Saturday, December 31, 2005

Praise God and Pass the Wellbutrin

Just a note to say that I'm toddling along here. Christmas and Chanukkah have been very nice. Thank God my MIL was here. She's a dear and kept things running along, and the girls love being spoiled by their Nana. I love being spoiled by her, too. There are two meatloafs, a leg of lamb, and a kugel in the fridge.

I hate New Year's--not much of one for optimistic new beginnings. I do have one plan for the year. I joined a Yahoo group called Lectio Divina. The name's a bit of a misnomer, since we'll be reading through the Bible in a year, which seems a pretty rapid clip for actual Lectio Divina. It should be interesting, since the participants are all over the board, including a few pagans.

DramaQueen's sixth birthday is approaching. I finally settled on having a party in a pottery place, because it relieves me from practically all planning and hosting duties, except chasing down the parents of invited kids, because no one every bothers to RSVP. The woman who runs the pottery shop cheered me with the story of a little boy who had his party there and absolutely NO ONE showed up, not even his dad. It doesn't help that I've never met any of DramaQueen's classmates or their parents. Hurrah, with a new year begins new vacation and sick leave. Maybe I'll actually get to participate in a school activity, unless Firecracker decides on her annual February stay at the hospital.

Oh, and in a moment of weakness and financial panic I took on an editing project, when all I'd like to do is soak in a hot tub and read one of my Christmas presents, Red Moon Rising.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers. I've had problems off and on with depression since my teens. After I had kids, I discovered that it's really easy to not notice when you're depressed. You have to focus so much on other people that the warning signs get buried in the day to day. I've also discovered that switching from one anti-depressant to another can be a real bitch.

Tonight, I plan to savor the leftover eggnog, with a splash of brandy. That should help the editing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Too depressed to post for a few days. Please send up a prayer when you have a chance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

DramaQueen and Firecracker

Lorna suggested that I explain why I’ve given my five-year-old and three-year-old the blog names DramaQueen and Firecracker.  So here goes.

DramaQueen is actually taking a drama class, for which she is well suited.  Her instructor tells us that she has given herself a new name—Chloe—and a vocation—Rock Star.  Being a rock star to her means playing guitar. So far singing, although she likes to sing, is not her thing.  She likes to dance, too, and wants to learn hip-hop.  We’re waiting for a windfall of money so we can enroll her in all the music and dance classes she wants to take.  Besides being Chloe, she sometimes asks me to call her Jessica.  DramaQueen loves to be photographed. She’ll pose for you. She’ll pose for herself in the mirror.  She loves clothes, and already has definite ideas about what looks good on her.  She likes to make people laugh, and she’s happy to be the cut-up, the center of attention. Usually. She can also be shy, and sometimes she can play up being shy.  She also loves drawing and all things artsy, as long as I don’t try to force-feed her anything with my own arts education agenda.  If she is at a loss for what to DO, it is a TRAGEDY.  She drapes herself over the sofa, “Mom, what can I DO now?”  She has always been running ahead of herself, ever since she was born.  She came out of my womb with muscular little legs, as if she had been doing squats for nine months.  And indeed within hours she was trying to push off with her legs.  By nine months she was walking.  She’s eager to be 7, and 17, and she likes attaching herself to older girls (poor things, they seem to be very kind to her) but is not so eager to be an adult, since we all seem rather dreary (need to work on that, I guess).  She wanted to know if she could go right to first grade when she turns 6 this January.  She is very protective of Firecracker, despite the fact that Firecracker frequently annoys the living daylights out of her.

Firecracker is an enchanting child, the kind that caretakers connect with immediately. She is very affectionate, offering smiles, hugs and cuddles with abandon.  When she laughs, her whole body shakes, and her laughter sounds like bubbles floating into the air.  But don’t cross her.  Don’t rush her.  And yes, she WILL do it herself, and if you do it she’ll undo it and do it again HERSELF.  Her temper is daunting.  She requires special handling, because she does not make transitions very easily.  Her expressive language skills lag behind her comprehension, and she is often frustrated trying to make herself understood. I’m convinced that her temper helped her survive. She was born severely premature at 28 weeks. She weighed a mere 1 lb 14 oz, not much bigger than the Beanie Babies the NICU nurses used to prop up her tubes.  Even though premies this early and even earlier have increasingly high survival rates, doctors are very skittish, and the two months Firecracker was in the NICU, several babies died. Firecracker was known for her feistiness.  She had to have surgery to close the PDA valve in her heart, and the surgeon warned us that the anesthesia would probably render her motionless for a day or two, and not to worry.  Well, just two hours after surgery she was kicking the Beanie Babies out of her incubator, probably pissed off about the uncomfortable incision under her shoulder.  Firecracker likes toy cars and trains and baby dolls and being tickled.

Those are our girls, our wonderful, funny, rambunctious, infuriating, lovable girls.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Night of 1000 Lights

This weekend we finally made use of the gift certificate Dear Husband won for a night at the Emerald Pointe Resort on Lake Lanier.  This was to have been a romantic getaway, but we decided instead to take the girls so they could see the light display and have breakfast with Santa.  From the moment we got there, DramaQueen wanted to know what we were going to DO.  From next door wafted the strains of a Hillary Duff song, which DramaQueen picked up on immediately. She began to hang outside our door watching the comings and goings of the ‘tweens staying there. At one point she actually sat on a chair outside their room until they invited her in. But I get ahead of myself.

Because we needed something to DO before dark, I took the girls off in search of the “playground” mentioned on the map. The “playground” turned out to be two swings and a metal slide, cunningly situated so that you could trip on the roots if you did anything you might actually do on a playground, like run, or jump off the swings. Or walk. After we had exhausted the novelty of the playground, it was, thankfully, time to drag Dear Husband out of a nap and head for Santa’s Village and the lights. The light display was loads of fun, and even better because we didn’t have to pay for it or wait in line. Last year we waited three or four hours to get in. We only waited that long because we had no idea how far away we were, and for long stretches there was no where to turn around.

Anyway, we saw poinsettias and advent candles, elves, deer, The Wizard of Oz, The Twelve Days of Christmas (which I had to sing), golfers, gingerbread houses, and loads of other light sculptures.  The girls had a blast.

When we returned to our hotel room, DramaQueen wanted to know what we were going to DO. Firecracker kept her coat on because she wanted to go Home and pitched quite a fit until I recommended a bath, which is one of her favorite things. Happily, Dear Husband went off to the bar and brought back for me a white Russian. A double.

The next morning we had breakfast with Santa. This was a large buffet of every breakfast food available and, best of all, really good coffee.  The girls fueled up with pancake syrup (I kid you not; I glanced over at one point to find Firecracker drinking hers from its little cup). Both girls were very excited when Santa made his way over. He looked surprisingly calm. I don’t remember what the girls asked for. DramaQueen has started asking for a sleigh bell, so I suppose I’m going to have to get one now.  

When we got home, Firecracker refused to get out of the car, because she wanted to go back. DramaQueen wanted to know what we were going to DO.

The Name Game

I’ve been referring to our two daughters as Five-year-old and Three-year old in my posts, but since they will both soon celebrate birthdays, I think it is time for more descriptive names. Henceforth, Five-year-old and Three-year-old will be known as DramaQueen and Firecracker.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Random Notes and Two Prayer Requests

We still haven’t made the gingerbread house. Sigh.

We’ve made a lot of messes, though.

I want to trade lives with Jo(e) for a few weeks.

Our office is full of FOOD.

Jeff is in a lot of pain because I forgot to bring his meds to the Christmas party. So today I’m lugging around a big load of guilt, which won’t do him any good.  Please keep him in your prayers.

My workplace has taken under its wing a single mom with two boys--a nine-year-old and a newborn--and no job. Please pray for Sandra, and pray that we will demonstrate the love of Christ in all we do for her. Most of her family is in Portugal, and it must be pretty lonely during the holidays with a new baby and a lot of worry.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A meme floating around the blogosphere

Five random facts about myself:

1. My real name is not Alice.
2. I grew up in South Georgia.
3. I like big cities.
4. I love Victorian novels. Dickens, George Eliot, Trollope, Charlotte Bronte, Gissing. Love that stuff.
5. I like Pre-Raphaelite art, because the artists were all crazy as coots.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Let It Snow--The Friday Five

1) Snow: love it or hate it? I love snow! However, although I’ve lived where it snows, I’ve never lived where it SNOWS.  Not sure how much I would enjoy living where you have to plug in your car so the battery will start.
2) First snow memory. I was 6, I think, when we got one of the rare snows to ever make its way to South Georgia.  I remember my parents getting me up so that I could go outside first thing, in my nightgown, and touch it.  I was so happy.  I had never seen the world look so beautiful and peaceful.  The snow created a hush, a calm. I went for a walk in the woods (by woods I mean the patch of trees that separated our straggly neighborhood from another straggly neighborhood—we lived in a failed suburbia) and it was if I had walked into a storybook. All the dreary ugliness was hidden beneath beauty.
3) Best Snow Day ever (actual or imagined). When I lived in New York, there was an enormous snow. When the plows came through to clear the streets, they created huge walls of snow that you had to scale to reach the sidewalk from the street.  I was in Park Slope, approaching a corner where there was a church with wedding guests hovering around the entrance. The groom was carrying the bride over the bank of snow to put her in the limo. It may have been that same winter there was an ice storm. I went for a walk in Prospect Park. All the trees were encased in ice, and they made an eerie tinkling sound as they moved in the wind. I had never seen such a thing before.
4) Best use of snow in a movie, song, book or poem. I have two images: John Huston’s film The Dead and the final scenes of House of Flying Daggers. I don’t know that these are the best, but they are among the first that spring to mind.
5) What you are planning to do today, with or without snow. Finish work and meet my husband to see Harry Potter! Our daycare is having a parents’ night out.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Material Christmas

I’m trying to imagine a Christmas without commercialism. You know what? Can I admit this? (In a whisper) I’m not sure I like it.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve revealed my shallow materialism.

