25 February 2010

Pastors worth keeping

are the ones who can preach on 1 Samuel 17 without ever saying, "What's the giant in your life?"

24 February 2010

Some practical Gen-Xing on keeping it all together

My kitchen and I have come a long way. When I first started this SAHM thing, my kitchen was little more than a badly-lit set for some laughable B-rated action: breakfast snarled and clawed up the toaster in its impatience to begin; lunch slapped me together in a crumby sort of frenzy before yielding to the drippy sneers of an incorrigible supper that slumped out of the oven slightly cold in the middle; and snacks followed me around at all hours, a score of moaning undead with barely-hinged jaws that clacked restlessly as I trembled around with crackers and cheese.

Welcome to homemaking. I'm going to eat you.

It was all I could do to stumble, trapped and incompetent, from stovetop to table all day long. The struggle was too insistent and necessary for a person like me—a person whose home making IQ is well below average—to manage with ease.

But now, three years after taking up full-time homemaking, I can say with some degree of certainty that my kitchen is fine. The dishes are done! The floor is swept! I cook edible things! People vocalize yummy sounds over what I serve!

Wanna know how it happened? One freaking dead mouse under the refrigerator at a time.

But more about the dead things later. If I were savvy and svelte, I might gloss up the story of my Cinderella kitchen and sell it to you at $15 an e-copy. As it is, I’m just going to spill my secret: persistence. That’s it. I don’t have a cleaning schedule, a meal plan, a codependent crock pot, or a magical soap scraped from the left flank of a dragon. What I have is a family that needs to eat and a brain that learns from its mistakes and enough time in a day to plot the fastest route between point A and point B. I still have some distance to cover before I’m “yummo,” but I’ve got the beasts in the kitchen tamed and at my heels. Down, Dracula, you ridiculous idiot; I’m baking here.

So what’s it to you? Well, if you’re already some incarnation of Hestia, nothing. But if you’re a homemaking refugee, I’m here to tell you that if I can make my own tortillas, keep the sink from smelling bad, and do preventative scrubbing behind the refrigerator, so can you. And you really don’t need to buy a book, apron, or indulgence from that woman who insists, with probably truth, that she has it all together. So what if she has it all together? If Mrs. Together was apprenticed to a master homemaker in her childhood, if homemaking is in her blood, then her daughters are in luck but that’s about it. Or if Super Woman managed to fight off her personal household demons hour by carefully scheduled hour, then good for her; she killed her own slothfulness and ignorance with so many silver bullets. Of what use is her packaged system to you? You aren’t going to be working in her house. You knead, scrub, slice, and cry in your own house, and you are smart, strong, and sensitive enough to figure out how to keep that house in order on your terms, to your standards, using your own methods. With every failure you learn, and with every success your household becomes that much better.

Forget all those imposed ideas of Happy Home. Build your own happy home, and do it this way:*

  1. Pray for strength, patience, and perspective. And when you want to dump supper directly on the floor and yell, “Good luck eating THAT! I’m going to drink a few mimosas . . .” pray again.
  2. Eat. For crying out loud.
  3. Take each day as it comes: break what needs breaking, boil what needs boiling, punch what needs punching, and you’ll be fine.
  4. Laugh. The exercise of homemaking is really funny, when you stop to think about it. Don’t take the dust balls so personally.
  5. Take it one room at a time; you don’t need to have every corner free of monsters in order to get through a day. If your kitchen is out of control, forget the kids’ closets for a year and work on the kitchen. If your laundry room gives you the creeps, forget about the basement and work on the laundry room. Take it easy, and keep your focus. The neglected rooms will still give you fits, but bide your time, examine your methods, establish your criteria, and you’ll get around to rooting out your troubles.
  6. Remember that the cheapest option is the best option; i.e. don’t buy new storage bins for all that junk, get rid of the junk. Or go ahead and buy the storage bins. What do I know about it?
  7. White vinegar. Wow, that stuff is versatile.

Stakes at the ready, girls—it’s time to kick some homemaking tuckus. Now that my kitchen is secure, I feel like giving some laundry the stink eye. Talk to me in another three years, and I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

*Or don't. Now send me $15.

23 February 2010

And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity

Our ancient mothers (and fathers, for that matter) did not prize the fruitful womb because of their time or culture. They did so because they were Christian.

Those longing for greater service/leadership/representation/whatever of women in the church never tire of arguing that the singular example of Deborah (or the virtually informationless examples of Huldah or Phoebe or Lydia) makes their case. These same proponents glibly discard Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and every other baby-loving woman in the Bible as mere products of their times whose lives, characterized by a high view of maternity, have no contemporary relevance and set no vocational precedent. Eisegesis at its finest, girls. Nice work.

There is neither historical nor personal quota on the tasks given to us through our first parents except that which God works. How mundane is our first father's name: the Earth-Man points us to our beginning and end. But how wondrous our mother's, which she receives even after her unbelief and fall. Eve, She Who Lives, points us whenever we speak of her to the essence of God's grace: that we earth-men live, impossibly, miraculously, here in time and there in eternity. To accept her utterly humble work is to--can it be true? for how can it be true of me?--receive her honor, that by her the dusty earth is filled with God's greatest work: LIFE, and life in the image of God, and life everlasting.

21 February 2010

On the setting of standards and the adjusting of expectations

Standards for children and their behavior ought to be high—even impossibly high, as are the standards to which their parents are accountable.

I am, however, only fooling and frustrating myself when I expect seamlessly harmonious days. (Which, ridiculously enough, I still sometimes catch myself expecting: He’s old enough to know better…Do I really have to remind him again to be kind to his brother …Haven’t we learned to share by now…Can’t we even get through devotions without disciplinary interruptions, for heaven’s sake?!...)

