The Gift of Hypocrisy

I believe hypocrisy can be a precious gift.

It’s not ideal to say and teach one thing, and do another. But far worse than that is abandoning principle simply because we have not fully lived it ourselves.

There’s a lot of very popular rhetoric that runs along the lines of “you do what’s best for you, everyone does what’s best for them, and there are no one-size-fits-all ideals.”

While this may be true for the lactose intolerant and hypoglycemic, moral principles are not food. They are stars, meant to be reached for, stretched for, yearned for, because they feed our souls, build our lives into better things, and stave off degeneration and depravity.

One of the things I most appreciate about my (divorced) parents: They so thoroughly taught me about the sanctity of marriage.

They never backed down from that, they never shrugged or added caveats or let their own divorce shame them out of teaching me, and wanting for me, a whole and unending marriage.

They never abandoned the reality, importance, and grandeur of this institution, even as divorcees.

“Don’t do this,” they both told me. “Get married and stay together.”

There are some who would claim it’s hypocritical to tell your child to reverence marriage, to fight for it and make it work when they themselves are divorced. Maybe it is, but if it is, it is a gift for which I am grateful. If anything, having failed at an ideal or value can give us our own particular insight to it, if we don’t throw in the towel and insist that it wasn’t worth aspiring to in the first place. Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed.

If perfect embodiment of a principle was a prerequisite to teach said principle, then we’re all unqualified to speak on anything of worth. If we don’t teach our children to strive for patience, simply because we are not patient, we’re restricting their access to something that will give them a happier life.

Should we practice what we preach? Absolutely. But failing that, we should preach what we ourselves aspire to.

A world without striving for goodness is a dark place indeed. Let’s not call darkness light simply because we’ve inadvertently, or even deliberately, poured water onto our candle. Dry off, find a match, and try again. And even while you’re fumbling in the dark, having snuffed the fire, you have the right, perhaps even a moral obligation, to tell everyone you know how wonderful and real candlelight is.


A Few of My Favorite Things: The Fancypants University Chalkboard

When we first arrived at Fancypants University, Jane the Austen was nearly eight. Eight, in our faith, means if a child is willing and prepared, she may enter into the covenant of baptism, which dear Jane the Austen joyfully did.

Husband the Man’s parents came to witness said event, and as we were walking through the auspicious grounds of Fancypants University afterwards, we came upon a very large dumpster that was being filled with the innards of one of Fancypants University’s historic edifices.

Peeking over the top of said dumpster was a perfectly lovely chalkboard.

“What a terrible waste!” says the Father In Law. “That chalkboard is perfectly lovely!”*

“Why yes, it is,” I reply.

“Surely you could use something like that in your homeschool endeavors?”

“Why yes, I could.”

And that is how it transpired that Father in Law dumpster dived for us and retrieved a perfectly lovely chalkboard for our homeschooling endeavors. We use it every day. And often, it reminds me of Fancypants University, Father in Law, and beloved Jane the Austen’s baptism.

Mathematical calculations on the above photo are courtesy of Mister the Rogers.

The End.

*Forgive the artistic liberties, Father in Law. I couldn’t remember your words verbatim.

Museum Training (or, potty training level 2)

What you need for a grand adventure in the wilds of Urban Connecticut:

  1. Library Card (Obviously. What true adventure doesn’t involve one?)
  2. Baby wrap (one without buckles and adjustable plastic things. Too complicated)
  3. Purse with diaper in it (I gave up on diaper bags ages ago. Viva la resistance!)
  4. Progeny (count twice to make sure you’ve got them all)
  5. Umbrella Stroller (for the short of stature do weary fast)


It is best to museum train the children. This is like advanced potty training–one must hold in all the joy and only let it out in non-antiquity destroying ways. It’s slightly harder than potty training, because children’s bladder and bowel capacities are finite; their capacity for joy in the beautiful is NOT.

