29 February 2008

Feeling outnumbered

Boy1 [appearing around the corner with the pieces of something in his hand]: "I am a boy, and I break things."

Dad [trying to hide amusement]: "Oh really? Is that what it means to be a boy?"

Boy1: "Yes. I am a boy. Everything around here, I break."

Boy2 [pounding his tray gleefully]: "Break! Ha ha! Break! Ha ha!"

Boy3: Kick, kick, thump. Simultaneous shots to my ribs and kidneys.

Me to Dad [going into desperate lecture mode]: "You know, if you insist on producing only male children, that's fine. But I'm going to insist that they be civilized. Gentlemen. I will not have a house full of hooligans. And I get to define hooliganism."

Dad: "All right. I get to define full."

Me: "Fine. Hey, wait a minute..."

One little, two little, three little hooligans...

28 February 2008

Casuistry: gluttony vs. waste

Which is worse: eating a piece of cake that you certainly don't need and really don't want, or throwing it away? What if you do want it, does that make a difference? I end up playing Buridan's ass every time the cupboards get crowded.

27 February 2008

Contrary to popular belief, you are in control of your emotions

(With, of course, certain exception clauses and special dispensations for the hormonal havoc of the pregnancy and postpartum eras. Ahem.)

I can't remember if this is something I read somewhere or whether it was the advice of a wise friend (or both), but here it is, one of those obvious things that I'm always forgetting:

A universal truth of motherhood, especially for those who are managing small children while pregnant or who have an infant in the house: You Will Be Tired. But it's up to you whether you will be tired and angry, or just tired. Or maybe even, with a little extra infusion of grace, tired and joyful.

Just my little "note to self" of the day :O

And the winner is . . .

Rosie! Congratulations, Rosie! You've won the first ever Caption Contest hosted here on good and ready CSPP!

We know where to find you, and you'll be getting your prize. Just you wait.

The newly captioned photograph reads like this:

A hopeful fool places the nation's future
in the hands of a very bad woman

Any political, philosophical, emotional, nonsensical, Seussical conclusions inferred from our selection of this caption are probably dead on. Hey. We like to use our money on our own kids.

More Caption Contests coming up! We've got a whole drawer full of prizes, people. And we promise not to become trapped in the Wormhole of Lost Time next go around.

25 February 2008

Balaam's Ass for Modern Preachers?

We all know the Biblical account....Could preachers today hope to discern God's direction by mounting descendents of Balaam's beast?

Obviously, such is not an endeavor to be undertaken without grave consideration. After all, Lutherans have a long and sometimes sordid history with the species in question. Consider:

(For those of you who can't quite place this, it's Cranach's "Pope-Ass" from the Luther-Melanchthon pamphlet, "Of Two Wonderful Popish Monsters.")

Oh dear. And yet, for the sake of the Gospel, or at least fundraising for a Lutheran high school, pastors from circuits hereabouts were willing to saddle up and play a little Donkey Basketball:

(Unfortunately, due to flash photography and child management issues, clearer photos could not be obtained. Thanks to arthritis amazons for managing to snap these. Lack of sufficient photo evidence nonwithstanding, rest assured that the entire event was nothing short of hilarious.)

Seems to me there's potential for another caption contest here, or at least for a few impertinent remarks...

P.S. My rodeo-ready husband would like me to add that he and his trusty steed "The Enforcer," aka "Leo," scored two baskets.

23 February 2008

Little pitchers have long memories

We were talking with the babies at supper last night about the names of the Sundays remaining in Lent. Oculi, fine. Laetare, fine. Judica. Five year old says, "I remember Judica." Dad: "You do?" 5: "Yes." Dad: "What happens on Judica?" 5: "The people were talking to Jesus, and then he went away, and then you cover up the big picture."

It is as it was. The reredos in our church has a large painting of Jesus on it, which Dad and the server pull a black shade over at the conclusion of the Gospel lesson on Judica. This has received no discussion to our recollection since Judica last. Friends, they listen.

21 February 2008

The times they are a changin'

Every zeitgeist needs an image:

Every image needs a voice.

Thus the first ever Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition caption contest! Provide a caption for the image above. The winner will receive a fabulous, amazing, heavy prize via mail! And we all know how much you like receiving mail.

Get to work, friends. The contest closes 9 p.m. on Friday (02.22).

The baby fix

We are the recipients of much baby-related beneficence, even from people who are pretty far removed from us. People give us diapers, clothes, afghans and quilts, lotions and potions, and enough toys to stock Solomon's nursery. I think I've bought baby shampoo once, and only because we were traveling and I forgot to pack any. I've hardly ever had to buy infant clothes. A few times I've given boxes full of brand new baby gear to crisis pregnancy centers because we could never use it all. The Lord will provide, indeed.

