30 May 2009

its funny now...

Last night Paul and I had the privilege of being the rehearsal dinner for our good friends, Melissa King and Justin Harvison. Paul is the best man in the wedding, so although we are very glad to be doing it, all wedding festivities fall into the required category.

The rehearsal dinner was at The Parker House, a great restaurant in Ridgeland. The food was amazing - They had an assortment of appetizers - duck quesadillas (Ada Brooks got to be there for appetizers and these were her favorite - those and her shirley temple), fried green tomatoes, fried oysters (not my thing, but Paul said they were great), these yummy little steak bites, crawfish cakes - and some other unidentifiable, but yummy things.

Then we had a salad.

Then I had crab cakes over mashed potatoes with asparagus and Paul had a filet over same mashed potatoes with same asparagus, both excellent - ranks up there with best crab cakes ever.

Then I had white chocolate cranberry bread pudding with creme anglaise and Paul had flourless chocolate torte (mine was much better).

All this to say, great, but very long night. Then toasts. Then slide show.

THEN - after party. Which was on the roof of the Old Capitol Inn. Very cool - perfect night for it - But, we got home at 1:49. Yes, thats almost two in the morning. I haven't been UP that late, much less OUT that late, in months, maybe a year.

I am harping on this, becuase I think it is the cause of the trauma, and yes, I would use the word trauma, that occurred in our bed at 5:45 this morning.

I was happily dreaming away - don't remember of what, but I'm almost positive it was a happy dream. And then a pain - as painful and unrelenting as a contraction - shot into my calf and I went from completely sound asleep to completely wide awake. I actually involuntarily screamed, which is not typical behavior for me. I have no good gauge for how long this cramp actually lasted. 1 minute? 4 minutes? 8 minutes?

I wish I had a video in my room though, because, as one can probably imagine, when a person's very, very pregnant wife starts screaming in the middle of the night, it tends to terrify you. And Paul's reaction - which involved some degree of hyperventilation - was priceless. Or is priceless now that its 8 am (yes, not enough sleep for me - but i'm up and cannot seem to be otherwise, even with no children in the house). He started screaming as well - What! What is it?!? and I said through gritted teeth, "My calf - see if you can stretch my calf." He started pressing on the ball of my foot, a usually reliable way to get rid of a (mild) calf cramp. It didn't help. I was on the verge of tears - it wouldn't go away.

It finally did relent, an unknown amount of time later. I am not in labor (fortunately for the wedding festivities going on later today), but I am limping. No idea calf cramp could really be that bad. Maybe it was just a test for Paul?

I do wonder if the angels were looking down laughing at us. I hope so.

26 May 2009

the world of education

I've spent the last year or so immersed in education. Paul was teaching in the jackson public schools - physical science and ap physics, and i was teaching preschool - the Young Threes at a great little Methodist preschool very close to home. Very different worlds we were in, but educational worlds all the same.

Add to our education jobs the fact that Ada Brooks will turn five in June, and thus be ready to start Kindergarten in the fall - real school, big school. (She was in Pre-K 4 this year.) We've been in investigatory-decision-making mode all year about that.

There are so many different places to start about education - what one thinks is best for society as a whole, what one thinks is worthwhile, what works, which aspects of an education should be prioritized above others, etc. But the most tangible, applied moment in that debate - the debate about what education means to you and what you believe about it - is when your first child approaches that fifth birthday - that getting ready to start 'real school' moment.

What do we want for her and the rest of the ever-growing Forster brood, in terms of their education?