In the name of the...would you please just move away from your brother already?!

No matter the standards, no matter how devout and diligent the parents, there will be a certain amount of crying and fighting. There just will be. There will be tantrums and whining and egregious self-centeredness committed on a daily basis by several if not all household members.* No matter how difficult that is for me to accept, no matter how much I wish it otherwise—that’s life in a household full of sinners whose varying developmental stages only add to the potential for mayhem.

Adjusting my expectations doesn’t mean lowering the standards or expecting less of my kids. Adjusting my expectations does mean reminding myself that the daily drowning is indeed daily, and that the flailing limbs of all the gasping and spluttering Old Adams in this house will inevitably collide in the struggle. Adjusting my expectations means lifting high the Standard while humbling myself and my perfect-Christian-family delusions. And in the process, with desperate gratefulness for the mercies that are new every morning, and continued prayers for my daily bread of the blessed grace of humor, I may yet find that a semblance of sanity is attainable.

*If anyone has found a way around this, please let me know. :P

18 February 2010

It's a child, not a choice

Begging indulgence for those of us for whom the above slogan is true of more than just abortion: consider the difference between someone who would write an article like this one, and someone who shrugs and says, "You're the one who had all those kids" when a mother beset by her long isolation from greater human society is turned away from yet another door with her children. (Those who believe all children of the non-celibate are choices also hold a rather fantastic belief in the power of contraception.)

HT: Debbie S. Thanks!

16 February 2010

How to have a baby in just 45 minutes

Occasionally people have seen fit to tell me how lucky I am to have fast labors. And it is true that I have absolutely no desire to go through one of those 50 hour pitocin-fests culminating in C-section in which one of our local hospitals seems to specialize, and I have nothing but deep sadness and righteous anger for those who are subjected to such torture. For the interested, however, here is a look at precipitous labor.

My first labor was, as my beloved and ever more useless Bradley book would call it, a textbook labor. It started definitively with hard contractions that gradually increased and lasted 13.5 hours. My four babies since then have combined for about half that time: 2.25 hours, 2.5 hours (41 wk med-free induction via water breakage), a little over an hour (ditto), and most recently and terrifyingly, a little under an hour. These times do not include "false" starts.

If I were to think of that first run as a standard stomach bug, the others would be food poisoning. Over faster, but considerably more characterized by panic and violence, and subject to the relevant repercussions, kwim? This last one was Mexican restaurant food poisoning, the most exquisite I've ever enjoyed. If I had a choice . . . hey, why isn't "gin martini" among my options?

There seems to be some perception that a baby in a hurry just pops out much to everyone's surprise, and then a good laugh is had by all. Maybe that happens to some people--goodness knows there are unlikely-sounding descriptors applied to "birth experiences"--but you might tick off someone who has fast labors by assuming/implying this. When I've been there, the moments of truth are monstrous as whales, and that business at the end is still very much a matter of loathsome will.

Once there's a baby in your belly, there's just no good way of getting the dear thing out.

"For as the swift monster drags you deeper and deeper into the frantic shoal, you bid adieu to circumspect life and only exist in a delirious throb."

13 February 2010

Donate today!

The Clemency Coalition

Influencing likabililty, whether you like it or not.

The Clemency Coalition exists to hunt down the undersocialized to release them from social poverty. We support the rights of every child to be shaped, if not controlled, by a group of his or her peers. The Clemency Coalition especially targets homeschoolers.

The Clemency Coalition is dedicated to working to protect the undersocialized from THAT OUTFIT. Our members and staff maintain and model the most recent fashions, voice inflections, bravado, and underwear. We are cool. We are outgoing. We are the friends of every undersocialized kid everywhere.

With the help of people like you, The Clemency Coalition has saved dozens of homeschoolers from a life of hanging only with their siblings. Won’t you sponsor an undersocialized kid today?

An undersocialized girl, before and after

When you contribute to The Clemency Coalition, your dollars are purposed toward building friendships between the undersocialized and members of normal society. Once sponsored, your undersocialized child is given . . .

  • a complete makeover, including the most currently fashionable hairstyle, clothes, and shoes;
  • one or more subscriptions to normal, necessary magazines, insuring that he or she will learn information vital to scoring dates;
  • the tools he or she needs to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube his or her way into the hearts of normal people.

Most effectively, your undersocialized child is connected to a local, normally-socialized peer, who is then paid very well to include your child in social activities and to be your child’s BFF, if not his or her date to the big dance.

Cost of sponsorship changes every day; contact us at our home office to learn more. And remember: the sooner you cut that check, the sooner The Clemency Coalition can get to work purging the world of weird.

For the children, folks. Seriously.

12 February 2010

And actually, don't fish WISH they could enjoy something as cool as a bicycle?

Hutchens on husbands explains why they're so popular here at CSPP.

09 February 2010

One for the Green Police

It’s been awhile since we hit the theme of how the hard-core environmentalists have it all wrong when it comes to kids. A few random observations on the topic:

1) Kids are hardwired to reduce, reuse, and recycle. If I want to throw anything, and I mean anything, away, I have to do it surreptitiously or else face the chorus of “Oh! Let’s save that for a craft!”

2) The toddler never throws any one thing in the garbage without taking at least two things out.

3) I don’t know much about Dr. Anderson, but my heart was gladdened to read this and to know that there’s at least one OB/GYN out there who not only gets it, but has the courage to speak up. May the good doctor enjoy eternity in the good company of souls who might not have existed but for his vocational faithfulness.

Hope you're not jealous

I feel very, very sorry for anyone who does not have a friend who sends her a pair of Smurf blue sweatpants after she has a baby.

Love you pants! And you, friend!