30 March 2009
This is as good a time as any to trot out John Wilmot’s well-worn quip: “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”
It’s quite pleasantly liberating to realize that a baby isn’t headed straight to the state pen if you let him cry for a few minutes, and that a toddler’s eternal welfare doesn’t hinge on whether you let him have a monster cookie last Thursday. The real question is why we ever allowed ourselves to be talked into thinking that it does. (Speaking, as usual, only for myself. All you better-adjusted people out there quite probably never attained the level of paranoia I had as a first-time parent.)
But we're having a little situation in these parts. I have a feeling that the name of Ferber might well be met here with a chorus of "Let him be anathema!" So how do all you kinder, gentler people get your 12-month-olds to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time at night? Nothing but nursing will get us back to dreamland....
This has been progressively worse lately. Teeth might be a factor (the lad has only 4 to date, so we assume he'll eventually get some more), but there are no telltale swollen gums.
Bottom line: Sleeping Boot Camp is coming soon to a baby near us. He needs better sleep. I need better sleep. Dad, who happens to be rolling inexorably toward the end of the busiest season of the church year, needs better sleep. (Which is one of the reasons that The Family Bed is not a solution under consideration here. If it works for you, great, but it ain't a-gonna help us a-tall at this point.)
If I needed another reminder of the fact there is a God, and I am not He, I am full mindful lately of how very humbling the need for rest is. Not the least of our God's incomprehensibly awesome and incredible comforting attributes is his endless and compassionately energetic wakefulness.
29 March 2009
It's a nice little piece; worth the couple minutes to read it if you haven't already. A great line: "There is little in life more obvious than the connectivity between a baby's mouth and a woman's lactating breast."
28 March 2009
I was impressed when our kids started bringing home CDs from CPH's Growing in Christ Sunday School curriculum which included hymns, liturgy, and Scripture and catechism memory songs. I could do without the fluff Jesus-ditty section the CDs also include, and some hymns are more equal than others, but they're good overall. (RM, I have some more for you since we're now getting them in triplicate.)
Even better, you can get a CD of all the Small Catechism songs from those CDs--the entire Small Catechism set to music (Gauntlets, please tell your middle miss to watch her mailbox). Best of all, here's the music for you to play yourself. I'm planning on using selections from this along with some hymns for our VBS this year. I'd like to personally thank Cantor Magness for this whole project, which is great, and especially for making some of it easy enough that even a repentant piano dropout like myself, now consigned to the humiliating ranks of musical dilettantism, can plunk through a few songs without too much difficulty and may become somewhat serviceable with practice. I am definitely going to be purchasing more copies of both for family, friends, godchildren, and church. You should too!
27 March 2009
Signals at sea
(If the flags in A's hoist cannot be made out, B keeps her answering pennant at the "Dip" and hoists the signal "OWL" or "WCX.")
CXL Do not abandon me.
A I am undergoing a speed trial.
D Keep clear of me--I am maneuvering with difficulty.
F I am disabled. Communicate with me.
G I require a pilot.
P Your lights are out, or burning badly.
U You are standing into danger.
X Stop carrying out your intentions.
K You should stop your vessel instantly.
L You should stop. I have something important to communicate.
R You may feel your way past me.
26 March 2009
The MSM has been checking out the Quiverfull movement a bit, and I always get a kick out of Upper West Siders trying to get their minds around the existence of such insane people. Moreover, I find it a relief to be Lutheran. The quotations hereinafter are from yesterday's NPR story.
"We just started thinking, 'God is sovereign over life and death. God opens and closes the womb,' " Kelly says.Note the sovereignty talk, denoting Calvinism. Strangely, Kelly gets something a lot of Lutherans don't. She says God is sovereign, yet stops using contraception, not falling prey to the argument I cringe to hear from otherwise intelligent Lutherans so often: if God wants you to have a baby, you'll get pregnant whether you're on birth control or not! Cringe! Cringe! Cringe!
Anyway, the Quiverfull movement is all about law and human effort:
Misty says she'll have as many children as possible.The difference between Misty and a Concordian Sister is that we aren't out to have as many children as possible. We'll take what we're given and do our best to be thankful, whether we've got more than we think we can handle or we never have need of that minivan we picked out.