Well, there are the obvious things -
  • to be challenged
  • to be loved
  • to be nurtured and encouraged
  • to be held to a high standard
  • to have fun
  • to be taught by knowledgeable, competent, kind people
Then there are things that are important to Paul and me that are important to many others, but may not be as apparent or universal:
  • for our children to develop a love of books
  • for them to realize that all facts are part of a bigger story, and that story is ultimately their story
  • for them to appreciate interconnectivity and synchronicity - to realize how cool it is, for example, that calculus was discovered nearly simultaneously in two different countries because of the arc of history and where Leibniz and Newton were in that arc.
And then there are the things that are more unique desires - we certainly are not alone in these, but i believe we are in the minority:
  • for our children to always learn and know their political history as intertwined with a history of their faith, that of the Christian church
  • for them to know that almost every fact carries with it moral implications
  • for them to know that they are but nanos gigantum humeris insidentes (dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants) [side bar: there is an entire wikipedia page outlining the history of this phrase - so glad to know.]
  • for their spiritual development to be held up as inseparable from and as important as their intellectual development
  • for the following attributes to be purposefully fostered: humor, humility, honesty, introspection, intelligence, intentionality.
  • for them to realize that their education and abilities bring with them unspeakable responsibility.
  • for them to have peers who are encouraged in a similar direction by their parents.
And a couple of things that are just picky:
  • for philosophy to be taught long before college
  • for their teachers to be funny people
  • for them to learn about their environment and how to be good stewards of it.
I am fully aware of the two (main) critiques of this ambitious list of mine:

1) That is asking way too much of the education system
2) Many of those things are parental, not educational, responsibilities.

The response to number one is that our educational problems stem primarily from a lack of standards - mainly a lack of standards by the parents of the students being educated. So maybe my standards are too high. Or maybe we've become complacent about our mediocrity. Because really, no matter how many Parents for Public Schools rallies are held lauding the accomplishments of various schools, we, in America, and most especially Mississippi, get excited by phrases such as "Adequate Yearly Progress" (emphasis mine), "Functional Literacy", and "Mid to Low Dropout Rate".

Basically, we are all but thrilled with mediocrity. Personally, when Ada Brooks popped out into the world, one of my first wishes for her was not "I want her to struggle within a mediocre system." It was more like "I hope I will always make decisions to provide the best opportunities for her to live up to her God-given potential."

The response to the second objection, that some of these responsibilities are parental rather than educational, is that the very distinction is a false dichotomy. The parents of and educators of children should always be working toward the same goals - or it will never work (as we see today). The idea that you can send your child off to learn 'facts' - reading, writing, 'rithmetic - and then have her come home to learn the moral import of those things - is short sighted, naive and perhaps more idealistic than my little lists above.

The idea that those seven hours a day can be spent learning the things that are the 'responsibility of educators' and then the child can come home and learn the things that are the 'responsibility of parents' excuses both the educators and the parents from doing their jobs. The whole-person education of my children is always mine and Paul's responsibility.

If Ada Brooks turns out to be unkind, unloving, and impatient, or worse, there will be a line of people ready to, rightly, assign a large part of the blame to us. But if she turns out not to be able to read (or, heaven forbid, to be one of those people always being interviewed (and filmed by less than talented videographers) who doesn't know simple facts, like that Canada is our neighbor to the north), for some reason, people will look to the 'education system' as the entity at fault.

If your child cannot read, doesn't know his or her colors, has trouble with simple multiplication, doesn't understand United States government, are you seriously going to blame someone other than yourself? What sense does that make? How are those different skills than learning to treat people with kindness and patience or learning to be mannerly or to practice good hygiene?

Maybe they are different in that one would be more willing to delegate responsibility of teaching those 'academics' to someone else. Which is great. I hope to be able to delegate a large amount of my children's educations to people who are, by vocation, educators. But just like when Bernie Ebbers, Ken Lay, George W. Bush or any other leader delegates, he or she is still ultimately responsible, when we parents blessedly find someone to whom we can delegate some of the educational duties concerning our children, we are still ultimately responsible.

Supreme Court Justices don't write their own opinions. Law clerks do. (Law clerks that have been very carefully vetted and chosen from among a slew of amazingly successful, clamoring third year law students.) But the Justices, not the clerks, have to stand behind the opinions and are judged by their contemporaries, and by historians forevermore, on the merits of the substance of the opinions, but also the precise wording of what is written. Doesn't seem fair. But of course it is. Because they are the ones who are charged with interpreting the law.

And we are the ones, as parents, charged with the education of our children. I believe we will be held responsible by God, and that we should be held responsible by society.

25 May 2009

my name is inigo montoya

Just finished participating in Ada's first viewing of The Princess Bride. I forget how much I truly love that movie.

