29 June 2010

Dang it feels good to be a Lutheran

I was so glad to learn that my close friends the Duggars finally have their baby home. Incredible people, those Duggars; moreso than most people realize. By which I mean they do it all without Sacraments OR drinking.

But in all sincerity: God bless you, Michelle, Jim Bob, and Js!

28 June 2010

Usage you can and must use: Begging the Question

This is really, really important.

"Begging the question" is a technical term in the field of rhetoric. It means making an argument which assumes an unproven point. Let's watch a five-year-old beg the question flawlessly:

"Mom, if you make me go to bed now, you won't get to watch the movie with me!"

True, son, true. But here's the thing: I don't want to watch the movie with you! I want to watch it with Dad! Without you, my dear boy! So your argument has failed on your sweet assumption that I want you around right now. Off you go, XOXO.

Another? We'd better. How about an entirely fictional friend of an entirely fictional homeschooling family (you can tell it's fictional because I'm not a homeschooler):

"But they won't have friends!"

Yes! YES! That's the point! We don't want them to have any friends, at least not the kind they'd find at school. You're a charming person and we appreciate your concern, but you have assumed something about what we want for our children, and it's not an accurate something. PS, have you noticed that our house is swarming with friends for them?

Tracking? Great.

Now, what if a five-year-old boy announced to you that his favorite movie was Saw III? No, wait--The Saint? You would surely want to know what appalling mockery of a parent allowed a five-year-old to watch such an atrocity. But that doesn't mean any question (ie proposition) was begged. A question (ie inquiry) was prompted. Begging the question does NOT mean, "makes one wonder" or "leads one to ask."

Again, a homeschooling parent has great anxiety about homeschooling. Those aware of this anxiety would like to know why these crazy people are homeschooling if they're so unhappy with it. But again, no question (proposition) begged here. Only a question (inquiry) naturally formed in the mind of the hearer in response to the available evidence. (BTW, the polite thing to do here is either to ask or to put the whole thing out of your mind, not pretend to sympathize and then badmouth the anxious homeschooler to your other friend later on.)

Fact: misusing this usage damages the credibility of the [mis]user. The increasing misuse of this usage is, as the homeschoolers know, more evidence that schools do not teach what students need to learn, ie, how to think. As such, it separates the thinkers from the bloggers. So handle with care. "Beg the question" is not an expression or a cliché. When in doubt, look for an actual tired idiom. Or really impress everyone by just saying, "It made me wonder [why anyone cared so much about begging the question]".

24 June 2010

From the CSPP garden files

Grow herbs--as many as you can fit into whatever space you have. Grow perennial herbs and the already ridiculously easy task of growing herbs becomes that much easier. To keep your perennial herbs from, "Same thing we do every day, Pinky ..." plant them in 5-gallon buckets (with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage), and sink those buckets in the ground. The buckets contain the herbs' root systems while yet allowing them a good range of freedom. The buckets also help your herbs winter brilliantly. Your herbs will flourish in their buckets but only in their buckets, for thus far shall your herbs come, and no farther. Win-win, and what-what.

Go completely crazy and plant every herb that makes you happy. Sink buckets of mint, oregano, pineapple sage, and lemon balm.* Plant chives (which don't propagate from the roots, so skip the bucket and put them anywhere you want; just pinch off the blossoms--totally edible and good on potatoes--to keep them tame). Plant chamomile (it's so pretty!). Plant annuals, too, like every variety of basil you can find (the purple basil creates an interesting visual in your flower beds, if you're short on space).

Then, when the kids get restless, tell them to go outside and graze.

*You should also know, if you don't already, that mint cross-pollinates like ... bunnies? Sure. So if you want your spearmint to stay spearmint, sink that bucket of chocolate mint as far away from your spearmint as you can. Learn the easy way, friends, from someone who never will.

23 June 2010

Take your medicine.

A very, very grumbly post. Please don't let me ruin your day.

Along with its desirable effects, Perpetual Parturition may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur, too bad, sucker.

