27 March 2010

Watch with Him one bitter hour

CSPP will again be observing the ancient tradition of not posting during Holy Week. We hope you're all able to track down a contemplative moment or two.

26 March 2010

Disposable innards

Susan has kindly shared her cautionary story of unwanted induction and eventual C-section (and the exciting conclusion, which she just posted). I am very sorry this happened to Susan (and everyone else I know to whom it has happened, which is way too many people) not only because it's awful on its own merits, but also because of the CSPP angle. For those of us who don't plan to retire after 1, 2, or 3, what happens to the equipment is a big old deal.

But retiring after 1-3 is normal, and most medical providers operate under that assumption. They might as well hack it all up or leave it a mess because you only use it a few times anyway. During my most recent trip to the maternity floor, my regular doctor (who knows where I stand and wouldn't have given me occasion to tell a tale like this) was unavailable and I got someone else from her group. Assessing my situation (you'll recall this is after the main event), he asked with what I perceived to be uncertainty if we were going for six. Apparently this affected his decision about what kind of care I was going to get.

This made me very unhappy. The kind of care I want is the kind that leaves me optimally operational, and this is the kind of care every patient should get. I can't imagine that cutting corners or "going easy" on a patient in need of treatment is doing her any favor, regardless of her plans for the future (and 30 minutes after giving birth is hardly the best time to ask someone about such plans).

I become increasingly convinced that an obstetrical care provider needs to know not only a patient's medical history, but also her anticipated medical future. I know this business is terribly awkward to bring up. But maybe we also shouldn't sell medical professionals short. A good one will know that it's not his/her business to offer commentary on lifestyle. I certainly don't want to be under the care of someone who holds an aggressive belief that I should be Done anyway. And chances are that if we show ourselves to be reasonable and intelligent people we'll win ourselves a little credibility as assets to the genepool who might be dealt with gently for excessive procreation.

I've got more of a claim on this body than any health professional, and a health professional can only call the shots I want if she knows how I want them called.

(Incidentally, the first piece of advice I'd give to any pregnant lady based on all the birth stories I've ever heard is avoid inductions.)

25 March 2010

Have you had your break today?

Go vote in the awesomest tournament ever.

23 March 2010

Should I stay or should I go now?

I never know if I should try to go, or just not bother. I want to go--but it's an awful lot of work getting everybody ready. Do I really want to go that much? Because if we go and then have to leave, oh, I will be sad. It's bad enough to have to leave, and then add in all that prep work down the drain . . . but what if we went and everybody was good and we didn't have to leave? Then I would be happy!

So, sometimes I just don't go. If I do go, I go with the assumption that I'll have to leave. Then if we don't I'm pleasantly surprised.

22 March 2010

Regrettable foods in action

I've been going through my grandma's old recipe boxes, and wow. Wow. The following are all clipped from newspapers or magazines, and as Grandma never served them to us, I can't help wondering if she saved them just to have a good laugh on hand when she needed it. This is how it happened, Mr. Lileks. I am very curious about the Apple Float, but not curious enough to risk any perfectly good applesauce and eggs on it, so if anyone tries it please report back.

Lima Bean Loaf

2 c. cooked lima beans
1 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
2 T melted butter
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped nuts or nut meal
1/2 c. milk or cream
2 beaten eggs
Vegetized* salt to season

Mix all ingredients well together and place in buttered loaf pan and bake in moderate oven. Baste with melted butter.


Carrot Ring

Cook 2 pounds carrots, drain, and put through meat grinder or mash well. Add 1/4 cup butter and salt and pepper to taste. Place in greased 1-quart ring mold, set mold in pan of hot water until ready to serve. Turn out on hot platter and fill center with cooked dressed spinach, peas, or lima beans. Yield: 6 servings. Note: Add one tablespoon onion juice to ground carrots, if desired.

Apple Float for an Emergency Dessert.