Favorite lines:

Thats right. When I was your age, television was called books. - Grandpa

Anybody want a peanut? - Fezzick

I only dog paddle. - Fezzick

I wonder if he's using the same wind we are using. - Inigo Montoya

You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. - Inigo Montoya

You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die. - Westley

You mean, you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword, and we'll try and kill each other like civilized people? - Westley

It's not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise. - Fezzick

I do not envy you the headache you will have when you awake. But for now, rest well and dream of large women. - Westley

You're trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen. - Vizzini

Truly you have a dizzying intellect. - Westley

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." - Vizzini

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. - Westley

Well, I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely. - Westley

You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept. - Westley

We are men of action. Lies do not become us. - Westley

Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. - Miracle Max

Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. - Inigo Montoya

There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours. - Westley

I'll explain and I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon. - Westley

24 May 2009

I just looked at the weather forecast for the week. I almost cried when I saw that there are little lightning bolts every day from now until Thursday on Wunderground. (Which is the best site for weather I've found).

But it hasn't been raining on Paul at the beach.

22 May 2009

A Day in the Life

4:32 am: Woken by Paul having a dream and hyperventilating in it - apparently dreaming about Dogs - I think he was actually panting....

4:47 am: Still not back asleep, although man next to me is snoring away. Get up to go to bathroom, hoping an empty bladder will assist me.

5:13 am: Still awake - empty bladder only served to give 6 lb person inside of me better punching access to my kidneys

5:27 am: Paul realizes I'm awake (probably due to the audible pain responses) and offers to rub my back

5:29 am: Paul falls asleep rubbing my back.

5:54 am: I determine that there is now enough light for me to read if i open my shutters. Open shutters, open book

Sometime in the next 20 minutes, fall asleep.

7:15 am: Paul tells me i need to get up because he needs to leave in the next few minutes and the children are awake. I grunt and roll over onto my other side.

7:23 am: Ada Brooks crawls in bed with me and steals my covers.

7:27 am: I hear Paul tell Eason, "Do not pour that out! put the top back on it!"

7:27 and 30 seconds am: Paul tells me, "See if you had gotten up, Eason wouldn't have poured out the open bottle of glue all over the red room."

7:28 am: I ask Paul if he has now removed the glue from Eason's possession and he says, "I told him to put the top back on it" I begrudgingly get out of bed.

7:30 am: Help Eason wash hands

7:35 am: Assist Ada Brooks and Eason in cleaning up glue mess (she left the glue out, top off, and thus shares partial responsibility for cleaning up mess. a lesson we've attempted to teach 43 times now.)

7:45 am: Put three pieces of cinnamon toast in oven for children and me.

7:48 am: Remind Eason that Day One/Take Two of potty training is today. No Diapers. (Day One/Take One was interrupted by sweet sadie macon brantley entering the world yesterday)

7:51 am: Remember that toast is in oven. Rescue it. Put Eason in high chair. Have small argument with him about his desire to sit in a big chair. Get ridiculous amount of satisfaction from winning argument in such a short time. Call Ada Brooks away from finishing the glue mess clean up (which may have turned into a glue craft creation) for breakfast.

7:53 am: Load Dishwasher. Cuss at husband when I open three day old spaghetti container he has neglected to bring home until yesterday and thus almost sends me to revisit morning sickness days. Cuss at myself for doing the same thing to him thousands of times i'm sure and never once apologizing. Start dishwasher feeling like a bad wife.

8:05 am: Get Eason out of high chair. Put him in my lap so he can concentrate on what I'm saying. Remind him he has big boy underwear on and when he needs to go potty to let me know. Feel warm wetness on my leg as I realize he has just puddled on himself and me. Remove and replace big boy underwear. Wipe him down. Remove and replace my pants.

8:15 am: Crawl up on couch with both children to read Dr. Seuss's environmental propaganda "If I ran the Rainforest" (which i fully support). Explain the following: Emerge (definition), Canopy (definition), Transpiration (process, which leads to definitions of precipitation, pores, CO2 and Oxygen), how roots work, different kinds of rain forests. Decide it will be fun to hear a howler monkey after we've read about them. Google howler monkeys. End up at Belize Zoo website. which leads to much, much animal exploration. And lots of attempts by all three of us to replicate howler monkey sound.

