31 January 2008

Concordian Siblings of Perpetual Parturition

Reb. Mary asks me off-blog how the other kids are doing, and if she's alone in feeling guilty about screwing up the status quo for the ones we already know and love. I think it's a question we all wonder about.

A lot of times, the excuse people give for not having more kids is that it isn't fair to the other ones, that it amounts to depriving the kids they already have of things they'd have otherwise. I think "things" is the operative word there. A friend from a two-kid family explained to me how nice it was that she and her sister both got cars when they turned sixteen. A mom who admitted to wishing they could have afforded more kids said that their family size meant her son had music lessons and her daughter played on a club team. Don't think this doesn't appeal to me. One of the biggest temptations parents face is giving their kids everything. I'm sure a lot of people would have felt bad for our kids if they'd seen our tree on Christmas Eve. If we were done now (or had been done two babies ago, like any sane people would be), I wouldn't have to avert my eyes and mortify my flesh when the little spring clothes come out on the store racks, our daughter would have a real piano teacher, our son would have a real haircut, and (theoretically) I'd never tell them I'm too tired to read tonight.

But in the same way that it means more to me to have a baby than to have cute new brand name jeans and a reliably-sized body to put in them, it is better for our kids to have a house full of people who love each other than a house full of things to fill up the space and activities to fill up the time. What makes it trickier is that their dad and I have made that decision for them. All we can do is pray that they believe it too, and don't covet the empty life of stuff and diversions that can look so appealing to kids who wear hand-me-downs and go to grandma's for vacation (I speak from experience).

So we didn't read a bedtime story on Monday or Tuesday, and everybody's waiting longer for breakfast these days, and sometimes Mom inexplicably freaks out. Thanks be to God, they all love the baby. I'm pretty sure that if you gave them the choice today, they'd take him over another toy they'd just cry about having to pick up later on. May God in his mercy preserve them in that virtue. (And yes, we read and did piano and had globe time today! Go me! Tomorrow--no promises.)

30 January 2008

What is a brother?

Inspired by Gauntlets' most recent post, and by the recent high levels of brotherly friction hereabouts, I'll share this poem by Mary Ann Hoberman:


I had a little brother
And brought him to my mother
And I said I want another
Little brother for a change.
But she said don't be a bother
So I took him to my father
And I said this little bother
Of a brother's very strange.

But he said one little brother
Is exactly like another
And every little brother
Misbehaves a bit he said.
So I took the little bother
From my mother and my father
And put the little bother
Of a brother back to bed.

Came across this in a book called Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry that my mom gave me and the boys for Christmas. Fun book; I really enjoyed it the first ten times through (hah!), and find that reading these poems over and over is not nearly as annoying as the repetition of certain other books...and we all know that's a huge point in any book's favor! The illustrations are what would probably be termed "whimsical," but in my opinion are firmly within the charming and well done art of that genre.

Anyone else have favorite first-poetry type books that will both "edify and delight" the preschool set? Always looking for a good one...hard to find one where the quality of the illustrations matches the quality of the writing (unless of course, the quality in question is poor, in which case the market is flooded.)

p.s. I'm sure, of course, that none of Rebekah's new boy's siblings will ever have cause to note that "brother" is just "bother" with another "r."

29 January 2008

What Is a Boy?

I recently came upon this old newspaper clipping from my great-grandmother's memory box. I share it with you in honor of all the boys that have been and will be born amongst the CSPP and beyond. Click the image to enlarge and read.

Long live men.

26 January 2008

I have gotten a man

and I'm feeling pretty darn good about it. Learned a few things along the way: your fourth baby can be your smallest (7 lb 11 oz, and the others were all over 8!), your fourth baby might do something none of your other babies did and make you freak out like a first timer (totally nasty puking? no biggie, say the nurses), and you might spend more time praying about L&D over the course of your pregnancy than you actually spend in L&D (about 70 minutes, formally--!!!). What a day. He's a fine lad and definitely worth the trouble. Thanks to all for your care and prayer.