The telephone has rung--you are to have guests for dinner--and your previously planned dessert was just applesauce! It's hardly "dressy" enough for those particular people, and besides, there is barely enough to serve the family without any company. You have but little time. What's to be done? Eggs are generally available. Make an apple float, suggests the bureau of home economics, out of two cups of applesauce and four egg whites. Here's how:

2 cups thick applesauce
2 egg whites

Sweeten the applesauce to taste while hot, add a litle (sic) salt, and set away to cool. Beat the egg whites very stiff, and fold the cold applesauce into them. If desired, add two or three teaspoons of lemon juice, or sprinkle a little nutmeg or cinnamon on top.

19 March 2010

Murphy's first law of mothering

If the baby remains asleep for a decent stretch of time, an older kid will need a weird amount of attention in the middle of the night.

16 March 2010


Everybody who walks needs shoes, and everybody pretty much needs an everyday/outside pair and a church pair, and everybody needs those for warm and cold weather, and everybody's feet keep growing. So that's a minimum of three or four pairs per kid per year (boys can wear the same church shoes for warm or cold), assuming everyone does me the favor of not outgrowing of a pair mid-season which is obviously ridiculously optimistic. And also snow boots.

No one is allowed to have more than the necessary shoes in our house. It just can't happen. That's a matter not only of frugality and storage, but also circulation. In order for us to get out of the house in a reasonable amount of time, there can only be a reasonable amount of shoes to dig through since they're all jumbled in a big box by the door.

I read in Real Simple to use wine boxes to store shoes--finally, a magazine idea that actually works and is free. A pair of little shoes can fit into one bottle compartment. Bigger shoes need a compartment each or even two compartments (fold the divider up or down). Sturdier shoes go on the bottom to keep the compartments from collapsing. Then I label them by the gender and size. I check them out as we need them and return them at the end of the season.

I get empty wine boxes at the grocery store. The ones that are the full height up to the top of the bottle are better. The boxes that just come up to the shoulders work fine too but they look messy, as I have demonstrated for your benefit:

Get thee behind me, Imelda.

We have this many shoes stored (55 pairs), and our oldest kid is only seven. I am afraid.

We use boots often enough to need them but still rarely enough that I won't buy another pair just to keep a 3-yr-old boy from going out in the Strawberry Shortcakes in a pinch. Easily accessed and size-organized boot storage is harder than shoes. For now, I'm keeping the boots on the bunk bed ladders we're not using. You can see that there are some unfortunate estrangements I need to work out, but I'm not giving up until boot season is officially past:

I look forward to finding a nest in one of these before my life is out.

And that's what I know about shoes. If you know something I don't, please tell me, because I find the issue rather overwhelming.

15 March 2010

Pitching in

One of the weirder things I find myself doing is throwing things away for people. I can understand why they don't want to throw them away themselves; I don't like throwing stuff away either if it seems like it still has some use in it. But I end up on the receiving end of a lot of very strange items, and they're just not always things I or anyone could use. I freecycle what I can, but if nobody my entire freecycle group (which includes a decent sized population center) wants it, I take that as a sign. I have to throw it away. I don't know why it's my job, but it is.

11 March 2010

Give me a break. No, really.

There's another thing I don't get about this Women's Leadership Institute business (of which WLI proper is only the top fish in the bucket). Something that's come up a time or two here at CSPP is that fruitful multiplication is, you know, challenging. That's true whether you do it once or thirteen times, or in a lifetime throughout which that gift is withheld, and regardless of your hermeneutical approach to "be fruitful and multiply."

Now, I am a huge wimp and as such want to get as much sympathy as possible for my pains. So when I hear clucking about women "being allowed" to do more, the first thing I want to ask is what the heck I'm doing right now and why it isn't good enough. Respected eldresses, don't you have the same scars I do? Weren't you as tired as I am? Didn't you feel as alone and overwhelmed and unappreciated? Weren't you flattened by hopelessness when you saw how shamefully unequal you were to this calling? Didn't you have to fight against the pride and contempt that threatened your soul when you considered your hardships in comparison with . . . other people?