Side effects: Nausea, vomiting, indigestion, irritability, constipation, dizziness, increased appetite, confusion, nervousness, increased salivation, stuffy nose, sleeplessness, abnormal dreams, puffiness, stiffness, swelling, muscle cramps, weakness, decreased coordination, shortness of breath, itching, rash, loosening of skin, lower back pain, excessive gas, belching, shivering, sweating, headache, and pain. More severe side effects include persistent ringing in the ears, feelings of hostility, feelings of anxiety, unusual mood changes, and hallucination.

If Perpetual Parturition were a drug, your doctor might be able to alter your dosages or prescribe a related substance with fewer side effects. As it is, you're going to have to pretend that everything that's happening to you is just wonderful. Don't dare complain. Don't seek help. There's nothing wrong with you. You're glowing, see? You're enjoying this fine experience, get it? You love everything about it. Awesome.

Note to self: Yes it’s hard. Yes it’s sad. Yes, you deserve it. What you don’t deserve is a baby at the end of your dosage schedule, but, by the grace of God, a baby is what you will get. Stop being afraid. Wait and pray. Then, drink a mimosa while you still can and submit to that foot rub your long-suffering husband is inexplicably willing to give you. Everything’s going to be alright.

Carry on.

22 June 2010


Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father

HT once again to My Own Brother-In-Law

16 June 2010

Barrier breaking feminist vision!? Where can I get me some of that?

Keeping it on the DL this week. Please keep yourselves entertained with the following until the CSPP are back in action.

11 June 2010

For your Friday

I commend to you a dad's experience with the Doneness question and related thoughts from Father Ball.

10 June 2010

Mudflap mom

We met a nice girl named Leah, and she had something really hilarious on her car.

09 June 2010

It's simple

Once, in a galaxy far, far away, I had a conversation with a person who really should know better. This person was working mightily, as this person often does, to get me off the CSPP nag. The conversation went like this:

This Person (TP): (with so much gentility) It’s just that you might have a child that has … something wrong with it. You’re not getting any younger.

Me: I am so not worried about that.

TP: But it’s just not … you really shouldn’t … it’s just that it isn’t fair to the child to bring it into the world disabled.

Me: (caught unawares) … um … I … disagree? (deep breath) Look, Jesus is coming back, and when He does, that child will be just fine.

TP: (caught unawares in turn) … I guess that’s true.

And, dear friends, it is true. Don’t let anyone confuse you. Christ is coming back, and there cannot be too much life in the meantime. There will never be such a thing as too many babies, or a baby that is too sick or broken or homely to be made whole in the fullness of time by his or her Lord. Let the little children come, and let them grow, and let the Word of God be their valuation.

But go ahead and get yourself a good, strong punching bag to help with all those cute feelings you get after conversations with any This Persons that come through your field of vision.

08 June 2010

Crosses all around

Is this the biggest thing? I don't know, it's right up there. The thing: being pregnant and/or postpartum often interferes significantly with the care of other children. This makes us very uneasy and unhappy. I don't know that there's any getting around it for the at-home mom. Having spent so much time convincing ourselves of the importance of being constantly available to our children, it doesn't feel right to be incapacitated and unavailable.

But wait--incapacitation isn't a choice. Would you feel guilty about breaking your leg or having migraines? Think like a Christian, self. Pregnancy is not a choice (or more accurately, an attempted non-veto) for a married Christian woman. It is, where God ordains it, a way of life.

So where God has ordained it, it is a way of life for children (even very young ones) to sometimes have a mom who just can't be catching toads and pushing strollers and handcrafting ravioli and maybe even keeping up with lessons for a few months. Remember: all that stuff we've read about mothering was written well after birth control and small families became the norm; even before homeschooling as we know it today looked like it does today (whatever that is). Children are Christians too. We must stop thinking of them as our personal projects and measures of our own success. They must live with us even as we must live with them, and we must all live for now on this old earth.

Which means, children also must learn to bear their crosses. It hurts to watch, but they must. This is one of those crosses, and really a more gentle one than we might think when we're mucking through it. Most of the time, Mom is still there even if she isn't attending them as closely as usual. It doesn't last forever; she gets better and comes back. They gain the experience of doing more things for themselves and each other. I'd be willing to bet that it seems a lot worse to us than it does to them.