25 January 2008

Something to do as we await the posting of official news

Take the Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Quiz and post your results.

My closest match was to Elizabeth Bennett, who as we all know is the heroine of what may very well be the best novel of all time, Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Woo-hoo!

Looks like that site has a gazillion quizzes, one of which is titled, "Which mythological creature are you?" I didn't take it, but I suspect that if Gauntlets' eldest took it, she might be a pegicorn? (Assuming that the quiz is advanced enough to list such a creature).

24 January 2008

What to do when you find a healthy plant growing in your sink

1. Ignore it for at least another week.

2. Remember that people from church are going to be running the house all day tomorrow and since you're going to have to make sure the sink is empty for once, they might notice it.

3. Look around for help.

4. Notice cute little pot with thumbprint ladybugs on it which you received for Mother's Day from preschooler, and that the marigold which once grew in it is beyond mostly dead.

5. Pick dead marigold and throw it away (make sure you do this BEFORE summoning children).

6. Summon children and tell them we're doing a science lesson.

7. Carefully remove seedling from nutrient-rich growth medium in sink drain.

8. Note with children that it looks like this is a pumpkin seed. Note privately that the last time a pumpkin was in the house was November. Talk about how the seed split and a little plant with two special leaves is growing out of it. Get a spoon, dig a hole in the cute little pot of dirt, and plant the seedling. Put cute little pot back in the windowsill and tell the kids it's their job to remind you to water it.

9. Congratulate yourself for giving your children a better life than you had. You were in 7th grade before you ever heard the word "dicotyledon," for crying out loud.

10. Share this important information on your blog. Intend to post a photo, but remember that there are no batteries in the camera or anywhere in the house, which always happens right before you have a new baby.

22 January 2008

Casuistry: the ethics of tattling

Ok, so nobody likes a tattle-tale, but isn't that just because we don't like getting in trouble? Isn't the tattler actually in compliance with authorities and regulations? If Kid 1 reports that Kid 2 didn't do his fair share of picking up, does Kid 2 not get in trouble because I got the information through tattling? Is there some inherent fault with tattling such that the tattler should get in trouble for having tattled? Or, given that I want to know if someone is doing something they shouldn't, should tattling be encouraged? Do I just think this way because I've always been one of those goody-goody brown haired girls with glasses who sinfully deplores the courser sins of others and whose own transgressions are far more subtle, soul-destroying, and un-tattleable? Somebody help me out here. I just need to know who does and doesn't get a treat after lunch.

21 January 2008

Book, Recommended

EldestChild and I have been reading Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers. Get it. Read it to the small ones. You won't be sorry. Each chapter has enough fantasy mixed with snooty nanny mixed with raspberry tarts to keep the children in make believe for hours.

And it's nothing, nothing, nothing like this.

First Annual CSPP Conference

The Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition announce the first annual Conference of the same, to be held concurrently with the Concordia Catechetical Academy Symposium on Catechesis. Agenda items include:

--Chasing babies around
--Asking strangers to constrain escaping babies while Reb. Mary and Rebekah are stuck nursing
--Conducting recon on vehicles of families who have been at this longer than we have
--Thinking, "Do you think we'll end up with that many?"
--Telling the babies, "No one is swimming until Dad gets back. You think I'm getting in a swimming suit? Don't ask again."
--Letting the babies watch TV for once!!!!! Lying on the bed while they do it!
--Taking shameless advantage of Reb. Mary's gracious local connections
--Talking about how no one slept last night since one or more babies in each family can't sleep anywhere other than home
--Joyfully taking the babies to at least one church service where they can see an entire congregation behaving with proper liturgical decorum.
--Muttering about how the string section at said service is lovely but it sure blocks the exit when the baby starts screaming
--Hovering anxiously outside the door at the Kevin Voss presentation on contraception, straining to hear what's going on inside
--Eating LOTS of that potato salad at the Augsburger barbecue
--Having either not enough sunscreen or not enough sweatshirts at the Augsburger barbecue

Keynote address: Oldest Gauntlet baby on the topic of Pegacorns
Response: Mother of the Gauntlets about how we've all heard enough on this topic


Registration not required. Look for us at a local playground or somewhere in the seething mass of women and children outside the main ballroom. We will be unwashed.