8:33 am: In middle of book reading/explaining, Eason gets up to go to potty. Doesn't want help. Doesn't have any success. On his way back from the potty, he steps on small sliver of glass I apparently missed when sweeping up the second glass broken by a roaming pet yesterday. Foot is bleeding. Ada Brooks informs me we are out of bandaids. We rig with scotch tape and gauze. Back to book and explaining. See above.

9:07 am: Ada Brooks asks if she can please watch an Inspector Gadget episode. (Yes, the same Gadget from mid 1980's glory. It's on Netflix Instant Watch) "They are only 21 minutes long, Mama" That's true, so I give in. I watch the first five minutes of Inspector Gadget and then head to the Baby's room to fold the three loads of clean clothes that have been deposited over there over the last three days. Eason follows.

9:35 am: Eason and I move from folding clothes and into the kitchen to make pound cake for Paul to take to the beach tonight. I get all ingredients out so they can get closer to room temperature. Eason knocks over a cup of milk. We clean up.

9:45 am: I get mixer out of cabinet. I cannot bend down to really see, so I just reach in to get it. Cutting my finger on the food processor blade. Knowing we have no bandaids, I apply pressure with a wet paper towel.

9:50 am: Begin making pound cake.

10:13 am: Eason, disobeying, climbs up on top of the washing machine to get better access to the pretzels. While standing on top of the washing machine, he puddles. Results of this action drip into the clean clothes that have just finished spinning in the washing machine. I clean him up, get very mad at him for being on top of the washing machine, trying to differentiate between that and being mad about his accident, which I'm not. He cries and requests a diaper. I explain to him that a diaper won't help with his disobedience of climbing up on the washing machine. I hear the mixer and realize pound cake is going to be overbeaten.

10:30 am: Put pound cake in the oven.

10:41 am: Send Paul an email updating him on the morning (he wanted to know how the potty training was going). Realize I should keep track of the whole day for the sake of memories.

10:54 am: Discover that while I was emailing Paul, Eason has begun the fun game of jumping from Ada Brooks's loft bed to his bed below. She is laughing hysterically at his apparent whip lash. I forbid any more transfer of bed to bed.

11:13 am: Begin preparing Lunch.

11:28 am: Feed children Mangoes and Left-Over Pizza.

11:37 am: Engaged by Ada Brooks in a conversation about how funny it is to be eating something so healthy as a Mango with something so 'junk food-ie' as left over pizza. Try not to laugh at her burgeoning since of Irony. Feel like a bad mother when she asks why we don't always say the blessing at lunch time, when we always say it at supper time.

11:43 am: Realize that Eason is preparing for the "big job" as we often refer to Number 2 around here. Take him to potty. He is successful. We have a little party in the bathroom, complete with a two MnM reward.

11:59 am: Banish children to get out energy on trampoline. Eason proceeds to puddle on deck in underwear, removes underwear, jumps on trampoline naked.

12:32 pm: Begin cleaning chicken for chicken enchiladas to send to Florida. Also clean chicken from Sams to freeze for meals for next 4-5 weeks. Wonder to self whether chicken at 2/3 the price is worth cleaning and freezing. Wonder how dangerous salmonella really is.

12:45 pm: Gather children together to clean up their room pre-naptime. Monitor the cleaning up of room. Try not to kill children.

1:30 pm: Read to Eason "The Popples Peeking", Tuck him in for nap. (after putting a blessed diaper on him)

1:45 pm: Check email, read news, help Ada Brooks draw a crown. Call Paul and ask if he'll bring me some lunch on his way home. Needing a nap.

2:25 pm: Help Ada Brooks design a paper crown, help gather various craft supplies for construction of said crown.

3:00 pm: Begin making chicken enchiladas. Spend next thirty minutes idiotically shredding 2 lbs of cooked chicken by hand. Paul says, when i'm 3 minutes from finishing, "can you not just put that in the food processor?" I say "I can, but it seems chewier that way and i like it better this way." "Oh," he says, "you aren't even eating it, though, right? and I cannot tell a difference." I try not to throw chicken at him.

4:00 pm: Assist in math lesson for Ada Brooks. Places - ones, tens, hundreds and how they help us add two and three digit numbers. Lesson prompted by "What's 12 plus 12?" Sometimes, I wish I had it in me to just say "24" and move on....

4:11 pm: Put chicken enchiladas in oven.

