30 May 2012


Here’s something I was so glad to discover that I can’t believe I didn’t share it with y’all before now:

Last trimester, I was complaining to my favorite midwife-consultant (my very own sil) about my upcoming glucose challenge, and she said that they allow their patients to eat a 50-carb breakfast or to eat the equivalent in jelly beans in lieu of drinking that horrid, horrid glucola.

My small-town GP (who doubles as the town’s OB-GYN) rose immeasurably in my estimation when I floated this plan and she said, “Oh...right; I’ve heard of that…let me look up that equivalence for you.”

What I want to know is, why does anyone still have to choke down that nasty, nauseating orange stuff when there are perfectly good other options out there? Jelly Belly is totally dropping the ball by not jumping on this marketing niche.

 28 in 10 minutes? 
Now there's a challenge I know I can pass!

Makes no sense

I would like an explanation as to why a two-year-old of diabolical calculation, stealth, and capability develops by the age of four into a blubberbawling incompetent.

29 May 2012

McGovern Ought-12!

Hanging around with you traditional dorks is hilarious, because we think we're making headway. Maybe Our Beloved Synod is starting to start to head in the right direction, gosh LSB is super swell, Issues is back on KFUO, everybody hearts Harrison, the Witness isn't a joke any more, and does anybody even go to the seminary in St. Louis?

Listen, friends. I am from one of Those Churches. Higher Things didn't exist then, but considering the contempt in which the relevant parties at my church held that bastion of orthodoxy, the LCMS Youth Gathering, I am 100% certain that if HT had existed and they somehow heard of it, they would have laughed their tails off. I loved That Church and the way it did things. I hated all You Churches and your horrible, faith-numbing, convert-repelling, moribund, culturist liturgy. I wanted to you leave, to die, to quit impeding the Gospel.

And I was confident, because you were dying. You were small and old and in small, old places. You had more congregations, but not more people. When we went on vacation, my family could always find what was to us a "good church." Sometimes we'd hit one that still did some of that hymnal junk, but it was all in good fun--jokey and comfortable; sure this is church wink wink nudge nudge, but we're normal and like to have a good time and not take ourselves too seriously. The proof was right there. If traditional was right, why weren't there any really traditional churches full of stiffs? They were dead (see, stiffs). Anybody who didn't want to die changed. If they weren't shooting for full-on awesome like they should be, they had at least undone their belts and a button or two to give their Lutheran beer-guts some air.

Now that I've got myself all converted and such, vacation over a Sunday is a biannual headache. Where will we go, and what will we tell the kids about the shameful goofiness they are almost certain to see in the house of Yahweh Sabbaoth? (Disclaimer: the church we visited this past Quasimodo Geniti was ungoofy. Thanks!)

We're all like whoever it was who couldn't believe Nixon had won because she didn't know anybody who voted for him. Wake up, people. The Synod where it is not contemporary (and where is it not?) is not traditional either, because traditionally people treated church like something that deserved respect instead of joshing and redwhiteandblue flower arrangements and pastors with dirty shoes or, better yet, a haughty pseudo-acumen that would rather sniff out the possible errorist five states away than the schismatic next door but is totally fine with the smell of her own sweatpants.

28 May 2012

Stillwell Angel

One thing I've never read in any article about childhood obesity is how there is some portion of the child population which is easiest simply to feed constantly rather than employ, entertain, or discipline.

Especially since bludgeoning has fallen out of fashion.

25 May 2012

Usage you can't use: Great Grains Cranberry Almond Crunch

Recently someone gave me a box of fancy cereal. This made me very happy because I love cereal*.

But the box I did not love. I did not love it because all I could think was, Someone got paid to write this box. 

Someone got paid to write, "Less processed nutrition you can see." (But I want less processed nutrition I CAN'T see! Or MORE processed nutrition I can see! Or best of all would be MORE processed nutrition I CAN'T see!) Someone got paid to write, "Natural Flavor With Other Natural Flavor."

I blame everybody who never told me I could be a food box writer when I grew up.

*I eat cereal. Would you like to hear about my weight, my health, my sense of personal vitality, my powerful toenails, my glistening eyeballs, the penetrating insights my personal somatic functions have given me about how everyone should eat? Huh, weird.

22 May 2012

It's not as bad as it looks

(At least, I’d like to think it’s not.)

