31 December 2007

Our Wild New Year's Eve

Our big plans:

1)Put kids to bed early (as usual).

2)Settle into couch, possibly with movie, possibly with books, but definitely with the leftover treats from our annual open house. I'm thinking particularly of the mini cheesecakes and the mint brownies...

3)Be sound asleep by the time the ball drops (and yes, NY is an hour ahead of us).

This is too much fun to waste any more time blogging, but if any of y'all believe in making New Year's resolutions and would like to share, by all means do so. And if you're really not into making a list of ways to improve yourself, talk about that too, to make me feel better. Ha ha.

Or here's an idea we had a good laugh about: husband and wife making resolutions for each other. Since we'll be attempting to co-teach a marriage class soon, we kind of decided against doing that this year...

30 December 2007

Great post from Father Rick

"Care for your children, also, with love and mercy and forgiveness. Deal with them gently and with patience, as the Lord is long-suffering, slow to anger, and compassionate with you. Do not fail to discipline your children, to teach them right and wrong, to train them in the way they should go, in the fear of the Lord. But do not vent your own sinful anger upon them; they suffer, as it is, for the sins of their father and mother. Remember that the little Lord Jesus was Himself a Child, and that He welcomes the little children to His own embrace; not because they are perfect little angels without sin, but because He has given Himself for them, and He forgives them, as He also forgives you."

(Emphasis added. Read the whole thing here, especially the part about St Joseph.)

29 December 2007

With MY fourth baby . . . .

I've gotten to the point where people are out of horror stories for me. Most people don't have fourth baby experiences with which to out-mom friends and strangers working on their own number 4. What I hear now is stuff like this:

--my two were enough work
--if your labors were as hard as mine (!) you'd have quit too
--we just couldn't afford any more (this especially amuses me coming from people who have a pretty good idea what our income is)
--our house was/is too small for more kids
--I had such hard pregnancies (remember, this is usually from someone with 2 kids)

Well, here's what I have to say to all that: this is my fourth baby in five years, and it has definitely been my easiest pregnancy. Least morning sickness, fewest aches and pains (not that I'm moving too fast these days), least exhaustion-driven despair. Why? No idea on the morning sickness; maybe I've already been stretched to capacity so much that the anatomy is getting used to it; my oldest kid is finally getting big enough to be helpful and the three of them keep each other busy if I need a break. This is all just to illustrate something we already know, that people can make any excuse not to have more kids. [Insert here, for liability reasons, standard disclaimer about some people having serious reasons to quit or space] But it really is true that you don't know how your next pregnancy will go, or how many babies you can afford, or anything else. When we got pregnant with our third we were living in a tiny two bedroom apartment in which it was illegal for more than two children and two adults to live. We were in a very expensive housing market where as far as we could see we didn't have any other options. God in his mercy had us in a four bedroom house two months before she was born.

Anyway. We'll see how the fourth foray into L&D, dairy operations, and postpartum *ahem* instability goes. But I just thought it was interesting how the pregnancy-related conversations change as you start being the veteran, age notwithstanding.

26 December 2007

David Attenborough narrates my afternoon

DA: The pregnant female's eating habits are highly unpredictable. This one has just settled down with a bin of celery and a dip which she would normally not give the time of day.

[Cut to me on couch covered with blanket and devouring a good-sized Tupperware's worth of celery with weird and ageless dip. A child approaches and I snarl at it; it retreats. Later, another child approaches. I give this one a celery stick and it too goes away. Footage continues for 90 more seconds, then cuts to me eating last celery stick.]

DA: Bin emptied, we cannot guess whether she will fall asleep or pursue more food.

[I call for child, who takes containers away and returns empty-handed. I shout at child, who disappears again and re-enters with bag of cookies, but I'm already asleep by the time she gets back. Camera follows child into next room where she summons other children, who gather and begin eating cookies as rapidly as possible.]

DA: Her young show signs of neglect, and must forage for food themselves as they have opportunity.

22 December 2007

That reminds me . . .

