31 August 2011

I have arrived

I'm at that point where I would really like to know why I was complaining about being huge at Easter.

Too big to live, I cry to my husband. Nay, says he: too big to fail.

You pitiful, insignificant fools!

30 August 2011

Better early than never?

I grew up at a church that turned its late service contemporary when I was in jr. high. This has proved an interesting experiment in memory for me--it's amazing what I remember from the hymnal, having used it during the years of my life I remember least. Canticles, propers chanted in my father's voice (yup, there was chanting even at a church that went contemporary), multiple verses of hymns . . . somehow all there. Also of note to some may be the fact that LW, that old thing we're all embarrassed about, was my lifeline to the liturgy. I know, I'm supposed to be mad about the Dignus sneaking in where it doesn't belong. But I'm mad about so many other things in life I'm not sure how bad I am for failing to nurture ire at that particular offense. My husband indulges me on this matter. He's a dear.

Everything after the first sentence is beside the point, though. The point is "its late service." The only parishes where I have seen an early contemporary service are those that have so many services some of them run concurrently (so the early contemporary service competes with a traditional service--usually the only traditional service offered). I have NEVER seen a late traditional service.

I know as well as anyone can that most people hauling kids to church will choose a later rising time and more prep time if they have the option. In fact, I do this myself and almost always attend, of my husband's two churches, the parish with a later service. But what the traditional=early equation amounts to is most of the parish's children never hearing the liturgy; never accidentally memorizing it; never learning that if you're somewhere and you hear the liturgy, you're in church; never finding a refuge from the sounds and mannerisms of pop culture. I think often of the kids younger than I was at my church who just never got to notice that things changed during Lent, who never discovered that they didn't need the hymnal for this song, who would be completely lost if they ever blundered into a liturgical church, who never heard their pastor's voice running through their heads sometime during the week--"Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord"--to make up for the sermon they weren't listening to.

I'm sure contemporary proponents would argue that this is merely a matter of practicality and has nothing to do with a desire to influence the piety of the church's children. Let's exercise some largesse about that for now. But I wonder what would happen if a church decided to hold its contemporary service early and its traditional service late.

28 August 2011

Book, recommended

If you haven’t already read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I think you might want to—if for no other reason than because, as she says in the afterword, “Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy.”

My curiosity about all the Thousand Gifts buzz was fueled when a friend of similar lifestyle and sound literary taste recommended it, overcoming my initial (and totally uninformed) skepticism that this would be the latest chick-sensation in feel-good pop psycholo-theology.

I hereby publicly repent of those suspicions. The first three pages cured me of any fears that One Thousand Gifts would be a “count your blessings and be grateful for what you have, dear,” kind of book. So what kind of book is it? It’s a theology-of-the-cross kind of book, in the skin-life of laundry, of mother-love and loss: “That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart—and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty. Can I believe the gospel, that God is patiently transfiguring all the notes of my life into the song of His Son?” (100).

It’s been awhile now since I finished the book, and I’m still gnawing on it. I had to read it slowly, chewing all the while. Voskamp quotes everyone from Augustine to C.S. Lewis to G.K Chesterton to Annie Dilliard to Teresa of Avila… Her writing is lovely, lyrical, even haunting at times as she writes her way through the life that becomes her book (or is it vice versa?).

I’ve only hopped over to her blog a few times as yet (that trip is worth it for her photos alone). I’m not really a joiner, but I will admit that I’ve started my own List—and it’s made a difference in my life. Because there is deep truth in what Voskamp writes: “All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. Thus Christ is all there is to give thanks for; Christ is all there is to remember. To know how we count on God, we count graces, but ultimately there is really only One” (155).

Yes, I think you might want to read this book.

25 August 2011

F everyone's I

I have been advised by countless individuals since the carbaby incident that I should just have a homebirth this time. I looked into it, assisted by a number of variously connected and convicted people. Here is why I'm going to disappoint everyone.

I cannot have a homebirth for the same reason that I need one; namely, my precipitous labors in combination with my distance from a maternity hospital. I have been unable to find a homebirth midwife who can get to my house in well over twice the time my last labor took (or the three before that). If there were such a person, she could not without use of a tesseract get me to a hospital quickly in the event that we should need to go (and I thank everyone who has refused to offer me false security along the lines of probably not needing to go anyway).

Although I live in a very small town surrounded by cornfields, I'm not light years from civilization. There are four hospitals with maternity services within 45 minutes of my house. For the factors we have to consider, that's not close enough. I, with my good health and good L&D history, am a good candidate for homebirth. Our baby, to the much more limited extent that this can be determined, appears to be a good candidate for homebirth. Our home isn't. Delivery options are not the universal Burger King menu that pregnancy books make them out to be.