4:14 pm: Help kids blow bubbles outside. Complain to Paul about various aches and pains. Lie and tell him that no, in fact, I am thrilled that he is leaving in an hour and a half for 72 hours of beach fun... I am actually torn, but no need to tell him any part but the thrilled part.

4:35 pm: Lie down on couch.

4:39 pm: Get up from couch - get string cheese after realizing that I never ate my lunch that Paul brought me - decide to save that for supper.

4:45 pm: Read Creation Story out of Beginners Bible to Eason. He's completely uninterested. Ada Brooks, reading over my shoulder, asks if God really called the darkness "Night" - because thats what we call it and I told her that English is a relatively new language, and didn't God create the world a long time ago?

5:05 pm: Pack up Chicken Enchiladas for Paul to take. Wrap another piece of foil around Pound Cake.

5:15 pm: Put Eason in bath, successfully nominate Paul to bathe and get him out.

5:30 pm: Steam Broccoli and boil water for cheese ravioli for kids' suppers.

5:45 pm: Serve supper. Kiss Paul good bye for his beach trip.

6:00 pm: Clean up spilled milk. Again.

6:05 pm: Put kids out on deck with fudgesicles for dessert.

6:20 pm: Get kids wiped down, both claim they still need food, dole out bananas.

6:25 pm: Re-Wipe banana off of kids.

6:30 pm: Usher Eason toward bedroom for reading of The Bunnies are Not in Their Beds. Fifth reading this week.

6:40 pm: Kiss Eason goodnight. Begin game of Sorry with Ada Brooks

7:05 pm: Sorry game is mercifully short. Oversee Ada Brooks readying for bed.

looking forward to 7:30 pm: Curl up on couch with Another Roadside Attraction and supper.

20 May 2009

too much in my brain

things i'd like to write about, but my brain won't slow down enough for me to sort out thoughts:

1) my last two days at work - what i'm going to miss and what i'm not - what all i think i have learned this year and what i have 'unlearned' - relationships developed.

2) changes in relationships in general - how my marriage looks completely different than it did a year ago, which is at the same time comforting and terrifying - comforting because it is 'more better' than it was a year ago, but terrifying because of how much one's primary relationship in life can change in a year

3) how i'm feeling about my new vocation as full time parent and teacher of my two small children - what homeschooling is going to look like for ada brooks - how we reached this decision that i never would have predicted -

4) what its like to live a completely different life, but in the same place, that i lived growing up

5) what its like to have newly divorced parents

6) how important obama's supreme court nominee is going to be and how he should just let me pick it, because clearly i know who the best decision would be

7) how sad it makes me that I am not surrounded constantly by people who keep up with that stuff/are academically and philosophically inclined enough to be interested in carrying on a long and tortured conversation about the various implications of who might be our next justice. oh, and how the only way i would ever be surrounded by those people is if we moved our family to an ivory tower that was miraculously godly and humored...

8) how i'm feeling about church, etc.

9) what we're eating/i'm cooking this week

10) what all four of us are reading right now (paul - who knows - always has three or four going - i know he's reading a cool book called "measure twice, cut once: lessons from a master carpenter" - ada brooks - third laura ingalls books with me, elmer the dragon with Paul, dr. seuss to herself - eason - current favorite is called "the bunnies are not in their beds" - great book! - me - third laura ingalls with ada brooks, another roadside attraction by tom robbins)

11) ada brooks's impending fifth birthday and how i'm shockingly emotional about it

12) the impending labor and delivery of BOTW - and how i'm shockingly unemotional about it - but passionate about how i want it to go... if that makes any sense.

and, last but not least, the fact that ada brooks wants to start a blog. i think i should let her.

17 May 2009

Fascinating Article

Altantic Monthly Article on Breastfeeding

I remain constantly torn about breastfeeding. Don't get me wrong - I love breastfeeding in the abstract. And I also have loved it in reality with both of my children. Sometimes. And I would almost always come down on the hippie-granola side of things when discussing whether a woman should be able to breastfeed in public, etc. (which is no longer a very hippie-granola thing to say).

But. As I prepare to bring baby number three into the world, I revisit breastfeeding with all of its massive psychological and logistical consequences on one's life.

When I had Ada Brooks, i was determined to exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible. And I did - for about two months. When one reads "exclusively breastfeed" - one thinks it means, and it is in fact meant by most authors, as feeding a baby exclusively from the breast. But what it meant for Ada Brooks and me was some other type of exclusivity. It meant that what we did, exclusively, for the first 8 weeks of her life, was to nurse. She would nurse for thirty minutes and then fall asleep and thirty minutes later wake up starving. and screaming. So, for about 12 hours out of each day, i had a child attached to my breast. My doctor finally encouraged me to pump to see how much milk i was making - the measly 1/2 of an ounce explained why ada brooks did her own version of exclusively nursing. She was gaining weight, alright, but only because she ate more often than fruit flies. Soon after this discovery, while i was still exclusively breastfeeding because I could not take the guilt of formula, I came down with Mastitis.

Which is obviously a result of the fall. My body temperature skyrocketed to 105 degrees fahrenheit. And my breasts which had already become the size of, in Paul's words, circus boobs, became the consistency of, in my words, gross body builder woman non-bosoms. I was banned from nursing until my temperature came below 101 - and by that time, my measly milk supply had dried up. I gave Ada Brooks a bottle and she slept for six hours. The decision to quit nursing with her had been taken out of my hands completely - I didn't have any more milk to give.

With Eason, I went into nursing a big proponent of supplementing with formula. For the non infant familiar, this is the idea of nursing for some of the baby's food needs and relying on a bottle for the rest of them. The percentage of each - breast and bottle - can be anything - one feeding a day of one, the rest of the other - or half and half. Either way, it worked. I had a marvelous nursing experience with Eason because I wasn't feeling pressure to account for all of his calories. But, I went back to work, full time, when he was six weeks old, so my supplementing with breast milk didn't last long after that. If I get into all of my feelings about going back to work 6 weeks into his life, we'll be here ALL DAY.

With this baby who'll make an appearance in the next 44 days or so (even allowing for the Forster Baby timeline), I'm going to be home, full time, for at least the first 12 months of his or her life. This will obviously inform my breastfeeding choices. And the fact is that neither Ada Brooks's nor Eason's breastfeeding experience was ideal in my view. But, Ada has never had an ear infection, is not obese, has no known allergies, is quite bonded to me, and is not suffering in the IQ department. Eason on the other hand has had two surgeries to deal with Ear and Sinus issues and has most certainly inherited his father's propensity for allergies. But other than that, he's doing okay.

I do think this artcle, linked above, is interesting. I don't agree with all of her points, but I do think it is a needed voice - trying to point out that breastmilk is not Gold - it is great stuff - and I agree that it cannot be reduced to the chemical compounds in breastmilk - it is not just the stuff, but the experience of breastfeeding that makes it so great.

So, I'm entering the feeding of Baby3 with this position on breastfeeding: I'd like to feed exclusively breast milk for as long as possible, but if i deem that i need formula assistance so that my marriage or my relationships with my other children don't suffer much, then I'll embrace that (organic, dha and rha enhanced) man made stuff with gratitude. Hopefully I'll still be able to nurse much longer than with either of my other two children. We'll see.

And hopefully I'll know that God is really the one who is going to take care of them -if we are good stewards of our children, His creations, and of ourselves, He's promised to honor that.

13 May 2009

are you afraid of the big, bad wolf? or of your own children in Piggly Wiggly?

One of my primary household responsibilities is food planning, shopping and preparation (as well as consuming, but we pretty well divvy that one up). Since our budget is quite tight (I don't know if anyone knows, but public school teachers are overworked and under paid - news alert), a big part of that job is feeding us on the least amount of money possible. That's a bit dramatic - its not the least amount of money possible - but you get what I mean.

Since this is my goal - economic food planning (we'll call it EFP) - I often click on/pick up articles about EFP in general, and many of these are about the grocery shopping side of things.

The tips are generally not new (or shouldn't be to the EFP concerned) - read grocery store circulars before you go, eat before you go, only buy what you need, check expiration dates, make a list, only go once a week, shop meat specials and freeze any extras, etc. And one that often appears: LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME.

I have two small children - almost five and recently two - and I'm mystified by this command. Don't get me wrong - I would sometimes prefer to shop one or two kids down - just because it increases my efficiency (the never ending conversing, "yes, Eason, that banana IS yellow" and "Don't ask me what it says, Ada Brooks, sound it out", slows me down a bit). And I can see how having fewer distractions would allow you to do more division of prices/ounces, thus making you more economically successful.

But these aren't the reason(s) given. The reasons are usually something cutesy along the lines of "Little hands tend to grab things off the shelf when you aren't looking" or "You'll be forced to buy things you'd never dream of putting on your list when little ones are around"

Excuse my french, but when in the hell did children hijack our wallets? and do away with control over purchasing? I went to the grocery store with my children on Monday. We did pass the instant pudding and Ada Brooks commented that she wished I would buy some. I explained why instant pudding wasn't likely to make an appearance on our weekly menu, and we moved on down the ailse. She did ask if I would make some homemade pudding sometime soon, and I acquiesced to making it once before the baby comes (she's a mental terrorist, that Ada Brooks). Eason did reach out of the cart one time and grab a bottle of bacon bits. I asked him to put them back and explained that if he liked taking things off the shelf, I'd be glad to tell him what all we needed and he could help, but no bacon bits. I'm sure I'll have to tell him that a few more times before he is like his sister and doesn't even think of adding to the buggy sans permission.

Which brings us to the point - Children require training. And if you train them, calmly, faithfully, consistently - why should they not be able to go grocery shopping. help cook supper. pack their lunches for school. shower themselves. sit through a church service. Children are much like any investment - and we're treating them just like we've treated the economy. We are not investing in the future - instead we are paying babysitters so we can grocery shop alone. Again, I understand occassionally needing to grocery shop alone. But Ada Brooks knows what a green banana and an overripe banana look like - and Eason is learning his letters in Kroger, week by week.

How do we think people learn to grocery shop? - learn all our mothers' tricks? by going with our mother - and being told to hush when we whined - and never being allowed to demand products - and learning why Mama buys Heinz ketchup and Bounty paper towels when she buys the store brand of most everything else (because Mama needs her sanity - and store brand ketchup is gross.... and store brand paper towels remind her of using looseleaf to clean up a spill).

Our children are not scary. They are hard work - and sometimes frustrating - and almost always exhausting. But they are generally joyful and eager learners. And contrary to popular belief, they cannot make you buy anything. We are bigger than they are. And generally faster and more knowledgable. And your local super market provides a plethora of opportunities for vocab lessons, economics lessons, laughter, colors, shapes - you name it.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6.
Of course it applies to grocery shopping. Of course.

12 May 2009

BOTW at 34 weeks.

baby-on-the-way had a check up today. he or she weighs 5 lbs 2ozs. i have six more weeks to go-

the miracle of life still amazes me, even on baby number three.

10 May 2009

oh - to be a mama

So, if you don't know, its mothers' day. (if you don't know, you should probably call your mother and apologize...)

Definitely not the most attractive picture of me 'mothering' that has ever been taken, but it is one of those moments that i treasure. Ada Brooks welcoming baby brother Eason into the world (cannot believe its been over two years) - and us, in full conversation mode - figure out exactly how she feels about all of it... =)

i find myself thankful for the privilege of being a mother-
such an honor it is - i'm sure i'll have moments of a different opinion when i am dealing with children who are slightly less enamored of me and devoted to me - you know, when they are 12 and 15.

Eason made me handprints for mother's day - and he is so proud "blue hand prints. blue hand prints. blue hand prints, mama"
Ada Brooks and her class made recipe books for their mothers. Each child was supposed to dictate his or her favorite recipe made by mom -

Ada Brooks's page reads like this:



My mom uses beaters and mixes it. She puts it in the oven for half an hour. Then she takes it out and puts icing on it. Then we go to a friends house to eat it.