But apparently it really isn't good enough. Apparently women need "leadership" too. Kids, you were just an aggravation necessitated by conventionalism, a sidebar to the real me. I suffered purgatorially to sustain your life; raised you hour by lonely hour because that's what people do, but now I'm ready for something that matters. Now that I've got you over with, here come my opportunities and my props. I mean, my ministry and service and stewardship of my unparalleled gifts.

The poor esteem in which the draining work of motherhood is held by mothers is absolutely staggering. I mean, it makes no sense! Demand less, girls! If we say it's not enough, the world is all too eager to wring more out of us. Sheesh!

Anyway. Here's what I like about my husband besides his mad skills and how he looks in a rose chasuble. A while ago I asked him what I'm going to do with myself a million years from now after all these babies grow up and move out. I have a teaching degree but zero desire to use it in any professional sense, not to mention that with all the continuing education and certifications and licenses and whatever other fabricated hoops will exist by that time I'll be pretty un-employable. Visions of becoming a 58 year old Sandwich Artist started dancing in my head.

Ham ministry is ministry too.

He looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "Read books and make my supper." No speech about using my gifts. No plans for me to finally start contributing to our retirement savings. Not even any bogus encouragement about pursuing my dreams or, worse, getting serious about ministry at long last. He sees what I do, and he knows I've got a break coming one of these decades, DV.

Should God see fit to grant me that break, I certainly look forward to reading books and making supper for my much adored husband. But I also hope to spend lots of time as a postpartum doula for my daughters and daughters-in-law. I hope to spend lots of time with my grandchildren. I hope to pick up some of the slack at our church, wherever that may be, because all churches have slack to pick up.

For now, though, I hope that more sisters in Christ will recognize that the work God has given us most directly and plainly is a fire deliberately appointed to consume the dross of the daughters of Eve; that he intends for us to reap from that work fulfillment rather than discontentment and bitterness; that we would find our identities by utterly losing them; that we would embrace our crosses in humility rather than bloating our grotesque ambition with gaseous pride. Sorry, leading ladies. This is our primary duty, and although I may not always like it, I do love it, for what can one do but love what God has given her?

09 March 2010

Say, "Mom loves her super cheap camera! And us!"

I have a confession to make. I'm one of those awful moms who doesn't send a kid to the mailbox without taking a picture. Baby 4 learned months ago to waddle up with a huge cheesy grin on his face whenever the silver cube comes out.

In my defense, I was like this before it was cool. I made a photo documentary of my AP English exam in high school and gave it to my teacher for the sheer joy of it. I know absolutely nothing about photography, I just find it awesome to take pictures and write commentary for them. Now that the annoying and costly step of film development has been removed, I'm completely out of control.

For a while I just took the photos and filed them on the computer under names I found terribly humorous. But in the selfless interest of keeping the distant grandparents in mind of our existence, I started a private family blog that gives me another excuse to take pictures of everything. Now taking pictures isn't just something I do for fun. It's for our family. It's full-on ministry. The grandparents love it now that they've got the sign-in figured out, bless their Boomer hearts.

We almost never get professional portraits of the kids because they're a huge rip, and why would we? I take 3000 pictures of them every week.

This experiment has yielded the benefit that our youngest kid will not be able to complain that there are tons of pictures of the older kids but none of him/her. When cost is not an obstacle, it's usually the baby who has the most pictures taken. They're just so darn cute, even when you've already had a bunch of babies move through.

It's weird how the photos make it look like we're just another one of those goofy, crazy families full of love and fun and good times. Maybe all those goofy, crazy families full of love and fun and good times have just as much fine and gross catastrophe raging between photos as we do? Could it be?

Will our kids have huge heads and think each trip up the stairs is worth preserving and sharing with everyone we know? I'm hoping the forms of deprivation to which we enjoy subjecting them will counterbalance it.

However, I do not have an illustrative photo for this post.

