26 February 2011

The droid I'm looking for

This week's snap post has already expired in terms of superlative usefulness.

24 February 2011

My heart exults in the Lord

God has seen fit to give us a son, born Monday, February 21, 10:17 p.m. He weighed 8 lbs. 5 oz and was just over 19 inches long. He was baptized into the Name of God yesterday.

Among other favorable traits, he is smart about nursing. Though he is still rather impatient. Which is why I've got to be going.

Thanks terribly for all the prayers.

Why you didn't see us on Good Morning America

Oh look, a baby born in a hospital elevator. Not exactly ideal, but then again, the same thing happened to my husband's cousin. I worked with an ex-cop who had delivered two babies in his squad car. The week after our baby was born in the car, a relative of a family at our school caught her own baby while her husband called 911. Et cet.

People here wanted to know why we didn't get famous, especially when another couple with a carbaby showed up on one of the morning "news" shows shortly after our event. Locals were particularly disgusted since a bystander delivered that baby "and Pastor did it himself!" No doubt; what was that slacker dad doing? :D

Anyway, here's how it works: the ambulance shows up and takes you to the hospital, and the EMTs have no idea what to do with a just-delivered mom and baby, and the ER has no idea what to do with a just-delivered mom and baby, and you finally get to Maternity and everybody gets inspected and mopped up and reassembled and you wonder when the heck somebody is going to bring you a cheeseburger and then the head of OB comes in and says, "Wow, what a morning! Great job, Dad! Would you like us to call the paper?" And you say, "Um . . . no thanks." And your zany tale doesn't go out on the wire but remains a community and familial legend, and you go on with your life and don't have to worry about getting skinny in time for your big TV appearance.

However, you do worry about where the next baby, if there is one, is going to be born. :P

22 February 2011

How to fix a snap

This might be the most useful thing I've ever posted (and/or the only useful thing I've ever posted).

I hate it when the leg snaps on baby clothes won't stay snapped. It ruins a piece of clothing which is otherwise totally fine. I keep all these ruined pieces of clothing around so I can stay mad longer.

The other day I was trying my hand at installing snaps on a sewing project and demolishing many snaps in the process. One of the ways I demolished snaps was by hammering them so hard the stud got flattened or off-centered and wouldn't fit into the socket. At first I hammered too hard out of inexperience and excessive zeal, then I moved on to wrath, and finally I settled into overhammering for the gratifying feeling of the power to destroy.
In the process, I realized that although the flattened studs were totally messing up my sewing project, they were exactly what my pile of maddeningly useless baby clothes needed! So I found that pile and hammered each stud, like so:

It took about five or six well-centered mid-impact whacks per stud. Naturally I overdid it a few times, what with the zeal and the wrath and the joy of destruction. I was able to fix one case of overdoneness by squeezing it back into shape with pliers, like so:

But a couple of them got hammered and pliered so many times they're just done for. Fortunately they were both on one romper that I already couldn't use, so I think I'll find it in my heart to forgive myself. Baby Dude has worn each of the restored items for a full day with no unsnapping. There you go, earthlings.

20 February 2011

Martha, Martha

I hesitate to claim some camaraderie with Martha, because I've got a healthy propensity toward squandering my time. "Perfectionism" and "working too hard," those most virtuous of vices, are not among mine (and let me tell you, being the only woman in America who is flat out lazy and does a semi-moked job of pretty much everything is powerful lonely).

But I spend more and more of my kitcheny hours really feeling for the poor girl. I wouldn't have wanted to sit in the man-talk room while the day strode on toward suppertime, knowing what everyone in there expected of me (not quite everyone, turns out, but who saw that coming?). Sheesh, is there anything worse than being the tagalong female all the men wish would get lost? What would have happened at 6 if Martha had gotten it right? Was this a scenario that expired with the Ascension?

Then again, I have a Martha-ish tendency to get really mad about being the only person attending to tasks I have deemed immediately necessary, so maybe that's what this is about. Either way I'm wrong, of that I am certain.

And all this dissonance without any kids in the story! What if?!

19 February 2011

CSPP offers online School for Writers and Speakers

My Women over at WLI are excited for another academic year to begin in their acclaimed Schools for Speakers and Writers. Unfortunately, women who happen to be raising children pretty much won't be able to go. But we're so talented! It would be bad stewardship for our skills not to get more skilly! So in the spirit of stewardship, CSPP is offering the following free online course for Writers and Speakers:

1. Know the right person who knows the right people to get you a writing or speaking gig.

2. And we're done!

(Bonus hint: meet the Right People at the WLI Schools for Speakers and Writers.)