Some commenters in these parts have had personal interaction with bona fide Quiverfillers, and I've been amazed at the "race against time" mentality our separated sistern seem to have, even to the point of weaning early so as to get pregnant again. This is motivated by more Calvinism, the desire for the kingdom of God to come temporally on earth:
"The womb is such a powerful weapon; it's a weapon against the enemy," Campbell says . . ."My greatest impact is through my children. The more children I have, the more ability I have to impact the world for God."If the Quiverfillers have their way, the NPR report goes on, San Francisco will become Calvin's Geneva. I wouldn't want to live in either of those places, thanks.
[Click here for really hilarious image owned by someone else of what appears to be a Quiverfull baby obliging its pregnancy pursuant mother.]
For Lutherans, being fruitful and multiplying is certainly evangelical, but that is because Christian life is by definition evangelical. We baptize our babies and raise them in the Church, and that is [part of] evangelism. Evangelism for us is not political, authoritarian, or militaristic. It happens over the course of our normal lives that the Gospel is confessed to all people with whom we interact, because the Gospel has changed us in noticeable ways. For example, we go to church, don't shack up, and have a lot of kids. Those things are evangelical. Evangelism is not pragmatic in Lutheran theology (current Synodical confusion notwithstanding). It is simple obedience to the Word of God, and it occurs naturally (albeit imperfectly) in the lives of the regenerate.
My children are not primarily my work, they are not how I impact the world for God. They are not a tool or a means to an end. They will have an impact of some sort on the world, but that is not their primary value. They are souls for whom Christ died and inherently priceless handiworks of God. Their "impact" is that they exist, that they are eternal creatures bought with the blood of Jesus.
I think their second greatest impact is on their father and me. More than anyone else, we benefit from them because they make our family a truer icon of Christ and his Church. That would be true whether we had one or 20. God uses them to change and discipline us. Through them, he calls us to greater repentance and obedience (whether we respond favorably is up for grabs). They will change no one--besides their own children, DV--more than they have changed us.
Beyond that, hey, if they do something or other in the world, whatever. I certainly hope it won't involve imposing theocratic rule on San Francisco or anywhere else. My prayer for them is just that they cling to the promises God made to them in baptism as they traverse this vale of tears. The Quiverfull vision for taking over the world is plain silly. Big family types like to talk about how they'll outnumber everybody before long. If that were true, it would have happened a long time ago. Not every child of a big family goes on to have a big family. They wither, they are eaten by birds, they are choked out by weeds. Lord, have mercy. Our hope is in Christ, not our sinful children. God's kingdom comes in Christ, not through us.
Incidentally, one plank of the Quiverfull platform I haven't seen mentioned in MSM reports is their opposition to fertility treatments, even simple and non-medical ones such as temperature charting for the purpose of tracking ovulation. Sovereign God didn't create you with a basal thermometer in your mouth, see. While many fertility treatments are immoral (IVF and surrogacy being the most obvious examples), opposing all investigation of personal reproductive function shows a complete misunderstanding of the First Article, natural law, whathaveyou. This is more fundamentalist than Calvinist, but either way, it ain't us, and it is abusive of God's Word and people.
So that's my take on Quiverfull. I'm sure others have more and deeper thoughts. I wish the Quiverfillers well, but I'm glad to be where I am.
25 March 2009
That All, which always is All everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
So, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though he there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he'll wear
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceiv'd; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shut'st in little room
Immensity, cloistered in thy dear womb.
(John Donne, 1572-1631)
Even four kids into it, I find myself thinking, Soon he'll read on his own. Soon she'll be able to wipe herself. Soon he'll learn to walk. I never want to factor in the next kid in line, who upon learning to walk will be unable to wipe himself. They just keep on a-coming, and I'm only 30, which is not that old when you think in CSPP's staggering terms.
I have to get out of survival mode and embrace chaos mode (no book endorsement here; they were terrible).
24 March 2009
However, if it's a catholic LCMS bioethicist you're looking for, here's a recommendation.
23 March 2009
21 March 2009
I ran across The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart. Upon previewing it, I liked it. It isn't necessarily enduring literature, in the vein of The Swiss Family Robinson and whathaveyou, but it is a lively book that fits our criteria for good family reading.
Many reviewers compare it to Lemony Snickett's Series. There are some similarities, not the least of which is the brilliant but lonely orphaned characters thrust into consequential, problematic scenarios outside the scope of your average kid. But where Snickett gets a bit nasty (and profane), Stewart keeps everything above board. And where all of Snickett's adult characters are bumbling idiots or dirty murderers, Stewart's adult characters (the good guys, at least) are intelligent, humble, respecters of children, and deeply concerned with moral issues—while at the same time gently ridiculous, just to keep things hopping. More along the lines of P.L. Travers and Roald Dahl, but even then less dark in the application.
