31 July 2009

Attention Deficit Disorder, defined

The condition of the house and its inhabitants the day after you've waved the grandparents out of your driveway.

30 July 2009

Troth and its plight

It is normal for me to go through a whole day interacting with no adult other than my husband. On those days when I do personally interact with another adult, it is often only in passing. The non-home events in my week are church, church stuff, and a frantic shopping trip. It's gotten to the point that a conversation with an adult can make me feel genuinely anxious, like I'm going to forget my lines. I almost never interact with men.

This is a not inconsiderable source of not un-tense relations between not-at-home moms and not-un-at-home moms. Those not-at-home moms are the faces and bodies our husbands see all day. They laugh at our husbands' jokes, congratulate him on his successes, know why he's in the foul mood he never explains to us. They're more familiar with his daily life than we are because he's too much of a man to bring his problems home. And that's without even considering how their existence negates the validity of ours.

Small church pastors' wives don't have this too bad. Most of the women with whom my husband interacts most regularly and personally are honorably crowned in white. But I think almost every woman is at least somewhat afraid of Jolene. I won't spell out potentials, because no matter how unlikely your situation, you've probably got at least one like this, or this, or [shudder] that. If we were at a ministry hive swarming with chirpy DCEs and Worship Conceptualizresses and Ministrices of Hot Chick Ministry, I'd be dark about his invisible days spent in human commerce while I sat home getting saggy and puked on, making suppers no one likes as the un-held baby yowls, and having no earnings or tales of my genius with which to charm him. Their familiarity breeds her contempt.

Waving one's husband off every morning as he goes out into a world packed with Other Women is uncool. There's an appeal to joining that world yourself just for the appearance of leverage: How's about if we're neither of us too friendly, see? This is not to say that I don't trust him (if I didn't, I obviously wouldn't be writing this). It's just an objection to current social norms, which I do my best not to practice even though I'm stuck breathing the corrosive fallout.

One of the hardest person-types for me to be civil to or about is a known Jolene.

29 July 2009

O sister, where art thou?

This is one of those things that seems obvious to me, but I have a problem with thinking that things I think are obvious.

When I extol the virtues of those marvelous women who undertake tireless feats of faithful maternity, I am not referring to myself AT ALL. I may be breaking rocks in the hot sun, but it's because I fought the law and somebody else won. Whether it was Law or Gospel depends on whom you talk to.

Reb. Mary, Gauntlets, and I are on a chain gang. We wish we were good people, but we aren't. So if we say something nice about an abstract principle, any syllogism it may interest you to apply should lead you to conclusions about other people. Like, people who don't write whiny blogs about how hard their lives are.

"Y' know what's powerful commendable is them folks what haul logs honest-like."

28 July 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure: Buying a Pregnancy Test In a Small Town

You're probably pregnant! Even though you know the signs well, you want to buy a test. There's just something about that definitive line that makes it easier to say goodbye to cocktail hour with Dad. But you live in a really small town. Where are you going to get your test?

(To ride your bike immediately to the really tiny store in your town which may not even carry pregnancy tests and carries a high risk of running into someone from church and the certainty of running into someone who knows someone from church, read paragraph 1)

(To drive immediately to the somewhat larger store in the next little town over which is more likely to carry pregnancy tests and carries a considerable risk of running into someone from church or someone from the church across the field and the possibility of running into someone who knows both you and many of the aforementioned risky individuals, read paragraph 2)

(To wait until your next regularly scheduled shopping trip to the exurbs and a store which is certain to have pregnancy tests and carries a moderate risk of running into someone who knows you, read paragraph 3)

1. You get on your bike and ride four blocks. Your brakes don't work so you have to swerve onto the sidewalk to avoid being hit by the one car which happens to driving down your town's "busy" street right when you want to turn onto it. Ride two more blocks to the store. There are four cars parked out front, which is a lot. You lean your bike, which has no kickstand, against the big trash can outside the store. You walk to the short shelf of personal care items and see the pregnancy tests. They only have the off brand kind requiring inconvenient testing procedures. It costs $6.99. There are lots of people (like, six) leaning on the checkout counter and talking to the clerk. You don't know any of them, but between the cost and the crowd and the fact that the baby is still nursing enough that you don't know if you've really waited long enough to test yet, you go home without buying a test.

