Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning Haze

In honor of the fact that I will now often be going to the dentist, I am treating you all to first in a series called Going to the Dentist. Essentially, I'll be giving you installments of Mrs. Miniver "At the Dentist's"
Here is the first bit and it really perfectly describes my experience this morning.
"For really it was the refinement of civilized cruelty, this spick, span, and ingenious affair of shining leather and gleaming steel, which hoisted you and tilted you and fitted reassuringly into the small of your back and cupped your head tenderly between padded cushions. It ensured for you a more complete muscular relaxation than any armchair that you could buy for your own home; but it left your tormented nerves without even the solace of a counter-irritant. In the old days the victim's attention had at least been distracted by an ache in the back, a crick in the neck, pins and needles in the legs, and the uneasy tickling of plush under the palm. But now, too efficiently suspended between heaven and earth, you were at liberty to concentrate on hell."

And now, having gotten that off my mind, I'm going to dress all five children and muscle them into the car so we can All go to Marigold's one month well baby and then to the store. Why, you may ask, are you taking five children? Because Matt has to be somewhere else at the same time, some nice place where no children are allowed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I forgot! I forgot! But go, right this moment and check out...

this year's Advent Carnival hosted at Ten O'clock Scholar.

I meant to write something this year, but I'm still not in any kind of blogging routine and I just kept forgetting. And also, everyone has had a cold this week. Matt is the last to fall (although I continue to be unexpectedly healthy, how weird is that).

Anyway, go read all the great articles and enjoy yourself. I had a little girl in Sunday School this morning who had never really heard anything about Jesus and who was very interested. She and her friend both signed up to be angels in the Christmas Pageant. Such an encouraging start to one of my favorite seasons.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

an Advent thought

Better Than at thy Beginnings
"The son said, Forgive me, my Father, but sometimes I wonder if even in the Other Life there will be that for which my heart longeth.
His Father said, In My Presence is fulleness of joy; can fullness be less than full? At My right hand there are pleasures for evermore; can pleasures be less than delight? Dear child of My love, trust My love, Would I leave one longing unsatisfied? Thou dost not know thy Father if though thinkest that I would. Thou shalt be satisfied with the plenteousness of My House; I will give thee to drink of My pleasures as out of a river. Dost thou think that nothing could ever be as beautiful as once it was? Turn thine eyes from thy beautiful beginnings--I will do better unto thee than at thy beginnings."

Amy Charmicheal
His Thoughts Said...His Father Said...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

my preach moment from last night's thanksgiving service

Providentially, I had hoped, I and so many of my small children went to see some little piglets this morning. I say ‘hoped’ because I thought for sure some amazing insight would rise up out of the pig pen about Jesus sending the legion of demons in to the pigs and them casting themselves in to the sea.

Unfortunately, no insight presented itself At All. Instead, muscling my kids back into the car, arguing with them about whether I or whether they would buckle themselves into their gargantuan seats, struggling to get them all out of the car and into the house without loosing shoes and sweaters and bits of bagel, a different word from this text hit me between the eyes--the word ‘go’. Verse 18, As he, that is Jesus, was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And Jesus did not permit him but said to him, “Go”… “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he had mercy on you.”

Which is exactly what I want to do, for just one minute, is tell you how much God has done and how he has had mercy on us.

Last Thanksgiving the Southside Ecumenical Council Thanksgiving Service was at St. Andrew’s Catholic on Conklin Ave. which is now my spiritual and physical home. Earlier that morning, a year ago, as I sat down with my boatload of children, they had all prayed and prayed that we would not have to leave our warm comfortable home on Kendall Ave. They prayed for our old bishop, that he would change his mind about suing us and so forth. And none of their prayers, in my mind, were answered.

The opposite of what they asked for came to be. In January, on a bitterly cold day, amazingly hard working and gracious people from Good Shepherd and from the Shepherd’s Bowl came and helped move us out of that house and into the very comfortable home we know inhabit on Conklin Ave.

The line from one of the prayers in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has come to my mind over and over these last few months--grant us those things which we dare not, or in our blindness can not ask. In other words, though we may not have been demon possessed, though we may not have been out of our minds and unable to be controlled, we, at Good Shepherd, me around my table with my children, were blind--to the future, to God’s ultimate purpose, to even know what it was that we needed to ask. We prayed for what we thought we wanted.

