27 May 2010

Magic Muffins

My Own Mother, angel of my postpartum kitchen, stocked our fridge with this batter, to my forever gratitude. Imagine: reasonably healthy homemade muffins that can be produced on a whim, in only the time it takes to scoop and bake ‘em! Super moist and mmmmmmm. I’d imagine that the sugar could be cut a bit, and whole wheat flour possibly swapped in for some of the white. (If someone tries that, come back and let us know how it turns out.)

6 c. bran cereal
2 c. water, boiling
1 c. oil
3 c. sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
1 quart buttermilk
3 c. raisins (optional)
5 c. flour
2 tsp. salt
5 tsp. baking soda

Mix 2 c. bran in boiling water, letting water absorb. Stir in oil. Mix remaining 4 c. bran with buttermilk and beaten eggs. Combine bran mixtures; add flour, soda, sugar, salt, and raisins. Store in airtight container in refrigerator until ready to cook. Keeps for 6 weeks in fridge. Bake in greased muffin tins for 20 min. at 400 degrees.

26 May 2010

Sad but true

"So human life is nothing but a perpetual illusion. There is nothing but mutual deception and flattery. No one talks about us in our presence as he would in our absence. Human relations are only based upon this mutual deception. Few friendships could survive if everyone knew what his friend said about him behind his back, even though he spoke sincerely and objectively."

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

(And how many of us even make a good faith effort at that last clause?)

25 May 2010

Just blowing off a little steam. You can play too.

As Rebekah recently had occasion to explain so eloquently, the terrors of any given birth experience are not necessarily proportionate to the duration thereof.

While I can see why the sufferer of an extended labor might envy her more precipitous counterpart…amply sufficient unto each birth are the pangs thereof, no?

Which is why I was at least a little annoyed when one acquaintance, upon hearing that I’d entered the hospital at 11:30 pm and produced a baby by 2:50 am, exclaimed, “Oh! That’s not so bad!”

Since I’m in a rather mischievous, if not wicked, mood, I’m curious to hear your nominations for Perturbing Postpartum Comments. It’s been awhile since we’ve done a best of the worst list, after all. [In fairness, we shall recall that postpartum is a time when nearly any comment can be ill-received, to the honest surprise of the well-meaning commenter.]

But at your word I will let down the nets

This is how I feel.

Oh, the wonderful fish. My purpose and my joy. How can there possibly be so many of them?

But, oh, my nets! And oh, oh, oh, my BOAT! Someone, please come help! Come help me with these glorious fish that are too much for me! My nets are breaking and my boats are sinking and then, then??

24 May 2010

Seventh sense

I have a psychic-like ability to smell poo. I can smell it here, there, anywhere. I can smell your baby's diaper right now.

Remote poo smelling, it's what I do. If you need me, you know where to find me.

Try not to feel jealous.

22 May 2010

I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George ...

A sloppily cobbled post on naming just because I feel like it.

So, a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but we’ll never know because it doesn’t matter. The English word “rose” has come to us through the etymological fires, and thus that certain combination of consonants and vowels will forever conjure that particular flower and its attributes. Frindle the plant to your heart’s content, and still “rose” means “rose.” Words are a comfortingly stable matter in the troubling ink of our anti-matter times, and mostly oblivious to attempts to deconstruct them. Words mean what they mean, and they mean it endlessly. This is really good news.

Given the preponderant significance of even the smallest of words, it is a serious thing that God has privileged Man with the naming of children. Adam received from God authority over all God gave him to name, for to name something is to wrap it in a single, declarative shell; to define its use; to brand it as your own. When man fell, he remarkably retained the privilege of naming; authority bestowed upon created things by our gracious God is not authority soon lost. The queen procured for Adam out of his own royal flesh was defined by her lord after the fall, and the blessing her name held stuck. "Eve" she was called, and "Eve" she remains.

Behold! Even we of the plebeian generations are yet authorized to name our children. And, whoopee! Naming babies is on the top ten of Great Things About Having Kids. I have a mental folder bursting with combinations of names that I hope to use someday: a little Grandpa mixed with a little patriarch mixed with a little venerated saint and—POOF!—a little description of a new little person. Ha, ha! The delicious sensation of power! :D

There was a time when I thought our name selections were so clever, but I’ve since noticed that we’re not at all unique. EVERYONE is going the way of grandpa and the patriarchs, and everyone else is going the other way, still very much together. (HT on the link: Cranach) But, so what? The more Marys we have the better. At the end of the day, I am ever humbled and amazed that my children, these remarkable people placed into my hands, respond to and are defined by the simple words my husband and I were entitled to place upon them when they were born.

And, of course, no naming post would be complete without a Baptism reference
. Incredibly, for the sake of Christ, God so loves His elect that He bestows upon them His One True Name, thus wrapping them in a single, declarative shell, defining their use, branding them as his own. Eyes to the skies, friends, even while daydreaming up names for what babies may yet come. Names mean something, and they mean it endlessly. This is really good news.

