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.