Despite the worry associated with allowing a child within sneezing distance of a priceless piece of art, the payoff is worth it. Set low expectations and leave when they still want to stay. Ask a million speculative questions about the art, and the children end up feeling a sense of ownership. They each have “their” favorite painting at Fancypants University Art Gallery. Fred the Roger’s painting is a 50 million dollar Van Gogh. And he hasn’t sneezed on it….yet.

On one of our first visits to the Fancypants University Art Gallery, the Museum Guard demonstrated the “gallery pose.” You clasp your hands behind the back and lean towards the painting. He told the children they could get as close to the art as they wished, so long as they had their hands behind their backs and didn’t touch the painting with their faces.

On this particular field trip day, we went to the library first. So as to have something to read when Mom has to stop in the middle of cutting across Fancypants University to get to Fancypants Art Gallery in order to breastfeed Lucy the Maude. As one does.

We made it for an hour of museum time on this particular afternoon before Fred the Rogers was hungry, Katherine the Great was tired, and Lucy the Maude was done tolerating a nursing cover. She prefers to dine al fresco.

If I could do it inconspicuously enough, I’d have nursed her blanketless; but even when the children are perfect museum patrons ,they are still flashing lights and sirens, drawing disproportionate amounts of attention to our little group. Me, unceremoniously flashing the staring art professor with Undergrad art history class in tow when Lucy the Maude comes unlatched to grin and coo, is just one scene too many. Yes, I know the Fancypants galleries are rife with portrayals bared nipples and nursing infants; I’m just not prepared to join their ranks.

There are coin-operated lockers for stashing our things whilst in the museum. This is to safeguard against a 9th century Chinese vase “accidentally” ending up in the preschooler’s Spiderman backpack. I understand, Fancypants. I understand.

Upon retrieving our things at the end of our cultural excursion, we found ourselves in a hallway traffic jam with a small army of Fancypants University Caterers who were preparing a Fancypants feast. They went slack-jawed and doe-eyed at the children, and the little beggars scored to melon ball fruit skewers.

And I got a Fancypants Punch Recipe, which I am dying to make:

-Ginger Ale

-Pineapple Juice

-Orange Juice

-A bunch of “grown up drinks” than I will never be “grown up” enough to drink. Because I’m drunk on life, darnit!

I don’t remember the proportions, but it will be delicious in any ratio. I’m sure of it. And it will be virgin.

And that, dear friends,

is the long story of how my children scored free melon ball skewers on field trip day.

The end.



The Weekly Book Review by Jane the Austen


This week I thought it might be nice to start off with “Cheaper by the Dozen” and its sequel “Belles on Their Toes.”

If you ever feel that five children in the house are a lot, read these two books. It will make make you relieved  and wanting more kids at the same time!

Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes are so so sweet and lovely.

Even those wild brothers of mine would most likely love it. And That is something.  If they  could sit still long enough. He,he,he.

It will make  laugh out loud.

It will make you cry out loud.

I advise you, read these wonderful two books.

-Jane the Austen

Nonreason and Reason for Modesty: an addendum

There’s one more* Nonreason for Modesty:

Nonreason for Modesty 6:

Because I’m OK being party to dress codes or modesty guidelines that are sexist because they disproportionately effect girls.

Actual Reason for Modesty 6:

Unless a dress code has different body coverage requirements for men and women, it’s not actually sexist.

But…but…it’s harder for girls to comply with dress codes establishing a standard of modesty!

Perhaps that’s because society, not the standard of dress, is sexist.

I live in Fancypants University College Town, a delightful city rife with overachievers. This means that I can’t go anywhere (read: anywhere affluent) at six a.m. without seeing cardio enthusiasts out and about in all manner of spandex and lululemon and cycling gear. And athlete for athlete, the girls will be less covered, and more tightly wrapped, than the boys. WHY? There is no (practical) reason for this.

When I go to a concert on the town green, the boys will wear t-shirts and jeans. The girls will wear tank tops and short skirts.

When I go out on the town with Husband the Man, the men around us will be covered from bowtie to argyle sock, while the women will be mostly bare from strappy heeled-ankle to flippy mid thigh skirt to plunging neckline.