Excursus: I remember my mom recovering from surgery when I was nine only because it was fun that grandma came to stay with us. To my parents I'm sure it was a calamity. I didn't even think about it until I was writing this. And what do I remember about my twin brothers being born weeks before my fourth birthday (with a not-yet-two-year-old sister between us)? How fun it was talking to mom in the middle of the night while she nursed the babies--which my older children and I now do.

It is not given to us to engineer our children's lives for their ease. Ease is as dangerous to children as it is to adults. It is given to us to guide them in Christian sacrifice and model for them Christian sanctity. When we are down and out as the result of a new baby (born or unborn), the best thing we can do for our older kids is not drag ourselves into the playroom and sob through a puzzle during that precious 63 minutes while the newborn sleeps, or teach the three-year-old to count by tallying Mom's vomiting sessions. The best thing we can do for them is bear our crosses in humility, explain the situation to them in a simple way that does not vilify the baby, and spend time with them as we are able while entrusting their care to God, who sends his Spirit (and maybe also Dad or Grandma or an uncle or a friend . . . or maybe not) to comfort all of his children, including the pregnant and postpartum ones.

We cannot keep bad or hard things from happening to our children. Our work is to help them through the bad and hard things that happen in life, and also to help them learn to distinguish what is bad from what is hard--a skill in which the world is thoroughly bankrupt.

04 June 2010

Usage you can use: /pɔr, poʊr/

Pour means to dump something out.

I tried to pour out the milk I found on the counter, but it fell out of the mug in a quivering chunk.

Pore means to study closely or scrutinize.

The new mother pored over her parenting books as if they contained useful information.

Get it right! Or I will judge you!

02 June 2010

Concordia Seminary sells carillon to Christian rock band

Gottesdienst Online TOTALLY PIRATED THIS out of the CSPP drafts. (I have it on good authority and, moreover, experience, that they don't believe in intellectual property rights over there.)


Do not buy a yogurt maker! This works! In my refrigerator is living active cultural proof! I drained off some of the whey to thicken it up and so I can make this bread (HT Gauntlets).

You can make it too!

01 June 2010


Our culture associates many problems with maternity. One of the biggest is the identity loss a woman supposedly experiences upon becoming a mother. I think this is one of those things I'm going to angrily denounce as worldly and selfish (which is in no way to suggest that I personally am immune to its allure).

Is "personal identity" something we see promoted/encouraged/praised in Scripture? Maybe someone out there can verify if this is something Freud or some similar secularist fabricated. It sounds suspect to me.

What is "identity"? I don't have an authoritative definition, but here's what I usually understand women to be referring to when they talk about losing their identities:
pursuits I enjoy or am good at . . . attributes which attract people to me . . . others' recognition and perceptions of me . . . parts of myself that I like--->the sum of these things, which defines me. Note these are all ostensibly positive. This is because everyone seems to think her identity is something valuable and worth maintaining/cultivating. No one ever doesn't like her identity, or what she perceives to be her true identity. Identity is that imaginary self we cherish, the hot chick in the mirror with her face turned to just the right angle and her cheeks and belly sucked in. She never looks like that in real life. Our identities are all skinny girls trapped in fat girls' bodies.

Now, what do I feel like I've lost in motherhood? This I feel capable of answering:
freedom, public presence, worldly acclaim. That last one we know to be rubbish even if it feels good. How did I previously use my freedom? For vain and idle pursuits (comparatively, if not absolutely, and I wouldn't rule out the absolute either). How did I previously use my public presence? Usually, for idle diversion and to pursue worldly acclaim. Ok . . . this is going really well . . . .

What virtues are lost if identity is lost? Did becoming a mother make me less patient, kind, faithful, humble, selfless, forgiving, charitable, joyful, peaceful, kind, gentle, good, chaste, pious, self-controlled? Hard to say. But it didn't necessarily make me any more of those things either. What it probably did was point out how impoverished I am in all of them. Children are a big dose of Law.

The Son of man came not to be served but to serve. He emptied himself. He must become greater and I must become less. "Whosoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." You do the math, Mom.

I can say one thing pretty confidently: whatever I thought was or is my awesome identity doesn't seem to be missed by anyone but me. Furthermore, I don't miss the tiny fraction of Old Me I perceive to have been jettisoned, and I have huge hopes for Future Me. And true
hope is not about being able to play tennis again someday.

Further reading