Plus, Stewart takes more than a few humorous pot shots at the Great Society’s method of handling Things. I know how much y’all likes a good pot shot. :D Check out The Mysterious Benedict Society sometime; you know, when you need a break from affecting that British accent required by so many other beloved read-aloudables on your family shelf.
19 March 2009
In my previous lives, I always dreaded dentist visits (sorry again, Dr. H! Nothing personal; mostly due to some early traumatic experiences). Now I wonder: why only every 6 months? Is there a way I could convince the insurance company to cover more frequent visits? In short, I’d rather spend an hour in a muzak-ed room having wicked-looking instruments wielded upon me by a fiendishly enthusiastic hygenist than in the company of my own children. Shame on me.
On the other hand, as I listened to the nice young hygienist (who happens to be D.I.N.K.) describe how her 40-minute commute gives her some needed “me time” and how their dogs (with the expected comparison to kids) get muddy when they play outside, I actually felt a little sad for her. Used to be I’d hear something like that and just feel sorry for me. :P Baby steps, people…baby steps.
We are not birds.
Obviously reptiles are out. Mammals seem a more intuitive trope, and we have the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God. Maybe the struggles of our ancient fathers precluded further expansion on that theme. I don't think that's the only reason, though. The idea of being hidden in the shadow of His wings, being covered with His feathers, is curiously comforting.
16 March 2009
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13 March 2009
Your humble blogresses have been negotiating off-blog the swampy terrain of lactational amenorrhea/anovulation. We have our reasons. :D Here are two ways I inform my approach (girls, this started as a reply to you, but I figured if all three of us are thinking about it, surely our tens of thousands of readers are too):
1. Way back when, my husband spoke to a Venerable Hausvater about such things. This VH shared that his CSPP-Professed nurses the current baby until she's pregnant again. I'm not sure I could promise to keep up that long if I went for a really long stretch without getting pregnant, but I find the overall principle, coming as it does from such highly Venerable types, reassuring. (Not much help for those who DO NOT get pregnant while nursing, though.)
2. My husband also reminded me when I went looking for his thoughts on the matter that in Starck's prayer book, the prayer for a mother of a newly weaned child begins with an explanation along the lines of, since the time of weaning is the time when the child begins to go out by himself . . . . Taking the long historical view is always of some (and usually of great) value, and child care is no exception. (Incidentally, Blessed Martin Luther is on record offering lactation advice to Katie [ctrl-f "weaned"; Baby Magdalena was 14 months old]. My husband has long maintained that any husband worth his salt is an expert on lactation and much more credible on the topic than anyone Board Certified.)
I don't think Concordian Sisters need to feel bad about hanging around in the frying pan for a while before diving back into the fire. Either way we're plenty crispy. In my own life, the fire has been the less infernal option a few times, and I went for it. (Hard to believe, since we all know breastfeeding isn't painful if you're doing it right you stupid idiot. At least I stuck it out for the requisite year to keep myself off the IBCLC's Maternal Failures list)
If Mom and Baby (especially Baby. And especially Mom) are both happy nursing, nurse. Better not to think, "If I nurse the baby until X I won't have another one until X+9." Better to think, "I think we'll keep nursing today" or "Maybe we'll try to skip that feeding today and see how it goes."
If your baby still wants to nurse, I don't think it's a good idea to wean just because you doubt your own motives for sticking with it. You go can go to confession, but s/he can't go back to nursing (if you're hard core enough to think s/he can go back to nursing, you probably aren't considering the weaning question to begin with).
This all makes me think we might be better called Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Lactation. We don't always have a baby countdown for you, but I don't think we'll ever have a time when that nursing sticker will need to come down.
12 March 2009
I came across this article on the politics of nursing and it set me thinking: I'm crazy, you're crazy, that one over there is totally crazy--and though it nuances differently we get along all right.
The author of that article is a whole different kind of crazy, and not because she isn't gung-ho on breastfeeding. She's mainstream crazy. I remember meeting people like her back in college. I practically was people like her back in college. I was rescued, for reasons unknown.
All told, I'm glad to be CSPP crazy. :D Solidarity, ladies.
P.S.-- The article contains a smattering of PG-13 verbiage toward the end. Heads up.
*Cool baby ticker. I think the programmers really ought to rewire it a bit. Give the baby a monocle once it passes the due date, or something.
