Monday, June 21, 2010
Building Cathedrals has moved! That's right, as of today, our new site is--
Thank you for your loyal readership. When we started this blog 2.5 years ago, we had no idea how much our blog audience would grow, and how much we would love the fellowship of our little online community. In response to our growth, we decided we needed a website with more capabilities and a better layout. We posted about this almost 2 years ago, and the husband of one of our readers volunteered to set up our new site. Jonathan did an amazing job, and we are forever grateful for his generosity of time and his joyful spirit! B-Mama worked with Jonathan to design the new site, and it looks fabulous. B-Mama had this hard task as her one last "to do" before the arrival of her new baby. Check!!
Thank you B-Mama and thank you Jonathan for all your hard work!
Please visit us at our amazing new location, let us know what you think, and please subscribe!
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wow, I don't know what to make of this yet. It never occurred to me that digital readers would change books and reading in this way. The animating seems interesting, exciting and in some cases very artistic, but at the same time, what does it do to our attention span (or the kids') if even our books make noise and have moving pictures? I would say these fall into the category of "high end screen time" rather than reading -- better than watching junk, but not really reading either? Perhaps like watching learn to read shows on PBS? Also, the "read to you" function is really just a leap pad -- though this illustrates another way that the iPad is great for a mom who only has to carry one thing with her.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
So when we bought our used 2005 Honda Odyssey in 2008, I felt like I was driving a BMW. I love my minivan and I am very aware that someday I may have to drive something even bigger, so for right now, I'm feeling pretty cool in my car.
And then a fellow mom friend sent me this hilarious video. As a shout out to all those playground mamas lamenting the jump from SUV to minivan, this video is for you. Have you seen this? Hilarious.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I'm hoping we will get our first squash this week.
Cantaloupe, which I'm growing for the 1st time.
Gianna's bug catcher. She used her money at a local market to buy this bug catcher. She and Charlie spend 1/2 hour before bed each night catching fireflies.
Can you tell that someone got a new camera?
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
My husband and I met and married young and are open to life, therefore, we will most likely end up with a big family. This intimidates me. I did not come from a big family and really have had very little exposure to the inner workings of a family with any more than three children. Consequently, I am always in search of role models. Of course Maryalice is my number one (shout-out, hollar) - but we live several thousand miles apart.
I have to search out local mothers of large families to see their approach, size it up, take pieces of it and implement them in our home. Recently I had a troubling conversation with a 36-year-old mother of eight at one of our local playgrounds. She is an Army wife like me and her husband is currently deployed to Iraq on a 12-month tour. Her eldest two children are 18 and 14 year old girls. She has homesechooled all seven children (#8 is in utero) and everyone appears well-adjusted and well put together. As we watched our children play together, I took the opportunity to shamelessly pick her brain on all topics from lunch-preparation, to curriculum design to cloth diapering. I guess my questions inferred that her two eldest daughters helped a lot around the home because the mom felt the need to clarify that a)She did most/all of the food preparation and b) she rarely asked her older children to babysit the younger ones, but took them along with her instead. She went on to explain that she knew too many adults who had grown up as children in large families and were now "burnt out" from all that had been asked of them as children. They were reluctant to have many children themselves because of how much had been asked of them growing up. By shouldering more of the chores herself, this mom believes she is protecting her children from burning out.
Immediately this struck me as odd. I ask a lot of my eldest (5.5 yr.old girl), and she doesn't seem resentful, but rather, empowered. I have always figured that as long as they don't see me reading _Cosmo_ and painting my nails (I do that when they are sleeping, yea right) - they understand that we are all in this together and that we will have more time for fun together if we do the hard stuff together. They are already well familiar with my sing-songy "work before play" mantra. Yet, there seems to be a kernel of truth in the playground mother's fear. I cannot think of many people who have emerged from large families with the desire to be a parent in one themselves, especially girls. I want to hear from you - how do we find the balance of raising helpful, responsible children without turning them into nannies or cooks? Are any of you the products of large families -- what did your parents do to make growing up a great experience, even with siblings sandwiching you in every direction?
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
My guess, June 22nd at 11:30am! Go B-Mama Go!!!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
My birth center offers several birthing suits, complete with queen size beds, jacuzzi tubs, natural lighting, relaxing music, and kitchen areas. Nurse midwives attend to all births at the center, and if an emergency arises, you are just a few steps away from the local hospital. Last year, the midwives at the birth center delivered 504 babies. Only 8% of those babies were delivered via a c-section (compared to the almost 40% rate at most hospitals!).* Their episiotomy rate was a mere 5%, AND what I find the most impressive statistic, they had a 99% rate of initiating breastfeeding, and a 90% rate of continued breastfeeding at 6 weeks. Talk about baby centered care!