People are kind and thoughtful and generous. But I wonder if there's a little more to it than that. So often someone dropping off a gift will tell me what a good time they had shopping for it, and talk about how long it's been since they were in that section of the store, and warn me that they grow up too fast. Am I being too CSPP in suspecting that this may be, in part, a small-family related phenomenon? The grandparent generation had two or three kids, who each have two or three kids. That makes for a pretty brief baby era in a family's history. Once the youngest grandchild gets too big for cuddlin', how does a grandma get her fix? She finds her local crazy pastor's family and spoils those babies.

Regardless of the reason: consider the babies of the parsonage, how they grow. They sure as eggs is eggs don't toil, although they do spin. Golly if they don't have everything they need; take therefore no thought for the morrow.

19 February 2008

Papist detective lit, recommended

You know what it's like when you take the kids to the library by yourself and one of the darlings is at one of those ages: You speed through the aisles in hot pursuit, snatching randomly from the shelves at hand if you're to have any hope of taking home a book without pictures.

This meticulous method of book selection actually paid off on a recent trip: I snagged an old (checkout stamps dating back to 1945!) copy of G.K. Chesterton's The Father Brown Omnibus.

If you haven't encountered Fr. Brown before, these are short-story length whodunits, mostly murder mysteries, solved by the cleric in question. Some are better than others; I think some suffer a bit in the contemporary American rereading due to their antiquated, mostly European setting--but all display a pithy insight into human nature, much like that of C.S. Lewis (no wonder Lewis found him so persuasive). Definitely worth the read--especially since the short, stand-alone chapters make it convenient if you might have to put your book down and not get back to it for awhile...

A selection that seems rather appropriate for Lent:
In The Secret of Father Brown, the little cleric explains his "method" for solving baffling crimes:

"You see, it was I who killed all those people."
[Say what? his companion wonders.]

..."I mean that I really did see myself, and my real self, commiting the murder. I didn't actually kill the men by material means, but that's not the point. Any brick or bit of machinery might have killed them by material means. I mean that I thought and thought about how a man might come to be like that, until I realized that I really was like that, in everything except actual final consent to the action. It was once suggested to me by a friend of mine, as a sort of religious exercise."
"No man's really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he's realised exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and in sneering, and talking about 'criminals,' as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he's got rid of the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he's squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat."

Deferring to our betters

Rather than wasting your time with more of my stupid thoughts today, let me recommend this this. Laugh. Cry.

17 February 2008

Gone baptizin'

Our first two babies were baptized in church the respective Sundays immediately following their respective births. It was awful. Getting the baby and my terribly sore self clean and church-ready, ensuring that the baby's belly was full at all the right times and that no one was offended during the process, standing through the lengthy rite, the crowd of well-wishers needing food and a place to go, and pretending that I wasn't about to succumb to hysterical postpartum weeping the whole time were not challenges I had any desire to revisit by the time #3 came around. Furthermore, we never liked the 45 minute drive home with our precious little unregenerate heathen and living nervously with him/her until Sunday.

So #3 was baptized in the hospital 7 hours after she was born. Her godparents were local and were able to attend, the family members we had in town came also, and I watched the whole thing from the relative comfort of my shapeless gown, unwashed hair, and the bed in which it had all gone down. Her baptismal gown was presented as part of the rite. She wore it a few weeks later when the sponsors were enrolled on a Sunday morning at our church and we took home the baptism certificate.

We did the same thing a few weeks ago. The sponsors weren't local this time, but one of them was able to join us over the phone to witness with his ears and say his part. The only family members available were our three other children, accompanied by the nice lady from church who took care of them that afternoon. I don't know when we'll enroll the sponsors this time, and the little dude may well have outgrown the beautiful gown Grandma made for him by the time we get around to it, but I wouldn't ever go back to the old way.

It's an unconventional method at this moment in history, but it is so much gentler on the people who really need it: the baby and the parents. It would probably have been a harder sell to our family on our first baby; lots of them wanted to be there for that baptism (although we wouldn't have put it off if all interested parties hadn't been able to make it). The congregation misses out on witnessing the baptism, which is too bad, but doing it this way demonstrates to them that the baptism itself is much more important than the sentimental contemporary social customs surrounding it. Anyway, the point is, there are options. Your baby's baptism doesn't have to be a horrible strain on you, which is the last thing you need in those early weeks. It's one of the best moments in a parent's life, so don't let it get ruined for you. (Maybe the Gauntlets would like to share the approach they took with their 3rd, too.)