My fondest Christmas memories, the ones that stick with me, are filled with “material.” The glass ornaments so old that the paint was scratched off in places. Bubble lights. The little pine-cone and pipe cleaner elves that I adored. A snow globe that eventually dropped its water level but until then offered a glimpse into an enchanted village. The red bobble-head dog that came from who knows where but joined us every year. Our tree, which even though it was artificial had the most wonderful smell to me—slightly musty from storage, slightly metallic from adhering tinsel.  Waiting for Santa was the most magical time, the most splendid magnificent time. The world changed and lit up. Everything was preparing for, moving toward, converging on this most incredible day.  And on Christmas morning wonderful gifts magically appeared. You never knew what might be there.

When I lived in New York, I loved walking past the sweet-spicy trees sold from sidewalk vendors, and looking at the elaborate displays in store windows. People walked by briskly with shopping bags as well as brief cases.  Steam curled from carts selling roasted chestnuts, and the scent of vanilla drifted off the carts selling sugared almonds.

I love gift-wrap, ribbon, bows, and glitter. I love toys. I like seeing children standing in line excited to visit Santa. I like the angels of light on the lampposts of Maine St. Suwanee. I like seeing the houses where people have gone nuts with lights and decorations. I like the special smells in candle and toiletry stores—evergreen, cranberry, gingerbread, peppermint.

Yes, people are running up debt chasing an illusion. Yes, the material will never fill our hearts. Yes we pile toys under the tree to make up for a year of benign neglect. We are selfish, grasping, greedy, indulgent. Where in all of this is Christ? Where He always is, I suppose, in the middle of everything. There is something about our extravagance, our over-reaching desire to celebrate something, anything, an idea, a faint glimmer of something we once heard, that moves me.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Five going on fifteen

We made a trek to Lenox Mall yesterday to ride the Pink Pig. Normally I try to avoid malls during Christmas. I like stuff, and I don’t like being enticed into wanting even more stuff. And of course I don’t like having my kids enticed into wanting stuff, even if its wonderful educational cool stuff. But the Pink Pig benefits Children’s Healthcare, and since Three-year-old has made us very familiar with their facilities, we like the idea of donating to them. Of course getting to the Pink Pig meant navigating a sea of stressed shoppers with my little loose cannons, and since I never get to this particular mall, I inevitably ended up doing dumb things, like taking two children into the Discovery Channel store.  A foolish sales clerk allowed Five-year-old to try out a remote controlled UFO thingee, which she steered into several heads before handing over the controls.  Five-year-old, who has decided she wants to be a rock star, then found the keyboards and toy guitars and started belting out a Hilary Duff song at the top of her lungs into the keyboard mike. No doubt everyone enjoyed this mightily.

Further along, while we were waiting for Dear Husband to emerge from one store, Five-year-old informed me that she was going to run into the Gymboree store to check out the clothes, and she did.  I have the only five-year-old I know who LIKES getting clothes for presents. I find this a little unnerving.  It’s not that she doesn’t like toys, but most of the toys she likes are related in some way to “Fashion.” She wants Barbies and Bratz dolls.  She is very concerned about the way her clothes look.  She poses. She wants makeup, for pete’s sake.  

We went into Sephora to get makeup for me, and you would have thought we had just gone into a candy store.  She was enthralled.  I was pretty happy myself, because everything looks like so much FUN.  With makeup lines called Hard Candy and Urban Decay, and bath products that smell like sugar cookies and gingerbread, I was practically drooling.  Still, in my day-to-day life, I tend to forget about makeup and jewelry (I like dangly earrings) for months on end (much to the disgust of Dear Husband, who thinks I tend to look pretty shabby).  Five-year-old pestered me to try on eye shadow and nail polish, and by the end of the visit was grousing about the unfairness of it all.  So tell me, is she five, or fifteen?

She also told me that she is going to collect bangles.  Bangles. Not dolls, bugs (well, that was a long shot), rocks, stamps, stickers, or beads.  Bangles.  Dear Husband, being the sucker (oops, I mean, sweet father) he is, gave here a few inexpensive bangles from Icing.  She’s taking them to Show and Tell.  I’m sure her teacher will be thrilled.

Oh, and I think the Pink Pig was probably pretty fun. I don’t know. I hid in the gift shop.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Five: Decorations

1) Do you display a nativity scene, and if so, where?  We don’t have a nativity scene, although I’ve thought of getting a kid-friendly one.  We don’t have much surface space on which to display one, so it would have to go on the floor somewhere, which is probably asking for trouble.
2) Do you put a skirt under the Christmas tree? If so, what does it look like? OH, we just got a new skirt on sale from Pier 1, and it’s beeeeutifiul. It’s a patchwork of multicolored silk and velvet squares.  Last year I made the mistake of getting one of those little dollar skirts, the ones that feel like dryer lint but are white and sparkly. Well, the cats took care of that real quick, and soon it looked like real dryer lint.
3) Do you hang lights on the house or put them in your windows? We have some lights around the faux French doors (the apts we live in have one door next to a floor-length window that can’t open. Can you say “cheap”?).
4) White lights or colored lights on the tree? Big bulbs or the small, pretty ones? We have white lights on the tree, the little non-blinking ones.  We have white because the last two years we decorated the tree mostly with silver and purple. We may switch to something else next year.
5) Do you have a tree topper? What sort? Who puts it on top of the tree? Our tree topper this year is a simple wooden star that Five-year-old made with popsicle sticks. She added silver paint and some glitter.  She was very pleased that we put it on top. Usually whatever we buy as a tree topper won’t stay put on our artificial tree. Dear Husband put it on top because he’s tall.

Last year my MIL got the girls a felt Countdown to Christmas tree. There are little fabric decorations to add each day of December until Christmas.  It plays Jingle Bells when you press it tree-topper star, which I thankfully only learned about this Christmas.

We also celebrate Channukah, and have a lovely traditional menorah.  Last year Five-year-old and I tried a craft project making one with baby-food jars, glass paint, and florists beads.  If anyone ever suggests this craft to you, run.  I’m still finding those florists beads.

Monday, November 28, 2005


I have just begun reading Reflections on the Psalms, by C.S. Lewis. In a chapter on the cursing psalms, I ran across the following passage:

“It seemed to me that, seeing in them hatred undisguised, I saw also the natural result of injuring a human being. . . . Just as the natural result of throwing a lighted match into a pile of shavings is to produce a fire—though damp or the intervention of some more sensible person may prevent it—so the natural result of cheating a man, or “keeping him down” or neglecting him, is to arouse resentment; that is, to impose upon him the temptation of becoming what the Psalmists were when they wrote the vindictive passages.  He may succeed in resisting the temptation; or he may not. If he fails, if he dies spiritually because of his hatred for me, how do I, who provoked that hatred, stand? For in addition to the original injury I have done him a far worse one. I have introduced into his inner life, at best a new temptation, at worst a besetting sin. If that sin utterly corrupts him, I have in a sense debauched or seduced him. I was the tempter.”

My first thoughts were about how this is acted out on the world stage.  We are quick to condemn violent protest—we emphasize free will, and by golly, no one has to shoot a gun, throw a bomb, burn down the neighborhood, and so on.  To counter with talk about environment or policies that create a repressive environment will get you labeled a terrorist-loving antipatriotic bleeding heart liberal.  I like the way Lewis puts it. “If he dies spiritually because of his hatred for me, how do I, who provoked that hatred, stand?”  

And then it is played out in human relationships every day, between husbands and wives, parents and children, coworkers, neighbors.

Friday, November 25, 2005

After the feast

Oh, I am feeling so lazy, so wonderfully content. Thanksgiving was low-key, private, quiet. Perfect. The only glitch was that Three-year-old had a cold, which is why we didn't go visit my dad in Alabama. She was a preemie--born at 28 weeks--and her lungs have long been a concern. Last year she went through three bouts of pneumonia and was hospitalized twice. So a stubborn knot of fear forms in my gut when I hear the first cough. My dad just kicked a difficult respiratory infection. So, we stayed home, and gradually the fevers and listlessness gave way to a runny nose and impishness.

I turned on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I grew up watching every year. Oddly enough, when I actually lived in New York, I never once went. Dear Husband made the Thanksgiving meal. A good thing, too, since my culinary talents are limited to simple baking. He made a fabulous turkey, and I made a carrot ring. When he realized that we had none of the jelled cranberry sauce without which it isn't Thanksgiving, he went to the store and got some for me. Now that's devotion. And he knew better than to try to make one of those fancy fresh cranberry relishes. Uh uh. It has to slurp out of the can. My mom used to do this perfectly, and then serve it in slices. Sigh. For desert we had marshmallows dipped in chocolate. The meal was delicious. Afterwards we all watched The Polar Express (this turned out to be a bit scarier than I expected, given the simplicity of the book, and Five-year-old ended up sleeping on the living room sofa with a light on).

Today, Friday, we put up our Christmas tree. The girls were so excited to look through the ornaments. Five-year-old kept saying, "Oh, do you remember this one?" I remember doing the same thing as a child. Rediscovering the Christmas ornaments was an important ritual, and I can still recall many of them, particularly a set of elves and other characters made with tiny pinecones and pipecleaners. So we found the star Five-year-old made out of popsicle sticks, and the fantastic chandelier ornament Dear Husband found for me, the Noah's ark ornament, and the Bratz ornament (groan).

Later, Dear Husband took healthy Five-year-old out for the evening, and I spent a lovely time romping with Three-year-old. We built cities with blocks, and played with her toy cars, which she likes to stuff in her pockets or her baby doll diaper bag. We cooked pretend food and pretended to be doggies and kitties. Then I tickled her and we rolled around on the floor and giggled a lot. I was overcome by a sense of her "otherness." Because she has some developmental delays, and language has been slow in coming, I've thought of her as a baby for much longer than she has been one. She may not yet have the words for all her questions and frustrations and wonderment, but I think she has the thoughts for them, and I was struck tonight by how much older she is than I think of her.

All of this I have to be thankful for, and more: I am experiencing something that has seemed out of reach--peace, contentment, joy. I feel like a cat in a sunny window.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Five

1) Earliest book you remember (read to you or by you).  I had a favorite story. It was called “Nanette Visits the Chateau,” and it was in an old Childcraft book that had been passed down to me. I adored this story, which was slightly spooky. A young girl visits her friend, a housekeeper at the chateau, for a tour. But the housekeeper can’t go, and Nanette wanders around the mansion on her own, having been sternly warned to touch nothing. But of course she does touch something: the cupids on the wallpaper in the master bedroom (hmm—anything Freudian about that?), and discovers a creepy room, gets trapped, discovers a dungeon, finally gets out, and never tells anyone about her adventure. I made my mom read this story over and over.  I still have the book, thank goodness, because it seems impossible to find the story otherwise.

2) Picture Book you would like to climb into. When I was a kid, I would gladly have crawled into a Dick and Jane book.  I was growing up in the 70s, but those books were still in the public elementary school I went to. Their world looked so peaceful and orderly, and they had each other for company (my brothers were so old they had already moved out). And they had sidewalks! And neighborhoods! I lived in a post WWII suburb that never really developed— acouple of stumpy streets with no sidewalks, a loooong way from the city such as it was but not rural either.  I recently picked up a Dick and Jane collection at the library.  Horrible for reading, but those pictures still look so squeaky clean.

3) Favorite series of books (then or now). Harry Potter, hands down. When I was a kid, I adored the Little House on the Prairie books, as well as Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew. There’s a new series about Sherlock Holmes by Laurie King that’s really good, too (her blog is in my links).

4) Character you would most like to meet.  Sherlock Holmes. I used to imagine myself into those adventures. I like stories set in the Victorian era.

5) Last childhood book you re-read (for yourself or to someone). Oh, probably one of the many Dr. Seuss books I have from my childhood.  I think Five-year-old may soon be ready for Nanette, though.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Through a window

Our little girls, peeking through the window of a sculpture at the High Museum.

Monday, November 14, 2005

At the art museum

This weekend we took the girls on an outing to the High Museum, which was having a grand opening for its new wing, so admission was free and there were all sorts of events.  We took MARTA, which our youngest was very excited about. She loves trains, and this was just as good as a train to her. The museum was so changed I barely recognized it (well, it has been 20 years). It still smelled of paint. There were some activities for children, so we got to watch the girls make angels. Five-year-old’s actually looks like an angel, with the wings in correct position. Three-year-old’s looks like a Picasso angel, with a wing smack in the middle of her stomach, random slashes of color, and a lot of glue. Yes, a lot of white, sloppy, drippy glue.  We then took in a little jazz, which scared Three-year-old for some reason, and she clung tightly to me and refused to join the other dancing children. This is the same child who, when I attempt to sing, puts her small hand over my mouth and says, “STOP!”

We then refueled the girls with Sprite, which seemed to infuse them with sprites, all right. We went blundering about in the general direction of the children’s exhibits but somehow ended up in contemporary arts. Five-year-old loved these paintings and sculptures, and we had to be careful not to miss any, because she would belt out, “Hey, we didn’t see this one. You’re missing stuff!” She was very impressed with a Howard Finster bicycle and the Frank Lloyd Wright furniture. Three-year-old liked being around Five-year-old, but spent a lot of time spinning around while holding onto my little finger. When she got dizzy she would fall down on her bottom and laugh. I’m not sure she thought much about the art, but she pointed out babies to me, because she love babies. Five-year-old sometimes got a bit too wild and ran around the wide gallery spaces in circles, alarming the security guards. We kept having to remind her not to touch anything, which was a bit difficult WHEN SOME ADULTS WERE TOUCHING THE ART. In New York if you got within a foot of a painting at the Met, a guard started inching toward you; any closer and the voice of doom intervened. We never did find the children’s exhibits, which I gather were in the basement.

We ended up with a family membership and the pleasure of hearing Five-year-old say, emphatically, “That was fun!”  

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Gord's 5 Meme

10 years ago: Had just moved to Phoenix, AZ, with my first husband, The Academic, and started a job with a small publisher at ASU.

5 years ago: Had just married my second husband, Dear Husband, and was preparing for the birth of Child 1 (probably very ill with morning sickness around now).

1 year ago: Had moved to Georgia in the spring. Husband diagnosed with weird, chronic illness and had to downgrade job. We were struggling financially and it looked scary going into the Christmas season.

5 yummy things

  1. Crème brulee / flan / anything custardy
  2. Pecan pie
  3. Pizza
  4. Thai food

5 songs I know by heart

  1. The Wheels on the Bus
  2. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  3. I Gave My Love a Cherry
  4. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  5. Jingle Bells

5 things I would do with a lot of money

  1. Pay off my student loan
  2. Buy a house
  3. Give to Oxfam
  4. Enroll the kids in a bunch of classe
  5. Travel

5 things I would never wear

  1. A mumu
  2. A bikini
  3. A facelift
  4. Frosted highlights
  5. Gingham

5 favourite tv shows

  1. House MD
  2. Monk
  3. CSI: Miami
  4. Without a Trace
  5. Naturally, Sadie (yeah, I know it’s a kid’s show, but I like her)

5 things I enjoy doing

  1. Reading
  2. Taking the girls to the library
  3. Dates with Dear Husband (so rare, unfortunately)
  4. Sleeping
  5. Sleeping some more

Friday, November 04, 2005

Jane Austin, Action Hero

Is everyone familiar with Archie McPhee, purveyor of novelties? I’m sure their plastic geegaws have populated many a cubicle. I decided to check them out after spotting a link at Mona's blog. I found an exciting array of items. The Jane Austin and Obsessive Compulsive action figures were among my favorites, but I think the prize goes to the Avenging Unicorn Playset, with interchangeable horns. Check it out.

They also have a wonderful selection of “bleak wristbands.” And don’t neglect to check out their Weirdest Products, which include a Pig Acupuncture Model and Wind-up Hopping Lederhosen.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


As many of you know, a Very Bad Presence (VBP) has been commenting willy nilly on Lorna’s blog, as well as briefly on my husband’s blog. I think that Will Smama nailed it when she said that his comments remind her of mental patients she’s had dealings with.

This got me to thinking. It’s infuriating to encounter a disordered and delusional mind. There’s no way in. There seems to be no hope of change, transformation, anything. We get sucked in, trying desperately to make contact, to bring order to chaos, reason to unreason. It makes us angry, it makes us feel sick, it makes us a bit scared.

My mother was mentally ill. No one told me this. I did not have the name for her illness until I was twenty-one, and even now we aren’t entirely sure if the diagnosis was correct or misguided. I grew up in a strange world. At times my mom’s behavior was bizarre, but I had no option but to consider it normal and accept that at certain times reality could shift, bend, and stretch. During my childhood, hers was a quiet illness. My brothers got to witness the more extreme displays—visits to FBI offices, a fire, conversations with inanimate objects—and they had to deal with Mom being sent to the mental institute a few times, something that she sometimes alluded to with great fear.

My mom heard voices. While I was growing up, she seemed to hear only nice voices. She talked to three doctors. Sometimes she would describe these conversations (she never talked out loud to them or saw them), which were very encouraging and loving. One wanted to marry her. Mom was also convinced that she was a part of a though experiment being carried on by the Russians and the CIA. Her thoughts were being constantly monitored.  Mom cycled between highs, whcn she started huge projects or dragged us off unwillingly to various events, and lows, which lasted far longer than the highs, when she complained about not being able to do anything and was generally listless, even vacant. Our house was usually a mess, because she never had the energy to clean, and she had even less idea of how to organize or prioritize.

Mom was extremely shy and unsure of herself. Social situations could set her off on a downward spiral. She was convinced that everyone judged her badly, that everyone talked about her. She would create awkward situations, like the time I was 6 and she told me that my friend D was trying to steal my friend P. I stalked over to D’s house to tell him off and his mother overheard, yelled at me and called my mom. I returned home mortified, only to hear my mom ranting at D’s mom about the conspiracy afoot to discredit her and her children. That was the first time I realized that I could not trust my mother’s judgment.

Mom nagged at my dad pretty constantly.  She made fun of the way he ate, sneered at his habits, his hygiene, and his hobbies. They argued loudly and viciously. He threatened to have her locked up; she—well—she cycled through whatever strange accusations and narratives that came to mind. They stayed married for over 50 years, until the day she died.

Mom doted on me. I was the only girl after four boys, the child born after she thought she was past child bearing, after a miscarriage. She loved all her children without bounds, but I was at home still and the focus of her dreams and fears. She wanted me for her own, and it was obvious that she found my dad a threat to that exclusivity. She would insist on hearing any conversation I had with him—telephone calls drove her mad if she could not pick up on the extension, and she usually badgered my dad until he relinquished the call to her.

Mom was incredibly bright. She never went to college, and I never saw her read much when I was growing up, but she made sure I had books and lots of them. When I was older, in college and later, she would sometimes call and talk about the books she was reading: The Varieties of Religious Experience, a book on the Jeffersonian Bible, Saint Augustine’s Confessions. The most wonderful tribute to her were the words from her pastor at her funeral: “She used to box me into a corner with her questions!” a sentiment that was echoed by the genteel women from her Bible study group.

As she aged, her mind seemed to clear. She and my dad got along almost companionably. He built a house for her, with a sunroom where she could study and listen to her favorite music. When she found out she had leukemia, she decided to fight, even in her late 70s, because of my oldest daughter, then just over a year old, and she went through a round of chemo that turned her eyes to pools of blood. I remember when they told her there was no hope. “I don’t think I’m ready for this,” she said, with a nervous laugh. But she was.

I miss her.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Little Fun

The server is down at work, and I’m stymied. Everyone is, because everything is on the network.

So, let me just say what a delightful few days we’ve had. First, we’ve had some good news from Jeff’s urologist, who does not think we need to rush into surgery. More about that on his blog, Still Jewish. Then I had such fun with the girls over the weekend. Our Saturday routine is for me to take Five-year-old to Drama (oh, yes, this is perfect for her) and go with Three-year-old to the library next door to the school. And on this day my drama queen got to dress up in her Halloween costume as a rock star, and so did little sister, who headed off to the library in butterfly wings.

I love libraries in the first place, and libraries on Saturday mornings are very peaceful. At least until we get there. Three-year-old has not learned to modulate her voice very well when she’s excited, and there’s so much to be excited about in the three-year-old world, like drinking fountains and the book return. She picked out three books on gorillas. I don’t know why she has a sudden interest in gorillas, but I’m happy to encourage the slightest interest in any thing science-y. Thankfully, the library has avoided stocking a bunch of Disney princess and Barbie books. I found the most beautifully illustrated Rapunzel book by a Paul Zelinsky. Gorgeous pictures modeled on Renaissance paintings.

After drama class, I took the girls to a trick or treat event in one of the local parks. Free food, a trick-or-treat trail through the woods, and gorgeous weather—what could be better? And of course, lots of cute kids in costumes, including a baby dressed as a lobster.

Sunday afternoon we all went to another park so that Five-year-old could ride her scooter, which she is rapidly outgrowing. Of course there was some squabbling over the scooter, but as usual they managed to work out terms for sharing. Another beautiful day, concluded with ice-cream. Sigh.

Trick-or-treat was great fun. By this time Five-year-old had so much glitter embedded in her hair that she should sparkle for a few years. Three-year-old didn’t want anything to do with her costume and was terrified of the decorations at the first stop, and I had to carry her for pretty much the entire trek. Dear Hubby wanted to carry her but she was concerned: “Daddy hurt!” She did perk up enough to hold out her pumpkin for her treats, of course. The amazing thing is that each was content with one piece of candy before bed.

Ah, the server is up again, just in time for lunch—whee!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Phatasmagorical Phive

1) Favorite Halloween Candy -- Candy corn and those peanut butter taffies that come in orange and black wax paper twists. And, of course, anything CHOCOLATE!

2) Least Favorite Halloween Candy -- Raisins. They aren't candy, WHICH IS MY POINT. Why do people try to appease their consciences by giving out healthy snacks? It's a sugar fest--get with the program.

3) Best Costume Ever -- Sadistic nun, complete with whip and stompin' boots.

4) Worst Costume Ever -- Probably something from my childhood, one of those awful constumes with the plastic face masks held on by a thin string of elastic. Made your face hot and sweaty and you couldn't see properly.

5) Saint -- I don't know much about saints. Sorry.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Nursery, 11:00 p.m.
by Robyn Sarah, from Questions About the Stars

Asleep, the two of you,
daughter and son, in separate cribs,
what does it matter to you
that I stand watching you now,
I, the mother who did not smile all day,
who yelled, Go away, get out, leave me alone
when the soup-pot tipped over on the stove,
the mother who burned the muffins
and hustled bedtime, tight-lipped.
You are far away,
beyond reach of whispered
amends. Yet your calm
breathing seems to forgive,
into the air to mesh
like lace, knitting together
the holes in the dark.
It makes of this dark
one whole covering
to shawl around me.
How warm it is, I think,
how much softer
than my deserving.

Found this morning at Oh, how this speaks to me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Yesterday evening I rushed home with the girls to help them get into costume for the fall festival at their daycare (7 to 9 on a weeknight—what were they thinking?) I was enjoying dolling them up, joking around while I put makeup on my rockstar 5 year old.  

When they were dressed, I decided I had better give 3 year old her medicine before we left. I reached into the cupboard and gave her a Singulair, then started preparing the Kepra.  “Momma—don’ like it!” she said. I looked down, and she was sticking out a tongue with bits of what was clearly not her yummy cherry Singulair. “My God,” I though, “what did I give her?” I looked in the cupboard and there was a bottle of my husband’s Elavil. I wiped as much out of her mouth as I could and made her rinse and spit.  Then I was back and forth with poison control, while they tried to sort out body weight and dosage. Meanwhile rockstar was agitating to leave for the festival. Poison control thought we would be okay, but should be alert to any unusual drowsiness.

So we get to KinderCare and are no sooner out of the car than poison control calls back and says they would highly recommend I take 3 year old to the ER for observation, since Elavil can cause seizures and heart problems. I drag Dear Husband from work to take care of 5 year old rockstar and off I go to the local ER, a place I am all too familiar with. Small children who have eaten medicine get pushed to the front of the queue, so we were soon in a cramped little room with a narrow bed and a TV playing an endless loop of children’s videos.  The highlight of our visit was the administration of activated charcoal. Imagine encouraging a small child to drink an 8 oz glass of soda mixed with black grit. I could overhear our nurse speaking with someone who said, “You need to put a top on the cup. If she sees it’s black, she’s not gonna drink it.” Of course, my nurse completely ignored this advice and I had to hold down screaming 3 year old while the nurse syringed black gunk into her mouth. Nurse was ready to use a nasal tube, but by this time I’m thinking For Pete’s sake it wasn’t even a whole tablet! Happily, the doctor vetoed a nasal tube. Which is a good thing, because by this time I was pretty weepy and felt like I had this big label on me: “BAD IRRESPONSIBLE MOM.”

We were released at 1 AM. 3 year old was exhausted but healthy.

This incident brings to mind an old superstition of mine: Whenever I’m happy and excited, I should prepare for something bad to happen. Being exhilarated and happy makes me uneasy, because I have this underlying fear that payback is coming.

But for now I’m paid up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Yesterday 5 year old learned to draw stars. She was very proud of herself and offered to teach me to draw a proper star. She thought I did a very good job. All evening she worked drawing stars on a sheet of paper. As I got 3 year old into her pajamas, 5 year old sat at her table in deep concentration. “Come on,” I said, “you have to get into your night clothes.” She slowly shook her head, still intent on her paper, and said in wonderment, “I’m just ‘sessed with stars.”

In the bathroom I was brushing 3 year old’s teeth and 5 year old continue to draw on her paper, now on the bathroom counter. I said, “Can we interrupt the construction of constellations to brush your teeth?” “No ma’am,” she replied, “We are closed forever.”

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Meme

  1. What was the last CD you purchased? How to Dismantal an Atomic Bomb, by U2.

  2. Did you like it? Oh yeah.

  3. Is it the kind of music you would call your favorite? I do love U2, but I’m also fond of darker music. Unfortunately, I haven’t kept up with many artists, so I don’t buy much any more and haven’t much of a clue about what’s going on in the alternative music world.

  4. What was the first album (CD for you youngsters) you ever owned? This I don’t remember very clearly. My mom had a bunch of records for me with songs from Disney movies  and such, as well as storyies on albums, like The Little Red Bird, about a very angry bird (I could relate to that one, alright!).  When it came time to purchase my own albums, well, I’m not sure. There was a period of time when my parents signed me up for the Columbia record club. I think that resulted in some pretty embarrassing purchases. The first album I remember consciously buying—actually thinking about and going into a record store and buying—was Vienna by Ultravox.

  5. And what was your favorite cut from that recording? Well, my favorite song from Vienna was the title track.  I grew tired of them pretty soon.  Now, when I was a kid, my mom had a single that I just loved. This was in the 70s. It was a song about The Jolly Green Giant--yep, the one from the frozen veggie commercials. “Ho Ho Ho, Green Giant!” Something about his sidekick Sprout.  How we came to have a 45 with the Green Giant jingle on it I will never know.  Probably some sort of promotion. It seems like there was a little story, but I don’t remember a book.  I was probably all of 5 when I liked this song.  My other favorite song when I was 5 was Light My Fire by the Doors. I have a vivid memory of hearing it the first time while riding in a car with my dad. I thought it was the best song ever, but since I had no purchasing power, I didn’t own a copy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dear Lorna

I was so very moved this morning when I visited Lorna at See Through Faith and found a special post about my Dear Husband and our situation. I felt my prayer time, such as it was this morning (some drowsy time in the car before work), was muddled and disconnected, so it was special to find God delivering a message to me in a way He knew I could understand in my tired and headachy state. You can read her post here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Monday Meme

1. What is your favorite word? Halcyon. I first encountered this word in Brideshead Revisted, a novel that obsessed me as an adolescent. Arcadia is another word that I love.
2. What is your least favorite word? Heresy. Because it is used to shut you up.
3. What turns you on, creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Surrealistic play. I’ve always enjoyed the enthusiasm and energy of the surrealists and dadaists, and that sort of willingness to bend reality and see what happens is very attractive.
4. What turns you off? Sentimentality disguised as relgious artifact. All those awful saccharine images of praying children and mild Jesuses. Ugh.
5. What is your favorite curse word? F**k. Good Anglo-Saxon curse word that doesn’t involve God, although I frequently end up dragging Him into my curses.
6. What sound or noise do you love? I love the sound of libraries, the quiet, soothing, noise of pages turning, muffled voices with the occasional delighted (or maybe not so happy!) outburst from children. It’s so peaceful.
7. What sound or noise do you hate? Jackhammers and leaf blowers. Not much explanation needed. I can’t imagine anyone delights in these.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Librarian, because I love libraries and books, and helping other people love libraries and books.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Paratrooper. Terrified of heights.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I’m so happy to see you! Come in and join the party!

The dancing slows way down

So, after feeling very optimistic about Dear Husband’s doctor visit, the reality of what we are facing began to sink in, and we investigated the procedure he’s to undergo. The possible ramifications for a 34 year old are depressing and daunting. Besides a possible yearlong recovery, the final end result will be that he can catheterize himself to send medicine into his bladder. Doesn’t that sound fun? We won’t be able to have any more children, but that’s okay. The main concern is impotence. Some websites say that this is temporary, but who knows, really. I don’t think his doctor has ever encountered this condition in someone so young. Dear Husband is angry and scared. I was feeling rather optimistic. Then he reminded me that the surgery is just a first step. The idea of catheterizing himself makes him feel ill. As he said to me last night “I’m just starting out—I don’t even have a career yet, just a job!” To him it looks like his quality of life is going straight into the toilet along with any chance of living normally. And he doesn’t want me to be cheerful and optimistic about it. I understand that. I remember when Child 2 was born at 28 weeks how annoying it was to hear people try to put a positive spin on it, even though (and here’s the odd part) I actually was convinced inside myself that she would survive and thrive. And even though I thought it would be okay, that didn’t mean I wasn’t assailed by fear, anger and sadness. That’s where Dear Husband is, and I need to find the best way to be a comfort and support to him.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Little happy dance . . . Thanks, God!

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my Dear Husband has a nasty and very painful disease called Interstitial Cystitis.  We were thrown about a month back when his specialist dropped our insurance and we had to scramble to find a new one.  There aren’t that many doctors who specialize in IC, and many of them will see only women, so he has to drive an hour to the New Doc.  And then, it’s always unnerving to have to start with a new doctor—so much explaining, wondering if they thoroughly read the records, and such. And the new doctor is an hour away. But Dear Husband had his first appointment today with New Doc, who seems to really know the disease well and has some definite ideas about improving treatment. Dear Husband has a prescription for physical therapy, a new med regimen, and, well, a rather nasty operation to look forward to. I won’t go into details, since it would probably turn any male readers pale and cause them to cross their legs protectively. But New Doc thinks this operation is essential. When to have surgery we don’t yet know—it means a couple weeks off work, a lot of pain, a lot of lost blood, and a rather long recovery. But, nasty operation aside, I’m so pleased that this doctor is thorough and understands what Dear Husband is dealing with.

This is a good ending to a rather sorry week. The sun has even come out after a foggy morning. Now, if I could just go curl up with my frivolous novel and sleep for 12 hours straight.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yep, that's me

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

What's your theological worldview?
created with

my husband despairs of me

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I'm a cross!

You are St Brigid's Cross: St. Brigid is an Irish
saint who hand-wove a cross,out of rushes she
found by the river. She made the cross while
explaining the passion of our Lord to a pagan

Friday, October 07, 2005

The RevGals Meme

1) What is your earliest memory of church?
Easter egg hunt, because that was about the only time we’d go, unless mom was on a jag! Awful sugar eggs and a big spread of deviled eggs, fried chicken, potato salad, and iced tea (and that weird punch that comes in gallon jugs for the kiddies).

2) How old were you when you first took Communion?
Hmm. I’m not sure I remember. You had to come at some odd time, like Wednesday night, once a month. I received the impression that communion was not particularly important.

3) What is your favorite Bible verse/passage?
We just got asked this in company devotions. I don’t really have a favorite. I picked a verse from the Song of Solomon, a portion of which I read at my wedding to Dear Husband.

4) What verse/passage nicks you uncomfortably?
That psalm about sitting by the waters of Babylon. I’m too lazy to look it up. You know--the one about dashing out the children’s brains. It starts out so nicely and then just goes all to hell.

5) What's your favorite hymn or praise song?
I’m going to be really boring and say Amazing Grace. It was my mom’s favorite, and it still makes my hair stand up on end. Definitely nothing I’ve heard from the hymnal around here has swayed me, and I loathe most contemporary praise music.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Dream Song

This morning I woke up with some lyric fragments insistently lodged in my brain: “blah blah blah a thousand years. Just be still with me blah blah blah” That was it. I knew it was David Bowie’s voice in my head. I finally located the lyrics, his theme song from Cat People, of all things, not exactly one of my favorites. I rarely remember my dreams, so it is rather remarkable to wake up with a clearly recognizable song bumping around in my noggin. So, what message is my subconscious trying to send me?

See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Just be still with me
You wouldn't believe what I've been thru

Lego Fun

So, probably everyone in the world knows about The Brick Testament except me. How did I miss this? This is the coolest! Bible stories told in Legos! I’ll take this over Precious Moments any time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

All Prayers Gratefully Accepted

After a brief respite over the weekend, my dear husband is again in intense pain. I feel so sad and helpless. Nothing much I do can really help, and the almost constant pain wears at his spirit. When a man starts to wish he had terminal cancer because he would at least know there was an end in sight, you know things are bad. I gather that quite a few people with IC have expressed this wish, if the support groups are any indication. He has one of the best specialists in town, but we can’t afford the acupuncture she recommends, or fly to San Francisco where one of the absolute best therapeutic programs is. There are no more days off to draw from, so he drags himself to work. He wants so much to finish his BA and continue schooling to become a chaplain. This disease makes him feel as if all his dreams are unreachable. He worries so much about being a burden and about not really being there for the girls or for me. And I feel like all I can do is cry. Of course I pray and pray and pray. I get testy with God, I get testy with the girls, poor things. I’m frightened, and feel so insufficient.

Afternoon update:
Dear Hubby has yet another UTI. He gets them every few weeks. A course of antibiotics, a brief spell of relief, another UTI. He couldn't see the urologist, who is away on mission, only the nurse. He has to change doctors soon, for insurance reasons. I hope the new urologist will have some thoughts on how to treat the recurrent infections as well as the IC. The traditional home preventatives--cranberry juice and acidophilus--are very bad for IC bladders. He's looking into taking his short term disability, if it doesn't take forever to kick in. Sigh.

Thanks, everyone, for your prayers.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Idiosyncratic Me

Picking up on the 5 idiosyncracies meme, here are a few of my peculiarities:

1. The distinction between “that” vs. “which” means more to me than it should. I know that these two words have been used interchangeably probably since the time of Shakespeare, but somewhere along the line as an editor, I learned that “that” is inclusive and “which” is not. I am brought up short every time I see them used “incorrectly.”

2. The toilet paper must exit over the top, not from the back. My husband of course puts it on the wrong way.

3. I don’t like to look in reflective surfaces in the dark, particularly mirrors. (Anyone remember “Bloody Mary”?)

4. I am immediately drawn to people with odd-colored hair and multiple piercings.

5. I must have water by my bed at night. No exceptions.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Okay, if you have not yet seen the "refurbished" trailer for The Shining, go to Real Live Preacher's site right now. I will have a smile on my face for a while.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Expert Advice

Expert Advice (Food1): Continue to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables to your picky eater.
Reality: Continue to throw out a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Expert Advice (Food2): Offer children flavorful dips for veggies and fruit.
Reality: “Ooo gross!”

Expert Advice (Food3): It’s important to have family time at the dinner table
Reality: It’s important to eat dinner before 10 pm.

Expert Advice: Establish a bedtime routine to encourage your children to fall asleep.

Begin bedtime routine as soon as dinner is finished. Listen to whining: I haven’t had dessert yet. I want a story. It isn’t time yet. Nuh uh!

Run bath water while Child 1 runs around house for no apparent reason.

Put Child 2 into tub to sounds of “hot!hot!hot!” although water is perfectly fine.

Scream at top of lungs for Child 1 because you can’t leave Child 2 in bath to look for Child 1.

Child 1 bounces in, does a dance and says ‘Where’s you’re happy face?” Child 2 is dangling a dripping wet washcloth over the side of tub. Child 1 has to go to bathroom: “Don’t look, I need my privacy,” and sits on toilet in a daze. Reverie cut short, Child 1 perches on edge of tub: “I look like a mermaid!” and slides down end of tub—SPLASH!

Child 1 and Child 2 fight over soap. Soap is lost. Child 2 screams during shampoo: “eyes! eyes!” Child 1 insists on having hair washed “like in a salon.”

While water empties and Child 1 is being dried, Child 2 finds the soap and soaps up entire body, necessitating a rinse.

Child 1 wraps herself in the towel and runs around the house.

Child 2 will not put on the pull-up with Belle; only one with all three princesses. There are only Belles left. Child 1 picks out clothes for next day but is still naked. Child 1 and 2 throw towels at each other. Child 2 insists on wearing jeans instead of pajamas.

Have nervous breakdown. Put suddenly subdued children into nightclothes. It is now time to begin the brushing teeth routine. Whimper quietly to self.

At no point in this process will children actually be tired.

Expert Advice: TV is bad for children and viewing time should be strictly limited.
Reality: During TV time you know that while you cook dinner/do the laundry/scrub the tub/do your taxes, Child 1 and Child 2 are not: (1) trying to remove the electrical outlets in their bedroom, (2) jumping on the bunk beds, (3) playing in the toilet bowl, (4) opening all the paint bottles in the playroom, where—oops—kitty accidentally knocks them over, (5) trying to cut each other’s hair, (6) using the ink stamps on daddy’s shoes.

Expert Advice: Expose your children to a variety of music.
Reality: “This music is boring!” “Mommy, what does ?##!! mean?” “Mommy let’s sing Jingle Bells again, only let me say jingle bells and you sing the rest.” “Let’s sing Jingle Bells again, only this time I’ll sing it and you say jingle bells.” “Let’s sing Jingle Bells again cause it’s my most favoritest song.”

Expert Advice: Crafts are a wonderful way to keep children occupied.
Reality: Get out construction paper. Look for glue sticks. Find one with the cap left off and the insides shriveled up like a salted snail. Against your better judgment, settle on liquid glue. Look for scissors. Find them in the dollhouse. Don’t think too much about why. Now, begin project: “Mommy, it won’t cut. Mommy this is too hard. (Whimper) Mommy I want you to do it. Mommy, she won’t share! Mommy, she’s putting glue on the carpet! Mommy, I’m hungry. Mommy, can we watch TV?”

Expert Advice: Never offer bribes for good behavior.
Reality: Are you freakin’ out of your mind?

Expert Advice: Encourage men to share nighttime parenting.

Scenario one (newborn)
Child: WAAAAH!
Daddy: Whaa? Whaas that?
Mommy: Baby’s hungry
Daddy: Sorry, hon, you’re the one with the breasts.

Scenario two (toddler)
Daddy: Whaa? Whaas that?
Mommy: I think she’s having a bad dream.
Daddy: ZZZZZ

Scenario three (preschooler)
Child: Cough Cough Moooommmmy!
Daddy: Whaa? Whaas that?
Mommy: She’s sick and running a fever?
Daddy: Do we need to go to the ER?
Mommy: No.
Daddy: Give her some Tylenol and tell her to go to sleep.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pain and Suffering

For weeks I have watched my husband struggle with intense pain.  Actually, I could say that I have watched him struggle for over a year now, but the last couple of weeks have been particularly intense.

He has a condition called interstitial cystitis. IC is a chronic, severe inflammation of the bladder wall, the cause of which is unknown. Primary symptoms are urinary frequency, urgency, and, for some, severe lower abdominal pain.  It is unusual for men to get this disease—my husband is one of the lucky few. For years he was misdiagnosed. When we moved to Georgia and he suddenly had such severe pain we ended up in ER after ER, we faced the usual nonsense about it being in his head, or nothing more to be done. I could tell that some even though my husband was just there to get drugs. Oh, yes, there are some ER doctors I would like to kick in a certain place to give them some inkling of what my husband was going through while they reacted with indifference.  

We did finally find a knowledgeable urologist (I actually prayed and searched the Internet and came across the IC Network. I had never heard of the condition before.). Unfortunately, this is not a condition that magically goes away with some medicine.  The bladder flares during allergy season, releasing histamines that further irritate it, so he is always on anti-histamines, but still allergy season is hard.  Certain foods can aggravate it. Stress can cause the pelvic muscles to spasm. Pain from the bladder causes them to spasm further, so that pain becomes a vicious cycle.  He also has urinary retention, so he has a “pacemaker” implanted near his spine to deal with that. But this symptom rules out the aggressive use of muscle relaxants, which could cause further retention. People with IC try all sorts of things—trigger point therapy, special acid-reducing tablets, biofeedback (Journey to the Wild Divine is an excellent program for biofeedback, if anyone needs such a thing).  So far there has been no magic bullet for him.  

And on it goes. There are days when nothing helps him, when he wishes he weren’t alive (how my heart sinks when he talks of this, although I can understand it).  He keeps going to work, although he had to demote himself to a less stressful and lower paying job.  He keeps taking the kids on outings.  He hates the fact that there are long stretches of time when he snaps at us all and simply wants to disappear. The pain IC patients feel is compared with that of terminal cancer patients.  I saw my mother die from cancer, and she was in a lot less pain than my husband.  Actually, she was kept pain free.

This has been much on my mind lately, muddled up with questions of God and suffering, the hurricanes, children dead in the flood waters, prayers for healing, my own fears of pain and mortality.  

Saturday, September 24, 2005

God in the Whirlwind

Found an intriguing essay on Job from an English blog--seems very appropriate right now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Brushes with Fame

I’ve been feeling a bit bored with myself, so I decided to make up a list of famous and semi-famous people that I’ve met, or at least been within 10 feet of.  This makes me feel that I’ve had an interesting life.

1. I had a religion class with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls.  I was at Emory when she and Emily played on campus, so I got to see them lots of times

2. I used to encounter Ru-Paul on a fairly frequent basis, back in the 80s when he use to play at Gay nightclubs in Atlanta.  I was at a party where he collapsed on the sofa, grabbed my friend’s hand and exclaimed: “My name means Indian soil!”

3. I was in a writing program with the infamous Dale Peck. If you don’t know who he is, check out Hatchet Jobs on Amazon. He’s a ruthless literary critic and quite a good writer. He also lived next door to me. He was very sweet, so I’m rather surprised at how vitriolic he is now.

4. I took a poetry workshop with Sharon Olds. She used the word “organic” a lot.

5. I took a course in something with Joyce Johnson, Jack Kerouac’s girlfriend.

6. I saw Woody Allen and Alan Alda filming Crimes and Misdemeanors on the Columbia University Quad.  I somehow got mixed in with the extras, who gave me the evil eye until I figured out my error.

7. I interviewed writer Jeannette Winterson for some tiny magazine, when she was in New York promoting Sexing the Cherry. This was truly awful, because I had no journalism experience and was shy as a dormouse. I was roped into the interview because I was the only person the editor knew who had read her books (this was way back).

8.  The short chubby singer from They Might Be Giants. I went to a party where he was the DJ.

9. Michael Nesmith of the Monkeys. Well, I spoke to him on the phone. I worked for a literary agent named John Brockman (his wife, actually, but his assistants didn’t last long, so I was always filling in) who was friends with him. Brockman was a great name-dropper. He had a photograph of himself with Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan, and somehow he had become friends with Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Ellen Burstyn and Claire Bloom, who sometimes phoned, but I never got those calls.

10. Richard Dawkins, the irritating evolutionary biologist, was also a client.

11. As was Naomi Wolf

12. And Michael Drosnin who wrote that horrible book on the Bible code.

13. And David Gelernter, the Yale Computer Scientist who had his hand blown off by the Unibomber.

14. And Stephen Pinker and a bunch of other scientists and such.

15. I also had a chance to read a handwritten letter (in pencil, of course, since it was written from jail) from Aldrich Ames (anybody remember him?). He hoped Brockman would represent him, since a couple of Russian spies were clients.

And that’s pretty much it. I haven’t had any brushes with fame since then. What about you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

An Arminian in a Calvinist World (or at least cubicle)

In bopping around the blogosphere I sometimes land on a blog showcasing a contentious debate over various theological stances.  In particular, I seem to land on an awful lot on sites where the blogger starts whacking the opposition with the term “Arminian.” Most recently I’ve seen this term used to describe Open Theism, a movement (if that’s what you call it) that I don’t know a lot about, but what little I do know I find intriguing. So, because I’m a big ignoramus when it comes to theology, I finally decided to look up Arminianism and Calvinism. I work for Calvinists, so I’m pretty familiar with this doctrine, which incites in me a response close to that of wearing a very itchy wool sweater.  I figured if Arminianism took issue with Calvinism, then I needed to look into it.  And –yep – I’m an Arminian. Or at least I’m more Arminian than anything else going in the mainstream Protestant world that I’m aware of.

I have always been very uncomfortable with the idea that God’s sovereignty requires that he control Satan. That seems to make Him in some way the author of evil, which just doesn’t square with what I read of God in the Bible. Neither does the idea of irresistible Grace or predestination.  What this has made me realize is that I grew up in an Arminian household and an Arminian church (it happened to be Baptist and a hellfire-and-brimstone kind of place, but that’s another story).  Our attendance at church was pretty sketchy (thankfully), and my parents didn’t talk much about religion, so I grew up with the haziest grasp of doctrine, which I happily discarded during college in favor of a new agey mystical sort of hodgepodge.  

I think all the RevGals--most seem to have MDivs--must find this elementary, but it has lightened my heart to know that a clear opposition to what I find so bloody irritating already exists.  Of course my carping is beside the point, since all the Calvinists around me are busy conforming themselves to the image of Christ and serving His people, while I’m, well, blogging and complaining. Time for me to go work a bit on His behalf.    

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Good Reading at Mild-Mannered Blogger

I just read an incredibly intelligent and insightful post on God and Natural Disasters at Mild-Mannered Blogger. If you are haunted by the question "Why does God allow natural disasters?" this will give you much to ponder.

Friday, September 16, 2005

10 Things I Adore About My Husband

  1. He’s very sensual (Yes, sweetie, I know you’re reading this, and I still think you’re hot).

  2. He likes to play with our little girls and take them on outings.

  3. He knows how to cook.

  4. He talks baby talk to the cats.

  5. He takes the girls to get manicures and haircuts (I kid you not).

  6. He’s as obsessed with Monk and House as I am.

  7. He is more romantic than I am.

  8. He can’t pronounce “wicker”; he says “whisker” instead.

  9. He keeps surprising me.

  10. He takes his shirts to the cleaners so I don’t have to iron them.

Earth Mother

Your Element is Earth

Your power color: yellow

Your energy: balancing

Your season: changing of seasons

Dedicated and responsible, you are a rock to your friends.
You are skilled at working out even the most difficult problems.
Low key and calm, you are happiest when you are around loved ones.
Ambitious and goal oriented, you have long term plans to be successful.

Ha Ha. This is so not me. Ambitious and goal-oriented? A problem-solver? But I went back and tried to modify the answers a bit, but I ended up the same.

Lectio Divina and Other Cool Stuff Online

I’ve discovered a couple of web sites that I adore. One is MethodX (, and it’s part of Upper Room Ministries.  I love that it has a section on Lectio Divina that actually walks you through the practice (you choose a verse and are prompted in several stages). I need to be walked through—otherwise my mind skitters off after whatever mental butterflies flutter by. There’s also a section on Examen, which I tried to do in the shower last night. That did not go particularly well, but I figured that if I tried to do it sitting or lying down before bed I would drift off.  Any time I try to meditate I fall asleep.  I hope no one at work has noticed the couple times I dozed off during devotions (given that I tend to snore, I’m a bit nervous about this).  

I also really like Practicing Our Faith (, because it has a section on discernment, which is a great mystery to me.  I don’t have much of a problem praying—I chatter at God a lot—but it tends to be a rather one-sided conversation. I don’t have much of a clue when God is talking to me. I think I’m like Bruce in Bruce Almighty—Just give me a sign! Meanwhile I’m driving behind a truck of flashing road signs: No Entry, Danger Ahead, Turn Back.  The fact that I have very little silence in my life is a problem. When I do have silence, I fall asleep from the sheer novelty of no stimulation.

So, given the chaotic state of my prayer life, I’ve found comfort in some MethodX articles, such as this one on “The Second Breath: Turning Frustration into Prayer”.  If ever a prayer method applied to my life, this is it.  I could also relate to the opening sentence: “I didn't begin praying in a steady, daily way until I gave up all attempts to develop a ‘prayer life.’”  Unfortunately, I was unable to turn frustration into prayer this morning when Three-Year-Old refused to put on her pull-ups, and in a fit of annoyance I took her butt naked to the car and dressed her there while she cried wildly.  No, I would say that frustration won out there, but I am determined to give this method a go.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Wheels on the Bus

At home with sick child yesterday. Dear Husband had her the day before, and she was tired and watched TV and he slept. My day progressed differently:

1 am Three-year-old wakes with fever. I struggle to remember what time last dose of ibuprofen was administered then struggle to give it to cranky, hot, nearly asleep again child.

2 am Three-year-old wakes again with very wet pullup. I decide she will be more comfortable on the sofa, which is closer to our bed, thus requiring fewer steps for me.

5 am Alarm goes off at time I would normally get up. What was I thinking? I reset alarm for 6 am.

6 am Reset alarm for 6:30 am.

6:30 am Curse my fate. Consider strangling Five-year-old, who has suddenly become as unweildy and heavy as a wet sandbag.

7:15 am Still working on Five-year-old, who has made it her mission to thwart me.

7:20 am Five-year-old leaves with Dear Husband, who somehow manages to get ready and out the door in 15 minutes every morning.

7:30 am Remember to call work. Am grateful to reach answering machine rather than live person. All hopes of going back to sleep are dashed. Three-year-old is awake and feverish and needs her morning meds.

7:30-8:30 Administration of the Medicine.  Normally she is very compliant, amazingly so. This morning it takes a combination of cajolery, pleading, bribery, threats, and force. Ends in tears for both parties.

8:30 am-5:00 pm I am coerced into coloring, singing The Wheels on the Bus over and over (with gestures), laying out a special bed on the floor with several layers of blankets and pillows (never used), eating pretend food, rocking CareBear, reading horrible little books about fuzzy chicks and wooly lambs that came in a little duck carrier that quacks, and providing endless cups of juice (she worked on four different flavors in four different cups, all of which had to be available at the same time). The day is punctuated by fever spikes and brief—very brief—breaks in activity. More brief interludes while child watches Little Bill (thank you Nickelodean!) and builds a city. By the end of the day the floor is covered with bedclothes, blocks, a farm, crayons, sippy cups, play purses (stuffed with beads, toy cars, doll clothes, random found items) and folded pieces of paper (she has to fold everything she draws into a square that will fit in a pocket). And somewhere along the way she lost her pants.

5:30 pm Pick up Five-Year-Old. Dear Husband calls to remind me that he will be home late, as he will be going to the Girl Scout Info meeting instead of me. I recall that I hated Girls Scouts.

The rest of the evening is something of a blur, but I know it contained a frozen pizza and the season premier of House, during which Three-Year-Old finally dropped off to sleep.  I don’t think I ever fed Dear Husband, but he was kind enough to say nothing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Theological Questions of a Five-Year-Old

This morning as we were driving to daycare, I asked my 5-year-old what she wanted to tell God she was grateful for today.  She didn’t answer, but my question unleashed a whole bunch of questions from her: How can God hear everyone praying if he’s in the sky? If God loves us why does he give us bad lives? (Note to self to pay attention to possible negative vibes I’m giving off). How do you know if God is talking to you? How do you know if he’s saying Yes? (Ah, now I still wrestle with discernment.) Why did God want to make us?

So I bumbled through responses, mostly saying that she was asking really great questions, that people are still asking these questions, and so on.  She didn’t seem to be bothered that I didn’t have very good answers, because she suddenly piped up, “I want to talk more in the car!”  Conversation is usually rather difficult, because usually our 3-year-old is there as well, demanding to be included, which means we’re usually trying to talk over the repetitive chant of “Mommy! Mommy! Mooommmmyyy!” (I should mention that the 3-year-old has some serious language delays, so even most two-word sentences are beyond her at the moment).

So this morning was rather delightful, despite the fact that we got to daycare too late for her to have breakfast (which she didn’t like anyway—Rice Crispies) before hopping on the daycare bus to school.  I felt like one of those Mothers You Read About who sends her kid to school without breakfast, so he can’t concentrate and has to stay back a grade.  I hope she eats lunch.

Friday, September 09, 2005

My lack of wifeliness

Argument with Dear Husband last night, because I decided not to take the copyediting project, which would have required about 60 hours of work in 13 days. But, he thought I was shirking my duty to bring in extra income, which we do really need.   Thirteen bad days for you, he said, can bring in more money than what I could earn in a month. Sigh. And we’re back to our usual conflict: I don’t carry near enough of the burden. I don’t keep the house clean enough; I don’t discipline the kids well enough; I don’t take them out enough. “All you do is take care of A. when she wakes up at night—I could do that.”  Another sigh. What else do I do? Maybe he’s right.  I make sure they have clean clothes. I read to them. I feed them. I bathe them. I wake up at night and take care of them when they’re sick.  I make lunches. I get up at 5 am to make sure they’re out the door in time for the bus. I work 40 hours a week.  I even cook sometimes.  I’m sure his list would be longer, but I don’t think mine is so shoddy.  Feeling very low, and now I have to go pick up the kids and try to meet their exuberance with something besides glumness.  

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bring on the Chicken Soup

Sick. I gave up this morning after getting the girls off to school, called in sick, and slept for six hours. And coughed. I have a sinus infection and an ear infection and my soul is tired. Dear Husband also has an ear infection, which he blames on me, because he wanted me to go to the doctor last Friday, when I thought it was just a little allergy. So now I pray that the kids don't get whatever this truly is (my doctor is not the best), particularly the youngest, who spends at least a week a year in the hospital with pneumonia.

I have no sick time left. I've spent it all on the kids' illnesses. I feel guilty for not being at work. They are overburdened with Katrina stuff, donations, updates, coordinating with disaster response. And here I am, so drained I wish I could take tomorrow as well. Oh, I wish I could take a week. At work I could know I was making a contribution; here I feel ineffectual and whiney. I guess I feel like being whiney. I promised myself I would not watch the news reports today.

Dear Husband called and said that since I sound better, I can take on a freelance project. Oh joy. We always need money, so how can I not contribute? But now I foresee late nights and even less time to get everything else done. I barely have a week to do a heavy edit. Oh what have I gotten myself into?

I think the problem I have with taking proper care of myself doesn't have so much to do with putting others' needs before my own and a lot to do with this little girl expectation that someone will stop me and say, Okay, young lady--you march off straight to bed. It's much easier for me to identify what others need than what I need. Well, my husband would say I come up short on that score with him all the time, so I'll ammend that to say that it's easier for me to identify what children and employers need than what I need.

Entropy has overtaken the house. There are clothes to be folded, wet linens still in the washing machine. Papers everywhere. Fundraising this and that from schools. Receipts. Bills. Paystubs. I think I will go back to bed for a while and pray myself to sleep.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Sticks and Stones

I've been surfing through blogs and reading posts and comments on Hurricane Katrina. The level of conversations seems to be along these lines: "F**k Bush" "F**k the liberal Bush blamers" .

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dreams of a Broken City

It's hardly surprising that I dreamed of flooded cities. Of course our main focus of prayer in company devotions today was for those affected by Hurricane Katrina and for those working to get relief to them. We lost several churches and are still trying to make contact with all our pastors. One of our pastors headed up a church in an impoverished section of New Orleans, on Desire Street. A mission and a school, both wonderful places. This man and his family loved the people that no one else wanted to love. All gone. He evacuated with members of his flock, but we don’t know where exactly yet, but we think they are somewhere in North Georgia. We also had chaplains in the areas hit hardest. One had just purchased a home two weeks ago that is now completely gone. Our disaster response team is setting up a launching area and our phones are ringing pretty constantly with calls from people wanting to make donations or volunteer for relief work. I praise God for people who are stepping forward in big and small ways.

Oh, but how can it be that a first world country as wealthy as ours had no systems in place to protect its frailest and most vulnerable citizens? How much effort was made to evacuate those who had no cars and no money for transportation, housing or food? Or those who could not physically undertake an evacuation? I saw so many rescues of the elderly and disabled—why on earth were they left to fend for themselves? I’ve heard that people thought they had already experienced the worst with Camille. The poorest could not afford to believe anything else. I don’t know what to even pray when I read the stories of survivors, such as this one that I found online, harrowing stories of survivors listening to the cries of the trapped finally silenced by rising water, and the bodies of children and adults floating around rescue boats. I feel more like shaking a fist a God and crying out for justice and mercy. Well, there’s plenty of that kind of lament in the Bible, so I guess I’m in good company.

I’ve been checking A Slip of the Pen and worrying about Crystal and her family, who left their home in Jefferson Parish and have no idea when they can return or if there will be anything to return to. I’ve read posts on from other displaced people struggling to find a place to stay and just to stay sane enough to keep trying. I wish I had an extra room to open to them. I pray that I find a way to be of use.

I Am Remus Lupin

This seems to fit. My husband would agree that I periodically change into a ravening beast. You can take the test at Thanks to Allison at Oh, For the Love of God for a fun distraction from thinking about the horrors of the day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Personal Storm System

Perhaps the hurricane has affected me, because this morning I created my own personal storm system.  First the 5 year old did not want to get up. She complained it was “snuffy” and I had to turn on the air. Then she sluggishly half dressed and half let herself be dressed. Then I braced myself to tackle the 3 year old, who had woken several times during the night and finally fallen into a troubled sleep on the sofa. She steadfastly refused to wake up or to let me dress her, or even to be touched. I then began the threat dance, “Well, we’ll just have to leave without you then.”  “Mommmy!” Further refusals to dress, accompanied by kicking. Another threat to leave (Who do I think I’m fooling? I can hardly leave the 3 year old to fend for herself).  Finally, glaring in fury at me, she lets her sister dress her. Time is ticking away and I have visions of the KinderCare bus leaving without the 5 year old. Eventually we get to the car. “Mommy—I forgot my glasses!”  I shout at 5 year old to run get her glasses. By now the inner storm clouds are dark indeed. We are driving off. “Oh—I forgot my backpack.” Cloudburst. Now, screaming in fury at a 5 year old who has forgotten her backpack is a lesson in the broken nature of humanity if ever there was one.  She will not be expelled for want of a backpack. The world will not come to a screeching halt. Her moral character is not doomed because she couldn’t remember to grab her pack as we left.  My moral character, on the other hands, needs some work.

Monday, August 29, 2005



This weekend my husband and I celebrated a wedding anniversary. Of course, no major event occurs in our lives with out drama. In this case, just half an hour before the babysitter arrived, I found my husband curled up in bed, crying from excruciating pain. He has been hit with an IC flare. IC, or interstitial cystitis, is a nasty, incurable condition in which the bladder lining deteriorates, exposing the sensitive inner cells the lining normally protects. In addition, the cells of the lining release histamines, creating more inflammation, and the pelvic muscles go into spasm.  This disease is more common among women, but my husband is one of the lucky few men to get it.  He has accompanying urinary retention, and recently had a Medtronics device implanted to take stimulate the nerves to function properly. At least he doesn’t have to catheterize himself, which is something many IC patients live with.  And periodically, for reasons unknown, he is visited by sudden bouts of pain.  

He was able to pull himself together with some painkillers, and we still had a wonderful anniversary dinner, which says a lot for my husband.  He was determined that we would have a pleasant time together. We went to a restaurant in an old house in the old-town section of Duluth.  We enjoyed good food and conversation (ah—how pleasant to have a conversation uninterrupted by our adorable children).

The next day found me at the mall with the two adorable children to give dear husband a break. I admit that I am not one of those moms who can herd kids through any situation. I always brace myself when I take them out alone, for I feel like I’m carrying two cases of dynamite.  We rode the carousel. The youngest insisted on being in the spinning cup but burst into tears when it started to spin. It’s quite difficult to remove a struggling three-year old from a spinning cup while a carousel is moving and you’re holding onto a horse.  Then we headed for Starbucks, mainly to shore up my reserves for the rest of the afternoon. The two girls chose butterfly cookies, covered in a hard frosting the slowly dissolves all over hands and clothes. After this it was off to the mall playground, which I think of as The Germ Factory.  Here while I was boosting the oldest up onto some strange piece of equipment, the youngest walked right out into the food court, nearly giving me a heart attack. This is why I don’t like to take them out by myself. Even in an enclosed area I can’t seem to keep up—they have as many strategies as cats for slinking off.  I was able to lure them away with promises of a trip the dollar store, where we purchased what I can only call “junk” but which they seem to treasure: My youngest daughter fell asleep clutching her small plastic cars.  I survived and no children were lost, and nothing was left behind, except some of my cash.

All in all, I’m feeling a bit better about life, the universe, and everything, except that I worry about Dear Husband and fret that there isn’t a lot to do to help. I’ve also been keeping alert today to Katrina, and praying for everyone along its path. It seems that New Orleans wasn’t hit with the utter devastation may feared, but it sounds bad enough.