(To drive to the somewhat larger store in the next little town, read paragraph 2)

(To wait until your next regularly scheduled shopping trip to the exurbs, skip to paragraph 3)

2. You tell the kids and Dad you'll be back in a minute and drive to the next town over. The parking lot is almost completely full, which is unusual and figures. You look for cars you know, and although you don't see any from your church, you don't know what anyone in this town drives so you don't feel all that safe. When you go inside, there is enough of a line at the checkout counter that you're not keen on standing in it with that incriminating box in your hand. But you really want to know, so you find the personal care aisle and start looking. They don't appear to have any.

You look up and down the other aisles to make sure you're looking in the right place--nothing. You go back to the personal care aisle since it seems pretty impossible that a store wouldn't stock pregnancy tests. There they are! Way up on the top shelf. Good thing you're on the tall side. You consider writing a note to the store explaining that a lady who needs a pregnancy test doesn't want to ask for help getting it down. They have expensive EPTs and also the cheap kind--really cheap! Less than two dollars! Thank you, modern science. You grab the cheap one. Should you pick out something else to give the appearance of nonchalance, or is that too much like the guy who came through your line when you were a checker in high school and put a snow shovel and a box of Trojans on the counter?

Let's just get out of here. Head to the line, which is now way longer. As you walk toward it, the lady at the end is totally staring at you. She saw you take the test off the shelf and is studying you for maternal fitness. Sheesh. A guy gets in line behind you and starts unloading his stuff, but there's no way you're putting your test on the belt for all the world to judge. You watch the door nervously, but no one dangerous comes through. You put your box on the counter at the last minute, and the clerk embarrasses the heck out of the guy behind you by asking if your stuff is all together. You have to pay with a credit card because you didn't think you had enough cash at home--lesson learned.

(If your test is negative but all other signs point to yes, remember it was the cheap test and this happened last time too, what with the nursing baby messing things up. Wait a few days and go back to the beginning of the post.)

3. You wait for your weekend trip to Walmart. When you get there, you pick up all your other stuff first so you can hide the pregnancy test under it in your cart. You thank God again for your rock star husband who keeps the kids so you can go shopping alone--it's bad enough having to buy these things without dragging four other kids along to invite idiotic comments. You think about doing the test right here, but decide you've waited this long and can stand to drive home and avoid killing time in the rank Walmart bathroom while you wait for the lines.

(If your test is negative but you're still suspicious, go back to the intro and start over.)

When you test positive, this post ends. Congratulations!

(BTW, I have recently come into a better-equipped bike, so don't you worry bout that.)

27 July 2009

Survey says . . . (a little early because I've got a minute)

I have to be honest--Justice Scalia has never commented on this blog that I know of, although I am pretty sure he's a regular reader. I was just trying to get him to come clean by including his name in the poll. Coy, that one.

There is potential for mischief when it comes to speculating exactly why I named my personal sidearm after one of our commenters, particularly considering the options presented . . . but I'll leave that fun to you. The correct answer is Monique, a person I've never met but whose comments (particularly those on the last post!) and personal correspondence I have appreciated. I think she and I were in contact about something around the time I acquired this sidearm, and her francophonic variation on one of the Church's great mothers fit perfectly. And speaking of fitting perfectly, I'm surprised that Bella Band doesn't list "holster" among the applications of its versatile product.

(Need I mention that we are not idiots and are very serious about gun safety, and yes we've heard that scary statistic? Well, just in case.)

25 July 2009

Cloth diapers: the war rages on

Oh, cloth diapers. I am so tired of you making me think about diapers all the time.

Ok. Little Dude has been in cloth diapers for most of his life. I didn't have them until he was about three months old, and I had a relapse for a couple of months, and I don't use them when we travel. But it is time for me to admit the truth. He has developed a chronic rash in them, and it goes away whenever he's in disposables.