16 February 2008

Marriage defined

Although we who blog here have graciously been spared this dilemma, I liked this line from the article: "Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business."

15 February 2008

A Monkey Slumber Party

is what the boys' room sounded like for an hour and a half after lights-out last night. It was their first night sharing a room. At least they were happy monkeys, and we didn't have to go in at all; they eventually fell asleep, with no one getting hurt, even. Probably helps that one of them is still caged, er, cribbed.

At 6 am, they picked up right where they had left off. Want to hear a good joke? "POOP!!!" [hysterical laughter] "PEE!!!" [gut-busting giggles]. And it was the almost-2 yr. old telling the "joke." Is this body function humor a boy thing, or just a toddler/preschooler thing? And how do they know (or perhaps I should say, why do they think) that it's funny?

Food Heresies: Lenten Feasting

Our church has a longstanding tradition of Lenten Lunches. The first thing that must be explained (at least I needed an explanation when we moved here) is that "lunch" is any food eaten between the traditional 3 meals of breakfast, dinner, and supper (Note also that "dinner" in this context always refers to the midday meal, never to the evening meal). I'm not sure if this distinction is a rural thing or just a regional thing. So, the "Lenten Lunch" in question is actually a meal served after the Wednesday evening Lent services, consisting of sandwiches and bars (another regional thing, I think--no one ever refers to sheet cake or cookies or desserts--they're simply "bars").

Now, the heresies here as I see them are possibly twofold:

1) Why are we adding a feast during Lent? Instead of denying ourselves, we add a meal?

Now one could argue that the benefits of the fellowship that occur during this time outweigh the objections, so long as people aren't totally gorging themselves (as I must restrain my children, who are wide-eyed with disbelieving joy at the thought of an extra meal that includes DESSERT, from doing).

And perhaps with a tinge of hypocrisy, I must note that this tradition does not irk me as much as it did in years past--my ever-ravenous pregnant self admits to being happy to see food at almost any time, Lent or no. Rev. Husband managed to do away with the Ash Wednesday "lunch" this year with a minimum of uproar--and that's the one that always seemed particularly incongruous to me. And to dust you shall return....would you like some bars with that?

So perhaps this has more to do with personal preference. Maybe some people are even fasting before the service, and then having this light meal after (doubtful, but possible).

And for some reason the concept of a soup supper before a Lent service doesn't bother me a bit. (Not possible here due to the midweek/confirmation schedule--classes conclude right before services.) So perhaps my uncomfortableness with the concept here has more to do with how I was raised, and perhaps this objection could be placed in the overly-popular category of adiaphora.


2)Regarding the content of these lunches, there is no doubt in my mind that we have stepped--nay, leaped--outside the reasonable limits of orthodoxy and heterodoxy and fallen into the mire of outrageous heresy, from which redemption may not be possible.

Exhibit A: A "Lenten Sandwich" specimen: A small round piece of raisin bread, buttered or mayo-ed, then smeared with a mixture of Cheez-whiz, chipped ham by-product, and possibly some other unidentifiable ingredients (I do not deem it wise to get close enough to these to make a further study).

My friends, this is just not right. As long as this continues, I can only conclude the the future of orthodoxy in these parts is uncertain at best.

14 February 2008

Dad Gets the Baby Ready For Bed

Honest to goodness, this didn't make him cry.

12 February 2008

"War of Attrition"

The phrase my husband so aptly applied when I asked him why I sometimes get so...weary...even on ordinary days without any precipitating event or unusual trauma or drama. (Though I don't know if there are any days without drama around here, really.)

See also: Siege Warfare.

I have a feeling the weather may contribute to this. And oh yeah, maybe being third tri makes a difference. (When I have to get up from playing on the floor, I've yelled "winch!" so often that the (almost) 2-yr. old has added it to his vocabulary.)

Soldier on!

P.S. I just checked these terms at dictionary.com and thought that readers might find the following to be applicably amusing, or amusingly applicable:

"the act or process of surrounding and attacking a fortified place in such a way as to isolate it from help and supplies, for the purpose of lessening the resistance of the defenders and thereby making capture possible."

"any prolonged or persistent effort to overcome resistance."

"a series of illnesses, troubles, or annoyances besetting a person or group"

"a prolonged period of trouble or annoyance."

"a reduction or decrease in numbers, size, or strength"

"a wearing down or weakening of resistance, esp. as a result of continuous pressure or harassment"

"the act of rubbing against something; friction."

"a wearing down or away by friction; abrasion."

And last but certainly not least, "Theology. imperfect contrition"

Heh heh.