But God had mercy. He was gracious, abounding in steadfast love showering his grace and mercy so much that we could not even hold it all. Not only did he not answer our prayers prayed in blindness, in his mercy he showed us his good will and pleasure. He showed us that he has plans for us, he made provision for us, he held us in his hand step by step, he manifested his glory and his grace and victory over sin, he used you all of the Southside to encourage, strengthen and provide for us. He had mercy.

Now the prayers of my little ones have changed. Every now and then they remember to pray for our old bishop. But mostly they pray out of gratitude for the beauty in which we live. They pray for those who don’t have enough, for food and water especially, and very often for a ‘good time’. And Romulus, who for months asked every day when we were going to go home, now says ‘here we are in my pretty house’ at least once a day.

Go, this Thanksgiving, tell your friends and family and everybody you happen upon what God has done and how he has had mercy on you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Much like going on holiday or other life changing events, having a baby really throws a spanner in my blogging and prayer life. Its not that everything suddenly falls out of control, but any break in routine causes these two parts of my life to fly out the window. In this case, waking up twice at night to feed the baby has meant that I am not leaping up with the dawn to pray and blog. Rather, I am buried under a pile of blankets and children running through the day to come in my head. And somehow, if I don't get to it right off, I never return to it during the day. Except right now.

But lots of other things have been happening. Here are some of them.

Going to the Dentist
I haven't been the dentist in a while.
As a child, whenever we were near a dentist, as far as I could tell, I had to spend a lot of time being shouted at in French while what seemed like All of my teeth were filled.
"Ouvre la bouche!!!" the dentist would shout (that means OPEN YOUR MOUTH)
Actually this only happened for one week in Belgium when I was six. But every dentist after was really just an extension of that first dentist.

And then there's the fact that I have a Huge gag reflex. I remember as yesterday throwing up on a dentist in Oregon--a foolish man who, when informed by me that he was about to be thrown upon, said 'no you won't' only to find that in fact I could and did.

So this time, having been drug by Matt (ON MY Day Off no less) to a bright cheerful sparkling clean Teeth Factory, I apologized loudly and right away for gagging. 'I'm so sorry' I said over and over as the poor hygienist tried to get an X Ray and I gagged again and again. Finally she gave up and took me into a fancy room with a machine that took pictures from the outside. 'I'm so sorry' I said as she led me back to the waiting room.

Needless to say, I'll be going back to the dentist fairly often for the next little while. Each time I will think of Mrs. Miniver lying back in that perfectly comfortable chair, designed to extract the worst kind of torture, so comfortable that nothing will distract you from what's going on in your mouth. Next time I go, I'll have found the book and I'll be able to tell you all about it.
In the meantime, I leave you with this.

Classical Conversations

We finished our first 12 weeks!! I'm really enjoying my class this year. I might not have mentioned it before but I'm the tutor for the 4s and 5s or Abecedarians as they are called in CC. I have a class of five boys and one girl. One of the boys is mine and he's made real progress this year, especially from last year.

You'd probably think, as I initially did, that spending a morning once a week with 6 little kids trying to do a science experiment, play the tin whistle, learn Latin Noun Declensions one by one and hear a presentation from each child on the topic of the day would be a completely ghastly experience. But you'd be So Wrong. Aside from Sunday, Wednesday mornings are my favorite. I particularly enjoyed this week's presentation time. The topic was of their own choosing and after hearing 3 little boys talk about movie characters they love, the one girl got up with a doll dressed as a flower. The boys could not understand the meaning of this doll.
'How did she get to be dressed as a flower?' one of them asked.
'Well, what movie is she in?' asked another.
No answers were forthcoming to these questions. I mean, really, why wouldn't she be dressed as a flower is a better question.

Nursing the Baby
As expected, its going much better. As I said before, this baby is my best eater. She gained a pound in two weeks (AMAZING) and looks, let's be perfectly honest, pudgy. And, now that we're heading into week four, its not Nearly so painful.

Alouicious came and shouted to me this morning, as I was trying to brush my teeth, 'Are there any tiny riding men?' or it may have been 'writing men'. Either way the question was incomprehensible to me.
'What?' I said.
'Are there any tiny riding men?'
'I don't know' I said helplessly. 'I have No Idea.'