19 January 2008

Papa knows worst

So our culture's hostility toward traditional manhood/fatherhood is no secret. We've come to expect that the father-figure in popular sitcoms, movies, etc., will be at best a good-hearted fool, at worst a bumbling idiot, absent, or even malevolent.

But it's always more disturbing to see the man-bashing in children's media. A collection of Berenstain Bears stories recently arrived in our mailbox, a late Christmas present from a well-meaning relative. When the boys opened it, I thought, "Cute. Harmless sort of kids' classic. Looks like lots of them have nice little "morals" about sharing, first trip to the dentist, etc."

Then we read some of the stories. I found myself editing almost every page as I went along (one of the few benefits of having kids who can't read for themselves yet, I suppose).

First, there's the annoyance factor--that there's Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and their two little cubs, Brother Bear and Sister Bear.

But worse is the portrayal of Papa Bear. For instance, in "The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners," Mama Bear is trying to civilize her cubs (a worthy pursuit in which we wish her better luck than we ourselves are currently having). As the story begins, Mama Bear "tried going to Papa for help (though it sometimes seemed to Mama that he was part of the problem)."

As I read this, I thought at first it was one of those little inside jokes that children's authors sometimes insert, knowing that the adult reading the story aloud may have a little chuckle, though the kids won't really get it. But as the story unfolds, the truth is more sinister: Papa Bear is shown to be a boorish buffoon who doesn't even realize when he's being hypocritical. I definitely stopped chuckling.

Then in "The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies," Papa undermines Mama's every attempt at proper discipline, until the cubs get so unruly that they embarrass him publicly. Then he explodes at them with ineffectual rage, which he follows up with a cliched and equally ineffective lecture. Fortunately, good ol' Gramps and Gran appear on the scene in the nick of time, and a plan is finally worked out.

It's been years since I encountered anything in the BB series aside from the stories in this collection--so if there is anything worthwhile in the series, by all means let me know. But rest assured, this particular volume has been removed from our family library.

We've all been here

Check out this great CSPP conversion story over at Life in Sheet Rock Hills. Big thanks to Kelly for sharing it!

18 January 2008

I'd like to know

what that floating baby over there on the side is going to have to say for himself days-to-go-wise tomorrow? And has anyone else noticed how if you scroll down fast they both go running back into their little bubbles and start floating around innocently as if they haven't been off doing who knows what when we left them alone in cyberspace?

Anyway. My doc and I have agreed to go in after him a week from today if he still hasn't made his appearance by then, which is exactly what happened with the last baby. She's cool with my no pitocin and minimal interference rules (worked great with #3--broke my water at 41 weeks and it was all over 3 1/2 hours later without any other manipulation). Although we'd still prefer to go on Baby's schedule, it was nice not to have to make a bunch of panicked calls to the gracious parishioners who have volunteered their services in the middle of the night last time. So we'll see what happens, and then interrogate 3 and 4 as to what's so great about the place now since the older two made no attempts to overstay their welcome.

17 January 2008

The ordering of parsonages

Heard this first one at one of those "Pastors' Wives' Events" put on by districts. I can't remember how it came up, but someone my age contended that since members of their congregation had Direct TV, they (the pastor's family) should be able to have it too, and therefore did. (Moderator manuevered the group into another discussion point.)

Heard this second one from a guy who graduated from seminary with my husband, and whose family, like ours, has essentially no TV (we can get PBS if we take our 13-incher upstairs and doctor it with half a roll of foil). "There are members of our congregation who can't afford cable," he explained, "so why should we have it?"