Movie, Recommended: Animals are Beautiful People

Never let it be said that all movies produced in the 70s are vaguely symbolic, better-left-shelved-unless-you're-artsy, what-were-they-thinking, I-can't-wait-until-this-is-over relics of bygone days. We have found the exception.

Animals Are Beautiful People is a 1974 documentary by Jaime Uys (The Gods Must Be Crazy) about the wildlife in southern Africa. To read more about its making and contents, go here.

As for its compatibility with babies, we didn't really take issue with anything. It is a little bit evo, but lacks agenda-driven rhetoric and imagery so we didn't have to get out the brainwasher. Rather, we each of us enjoyed it a good deal, and learned a bit about unfamiliar species in the watching. The writing is clever, the narration pleasant, the editing superb, the characters amusing, and the music classical. Who could want anything more from a documentary?

For the die-hard Victorian, I warn that there is a scene wherein the animals indulge themselves on fermented fruit and get a bit wobbly. And some tribeswomen are shown NURSING THEIR BABIES. Duck and cover. ;)

Thanks much to rebekah for the recommendation.

10 February 2008

You know you're CSPP when

you fantasize about having your last kid turn 2 before your next one is born.

Long days, these.

08 February 2008

The inevitable

One of those "Life Quotes" from LFL that I ran across again today:

"I am one woman who is ready to say that raising children is a good and socially constructive thing to do. Having more than one or two children can be a lot of fun. And it is for certain that raising a large family to productive adulthood will use all the gifts of even the most gifted woman. Having a family is a worthy life endeavor, deserving the educated woman's most serious consideration." (Jennifer Roback Morse)

Well, if the CSPP life holds enough to "use all the gifts of even the most gifted woman," then surely the less-gifted likes of me shouldn't have to worry about being bored in this domestic sphere, ha ha.

I do wonder, however, whether some of the higher brain functions have to be put off till a bit later in the game. (By which point, have they all turned to mush?) On the one hand, it does take a remarkable amount of creativity to stay a few steps ahead of a 3-yr. old. Yet one can only have so much discussion of theology, astrophysics, etc., with the illiterate and half-civilized under-4 set before the conversation inevitably turns to, or is interrupted by, poop.

But it's nice occasionally to hear from someone who doesn't think it's totally insane and brainless to trade the diplomas for diapers.

07 February 2008

Looking on the bright side

First, since the so-called experts recommend waiting until your toddler is at an "amiable" or "agreeable" stage of development before potty training, I guess we can in good conscience put off serious efforts on that front with Boy2 till after the baby is born.


Second, the "awwww" moment of the day. Since it was a (relatively) warm day hereabouts, and we were going crazy inside, and naps didn't happen, I mustered my increasingly considerable self and got us all booted, mittened, hatted, etc., and we headed out.

Drumroll, please...Boy1 offered Boy2 a lick of his prized icicle, and they proceeded to spend the next 5 minutes trading licks, smiling at each other, and talking nicely to each other.

Yeah, that's it. That's the whole story. Might not seem like much to those of you whose kids haven't spent the last 2 weeks finding ever-more-devious ways to antagonize each other. But it moved me almost to tears this afternoon. ('Course, that's easier nowadays...even a Hallmark card might do it, bah. Sappy sentimentalism + crazy hormones = ridiculous emotionalism.)

Well. And I hope that those of you reading this have had bright spots in your day as well. Or better yet, an entirely sunshine-flooded week :)

06 February 2008

T.S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday

Excerpted (obviously):


If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice


Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will

Full text here if anyone's interested.

04 February 2008

Lundi Gras and a Goy Shabbat

Lundi Gras: the day before Mardi Gras when you have to start eating treats like mad so they'll all be gone by Wednesday.

But on to more serious matters: those clever practitioners of Judaism have a utility of hiring non-practitioners to do the housework for them on the Sabbath. I don't need my housework done (I mean, I do, but we've all gotten used to not having it done). I just want to go to church during Lent. We all know what a struggle one hour a week is. Now factor in another hour, conveniently scheduled at bedtime. Now factor in that attendance at these services is comparatively low and your regular help may not be there. Now factor in newborn in flu season and doctor's prohibition on public appearances for 6-8 weeks which, given the nastiness that's been going around over at the school, we're taking seriously. Obviously what I need is a goy shabbat, Lutheran/Lent version, to come over to sit with the baby collection, or at least the younger half of it, for an hour every week (and six or so hours during Holy Week). But I can't ask anyone from church, because then I'd be keeping them from going (even if they won't anyway), and I don't know anyone else, and I don't have a babysitter budget. This is going to be one ash-less Wednesday. :(

03 February 2008

Things you'd really rather not hear at 5 am

"I THROWED UP!!!!!!!!"