18 May 2010

Word of the day: hangry

I'm sure you know this, but just in case.

Hangry: when you're angry because you're hungry.

Ex 1. The baby woke up just as we left the Post Office and was hangry all the way home.

Ex 2. Having found nothing but brown rice and chocolate bunnies in the pantry, I spent the morning hangry.

Hey kid, are you going to eat that?

17 May 2010

But who's counting?

Five kids doesn't feel to me like the ridiculous excess that might be imagined by someone with fewer. They don't feel like five kids. They feel like MY kids: my tall girl and my fuzzy buddy and my tiny girl and my trouble guy and my baby dude. They are not a nameless, seething mass; they are individual persons. While I don't expect anyone who doesn't know them to see that, it is ludicrous to imagine that I don't. No, I cannot help every one of them at the same time, and sometimes someone--even a very small someone--has to wait while someone else gets zoomed to the bathroom or sponged off the sidewalk. But, golly, the zooming and the sponging are what I'm here for. And that someone who's waiting? Well, more and more often that's what the rest of them are here for.

No one needs to worry that my five kids aren't getting all the love and attention kids need simply because there are five of them. They are far more endangered by my sloth on an easy afternoon than by my inability to be in two places at once in a tense (not to say catastrophic) moment.

15 May 2010

Letter to the editor

Well, girls, you know how I feel about the Women's Leadership Institute--I'd be laughing if it weren't so sad. Maybe you also saw the sad article in the Reporter, which bastion of journalistic integrity has quit printing letters to the editor. But I wrote one anyway, and I encourage you to do the same if you're LCMS and have time. If you like, feel free to cut and paste from and/or personalize the following.

Dear Editor,

Paula Schlueter Ross's article on the Women's Leadership Institute conference in the most recent Reporter included a quotation from keynote speaker Jean Garton, who "encouraged women to live lives 'that matter'". I find this rather astonishing. Anyone unsure if my humble life as an at-home mother life matters can ask my husband and five children (although the youngest two probably won't answer too articulately). The same holds true for every mother in human history: good or bad, we matter on a tremendous scale in our tiny fractions of the world. Furthermore, the fact that I am not employed outside the home frees me for a considerable amount of volunteer work for our parish and Lutheran school. I am mystified as to why women suddenly need to be told to serve in formal, institutional, visible "leadership" roles. Christian humility calls us all to the most lowly work in service of our neighbors at home, at church, and in the world (in that order). Christian humility asks not what we are "permitted" to do, but what we are needed to do.

Today's young women have heard that they can and should do it all; they are pushed into public careers to prove themselves intelligent and competitive; they are pressured to win paychecks and positions and worldly acclaim. The last thing they need to hear from their church is the churchified version of ambitious careerism. They need to know that the world has lied to them about their worth, and that the most basic and humble work they have been given by God is also the most blessed. Any woman who isn't sure what she can offer her church can simply stop by the church office and ask. Every parish has lonely elderly and ill, cleaning and maintenance jobs that wouldn't cut into the budget if someone would volunteer, and works of charity to enact in the local community.

Husbands and children should not be forced to compete with the world or especially the church for the time and attention of the lady of the house. Women who receive the higher gift of celibacy, or in some cases the cross of the widow, are those equipped for more full-time service to the Church. Married women who, like me, are blessed to be able to stay home serve the church primarily by serving their families. I am honored and happy to use the remainder of my energies and my gifts, such as they are, to help at my church.

Mrs. [Husband's name] (B.S.Ed. Concordia University Nebraska, MA Concordia Seminary)

13 May 2010

How clear IS our vocation, Lord?

Vocation is not the same as a job. To wit:

Mother is a vocation. Folding laundry is a job.
Husband is a vocation. Assembling porch gliders is a job.
Breadwinner is a vocation. Tinker, tailor, soldier, and spy are jobs.

Vocation is not our license to do whatever in the world we want with our lives in nomine Jesu. In fact, vocation obligates us to direct our energies and resources to others. This requires us to sacrifice pride and comfort, for others often need things beneath our dignity. The beauty of vocation is not that whatever we're good at is good for us to do, but that whatever God ordains for us to do is good.

Vocation cannot be a front for pursuing dreams. Vocation does not mean "stewardship of my gifts" or "whatever the heck I'm doing right now." Only a liberal arts major or a Commissioned Minister could believe this. Not everyone has the privilege of pursuing the job they would most enjoy, or even a job where their gifts lie.

Those who are called to the work of breadwinning must put winning sufficient bread ahead of their personal interests, and God bless them for doing it. We wouldn't think much of a father who spent his time waiting for a major record label to pick up one of his ditties while his children suffered want for the sake of his musical gift. We would think much of him if he got a job that supported his family adequately and used his musical talent in an avocational capacity in the service of his church. Christians do not claim some right to do what we want or like, because our neighbors very often need us to make a regular habit of doing otherwise. In fact, Christians don't claim rights at all; only Americans do.