06 March 2010

Synodical political gimmick, unrecommended: Women's Leadership Institute

I don't intend bald belligerence here because these are surely sisters in Christ, some of whom I have met personally, and with whom we have the rare gift of altar fellowship. Heaven knows there is already more than enough animosity around our altars. But I will say that stumbling upon this a few months ago was just another one of those things that drove home to me how thoroughly our tradition has been infiltrated by worldly thought (especially the throwaway line in this Bible study about those benighted ages when "bearing children was a woman's primary duty"--perish the thought!). So I'm going to respond to a few things I came across on one of their pages, and wish there were some possibility of frank discussion of these matters among the Important Women of our Synod rather than disgusted brush-offs of perspectives which, you know, don't represent the real interests of women.

(Incidentally--two members of their 20 member advisory board appear to be of childbearing age, not counting the dudes. This makes perfect sense, since we in Babyville don't have much time for such things, particularly where leaving home is required. Then again, I don't see any indication of a viewpoint such as that espoused at this here humble blog getting much WLI air time. I feel like one of earth-birth feminists shouting that artificial wombs aren't feminist at all. Anyway, let's get after it.)

The “Parable of the Talents” told by Jesus in Matt. 25: 14-30 offers incentive, support, and encouragement for people who lead and labor in His service. His words of encouragement for using one’s talents for His kingdom have special meaning for women.

Indeed they do. I speak only for myself when I say that, having already had to do so to some extent, I would not relish offering the following: "Master, I went and hid your womb in the ground for most of its good years. Here you have what is yours."

Women are the majority of members in LCMS congregations, but they are disproportionately underrepresented in leadership positions among the laity on the congregational, district, and synodical levels. (Greenphasis added. Wait for it.)

Back on the debate team we would ask, "What is the harm?" If this contention is true, is it really a problem? Could it possibly be an indication of something good, such as an understanding and practice of human vocation which is entirely different from the patronizing cosmetic tokenism of the androgyny-loving world? While we're thinking debate-wise, how about a definition of "leadership"? And an argument as to why women need to have it?

Women’s voices are no longer silenced in our church choirs

Just for the record, and with no desire to lead the reader to wild extrapolation so keep your shirts on (unless the baby's hungry)--there is some precedence for the practice. You in the middle, with the frantically waving hand? Yes, we all remember Miriam too.

Women petitioned the LCMS for many years to use their gifts of administration to create a women’s organization within the church for the promotion of missions. Finally, in 1941 the Synod endorsed the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.

The LWML (and the LLL) is known in LCMS technical terminology as an auxiliary ([Middle English, from Latin auxiliārius, from auxilium, help; see aug- in Indo-European roots.]). You know, helping. It's what women do. Like GOD!!!! as everyone loves to point out. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that if a bunch of chicks had started collecting money and mailing it to St. Louis even without official Synodical recognition, the checks would have gotten cashed.

Top-down styles of leadership are gradually being exchanged for models of shared leadership, where more people are empowered to make a difference. Definitions of leadership are less about titles and positions and more about action and influence.

Aha, so this is leadership! Well, women have never been active or influential in human history. All they do is determine the size of every generation of humanity (outside of God's opening of wombs) and attend it obsessively for its most formative years. Color me disenfranchised. And it's only fair to point out that three excerpts up the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions was cited as a problem.

Unfortunately, some women are hesitant and unsure of the proper use of their gifts of leadership among the laity of the church.

There's a statement we can all get behind.

many LCMS congregations report declining numbers of involvement by younger women. In a previous commentary for Reporter (March 2006), Judy Christian, director of child and family ministry for the Synod’s Board for District and Congregational Services, asked, “Where are the children?” Perhaps a follow-up question could be, “Where are their mothers?”


They're not mothers yet. They're too busy being grad students (mea maxima culpa).