Both of these families were at small, traditional, ruralish parishes, so this isn't a backdoor criticism of Gloria Mea 6.022x1023 Christian Entity lcms. They're both very far from rolling in cash. I'm not saying there isn't room for some of the reasoning behind the first perspective; the worker is worthy of his hire. But it seems to me like Family #2 is setting themselves up for more contentment, whate'er the gifts may be. I found the humble view of the father who shared it, especially his willingness to compare down rather than comparing up, to be a nice break from the usual griping about the district-minimum-if-you're-lucky lifestyle we all volunteered for by showing up on Call Day.

15 January 2008

Baby Boomlet

According to this, "more American babies were born in 2006 than any year since 1961."

We must be contagious :)

Looks like a mixed bag of news, though. (As usual.)

14 January 2008

That vocation thing

Among the most recent batch of books to arrive on our doorstep was Gilbert Meilaender's The Freedom of a Christian: Grace, Vocation, and the Meaning of our Humanity. Perhaps because his arms are longer, or perhaps because I'm moving a little slower in the third tri, my husband got his hands on it first. But he has abided by the household rule of sharing choice tidbits.

So these excerpts are all I've read of the book so far, but they caught my attention, so I'll go ahead and post them. (Just don't ask me for more context yet.)

"A vocation exacts a price, and not all can pay it. Even though it may seem to draw us, its point is not happiness. It is, as C.S. Lewis notes, the nature of vocation to appear simultaneously both as desire and as duty. 'To follow the vocation does not mean happiness; but once it has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow'" (105).

This resonating with anyone else?!


"Do you want to know what is your vocation? Then the first question to ask is not, "What do I want to do with my life?" It is not as if I first come to know myself and then choose a vocation that fulfills and satisfies me. For it is only by hearing and answering the divine summons, by participating in my calling, that I can come to know who I am. We are not who we think we are; we are who God calls us to be" (106).


"The story of Jesus's own obedience makes it clear that what looks like an annihilation of the self may, in fact, be its enlargement. We flourish as we answer obediently God's call" (108-109).

I found this last to be especially meaningful, as I've lately been looking into the Scriptural perspective on the whole idea of "self-esteem"/pride in all its manifestations, both subtle and overt. Seems pretty clear: if we're navel-gazing, we're missing it, completely. Our life is found in the death of self: baptized into Christ's death, we rise from the waters in His life! Apart from Christ, we have no life. What looks like the annihilation of self (e.g., CSPP) is the annihilation of self--and the only means to life.

Anyway. Nothing y'all don't already know, but I wanted to share the quotes.

13 January 2008

Women of cover

(Update: as everyone at church observed this morning, I'm still here. My doc, however, informs me that I am in imminent danger of having a baby at any moment, so get ready. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.)

I like clothes. Not buying them, wearing them. Says so right here we should. Shame, like pain in childbearing, is something we picked up along with sin. This is why I reserve my right to find labor not only painful, but humiliating. I know, I know--doctors and nurses have seen it all. There's no other way to do it. But I don't like trying to be talked out of my embarrassment over the whole thing. Yes, it does bother me, a LOT, even in my least analytical moments of labor. Yes, everyone has told me male doctors are nicer, but I just can't deal with the idea, so I'll stick with the mean girls. And I would really, really like for someone to explain to me why there always seem so many people there just watching the show. Back to the nurses' station with you! Don't you have some annoying patient to complain about together? That would be more fun.

For those of us who wish wearing a burka wouldn't give the wrong confessional impression: it's ok to feel bad about the sartorial necessities of childbirth. It's sad that we do, but it's also sad that the whole thing hurts so bloody much. Nobody would try to tell you it doesn't hurt, or it doesn't matter that it hurts. And I think it's fair to say that if your modesty hurts too, it just shows that your sin-damaged reflexes are in working order.