It can be hard when someone that you respect, but who comes from a totally different life situation and background (read: fewer kids, or maybe just fewer boys :P) sees you struggling with a disciplinary situation, or simply with an everyday child- or household-management routine. My skin is a lot thicker than it used to be, but I still care too much about what people think when they see me wrestling in the pew, negotiating a social situation with kids in tow, or dealing with things that come up in the privacy of my own home (and oh my, it does seem that things tend to come up when someone’s there to see). 

It’s tempting to allow myself to be discomfited by looking through someone else’s eyes at what appears to be household chaos, or to cringe through their ears at the domestic crescendos, or to wonder along with them whether all that brotherly jostling couldn’t really be prevented—or at least minimized!

That’s when I need to remind myself of a few things. For instance: Due to the sheer volume of bodies and attendant personal possessions, clothing, and projects, the house often looks less organized than it did back when I had only two kids—but I’m actually waaaay more organized now than I was then. There are always dishes in some state of cleanliness in or around the sink—but I have usual times to deal with them, including a commitment not to go to bed with dirty dishes in the house. Contrary to my visions of a happy, harmonious, homeschooling family, there are more interpersonal conflicts than ever—but when you remember that the potential for such is by now nearly exponential, based on number of persons together for endless hours, well, maybe that’s only to be expected. All the more opportunities for everyone to grow in consideration, communication, and negotiation!

And another thing (not highly original, perhaps, but helpful to keep me on track): if you walk into a carpenter’s workshop in the middle of a busy day, you’re going to find tools off their hooks and wood chips on the ground. You can’t build anything worthwhile without making at least a bit of a mess. Any project worth doing, no matter how carefully planned, requires a temporary suspension of the usual order—a state of affairs which is itself a part of the Greater Order of things. We moms are perpetually in the midst of a grand design that encompasses all of the littler daily ones. The mess in the workshop testifies not to a failure of vision or order, but to the in-progress status of a long-range project—a willingness to submit temporarily to wood shavings (or oatmeal and fingerpaint) in one’s hair in joyful hope of an eventual, eternal masterpiece. 

Lest we forget: Some people have to pay for the privilege of having someone else cover them in oatmeal. Because they find it relaxing.

16 May 2012

Harder in easier ways

I have moved from the "You've got your hands full!" years to the "I don't know how you do it" years. Weird since I still have my hands full, but whatever. The point is that the chatty public indicates to me a general impression that my life is impossibly hard. It is not. I just have a lot of things to do. In many ways, it is easier than the years when all I had to do was wait for something bad to almost happen and maybe try to get something made for supper while I waited (lesson learned: as soon as you start trying to get something made for supper, something bad will happen).

I often say that it gets easier, but that is shorthand. It is more accurate to say that it gets harder, but in easier ways. For me, there has been nothing harder than a first baby. The hardness has become broader but shallower as babies are added. I have never been more desperately exhausted, more horrified and hobbled by physical pain, more lonely and close to despair than I was that first time around. The new and growing demands are more quantitative than qualitative. Although packing for a trip or bagging the groceries or just getting everybody through breakfast is far more time-consuming and personally taxing than it used to be, I would take those jobs any day over a trip back to the Baby 1 era. (Yes, I find bagging groceries for eight people personally taxing. I am a wimp.)

Maybe this is just me and my androidish inclination to tasks over people. I love the people, but they wear me out terribly and I am relieved that there is now an "each other" for them to have rather than only a me. The tunnel years of running a little-kid-only house are real, although no one in a two-kid society is able to recognize them as such. It is hard work of getting to the big family stage, and although it doesn't strictly get easier, it does change, and that helps.

14 May 2012

Am I allowed to say this on TV?

Hey, guys? I've been cloth diapering for about a year now, and the sun has not once shone out my baby's bum.

Just thought you might want to know.

13 May 2012

(Un)Common Sense

I grew up placing a high premium on common sense, even if I wasn’t always sure what it was. I remember overhearing my mother and grandmother, both admirably commonsensical people, shake their heads regretfully and say of someone or other, “That poor girl just doesn’t have any common sense.” It seemed clear that someone without common sense was crippled, doomed to eke out an inferior existence as best she could. Whatever common sense was, I hoped that I’d been granted a measure of it, or that at the least I could somehow grow into it, or beg, borrow, or buy some. I certainly never wanted to be on the receiving end of that pitying headshake.