Reb. Mary's excellent point in the post immediately preceding this one reminds me of a poem by Luci Shaw:

It’s as if the infancy were the whole of the incarnation
One time of the year
the new-born child
is everywhere,
planted in madonnas’ arms
hay mows, stables,
in palaces or farms,
or quaintly, under snowed gables,
gothic angular or baroque plump,
naked or elaborately swathed,
encircled by Della Robbia wreaths,
garnished with whimsical
partridges and pears,
drummers and drums,
lit by oversize stars,
partnered with lambs,
peace doves, sugar plums,
bells, plastic camels in sets of three
as if these were what we need for eternity.
But Jesus the Man is not to be seen.
We are to be wary, these days,
of beards and sandaled feet.
Yet if we celebrate, let it be
that He
has invaded our lives with purpose,
striding over our picturesque traditions,
our shallow sentiment,
overturning our cash registers,
wielding his peace like a sword,
rescuing us into reality,
demanding much more
than the milk and softness
and the mother warmth
of the baby in the storefront creche,
(Only the Man would ask
all, of each of us)
reaching out
always, urgently, with strong
effective love
(only the Man would give
His life and live
again for love of us).

Oh come, let us adore Him--
Christ--the Lord.

21 December 2007

Nice Baby Jesus

I’ve heard a number of people say that they’ve tried to read the whole Bible but gave up at Leviticus. Not gave up altogether—just skipped right on ahead to the New Testament. I could be wrong here, but I get the impression that many Christians are practical Marcionites when it comes to Bible-reading practices and understanding. (And ok, I’ll admit to having bogged down in Leviticus a few times myself. But that, of course, was before I went to seminary, ha ha, or at least before I met people like our Old Testament Scholar-in-Residence Rebekah). Some people are actually brave enough to say out loud what so many are thinking: What’s with all these laws and regulations, and Golly, that God had quite a temper in the Old Testament—always striking and afflicting! Let’s just flip forward to Matthew 1—skip those first few verses with all those names—to the nice Nativity story...

In the sneak preview I got of this year’s Christmas Eve sermon, I heard a couple things that seem to speak to any latent, lurking Marcionism (At least I find them helpful!). For instance, there’s the contrast between the population of the pews on Christmas Eve vs. the sparser attendance on Good Friday. What’s the deal? Seems we’d much rather coo over the helpless Baby Jesus than journey with the grown man to the cross. The problem is, Baby Jesus starts talking. And when he does, he says some stuff that’s awfully hard to take. Demanding. Intolerant. Exacting. That once-nice Baby starts making some exclusive claims—about Himself and on our lives—that sound awfully familiar…

Wait a minute! You mean the "New Testament God" demands just as much of us as He did of the Israelites in the Old Testament? More?!

Suddenly, Leviticus takes on whole new dimensions of meaning and relevance. For instance, if you haven’t visited there lately, just skim chapters 18-22, and count the number of times “I am the LORD” and “I am the LORD your God” appear.

Wow. And why do I keep thinking that I’m in charge of my life, that my life is about me?

Sure reminds me of another dimension to contemplate as we place Baby Jesus in our Nativity scene manger again this year.

20 December 2007

Lies of the Bradley Method, Part 2: Feeling Fantastic!

I actually got out the old book to do some reviewing. Let me say again there's plenty of good stuff in it that I'm glad I know. But this little passage is so absurd that I can't help laughing or becoming enraged whenever I come across it: "Many Bradley Method couples are able to walk out of the birth room together holding the baby. This is only possible if they have had a normal and totally unmedicated labor and birth . . . . The new mother will find that she feels fantastic after a totally unmedicated labor and birth."

Oh, my achin' sides! Or maybe, the dutifully unmedicated new mother will find herself being picked up off the floor by nurses after she attempts to shuffle 10 feet to the bathroom when half of her blood has recently been carried off in a plastic bag to the hospital incinerator! Who are these people? I've never had an unusually complicated or very drawn out delivery, but I have certainly not felt anything approaching fantastic until . . . well . . . a lot later. And maybe all my friends are bunch of weaklings and whiners, but none of them have either.

I'm thrilled if some women feel fantastic after L&D. But why make it sound like this is the norm, and even worse, set up first timers with unrealistic expectations? That's just mean.