For once, my first instinct wasn't to correct the conjugation.

That was yesterday. By comparison, it was a wonderful relief to hear "I HAVE A BOOGER!!!" at 6 am today. Whatever stomach bug it was, it was violent but blessedly brief, and the boys were kind enough to share it with each other but not with us. It could have been much, much worse. We're all feeling great today, and we hope that our friends who were supper guests on Friday before Boy2 abruptly ended the party by, uh, returning the meal, can say the same.

A Product for Everymom

I enjoy watching my children play. It’s fun to watch them come up with new uses for old, cracked measuring cups and see them navigate treacherous a-giant-behind-every-armchair forests. I like the trips to the moon. I like the daily birthday parties. I like the spontaneous art projects. No . . . that’s I lie. I hate the spontaneous art projects.

But the point is: I like watching my children. So why do I spend so much time hiding in the office, browsing the Internet for stories about Ron Paul? Because the kids, they always notice me watching them. And when they notice me they ask me to play, too. And when they ask me to play they get all blinky and darling and how can I say no? And then . . . well, it happens like this:

Maybe the six-year-old guiles me into a game of tea party. Just when I’m about to take a bite of plastic donut: WHAM! She trips on a toy and smashes her big head into my jaw.

Or maybe the infant convinces me to join her in a game of peek-a-boo. And just after I uncover my face for the fifteenth time to intone “PEEEEEKERRRRRRRRRRS!” she leaps unexpectedly and WHAM! I take a head to the bottom of the nose.

Or maybe the boy child tricks me into the Oh No Vortex (this is a really great game, let me tell you) and I’m tickling him happily when WHAM! The kid throws his unusually hard noggin into my eye socket.

Playing with kids . . . it’s dangerous man. The computer is nice and safe. No bruises, no bite marks, no band-aids.

But what am I to do? I shall never qualify for Mother of the Year sitting at this keyboard all the time!

My dear friends, here is the answer:

Lightweight. Comfortable. Stylish. My troubles are over.

Your troubles could be over, too. For the low, low price of three (3) chocolate bars I’ll fashion you something similar and ship it your way! Order in the next 45 seconds and I’ll throw in the Out About Town version for free:

The Out About Town mask carries the added benefit of scaring off the carpet cleaner salesmen that keep stopping by at lunchtime!

Order now. You know you want to. Operators are standing by.

01 February 2008

Junk Mail Musings

So in the junk mail this week, a catalog that was obviously directed to our house by mistake featured all these smiling little girls and their sisters, dressed in matching outfits. Cute, right? So why did it creep me out just a bit? Because the "sisters" were large dolls.

Now, I'm not unfamiliar with the phenomenon of girls dressing to match their dolls, though I thought it was limited to those expensive whatcha-call-em dolls for special occasions (American heritage dolls or something?). And I don't have anything against this per se. For instance, I know a two-girl family in which Grandma makes them and their dolls matching Christmas dresses, to the great delight of all. But this catalog just didn't seem right: an outfit for absolutely every occasion, from cheerleading to soccer to ordinary play clothes to special occasions. And the prices: Buy just a few of those outfits, and you might as well fund an actual little sister for the kid!

But maybe that's the point: parents are replacing the real siblings with dolls. If you can't have an actual sister to hang out with, at least you can have a pretend one. Now I know that for various reasons not every girl will have a sister, not even in CSPP families. So maybe it's not just a sister thing, but a community thing--girls are often not close to many of their female relatives; there's none of that good old-fashioned intergenerational female bonding taking place. I know I'd love to be raising my kids in more of a community, for my own sake as much as for theirs, as I try to figure out this mothering thing.

Maybe I'm just making too much of this. Maybe I'm just reacting because I was the sort of girl who climbed trees, splashed in mud puddles, and played with stuffed and real animals instead of dolls. If I gave a tea party, it was for my animals, some of whom did dress for the occasion. I did have a doll, bestowed upon me by a grandma who thought every girl really should have at least one, but to her chagrin it lay neglected and dusty under my bed. (Perhaps this is why God in His infinite wisdom has decided to begin my great motherhood experiment, I mean experience, with 3 male children.)

Well, anyhow. I hope that anyone reading this whose daughters like dressing to match their dolls understands that my reaction here is against the extreme: This catalog seemed clearly to be offering an alternative to having more kids, replacing them instead with these huge dolls with creepy eyes.

Maybe I just need more sleep :) (Pacifier Boot Camp for Boy2 has been a mixed experience)