In general, birth centers are strong promoters of the health of women and babies, and they give many families a safe and wonderful option for a natural delivery in a home like setting with emergency medical care just steps away. If you desire to deliver naturally, I think it is really important to feel comfortable and relaxed at your delivery location. For some women this means a home birth, for others a hospital setting, and for me, it means a combination of the two at our local birth center.
I first sought out the birth center after two less than stellar hospital births. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the healthy delivery of my first two children, but my desire to birth my babies naturally, without unnecessary interventions, was very difficult for me in a hospital setting. For starters, I just couldn't relax in the hospital. We lost our first baby at birth back in November 2002, and as soon as I walk into a hospital labor and delivery room, with all those machines and beeps and monitors, I am immediately brought back to my labor with Therese. My stress level increases and I just desperately want to go home. Stress increases pain, and I know I will ask for pain meds as soon as labor really starts to intensify.
Second, hospitals are set up to deal with medical situations--mainly emergencies and illnesses. In an uncomplicated birth, the process is natural. Mentally I find all the "math" of the hospital draining. The constant monitoring, measuring, timing, and statistics are stressful and prolong my labor. Sure it's my fault that I let all the numbers get to me, but I'm very vulnerable when in labor! I don't like to be put on a timetable and told that I'm taking too long!
In addition, I am a wimp. Plain and simple, if pain medication is available, I will ask for it! If I want to go naturally, I need to move myself away from the temptation of easily available pain medication. The birth center is great because when I ask for pain meds, and believe me I do so frequently at the end of each of my labors, they simply tell me that it is unavailable and will necessitate a transfer. This line usually buys enough time to get me through the most difficult part of labor. I really admire all you natural birthing hospital women--please tell me, and B-Mama who is about to go this route, how you do it?!? A doula? A fantastic husband? Delaying your arrival at the hospital until the last minute?
But I digress...my basic point here is that most birth centers are great places, so do check out your local options!
*I realize that hospitals will have higher c-section rates because of the self selection factor in repeat c-sections. The birth center, however, does take repeat clients attempting a v-bac, and so their numbers are higher in this area as well. My overall point is that the natural techniques of the birth center are much more likely to end in a vaginal delivery.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Fresh off the press... a moonlit bench in Prospect Garden at Princeton, one lovely lady and one magnanimous gentleman, a family diamond from him, a sweet and certain "yes" from her, and they're headed to the altar.
Here's to you, lovebirds, with all our love and many blessings. The best is yet to come.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Joseph and Samuel of the Old Testament, St. Joseph, and other heroes of our faith received crucial, divine messages through dreams.
So far nothing of that magnitude for this dreamer.
However, everyday dreams can have an enormous positive or negative impact on my emotional life.
In a recent dream of mine, my husband and I (along with all of you dear college friends) had just reached the end of junior year at Princeton and were saying goodbye for the summer. Of course none of us were married yet, but we were getting on toward that stage, and our Lord was confirming my vocation to my husband in my own heart. But my husband, respecting proper boundaries of courtship, never assumed we would get married or spoke of it as a certainty before we were engaged. The memorable part of the dream was my extreme anguish at having to say goodbye to him for the three long summer months--such a familiar feeling when I was back in that goodbye moment--and also profound longing for the certainty that one day we would be married and sharing life together. Goodbye wouldn't ache nearly so much if I could just know that one day he would be my husband.
And then I woke up. Thank you, Lord! There he is sleeping next to me, more handsome than ever. Here's our small apartment where we share our one life. There are our three children sleeping in the living room. Two of them look mostly like me, one favors him. My dream came true times a thousand. For a few minutes right then, the emotional anguish of goodbye that was still so fresh in my mind gave way to incredible gratitude for my ordinary life. It went way beyond contentment; it was exhilaration. And it lasted for two days. And I can even return to it in my imagination right now when I need a gratitude boost.
Then there are the dreams that can upset my emotional balance for a day or two. Dreams where feelings resurface from the times when I was younger and gave my heart away imprudently. Dreams that foster my fear of loss or fear of failure. Mischievous dreams that whisper suggestions toward vanity and pride. Then I wake up agitated, in a confused haze, starting my day coping with emotions that would have been better if left unacknowledged.