This leaves me with a few other choices, none of which are good. But a [competently attended] homebirth, I learned, was never really among them. So I'm pretty blamed unhappy about the situation, and ever moreso as we see the day approaching. :(

24 August 2011

Quintessential moments in maternity and paternity

Not long before the conclusion of my sentence to a government high school, I told my mom I wasn't really ready for college yet because I didn't know how to do laundry. She had never given any of the four of us the "If you want clean clothes, wash them yourselves, you overgrown freeloaders" speech and tutorial. I had no idea what went on in that corner of the basement. Blessed, blessed Mom. She said, "I know. I never taught you that because then you'd know everything and move out." !!!

Not long after the conclusion of my sentence to a government high school, I received a tale from my younger siblings. The toilet had broken. They informed our father. He paused; then came to his face an expression of genuine relish and he pronounced, inexplicably, "Cool." He took no action and gave no other indication of having heard them. There they stood, with neither toilet nor help. And we all knew. Dad was not a grownup at all, but a doofus like the rest of us. He'd been faking this whole time.

21 August 2011


Waking up and realizing you didn't actually eat the vast and shameful foodstuffs you were just dreaming about eating.

No, I don't want a doughnut. I want the whole case.

20 August 2011

It is an ever-fixed mark

My mind is a better place for having seen this painting. Thus, naturally, did I have to share it with you.

Wedded, by Lord Fredrick Leighton, c.1881

Happy Saturday.

18 August 2011

Supper panic: Buy yourself a little time

Listen up, girls, because I’m going to tell you one of the great kitchen secrets that my mother shared with me shortly before my wedding.

Scene: For one reason or another (most likely one reason and another, and another…), supper plans have slipped your mind. It’s only when you remember that you’re supposed to be teaching a kid or two to tell time and you ask one of them to read the clock that you suddenly realize Dad will be home any minute…and you have no idea what’s for supper.

Now, you’ve got a few options. Here’s one that I’ve tried in several variations, but don’t necessarily recommend: As soon as your husband walks in the door, fresh from the bread-earning cares of the day, thrust the fretful baby at him, incoherently weeping and gnashing your teeth about how there’s no way you can possibly accomplish all the tasks in your day, and how he’d better peel all those brats off you RIGHT NOW OR ELSE, and anyone who wants supper can jolly well make himself a PBJ.

You might have better luck with this one: turn on the stove, and slice an onion into a pan with some butter. In a matter of seconds, the house will smell purposefully wonderful. Dad will walk in, sniff the air, and declare appreciatively: “Smells great!” That’s your cue to say, “Mmm-hmm. Now if you could just take the kids [outside, to the basement, wherever] after you’ve changed, I’ll be able to finish up in here.” Dad, feeling useful, and anticipating a good meal in reward for his labors, will cheerfully whisk the young’uns away to such activities as only fathers can pull off enthusiastically. The kids will be thrilled to have Dad to themselves. And you get a peacefully empty kitchen…and a few minutes to run to Allrecipes or CSPP cooks to figure out what on earth to do with those onions.

No, no, don't peek in the pot now. You just run along and have fun and I'll call you when it's ready.

17 August 2011

Sorry, I have to wash my hair that day.

I have questioned my husband and learned that at his various conventicles, conferences, and clambakes he is never expected to sing songs with actions or props, make foam crafts, pray prayers used by a host church's preschool, wrap a colleague in toilet paper, smell some viscous mass out of a diaper, or share factoids about himself by means of a vacuous anagram while wearing a stupid hat.*

So tell me: do women actually like doing these things? Or are we being enslaved by an oligarchy of crazed female event planners who either truly enjoy puerile diversions themselves or, more sinisterly, enjoy watching other women being forced into such performances?

Because pregnancy needs more indignities.

*Even men must beware; there are entities in which it is considered good form for them to share extremely personal information with groups of acquaintances, possibly facilitated in the endeavor by weeping.

15 August 2011

Making one's toilet

I hereby defy whatever person came up with the idea of cramming toilets into intimate nooks and between bathtubs and counters and behind privacy walls. That person obviously never had to clean a bathroom. I would also like to know if the arabesque sculpting at the base of toilets, a grace enjoyed only by those charged with removing the filth which accumulates daily upon it, reflects some practical necessity of plumbing. If it doesn't, whoever came up with it is another jerk.

I'll wipe that up right after I finish my cake.

13 August 2011

Deal with it.

We all think we're not that weird lady, and we all totally are.

And it really doesn't have that much to do with this.

10 August 2011

In an old girl's brain

I weary of the mysticism attributed to various parturitional phenomena. Why does it have to be magic*? These things just make sense. Call it hormones if it makes you happy, I guess; I'd rather imagine that I still have some capacity for a valid analytical response to stimuli.

1. Nesting: a completely rational reaction to knowing that one's house will be mostly neglected for something like a year after the baby is born. No, this shape I'm in is not the most practical for some of the random projects I find myself undertaking in trimesters 2 and 3. But if I don't do them now, they absolutely won't get done later.