This rash persists despite the fact that I am good about changing him very promptly, and he usually stays dry during his nap of his own accord. I cannot find a balm or emollient which suffices preventatively or remedially. He's a manly baby man, but he still has sensitive skin. He'll probably be in Gillette commercials someday and buy me a nice trailer and let me live in his backyard.

I'm just not board with disposables being carcinogenic or otherwise personally hazardous (and totally unqualified to have come to this conclusion, since there is no way of knowing which side in the absurdly inflated argument not untainted by the premise that babies are bad is actually right), so I'm making one final attempt. I'm now experimenting with Chinese prefolds, thanks again to my diaper sugar mama aka Grandma, and if they work, that will be great and mean a lot less dryer time in the winter and I'll buy me some Snappis because pins stink.

But if they don't, that imaginary stack of rank disposables on my ridiculous Al Gore-influenced conscience and my dogmatic notion that it only makes sense for people with a lot of kids to use cloth diapers just cannot outweigh my baby's comfort any longer. I KNOW that the cloth diapers I've been using are personally hazardous to this particular person. He cries whenever I change him. It's terrible.

This all came into focus a few mornings ago when my husband found me retching in the bathroom as I pregnantly sprayed out a really noxious specimen, informed me that this is completely insane, and offered to contribute the MONEY he earns at his JOB so that his son and I will no longer be afflicted in our bodies by this matter of principle. Um . . . right.

So, maybe the prefolds will work, or maybe Baby 5 will be a better candidate for cloth, or maybe Jesus will come back before I have to find out.

23 July 2009

"Tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

Father Hollywood on Mary Magdalene:

The godly Christian woman is epitomized by St. Mary Magdalene. For as much as Satan hates her, tries to possess her, seeks to mislead and deceive her, and even savages her reputation – she is a servant, a steadfast witness to her Lord, and a servant to those whom she has been placed in submission.

St. Mary is “far more precious than jewels” as our dear sister in the faith, as a godly example of womanhood, as a blessed pattern of service to all Christians, men and women alike, whose lives are to be lived in godly submission to our Bridegroom, our Husband who lays down His life for us, giving Himself completely to His bride, and sharing with us, His Church, the good news that He has risen and that the cunning devil has been defeated.

Full text here, and recommended.

UPDATE: Cyberstones too.

You are baptized into Christ and no one, no thing, not you, not the devil, not your sins, can snatch you away. You belong to Him and you you will follow Him out of this valley of sorrows, out of this den of iniquity, our of your own selfish desires, to Himself in heaven. If that brings tears to your eyes, as it did to the Magdalene, so be it. Do not be ashamed. Many a bride has wept with joy to see a Bridegroom so gentle and competent, so faithful and true, so loving and gracious.

22 July 2009

Usage you can use: offensive language

Vulgarity: offensive language of a scatological nature or pertaining to the body in non-sexual context. If a farmer uses it, he is likely to be doing so literally.

Obscenity: offensive language of a sexual nature.

Profanity: offensive language of a religious nature. Considered blasphemy by religious adherents. Words sometimes considered profane may be used literally by religious adherents in religious context.

Some words considered offensive may be applied to fit more than one category, but context normally indicates into which category a particular usage fits.

Please note, if a mother describes frankly what she had to get out of the carpet after some clever child escaped his diaper, she has not used profanity or obscenity. (Mothers are basically farmers.)

20 July 2009

And now for something completely different

On the Vanguard, a play in 26 lines.


Gauntlets -- a 32-year-old mother of four, dressed in camouflage (which hides the poop marks), in pretty good mood, all things considered.

College Guy -- probably somewhere around 20 years old, dressed in pink button-up shirt, no tie, dress slacks, and terribly confused about his place in the universe

The scene opens on a normal afternoon in the Gauntlet household--kids running pell-mell without any real or perceived cause, Mom on couch feeding baby--when the relative peace is disturbed by a confident
knock knock on the door. And:

Gauntlets (G): opening door, babe on hip. Yes?

College Guy (CG): smiling widely. Are you the lady of the house?

G: kids begin crowding around legs. That's right.

CG: Ha! You seem to have a lot of kids!

G: So call it?

CG: Ha! Well, you see ma'am. hands over a flier. I'm with Kirby Vacuum Sales. We're touring your neighborhood today, offering free carpet cleaning! And, the good news for me is that for every carpet I clean, I get $20 toward my college education!