And thank you, person who keeps me up with WLI so I don't have to keep myself up.

18 February 2011

Birth pains

One of those long, thick, repetitive things I post selfishly for my own self. Do with it what you will.

I am due to have a baby in but a matter of days, but I've forgotten everything I ever once thought I knew about having babies. The fire of my previous births has washed from my feeble brain all political detritus, all desire for preparatory dialogue with my care providers, all vehemence for my supposed rights to birth Romantically. I have only one opinion about giving birth left to me: please, God, don't let either of us die.

One would think that the more one does something, the more confident about doing that something one would become. But, no, not here. The more I birth, the more I am rendered inert, bewildered, afraid. The pain, the blood, the crushing helplessness poured liberally out of me, upon me, over and over and over again, teach all too well that in birth I am no goddess. Rather, I am caught and shaken like meat in ravenous jaws. There can be no escape. There can be no exertion or insistence or distinction of self, for I am but the matter upon which Birth enacts its form. In short, I am a woman, and accursed. All the baths, balls, and balms in the world detract nothing from the shame of my flesh, which cannot—not even when hoisted on rhetorical crutches—do well that which it was most especially designed to do: carry a child into the world.

If even the most blessed Virgin cried out in the agony of birth, how can I expect anything but agony? If even our most holy Lord was born under perilous circumstances, yea, even under the cross of death, why would peril be missing from the births of my children? Kyrie eleison.

And yet, even so, why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.*

The curse of Eve—which enshrouds even the easiest of births, which renders every birth perplexing if not mangling—this curse justly pronounced from the mouth of God yet works good for those who love Him. Women of Christ, the hour of our affliction is even the hour of our salvation. Be still, and know that He is God. He who will be exalted among the nations will triumph especially over the earth of your flesh. It is He who brought you forth from your mothers’ wombs, and it is He and He alone who will deliver you and your children in the coming tribulation. Christ knows our suffering; He has provided for our release: with every celebration of the Eucharist, Christ Himself enters into the tombs of our mouths, descends into the hell of our flesh and there declares victory over every particulate of our beings. To our Lord are we bound, His most holy, eternal, living body and blood graciously and incredibly given to mix with the humble flesh of His people. He has died Once, and will not die again. Thereby are we, people of His flesh, holy, eternal, living. Death shall have no dominion, no, not even in birth.

And what is more, the dragon that perched presumptuously at the Virgin’s blessed feet, ready to strike and kill the fruit of her womb, has been chained and cast aside. Come what may, our Lord has prepared something far better for our sons and daughters than what He allowed for Himself. The waters of Baptism lie just beyond the doors of the womb, and in those waters are to be found the blessed birth that washes our darlings free of the sin that we, their finite mothers, so helplessly and insidiously confer. It is a painless, bloodless, sweet regeneration that imparts all the promises of eternal life

God knows what must be done to save me, His love for me will never cease, for He upon His palms did grave me with purest gold of loving grace. My God desires the soul’s salvation, Me also He desires to save; Therefore, with Christian resignation all earthly troubles I will brave.*

Bring on the baby.

*Verbatim from Stark's Motherhood Prayers. If you haven't gotten your copy yet, well, why not?

Before there were internets

Perspiration broke out on Hubert's mother's forehead and she began to feel faint so she closed the door and slowly went downstairs.

She took two aspirin tablets and then telephoned her friend, Mrs. Bags. She said, "Hello, Mrs. Bags, this is Hubert's mother and I am so disappointed in Hubert. He has such lovely toys--his grandfather sends them to him every Christmas, you know--but he does not take care of them at all. He just leaves them all over his room for me to pick up every morning."

Mrs. Bags said, "Well, I'm sorry, Mrs. Prentiss, but I can't help you because you see, I think it is too late."

"Why, it's only nine-thirty," said Hubert's mother.

"Oh, I mean late in life," said Mrs. Bags. "You see, we started Ermintrude picking up her toys when she was six months old. 'A place for everything and everything in its place,' we have always told Ermintrude. Now, she is so neat that she becomes hysterical if she sees a crumb on the floor."