Breadwinners should win bread. They should keep in mind the danger of gathering more than they need. If they are able to win bread by means of their favored talents, they can thank God for his benevolence. They can either take comfort or derive humility from knowing that the way they win bread is not, in fact, a matter of vocation. And all people can use their gifts, talents, and interests avocationally for the glory of God and the good of His people.

12 May 2010

How delightfully odd

to beat that little baby ticker widget by twelve (12!) days, and still manage to produce a baby who at 7 lb 8 oz exceeded the doctor's weight guesstimate by a pound;

to have a newborn who doesn't pee vertically at every diaper change;

to have all this pink in the laundry!

She's here,

and she's beautiful,

and I'm lost in the wonder of it all.

(But don't worry, I'm sure I'll be back later to bore you all with the details. The birth story compulsion, you know.)

11 May 2010

Sanity preserver you've already thought of, recommended

I like listening to my kids talk. They rank among the funniest people I know, in no small part because I taught them their sense of humor. This, by the way, is one of many great things about being a mom: surrounding yourself with a whole crowd of people who think and laugh more or less like you do. :D

But there's only one of me, and I'm only good for 15 or so minutes of uninterrupted chatter before I give out and go to my happy place. The little ones, God bless them, don't mind when my interest goes sour, so long as I keep up the "uh-huh ... really? ... OK ..." Nonetheless, I don't like leaving them to talk to empty space. So many great ideas get lost that way, you know? Plus, my left eye starts twitching when they start in on the, "Momma? Momma? Are you listening to me? Momma? Momma? Momma? Momma?"

So! Here's what we do: Each kid gets his own notebook--the cheap, wide-ruled, three subject variety. When I can no longer hear the words for all the noise, I wait for the storyteller to take a breath and then I say, "You need to go write this down in your notebook."

If only they'd had notebooks back then ...

And then he (or she, or they) does (do)! The big girl uses up all her words, the mancub goes crazy with pictures, the little girl gets jiggy with circles, and the baby increases her fiber intake. Everyone's a winner! Even I, myself: sometimes it takes a given kid 20 minutes to perfect the marvelous glare on Razor Man's heroic visage. 20 minutes, friends. Think of the quiet.

After supper, each child receives the opportunity to show off his or her work, and in this more ordered setting each child thus receives more focused and meaningful attention for his or her work. You know, when the stars align with Perfect World on the southern horizon, or something.

And now you know.

10 May 2010

Second verse same as the first

The aforementioned ladies and I will be back live on Issues, Etc. this afternoon 4-5 Central time. Leave some comments on Facebook for us to discuss, or call in and throw us some softballs. :D

07 May 2010

This is how it works

Listen to Issues, Etc. while you prep supper this afternoon for a roundtable on motherhood featuring Deaconess Pam Nielsen, Higher Things potentate Sandra Ostapowich, and mater vulgaris me. Also, leave your comments on Facebook for a follow up show.

04 May 2010

Birth stories

I really don't have anything to say about them. I just think they're an interesting phenomenon. Sharing them, whether broadly or selectively, means a lot to womankind (at least in this culture). It's something I didn't know about until I started having kids.


03 May 2010


Much is made of the need for pastors' families not to "get too close" to members of their congregation. I wonder if it's too much in these Facebooky latter days. People are not idiots. They can tell if they're being thought of more as lab specimens or movie extras than human beings. Especially now that it's so common for people to keep their "real" friends online, I think, barring the messed-up-parish scenario, the pastor's wife is well advised to be at least as careful about keeping too great a distance between herself and her geographical/congregational neighbors as she is about getting too close.

It's true that I don't really have a close mom friend here where we live. But I do have friends. As it happens, the ladies who keep the same hours I do are mostly retired, since most women my age work. So when my friends see to it that I get out of the house, which they are very kind in doing, they've got a generation on me. But they're still my friends, and we know what's going on in each others' lives. We don't "not count" because we're of different ages and places in life. In fact, that distance can make it easier since we're not all judging each other about who's going to go home and use formula or Pampers or Baby Einstein or conventionally cultivated kumquats whatever else is maternal contraband this month. They're past the need to take my weird life personally.

As nice as you girls all are, there's not one of you who stops by for a chat when I'm out hanging laundry, or can run over to listen for the napper when Dad gets called away on dentist day.

Not all parishes can roll this way; some are just too screwed up. But in a parish that isn't too screwed up, it's ok to have friends. We don't have to be BFF, but it's also doesn't benefit anyone for pastors' wives to think or act like they're not really part of life where they live merely by virtue of their being pastors' wives. Once again, we're not as special or important as they love telling us at those drag-your-wife-along meetings at the seminary. Support local business, eat local food, and, as the situation allows and to whatever extent is prudent, have local friends. And don't get discouraged too quickly. It takes time.

02 May 2010

Kindred spirit

Ok, I'm out of the loop like none other so probably the whole world has already seen this, but this performance is such a perfect metaphor for my life. I'm utterly incompetent, but totally into it.

HT: the guy who was going to name his kid the same thing we named our kid (they got a girl).