G: . . .

CG: continues smiling.

G: So?

CG: smile falters a bit. Well! So, you just give me the word and I'll clean any carpet in your home, absolutely free! eyes the baby. I'm sure you have a carpet with a few stains on it! Ha!

G: closing door. That's awfully nice of you, but no. Thank you.

CG: catches door and holds it open. Wait! Ha! Before you have all your kids beat me up, let me mention a few things about our great product!

G: tightening grip on door handle. Actually, you were here last year. So, we've been through this already.

CG: smiling at half mast. Oh. Well then you know how great our product is! Surely, you'd like it if someone else cleaned your carpet, just this once?

pulling at door. No. I really wouldn't. Thank you, anyway.

CG: pulling back at door. Look, our boss man is right over there in that purple van. See him? He says we can't go home until we've worked an hour or cleaned a carpet. Can I just come in and clean that front hallway there?

G: pulling harder at door. No.

CG: begging. Can't I clean anything?

G: getting amused. There's that door mat right there. You might bang it up against the side of the house or something.

CG: not amused. It has to be a carpet.

G: wresting door away. Well, then, I don't think I can help you.

CG: with a hint of sneer. . . . I'll take back my flier.

G: handing flier over. Wow, dude. Tough job, you know?

CG: desperate. It wouldn't be tough if you would just let me in your house!

G: . . . Well. Um. Goodbye, then.

CG: slumps away.

The end.

So, look out America. The Kirby sales guy drives a purple van and apparently has some sort of horrible control over his serfs, making them desperate and powerfully confused. If he sends one to your house, I strongly suggest not opening the door to begin with. The one I encountered was strong.


FYI: we do not remain quasi-anonymous because we are afraid to put our names on what we say or because we think it gives us some rhetorical advantage for our insidious political agenda (<-----irony. The verbal kind. All the homeschoolers already knew this). We stay undercoverish as a matter of personal security. We live in small towns where anyone on the street could probably point an inquiring stranger to our houses. Given the nasty things that have been in the headlines in recent years about violence against pregnant ladies, we'd rather not have strangers who know exactly how pregnant we are show up on our porches. So if you know us, thanks for keeping it on the downlow. We also ask that all readers return the favor to our commenters and just address them by the names they offer here.

As I am the person who is probably least anonymous, it only seems fair to warn you that my husband maintains a rather large arsenal and for my last birthday purchased me a very stylish personal sidearm. I am comfortable firing this sidearm and pleased with my performance in terms of "minutes of man." It also has a really awesome laser grip on it so you'll know you're a goner. This sidearm is named after one of our readers. Can you guess which? I'll put up a poll later but I don't have time now.

By love are we thus bound, darnit

The way of Christian charity is not always clear, for charity is foreign to us. For example, it is not actually charitable to say (especially publicly), "Charity constrains me not consider the brother with whom I am in disagreement to be evil and faithless, as anyone who is disagreed with me on this matter of faith must be. I thus determine him to be a benighted fool, and I magnanimously forgive him for his stupidity."

Christians disagree about rather important things. Each side feels maligned by the other. One side is accused of binding consciences, the other of unfaithfulness. One side can say nothing right, the other can do nothing right. Each person is concerned not for himself, because he is secure in his beliefs, but for that trump card in dogmatic debates, the storied and tractable "weaker brother" who is sure to be confused by the misleading and faithless words of the other side.

We will not all be agreed. But we must be reconciled: because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. To be reconciled, we cannot pretend that public personas are not real persons, flesh and blood brothers and sisters to whom we are organically bound by the true Body of Christ.

To be reconciled, we must mortify our flesh, force our ears to hear words which burn them (not the words we would put in our opposed sister's mouth which allow us to kindle our hate). Our tongues must suffer the vomitous taste of confession (not the sweet defense of ourselves). We must be open to the possibility that we will not receive charity in return. And indeed we will not on this shadowed plain, for also do the confessions and charity we offer on it fall short.

This blog is not a ministry or a political stump. It is a hobby for three women without a lot of pocket change who rarely leave the six-block radius around our respective houses.