18 December 2007

Merry ChristMASS

Last year I had a friend who couldn't get enough of typing Merry CHRISTmas in her post-Thanksgiving emails. She found opportunity to do it several times per message. As she's the type who goes to a Lutheran church defined more by its high population of prayer warriors than anything actually Lutheran, it was all I could do not to reply to all of these messages with a "Merry ChristMASS." Now I hear from Father William that the idea isn't limited to my own evil little brain. Spread the word, friends. If you can't spell Christmas without Christ, what about that business on the end? What do they think "mas" means anyway?

17 December 2007

Threatening Christmas

Having a hard time getting the little ones into the Christmas spirit? Elf on a Shelf is here to save the day!

Just remember: Don't get them wet and never, ever feed them after midnight.

16 December 2007

Walking Upright and Foraging for Food

Knowing that it would amuse my pregnant self, my dad (who happens to be a great source of solid facts in creation science/ID/etc.) recently sent me a link to this article about how women have cleverly evolved flexible spines that enable us to be pregnant and still walk upright.

Let's overlook for just a moment the fact that these scientists are working from unprovable starting assumptions that force them to explain the world without a Creator. Let's temporarily ignore how much faith it takes for them to believe that the complementary male and female reproductive systems somehow evolved independently. (How exactly did each new, more highly evolved generation arise through natural selection, if they couldn't even reproduce yet? Um?)

Aside from those minor logical and factual quibbles, there were a few things I really enjoyed about the article.

For instance, I did rather get the giggles at the thought of pregnant women tipping over left and right. Though this may just be evidence of pregnancy cheese-brain, since my center of gravity is beginning to shift in earnest, and it's been rather icy around here. Not so funny.

Then there was the observation that "women's bodies have evolved spines that are more flexible and supportive than men's." Why don't we just change a few things to make this into a more general statement that is perhaps more accurate, something that we can all agree on: "women are more flexible and supportive than men." Hee hee.

But my favorite line was definitely this one: "Early human women lived very strenuous, active lives, and pregnant females were forced to cope with the discomfort of childbearing while foraging for food and escaping from predators." Well. Think about it. Strenuous, active lives...coping with discomfort....what's changed, really? After all, I still spend a majority of my time foraging for food and attempting to escape the clutches of my children, who become quite predator-esque when hungry (which is apparently all the time).

Too bad this article misses the point: the changes that a woman's body undergoes in order to support new life are an amazing testimony to Divine Design.

15 December 2007

Look out, they've got prayer warriors!

Can I just ask what exactly these mythical beasts are? People use the term like it's commonly understood, but apparently I missed the definition somewhere over the course of my theological education. Any time someone solicits my services as a "prayer warrior," I'm strongly tempted to just tell them no. I'm pretty sure I'm not one (not positive since I don't know what they are); the war for my impious self is actually getting my prayers prayed. And if one really were such a thing, wouldn't it be kind of unbecoming to go around announcing it? Whatever happened to the battle belonging to the Lord that it used to be all the rage to sing about in the same circles from which I'm guessing this usage arose? If anyone knows anything as to the origins of "prayer warrior," I'm all ears. I'd ask a follow up about why people who claim to be Lutheran use it as I doubt that it's from our proper range of the theological spectrum, but that's just silly these days.

14 December 2007

The nanny state

One thing that annoys me endlessly about parenting magazines is their constant calls for "better" maternity care/leave, flexible work options, child care, etc. Of course the government should be providing/mandating these things (and don't forget the enraged observation that the US is the only civilized country that doesn't). The empowering sidebars always fail to mention that the government will make these services available by taking even more out of the paycheck that you're now liberated enough to bring home, having handed control of your life over to them. Typical soft feminist-ish idiocy, placed opposite a pastel ad of the world's happiest baby slurping a substance called "formula" from the newest-most-breastiest-bottle-ever.

Well, I wish all the moms who subscribe to these disingenuous undercover political rags would read this and learn what things are really like in the socialist utopias they're pining for. By all means, go out and get a low paying government job taking care of other peoples' kids while someone else takes care of yours. You'll get a check for maybe half the money you earned, and the male/female pay discrepancy will be worse than the one those Ostragoths the Americans have*. But it will feel fair! You'll be just as tired as your husband when you both get home from work, and you'll both have had the same amount of time with your kids--exactly as much as the government says you should.