Because of the dreams that may come and the emotions those dreams foster, sleep is a time of great emotional vulnerability. And, for better or worse, the thriving of our family depends heavily on my emotional well-being. And we're the best off when I'm not only reasonably content but positively grateful and joyful. Now... how can I assure more of those sweet dreams about my husband and children and other blissful realities?
Well, first and foremost, by humming the right songs as I drift off to sleep? Because no discussion about romance and dreams would be complete without quoting the refrain of country/soft rock ballad "Chances Are", sung by the great troubadour Bob Seger (yes Red, the sappiness factor is skyrocketing : ))
Chances are I'll see you somewhere in my dreams tonight.
You'll be smiling like the night we met.
Chances are I'll hold you, and I'll offer all I have.
You're the only one I can't forget.
Baby, you're the best I've ever met.
On we go...
Do you all pray specifically for good, pure and holy dreams in your night prayers? Does the Church have short prayers for dreams that you could share here? Or do you read something particular before bedtime to end the day on a lovely note? Particular patrons of dreams? I want to do a much better job entrusting my dreams to our Lord and other holy men and women in heaven, and of preparing my heart and mind for peaceful sleep. Sweet dreams, all!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4: 17
Anyone who has been to our house over the past couple of months can attest to the fact that life is a little bit nutty around here right now J We love life with three kids at home, and the big kids have been very sweet with their new baby sister, but we are definitely still working out the logistical details of our days! Mealtimes, bedtimes, and out-the-door times seem to be especially challenging for us, and there have been plenty of meltdowns, time-outs, and lost privileges between the two big kids.
I am not surprised that the addition of another child to our family has rocked the boat a little bit – this is how it’s supposed to be, right?! What I am surprised by is how easily I can become unhinged when the details of daily life seem to be conspiring against me. There’s nothing like a sink full of dirty dishes, a toddler who has just (purposely) spilled her bowl of cereal for the umpteenth time, or an inconsolable baby to make me feel desperate and alone. It is so easy to get lost in the crazy little details – the un-swept floors, the whining, the sorry condition of the kids’ bathroom – and to lose sight of the big picture. It is also very easy to start feeling sorry for myself and to notice all of the difficult parts of my day, when there are also plenty of good things that I have overlooked.
Thankfully, the following verse was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago, and I can honestly say that it has saved me several times in moments of near insanity:
“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” 2 Cor 4: 17
When I take a step back to really think about what I am getting upset about, I realize that most of it is truly a momentary light affliction, and not something worth sacrificing my peace (or my family’s peace!) for. Yes, there are plenty of slightly traumatizing parts of being a mother. For example, a few weeks ago I took the big kids to Mass alone (Ed had been a lector the night before). Everything started out fine, but then my toddler started to scream about something and I took her to the cry room, leaving Christopher in the pew. When we came out for our second attempt in the church, the toddler started to scream again, only this time she was kicking and flailing as well. I made the “walk of shame” back to the cry room once more, flailing child in hand (the poor lady who had to get up every time we left the pew!), where my toddler proceeded to behave very, very badly. Once again, we made our way back to the pew – I couldn’t leave Christopher by himself for all of Mass! – and once again, my child began to have a fit. By the end of Mass, I had tears in my eyes and I was shaking all over. I can honestly say that being able to repeat the words “this momentary light affliction” saved me in that moment.
Each of us has our own list of slightly traumatizing mommy moments, and we live through them every day. Our families will never be perfect, nor will our days be free from conflict, but when we take a step back, most of our hardships truly are momentary and light. The house is a mess, but it will eventually be clean again. The kids whine all the time, but there will come a day when the kids won’t want to talk to us at all and we’ll wish that they were little again. Bedtime is chaotic and exhausting, but the kids will eventually fall asleep! The point is this: Many parts of our day can be hard to bear, but we must keep our focus on the reason that we do all of these things in the first place. We have taken on the vocation of beings wives and mothers, and we are working through daily life out of love for our families. We are raising our children to be responsible, kind, generous men and women of faith, and everything that we do day-to-day must work towards this goal. If we lose sight of this, then it is easy to get lost in the web of our daily lives.
God bless all of you as we near the end of this month of May, the month when we honor Our Blessed Mother, our perfect example of patience and humility. Mary, Mother of Hope, pray for us!