11 January 2008

Another awkward conversation

So an acquaintance was kind enough to invite me and a couple other moms over for a playdate and lunch. Between bites of macaroni, a (Sulvan) mom, upon discovering that Baby 3 is also Boy 3, asked The Question: "So, are you going to make another try for a girl or just call it quits?"

Now, I still don't have a good answer for this question. Maybe it's because I'm still relatively new at this CSPP thing. Maybe it's because I don't get out and talk to normal people much.

Partly, I think I get hung up on the implication that my second or third boy is somehow less wanted simply because we already have one or two of that sex. That's actually kind of offensive. Who said we were "trying" for a girl? Though that's what everyone seems to assume. Just today, I heard again the consolotary, "well, that's ok too" when someone heard that another boy is expected. (I doubt the people who say such things have really grasped that implication, so I try not to let it irk me. Doesn't do to be too sensitive in this business.) Our two born boys are so very different--they are unique persons, not just blue blankets instead of pink. And though we don't know the third boy too well yet, we're already ridiculously attached to him just as he is. (Of course, I would be delighted to have a daughter someday--don't get me wrong!)

The possible answers that immediately sprang to mind had to be discarded just as immediately.

"Well, we've concluded that artificial birth control is immoral--hormonal birth control may even be abortificient--and so we tossed the pills" just might possibly come across as a wee bit pompous and rude, to say nothing of not being particularly winsome or conducive to future conversation. (And besides the fact that offending the hostess's friend is never nice, hey, I'd love to be invited back there sometime--they've got goats!!)

"Well, we might just see what happens" is equivocal, cowardly, unhelpful.

So while struggling to keep the toddler's food in the vicinity of his plate, I managed to come up with something fumbling to the effect of "well, we used to think we'd just have 2 or 3 kids, but now we haven't really set a number, we've all been blessed with good health and we're kind of excited to see what God's plans are for our family." Ugh. Terribly convincing, huh?
Especially since I tried to throw in some sort of disclaimer about how I'm not doing this because it's my idea of a great time, like those obviously more contented women R. described earlier. I'm sure I sounded perfectly insane.

So the one who asked kind of stared at me like I was from another planet (which being non-Sulvan, of course I am) and then declared her preference not to have any more kids, at least not for awhile, and the gracious hostess (neat Christian with 3 kids so far; don't know if there are plans for more), nodded with some degree of sympathy for me, and then a preschooler (not mine, thank goodness), spit a large wad of food across the room, effectively ending my turn in the hot seat.

So how does one answer this question? Or, for those of you who have multiple girls, or some of each sex, how do you field the "so you're all done" assumption? Help me out here; I'm floundering.

10 January 2008

Arch Books stink! There, I said it!

Veith hosted a discussion not too long ago in which Arch Books were commended for their faithfulness to Scripture and a consistent Christocentrism. Great. No, really, great. But here's my deep dark secret: I hope we never get another one in a Christmas stocking or Easter basket. Tell all the truth, but tell it slant rhyme? In one metrically botched line after another? For little kids?? This is terrible for an audience in the formative years of literacy.

I'm told that the editors of the series in their quest for doctrinal impeccability are pretty brutal with authors--but these are not complicated metrical schemes we're working with here. I know, because I can usually correct them off the top of my head as I read through them with the babies, and it doesn't even begin to require dogmatic compromises (although some Arch specimens are such poetic train wrecks that correcting them would require a real investment of time, and probably an Enigma machine). It's time to kill some darlings down at CPH. People who make aesthetic arguments for the liturgy shouldn't be compromising when it comes to any creative conveyance of the Word. Aren't we the ones always shouting about the medium being the message? Lex orandi and all that?

We have a cute little book from Tyndale with nary a blunder in rhythm or rhyme. Heavy on the Law and low on Jesus, but at least it's easy on the ears, as ostensibly rhyming poetry for children should be. It figures that those rational Calvinists would be able to pull off a regular meter, but surely there's someone within the Church of the Augsburg Confession who could keep us from looking like a bunch of idiots who can't come up with a word to rhyme with "Mary," or else rearrange the line so as to avoid the problem without employing five extra syllables. In the meantime, we'll just stick to our Child's Garden of Bible Stories for our Scriptural literacy curriculum, or, if we're really desperate, old Heilige Schrift.

