Sunday, December 30, 2007

Stomp the Yard

For the last few weeks our chickens have been truly "free range." Or at least "free backyard." Jay wanted to see if they would be sufficiently motivated by food to return to the pen after he let them out. It worked, mostly. They seemed to be more motivated by dark than by food, but at least he didn't have to put any of them back in by hand. Had that been the case I would've gotten out the video camera.

It's getting easy to tell which ones are the males. They're the ones who square off and play "My neck feathers are bigger than your neck feathers." What they don't realize is that they're actually auditioning for a spot on "My Kitchen Table."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

There's No Crying in Advent

This morning as I was sitting in church I started crying. It's not unusual. I cry through every Advent. This morning it happened when I looked at the schedule of Christmas services and saw the inclusion of a Longest Night service "for those whose days are not merry right now."

And I know there will be more.

I'll cry during the third verse of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" when the descant soars over the words, "Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning; Jesus, to Thee be all glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing."

I'll cry when we take communion on Christmas Eve.

I'll cry every time a new candle is lit on the Advent wreath.

I'll cry when I least expect it, at times that make no sense, and in inopportune places. I always do.

It's the hope that moves me to tears.

Christmas is hardly ever perfect. When I was younger I rarely spent Christmas with everyone I wanted to be with. My dad needed to be with his mother on Christmas, which meant that he was often with her while I went with my mother to be with her extended family. It was as perfect as it could be, but something was missing. When my parents divorced almost fifteen years ago, Christmas became even more interesting to negotiate. As Jay and I have lived far from family over the majority of our married life, we've always done the best we can to be with the people we care about at Christmas. And although it's never perfectly perfect, it moves me that we try so hard to make it as perfect as possible.

Somehow, I think, it's always enough.

What makes me teary is the fact that Christmas, for me, is the time when it becomes most clear that everything's a little bit broken. It's the time when I see that things just aren't exactly the way they should be, in a perfect world. And yet every Christmas, despite the imperfection, despite the brokenness, we still have hope.

All the imperfection is never enough to keep us from seeking the hope that comes from "God with us." All the brokenness won't make us cynical enough to stop believing that something as small and innocent as a child can change the world. Despite our hurt, our pain, and our rage, we still somehow find our way to the manger where we kneel to glimpse a sweet baby.

No matter how big the pain or how ugly the wound, we still stop long enough to hope that this baby will be enough.

My friend Jason set to music a text by Sophia Lyon Fahs. Part of the text is:
Each night a child is born is a holy night
Fathers and mothers-
Sitting beside their children's cribs
Feel glory in the sight of a new life beginning
They ask "Where and how will this new life end?
Or will it ever end?"

Each night a child is born is a holy night-
A time for singing
A time for wondering
A time for worshipping
No matter how big the world gets, no matter how confusing, we somehow find ourselves back peering through the crib bars, hoping. Not hoping that next year will be perfect; only hoping that it will be enough.

It's the hope that moves me to tears.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shhhhh!

Don't tell the kids, but we went out on a D-A-T-E!

It wasn't a date so much as an appearance at the home of the university president for a Christmas Open House, but at least it was a few moments to ourselves. On the way there we realized that the last time we were alone in the car together was when we were driving to the hospital to have Clare.

After painting the worst possible scenario for the babysitter regarding what might happen if Clare woke up, neither of the babies made a peep. Maybe next time we'll actually go have

*drum roll please*

D-I-N-N-E-R!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What Kind of Question is That?

Between the time that Joshua exited newborn-hood and Clare entered our world, I had forgotten that folks seem to want to ask mothers of newborns all sorts of loaded questions. Many folks believe that that the number of hours per night a baby sleeps is ultimate barometer of competent parenting. They always ask, with an air of smugness, "So, is she sleeping through the night yet?" I find that this is frequently asked by older men, and I always wonder if they're remembering the many sleepless nights they had when their children were brand new, hoping that everyone else is subjected to the same torture that they once were.

And of course people ask all sorts of developmental questions. Does she sit up, roll over, count to ten, solve quadratic equations? Because, of course, those are all reflections on parenting skill, too.

But the question that kills me, gets me every time, is "Is she a good baby?"

Let's think about this. If she's not a good baby, then she must be, say it with me, a bad baby. And what kind of mother would ever claim that she has a bad baby? I know the question they really want answered is, "Is she an easy baby?" But to couch it in terms of "good" and "bad" makes me want to respond in a not-very-nice way.

I have had to hold my tongue on several occasions, because the answer I want to give is, "Well, we thought she was a good baby until we found the cigarettes and playing cards under her crib mattress last week. But now we know...she's a bad baby."

Of course she's a good baby. She's a baby! Even if she's fussy, high-maintenance, cranky, or even, God forbid, colicky, she's still a good baby!

Believe me, I know the question-askers are well-intentioned, and I try to remember that. But we have many, many years to put labels on our children that will either make their spirits soar or crush them. Let's just enjoy the simple purity of baby-ness while it lasts.

Monday, December 03, 2007

WARNING: Don't Watch This Unless You Want to Smile!



And if you're a true child of the '80's you'll laugh out loud starting at about two minutes in.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Reconstruction

As much as I enjoyed both Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma, I found that both of them left me feeling somewhat hopeless and powerless, if not a little bit angry. Fast Food Nation left me with images of half-dead cows strung up in slaughterhouses, being disemboweled by miserably-paid workers with no recourse for their sickening work conditions and unfair treatment. The Omnivore's Dilemma offered only slightly more hope as the author did successfully prepare a meal made from food that he grew, hunted, and foraged for himself. But one of the points that I took away from this tome was that, while organic food may be better for our bodies, it's still not doing much good for our environment if that organic tomato was shipped all the way from California to sit on my plate.

They are eye-opening books, but offer little hope that there is a way to eat that is good for our bodies and good for our natural resources. Too much deconstruction...

And along came Barbara Kingsolver, God love her. Not only did she graduate from a fine university, but she also wrote a book that gave me hope. She and her family committed to eating locally for one year. Most of the vegetables and some of the meat that they ate were grown on their property (the chapter on turkey sex is unforgettable). What they couldn't grow themselves they obtained from folks closeby. Ultimately, almost every morsel they put in their mouths came from no further than 100 miles away from their home. Some things they compromised on...olive oil, wheat for bread, and coffee were among the few things they decided they couldn't do without. But they gave up bananas and other fruits not indigenous to their part of the country.

The book was informative but never overbearing: "We're converts in progress, no preachers. No stone tablets."

It was hopeful but realistic: “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.

She reminded me of the quote by Edward Everett Hale: "I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

So for Thanksgiving we had a free-range turkey grown by a family in Middle Tennessee. And we bought a subscription to a Community Supported Agriculture in our area. And we'll keep going to the farmer's market. And eventually we'll eat the creatures hanging out in the backyard. And maybe this year we'll be a little more successful with the things we try to grow on our own land.

It's not everything, but it's something.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Games People Play

Because nothing says charming and intelligent like a 12-year-old whose conversation is peppered with the word "Crap!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How I Met Your Father, Part II

When they returned we (it was now a triple-date) headed to Marvin's, a local dive specializing in garlic cheeseburgers, garlic fries, and anything else upon which one might want to heap piles and piles of garlic. It was probably an unwise choice for a first date, but the menfolk had planned ahead and passed mints under the table. Afterward we went back to the house and watched "Tombstone." I don't remember much except that when Jay got up to go to the bathroom I whispered to A, "I really like him!" He even held my hand! *blush*

Then we decided to brave the party at Delt. As we expected, Delt was not exactly a happy place. There were beer bottles being thrown from third floor windows to the patio below and a lot of yelling. But the band was good and there much dancing to be done, so we made the best of it. It also didn't stink that, as Jay and I were walking through the house holding hands, we passed a guy that I had dated the previous year. He was alone.

Jay and I returned to the sorority house and watched TV until the other two guys were ready to leave. I walked him to his car and we said goodbye. I gave Jay my number and he said he would call. As they drove away, instead of becoming immediately anxious about whether or not he would really call, I felt a sense of peace, like things were going to work out exactly how they should.

And they did.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How I Met Your Father, Part I

Thirteen years ago today Jay and I met and had our first date.

Several week prior saw the amicable ending of a very casual relationship I had with a really great guy at school. Our final date had been a Toad the Wet Sprocket concert in Terre Haute. After that same concert my friend and sorority sister A went to a party at Rose-Hulman where she got to know a young man in her ROTC squadron who had piqued her interest months before. Immediately after that party they began dating (and eventually got married). A's new boyfriend, E, lived with four other guys at Rose-Hulman, all of whom shared a mutual love for rollerblading. They enjoyed it so much, in fact, that they had a huge butcher paper poster hanging on the wall of their suite that listed all the cities, towns, and other venues where they wanted to skate. As soon as A and E started dating, DePauw was put at the top of the list.

It was a boring Saturday afternoon. I had gone to the Monon Bell game that morning with friends only to watch DePauw lose. My friend K and I were studying, which we planned to do for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We had decided not to go out since the only party was at Delta Tau Delta. Most of the football players were Delts, and the outcome of the Monon Bell game undoubtedly set the tone of the party. After the loss it was clear that the party would be rife with large angry drunken men, and that scene didn't interest us very much. As we were studying we heard a ruckus coming from the front yard of the sorority house. We knew that E was bringing his roommates over to rollerblade so we assumed that the noise we heard was them. Not having met E, K and I decided to go outside and check things out.

When we got outside A was standing with five guys. We met E and then she introduced us to the other four. K and I sat on the curb and visited for awhile, then decided to go back inside to resume studying. I lifted up my arms in a gesture requesting that K pull me up off the curb. She grabbed one arm, but before she had time to grab the other, one of the rollerbladers sped over and took it, pulling me up. I smiled and said thanks, and K and I made our way into the house.

Several minutes later, after we had settled back into our books, A came running down the hall, yelling my name.

"I'm in S's room!" (Confession: K and I were studying and watching "The Bodyguard" on a friend's TV)

A ran in, out of breath. "Do you want to go on a date tonight?" she asked.

"Which one?" I asked.

"Jay," she said.

I racked my brain but couldn't remember which one Jay was. "The tall guy?" No... "The redhead?" No...

Finally A said, "The one who helped you get up off the curb."

"Oh," I said, "I don't remember him. Is he nice? Funny? Moderately attractive?" A answered yes to all of them, so I agreed and she left.

A few minutes later all of the guys were piling into the room and I saw Jay again. Definitely cute. A little shy. Obviously nervous. We exchanged smiles and made plans. E, J (another of E's roommates), and Jay would go home and get cleaned up and then come back to DePauw.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What We Say to Little Girls

*Note: I wrote this several months ago. Since then the mom whose shower I attended gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on my birthday!

Several weeks ago I went to a United Methodist Women's meeting at the home of one of the women from my church. There were seven of us there. Six of us were moms. Five of us have girls. We started talking about raising girls and about how we can counter all the negative messages that girls seems to receive, particularly the messages that the way we look is of utmost importance.

My friend R told the story of being on vacation. She, her husband, and her daughter (who is Joshua's age) were in a restaurant when one of the patrons commented that R's daughter is "such a pretty little girl!" Another patron within earshot said, "And I bet she's smart, too!" Even strangers are trying to make sure that we send our little girls the right message.

I've been intentional lately about how I speak to Clare. I realize that, at seven weeks, she's not picking up much other than, "There's that lady yakking at me again." But I want to get into the habit of giving her the messages that I want her to receive. I picked her up from a diaper change today and said, "You're such a pretty little girl!" I caught myself and continued by saying, "And smart, and witty, and kind, and clever!"

This evening I was at a baby shower with several of the women who were at the UMW meeting I mentioned before. One of them had her one-year-old daughter along. During her explorations, the daughter made her way over to where I was sitting. "Oh A" I said, "What a pretty little girl you are..." I caught myself again. "And generous and thoughtful..."

Pretty soon all of us were chiming in.

"And industrious!"

"And efficient!"

"And charming!"

Maybe if we all start in our own little corners of the world we can start sending the message to our daughters that what we look like isn't the most important thing about us, that we don't have to have "stuff" to make other people like us, and that we can be OK just the way we are.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Guess Who's Happy to Be Three Months Old Today

Or she may just be happy that she got a decent nap since her big brother was out running errands with Vati.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tagged!

I've been tagged by D, so here goes!


1. Who eats more? It depends. While pregnant and nursing I have definitely been eating more. We'll see what happens when I'm not either of those things.
2. Who said “I love you” first? Jay did, and I actually remember the moment very vividly.
3. Who is the morning person? Jay. He likes to say that he's solar powered. He gets up with Joshua at the crack of dawn every day.
4. Who sings better? That's tough. Jay had a few solos in the church choir when we lived in Joliet and I'd venture to guess that his voice is prettier, but I am better at matching pitch and staying in the right key.
5. Who’s older? Jay is, by three months.
6. Who’s smarter? Jay is far more book smart than I am (as in "perfect score on math portion of the GRE" smart), but I have higher Emotional Intelligence.
7. Whose temper is worse? Definitely mine. Jay rarely loses it.
8. Who does the laundry? I do it all, but sometimes Jay will put his clothes away.
9. Who does the dishes? I usually do them unless I'm tied up with Clare for a long time.
10. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? I do, if you're facing the bed from the foot.
11. Whose feet are bigger? Jay's are.
12. Whose hair is longer? Mine is.
13. Who’s better with the computer? Jay, definitely.

14. Do you have pets? We have sixteen chickens, although I don't really classify them as pets since they will one day become dinner.
15. Who pays the bills? Jay does, although I keep the budget.
16. Who cooks dinner? I make dinner about four nights a week, Jay grills out about two nights, and we eat out about one night, usually at church.
17. Who drives when you are together? Jay does. He hates my driving.
18. Who pays when you go out to dinner? Whoever isn't wrestling the babies. Although if we're going out alone for one of our birthdays, the other makes a big show about paying for it, hence allowing the birthday-person to feel that they are being "taken out"
19. Who’s the most stubborn? That's tough. I think Jay is, but we've gotten so good at compromising I don't think it much matters anymore.
20. Who is the first one to admit when they’re wrong? It depends on the situation and who's being the most defensive.
21. Whose family do you see more? Mine. My folks live two hours away. One of my cousins lives less than two hours away, and my mom's extended family lives five hours away.
22. Who named your pet? We name them as we go along. Roaster, Dinner, B#$%^#@ (the one that pecks all the others)...
23. Who kissed who first? Jay kissed me.
24. Who asked who out? Jay asked me out via a sorority sister.
25. What did you do on your first date? We went to Marvin's for dinner, watched Tombstone at the sorority house, and went to a party at Delt.

26. Who’s more sensitive? Me by a long shot.
27. Who’s taller? I am by 2-3 inches.
28. Who has more friends? That's tough. I guess I do. At least more that I see regularly.
29. Who has more siblings? Jay has one. I have none.
30. Who wears the pants in the relationship? They're big enough for each of us to have one leg.


I'm tagging Montana Dave, Kat E, Mercedes, Anna, and Martha

Monday, October 22, 2007

SAHMs Have Mondays, Too

Things started out well, although I was a bit sleepy since Clare was up for two hours in the middle of the night (Jay took the last half hour and finally got her to go back to sleep). I got up, showered, had breakfast, and loved on Joshua, all before Clare woke up at 7:45. I gave her about an hour of playtime and then it was time to try to get her to nap. Several tries produced only crying. Joshua was spun up because he wasn't getting any attention from me, and I was just downright frustrated. So I decided it was time to get everyone dressed and go to the grocery store. That was my first mistake.

I should have known things were going to be bad when I took a wrong turn on the way to the store--a trip I've made a million times. When I pulled into the parking lot Clare started to cry, a stark reminder that, yes, I had forgotten to feed her before we left the house. I put her in the front seat with me and fed her while Joshua waited patiently in his carseat.

It was pouring rain by the time we were ready to go in. I put Joshua in the grocery cart with a blanket over his head (which he thought was funny, thank goodness) and got Clare semi-situated in her sling. But by the time we got into the store she was exhausted and cranky and crying loudly. When we were halfway done she had finally stopped crying, but I had been so distracted up until that time that I was sure I had forgotten something--or many somethings.

We finally finished and as I stood in line and took out my credit card--oh, wait, my credit card is sitting at home on the shelf. I used the Customer Service phone to see if I could get hold of Jay in his office before he left for his 11:00 class, but of course he was already gone. So they held my basket for me until I could get my card and come back.

I had a choice--drive one mile to Jay's school and interrupt his class to get his card, or drive 10 miles each way to go home and get mine. I drove to Jay's school and just happened to see an administrator in the hall whom I know (her grandson and Joshua are in Kindermusik together). She found out where Jay's class was (I had stopped by the Engineering Department but all of the other professors were teaching, too) and gave me directions. It was in another building, but there was a covered walkway leading there so we didn't have to get wet again, although at that point we were all so soaked it didn't matter. I interrupted Jay's class to get his card. Thankfully, I knew three of the four students in the class, so I didn't feel like a total moron showing up there with two kids and a pile of hair matted to my face. I got the card and headed back to the Engineering suite to pick up Clare's carseat. I decided to feed her again, just in case, and then realized that it was only a few more minutes until Jay's class was over (There was a lot of walking involved here, compounded by the very short legs of a two-year-old who also thinks that every rug and doorjamb are strategically placed for him to "jump" off of). When Jay returned to the suite I asked if he could go with me to the store so I could run in and get the groceries while he sat in the car. He did, because he's a good person.

We dropped him off back at school and headed to Chik-Fil-A, which had been our plan from the beginning since I had my Free Chicken and Coke coupons. It was past naptime at this point, so I did what I have probably sworn I would never do...I handed Joshua's nuggets to him so that he could eat on the way home. Ahhhh!

He finished his lunch at home and napped without incident, despite the fact that his nap started over an hour late. Clare and I caught some Zzzzz's. And only now that I'm writing this am I seeing the points of grace that were so much a part of my hellish morning. A sympathetic and helpful grocery store employee, a kind and gracious university employee, and husband that doesn't mind being interrupted in the middle of the workday, his colleagues who treated my family like their own when we needed a moment to regroup, and a church friend who insisted that "It'll get better, girl" when I saw her in line during my second trip to the store.

Maybe Monday isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chicken Stupid

We've now lost three more chickens, but these were the ones already living outdoors.

Last night we came home to find all the chickens but one piled into one dark corner of the chicken house. The one that wasn't piled up with the others was standing in the opposite corner, minus a head. It appeared that it had stuck it's head through the chicken wire (how does that happen, BTW?) and something had snapped it's little chicken head right off.

Today the same thing happened to two more, sometime between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. This evening when we went out a hawk was perched on the fence, eyeing the chicken house. It seems we had found our predator.

Jay has since put up a second wall of chicken wire.

The moral of the story is, if you're a chicken, don't try to get through the chicken wire, even if the weeds on the other side look irresistible.

I don't feel too sad about these guys. I think it was natural selection at work.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chicken Little

We lost our first chicken today.

We got a new batch last week that had been living at the home of a friend, so they were two weeks old when they arrived at our house. Everything seemed to be going well until Jay noticed today that one was missing. It seems that it had been trampled by the others and was laying under a pile of wood chips. Jay put him in his own tub by himself and helped him eat and drink, but things didn't look good. He was a lot smaller than the others and obviously weaker, almost like he suffered from the chicken version of Failure to Thrive.

By this evening he had died. I'm surprised that I feel so sad, but I kept thinking that his mother would know what to do. That's what you get for having mommy hormones racing around like crazy.

On the other hand, the first batch is now living outside and getting gnarlier by the day. That should make it a little easier when harvest day comes around.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Gross Motor Skills and Breastfeeding

Joshua is fascinated with my manual breast pump. In his sweet little almost-two-year-old-brain, he is an indispensable part of the pumping process. If he is not there to inspect the pump, operate the pump, and ensure that the correct contents are making their way into the bottle, then we might as well just pack up the whole operation. I've never seen him so intent and focused on anything. This is serious work.

Today I was tending to Clare when I noticed that Joshua was very quiet. I looked over to find this (only a little less posed):
He carried it around with him for quite a bit of the afternoon, sticking the phalange on anything that remotely resembled a breast, most notably doorknobs with twisting locks on them. He was quite proud of himself and I couldn't help but laugh. As he was walking around seriously doing his experiments I asked, "Do you have your pump?"

At this point I have to back up and say that Joshua is working really hard on his gross motor skills. He climbs anything that isn't moving quickly and he's trying his darndest to jump...only he hasn't mastered it yet. When he tries to jump he keeps one foot planted firmly on the ground while flinging the rest of his body up into the air. And he's so proud of his efforts. He's probably going to poop in his pants the day he gets that second foot off the ground. But anyway...

As he was walking around seriously doing his experiments I asked, "Do you have your pump?"

At which point he begins to jump, flinging everything in the air, including the pump, except his firmly planted foot.

I almost pooped my pants from laughing so hard.

And to believe that some days I think I'm missing something by not going back to work. This is the good stuff, people.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Affirmations

Today Joshua, Clare, and I went to see the doctor for Clare's two-month checkup. As I am explaining to the doctor that Clare is a beast when she's sleepy, she's laying in my lap and cooing and gurgling, and flashing gummy grins at me. The doctor and I chatted about sleep habits, nursing, vaccinations, and the rest of the items on the infant checkup checklist. Then the doctor started her physical exam, checked her over and proclaimed that she is one big and healthy baby. Before she left the room she said to me, "I wouldn't change anything you're doing. You're good at this."

Did you hear that! "You're good at this!"

Those words that every career-woman-turned-stay-at-home-mom aches, longs, screams to hear!

You're good at this!

That's enough affirmation to last me--well--to Clare's four-month appointment, at which point I will gladly slip the doc a $20 if she'll just say it again.

But for now I'll believe that, hey, I'm good at this!

Just for fun: Clare now weighs 14 lbs., 7 oz. (off the charts), she is 24" long (95th percentile), and her head is 42cm in circumference (also off the charts).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Milestones

Last Saturday we packed up the family and headed to Nashville for my dad's retirement party. It was a fun evening at the marina with good food and a lot of people who are really special to my dad. I hadn't seen some of his co-workers since our wedding almost eight years ago, so dad and I played some stealth games of, "Who's that again?" and no one was the wiser.

I was surprised by how much the prospect of his retirement affected me. He's been working for the same company since I was two, so I don't remember him ever working anywhere else. I think his office may have changed locations a few times, but he's always been on the same floor of the same building for as long as I can remember. There has, of course, been a lot of turnover in his 30 years there, but many of his coworkers have watched me grow up (or have at least heard stories about me growing up). They are people that I don't see but once in a blue moon, but they are also people who make up a kind of invisible network that encircles me. It has happened before that I have forgotten that my dad is going out of town and I haven't been able to get hold of him. I needed only to call up one of his longtime coworkers, identify myself by first name only and ask, "Do you know where my dad is?" This elicits a chuckle and a quick explanation, usually followed by a lightbulb appearing over my head as I recall. I have rarely needed them, but I always knew they would be there for me.

It will be strange not to dial that phone number when I need to find him during the day. It will be strange not to meet him for lunch at that same downtown building I've been driving to by myself since I was sixteen. It will be strange not to say, "My dad's an engineer for the XXXXX."

He will be starting a new job soon because he can't stand to not be working. But those people won't be my nearly-invisible-and-hardly-needed-but-always-on-call support . They might think it's weird if I call up one day and say, "Do you know where my dad is?"

On the other hand, it's a real privilege, I think, for an adult child to be able to celebrate something joyful with a parent. It often happens that the milestones adult children are around for are deaths and moves out of family homes. So it was great to be able to celebrate with him, to tell him that I'm proud of him, and to see him so happy and surrounded by so many people who care about him.

And I guess it's up to me now to remember when he's gone out of town.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gotta' Be Kidding

At the risk of turning this into a lactivist blog, I simply must tell this story.

I went to Nashville on Sunday to see my best friend from seminary who was in town for a meeting. Her commitments ended at noon on Sunday, and since I wasn't going to arrive until mid-afternoon, she got together with another family member who lives in town. We decided to meet at Wild Oats since it's one of the only places I can find anymore in Nashville. It turned out to be extra-convenient because someone's dad forgot to put his shoes on his feet before we left home, and I remembered that Wild Oats sells Crocs. (Joshua is now required to wear them 24/7, which is the only way I can justify having spent $25 on a pair of shoes that he will probably outgrow next week.).

I met D, we loaded her stuff into my car, went into the store, found the Crocs, and I decided to pick up a "just in case" bottle of More Milk (it increases milk supply, as you may have guessed). We checked out, put Joshua's new shoes on so he could walk around, and then I figured I should probably feed Clare since she was cranky and hadn't eaten in a few hours. So we all settled into one of the booths at the front of the store and I started to feed her.

As I'm looking around I notice that one of the baggers, a young woman, maybe in her teens, is looking at me. Then I see her turn around and say something to the checker in her lane, and I hear the checker say, "Well, the baby's gotta eat!" Apparently this isn't the reaction that the bagger's looking for, so she moves along to the next lane, leans close to the checker, and says something to her. The checker looks over at me, and then the customer in the lane gets in on the conversation. I have no idea what they're saying, but I'm acutely aware that no one would have paid a lick of attention to what was going on if Bigmouth Bagger hadn't decided to announce it to the whole world.

And really, I'm astounded by the irony. Wild Oats boasts a "complete selection of the highest quality natural and organic food, helpful supplements and gentle, environmentally friendly household and body care products." Um, what could be more natural, organic, gentle, and environmentally friendly than good old momma's milk? And where's the logic in making a big deal over breastfeeding in a store that sells breastmilk supplements? Seriously? You're gonna take my $25 for a bottle of breastmilk supplement and then make a big deal that I'm breastfeeding in your store?

My respect for them is waning...quickly.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Red Pill

I finished reading this a few weeks before Clare was born and, even more than Fast Food Nation, it made me think really hard about what I eat. Jay has wanted a hobby farm for a long time, but I was surprised when I discovered that he wanted to try raising and eating our own meat. I was appalled to think that we would actually kill and eat something that had been walking around in our yard only days before. But this book really changed my mind.

Pollan shows how the products brought to our grocery stores by "big organic" may be a little better for our bodies, but not much better for our environment, than non-organic products. Eating locally is the best way to care for ourselves and our creation, and it's not terribly hard to do. So while we were patting ourselves on the back for shopping every week at our farmer's market, we realized that we need to be better about eating local, clean meat. We're not ready to put a cow in the backyard, but we'll see how we do with the chickens.

The book was great motivation to be much more thoughtful about how and what we eat.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Irresistible

I've been following the story of the woman who was told she couldn't breastfeed in her local Applebee's in Lexington, KY (so much for "eatin' good in the neighborhood"). You can read the whole story here (the story is in the first post by "amhky"), but the gist is that the woman began breastfeeding her seven-month old at a table when she was approached by a server and told that she would need to cover herself with a blanket. The mother informed the server that KY law states that she has a right to breastfeed in public without covering up and that she hadn't even brought a blanket with her. The interaction continued with the server and the manager until the mother and the rest of her family left the restaurant. When the mother's attorney finally received a reply from Applebee's Corporate headquarters (it took two attempts), the letter stated that, in the future, all Applebee's restaurants would stock blankets to give to nursing moms so that they could cover up.

Talk about missing the point.

As a result, nursing moms staged nurse-ins at Applebee's restaurants all over the country this past Saturday. Our glorious town is not blessed with an Applebee's, so Clare and I did not participate. But I saw this cartoon at another blog and had to share, not only because it's funny but because I'm still feeling a little like a dairy cow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Next Time


I won't be so alarmed when my husband tells me he's going out to pick up some chicks.

He went in with a colleague to buy these little guys and gals, but the hatchery shorted their order by eight chickens. The hatchery isn't sure which ones were left out so we have no idea what kind these are. But here they are, three days old and requiring much less maintenance than the other new creature in our house.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Birth Story, Finishing Touches

On Saturday morning Clare had her hearing test. They insisted on doing this in the nursery and we relented. Jay went with her to the nursery and stood outside while they did the test (which took longer than normal because she kept tearing the sensors off of her head). I took a short nap and then walked down to see what was going on. As I was standing in the nursery window watching my twice-as-big-as-the-other-babies baby in my pajamas, I saw the other of my two favorite doctors from my practice.

"Hey!" he said, "What're you doing here?"

I thought he was being funny so I said, "Watching my kid's hearing test. What're you doing here?"

"Oh!" he said, "You had the baby?"

"Yeah! Yesterday at 12:56! Can I go home after lunch?"

"Oh! I thought maybe you were just here looking at the babies, hoping for some inspiration!"

Had I been in a less chipper mood I might have said, "Yeah, because I always come to the hospital nursery at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday in my pajamas!" But I didn't, I just asked again if I could go home after lunch.

He asked about pain--I said I was fine. He asked about bleeding--I said it was normal. He asked if I wanted any prescriptions--I said that I didn't. This was quite the departure from my doctor in Chicago who felt the need to poke, prod, and otherwise inspect before giving me the OK to go home. This time the doctor just congratulated me, laughed and patted Jay on the back when I told him that natural induction had done the job, and went to write a discharge order. We were home by 2:00 p.m. My mom had kicked out all of the family that had been there (except for my dad) and we settled in.

A note about her name:
Both Elizabeth and Clare were on my short list of names. Jay had no short list, so I kept nagging him to look at mine. One day at lunch he relented and said that he liked Clare.

I had a friend in seminary named Clare and I always liked that spelling better than the French version, 'Claire,' mostly for aesthetic reasons. Also, Clare is the English version. Since we knew we were going to use Elizabeth (very English), we decided that it would be nice to use the English version of Clare as well.

Elizabeth was pretty much a given. It's my middle name and my grandmother's name.

Several days after she was born my friend Jason called me from the road. I told him her name and the spelling of Clare. "Oh," he said, "like St. Francis and Clare." (Jason's a former Franciscan brother, so he'd know).

"Sure," I said, clueless..."Whatever you say."

After a little research I discovered that St. Clare was one of the first followers of St. Francis of Assisi, that there is an order of Saint Clare in Memphis, and that our little Clare was born the during the novena for the Feast of St. Clare.

Howd'ya like that?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Birth Story, Part III

The moment my back hit the bed, I felt it...

Let me first say that the phrase "urge to push" is malarkey. I've read over and over about experiencing the "urge to push" and I can now say, without a doubt, that it is not an "urge." Calling it an "urge" implies that a I have some choice about whether or not to push. It implies that I have some sort of control, that I feel a sensation that causes me to want to push, but that I can also ignore that sensation.

That is completely not the case.

Calling it an "urge to push," is like saying that when you have food poisoning you have an "urge to throw up," as though you could choose not to. And throwing up is exactly what it felt like, except that the sensation was coming from the other end. My body was expelling the baby, whether I wanted it to or not. It was about 11:45 a.m.

When I caught my breath, I hollered to the nurse, "I'm pushing!" She ran over, checked my cervix and said, "You're complete!" Jay came back to the room, the nurse broke down the bed, and we all worked to get me into position to push. Unlike Joshua, this baby didn't show any signs of distress when I was leaning back, so we decided that I would push that way. Unfortunately, though, the epidural had started to take effect and it was really strong. Pretty soon I wasn't able to feel contractions at all and had to watch the monitor to see when they were happening. It was really difficult to push because I couldn't feel anything. Not surprisingly, my pushing wasn't terribly effective and I was getting pretty aggravated. To make things more interesting, the baby kept moving around and the fetal monitor kept losing the heartbeat. So Jay began playing triple-duty...he held one leg for me, checked my progress with every push, and chased the baby around with the fetal monitor to keep track of the heart rate (the nurse threatened to monitor internally if we couldn't keep track of the heartbeat with the external monitor).

About fifteen minutes later the doctor came in. I was thrilled to see that it was one of the two that I liked and trusted most in the practice. This particular doctor is very calm, very amenable to limiting medical interventions, and very personable. As soon as he walked in I asked if he could please turn down the epidural. "Sure!" he said, and walked over to the machine. The nurse was documenting all of this on computer and asked him what he was turning it down to

"Zero," he said.

"You're turning it off?" she asked.

"Yep."

God bless him. I don't know how he knew that would be OK with me or even that that's really what I wanted, but he did. And suddenly pushing became infinitely easier. I was making pretty good progress with every push, and pretty soon Jay and the nurse were taking turns trying to determine if she was going to be a redhead or not. A few minutes later the epidural had worn off completely, much to my relief.

And as I sensed that that enormous head might be ready to do some damage, I remembered to ask the doctor...

"You're not an episiotomy guy, are you?"

"No," he said, and began to explain that he used to perform them until research showed that blah, blah, blah. I had my answer. And the nurse reassured me that, "Dr. S. is really good at saving bottoms." Although I was pretty sure nobody would be able to save mine, I was relieved that there would be no cutting involved.

I really don't remember much of what happened next, but I remember that I had to stop pushing a few times so that the doctor could try to ease out the head with as little tearing as possible. And I remember really wanting to push anyway to get that stinking head out because it didn't particularly feel good where it was. And I remember the doctor telling me that I was going to tear. And I remember asking him to be sure to use a numbing agent before he stitched me up since the epidural was quite gone (like he was going forget).

And suddenly there was a head and a really long body and a wail and there she was! There was slight meconium staining, but they were satisfied with a few good suctions and suddenly she was on my chest! We cuddled for a bit before I handed her to Jay. I delivered another fabulous placenta and was stitched up. The nurses took footprints, weighed her, expressed their appreciation for my enormous child, and gave her back to me so that she could eat. I forgot how tiny that mouth can look next to a full-and-ready-to-feed breast, but she ate like a champ! She was very content, unlike Joshua who didn't stop yelling the whole time we were in the hospital.

I avoided catheterization, and since the epidural had long since worn off I got to walk to the bathroom by myself. When I got back I took Clare again and she managed to poop all over both of us. After awhile the nurses came back to clean us all up. Jay went with Clare to the room where a pediatric nurse was waiting to take her temperature and blood sugar (required for babies over ten pounds). I followed with another nurse and we all got settled in.

Clare's temperature was low enough to concern the nurse and she made us keep her in the isolette to warm up for thirty minutes. There was also some concern about her blood sugar, but it went up quickly (poor girl had to have it checked every hour for the first five hours of her life) so they left us alone.

Food was bad, nurses were good. We only stayed 24 hours before heading home, thanks to my great doctor and the great doctor from our pediatrician's office.

One more part to go...

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Birth Story, Part II

By the time we arrived at the hospital, I was pretty uncomfortable. I had to stop walking during contractions and was close to the point of being unable to talk. We were taken up to Labor and Delivery where I changed into a lovely hospital gown and provided a urine sample. Sitting on the toilet was not an option, however, due to my size and the discomfort of my contractions, so I pulled a beautiful "straddle the bowl" move that I'm sorry I couldn't share with everyone else. The nurse checked my cervix and declared that I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. I have only been more disappointed in my life once--upon hearing that I was only 1 centimeter with Joshua after being in labor for 14 hours.

The nurse talked to the doctor who said that I could walk the halls for an hour (until 11:30) and that he would admit me if I had made sufficient progress. "But," the nurse said, "you look like you're really in labor. I can tell by your breathing." I was a little annoyed that there was some doubt about whether I was really in labor but relieved that they weren't going to start strapping monitors on me right away.

Jay and I wandered into the hall and started walking--because walking for six hours straight (minus a 15-minute car ride) wasn't enough. Had I known, I would have brought tennis shoes, because the $9 flip-flops just weren't cutting it anymore. So off we went, up and down the halls for what seemed like an eternity. It was really about 20 minutes. I was stopping with every contraction, doing my best to imitate a lowing cow, making the best horse lips I knew how, and generally trying not to just sink to the floor in agony. It didn't help that the hallway we were provided was populated with several men in ties who appeared to be architects. My attitude in the beginning was, "They're in my space. They should expect moaning, laboring women." But by the time I was in serious pain I started to get a little self-conscious. After all, I'm the one who's supposed to make people feel comfortable. I can't really do that when my body's trying to make a 1 centimeter hole turn into a 10 centimeter hole.

After about 30 minutes I was done. I wanted medication and I wanted it now. Jay wasn't going to convince me otherwise, and he wasn't going to fool me with his, "Just one more lap" routine. And if he tried to stand in front of me I was going to knock him down. There was one place I wanted to be--on a bed in Delivery Room 3 with an epidural jammed in my back.

Despite pleas, threats, and tears I made my way back to the delivery room and paged the nurse. When she arrived I told her I wanted the anesthesiologist as soon as humanly possible. It was only then that she informed me that I would have to have blood tests to determine whether or not anesthesia was safe, and that it would take an hour to get the results. She offered narcotics in the meantime, which I refused. In preparation for the epidural she placed an IV and hooked me up to the fetal heart monitor. I tried to make my self as comfortable as possible but I was in utter agony. Each contraction racked my body and the "downtime" between contractions was very inconsistent--sometimes I had several minutes between them and sometimes I had less than 30 seconds. I knew that I was in transition, but that didn't make the pain any less manageable.

What made things even less than optimal was the fact that the nurses had absolutely no training in helping a woman through labor without medication. Jay had given them the quick and dirty on the Bradley method when we arrived, but they were so unused to unmedicated birth that the requests and information he provided were quickly forgotten.

One of the most troublesome/annoying/disturbing moments was an exchange between one of the nurses and Jay. He was on one side of me and she was on the other. Despite the fact that I was in utter agony and wanted desperately to be left alone, she decided that it was a good time to ask Jay questions about Bradley birth. It went something like this: "So, I don't know much about Bradley except the little bit we learned about in nursing school. But I was just asking someone about it and they said that sometimes in Bradley birth the man and woman want to be naked together in the delivery room. Are you all going to want to be naked together, because I don't think that's something we can do?" Jay very quickly told her that, no, we both intended to stayed clothed. She continued, though. "Because, wow, I mean, that's like, I'd be like, I don't think I can handle that..." And it took every ounce of my being not to scream, "Shut the #$%^ up, lady!" So you can see what we were dealing with here.

When the blood tests came back an hour later Jay requested that the nurse check my progress again. I was at 7 cm. When the anesthesiologist showed up about 10 minutes later, I was still at 7 cm. Jay asked me one last time to forego the epidural but my mind was made up. He was summarily dismissed from the room while the anesthesiologist went over the risks and obtained my consent for anesthesia.

I sat up with the help of the nurse (not the "Do you want to be naked?" nurse) and whimpered to her that I was having a contraction and that I wasn't sure I could be still. She held my hand and stared into my eyes in what was by far one of the most intense connections I've ever had with another human being. She breathed with me and squeezed hands with me, and finally it was over. She instructed me to lay back down and told me that the epidural would start to take effect in about 15 minutes.

You won't believe what happened next...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Birth Story, Part I

*Warning: This post contains references to bodily fluids, body parts, and gross stuff that happens during labor and delivery. If you can't hang, this post may not be for you.

On July 19 I went in for my regular weekly checkup, knowing that the nurse practitioner would want to do an internal exam. I was shocked when she told me that I was a whole centimeter dilated and 50% effaced--shocked because I never dilated at all before going into labor with Joshua, and I assumed (from discussions with the doctor and anecdotal evidence) that things would be the same with this pregnancy. The NP was unable to determine the baby's position, so she recommended an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that the baby was head-down, that my amniotic fluid was at a normal level, and that the baby's head was enormous. None of these things came as a shock.

I was excited to go to my appointment the following week to see if I had made any progress. I hadn't. But my doctor was very encouraging, understanding how aggravating things can be in the last few days. He sent me on my way with a pat on the back and a great pep talk.

The following Tuesday (the day after my due date) I lost a good bit of my mucus plug while in the shower. This came as a shock, again, because I didn't lose my mucus plus at all with Joshua until I was already in labor. I got out of the shower and dried my hair, waiting for every ache and twinge to turn into a full-blown contraction. Nothing happened. Joshua and I went to our regularly-scheduled playgroup at the park where the other moms were surprised and a bit disappointed to see me. "But!" I cried triumphantly, "I lost my mucus plug this morning!" There was much excitement.

The next morning I lost more. But by then I knew better than to be excited. Everything I read said that, after losing the mucus plug, I could go into labor within the next few days--or the next few weeks. I went to my appointment the next day and gave my doctor a desperate look. He pulled out the pep talk again. Before I left I shared with him that I was somewhat concerned about the baby's movement. Sometimes her movements were seismic and sometimes I could barely feel anything. He decided to do a non-stress test right away and scheduled an ultrasound for the following Monday. The non-stress test went fine and I was sent on my way, but not before I asked the doctor if it was still safe to try "natural" induction even though I'd lost my mucus plug. He highly recommended it, which makes him quite the hero in Jay's book.

That night, after enjoying pepperoni pizza with Jay, Joshua, my cousin David, and his girlfriend Amanda, we tried natural induction. It wasn't fun, but my goodness did it work. By 11:00 p.m. I was having regular contractions at six minutes apart. My only concern was whether I would be able to stay at home until my mom could get here at 7:00 the next morning.

I couldn't sleep, so I sat in the living room and read Children of Hurin until about 2:30 a.m. Then I went back to bed, thinking I might be tired enough to sleep. I slept between contractions until about 4:00 a.m. when I felt the need to walk. I showered, I dressed, I finished packing our hospital bag, I did some laundry, and as soon as 5:00 a.m. rolled around I called my mom and kept walking.

She got to the house at about 7:30 and went right to work playing with Joshua so I could--you guessed it--keep walking! I ate some breakfast and finally at 10:00 a.m. Jay checked my cervix. He made a pretty good guess that I was somewhere between 4 and 6 centimeters dilated, so we decided to head to the hospital.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My How We've Grown!

Here's our big girl the day after she was born, on the way home from the hospital.

And here she is exactly four weeks later! Hard to believe she's the same person!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Because You Needed a Reason to Smile On Monday

I'm on my own today for the first time and it's a doozy. Jay has faculty workshop followed by faculty lunch and then he's staying to work on his syllabi. Oh, and on top of that there's a faculty dinner tonight so he won't be home until Joshua's bedtime. This should be interesting.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Off the Charts!

Clare just got home from her two-week checkup and everything is super. Two weeks ago when we went in for a weight check she had dropped to 9 lbs, 4 oz from her birthweight of 10 lbs, 3 oz, so I guessed that when we went in today she'd be back up to birthweight plus a few ounces.

Nope.

As of today, she weighs 10 lbs., 13 oz. She's almost 23 inches long, and her head circumference is 39 cm. Every measurement is above the 95th percentile. The doctor was quite pleased with the checkup.

And yet she couldn't prescribe a magic bullet to make Clare sleep at night rather than during the day.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pictures

Clare and her Daddy...just a few hours old!Clare and her mommy, who is looking a liitle worse for wear.
Leaving the hospital after just 24 hours...yay!
Meeting big brother at home

She Has Arrived!

Elizabeth Clare joined the world on August 3 at 12:56 p.m. She weighed 10 lbs., 3 oz and measured 19.5" long. It is quite possible that she will be a redhead, although only time will tell. We plan to call her Clare.

Pictures and birth story are forthcoming.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Great Distractions While Waiting to Give Birth

They just don't make 'em like they used to. I actually remember this one.


And if you really feel like jamming, this may do the trick.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Update

I am now hanging out at 39.5 weeks, although according to me I'm due tomorrow.

I've been 1 cm dilated for over a week now.

Baby is head down and estimated by ultrasound last week to be 9 lbs., 2 oz (except that I think those measurements are crap)

I don't have Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (a scare for a few days)

I have 100 pages left in my re-read of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and then I can start Deathly Hallows.

People who put spoilers on their blogs without warning should be strung up by their toenails.

I actually scheduled another appointment with my obstetrician for next Thursday, although if I actually have to go I'm not going to be very happy. He's trying to be upbeat and chipper about everything, which I appreciate, but I think he knows I'm just about around the bend.

I know I'm going to go into labor when my house is at its worst, so I should just go ahead and let it go instead of obsessing about keeping it clean.

I have a pedicure this afternoon. Maybe that will get things going.

If not, I'm ordering a pepperoni pizza tomorrow night. I ate pepperoni pizza the night before I went into labor with Joshua on the suggestion of one of my parishioners.

Most of my clothes don't fit anymore. I have to wear a belly band with everything now, and even that isn't always preventing a crack attack. I have to do my laundry every three days just to have enough clothes to wear.

We have a name picked out. I just can't wait to meet the little girl who goes with it.

I know I'm lucky that I've had an easy pregnancy and that I have a completely-cooked baby ready to come out, but the anticipation is just about to do me in.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Blah

Sick? Check.

Tired? Check.

Sick of being tired? Check.

Tired of being sick? Check.

Ready to be done with babywatch 2007? Check.

My presence may be sparse. I'll let you know when something happens.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Eight Random Things

I was recently tagged by Erica, another pastor-mom in Northern Illinois. I feel quite honored since I love reading her blog. I rarely comment, however. I find her writing so astute and thought-provoking that I'm too busy thinking to actually comment. And by the time I think of something (possibly) worthwhile to say I'm already three posts behind. So here we go!
  1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
  2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
1. I only get my hair cut every six months or so. I've had too many bad experiences with cheap haircutteries to trust them anymore, so I figure if I'm going to shell out the big bucks to someone who knows what they're doing, I'm only going to do it every once in awhile. That way I feel like I'm getting my money's worth.

2. I used to go country dancing two or three times a week when I was home on breaks from college. I even found a Nebraska boy to go dancing with when I was in seminary in Boston.

3. I refuse to watch any movie with Nicholas Cage in it. I was forced to watch him in Fire Birds
and it was so awful I swore I'd never watch a movie with him in it again. I did actually watch
World Trade Center over Christmas, but I was being a good sport since my mom's husband had gotten it for Christmas and wanted to see it.

4. I buy any and all books authored by people I know, even if I know I'm not going to read them.

5. I'm a hardcore nailbiter but, for some reason, I stop cold turkey when I'm pregnant.

6. I currently weigh over 200 pounds. This makes Jay cheer out loud. It makes me want to cry. I've only been fussed at by the two female doctors in my practice.

7. I really, really hate to cook but I do it anyway since I'm the one at home. I try to enjoy it, I really do, but it doesn't work for me.

8. I wasn't baptized until I was 20. I grew up in a church that only allowed "believer's baptisms" (as opposed to infant baptism) and I just never got around to it. When I decided to join the United Methodist Church I had to be baptized first. For whatever reason, I had clung to the idea of baptism by immersion rather than sprinkling, so we had to go over to the Disciples of Christ church to use their baptistry. I joined the UMC the next day.

I'm tagging:
Jenny (Call It What You Want)
Mercedes (In-House Mommy)
Tiff (Life Actually)
Pastor Laura (Pastor Laura's Musings)
Anna (Diary of a Palindrome)
Darby (Round and Round We Go)
Sarah (Sarahcontrary)
and Laura (An Open Book)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our Town

One of the things I like about living in a small town, and being committed to living in that small town for a long while, is that local politics are easy to follow--not to mention amusing. When NPR cut its talk radio station in our town a few months ago (which I still haven't forgiven them for) I began occasionally listening to the local talk radio station. I get to keep up with the constant complaints against the school board for their incompetence (I haven't decided whether I think that's true or not), the ongoing debate about whether or not the local baseball club's recent affiliation with the Seattle Mariners is a step in the right direction, and whether or not Mary Winkler should fry.

Most recently the call-in shows have centered the newest hot topic here in town: the elimination of fourth-block athletic practice.

Let's start with what little background I have, having only been here for a year. First, it seems that our public school system has a little issue with No Child Left Behind. Despite the fact that I think NCLB is a big bunch of baloney, it is important to the issue at hand to know that the local schools are performing below NCLB standards. Second, from what I can tell, sometime in the recent past the school board voted to cut the number of high school class periods each day from six to four. Again, I'm not sure if that means that students really only take four classes each semester (which seems a little on the low side) or if they somehow rotate class periods so that they can actually take more than four classes. Third, up until recently varsity sports teams were allowed to use the fourth block of the school day for athletic practice. That's 25% of the school day.

So it seems that in the last week or so the school board voted to eliminate "fourth-block athletic practice." And (GASP) they voted without getting the input of the community! The horror!

Here's what they might have heard had they decided to let the members of the community speak out. I know because these are the comments I've heard on the radio and read in the newspaper:
  • Now student-athletes might have to choose between athletics and their after-school jobs! (Oh no! A high school student having to make a difficult choice? Then they might have to grow up!)
  • The role of the coach is necessary for young men who don't have a father figure at home. If you take that away, these boys are going to be left without role models (When did it become the job of the public school to provide parents for students? And since when are classroom teachers insufficient role models?)
  • We have to have practice to keep these boys lean! We don't want our boys to be no fatties! (Yes, I'm as concerned about obesity as the next person, but if it's really that important, make physical education mandatory! And yes "We don't want our boys to be no fatties" is, in fact, a direct quote.)
  • If the students have to stay after school to practice, how are they going to get home? (It's called a carpool, people. Remember? My mom will drop off if yours will pick up?)
  • If you eliminate fourth-block athletic practice then the student-athletes have to find another elective to take! (What a horrible idea! Wait--what if they took an academic class in that block? Oh, never mind, that's just silly.)
And my all-time favorite:
  • If our athletes can't practice during the school day (note: they get a PE credit for practice) then we should eliminate band and chorus as electives as well.
Oh, my little small-town comrades, there's a reason why you elect members to the school board--because you believe that they are able to make the best decisions for the students. Let them do their job!

And on an unrelated note: Our local AA baseball team is having an afternoon game. Kids who bring a church bulletin with them get in free. On how many levels is that just wrong?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Four

I have shamelessly stolen this from dear, beautiful, precious orangeblossoms because she dared to say that she didn't know her readers well enough to tag them. Hah! So here goes...

Four Jobs I've Had
  • Director of a nursing-home based geropsychiatric rehabilitation program (this also qualifies as the worst job I've ever had. Not because of the residents, but because of the politics, backstabbing on the upper-management level, and lack of respect for the integrity of the residents and employees on the part of management. Can you tell I still have some issues with that job?)
  • United Methodist Pastor (I still am, actually, just currently fulfilling my appointment to Family Leave)
  • Mom!
  • Copyeditor at for a Bed and Breakfast directory at Rutledge Hill Press
Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
  • Dodgeball (I am not ashamed)
  • So I Married an Ax Murderer
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Napoleon Dynamite
Four Places I've Lived
  • Nashville
  • Lancaster, California
  • Boston
  • Greencastle, Indiana (now there's fun, I tell ya)
Four Places I've Vacationed
Four of My Favorite Dishes
  • Just about any roll prepared at Tokyo Sushi in Palmdale, California
  • Erika's Enchiladas and Rice
  • My grandmother's stuffed eggplant
  • Sea Bass from the Sai Cafe in Chicago
Four Sites I Visit Daily
  • My Bloglines page (It's my home page. I have to)
  • Pastor Mom
  • My Babycenter Birth Board (November 2005)
  • My SAHM group webpage
Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
  • In bed (That is actually where I'd rather be anytime. Except when I'm already there. Then I'm cool).
  • In a house with a weeded flowerbed and decorate nursery
  • That' s about it.
Four people I'm tagging:
  • Kat E (Stuff I Love to Hate)
  • Erika (Endangered Species: Church)
  • Kelly (You Make Me Wanna Shoop)
  • Amy (This Worrell-Wind of a Life)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The "Pastor" Part

I noticed several months ago that, although my tag line states that I'm "trying to honor it all" I haven't posted much about the pastoring part of my life. I suppose that makes sense since I'm doing a heckuva lot more mothering than pastoring, but I still feel the need to try and honor the pastor part.

So several months ago, as I eagerly anticipated the end of Jay's school year, I contacted my District Superintendent to offer myself up for pulpit supply during the summer. I guess there were a lot of reasons why I did it. I really wanted to be back in the pulpit and work on my preaching chops. I wanted to connect with other pastors and congregations in the district. And most of all, I think, I wanted to contribute something to the household coffers. One of the hardest things about staying home for me has been trying to accept the transition from "moneymaker" to "completely dependent on husband's income." Jay had pretty sweet fellowships when he was at Northwestern, but my income made it possible for us to live in a totally fabulous condo in Chicago. And my appointment at the church where I pastored provided free housing, insurance, utilities, etc. Going from all that to no income at all hasn't been the easiest transition psychologically.

The DS sent an e-mail to all the churches on my district and one of the neighboring districts. Strangely enough, the first offer I got was from my own church, which I gladly accepted. The second offer was from a local pastor who has a two-point charge (she pastors two churches) several miles west of here. There have been no more offers and for that I am eternally grateful.

I have discovered that pastoring and momming in combination is not my forte.

As tough as it sometimes is (and I hesitate to say that since a blogger that I read regularly and enjoy has just vented about SAHMs who "bellyache" about how difficult the job is) I feel like the during-the-day care of Joshua is my responsibility. Everytime I packed up my books and went over to church to study or write, I felt unbelievably guilty about asking Jay to do my job. He doesn't ask me to grade problem sets or prepare his lectures, right? So why should I ask him to do my job. And yes, the logical part of me knows that Jay is a parent, too, and that Jay doesn't think twice about hanging out with Joshua when I need some time to myself. But the totally irrational part of me says that I'm not being fair leaving Jay with my responsibilities when he has things that he'd like to do, too. (Yes, I know how unbelievably stupid that sounds. No need to point it out).

So it wasn't the greatest experience ever. I was really glad for the opportunity to study and write and preach and feel like I was, in part, doing what I've been called to do. But I'm not sure the trade-off in guilt was totally worth it. I guess it doesn't help that I'm merely weeks from giving birth and exhaustion and hormones are at an all-time high.

Maybe I'll try again next summer. Maybe not. We'll see.

There's the "pastor" part.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Guilty or Stupid?

Craigslist has been my favorite website of late. We're trying to get nursery #2 put together, and in the process realized that we only really need big-ticket items like a crib (Joshua isn't even close to being ready to sleep in a big-boy bed) and a gliding rocking chair. There are a few other things but we haven't quite decided that we really need them yet. Anyway, we decided that new items weren't really part of our budget, and that's when I began my affair with craigslist. In the past two weeks we have procured a might-as-well-be-new crib for $60 and a gorgeous, looks-like-it-just-came-from-the-store gliding rocker for $100, thanks to my parents who were willing to call perfect strangers on my behalf, go to their homes to look at the items, fork over the cash, and then drive them here for us.

The only drawback is the guilt. I was talking to my friend Jason about it the other night.

Me: "I think I'm having second-time mom guilt. All of Joshua's stuff was brand new, and now that we're seven weeks out from BGB I'm snatching up used stuff on craigslist left and right."

Jason: "You shouldn't feel guilty about that. You should feel stupid that you spent that much money on new stuff in the first place."

Point taken.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Gotta Stack Cheese

Because there's nothing more fabulous about being a SAHM than the amount of guilt one can feel in the course of the day over seemingly contradictory issues, I decided to try to make a few bucks this summer before BGB arrives. I have a few preaching gigs lined up, so my blogging may be a little sparse since I'm spending all my writing energy on sermons. I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oops!

Is it bad that both Jay and I forgot that it was our anniversary until just a few minutes ago? Or does it make it OK that we both forgot?

It's number eight. I was going to write a cute post about our wedding day or how we met or something like that. I guess it'll wait until next year. But just for fun, here's a picture of us eight years ago today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ain't That the Truth!

I recently read a fabulous column by Carolyn Hax, advice columnist for the Washington Post. I don't know if she has kids or not, but she obviously understands what it means to be a mom who stays at home with kids. She recently answered a question (more like a rant) from a working woman who doesn't understand why her best friend, a stay-at-home mom, doesn't return her phone calls. Carolyn's retort is classic and right on the money.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Small World

In a perfect world I would have this baby at home.

As far as hospital births go, I have no complaints about my labor and delivery experience with Joshua. But I am not particularly looking forward to another hospital birth. I had Joshua at Northwestern Memorial, one of the best women's hospitals in the country. While it is definitely a baby factory, I never once had anyone question any of my decisions about labor, delivery, or aftercare. I'm not so sure how things are going to go here.

I have looked extensively for a midwife willing to perform a homebirth, but the only midwives in the area work for the big hospital and won't do deliveries at home. Heck, I can't even find a doula within 50 miles. But short of a homebirth (in which I envision myself laboring in my own bed, in my enormous tub, even in my yard) I would prefer to make this one work without medication. I feel much more confident in my ability this time around since I will be able to labor at home longer now that the hospital isn't sixty miles away and since I've already been through this once. But just in case I decided to do some more reading on unmedicated birth to supplement my Bradley Birth classes from my pregnancy with Joshua. I searched the internet and noticed that many bloggers had read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.

Rewind to Christmas...

My mom, my best friend, and her mom were visiting together at my mom's house. We were discussing scenic routes in Middle and Western Tennessee, and fun, out-of-the-way places like Hohenwald. My mom started talking about Summertown, TN, a commune founded by some California "hippies" in the 1970s who wanted to live in intentional community and create their own utopia. This story surprised me. I've lived in Tennessee for most of my life and had never heard of The Farm, as it is known. It is still going strong, as you can see from their website and they are most well-known for their group of nationally-recognized midwives, led by the co-founder of the commune.

Can you see where this is going?

Yep, the co-founder of the commune and preeminent midwife in the United States is none other than Ina May Gaskin of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. And she lives 120 miles away.

Now my ideal birth is on The Farm with Ina May and the Midwives. But I have a sneaking suspicion I'll probably be in the hospital.

Just for fun, Vanity Fair recently did a story on the Farm. It's fascinating. You can find it here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to
  • all the moms who always knew they would thrive as mothers and who are in their element when nurturing their children.
  • all the moms for whom the responsibilities of parenting came as a total surprise
  • all the moms who parent those who aren't their biological children
  • all the moms who have had to let go of children because of untimely death, miscarriage, or stillbirth
  • all the moms who have had to let go of dreams of children
  • all the men who mother their children or the children of others
  • my mom!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bad Idea Thursday

  • Bought a box of Kashi TLC Oatmeal and Dark Chocolate Cookies (so new they're not even on the Kashi website). Our Kroger just expanded its natural/organic foods section and lo and behold, there they were. The whole box is now gone. Jay had nothing to do with it. But they're good for me right?
  • Watched the pilot episode of Traveler last night. I wasn't quite finished folding laundry by the time Grey's Anatomy was over and it was on so I figured I'd take a peek. One hour later and I'm trying to make sure there's nothing happening next Wednesday night so that I can watch again. And I had just weened myself from TV!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Brock-EE!

Jay harvested our first batch of broccoli this morning. So far Joshua's the only one that's taste-tested it and according to him it's pretty yummy. Most of it's going on a spinach salad tonight. The rest will be expertly prepared (Ha!) for Jay's lunch tomorrow.

We were all sitting in Joshua's room this morning for our morning briefing when Jay said he had to go so he could cut some broccoli since it was starting to flower. He then looked at me and said, "Do you think you could blanch it and freeze it during the day today?" He might as well have said, "Do you think you could rotate the tires on my Jeep and change the oil sometime today?"

I understand both "blanch" and "freeze," but I'm still not comfortable enough in my domestic skill to be trusted with a gardenful of beautiful fresh vegetables.

Lucky for me, only the above amount was ready to come inside. Guess I'll blanch and freeze another day. Oh goody.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Welcome!

To the third trimester! I can't believe it's here already, although the out-of-control-enormity of my belly (and other parts) would definitely give it away. I felt like time just plodded along with Joshua, and it may still feel that way in a few weeks, so it's amazing to me that I only have twelve weeks to go.

The good news is that I had my gestational diabetes screening last Thursday and it came out normal. Whew! I failed my screening with Joshua and had the joy of the three-hour test. I would've done just about anything to avoid that again, even give up ice cream!

Twelve weeks. Lots to do.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Two Days that Felt Like Two Years (Part III)

At 2:30 this is what our side yard looked like.

The septic tank was pretty deep, which is why our first plumber couldn't find it. But these guys did, and it didn't take long for them to suck it dry. By 3:00 they were finished and Jay and I were left to prioritize our activities for the next half hour. Do we try to wash dishes or do we vacuum the living room (we have a water-filtered vaccum)? Do we just move the dishes into the utility sink in the laundry room or mop the kitchen floor?

We decided to vacuum and clean as much of the kitchen as possible, hoping that the students would be running late. But of course they were right on time with bags upon bags of groceries. So our first project was to move all the dishes to the utility sink (another thing I'm so grateful for), and they started preparing food while I tried to clean the counters around them and point them in the direction of the cookware and utensils they needed.

By the time the rest of the guests showed up for dinner the students had created a very impressive spread and proceeded to play the hosting role masterfully. Dinner was great and the company was outstanding (who knew we could get 20 folks in our humble little abode). Best of all? Jay and I only had to sit back and watch it all happen. The whole event was planned and executed by the students. They just needed a place to do it.


Then the camping fun began: A fire-building contest, two gripping games of Mafia (one of which I won), and a whole evening of having to get used to being called "Mrs. B." The fun apparently continued long after Dr. and Mrs. B. went to bed but we never heard a sound. They made their own breakfast in the morning and were gone by 10:00, exactly when their schedule said they'd be out the door.

Our house was cleaner when they left than when they arrived and, as far as we know, everyone had a fabulous time.

Oh yes.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Two Days that Felt Like Two Years (Part II)

Jay and I were a little lost on Friday morning. We have our morning routine down to an exact science, but with no water we weren't sure what we were supposed to do. Needless to say, it didn't take us long to get ready for the day. I brushed my teeth at the hose, put on some clothes, and pulled my hair away from my face. Jay packed up his clothes and travel kit and headed off to school to shower in the gym (and try to come up with a lecture for his 9:00 a.m. class since he'd been crawling around under the house until 1:00 a.m.).

In the midst of all of this I realized that I did have a lot to be grateful for:
  1. I was sure glad we bought the home warranty. Even though it turns out they don't cover the service we required, it was reassuring to know that someone was going to be on the case first thing in the morning and I wasn't going to be stuck calling plumbers.
  2. I was relieved that I had done every smidgen of laundry in the house earlier in the week so that there was one less thing to worry about.
  3. Another thing to be grateful for? Six acres of bathroom property.
  4. It would take two hands to count the number of friends/neighbors I could've called to watch my kid and let me borrow a shower. I wasn't grody, but showering is a mental health issue for me. I need to shower first thing in the morning in order to feel human. Otherwise I function at about half capacity. I survived without the shower, but it was touch and go for awhile.
  5. It took me until well after noon to tell Joshua I was going to have to throw him out the window. With all that stress (and no shower) I was a little surprised I lasted that long.
  6. Once our water was working again, my responsibilities were over. Our Friday evening event was student-planned and student-executed, so when they arrived they were in charge. All I had to do was make sure my house was somewhat presentable.
Our home warranty company called by 8:00 and we were promised a plumber by noon. He actually showed up at ten! There were a few hitches. First, he didn't seem to be aware that we were on a well and septic despite the fact that our warranty company is supposed to have all the information on our home. Second, he wasn't prepared for the fact that we didn't have a "clean out" on our septic tank, meaning that there was virtually nothing he could do to help us from the get-go. Third, I practically had to go meet him downtown and lead him out to the house because he was pretty clueless on the whole "reading a map" thing.

But, once he determined that we needed our septic tank pumped, he called a local company, explained the situation in detail, and got us a 1:00 p.m. pumping appointment. I added my own plea to the septic guy, put on my best Southern accent, and begged him to come as soon as possible since I was having a houseful of guests who would start arriving at 3:30!

Oh yes.