2. Post-delivery "high": again, a totally reasonable and predictable reaction to having a healthy baby, having L&D over with, and not being gordo pregnant any more. Freakin duh. (Not to mention that if the alleged nursing "high" were more widely or meaningfully experienced, more people would nurse for longer than three weeks. Oxytocin, the least effective miracle hormone in the universe.)

3. Pregnant/postpartum brain: The BSG "33" sleep schedule alone accounts for this; why even mention the other variables?

*I know, it's not magical, it's brain chemistry. Magical brain chemistry!

09 August 2011

OK. But, why?

Baby clothes with words on them. Words like, "cutie pie," or "Daddy's biggest fan," or "Mommy's perfect pumpkin." Perhaps these little epithets are necessary because I would not otherwise notice how very like pie, or how windy, or how gourd-shaped the wearer is. Or perhaps they are prophecies? Or imperatives! Yes! Go! Pie!

I just know these are things I am expected to understand in order to be a good mother. Alas, I have the dumb.

Except the ones I'm wearing, of course.

08 August 2011

The incurable lameness of moms


One of the things I find most depressing is that everyone else gets the joy of blissful irresponsibility with my children. In fact, this is one of the things that makes it most difficult to leave them in the care of others. So often when I return to relieve the beloved someone who has given me some time off, I find the babies gathered around a TV or its technological equivalent eating bowls of cheez balls with marshmallow fluff. All this means for me is one less time that I get to be the one who busts out the TV and the cheez balls and the marshmallow fluff. I have to be the one who never gives them anything but carrots and walks around the block and book-reading and hair combing. Thus do they cruelly love it when I leave. NOT FAIR.

06 August 2011

Earnesty and honestness

Thanks to Aubri for linking to this essay from the famous but not yet well known Dort Preus, mother of 12 and inspiration to us all (to all the people who probably already sent me this a million years ago--sorry, I was busy for the last million years). I particularly appreciated this:

I remember visiting with a vicar on our side porch in Racine . He was about 40 years old and single. He was asking me, with admiration in his eyes about different experiences as a mother of, I think at the time, 11 children. He had asked if I had to do it over again would I? I told him if I weren't a Christian I would not want to have any children. The vicar was shocked. "But why?" he asked. I answered with " Children cost money, give you grief, and break your heart, are ungrateful no matter how you try to care for them.” And I went on and on. Poor guy stared at me. The admiration in his eyes faded away. I was in a low mood and discouraged. I had about 3 or 5 teenage boys at the time. I went on to tell him, as a Christian I took great comfort that as I teach my children the forgiveness of sins that they will forgive me all my failings as a mother. I could have confidence in raising the children God blessed us with by teaching them the Gospel. It is a hard job to raise children and I don’t really think I'm very good at it.

Ha ha ha, Dort! We all know you've got it figured out and we're the poser screwups. Thanks for trying to make us feel better, though. ;)

(In addition to not understanding why non-Christians have kids, I've never known why non-Christians bother getting married.)

04 August 2011


Other parents taking pictures getting into the picture I'm taking of my kids.

02 August 2011

Bitter hours

How can one both look forward to another white cap in her ark and weep at the same thought?

Well, she can.

One of those things my husband says is, "Don't be more pious than God." God, as it turns out, was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. When his soul heaved in Gethsemane, no one told him to quit being so negative, to man up and do what he was born for and be glad about the privilege of being the Savior of the world.

Distress over the cups we are given to drink does not mean that we do not also cherish and cling to the joy set before us. It is only that promise of joy which strengthens us to receive yet another blessed cup of pain and hardship.

So Easter is coming, but Friday is also Good. We do not turn our eyes from the betrayal, the slander, the violence, the shame, the horror. The agony and humiliation? Not even God looked forward to that, not even knowing the full and holy cure it would pour out on eternity.

"If it be possible . . ."--the craziest prayer. As if a child could be born in sin or a world saved from sin without pain. How kind is our Lord to teach us that it's OK to ask anyway. In our Gethsemanes he will watch with us, when others sleep or spit the suffering back in our faces or just don't care.

01 August 2011


Here is how I understand family size (with the caveat that among Christians who have given no indication to the contrary, I am so mired in my own reality as to consider non-contraception to be the default practice. Terribly naive of me, I know, though I mean for it to be charitable):

1=small (may indicate fertility problems)
2=Normal! Way to go!
3=trying for a boy or girl, or a "mistake"
4-5=bigger than normal (indicates mild or moderate parental zaniness, or twins)

But six is where it gets serious. Six kids doesn't happen by accident. Six kids is beyond zany. Six is full-on crazy. Six kids very likely means a weird vehicle. Six is Big.

Six is also where some people (not all) seem to begin considering themselves major parenting experts and get real annoying. I promise I'll try not to do that. (It would be hard to come off as a parenting expert when my oldest kid is eight, anyway--lots of critical stages still not even touched.)

I think six will have some advantages, though. No odd box of raisins left to fossilize in the cabinet. That's been a huge problem with five.