlington, he said, "bless Grandma Charlotte to go to Sno Biz tonight."

Joseph Loves Grandpa Bill

We had a wonderful visit to Missouri for two full weeks to visit my parents. The drive was a feat (14 hours stopping only for gas), but we made it--and it was definitely worth it. Joseph had a ball. And I did too. We felt so lucky to spend some really quality time with my wonderful dad. Joseph just adores him.

Joseph loved "helping" Grandpa mow the lawn (picture above) and barbeque (picture below).

And Grandpa is a great sport about playing with Joseph--which usually entails taking orders from Joseph!

My dad is known in the family for his love of chocolate milk. On the drive to Missouri, Joseph asked me if Grandpa would have any chocolate milk. I told him I thought Grandpa only drinks chocolate milk at Christmas time. When we got there, Joseph asked, "Why does Grandpa only drink chocolate milk at Christmas?" Of course, Grandpa immediately insisted on getting some chocolate milk to have with Joseph. Joseph and Grandpa also liked to share a root beer after playing tennis and basketball in the driveway.

July 15-30, 2009