My name is Ada Brooks, and I am almost 5 years old. When I grow up, I want to take care of animals. My favorite activity to do with my mom is cook supper. I love my mom because she is pregnant!

my comments are as follows:
1) I'm slightly disturbed that she left out flour, sugar, eggs, butter from the cake recipe, but i do give her some credit for recalling the less typical ingredients.
2) Yes, i pretty much only make cakes when going somewhere to eat them...
3) It makes me laugh out loud that she loves me "because I am pregnant." wonder what goes on in her little brain. wonder if she remembers welcoming her brother with as much fondess as i do, and thus is pumped that i am, yet again, with child?

happy mothers' day to all the mamas out there - and all those who will one day share the privilege.

daily thought

I get a 'daily thought' each day from John Stott - one of my favorite living theologians. (A Reformed Anglican - teaching at Langham Place in London)
these thoughts are often great - and never without some merit.

The church needs constantly to hear God's Word. Hence the
central place of preaching in public worship. Preaching is
not an intrusion into it but rather indispensable to it.
For the worship of God is always a response to the Word of

--John Stott - From "The Bible: Book for Today" (Leicester: IVP, 1982),
p. 57.

I think the above is particularly interesting- is our worship really always a response to the word of God? perhaps true in-church worship always is, but i think what we call worship, even that which we do on Sunday mornings, is often coming from our own needs/emotions/thoughts - it has nothing to do with God's word being preached and prayed.

God's word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path - but, should it be, as Stott is saying, the prompting of all true worship?

What is God's Word? is it simply the 66 Books of the Canon? Or is it any way in which God is revealed to us?

I have fallen down on my knees and worshiped God (or at least thought i was worshiping God), when presented with certain aspects of His creation - Glacier National Park, the birth of my children, a purple-flag iris - and even when presented with man-assisted creation - a cathedral in austria, certain pieces of music, a working air conditioner.

Maybe I'm picking it apart too much - i do that - and maybe Stott would say i am right to see a distinction between In-Church worship, especially the worship we engage in when taking the Lord's Supper, and our own personal and family worship.

I am confident, that even when my Bible is at home on my bedside table, and i am out in the woods being bowled over by God's Creation, that I am worshipping. So either, again, Stott is only talking about Church worship, or he is allowing for a broader interpretation of God's Word than just the canon. I think the former, for the latter would certainly be dangerous.

04 May 2009

oh, the peace

shockingly, i am a delinquent blogger. i love the idea of a blog - because i love words, i love being able to read my own words from different times in my life (i frequently waste the hour after children's bedtime rereading old journals), and because i am a much faster typer than i am a writer. although, of course, ink on paper does create a certain beauty that a little old keyboard will never approach.

but i'm going to try to get back into the blogging sphere. even if i'm my blog's only reader, that will be fine. its the writing and the recording, not so much the communicating with the outside world.

i have seven more weeks until this baby number three is due. i find myself very emotional about my current little people - and the havock that this baby is about to wreak in their worlds.

this pregnancy has been so different from ada brooks's and eason's. obviously, all pregnancies are different, but i find myself categorizing their in-womb-eras in the same category and this little person's in a completely different one.

one big difference, i think, is our lack of gender knowledge. there have been some moments when i've wished to know, but all in all, i have loved this suspense. and its almost the opposite of suspense - it has actually created more peace and patience than i ever experienced with the other two. or perhaps lack of gender knowledge is not related to that peace at all. perhaps, and more likely, that peace comes from a much surer sense of self - of who i am as woman, wife, mother.

we call him or her "bot-wuh". fairly early in the pregnancy, ada brooks turned the phrase "baby on the way" into a proper noun - as in "Baby-On-The-Way" - example of usage, "Well, do you think Baby-On-The-Way will be old enough to come with us when we go to Europe one day" (of course, i don't have it in me to say that not only will her younger sibling be old enough, but i might be too old by the time we have the time and money to go to Europe as a family).

but BabyOnTheWay began to be written, as things around here often are, and we of course wrote it BOTW - which Paul began pronouncing bot-wuh - you know - BOT followed by the sound you tell a child the letter W makes -

So, botwuh is bopping around in my belly. for at least seven more weeks (or for this mama who has come to expect late babies, it seems like it will be at least seven more weeks - knowing God though, he or she will make an early appearance). and i am loving life - and the peace that Christ really is faithful to allow - and even force - on a little family living in such unsure times. a little family - whose oldest child is awake even at this late hour of 8:37 pm - awake and singing to herself in her new loft bed. whose younger child better be sleeping soundly despite the concert directly above his head. whose daddy is at work. and whose mama is loving this moment of silence.