19 July 2009

Sad and tired person tries to explain herself once more without any hope of it helping.

I don't know if this is even worth writing or posting, but whatever. As I've said before, the main person to whom I write is myself. So here you go, self. I'm sorry about how this is bound to make someone cry and someone angry and someone hate me even more. I'm sorry I exist.

The contraception question is one of interpretation. Both sides claim that Scripture supports their position. Those who see no problem with contraception say that it's not addressed in Scripture. Those opposed to contraception appeal to catholicity: for nearly all of its history, the church interpreted various passages of Scripture as saying that sexual intercourse which deliberately avoids conception is unchaste and sinful. Pointing to chapter and verse does not help in this argument, because the disagreement is over what chapter and verse mean.

This also means the matter of procreation is not a purely Gospel question. If contraception is not ok, well, that's Law. And the Law of God is good and wise, and it always accuses. That's why people on both sides get really hot whenever this question comes up: each is accusing the other of sin. It's no better to be a binder of consciences than it is to violate the marriage bed or be a tax collector or whatever. So those who believe that contraception is prohibited in Scripture cannot just put smiles on their faces whenever a family with a bunch of kids walks by and leave it at that. If it is under normal circumstances contrary to God's will for a married couple to avoid having a child, that must be openly condemned by the Church.

There is nothing I would love more than to be Done. I am tired and and pained in body and mind and soul, not least by the ongoing animosity and passive aggression and thuggery, of which I am chiefly guilty, among my brothers and sisters in Christ over this topic. The vision of enjoying my 30s with my five super kids and not bringing any more crying and hunger and whining and fighting and sewage into this house looks like such a blessed relief. My flesh and the world tell me that it would feel great to tell my daughters, "Thank God women's lives have gotten so much easier!" But for me and, moreover, my husband, catholicity is persuasive. God help me. God help us all.

I'm going to make pancakes, wake up the babies, and go to church. See you there.

16 July 2009

One less cord

We may quibble the Particulars of Charles Spurgeon’s Baptist affiliation, but the dude’s a master, to be sure.

I recently encountered the following snippet, particularly poignant of late:

Dear friend, have you found that trouble cuts the cords that tie you to earth? When the Lord takes a child, there is one less cord to fasten you to this world and another band to draw you toward heaven. When money vanishes and business goes wrong, we frequent the prayer meeting, the prayer closet and the Bible. Trials drive us from earth. If all went well, we would begin to say, “Soul, relax”. But when things go amiss, we want to be gone. When the tree shakes, the bird flies away. Happy is the trouble that loosens our grip of earth.

(I was totally with him till that “Happy is the trouble” bit—for our (post)modern ears, Spurgeon could use a little clarification there from Pastor Stuckwisch about happiness vs. joy :). No doubt he intended "happy" in the beatitudinal/“blessed” sense.)

A tangential thread: I met this quote in Tim Challies’ interview with Terry Stauffer, a Canadian pastor whose fourteen-year-old daughter was the victim of an apparently random murder last fall. All this “I don’t know how you do it” talk put me in mind of the grieving father’s closing comment: “We’re learning that God gives strength as we need it. When people say, “I could never be as strong as you,” I always think - and sometimes say - “I couldn’t either.” There’s no way either Juanita or I could have been prepared for the loss of Emily, or for the attention that we have received since her murder. God gives grace and strength step-by-step as it’s needed.”

As Rebekah wrote, “But I know how they do it. They do it one agonizing minute at a time, God have mercy.” And as Gauntlets added, “’They’ just don't know how you do it, but you know that your redeemer lives…”

Amen, and amen, as the tree shakes, and our grip on this earth loosens.

Confessing the confession with my quiver*

Go read this. Right now.

"They" just don't know how you do it, but you know that your redeemer lives. He innervates you. He moves, and you move with Him in a great, consequential, beautiful dance of life, living, giving life. What a delightful privilege. What an awful responsibility. What else is it we think we're doing here?

That's what this whole CSPP thing is all about: confessing Life. Being "confessional" is much more than political activism and deep thinking, much simpler than earning degrees and reading books. It's living, breathing, waltzing in the joy of Christ and the promise of eternity.