I've only delivered in one hospital that offered this totally obvious necessity. If your hospital gown doesn't have nursing openings, you have to unsnap it at the shoulder to get at the goods. This is nearly impossible to do while you're holding the baby, painful when you're all beat up (strange how one injury can be so broadly incapacitating), and also leaves you completely exposed for the feeding. I know this doesn't bother some people because they email out pictures of themselves doing it. Whatev, man. But I hate it. So I always have to bring my own nursing pjs and wear a hospital gown over them backwards so that every friend who comes to visit and janitor who comes for my trash doesn't get an eyeful. Sheesh.
11 March 2009
The next few kids had a somewhat wider spread, and I've also mentioned how having older ones around really stabilizes the family unit. I've calmed down. I can't remember when my last full-on meltdown was (Dad could probably tell you). I've recovered my sense of humor enough to say completely insane things around our extended family to lovingly help them get past their shock and prepare for more baby announcements. I'd say I've plateaued.
But if things keep going this way . . . I'm not ruling more meltdowns out of my future. For some reason 35 sticks in my mind as the age past which I'm going to get really unstable again at the prospect of baby after baby after baby. I think members of our extended family can get their minds around the idea of six or seven babies, but 8+ would probably be difficult for them.
Holy cow. 8+? Difficult for them?? A 20-year-old when I'm sixty? 63?! My years are not my own. None of them.
09 March 2009
So here’s a little race strategy for you: if you can pull out a huge kick when you emerge from the woods and get that chute in your sights, your race isn’t a great success, even if you win, even if you hit a PR. (Unless the kick results from an unexpected adrenaline spurt that leaves you unconscious or puking after you cross the line. Then it’s ok). If you haven’t run till you thought you’d collapse, and then hit your next mile split, and then run until your reserves were gone, and then run some more, you haven’t raced like you should. There’s pacing involved, but only toward the end of most efficiently expending every last bit of oneself. There are some obvious CSPP parallels here, which you’re all intelligent enough to think out for yourselves, and so I shall segue to what triggered my nostalgia for those good old days of running my guts out.
I heard a snippet on the radio about one William Borden, heir to the Borden dairy empire in the early 20th century. I think he would’ve made a good cross country runner.
As the speaker told it:
Borden was attending Yale when he felt called to be a missionary. He surprised many by trading his role in the family fortune for an uncertain future in God’s service. As he wrote in his Bible:
Arriving abroad to begin further studies in preparation for his mission work, he fell ill, but declined the chance to return to the States. He wrote in his Bible:
He died of the illness not long after that, whereupon a third declaration was found in his Bible:
08 March 2009
But the credit can be taken, if the dependents in question are attending an "accredited school," for "...extracurricular activities: sporting events, speech activities, music or dramatic events, driver's education (if paid to a school), awards banquets, homecoming, prom (clothing does not qualify), and other school related social events, etc."
For a tax-related governmental publication, this seems unusually clear: Homer and Shakespeare, if taught at home, do not qualify for an educational tax credit, whereas prom does. Prom. Freakin' prom.
07 March 2009
All praise for Saint Felicity, whose pains the crowd distressed
Who trusted her sweet infant to her true Mother's breast
All praise for Saint Perpetua, who arrogated not
Her precious child, but clung to Christ and won the life He bought.
06 March 2009
This ties in nicely with the previous post, I think.
The conversation I had with my doctor, whom I really like, during my prenatal check this morning went something like this:
Doctor (D): Wow! Less than one week out!
Me: That's right.
D: Are you ready to be done?
Me: Um . . . well . . . who's to say?
D: Ha, ha! So, when would you like to schedule your induction?
Me: Ah . . . what?
D: I'm going to be leaving for vacation next week, on the 13th. I'd like to deliver you myself, you know? So when would you like to schedule? In case you don't pop before then?
Me: Ah . . . well . . .
D: Tell you what, I'll go ahead and see what the hospital has open and we'll go from there!
D: Well, the hospital is all booked on inductions except for one slot next Tuesday morning. I went ahead and scheduled you for then.
Me: That's the day before I'm due.
D: That's right.
Me: I . . . I'm sorry, but I'm very hesitant to be induced that early.
D: . . .
From there we had a tense, though polite conversation about my thoughts, blah, blah, blah. It was a lot of fun. We ultimately decided to let things progress as they will until at least 41 weeks, whereupon one of the "associates" will induce if necessary. I'm sorry for myself, as of all the doctors I've had I like this one the most. I'm sorry for the doctor, as I'm pretty sure she has the best of intentions, and really does want to deliver her own patients instead of handing them over to the "associates." But . . . seriously?