*also a myth, but let's keep it to one policy rant at a time

13 December 2007

Happy Santa Lucia

Most people wouldn't guess it by looking at me, but some of the most recent ethnic influences on both sides of my family tree are old country Swedes. I get a kick out of observing some of the traditions they brought with them, and reviving a few of the Christian ones that they, mostly heathen, didn't. The babies and I really like to make Lussekatter, or St Lucy Buns, to observe Santa Lucia. We haven't had a truly authentic celebration yet as a 4-year-old with a lighted candle wreath on her head seems ill-conceived, but maybe someday. Here's a description from my great grandma's cookbook, and check the CSPP cooks link for a recipe (listed under Breads--saffron is pricey, but you only have to use it once a year, and I always skip the cardamom):

This is the first day of the Christmas season that lussekatter, saffron flavored bread, is served. In families, the first piece is served by the oldest daughter, who wears on her head a wreath with the lighted candles in it. This festive day heralds the beginning of the holiday season. The saffron-flavored bread is a specialty for Christmas. Celebrations with great foods abound from Christmas Eve to the 20 days after Christmas. Glogg is the beverage of the season.

12 December 2007


NEAT: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis:

Commonly defined as "the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or sports-like exercise."

Recognized by researchers as a key factor in avoiding excess fat gain.

This, my friends, is our CSPP secret for staying so lean and lithe, or something like that, ha ha ha. (Please disregard my currently burgeoning waistline for the purposes of this post. Actually, please just disregard it altogether.)

Think about it: we get NEAT points for running through grocery store aisles, chasing down children as we throw things into the cart! For hauling toddlers around on hips! For washing dishes and sweeping floors! For bending over to secure countless pairs of shoes!

NEAT also helps me understand how the boys at my table can consume such astounding quantities of food and not be part of the childhood obesity epidemic we all hear so much about. They just don't sit still--EVER! And fidgeting is sooo NEAT. Is anyone else amazed at the number of ways a preschool boy, without even trying, can find to "sit" in a chair? (Maybe girls too, but I've got less experience in that department.)

11 December 2007

The rich man's family

When I was pregnant with our second baby, a seminary professor (and father of four) congratulated us on having the "million dollar family," as we would now have a girl and a boy. By societal standards, we should have stopped at that point. We've laughed ever since about how we squandered that fortune.

Then the other night at a church event, a lady asked us if we knew what we were having. We told her it was a boy and she said, "Oh, two and two! That's the rich man's family!" So maybe we haven't ruined it all just yet. I wonder what three and three is? Four and four?

09 December 2007

Pewsitting (not).

Going to church is good.

But these words from St. Francis of Assisi remind me not to get too comfortable in my pew. (Which is not, of course, possible in the strictest literal sense, given the activity level in my pew. But you know what I mean.)

"It is a great shame, to many of us who are known as servants of God, that while the apostles and early saints actually walked with Him through every kind of trial, we think we are deserving of heavenly glory and honor merely because we know their deeds from Scripture and can easily recount all that they said and did (James 1:22)." (from The Admonitions)

When I read these words, I immediately recognized the CSPP edge in the Christian struggle to walk the faith rather than merely to know the faith. As Gauntlets pointed out awhile ago, with the little ones always underfoot, we're always onstage. We're constantly trying to translate theology into something that's meaningful for a variety of age brackets, and we have all day, every day, to model how faith matters in every moment. (Yeah, it also gives us more opportunity to screw up--but then, may grace increase!)

The CSPP life may be particularly--appropriately--humbling for those of us who have studied theology in a formal setting. We may, for instance, find ourselves trying to make meaning of those lofty seminary discussions on models of atonement for a preschooler who is working on a bowel movement. (For some reason, the 3-yr.-old always comes up with a deep theological question when he assumes the throne. Serious discussions for serious business, I guess.)

Almost like God intended this whole marriage/parenthood thing as a path to greater holiness...hmm...