"Well, I certainly hope she never sees Hubert's room," said Mrs. Prentiss dryly. "She'd probably have a fit." And she hung up the phone.

Then she called Mrs. Moohead. "Good morning, Mrs. Moohead," she said. "Does Gregory pick up his toys?"

"Well, no, he doesn't," said Mrs. Moohead. "But you know Gregory is rather delicate and I feel that just playing with his toys tires him so much that I personally see that all of his little friends put the toys away before they go home."

"That is a splendid idea," said Hubert's mother, "but I am trying to train Hubert, not his playmates."

"Well, of course Hubert is very strong and healthy, but Gregory is intelligent,"said Mrs. Moohead.

"Is he?" said Mrs. Prentiss crossly, because she resented this inference that her son was all brawn and no brain.

"Oh, dear," squealed Mrs. Moohead, "I think Gregory is running a temperature. I must go to him." She hung up the phone.

Mrs. Prentiss then called Mrs. Grapple. "Hello, Marge," she said. "How's Susan?"

Mrs. Grapple said, "I've spanked her seven times since breakfast and I just heard a crash so she is probably getting ready for another. How's Hubert?"

"That's what I called about," said Mrs. Prentiss. "Can you suggest a way to make Hubert want to pick up his toys? His room looks like a toy store after an earthquake."

"Why don't you call this Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? I have heard she is perfectly wonderful. All the children in town adore her and she has a cure for everything. As soon as I spank Susan, I'm going to call her."
Betty MacDonald, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Please start a blog. Save us from each other.

16 February 2011

Starck's Motherhood Prayers available from Emmanuel Press

At long last, girls: Starck's Motherhood Prayers for all Occasions are now available in a freestanding volume, $10 from Emmanuel Press. 76 little pages for you to hold in one hand so you can pray for your new baby while you sit up in the night with the old one. :) This is an essential for the pregnant lady personal library and a perfect addition to the next baby shower gift bag you assemble. It also deserves a place on your pastor's shelf and in your church library, and would be a really lovely gift for churches to offer expectant mothers. I reviewed the Motherhood Prayers a while ago . . . um . . . here.

It was my honor to write the Introduction for this new reprint, but thanks are primarily owed to Chaplain Michael Frese and his wife Janet for the work that went into its publication. THANKS!

15 February 2011

Pronominally peeking

I'm sure that in some people group this marks me as one of the worldly and selfish and foolhardy ignoramae, but I get ultrasounds when I'm pregnant. Often just one, but a few times we've had reason for a precautionary follow up. God has been very gracious to us and the results have always been good so that I am able to write here about a shallow joy: finding out if it's a boy or a girl.

I know that from time immemorial people haven't known until the baby is born, but I really like finding out ASAP. The day we learned our first baby was a girl, my husband said to me at home later, "When she's born . . . " and that "she" blew my mind. Not it! She! I hate praying for IT. I like to pray for HIM or HER. IT sounds too much like a thing to me. HE or SHE is a person.

I know we might not be able to see sometime, or we might be told the wrong thing, or we might even decide we don't want to know. Doubtless there's some argument about God's ownership of our children and the nature of trust and whatever else advocating the traditional mystery as the higher road. But I'm vulgar and I love the day the baby stops being IT.

14 February 2011

Thank you!

Under random circumstances, I found myself talking to a random person, a pastor-type grandpa-type person, and I had a baby with me, and he asked if it were my first, and I said no it was my fifth, and he, shocked, said, "Five! That's wonderful! Not just for you, for us! We need more of that! Thank you!"

Thank you! He said that! So girls, I wanted to pass it on. Thank you.

11 February 2011

What the seminaries should actually tell candidate wives instead of all the overblown and unnecessary stuff they do tell them

If you hated it here and never got to know anyone and worked like crazy at a miserable job to keep your family solvent this whole time and are so glad these awful years are over, you can skip the next two paragraphs.

But if you liked it here, it may be important for you to hear that this place is fake. Here you have been surrounded by people who are like you. Your friends were your age. Their husbands did the same thing your husband does. You had kids the same age. You had comparable costs of living and means with which to support yourselves. You had similar educations, pieties, and convictions about Windex. You shared bunches of bananas and fears for husbands finishing papers and maternity clothes. You woke up to the same weather and the same clearance at Old Navy. You went to the finest churches and when you could get there, there was chapel every day.