One of the hardest things about the CSPP life in our culture today, even (alas!) in our church culture, is that it looks like a self-imposed martyrdom. It just seems so…un-commonsensical. Can’t quite see how you’ll afford music lessons and education (to say nothing of diapers and nutrition) for all those kids? Want to make a reasonable budget that includes getting back to work once the kids are all in school? Going crazy with all those kids in the house? Get sick (physically/emotionally) every time you’re pregnant or postpartum? Well, show a little common sense already! Choose a reasonable quitting point and be Done having babies! [Cue pitying headshakes of rational, commonsensical people…]

Even worse: so insidious and pervasive is the choice-mindset, that CSPP sometimes feels like a self-imposed martyrdom, even to those of us who ought to know better. Tell me again, why am I having all these kids?! Why are we choosing to make ourselves crazy like this, and what right have I even to groan under the cross of my vocation, when I could stop the seeming madness by any one of the various methods so glibly recommended by nearly everyone of my acquaintance?
Thankfully, the common sense that my familial matriarchs endeavored to pass along to me is extra-ordinary. Having a devout, commonsensical mother and grandmother helped me to see beyond what seems normal and obvious: sometimes, for those of us who are trying (fumbling along as we may be) to walk by faith and not by sight, common sense is anything but common. Being CSPP doesn’t make financial sense. It doesn’t make physical or emotional sense. To most people (including me in the darker moments), it makes no sense whatsoever. But! Submitting to God’s plan for marriage and children does make eternal sense, and in the End, the foolishness to the eyes of the world will be revealed as the most marvelously, magically rational sense that it actually, already is.

09 May 2012

I don't know why it took me so long to get one of these

But I do know that I shan't be without one again. Especially whilst pregnant.

Chances of the floor getting swept just increased dramatically.

Goodbye, Mr. Sendak

You really knew what you knew:

08 May 2012


In case you were wondering, the best and safest time to do necessary shopping with a gaggle of kids is Monday mornings. The aisles are empty but for a stray couple here and there, and those couples are nearly universally friendly.* Sure, the bananas aren't as green as they were last Friday, but who cares? When you have to drag your gaggle to the grocery store, green bananas are the least of your worries.

I'll take twelve bunches, please.

*Yesterday morning, one friendly couple went out of its way to tell me how nice it is to see "so many children come from the same mold." I am privileged to hear stuff like this all the time, if the time is Monday morning. 

07 May 2012


Here are the thoughts I have on college right now. This is kind of a time capsule post for me.

My top priority is that none of my children, male or female, become debt slaves. Ideally, none of them would marry debt slaves. :P

I think the advantage of a large secular university is being able to tell my kid, "This place is full of people who don't believe what you believe. You must know that the things they think and say and do are not OK for a child of God to think and say and do. Be much more careful than you think you need to be."

I am not sure if a small liberal arts college, "Christian" or not, has a particular advantage. It concerns me that a college with a Christian affiliation may appear to be a safer moral environment than a secular one, when it is only more muddled.

The one advantage I think a Concordia might offer is a higher concentration of potential spouse selection. But the main things Concordias produce are debt slaves, and sometimes also ministry-guilt slaves. I am certain we will tell our kids, "You cannot go to college to become a Lutheran teacher, DCE, DCO, Deaconess, or other made up LCMS-only position." Having attended a Concordia, I also know that they are not "safe" moral environments in dorm, classroom, or professorial office.

Regarding girls, I have no program. At this time, all I can see doing is helping each of our (three) girls consider the question as it applies to each individually. I think it is wise for women to have some kind of training or credential which would enable them to be gainfully employed. NO DEBT SLAVERY.

05 May 2012


My husband and I are blessed with a pacific relationship except in one regard: the naming of children. This means that we have to have a long and lasting fight about every other year. I know wives who surrender naming rights nearly completely, and couples who divide privileges on the basis of sex, but neither is the case in our house. Both of us have strong feelings about names for boys and girls.

So I share with all like-minded parents a strategy of namemanship executed by my husband, which he claims was not conceived deliberately or in malice. You will see, however, that his claim of innocence is impossible to believe.

Take a name proposed by your spouse which you do not like. Repurpose it as a designation for an imaginary and grotesque monster in your attic, and terrify your children with tales of this monster's appearance and character. Instantly, the name becomes permanently ineligible for any future child of the family.

Things like this don't happen by accident. I salute my infrequent foe for his wiliness.