07 December 2007

My superromantic life

I recently joined this outfit called Title Trader and was going to tell you (or, as they say in these parts, yous guys) about it just because it's kind of cool. Here's how it works: you list books, CDs, and DVDs that you're willing to part with. Other members can request them and you mail them out. Then you get credits for the stuff you've traded out and can request items from other members (whoever offers the item pays the postage). I know there are other online swap groups like this, but I like this one because it's not limited to books and gives me a chance to get rid of all the unacceptable media that come into the house in the form of presents. It's worth it to me just to get rid of the stuff because I hate having anything contribute to the unconquerable mess that pervades our lives. But with this I can even get something back for my rejects rather than just hauling bags to Goodwill every month, and of course you break even on shipping. The babies are going to have a nicer Christmas than I expected.

Now, I'm pretty particular and consider most of the available trades junk, but I keep an eye on the new additions on the odd chance that something good should come up (you can also make up a wish list, and if anything you have on it gets offered you're notified). And I've learned something interesting: there's a whole subset of romance novels whose central plot is not (just?) the hot times with the hot dude, but some kind of baby love interest. Here are some titles: A Baby On the Way, The Trouble With Twins (cover art is a fetching fellow in an apron apparently making cookies with matching little girls--and wasn't there a Babysitters Club book with this title?), and Merry Christmas, Babies (four babies in Santa suits under the tree). Apparently Harlequin has a whole line devoted to this: Harlequin Superromance. Who knew? Maybe we should be writing these? We've certainly done the research.

05 December 2007

Got courage?

So there's this nice little ecumenical moms' group that I attend (more on that some other time, perhaps). But one of the discussion questions today was "Have you ever experienced a time when you realized you didn't have enough of/in yourself to supply all your child needed?"

My immediate reaction was to mentally reframe the question: Was there ever a time when I DID think I had a clue what I was doing or that I was fit to be a mother? In fact, it was just the other day that I phoned my pastor, and, shouting in order to be heard over the general weeping and gnashing of teeth in the background, informed him that I was certain that I was going to hell, on this particular occasion for both despising my vocation and failing at it utterly. Um, it had been kind of a rough morning with the boys...

(Those of you who are feeling badly for the poor shocked clergyman might benefit from the full disclosure that said pastor happens to be my husband, and is therefore accustomed to dealing with occasional phone calls of this nature. In fact, to my great surprise, he has informed me--not in detail of course--that my calls are actually not the most shocking ones he handles.)

But back to the question at hand. Of course I don't have what it takes. And that's the point, though I forget it every day. When will I finally learn to lean not unto mine own understanding, but in all my ways, to acknowledge Him? And that it's ok sometimes to lean also on those He has placed at strategic points along that path to help me, even as He positions me to help others along as well?

Gauntlets' recent post included: "Let us worry not a whit about the accusations, expectations, and depictions of this dark world as it slouches toward Bethlehem." Right on. And to add a twist: the accusations, expectations, and depictions that daunt me the most are those that come from within the darkness of my own heart.

I hope you're bearing with me in this post, because this is where it gets good. My courage tends to fail me from time to time, and I just came across the following from Amy Carmichael. It's a bit long to post, but it's worth it:

"You can refuse the spirit of fear, which never comes to us from God (And if He does not send it, who does?) Instead, open your heart wide to the Spirit of "power and love and a calm and well-balanced mind, and discipline and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified). Because fear is so infectious, let us, for the sake of others and ourselves, refuse it.

"Thank God--! Courage is as "infectious" as dis-couragement. Haven't you often felt the cheer and strength that seem to flow from a person whose mind is fixed and firm on God? I have.

"And I have been thinking of another, a greater reason for refusing the spirit of fear.

"When we are downhearted or fearful or weak, we are saying to everybody (by the way we look and by our timidity, if not by our words), 'After all, the Lord can't be absolutely trusted.'

"Somewhere near us, though we do not see them, are others: Men and women who we can see; and also good angels and evil spirits who we cannot see. To all of these, when we give in to fear, we say the same dishonoring thing.

"We have a Savior who has never once failed us. He never will fail us. He has loved and led and guarded us all these years.

"Look to Him now, and pray from the barren bedrock of your heart, if that is the 'ground' you are standing on--'Lord, give me courage!'"

Courage, Sisters! Let's "infect" the world!