We were charmed and delighted to have some family visit last week from far away places like Oregon and New Jersey. It made me quite homesick for an Oregon winter and for all the lovely and sensible people who live out there.

The Christmas Pageant
I'm immersed in it. I've been tweaking and tweaking the script and music and cast list. Its going to be the Best Ever. I hope everyone will come see it.

An ordered and Peaceful Life
It feels to me, in a vague and undefinable way, that we are shedding the stress and crises of the last 8 years. I had feared that having lived for so long, our whole marriage in fact, in a church in turmoil that we wouldn't know how to live without it when it came time.

Such appears not to be the case. A growing and vibrant church, while fraught on many days, and certainly full of the many small dramas that make life interesting, is not necessarily crisis driven. The growth, order and generalized peace of the church is very much present in our home. Even as we head into a stressful time of year we are by no means over stretched and running in too many directions.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday Morning Haze or Works for Me not just Wednesday but Every Day

I haven't completely fallen off the internet earth. I've actually been reading and reading politics online for a week and a half in morbid fascination. But I haven't had anything particular to say due to feeling basically very under the weather (me and Gladys, so far everyone else seems robustly healthy).

Also, the baby is eating A Lot. She gained 1/2 a pound in the first nine days which may not seem like much to any of you, but has never happened to any of my babies in all my recollection. In fact, since the moment of starting to write this post, I have had to stop three times to feed her.

But I thought, in view of keeping track for my own self of how the time is passing, to make a short list of things that are working right now, in a household of 5 children.

What's Working
1. Having Nonni (that's my mom) here through Thanksgiving is SO WONDERFUL. Not only has she kept the ball rolling on school while I've had this baby, she's teaching the two oldest to play the piano, keeping the laundry going in order, beauty and peace, and been playing the organ at church. If she weren't here, we would have devolved into chaos and hysteria. (The above list was in no way exhaustive.)
2. Clinging desperately to the CC Memory Work for school and letting all the extras fall by the wayside. In so doing we have kept up with At Least One Thing that becomes impossible to recover if you fall behind, and has provided some structure and normalcy. We are basically back on track already with a school routine and adding everything else back in.
3. Potty Training Romulus. He's FINALLY getting it. In my own mind I thought it would be so much less complicated to do this Before the baby was born, but it didn't happen. And now, frankly, we're all more relaxed and tired and its happening more easily.
4. Nursing is working, basically. I say this, as always, with pained reservations. I've read every possible website about pain in nursing being a sign that you're doing it wrong. In other words, if you're doing it right, it won't hurt. The only thing that comes to my mind when I read this is profanity so I won't even go there. Nursing this baby (and all my other babies) hurts, very very very much, AND I do have a correct latch. I have worked on it diligently and unrelentingly and I know I'm doing it right. Actually, two weeks in, its starting to be bearable. But you cannot convince me that nursing a baby is in any way 'natural' except in the way that a sin nature is 'natural'. That I would, by the exercising of my will over my body, repeatedly (as in many many times a day and all through the night) put what amounts to a steel trap onto a very vulnerable part of my body is not 'natural' its miraculous. However, from Marigold's perspective, it is working very well. She is the first baby to latch on and eat everything in sight without unlatching repeatedly and gasping in large amounts of air. And because she's so good at it, she barely cries, sleeps well and is gaining lots of weight. For that I am very grateful.
5. The house is functioning very well. Matt, in the days before the baby was born, cleaned the entire garage out and parked the cars IN IT (A Huge Job) and unpacked so much of the basement that the children are able to play down there as loudly and as volitally as they like. To have this done before the first frost is amazing and I didn't think it would be possible. So, less than one year in to living in this house, with a new baby in hand and a seemingly endless number of funerals and weddings, we are moved in, for real.
6. Our routine seems to be working pretty well. See above to the presence of my mother as the reason for this. I've been able to concentrate on nursing and school and take it slow like a sloth. A baby at 33 is SO different from a baby at 25. I'm so grateful to have the time to recover.
7. The amazing and lovely Nursing Apron from Matt's mom and sister. I wish I had this 4 babies ago. If you are looking for something nice for someone nursing, This is the thing.

That's the short list. I am inspired, due to a lovely commenter, to post something soon about what we've been eating. I've been eating everything in sight trying to keep up with this baby. In the meantime, Thank You for all the comments and well wishes and prayers.