03 May 2012

Two to tango

This is one of those posts that will likely make no one happy, but I promised it to someone so here it is. Sorry, folks. Remember, I’m neither your doctor nor your mother; I’m just some blame fool on the Internet. 

Here’s a crazy notion: A Christian wife’s fertility is best managed by her Christian husband, because he is her loving lord and her appointed head. The approach any given husband takes in managing his wife’s fertility—which is a gift to him from his loving Lord and eternal head—is a matter of faith for that husband.* Additionally, the wife does well to recognize that her body and its life-giving capabilities are gifts, and to submit to her husband as to the Lord in childbearing.

Not all Christian husbands choose to manage their wives’ fertility like my husband chooses to manage mine. Each man has his reasons, his circumstances, and his conditions, and I don’t presume to know anything about his life or his crosses.

That said, there are women in our congregations who have encountered upsetting information about the Pill and its kin, and yet are still “on it” because it’s what their husbands insist that they do. There are women who trust that it is Christ who opens and closes the womb, and yet these women use prophylactics because their husbands do not desire more children, or because their husbands are not convinced that now is the right time for more children.

And sometimes a Christian sister, plagued by her conscience and/or the chaffing of disagreement with her husband, approaches a CSPP and asks something along the lines of, “What do you think I should do?” This is what the CSPP has to say to such a question: “God bless you, honey, you have to obey your husband. I’ll pray for you both.”

Because what else is there to say? When a woman is given in marriage, she promises to submit, to obey, to be a wife to her husband in sickness and in health. Physical sickness or spiritual sickness. The Christian husband who falls short on the matter of contraception is not equivalent to the abuser or the drunkard; he merely suffers the infection of the age. Sarah was not given to pack up and leave Abraham, who had his fair share of marital fumbles. Neither did harassing him do her much good. Sarah was given to wait and to pray. We are Sarah’s daughters. It is given to us also to wait and to pray, whatever our circumstances.

However, there is one caveat, and it’s Portia’s: while Shylock has a right to his pound of flesh, he may not shed a single drop of Christian blood in getting it. It is excusable and correct for a wife to refuse abortifacient forms of birth control, which is to say, pills, patches, rings, herbs, foams, jellies, injections, implants, and IUDs. When and where the universe has misinformed the Christian husband, the Christian wife is encouraged to help her husband become aware. I’ve no scruples about telling my Christian sister that she can pitch her pills. Just do it. OK?

But prophylactics and true contraceptives are a different deal. As these devices are not deadly to newly conceived children, and as they do no salient harm to women, their use in Christian marriages is difficult for contemporary Americans to condemn outright. Don’t misread me: the use of such things is problematic, but those problems are more difficult to discern in our day’s prevailing darkness. And while wives everywhere find such things humiliating and otherwise sad-making, well, what are we going to suggest these dear sisters do? Make a mess of their marriages? No and thousand times, no. Again, a husband’s stance on such things is a matter of faith for that husband.* Better for a wife to keep the peace and work gently and lovingly to change her husband’s heart. Such change takes time. And, like, dozens of pies.

So it goes for the modern woman. Turns out being a modern woman is pretty much exactly like being a woman at any other point in all of human history. We’ve come so far as not to have gone anywhere at all. But the news is still very good: We wives, whether suffering from inflicted barrenness or no, are given to lift up our heads and open our hearts, for Christ is coming (the signs abound!) and it is He who is the perfect Bridegroom, who makes us to be the perfect Bride, who gives to us the countenance and the fortitude to flourish within our marriages. To be married is gift in itself, for thereby is each woman given a companion to comfort her as best he can as she waits for Christ’s return. Take heart! The duty of the wife is to submit; in doing so her conscience is clear. Bide your time, sister. He works all things to the good of those who love Him.

*Yes, dear anonymous, you’re right; it’s not a matter of saving faith. A man need not ever conceive a single child to merit the righteousness that Christ freely imparts to His people through His cross. Nonetheless, “be fruitful and multiply,” a law spoken to all people by the one true and triune God, is accepted and enacted by people through faith in that God. You know: did He really mean it? But how much did He mean it? But does He still mean it? OK, but does He mean it for me? That sort of faith. Just so we’re clear. 

02 May 2012

The good old days

Father Beisel reminds us that our great-grandparents probably knew what they were doing, even when it came to order in the pews.