04 December 2007

The only company to offer a unique abomination

My dear and loving husband and I recently discussed that we'd never seen maternity clergy wear in any of the vestment catalogs that come his way. He uncharitably suggested that there wasn't much of a need--what a jerk! I couldn't resist Googling the matter and uncovered this (I'd put up a pic but now's a bad time for me to be agitating myself and raising my blood pressure, and I don't want to have to look at it again later). I'm pretty disappointed that there are no color options besides black, and am I the only one who doubts that a button-down cotton/poly blend is really going to fit all the way through month 9? And no cute tie in the back? I'd say WomenSpirit has plenty of room for improvement.

What Others See

I am in housekeeping mode. Vroooom. We moved into our little manse nearly six months ago and as it looks like we may actually stay for quite some time I thought I might risk putting a few pictures up on the walls.

But I'm sick of all my old pictures and not in the frame of mind to start nailing up ill-focused snapshots of my kids; I have to look at them all the time as it is. I started googling around for cheap posters and typed "family, painting" into the search bar just to see what I would get.

I got this:

I liked it at first. Not really wall material, but nice. Happy family. Kids with the potential for more. Mom with farmer's tan. Blonde hair, ruddy cheeks . . . waaaaait a minute! Somethings not right there! I read the web description: "Study the painting by Wolf Willrich and identify five ways in which this family illustrates the perfect Nazi ideal."

ACK!!!! This is no ordinary family; this is an EVIL family!

Wait, there's more!

Here are ten ways in which the painting represents the Nazi ideal:
  1. The family has four children, and the mother has just had a baby.
  2. The mother is caring for the baby.
  3. She wears a plain dress.
  4. She has her hair in a bun; she is not wearing make-up.
  5. The mother is not skinny.
  6. The family lives in a rural/farming environment.
  7. The boy wears his Hitler Youth uniform and is making something out of the clay.
  8. The younger sister plays with a doll - preparation for motherhood.
  9. The elder sister has plaited hair (acceptable fashions), and gazes longingly at the baby (longing for motherhood)."
I was a bit nervous upon reading this. We fit the bill more or less for each of those items . . . I mean, my boy doesn't wear a Hitler Youth uniform, but he does MAKE THINGS OUT OF CLAY. Our "elder sister" wears plaits! And my little girls! They play with dolls! They like babies! OH NO! What does it mean? Somebody help me out here!

And then #10 came along to save the day:

"10: The family have fair hair, athletic bodies and ruddy complexions - they are the ideal Aryans."

Phew, that was close. We may have our fair share of fair hair and ruddy complexions, but we're not athletic. So we get a pass? Yeah?

Um, probably not. The discovery of this picture and it's companion deconstruction (a good one, seeing that Willrich was a Nazi bent on educating Germans living abroad) reminded me of our past posts on Living Green to the destruction of children--Living Green at all costs while viewing faith in Christ, tradition, children, and narrow paths to be the stuff of fascism and evil at worst, immaturity and stupidity at best.

But just look at the kids in that picture; they're models of health. Look at mom and dad; they seem to like one another and appreciate their roles as husband and wife, father and mother. What a shame that such things got and get mixed up in a "positive" way with the vagaries of a "Nazi ideal." What a shame that today they get mixed up in a "negative" way with the vagaries of Living Green.

Bah. As Eliot wrote:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men

Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when
We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats’ feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar

Let us worry not a whit about the accusations, expectations, and depictions of this dark world as it slouches toward Bethlehem. For:

Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding!
"Christ is near," we hear it say.
"Cast away the works of darkness,
All you children of the day!"
(LSB #345)

Happy Advent, everyone. Happy, happy Advent.

03 December 2007

Little Carbon Footprints (ct'd)

In her editorial "Nature-nurturer: Survival of the stupidest," Kathleen Parker reacts to the story Rebekah so alertly recently blogged.


"Raising children is quantifiably the most persistently unselfish act known to mankind, as millions of veterans of sleepless nights will attest. Parenthood is when "I" takes a backseat to "thou" -- when the infant-self submits to adulthood so that the real infant gets a necessary turn at the well of self-importance.