This place was college with benefits. You, like your friends who work in law firms and beauty shops and schools, will now have live among people who are not like you, who are not your age, who are not interested in the things you are interested in, who think you're weird but are nice to you anyway, who think you're weird and aren't nice to you, who think your ideas about Windex are idiotic, who will be mad that you're on WIC, who will be mad that you won't go on WIC, whose piety is different than yours, whose kids watch TV, who think kids are gross, who haven't been to as much school as you, who have been to way more school than you, who have way more money than you, who have way less money than you. Your church might be bronzy or crabby or taciturn or clappy. The organist might tell your husband, "I can't play that" when he hands her a bulletin draft including "To Jordan Came Our Lord." The senior pastor will treat him like a vicar.

Some churches love their pastors and others don't. Some churches will leave you too much alone, others will find reasons to tramp through your kitchen every week. Some churches will care what you drive or eat, how you treat a cold or teach your kids, and others won't. Some churches will expect you to be at everything and others will get mad because you're trying to take over everything. Some churches will have friends for you and some won't.

We don't know what kind of place you're going. We don't know why they didn't have a pastor until they called your husband. All we can tell you is that you should have six chief parts in common with your new neighbors. That's it.

You should try to do the right thing. And thanks for the money.

UPDATE: And if your husband is one of the people we pocket vetoed or threw under the bus, we don't have to say we're sorry. We're the seminary.

09 February 2011

Kinder, Küche, Kirche

I can't help but notice that Kleaning isn't on this list.

I'll see you when I see you.

Falling apart

One matter of specifics we don't get into much here is the literal falling apart we're doing. That's because it's icky. But there isn't a Concordian Sister in the world who isn't falling apart one way or another. A girl just can't have a baby without getting messed up*, and the more times you hit repeat, well . . . .

I was talking to a postpartum lady about her personal falling apartness, and all I could say was, "That's horrible. I'm so glad that doesn't happen to me." She said, "I'd rather have that than what you've got!" So that cheered us both up.

What someone else has always sounds worse. What we've got, well, we don't love it, but obviously we can live with it. That awful thing you've got, though? No thanks! :D

*A girl also can't not have a baby without getting messed up.

08 February 2011

And that's how it is

Many nights ago, I had a trash bag full of trash. EVER so full of trash. Trash largely of a nature of which we have spoken here before; namely, the trash of others which they are unable to trash. We will call it "füdtrash," received as it was in such vast quantity as to prohibit its total consumption or quartering. Warm was this füdtrash, and squishy.

Excepting one year of our married life, my husband and I have not taken trash to the corner in a marital trash can like a proper man and wife but rather have shared a dumpster with other families and/or institutions. This night occurred not in that year of propriety. Excepting occasional exigent trips to dumpsters, my husband takes out the trash like a proper man, but again, we speak not of a night of propriety. There were reasons for this: a long day of physical labor on his part, an overstuffing of trash bags on my part for which I did not wish to be reprimanded again, the loathing of Wifekind to ask Mankind to take out the trash.

This reprimandible overstuffing found my feeble self dragging my füdtrash along the ground from dwelling to dumpster. It found me propping my warm, overstuffed füdtrash against the dumpster while I opened the lid. It found me swinging my squishy füdtrash back and forth, putting that momentum paragraph from ninth grade science and the more memorable thingy on my teacher's desk to good use. It found me mustering strength for a final heave. It found my füdtrash arcing promisingly, then embarrassingly evacuating itself out the bottom of the misused bag all over the ground.

Alas. Alas.

Shared dumpster. Traffic in vicinity of shared dumpster guaranteed in morning (barring certain eschatological events, which history now shows did not occur). Ground thickly covered in warm füdtrash and distinctive, incriminating personal items. Basic human decency. My path was clear.

Thus did I run back to my dwelling and return to the scene of my crime with a plethora of bags. Bags for my hands, bags for my füdtrash, bags for my bags. And in the dark night, I felt along the ground for my trash. I gathered my trash to me. I picked up the fluttering Tootsie Roll wrappers and the greasy junk mail, the overnight diaper and the pineapple top, the off-brand Kleenices stiff with their ministry and the off-brand Gladware that broke when it fell out of my overstuffed freezer. Most of all, I gathered up my warm füdtrash. Out of the grass did I rake up with baggéd fingers my reconstituted potato flakes, my quivering gravy. Under the quarter moon did I gather my trash even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings. I put my trash in new bags, and did toss these understuffed bags easily into the dumpster. Verily, they floated above me like jellyfish on the wing.