And being "confessional" is anything but easy. Dancing is work; have you ever seen a dancer's feet? But it's good work. It's doing what you've been given to do under the weight of the cross, and knowing that Christ has come, is here, and is coming back any day to show your work for what it is.

There's no fudging the details, and thank God for that. What a mess we'd have otherwise. Eyes to the skies, and keep breathing. :)

*yeah, OK, I don't like the word "quiver," either. But it's catchy, eh? Easy to . . . dance to?

15 July 2009

I don't know how I do it either >:(

The main piece of commentary people have to offer on my life is, "I don't know how you do it."

I don't know how I do it either. I don't have a playbook or blueprints; not even, if you can believe it, a Vision Statement. It's just my life, and I live it. And it's actually not as awful as the "I don't know how you do it"ers make it sound, because as the saying goes, you can get used to anything. Four kids and one kid in progress is so not a big deal in the context of my WAY overadequate meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cat[tle], money, goods, pious spouse, pious children, pious servants (my favorite one is named Maytag), pious and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Speaking of my life like it's some epic task cheapens the currency. I apologize to victims of famine, fire, flood, fascism, fistula, and every other truly terrible thing in the world whose suffering is diminished by the selfishness of our culture. But I know how they do it. They do it one agonizing minute at a time, God have mercy.

How would you do it if you had to take in your sister's kids or your husband's parents? How would you do it if a tornado flattened your house? How would you do it if you or a loved one became ill or disabled? How would you do something that you KNOW you can't handle? You would just do it. It would be hard and you would be sad and you would do it. Living under circumstances beyond their control is what people do.

14 July 2009

Are you strong enough?

Got to keep the bills down low
Helps the parish love us so
Pregnant, do you understand?
Are you strong enough to be my fan?

No AC, I'm all a-sweat
Unclothed as I care to get
Swelling up since May began
Are you strong enough to be my fan?

Internally combusting all day long
Basal temps confirm my song
I'm melting like a cheap-o crayon
Are you strong enough to be my fan?

Walmart fan, blast out that air
End my climatic despair
Would you try and cool me if you can?
Would you be FAN ENOUGH to be my fan?

13 July 2009

Lewis on the virtuous treatment of irrational creatures

["Kindness to animals"] is a virtue most easily practiced by those who have never, tired and hungry, had to work with animals for a bare living, and who inhabit a country where all dangerous wild beasts have been exterminated . . . . Heaven forbid, however, that I should be thought to slight it. I only mean that for those of us who meet beasts solely as pets it is not a costly virtue. We may be properly kicked if we lack it, but must not pat ourselves on the back for having it. When a hard-worked shepherd or carter remains kind to animals his back may well be patted; not ours." C.S. Lewis, Reflections On the Psalms.

Doubtless you clever people can see what I'm getting at here. No one should be a "social worker" who has not spent a number of years being the primary care provider for his or her own children. Kindness to the children with whom one spends every waking and often many sleeping hours is a difficult virtue.

11 July 2009

Because I know your day needs a little Dickinson

A letter she wrote to her uncle; Summer, 1858:

Much has occurred, dear Uncle, since my writing you—so much—that I stagger as I write, in sharp remembrance…

Today has been so glad without, and yet so grieved within—so jolly, shone the sun—and now the moon comes stealing, and yet it makes none glad. I cannot always see the light—please tell me if it shines.

I hope you are well, these many days, and have much joy.

There is a smiling summer here, which causes birds to sing, and sets the bees in motion.
Strange blooms arise on many stalks, and trees receive their tenants.
I would you saw what I can see, and imbibed this music. The day went down, long time ago, and still a simple choir bear the canto on.
I dont know who it is that sings, nor did I, would I tell!

God gives us many cups. Perhaps you will come to Amherst, before the wassail’s done. Our man has mown today, and as he plied his scythe, I thought of other mowings, and garners far from here.
I wonder how long we shall wonder; how early we shall know

I meet some octogenarians—but men and women seldomer, and at longer intervals—“little children,” of whom is the “Kingdom of Heaven.” How tiny some will have to grow, to gain admission there!