I have enormous respect and admiration for the women of my generation. They have broken into one Good Old Boys’ club after another, they have sweated and worked and become the tops in their fields. They fight for social justice and equality, seek to reform the world into a better place, and command respect with their passion and eloquence.

But in the face of breaking down one barrier and glass ceiling after another, many, if not most outside of religious and orthodox communities, passively service society’s insatiable demand for exposed female flesh.

They’ve submitted to the notion that “athletic” for women is tighter and lower than for men. “Casual” for women is shorter and barer than for men. And “formal,” for women, is 2-3 times as exposed than it is for men.

This enables and feeds into widespread public entitlement to women’s exposed bodies.

Some will even defend it. Passionately. They will say that championing the notion of modesty is oppressive, cruel,shaming,** and that bared flesh is empowering, without bothering to ask the very crucial question:

Why do we feel that nakedness empowers us?

Because we’ve been told it does.

We’ve been told millions of times, in advertisement after movie after TV show that uncovering your female body, down to the breast, up to the thigh, sheer through the lace, tight at the waist, is how we can be beautiful, how we get attention and praise and respect.

We’ve been told that our value lies in our giving the whole wide world access to our bodies, access to our flesh.

If we defend this narrative, dismissing championing of modesty as misogynistic, how can we expect the world to change? How can we push back the constant demand for and commodification of women’s bodies when we are feeding it with our own?

The world wants to commodify women. We’re expected to be tightly packaged, transparently wrapped pieces of meat on public display. We are expected to be bare, vulnerable, unprotected from the elements, unable to so much as squat down to change a car tire without giving ourselves to every passing motorist, baring our flesh for public gratification.

Where men are covered, dignified, closed off from the scrutiny, shielded from heat and cold or a fall to the asphalt, a woman’s body is eternally vulnerable, held up to a microscope by the sheer, scanty, and tight clothing offered by fashion and trend.  It is unfair and deeply, deeply sexist.

When a dress code that holds men and women to the same standard of coverage makes dressing harder for women, it’s not because the dress code is sexist. It’s because the rest of the world is.

*OK, this isn’t the final Nonreason and Actual Reason for modesty, but it will do for now.

**People saying stupid and unkind things is not OK. Having a basic dress code for a place of work or a school is another thing. If you want to be taken seriously, distinguish between the two. If you want to change a dress code, don’t disregard it and throw a tantrum (ON. OR. OFF. THE. INTERNET.) when it’s enforced; talk to the people who make policy. In a nice, calm voice. But really, is splitting hairs over shorts length or shoulder coverage worth your time and energy? I would submit that there are








It’s (nearly) spring!

And spring means compost. And rain. And germinating seeds, and hope for all things new.


And because there cannot be too much E. E. Cummings in the world, here’s another one of his poems.

in Just-

spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles          far          and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
balloonMan          whistles

Polygamy Pasta (or, something funny happened on the way to the art gallery).

Man: Wow, you’ve got a lot of kids!

Me *suppressing the “I haven’t heard this one before” look*: Yep.

Man: Are they all yours??

Me *Suppressing harder*: Yep.

Man: Are you a Mormon?

Me *actually surprised this time*: Yeah!

Man: Are you from the Midwest?

Me: Yeah! (Former beehive in the Nauvoo Stake. Heck yes I’m midwestern!)

Man: So you’re from Utah?

Me *Disappointed with man’s abysmal geography*: Nope.

Man *disppointed with my lack of authentic Mormonness*: Oh. I have some friends who are Mormons. They all live out on a nice commune in Missourah. They go to Florida every winter. Why do you go to Florida every winter?

Me: We don’t.

Man *a little more disappointed*: Oh. Anyway, they brought me some great pasta back from their commune in Florida.

Me: Oh. OK.

Man: So you’re a polyga–

Me: No.

Man *Disappointed*: Oh. OK.

And that’s when we parted ways, me to teach the children about Greco-Roman civilization at Fancypants University Art Gallery, and the man, a little bewildered, to presumably go home and eat Polygamy Pasta.


The End.