My amiable consort, missing me at last, called to me from our dwelling, but I assured him all was well. I found a hose, and hooked it up, and sprayed the lingering füdtrash into a more considerate arrangement for the morning's sure traffic. I closed the dumpster. I walked home.

And through it all my heart quickened not, neither did my nose burn; yea, my soul was at peace: for no child wept, and no child tugged at me, and no child whined, and no child bickered, and no child needed to be nursed, and no child bled, and no child painted another's sweater, and no child frolicked in the litter box, and no child profaned his trousers, and no child consumed an ink cartridge, for every child slept and no child knew. Wherefore I devoted myself wholeheartedly to the task and completed it well and satisfactorily, free of panic, wrath, or interruption; and I went to sleep at once and in good cheer.

04 February 2011

The Masculine Mystique

I knew little of the lives of my younger brothers and sister in our teen years for reasons of mutual disinterest and, in my case, jerkiness. What tidings I heard of the brothers in particular were strange, mostly dealing with pyrotechnics and ballistics and complex vandalism involving defunct appliances and acquaintances' yards. I did not understand these things.

I married a man, and he became the friend and enemy of these brothers. They demanded time together for the purpose of ridiculing and injuring and defeating each other. They invented structures and folkways for the purpose of better accomplishing these goals. Where vandalism decreased, pyrotechnics and ballistics swelled and overflowed the balance.

None of these men looked particularly suspect. Lean, yes, but more quarterback than linebacker. Indeed not even quarterbacks, but tennis players and speechies, Coen aficionados and history buffs and Greek tutors. Why, then, the violence? Why the idiocy? Why the inflicting and inviting of utterly pointless pain? Why the games (games!) wherein loss threatened emasculation? Why the retrieval of submarine-sized logs from a frigid Gitche Gumee, equipped only with swim trunks and a moronic will?

Girls, I'll tell you. They are practicing. In this time and place they will probably not be called upon for the ultimate trial of manhood. But they might. And they would be ready. They would know fear. They would know courage. They would suffer pain. They would prevail. They would go first. They would leave last. For us.

And so he must appear to be an imbecile, because a world safe as ours gives him little authentic opportunity to put himself to the test. For both of these things we should be grateful. In time, he will teach his sons the same, and they will learn to fight and kill and suffer and yet come home to eat the cookies we baked in their absence.

Tell him he was real tough next time he comes in all sweaty.

Cecil's voice came: "My dear Freddy, I am no athlete. As you well
remarked this very morning, 'There are some chaps who are no good for
anything but books'; I plead guilty to being such a chap, and will not
inflict myself on you."

The scales fell from Lucy's eyes. How had she stood Cecil for a
moment? He was absolutely intolerable, and the same evening she broke
off her engagement.

02 February 2011

Washed, beautiful, inflamed!

Gauntlets just referenced Chrysostom, and his words in yesterday’s Treasury are humming 'round my head again. You’ll want them in yours, too, because no matter what goes down in the pew-trenches on Sunday morning, you will return home triumphant with this:

Let us then return from [the Communion table] like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil….This blood causes the image of our King to be fresh within us. It produces beauty unspeakable and prevents the nobleness of our souls from wasting away….The blood [of Christ] is the salvation of our souls. By it the soul is washed, is beautiful, and is inflamed! This blood causes our understanding to be more bright than fire and our soul more beaming than gold. This blood was poured forth and opened heaven.

(More here)

Satan, you wicked one, own now your master!
Jesus has come! He, the mighty Redeemer.

“The majority of people in today's churches are feminists--and they don't even know it."

How’s that for a potentially inflammatory post title? :D It's preceded by the very apt observation, "Feminism has seeped into people’s systems like intravenous drugs into the veins of an unconscious patient."

All the –isms, to say nothing of the –ists, get to be a bit much for my underexercised mental apparatus (we’re in post-post-modernism now, right?), but as I’ve got somewhat of a professional interest in the feminist stuff, I like to at least skim things like this, and thought some of y’all might like to as well.

(Possibly unnecessary note of clarification: We at CSPP don’t necessarily hang our hat squarely on the peg of the complementarian position apparently held by this author.)

HT: My Own Mother

01 February 2011

Snowed in?

Make these.

Actually, make them even if you're not snowed in.