I hardly know what I have said—my words put all their feathers on—and fluttered here and there. Please give my warmest love to my aunts and cousins—and write me, should you please, some summer’s evening.

(This is also from Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters, ed. Thomas H. Johnson)

10 July 2009

Divine Comedy

I pray that God would make me a good mother to all the children he would give us, and I never ask that we not have more children, but I haven't actively petitioned for more children since we reached a number of babies I won't mention.

But a confluence of circumstances a few months ago prompted me to crunch some numbers, at which point I realized I'd better start praying hard for a baby that month, because getting pregnant the next month would land my due date right in the middle of shotgun season. So, by golly, I prayed for a baby! I'm not big on "God must have wanted . . . " but I can't help suspecting a joke on me here.

As God would have it, I didn't get pregnant that month or the next. Quintus and I are well out of shotgun season range. Please make arrangements for my maternity leave in January.

09 July 2009

I don't know whether to feel happy or hurt

about the two-year-old seeking comfort from her big sister over me. When the toddler bangs her big melon head or stumbles into the wall, she runs straight for the Big Girl, who administers the necessary kisses and coos. This isn't all bad: my new baby is really sad most of the time, making my one hand full and my other hand busy. The toddler needs her imaginary bumps magicked away by someone, and I'm glad my girls are close. But I'm also a bit jealous of my magic; it's hard to see someone else using it in my stead, even if that someone is my oldest child.

It's the burden of many babies, I guess. Some are shoved out of the lap before they're fully ready. Then again, my children will have each other a lot longer than they'll have me (DV). Better they learn to diversify their emotional portfolios young.

08 July 2009

Memo to self (re-re-re-re-issued)

Everyone, including and especially me, is happier when I am happy—even if I’m only pretending to be happy. Hey, it’s contagious, and I am not immune.

We’re all clear on Dad’s head honchoship, but life also proves the truth of that eloquent old adage: If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. (Confirmed here, and stated in the positive here.)

This isn't denial, folks;
it's the face of Christian resignation...

Is it OK to be sad sometimes? You betcha. But it is not OK to wallow, to daily don grouchiness, or to snarf ten chocolate cupcakes in a fit of self-pity.* I’ve searched for happiness in the bottom of a pan of turtle brownies often enough to know that it’s just not there.

The Apostle didn’t leave any loopholes. Besides, so numerous are the joys that I, all undeserving, have been granted, that I’m frankly embarrassed to think that there are days when thundershowers dominate the Doppler.

*Notice that nothing has been said about snarfing five or fewer chocolate cupcakes.

Why my kids can't touch the phone

Click to enlarge, or view original here.

07 July 2009

Superfluous rant

I can’t help hating the ubiquity of the word ubiquitous, even though I can’t seem to help using it, ubiquitously.

On ministry of presence

which can, when circumstances prevent physical nearness, be accomplished even in absentia--especially within the family of believers.

Emily Dickinson sent the following letter to a friend (Mary Bowles) who had delivered a stillborn baby—her third stillborn baby:

Don’t cry, dear Mary. Let us do that for you, because you are too tired now. We don’t know how dark it is, but if you are at sea, perhaps when we say that we are there, you won’t be as afraid.

The waves are very big, but every one that covers you, covers us, too.

Dear Mary, you can’t see us, but we are close at your side. May we comfort you?


Clean up good

Everybody tells moms to put on their makeup and do their hair and wear something other than sweatpants so that you feel good about yourself or keep your husband interested or whatever. I don't have anything to say about that. But I will say that I'm much more inclined to be nice to the kids when they look decent. When the boys' haircuts are up to date, when the girls are in well-managed ponytails, when faces are clean and no one looks like a scarecrow or has three inch fingernails, they're easier to be nice to. No one wants a houseful of grub-smeared Dickensian street urchins and waifs. This doesn't always work out, but to whatever extent I am able to get these things done, it is prudent for me to do so.

05 July 2009

Doctors, midwives, and how I don't like any of them

Doctors are pretty much jerks, and I don't think anyone here needs me to expand on that. We all know. (I should say that I like my current doctor better than any other I've had--I think it helps that I've got four kids and she seems to consider me experienced and insane enough not to need micromanaging.)

But I'm not on the midwife bandwagon either. I've had four, since we made extensive rounds between vicarage and my husband's second call. There was only one who didn't make me want to smack her. She's the one who ended up getting a delivery payment from us. (I'm not even counting one midwife I tried, who was a conventional doctor's toady and not a midwife for any practical purpose.) What I learned in trying to find a midwife is that midwives are much more familiar than doctors, and I don't mean just friendly. Familiar like, "Wow, I can't believe you just said that to someone you don't know at all." Faux familiarity is not something I want in the person handling my own personal body on a professional basis.

I know I'm callous and cold, as evidenced by the fact that I wouldn't want, say, my children present when I give birth to their sibling. But not everybody has a midwife-tolerant personality. This may be one reason that weird friend of yours insists on jerk doctors even though you've told her how you love your midwife so, so, sooooooooooo much.

The midwife/homebirth model is unappealing to me as a matter of taste. Not that I like hospitals, either. If it were possible, I'd give birth in a cave, alone, and emerge five months later when my clothes fit again. Non est disputandum, folks.

02 July 2009

Anger-induced PSA

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really just a sex movie masquerading as Something Smart. More to the point, it was a whole lot of potential* ruined by yet another R-rated director and his made-to-order pretty boy sporting historically accurate hair.**

Dear Hollywood, movies are neither smart nor interesting only because they feature a smart or interesting character. You could, perhaps, learn a lot from those who still read Shakespeare.

*There ain't nothing like the real thing.

**Watching Fight Club was a mistake I can't take back. And wake up, America: Mr. Pitt looks like a woman.

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh

From Pastor Alms a while back (read it, then forgot it, then remembered again):
What Christian parents teach in prayers for bedtime is courage, bravery in the face of the darkest foe. It is not an empty bravado that such parents pass along. No, it is a solemn strength that grows from faith in Christ and issues itself in prayer. Such prayer instills a way of looking at death that is rooted in Christ’s victory, a way that passes all understanding and is outside all we feel in our flesh: that to die in the faith is just like falling asleep. You close your eyes and you go to be with Jesus and soon you will wake up. All the family will be there, all your brothers and sisters, and it will be morning and there will be breakfast and the day that never ends will be just beginning.
Bedtime really wears me out, especially on nights when Dad isn't home. I just want to get everybody down and get out. Kicking the baby away from the toilet while I'm brushing all the rest of the teeth puts me in a bad mood, and I hate putting the kids to bed that way. Relax, self. There's no hurry, and this matters. Get it right.

Seriously, kid. It's NIGHT.

Full article here, although it's been a little balky about loading for me. Hit refresh if it doesn't work the first time.

01 July 2009

Christian Hospitality, Big Family Edition

My opinion.

1. Offer it whenever you possibly can. Make your offer specific ("We'd be glad to host you for two nights, but we already have plans to be away during the dinner hour on Thursday").

2. Do not ask for it from anyone to whom you are not related or very, very close* if you have more than three children. Yes, we need it the most, but we are also terribly burdensome to house and feed (more than we realize, because we're used to the crying, chaos, and vanishing gallons of milk). It is an imposition for us to ask. The Lord will provide one way or another, whether through a kind person's unexpected offer (see #1), a change of plans, a surge of resourcefulness, a surprise bonus, a humble submission to reality, or some other means. This is one of the crosses we must bear, and far from the heaviest if you ask me.

3. Do not drop by "just passing through" with a van full of kids at mealtime. Do not stay so long that a planned one-meal visit turns into a two-meal visit. Do not put a host on the spot. "Maybe they'll invite us in" is never an acceptable meal plan.

4. If there is someone whom you'd like to see while you are traveling, invite them to a picnic or a restaurant meal with your family, compliments of your house.

5. If the hand of hospitality is extended to your family, it is fitting for the value of your hostess gift to correspond to the size of your family (unless your host's family is larger).

*I offer myself as an example of a person who does not consider herself very, very close to anyone whom she only knows via the Internet, even though we're all identical soul mates. No hard feelings, cherished readers. ;)