2. They're at home with their babies, who are thoroughly unwelcome in churches which have bought society's view of young children as anomalous annoyances which must be kept from interrupting the rest of us who are enjoying real life and trying to get something out of this sermon about the cruciality of relationships in bringing people to Christ. They'll be back once the kids have reached a culturally acceptable age and know who Spongebob is so they won't get beat up at Sunday School.

3. They're sleeping in on Sunday morning since they're exhausted from both working and taking care of the baby all week long.

And--sigh--it wouldn't be complete without the liturgical dance team (scroll down). You just can't make these things up.

There's a big conference coming up in a few months. I'd propose a CSPP booth and nurse-in (and maybe a live birth? who's due in April?) so that we can all represent and, even more important, network. But I don't see much potential benefit to demanding our place at the table anyway (I'll make no conjecture as to the likelihood of being granted one), as the official institutional model is more the loyal opposition's bag (it doesn't count unless men say it does is the message I'm getting here).

Even more to the point, I'm afraid I'll be pretty busy in April providing leadership, ie action and influence, to Baby 1 who needs her hair braided, Baby 2 who can't read all the country names on his atlas yet, Baby 3 who could use some help with the buttons on her jumper, Baby 4 who is in the troubling habit of leaving the house unaccompanied, and Baby 5 who I'm guessing would really hate driving to Wisconsin. I will also be acting in relation to and influencing my husband, who struggles to find his socks sometimes, so call that what you will. I will do all this under the titled position of Wife and Mother. Don't worry, I won't be advocating for women's ordination while it goes down.

04 March 2010

His mercies are new every morning

I mean, can you imagine Lent without bananas?

02 March 2010

Introversion: a privilege, not a right

I feel like people keep talking about introverts. Can't remember all the places I've run into it, but I know it's been several in recent months (here are the most recent). For whatever psychological categorization is worth, I pretty much resonate with introversion. In some ways, it makes this blessed house arrest easier. I'm not too sore (especially as I grow into ever insaner levels of insularity) over being excluded from social events, as someone who travels with a number of socially challenged and/or unwelcome people may often find herself. Social events generally make me edgy and wear me out, so it can be convenient having a constantly available excuse to avoid them. Although there are times I wish I didn't have to count myself out yet again from something adultish, as often as not my regret is over missing the food and the chance to put on nice clothes and have a couple of hours not dealing with whatever gross thing comes out of another human body.

But--those five socially challenged people? They're people. A group of people. A group of people that keeps both getting bigger and putting us back at square one. And spending all day actively engaged with these stupendous people whom I love with a devouring love--can you guess? Makes me edgy and wears me out. The noise! The banter! The crowding! Ah, but explain that to these stupendous people who inexplicably love me with a devouring love.

It does me no good to tell myself I'm an introvert, I'm not a patient person, I'm not a kid person, etc. I'm a mother. End of self-excusing, sin-indulgent psychologizing.

Nurture yourselves, darlings; I'm an introvert!

01 March 2010

Usage you can use: Banshees

Banshee: a female spirit of Irish legend which visits a family to announce the impending death of one of its members by screaming. Alternatively, the banshee shows up after the fact as a mourner.

Where's MY sequel, Disney?

Which is to say that "banshee" is not appropriately used as a proxy for some vague extremity. The following usages are ill-informed:

--Pushing out that baby hurt like a banshee.
--The dripping two-year-old ran down the hall naked as a banshee.
--The basement was darker than six feet up a banshee's bum.

Someone desiring rhetorical employment for the term "banshee" is probably looking for the cliche "screaming like a banshee." But that's a cliche, so why use it? The banshee has lost nearly all rhetorical force between becoming a cliche in her own right and consequently being forced into other nonsensical tropes. Can she be revived in correctly applied metaphor? I believe so. In the right context, one of the following might be of use (please note, some uses are ironic):

--informative as a banshee (alternatively: sympathetic as a banshee)
--subtle as a banshee
--upbeat as a banshee
--Law-oriented as a banshee

I'm not Irish, people, but let's get this right.