"Although I doubt there are many willing to sterilize themselves in order to reduce the size of their carbon footprint, such extreme materialism is the evolutionary product of our gradual commodification of human life.

"Suddenly, the unborn are of no greater importance than the contents of our recycling bin. Like WeightWatchers dieters substituting carbs for sugars, we trade off future members of the human race to neutralize insults to Earth's balance in the present.

"Is this the slippery slope that pro-lifers prophesied? Once such utilitarian concerns edge out our humanity -- and once human life is deemed to have no greater value than any other life form -- how long before we begin tidying up other inconveniences?

"Wouldn't it be helpful to eliminate some of the less productive members of society who, like the cows they no doubt eat, are emitting hazardous methane, one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming?

"That seems an absurd projection, but then not long ago, so did the aborting of babies to thwart global warming. The deeply caring, meanwhile, are always the ones to watch. Tenderness, it has been said, leads to the gas chambers."

For the full editorial, click here.

02 December 2007

Fasting for CSPP

Disclaimer: truly worthy and well-prepared who has faith in these words, I know. No one has to fast. But then there's that fine outward training bit, and I know I could use it, so here are my thoughts if they're worth anything to you. I know I'm not the most authoritative source, but I haven't found that the Fathers have much to offer here. ;)

Pregnant and lactating women are exempt from the fast as the church, like insurance companies, considers them infirm. Makes sense--1.5 meals a day is not enough to grow a baby who depends on you to be his/her sole food source, in or ex utero. On the other hand, there's plenty in my diet that Baby and I could do without. So the basic guide for CSPP fasting that I use is: in penitential seasons, only eat what you should be eating. A lot of recreational consumption goes on around here during normal time, and just eliminating that, sad to say, feels like pretty strict discipline. My preferred form of gluttony is subsisting on that tiny little point of total schwat at the top of the food pyramid to the exclusion of everything underneath it, so Advent and Lent are especially good times for me to work on fixing that (a houseful of kids requiring regular meals helps too).

Other general guidelines by which I inform my CSPP fasting:

--If you have morning sickness, forget the fast. Eat whatever you can stomach (and if you really need to be told this, put up a comment and tell us all what it's like to be a real ascetic).

--No calorie reduction in the first two months postpartum, to ensure that both Mom herself and the dairy are up to speed. If it's a fasting season (I'm going to hit Lent dead-on this year, to my chagrin as this is usually when I catch up on pregnancy weight that's still hanging on) and everyone is feeling good, only eat healthy foods that you should be eating. Much as it pains me to say it, this does not include anything made by my friend Little Debbie.

--If your nursing baby is gaining weight well, and/or is older and eating some other foods, and you're both in good shape otherwise, reducing caloric intake is ok (and even recommended if you could stand to take off a few pounds--and I always find that I'm better at doing this as a spiritual exercise than just because I miss my skinny jeans).

Of course, every mom and every baby and every pregnancy are different. I've put in a few years of this now and feel comfortable with the system I've described, but it wouldn't work for everyone. Nutrition can be a tricky department for baby manufacturers, but we're sinners too and benefit from spiritual exercise and discipline in whatever form is doable. A penitential Advent to all!

01 December 2007

Book Review: Saint Nicholas

One of my proudest parenting moments occurred about two years ago when our oldest was almost 3. We were paging through a magazine together and she noticed a picture of Santa Claus. She pointed to it and said, "There's Christmas Guy."

The influence of preschool since then has, I'm afraid, precluded any comparable experiences of triumphant cultural ignorance for our other children, but we're still not a Santa Claus family. So we're really glad that we happened upon Saint Nicholas by Julie Stiegemeyer to soften the blow of this cruel deprivation. It tells the real story, the illustrations are very nice, and the catholic theological setting is just what you'd want. It gets a little wordy toward the end for really young kids, but ours usually hang with it through the story itself. There's also a board book version that I haven't seen, but I would guess that like most board books it trims down the text for younger readers. Add this one to your kids' list if you'd like them to get Santa Claus in perspective, and don't forget to have them put their shoes out on Wednesday night!

(Incidentally, I also grew up in a Santa-free house and was completely shocked to learn sometime in early grade school that other kids actually "believed" in Santa Claus.)