09 January 2008

Have you tried...?

In honor of Rebekah being so close to D-day, I think we should compile a list of the foolproof ways to jump-start labor that people so helpfully suggest to women in the last days of a pregnancy. In my experience, these brilliant suggestions are particularly, ah, charming, when they are offered after one's actual due date, by representatives of the male of the species.

I'll get us started:

1. Just relax and have a beer.

2. Eat spicy foods.

3. Take a car ride down a bumpy road.

4. Jump on the bed.

5. Drink castor/cod liver oil. One of my friends actually tried this, and it did produce something--but not a baby. Er. Ugh.

So, feel free to chime in with your favorites, and also mention whether you've had any luck with them! Because scoff though we may, there's a certain desperation that sets in, especially after the official date has come...and gone...

08 January 2008

Working as for the Lord

In my recent past I was a working mother. I was never anything terribly impressive but I pinned up my hair and clicked off to work nearly every morning, leaving the babies in the care of women with good hearts and unbrushed teeth. For yea those many long years I was sick in my heart about leaving my children for who could love them better than I? Who could better shelter them from the evils of Spongebob and processed cheese? Who could better clean them, tuck them in, brainwash them, etc., etc., etc.?

And for yea those many long years I pined for the time when it would all end; when I could trade in my heels for slippers and gather my children around me in a happy, wholesome, loving little bubble of family.

Now I’m here, surrounded by my children with no job to which I might escape. I’ve been here for about six months or so and I have a question for you: What was I thinking?

I daresay I fell victim to the classic blunder: Romanticism. I was gone so much and so completely that I didn’t know my children very well, neither did I know myself, and I imagined them to be something quite different than what they are. In the working world, surrounded by people who wanted little more from me than fingers on a keyboard and platitudes in the boardroom, life was easy. Stressful? OK. Trying? Yes. But really, fundamentally, thoroughly easy. Because those people didn’t own my heart, drain my body, try my senses, test my limits, or pull my hair.

These people, these children, these evil, sinful, wretched little creatures of my own creation do.

Those office people? They would often verbalize appreciation for something I had done. And they were grownups with whom I might have conversations about something, ANYTHING. And my work was tangible, my paycheck satisfying, my comings home pleasant—the babies were glad to see me and I was happy to play at their games for the 1.5 hours prior to bedtime.

Now? The dishes are never done. The laundry is never done. The diapers are never done. They nursing is never done. There is never enough time. My cooking is never complimented. My questions are never answered. I cannot complete a single thought. I do not have time to read. The house itself leers at me like my demon spawn wanting more and more and never getting enough. I never look pretty. I am cr@pped upon, spit at, slapped, screamed at, and pushed. All this before my husband gets home to find me wild eyed and engaged in mortal combat with the fruit of his loom. And his children. Let the reader understand.

Thanks be to God, the having of the children is easy enough for us. Taking care of them, teaching them, raising them up in the way that they should go . . . that part bites.* Some mornings I dare look in the mirror and when I catch my own eye that other face smirks and says, “You wanted all this and you got it. You’re freakishly disappointed in who your children are and in your constant, dangerous, consequential failure to be a good mother. You’re lonely, cold, and dreadfully unhappy. And you’re not going to use birth control to stop all this? If you keep having more, you need to go back to work. If not, do you really think you can handle it?”

The only answer I have for myself thus far is this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3: 23-23). And, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ . . . doing the will of God from your heart . . . because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does . . . and masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him (Eph. 6: 5-9). And, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Psalm 84:10).