Let the good times roll.
05 March 2009
And to whom it may concern: I still feel terrible about swilling all that cutesy garbage your way before your First Kid was born. I'm glad you still talk to me. ;)
04 March 2009
Pam expressed interest a while back in how the other half (that is, 99%) lives. I don't love talking about it. Guilt is forgiven and shame is covered, but regret never goes away this side of the eschaton. So I offer this not primarily to satisfy Pam's sick curiosity ;), but because it may be of use to someone who is like I have been at various points along the line. Conversion is slow going, and not that cool.
I planned my family when I was in third grade. I wanted three kids. That's just how I thought. My parents talked about wanting 3-5 kids and having it work out just right (they got two, then twins, then took measures). I grew up in a very pious house, an LCMS pastor's family, where you decided. I had no idea there was any other way. My mom talked about having been on the pill before I was born. Picking your family=normal. Like putting on socks before shoes.
I think when we got married we wanted two kids, or that's what we said or I thought about or something. We also planned to name them Wurlitzer and Square Root (strangely prophetic), but that's neither here nor there. We talked about contraception, kind of as an intellectual exercise, but ultimately concluded that if NFP were ok (the pope being the only measure we had for the topic) you couldn't really make a case for disallowing other methods. I was on the pill because that's what you do when you get married.
Didn't I ever squirm? you pious souls ask. Didn't I know deep down that this was wrong? No. No wondering, not once, not the least little bit. Some laws are more natural than others, and environment makes all kinds of difference.
Despite my disinclination to get the baby party started since it would interfere with my plan to go to school forever, it troubled me that if something terrible happened and one of us were left alone, we would have nothing to show for our marriage (here's as close as I came to being naturally lawful). We decided we'd be done with pills the same summer we'd leave for vicarage, rather than our last year of seminary as originally planned, and figured we'd make it work somehow.
A few months before that summer, though, we got wind of the potential abortifacient mechanism in ALL versions of the pill (I had previously been told only some were abortifacient and did my homework for the kind I was on). Bluff called and feeling robotic, I went home and pitched my pills. A couple of weeks later I totally kicked butt on a pregnancy test.
Now, quitting the pill is not the same as professing CSPP. I have another post for that chapter of my really awesome autobiography that so many people are interested in. My goal here is explain how I thought, and how I thought was: Huh? For what it's worth, I just didn't know. What it's worth, of course, is nothing in an absolute sense. But two doctors and a pharmacist had told me the pill I was on was not abortifacient, and all I knew about family planning was that for some reason Catholics weren't supposed to do it. I didn't like that Catholics weren't supposed to do it, because after all, why does God give women brains? So I wasn't exactly the noble savage, either.
But with no hard feelings toward you nice people who never dreamed of anything other than spending 20 years of your life cranking out kids: you're weird. Most people, most Christians, most Lutherans don't know why you got pregnant right away and keep turning up that way any more than they know why your pastor preaches on texts (not the lectionary, mind you--texts) and wears vestments (not maniples, mind you--vestments). They don't actually disagree with you in their natural state, because they don't even get how you think. They just think you want a lot of kids, because to them wanting is the only language of reproduction. If they suspect some sort of conviction on your part, well, that's easy enough to blow off, since holding weird convictions means you're weird and thus can be blown off by definition.
Coming over to the weird side is a big fat deal if you grew up normal, thinking normally, envisioning a normal life. Missionaries deal kindly, patiently, and charitably with polygamous tribal chiefs, and there's a lesson in that for all of us.
02 March 2009
days, y’know? Lotto days: Go ahead, kids, and push those buttons. Pull those levers for all they’re worth. Mostly, you’ll get what you always get: Sane Mom (or what passes for such), dispensing the Sane Replies; sometimes she even remembers to do so gently and graciously. But look out: sometimes, oh some times, just when you least expect it, you will hit The Jackpot. Before your shocked-and-awed eyes, the cherries line up—ching! ching! ching!—clicking out the magic sequence that unlocks the slots to let that Other Mom come roaring out. RUN—and don’t forget to duck and cover.
Gambling with your mother just ain't worth the risk.
Consistency. So simple, in the abstract. Too bad these little critters are so darn concrete all the time.
01 March 2009
In recent years, I have particularly appreciated this petition (and the variations thereof) for being equal parts honest, faithful, and hopeful:
To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings...