30 August 2009

The cumulative burgeoning of un-ignorant bliss

When we first started down Pill-is-Evil Avenue, and then again when that road unexpectedly routed us down CSPP Way, I’d have bouts of nostalgia for the blissful ignorance of my former pill-popping self. Life with a few carefully planned children seemed a lot more manageable, to say nothing of more, well, fun, than a future filled with a potentially terrifying number of children, like an infinite nightmarish procession of those Russian nesting dolls.

Aieeeee.....Am I twitching?!?

That ignorance was of course only blissful in selfish, self-pitying restrospect. I’m getting braver. (Some days.) The longer I walk, trudge, skip, stumble, dance, and just plain doggedly follow this road, the more I begin to understand a few basic things. Like: A carefully planned future is a big, dangerous joke. Also: There’s really no such thing as a “manageable” number of children. Whether she holds one or two or ten children, a mother’s hands are full.

A.W. Tozer on that blissful ignorance thing: “For myself, I long ago decided that I would rather know the truth than be happy in ignorance. If I cannot have both truth and happiness, give me truth. We’ll have a long time to be happy in heaven” (Man: The Dwelling Place of God).

Turns out that truth and happiness aren’t conflicting absolutes, after all. Not even (at least not always) in this present vale of tears.

For those who are interested in furthering their Protestant studies :D, I would also recommend Tozer’s The Pursuit of God as an excellent devotional resource.

29 August 2009

A little project for you

There’s an old entertainment center in the parsonage basement. Could someone please come over and do something like this with it for us? Payment will be rendered in ornamental gourds (the boys’ section of the garden has outdone itself).

27 August 2009

Book, recommended, and let's charitably blame the editor for the title

Someone personally recommended to me the book Passionate Housewives Desperate For God, so I picked it up. I'd heard of it before, but to be honest I make every effort to avoid contemporary "Christian Living" books so I hadn't pursued this one either. The genre is nearly always facile, too long on annoying words (such as--sorry--"passionate"), and too Protestant for my hostile tastes (Reb. Mary patiently keeps me from dissipating into the Concordian ether).

The whole Christian anti-feminist movement in particular is also something I've generally filed under Um . . . not my style. I am not above rubies. I'm barely above the stuff in the S trap. My personal opinion is that if Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 were ever tragically lost, Proverbs 31 would make a fine substitute for half of us. Wow, I so cannot remember the last time I delivered a sash to the merchant. This lady is like my mother-in-law (whom I love and admire and whose company I enjoy): so far out of my league that we're not even in competition.

The reason the anti-feminists generally don't resonate with me--besides the weird womb obsession--is that I agree with them too much. There is no chance that I'm going to get a job and sign the kids up for daycare. I don't even want to, secretly or otherwise. I completely agree that feminism is philosophically void (as demonstrated by its numerous contradictory incarnations) and personally and societally toxic. So I don't need someone to convince me of this. And since I agree with the major premise, I get snotty about the minor ones. For example, am I supposed to touch up my lipstick before my husband gets home, or never succumb to such damning vanities? What can I say, I'm a jerk.

But the value of the anti-feminist genre is that a lot of people really have not heard what it has to say. And for people like that, Passionate Housewives is a good book. It is not at all heavy handed on more peripheral and touchy issues like homeschooling or quiverfilling, which to us are a big deal but to those outside the vortex are insane, entry-prohibitive dealbreakers. The authors gracefully demonstrate the practical implications of their theology in their bios and as a result don't need to browbeat about such things to make the urgent, foundational argument: know who you are and the work God has given you to do. It is blessed work. The world's dummy is as vain and deceptive as anything the world has ever had to offer.

So if your personal library is lacking a foundation book for both your own reference and as a loaner for confused members of normal society who show up on your doorstep, this is a good one to have (although I might mention to borrowers that I am of the pious opinion that interior decorating is not central to wifely/maternal vocation). Theologically speaking, this book won't direct your basic street Lutheran to the Blessed Sacrament, but it also doesn't ask her to write in the margin how God is speaking to her personally today. Blech, that felt like a hairball coming out.

The most useful thing to me in PHes was the chapter on personal piety. If you can't find a big chunk in your day for prayer and devotion, take little chunks as you can. The competition between sleep and hygiene is bad enough; throw piety into the mix and you're bound for rage or despair depending on your personality. Don't decide to pray two Psalms in 20 minutes, because too often you will not be able to. Decide to pray two Psalms all day long--which is probably better anyway.

The book I'm still looking for is, I'm here, at home, kids in with and under me, marinating in my convictions: now what? But actually, that Book is already written too, and the more time I spend in it, the better off we all are.

26 August 2009

Old Possum on CSPP

"[To become Christian] involves, at least, discipline, inconvenience, and discomfort: but here as hereafter the alternative to hell is purgatory." (Love me a good Anglo-catholic--R)

" . . . so far has our notion of what is natural become distorted, that people who consider it 'unnatural' and therefore repugnant, that a person of either sex should elect a life of celibacy, consider it perfectly 'natural' that families should be limited to one or two children. It would perhaps be more natural, as well as in better conformity with the Will of God, if there were more celibates and if those who were married had larger families."

"Might one suggest that the kitchen, the children and the church could be considered to have a claim upon the attention of married women? or that no normal married woman would prefer to be a wager-earner if she could help it? What is miserable is a system that makes the dual wage necessary."

T.S. Eliot, Christianity and Culture

24 August 2009

Homeschooling 002

I could lament the fact that the housekeeping (such as it was) is going to take another hit as this Grand Experiment continues.

Instead, I think I’ll rejoice in another excuse to ignore the mess.

(Yes, of course we include chores as part of our day. These 5-, 3-, and 1- year-old boys do their chores with an enthusiasm that generally results in more work for Mom :P)

Ants in the kitchen?
That's not a cleaning problem;
it's a science project!

Homeschooling 001

I don’t know anything. But that’s okay. I’ve got what I need for now (for ever) in our first family memory verse of the “school year.”

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

New every morning. Good deal. We can work with that.


Whenever I hear that someone has had a baby, I spend the next two months thinking, "I hope she's ok. I hope she's not too beat up. I hope nursing is going alright. I hope she's ok. I hope her other kids are being good. I hope her husband gets it. I hope it's going ok with her mother-in-law. I hope she's ok. I hope she's getting some sleep. I hope she's ok."

There's nothing worse than a first baby, but postpartum is still pretty darn awful every time--harder, in some ways, than the first time. Even if you're not as badly mangled, once you have more than one kid the "sleep when the baby sleeps" thing is useless, but it still clatters around your brain pan for spite. The pain is constant, the demands are brutal. It seems so unfair that I should be in such a bad way--utterly spent by pregnancy, cruelly injured from delivery--but there is no way I can lie in bed being taken care of for two weeks, which is what I feel like I need.

Postpartum=alone. You're limping around in society with a raw and sizeable wound, and the most anyone offers you is a casserole and a joke about getting some sleep. (The least anyone offers is some comment about your appearance/weight. Right back atcha, JERK.) Not that I blame them. There really is nothing anyone else can do about the worst parts of it. You have to take care of the baby regardless of how maimed you are, and they have to live their lives. And if you've got a bunch of other babies, too, well . . . buckle down, girl. Sorry to have to tell you that when you've never felt worse.

22 August 2009

Bumpaholics Anonymous

Hi, I'm Rebekah and I'm a . . . a bumpaholic. I've been pregnant or nursing since March 2002. Sometimes I was pregnant and nursing. I may have been clean for a few weeks in July or August of 2005, but I can't really be sure. It's that bad.

I'm really glad I found you guys because I knew I had a problem but I couldn't nail it down. I know you haven't actually been able to research this, but it makes so much sense I know you must be right. I mean, you're experts on psychiatry and everything so you know how to connect the dots. People who do things that are weird must be crazy. You don't need research to prove that.

You've already helped me so much. I can see now that I'm living a lie. People like me whose higher brain function doesn't work just don't get it. I thought the presents and the showers and the attention would keep rolling in if I were pregnant all the time, but they don't. I haven't had a shower since Baby 3, and that was only because we had just moved and my husband's new employer was nice enough to figure out we probably needed some stuff. In fact, I didn't even have a shower with Baby 2. Isn't there a name for that? . . . Diminishing returns! Hard to believe it applies even to a universally revered condition like pregnancy. No one saw that coming.

My friends and family have gotten bored with me being pregnant all the time, so they're not taking me shopping for new clothes any more or asking what the baby needs. And the thing is, the things we need now are so big that nobody could really help us with them. I mean, we can't expect Grandma to bankroll a bigger car or the triple bunk or an addition to our house. But I was so obsessed with being pregnant I couldn't see what it would really be like, because my brain doesn't work.

Wow, this is so hard. Does anyone have Kleenex?

Ok, thanks. Sorry. It was also really flawed of me to think that I'd keep getting all that special attention that pregnant women get. You know, like people holding doors for me and offering to load my groceries and stuff. That happened so often the first time I was pregnant, just all the time. I especially remember when I got a job toward the end of my second trimester--when my trainer realized I was pregnant she got really worked up about how I hadn't mentioned it in my interview. I could tell she cared so much.

But now I don't leave the house that much since I'm just here taking care of our other kids. I really miss all that attention and help I used to get from the general public, since people in our society are always noticing pregnant people and helping them.

I will say that having strangers and acquaintances rub my belly has an effect on me that makes me feel more like hitting that person than hugging her . . . but I'm sure I'm just weird. I probably have a problem with violence, too. Your research will prove how much most bumpaholics love being groped by people, when you get around to it.

This is going to be hard to explain to my husband. He thinks our having babies is, like, a religious conviction. But I guess all religious convictions suggest some kind of higher brain malfunction. It just doesn't make sense to do things that are hard for me and stretch our family's finances and strain the environment. I can see now that it's time for us to start thinking about all the stuff we could have and awesome things we could be doing and how great it would be to be skinny all the time. I really haven't thought about any of those things at all, I just love being pregnant so much. I mean, I hardly even notice how painful it is to walk after 20 weeks. I've just expected my husband to roll me out of bed in the morning and push the kids in the stroller for me when I can't do those things myself for four months.

Maybe we could start sleeping in on Sundays as a family, that would be a good place to start.

So I'm going to have to be pregnant until January. I guess until then if anyone says anything to me about it I'll just have to explain my problem. It will be hard, but I think it will help everybody, me included. Everyone needs to be aware of bumpaholism, that's the first step.

Thanks for understanding my situation so well and helping me. Thanks for giving us all a better life through speculative projectile psychiatry. Thank you! (Dissolves in irrational, pregnant tears.)

21 August 2009

Even if I were sentimental or enjoyed decorating or wanted another piece of unnecessary matter occupying space in my house

I'm not going to post a picture because they're just too . . . um . . . .

l guess all I'm going to say is belly cast and ?!?

(I apologize to the countless people who love their skillfully wrought, maternity affirming, personally meaningful belly casts, not to mention their children's shadowboxed birth cauls, and are now deeply hurt.)

19 August 2009

Homeschooling 311

A long, hyperbolic, opinionated rant aimed at no one and everything.

There is no such thing as homeschooling. This somewhat existential yet deeply actual fact can perhaps be more fully understood this way: “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

My husband and I decided against sending our kids to organized school when our oldest was around three. We decided this not out of some smug sense of our own superiority or because we believed the conspiracy-thumping hypsters. We decided this because we spent so much time doing dirty parenting jobs, we figured we could just as well do the dirty work of teaching the children to read on top of it all. And because we’re really, really possessive, but I’ll get into that some other time.

So we started researching our options and found that there are billions of stars in the homeschooling universe; homeschooling is infinite and being stretched infinitely into everything and nothing, so on, &c. And, as if this weren’t complicated enough, homeschooling is legion: structured, un-, eclectic; Classical, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf . . . It never ends. It cannot end. If it did, it wouldn’t be homeschooling.

But! While homeschooling is, ultimately, impossible to define, each method of homeschooling is at once inclusive and exclusive. In fact, once you select an approach you had better stick to it, for every other method is instant death.

Should you wish really to be a classical homeschooler, then you must follow the pre-fab structure laid out in this carefully researched, HISTORICALLY PROVEN! book; you must purchase every last colorfully packaged piece of curriculum provided by this publisher; you must commit your every waking moment to a scheduled scrutiny of each modicum of information about the history of the West, and only in this way can you be considered “classical.” If you really want to be an unschooler, then—good news!—you need purchase nothing. But if your kid is not naked but for a thick crust of mud at least once a day, and if you schedule bedtimes or expect the two-year-old to put her poop in the toilet instead of in the garden, then you don’t pass muster.

Which is the crux of the problem. The homeschooling universe dares to stretch far past education into life control. In some circles, should you wear conventional clothing or—gasp!—makeup, don’t even think about calling yourself a homeschooler. In other circles, should you purchase your bread pre-sliced, should you even go so far as to bake bread with flour you did not mill yourself (HT: Rebekah), do not presume to call yourself a homeschooler. In other circles, should you think Bible Bowl competitions weird, should you enjoy reading Harry Potter, should you vaccinate, should you consider using a curriculum that even mentions Charles Darwin in passing, give up and go Public. And in still other circles, should you dare mention that perhaps the Virgin Mary had no other children but Christ, or that the Book of James is a good read, or that—egad!—you dislike barley and hops, get out your helmet! You will likely be stoned.

Under such conditions, the potential for gravitational collapse is very high. Hence, good and gentle reader, the conclusion that homeschooling does not exist—too many contrary variables. And if homeschooling does exist, it surely has an event horizon by now. Best just to leave it alone.

So, how, then, to talk about this thing that I do all day, every day with my kids? I don’t know yet, really. “Homeschooling” makes me sad and angry, so I don’t do it anymore. Instead, like some of the other DIYEducation types we know, my husband and I just do whatever we want, whenever we want, however we want to do it: We buy scads of books (buy them, unless they’re kitschy, because I don’t like having to stuff a book into even a generous library’s return policy timeframe). Some of these books are professed curricula, some of them are turn-of-the-century crazy, some of them just look fun. We take lots of trips out to Grandpa’s farm, we watch BBC videos on YouTube, we cook, we play, we read, we write, we figure
. . .

I don’t want to call our days’ activities “homeschooling,” because doing so attaches too many politics and makes our days’ activities more difficult than they need to be. You know, when I obligate myself to a group, or a philosophy, or a government in something as basic and as mine as the raising of my children, the raising of my children is suddenly dictated by the external obligator.* My kids are mine, given to me by God, the giver of all good things. He entrusts me with their care, and as my Master He may then dictate the terms of all eternal matters relating to my children. We don’t mess around with Scripture or catechetical instruction, neither do we blow off church as Warm and Fuzzy Hour. God, we take very seriously, because He loves us.

But on matters of mere human construct (things that are passing away even as I type this), I’m going to do with and for my children what I think best according to my confession. Homeschool Materials Publishers do not love us. They want our money. Thus, I submit to the Church, but I will not submit to Susan Wise Bauer.

I also get that I’m enacting modern ideals in a post-modern way, but let’s not talk about that just now. Look kids, a butterfly! Catch it and identify it in under ten minutes, and I’ll let you help me bake a half batch of Dad’s favorite cookie.

*And for those of you who choose to send your kids to school, be it Lutheran or private or government, be it known that you can’t really choose wrong when it comes to your kids’ education. There are good schools and bad schools, to be sure, but there is no such thing as The Only Way in matters of learning how to write your name.

To area farmers

If you would like rain, please notify me and I will hang out my laundry.

However, if the forecast calls for rain and you would prefer sun, notify me and I will prudently put my stuff in the dryer.

18 August 2009

Room mothering: F+

I am the selfish, neglectful, worldly Concordian Sister who is sending her child to first grade this week (jk! I know not a soul thinks that ;) ). This has not really been a choice for us*. If we are still here in eight years when, DV, our oldest child finishes at this school (which I hope we will be), we will have no choice then but to homeschool.

Given this situation, I labor not to fret over a situation which offers me, for all practical purposes since none of our children appear at this time to be "hard cases," no choices. If the choice were ours, I honestly don't know what we would do, because there hasn't been any point in thinking about it. So this post is totally not about "deciding" about homeschooling--I know numerous others who are similarly bound, whether that means they must homeschool or they can't.

What this circuitous preface is leading up to is a post about being CSPP and a school mom. And what that is about is stinking it up. I was a terrible school mom last year. It was often impossible for me to get to school functions at which parental attendance was invited/requested. Why? Because I have three younger kids.

Dragging my entourage along on field trips would have made a disaster out of the trip for everyone else who is not used to our disastrous way of life (even if stage performances and such were baby-friendly venues). I couldn't fit any other kids in my car anyway because it's filled up with my own. If I helped on party day, I spent the whole time keeping the baby out of the rabbit cage and trying to prevent the [then] 2-yr-old from packing away a fifth cupcake instead of whatever Froot Loop stringing or Bozo Bucketeering I was supposed to be facilitating.

When yet another paper comes home requiring me to check "Yes, I'll be there" or "No, I don't care about this important reminiscible** event in my precious child's life so I'll be sitting on my can at home eating chips," I feel pretty worthless. Because, see, I would have a legit excuse for not being there if I were working. Or if I were a really good "working mom," I would take the afternoon off and go on the field trip. Since I'm an at-home mom, I'm supposed to show up for this stuff. But for some reason I keep having kids and providing all the evidence anyone needs to prove how this leads to the neglect of those already in existence.

Homeschoolers, I salute your toils, and I anticipate they will be my own some day. In the meantime, I've got this to make me doubt my maternal fitness.

And on the odd chance that anyone is reading this who is or hopes to be a homeschooler and is wondering what would become of her life if homeschooling became a great deal less do-able: I can tell you from both a parental and a post-teaching perspective that there is LOTS of work to be done just down the hall from your kids as a school mom, and always more work to be contrived ex nihilo in support of a school. Scrip! Book fairs! Getting rid of 30 years' worth of trophies in the basement! Pointless gimmicky sentimental events to plan! Teacher Appreciation Semester! Teams to coach! Terminally ill geckos to make comfortable! Buses to learn to drive! Elective courses to teach on a volunteer basis! And all of it with the help of your younger kids. The fun never ends. EVER.

*In some Lutheran parishes, it is not a big deal if the pastor's family homeschools, and in others it is. We are blessed to have a veritably Lutheran school in our backyard. I almost feel bad about how well the place has catechized our child--but then Dad has something to do with it too. :)

**Since when did the point of childrearing become packing a kid's hippocampus (thank you, Gauntlets) with phosphorescence? Remind me to rant about that sometime.

17 August 2009

Hi-ho, hi-ho

Those armchair vocationalists crank out some treatises that I find helpful, after a fashion, on days when the poopmeter hasn’t pushed me over the ironic edge. :P Ultimately, to agree again with Gauntlets’ recent post, this seemingly prosaic existence makes sense, and becomes bearable, only in the mystery of poetry and the beauty of song.

But sometimes, in the trenches of daily tasks, I find it helpful simply to mutter, er, remind myself: Today, this is my job. THIS is my job. This IS my job. This is MY job. This is my JOB, today.

One college summer, I worked a factory job. Repetitious, mind-numbing, menial—a complete waste of all my, you know, college-educated talents. And you know what? I did a darn fine job of making widgets—so fine that I was quickly promoted to Master Widgetmaker tasks, with occasional stints on Widget Quality Control. I wasn’t fond of making widgets, nor of spending my summer in a windowless factory whose a/c couldn’t keep up with the ovens—but it was my job, so I turned my hand to it as competently as I could.

Er. Fast forward to my present repetitious, mind-numbing, menial job—a complete waste of all my, you know, college-educated talents. The products I’m manufacturing nowadays are eternal, not soulless components of cars that doubtless adorn the Clunker heaps by now. So why oh why, instead of turning my hand to these infinitely more important tasks as competently as I can, do I catch myself shrinking and shirking at every turn?* Master Widgetmaker I might have been; my Master’s in Motherhood is much more than a summer in the making (are commencement exercises even on the horizon yet?).

So sometimes, it just helps me to say it. Out loud even. This is my job. THIS is my job. This IS my job. This is MY job. This is my JOB. Self: put your haughty head down and do your job. Instead of welding another widget, today you will wipe another bum. (Again. And...again.) You’ll have to wait a little longer than two weeks for your paycheck, but those re-invested dividends are piling up like you wouldn’t believe.

Hi-ho, hi-ho…

What'll it be today--Sleepy? Grumpy? Too much to hope for Happy?

*That question was kinda rhetorical, but in case you couldn’t resist, you’re right: It’s because I’m lazy, selfish, and just generally evil.

15 August 2009

Sycophant rock

Listen, girls (the music starts @ 2:30, if you'd like to skip the blah, blah, blah).

Theme song material, that. ;D

PS -- sorry about The View. :P It was the only full recording I could find of this song.

14 August 2009

Thought experiment

Imagine for a moment what you would be like as a mother if you had never read any parenting magazine or website; any book on how to raise, teach, or discipline your kids; any blog about how some person you've never met runs her kitchen and her bathroom and her nursery and her yard.

Imagine what you would be like as a mother if the main observations you had made about being a mother were of your immediate and extended family of origin, and your other observations were of people whom you know personally (internet only soul-acquaintances get no more than half credit, and that's just to be nice).

You wouldn't necessarily be better, but you would surely be different. The world's experts and pseudo-experts, fearmongers and doubt-raisers, tyrants and aspiring tyrants, paranoiacs and politicians, bloggers and braggers (forgive the redundancy) are good primarily for a laugh. After that: vanity, vanity.

When I try this exercise, I envision some concrete things (like fewer stupid library books brought home out of some sense of should-itude), but mostly less worrying about if I'm spending enough time and dispensing enough affection and disciplining with enough wisdom. I see myself not thinking about how Goneril's kids were all potty trained at 18 months (or four years), and caring what Brunhilde will say if I confess I'm really sick of everything I swallow and spray and put leftover pizza sauce in being a HEALTH!! issue, and searching for meaning in Zdenka's disclosure that her 3-year-old learned how to read in 100 easy lessons, and trying to figure out if a cluttered house is a sin or if thinking a cluttered house is a sin is a sin.

I trust whom I trust, and realize that only one of them is trustworthy. The rest, mostly as unqualified as I to make most of the everyday judgments I must make, provide comfortable camaraderie, not confirmation of the rightness of those judgments. Everyone else is comic relief, and if I can't laugh about it, I steer clear.

13 August 2009

So we beat on, boats against the current

Making the bed in the morning: my empowering act of defiance against the chaos of the day to come.

Mind those corners, now

(I think FlyLady has a similar philosophy about shining the kitchen sink every morning. I’d do that too, if only I could find my sink .)

Extra credit (but only a little) for identifying and completing this post’s title.

Extra credit (a lot) for identifying and sustaining other islands of sanity amid the swirling currents of household chaos.

12 August 2009

Homeschooling 201

Now that we have the basics in hand, we can move through some more advanced material.

The skies are falling this month, most observably tonight. So, hand your oldest child a printout containing pertinent details about this particular falling sky, and bribe her to read it to her siblings. Read a summary of the more interesting angle over your lunch hour, and look excited when you announce that the family gets to take a field trip out to Country Church to watch the shower.

Then, make Quiet Hour into Quiet Two Hours; the little loves need more nap if they're going to be up late having fun. Plan a paper plate supper. Take a long walk downtown to buy $1 notepads--for journaling observations, of course--and a couple gallons of bug spray. Keep everyone from fighting with ease: "If you say that to your sister one more time, I'm leaving you home. Get it?"

Load up the van around 8:30P and drive 20 miles to your light-pollutionless location. Let the urchins run amok as the sun sets. Spread blankets, and "encourage them" to lie down for the big show. They will be tired. They will fall asleep.

You will be alone in the quiet in the dark under the stars with your husband for as long as you like.*

The end.

*Not counting the baby, who will likely still be awake and wallering. Beggars can't be choosers.


I'm always impressed by the "nursing" aisle at the store. Even breastfeeding can turn a profit for someone. My own largely unused collection of breastfeeding paraphernalia acquired by way of various fears, tragedies, and conventions is all the proof anyone needs that the profiteers are good at what they do. It also calls to mind my secret impious analogy of individual Communion cuppies to pumping. I mean, I guess you could do that, but why?

Anyway, this nursing doll thing amuses me in similar fashion. Like a little girl needs a special doll and clothing to figure out how to nurse her "baby." Geniuses, these marketers. My kids have only recently learned what a bottle is since they have gained a cousin who uses one, but no doll has ever gone hungry in our house.

11 August 2009

On the Vanguard, Act 2

The scene opens with Rebekah coming downstairs with a smelly baby who has just awakened from his nap and the first tomato juice of the season processing on the stove after a long afternoon of gutting and cooking. She is dismayed to hear someone knocking.

Dude On Doorstep: You look like the mom.

Rebekah (holding and surrounded by kids): Right.

DOD: I'm sorry about my accent. I'm from Europe.

Rebekah: Oh, where in Europe?

DOD: Estonia. Most people don't know where that is.

Rebekah: Right above Latvia and Lithuania?

DOD (looking shocked): How did you know that?

Rebekah: We like geography. Hey, kid. What are the colors of Estonia's flag?

Kid: (Makes face and then hides like a jerk.)

Rebekah (so as not to offend Estonian further): Blue, black, and white, right?

DOD (dumbfounded): Are you a homeschooler?


No, Estonian dude, I just hang out with them on the internet. He also failed to stump me on why flamingos are pink and what rhinos' horns are made of. I tried to comfort him by explaining that I simply consider it my job as a mother to know these things. Sadly, his product was so redundant and expensive that I couldn't help him out even after we spent at least half an hour discussing it on my porch.

07 August 2009

Dura mater one day, pia mater the next

A little Saturday morning cartooning from yon better days:

Weekend it up, y'all.

06 August 2009

Time management, recommended

Some people have Franklin Planner-type brains, and can manage their schedules by nature. Some people can afford Franklin Planners, and manage their schedules by will. And then, there's the rest of us.

work less; get more done!

I used to be better about remembering things. Back in college, I didn't use a planner at all. When I was teaching high school, I made do with a dry erase marker board, the "month-at-a-glance" kind. When I took up space in an office building, I had Outlook ping me a few days before something needed done. And when I graduated to Home Management, I kept track of this and that on Post-It notes.

But now I'm four kids into this gig. My Post-Its are all covered in breakfast cereal, Outlook is in the basement, and someone ran over my dry erase board with his tricycle. All that, and I'm getting soggy around the hippocampus: A couple of months ago, I forgot all about the Ladies Aid summer picnic. I was supposed to take the potato salad. I don't know which level of Hell I'm destined for, but it's sure to be filled with mosquitoes and empty ketchup bottles.

Don't let it happen to you. Do what I did and should have done ages ago: Get one of these.

I really like mine. The number one selling point of the BusyBodyBook around here is its columns. I keep my tasks in the first column, my two homeschool-aged kids' tasks in the second and third, and Dad's schedule, insofar as it impacts me, in the fourth. Column five is for meal planning. Ta da! It's almost too easy. I mean, I haven't forgotten anything of any real consequence in weeks!

Plus, it's bound with plastic covers--very good at repelling milk. And mimosas.

05 August 2009


from twitterfeed

  • Waking up now. Late. @everyone clamoring for pancakes. Feeding them toast.
  • Pouring coffee now. From my own coffee pot. Now I’m eating leftover chicken.
  • Dishes in sink. Sink in #Kitchen. #OurHouse is full of sinks full of dishes. Full of some crazy wicked amazingness, too, of course. Like @babies and @dad and @me. We’re all the craziest.
  • @dad is leaving for #Work! @baby4 is crying! Picking her up now. Carrying her over here. Putting her down here in the kitchen. @baby4 is the wickedest craziest baby. Is this tweet too long? Are you still reading this?
  • #OurHouse is pretty something, y'all, and I’m still standing here in the kitchen with this crazy baby. @baby4 is kicking her feet around and I’m watching the sink fill full of water.
  • Dishes done! @baby3 is singing a hymn, and she’s off-key. Hilarious!
  • Tweet. Still here! Standing right here! @baby2 just roared and woke his sister. Wow!
  • I’m thinking about walking to #MyRoom and doing something about these pajamas. What do you think? :)
  • Quick question for all you thinking types: shorts – ever OK? Yes or no?
  • Going off-line for awhile. #Garden needs some weeding! @babies are totally going to help! All this weeding and not a single tomato yet to show for it!
  • Getting some lunch at #Kitchen. Homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and overripe bananas! Yum!
  • @baby4 keeps rolling herself over! Then she gets angry about being on her belly and starts shouting! Ha!
  • Enjoying a great quiet hour, doing some dishes. We have the cleverest quiet hour. @babies are all quiet. It lasts about an hour.
  • @baby1 got her jump rope stuck in the tree! I tried to get it out with a stick and hit myself in the face with the stick! Ha!
  • Sitting here on #TheCouch with @babies and enjoying 32 picture books by some really creative people! I heart picture books! *
  • Going to #Kids’Room to pick up @baby4. She’s poopy! Amazing!
  • Walking around aimlessly with @baby4. @baby3 is crying for some amazing reason. Too crazy lazy to find out why!
  • @dad is due home in an hour. Rushing to thaw the chicken in the microwave! Or should I tweet, “mic?” Would that be peppier?
  • Eating in #DiningRoom! Trying hard to keep my cool as @babies all chew with mouths open and spill milk on the carpet! Who puts carpet in #DiningRoom? Crazy!
  • VBS week over at #Church! Awesome! @baby3 and I are sitting in #OurHouse eating @everyone’s leftovers! Every family needs a jackal! Ha!
  • Putting @baby3 to bed so she can rip up the blinds next to #HerBed trying to see what her siblings are doing over across the #ParkingLot! Ha ha!
  • VBS is over! @babies are tired, dirty and grumpy! Crazy! We heart VBS!
  • Getting everyone to sleep!
  • Getting everyone to sleep!
  • Getting everyone to sleep!
  • Wow, what a day! @dad and I are lapping up wine like crazy crazies and talking through the diaper report! Funno!
  • Bedtime! Tweet ya later! Tweet dreams! Tweet long and prosper! TA-WEEEEEEEEEEEEET! Ha h-- . . .
  • sigh.
PS -- Could someone explain to me what those pound signs think they're doing in there?

*no, I don't.

04 August 2009

Oooh! Life is like a box of CHOCOLATES . . .

Try as I might, I cannot think in prose. I can hear, over and over again, that God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, but I can't really begin to understand what on earth that might mean until it's set out for me in song.

Similarly, I can hear and thus repeat to myself that being a mother is an honorable calling, that children are blessings, that it pleases God when I humble myself to chisel black tar from the tender bums of His eternal creations. But in my feebleness, I am enabled in my vocation when I have a lovely, poetical image to paste over the wailing, grubby urchins in my direct line of sight.

Prior to reading this, I had nothing that I really liked. While not entirely unique, Harrison's image of her children as precious gems on a beautiful gown resonates with me. Check it out, and then feel free to share your favorite metaphors for parenting and children in the comments here.

I would have more to say on the topic, but this sparkly on my lap needs a new nappy.

02 August 2009

Call it a sugar rush, if you will

The legs of maternity’s journey are comprised almost entirely of guilt trips—or so it sometimes seems. From your first forkful during pregnancy (is that the Best Bite for Baby?) to the last factoid of education under your watch, there’s always someone who is more than happy to tell you how irrevocably your ignorant, incompetent parenting is ruining your children forevermore. If you can manage to tune out that tragic chorus, your hyperactive conscience will gladly fill in the doomsday gaps.

At least that’s how my crazier days feel. Crazy or no, the joy of a guilt-free moment breaks upon me in a rush of giddy relief, and gives me hope for more sensibility to come.

A simple realization prompted the glee of this moment. Most days, we pull off a fairly admirable application of the food pyramid, if I do say so myself. BoyOne didn’t have any processed sugar (no graham crackers, no nothing) till his first birthday cake; and then (excepting what was administered behind my back by well-meaning parishioners), he had practically none till his second birthday. BoyThree, by contrast, has participated in most family feasting since an undisclosed, far more tender age.

Undergirded by a chocolate fudge foundation, of course

Here comes the giddy rush: While I wouldn’t change what we did with BoyOne’s diet, I have no regrets about BoyThree’s rather more adventurous nutritional habits. Woo-hoo!

Oh mothers one and all, if only we could grant ourselves (and each other) this grace more often, and in matters more serious than Baby’s First Twinkie. (Not that twinkies aren’t serious. And not that BoyThree has had a twinkie yet. That I know of.)