I think I may actually be a toilet scrubber or shoe licker (DV), but that’s beside the point. My enemy myself scoffs at this my life every chance she gets, and the weak Romantic myself hangs her head in defeat, and the chorus of selfish myselfs sing out their desires and plans and all that stands between them and this my life, these my children is the conviction that these sinful wretches are baptized unto life everlasting and that indeed it is better to be spit upon by an eternal creature of the living God than to type 10,000 clever things that pass away with the season.

Come quickly Lord Jesus, and reveal your kingdom to us all.

*And it bites whether you work outside the home or in, eh? But when you’re outside you get coffee breaks, right? That’s all I’m saying.

07 January 2008

Haunting words

I had occasion in a recent past life to have some conversations with an LCMS mother of five--not a big family homeschooler type, not a conscience-bound CSPP type, not a rich lots-of-babies-trend type--just someone who had vague independent misgivings about birth control and ended up with five kids as a result. Anyway. We were talking about L&D and her take on it was that one's piety during the event decreases with each child, which I found amusing (especially as she described her quiet prayers and singing during her first labor, compared with the angry shouting directed at her husband by the time 3 and 4 rolled around). But then she said that her last birth had been by far the best. I asked her why. "Easy," she said. "I finally took the epidural."

06 January 2008

Practical piety for Epiphany

It was with particular fervor that I sang the last verse of "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright" this morning:

What joy to know, when life is past,
The Lord we love is first and last,
The end and the beginning!
He will one day, oh, glorious grace,
Transport us to that happy place
Beyond all tears and sinning!
Amen! Amen!
Come, Lord Jesus!
Crown of gladness!
We are yearning
For the day of Your returning!

I have always loved this hymn. And going to church with my children endows this last verse with new, practical meaning. It's one thing to pray in a general sense for our Lord's return. It's quite another to spend the Words of Institution gritting my teeth and hauling my dear sons out from under the pew--the first occupied pew, I might add, as a series of minor pre-church crises prevented us from arriving in time to claim our usually more discreet location. "Come, Lord Jesus," quickly come! No, I really mean it this time! Transport us to that happy place! Now! Practical piety, indeed.

It sometimes seems rough when the "tears and sinning" so immediately precede reception of the Sacrament--but then again, as has been observed on this blog before, what better time to receive this most precious gift with deep humility and earnest gratefulness?

And the boys really were pretty good for the rest of the service today. Um, except for the prayers. We are yearning for the day of Your returning!

The 3 yr. old did redeem himself at home by recounting parts of the service, volunteering to tell us about Sunday School, and actually getting most of the stuff right, down to details of "gold, frankensense, and murr," and of course the camels. And then he told us he would put on a "drum show" for us (kitchen utensils; you don't think we'd actually get him drums, do you?) if we would sing verses 1, 2, and 5 of "Joy to the World." So I guess the Word of God extends even as far as under the pews. (I know, "Joy to the World" has only 4 verses. But we'll take what we can get.)

A Joyous Epiphany to all!

P.S. We do hope the King cake celebration came off well for R. and co?


Actually, there are a lot of big family Lutheran blogs out there. But none of those girls seem to have the same hangups I do. They just live life with their six kids (oh, and homeschool them and make everybody's clothes and distill their own organic, cruelty-free gin) and blog blithely away, occasionally fretting cutely about the pile of shoes in the hallway. What gives? Are they:

--people who always wanted a big family?
--not originally from Sulvan households so it doesn't seem weird to them?
--just more virtuous than I am such that this considerable departure from the world doesn't bother them?
--some combination of all of these things?

Converting to CSPP was a major upheaval for me. I think I'm safely out of the initial anger zone that lasted for a few years. But when we first called off the Sulvan business, we thought we were the only people in the world who had. I felt alternatively scared to tell people that we were doing something so gauche as permanently pitching our pills, or compelled to tell them that we were doing it on a confessional basis so they wouldn't think I was one of those girls who had always dreamed about getting married and wearing stretch pants and canvas shoes while I crocheted another pair of booties with a little smile on my face. The big family people I knew didn't give the impression that they lived that way as a matter of piety rather than out of personal preference. For the most part, I still don't get that impression from them.

So I still feel lost about all this sometimes, as we don't really fit the profile of people who send the crowded Christmas pics every year. I sort of identify with them, at least in the sense that there's always a huge pile of shoes in my hallway, but there's also a part of me that wonders what our old crowd is doing, and if they just write me off as another big family crazy (although I didn't look or sound the part 6 years ago) when they hear tidings of us through the LCMS grapevine. I also wonder about the people who are probably now going through what we did when we got our paradigm shifted, because I would have appreciated having someone to talk to about it back then. Awkward times, explaining to department heads that I was switching from the thesis to the exam option because I was, *ahem*, pregnant again--but I can finally say without gritting my teeth that I don't regret it.

04 January 2008

Gauntlets make good

I'm not saying CSPP isn't the awesomest blog ever, but check out this high distinction over at the Lutheran Blog of the Year 2007.

03 January 2008

C.S. Lewis on the Iowa Caucus

[Of course we don’t want to get all political on this blog; we’ve got enough issues without going there. But since my phone is ringing umpteen times a day with campaign calls, I’m going to make you suffer a bit too.]

Cut to scene fragment from That Hideous Strength, where Mark Studdock tries noncommittally to express his disagreement with another character’s view:

“I suppose there are two views about everything,” said Mark.
[The other replies]: “Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there’s never more than one. But it’s no affair of mine. Good night.”

It’s not like I’m always totally thrilled with the candidate I end up voting for. But it seems I’m not alone in thinking that the problem is worse than usual this year. There are surely more than a dozen views about which candidate is the best one, a situation exacerbated by the fact that some of the candidates themselves seem to have “a dozen views about everything,” whether simultaneously or over the course of their career. Makes it rather more difficult to know what “the answer” is. I miss being able to have a smug superior attitude about how "my" candidate is obviously far superior and you're just stupid if you don't agree with me (ok, so maybe that's never really worked so well in the past anyway...)

Even if one is willing to sacrifice calculations of electability and go strictly on conscience/issues, what’s a (semi) crunchy con to do? There are some obvious no-nos, but a lot of unanswered questions too. Oh, to be able to say, “But it’s no affair of mine. Good night.”

Well, I think I’ll send my husband off a-caucusing tonight to cast the family vote, and we’ll muddle through the best we can. And be grateful that the worthless phone traffic should slow down dramatically after tonight.

Meanwhile, I just shake my head at the mastery of Lewis’ biting insight in this tiny snippet alone. There’s nothing throwaway in Lewis’ writing, even the fiction—yet neither is it annoyingly moralistic. He’s a master of the craft. We need a Lewis for this generation! (Anyone have any nominations? Gotta be a more hopeful situation than the presidential nominations, at least.)

Advance warning: buy purple sugar

We're a little hung up on Epiphany around here. The good news is that I've recruited some other people to help me make King cakes this year (tutorial over at the school in an hour if you're interested) so I won't have to do them all myself. I've posted my preferred recipe at CSPP cooks, but I wanted to tell you now that purple decorating sugar is powerful hard to find, so don't leave it until Saturday afternoon! One time I found some in a Valentine's day variety shaker, so you could try looking for something like that. And of course, don't forget to put the baby inside AFTER baking (I use the ones you can buy in bags of 6 for baby showers in the craft section at Walmart).

02 January 2008


does the volume of liquid always seem so much greater on the floor than it did in the cup?

I know, I know, surface area and all that. But still.

01 January 2008

A resolution I can keep!

Our helpful local paper offered suggestions on "52 ways to be a better you in 2008." Number 13 was "Make the trip to the grocery store an adventure." (This feature was obviously written by someone who does not shop, or live, with small children.) Guess I can pretty much check that one off. Wow, it makes me feel so warm and fuzzy to be a better me already, only a half day into this new year.

At least I found this special feature to be less offensive than their recent features kindly offering to help me choose "the right candidate for '08."