*Note: Many women (and some men, too!) struggle with post-partum depression, and this is very different from what I have talked about in this post. These mothers have tried everything that they know how to do to change their perspective, but it has not worked. Sometimes, medicine is necessary to restore the balance of chemicals in the brain and hormones in the body, along with counseling. Post-partum depression is a VERY serious condition, and the best thing that you can do for yourself, your baby, and your family is to seek medical attention immediately. There is no shame in seeking medical help - it is the responsible thing to do.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Me (hyperventilating at the sight of the pieces of five 60 piece jigsaw puzzles mixed up and strewn about the floor of our tiny living room): "I'm not interested in who did this, but I need everyone get to work cleaning it up immediately."
Bella (age 5, whose blood runs sanguine): "OK Mom, of course, but I prefer when the room is messed exactly like this because all the colors on the floor make me cheerful."
Lord help me to shepherd each one of my little varied personalities.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
And then on Thursday I received a call from my doctor that will forever change my life. The biopsy of my small intestine tested positive for Celiac Disease. I was shocked, and immediately sad because I knew what that meant. Goodbye to wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Goodbye to the comfort foods of holidays and special occasions. Goodbye to most, if not all, of my favorite recipes. I mourned, I cried, I called all my girlfriends to complain, and then I called a friend who has Celiac Disease. She assured me that my life is not over, I will find a new normal, I will stop dreaming about gluten, and in a few weeks I will start to feel a lot better.
And so today is Day 4 of my new gluten-free life. I will admit that five minutes does not pass without me thinking of food and what I cannot eat. I'm trying not to think about how my new diet is permanent. I'm taking it one day at a time, but I am dreaming about wheat based foods, including some of my favorites--pizza, pancakes, pasta and doughnuts. From what I read, gluten does that. It is like a drug, stimulating a part of the brain that craves for more. I eat and I feel full but my brain wants something more. I was told that in two weeks my brain will start to forget about gluten, the cravings will stop, and maybe the dreams will stop too.
I have spent most of the weekend researching gluten-free diets and food choices. I went to Whole Foods on Saturday night and spent $200 on gluten free baking flours and ingredients. I had to bake something, and I wanted it to be delicious. Baking something would be a small victory, a first step towards a new normal life.
At one point during my trip I wandered away from my cart in search of quinoa, and when I re-approached my cart I was shocked at what was inside. The contents looked nothing like what I normally purchase. Tapioca flour? Teff flour? Xanthum gum? Are these seriously real ingredients? I felt strange and sad. I tried really hard not to think about the permanent nature of my new diet. I distracted myself by adding sushi to my cart, and placing it in a very conspicuous location, and I continued shopping.
This morning I awoke and made gluten-free pancakes. They were good--not quite as good as my wheat based pancakes, but good enough. I smothered them with maple syrup and ate them until I felt full. And as I cleaned up the breakfast dishes I realized that I'm going to be ok. The pancakes were definitely good enough. I'll find other foods like the pancakes that are good enough. My life is going to feel normal again, and maybe sooner than I had originally thought.
You see, I already feel better. I'm not 100% percent, FAR from it, but I'm better in ways that I never thought were related to my stomach issues. Allow me to explain--
As we got ready for Mass this morning I realized that I forgot to make my coffee, again. I just didn't need it this morning, and I didn't need it on Saturday or Friday. I then realized I didn't have a headache on any of those days. Headaches normally motivate me to make coffee. I have not gone 3 days without a headache in at least a year. Maybe that's a coincidence, but probably not. My doctor told me that regular headaches are a symptom of Celiac Disease and I can't tell you how excited I am that mine seem to be gone!
And my allergies seem to have disappeared. A few months ago, I resorted to taking a daily allergy medication because my sneezing and wheezing were just that bad. But my seasonal allergies are now gone, and the change has happened almost overnight. Some of my joint pain is gone too. I had pain in my neck and back almost every day prior to my diagnosis. And it's gone. Maybe this is a placebo effect, but I'm loving it!
My gut is going to take a bit longer to heal, likely several months, but I trust it will heal in time. I'm praying the fatigue goes away too, and my doctor said it probably will.
And so tonight, for the first time, I'm ending my day thanking God that the sacrifices of the past few days have yielded such obvious fruit. The way I feel is motivating me to keep going, and I'm really curious to see what other minor health issues might disappear. For the first time in a long while I feel full of hope about my health. Celiac Disease in a gluten-loving world stinks, but tonight I am starting to see the silver lining, and I'm loving it.
Friday, May 21, 2010
(With a grin and a double wink : ))
ODE TO OUR STROLLER (sung to the tune of "Danny Boy")
Peg Perego, your days with us were numbered.
Four years you've been our car, our guard, our friend.
The European cobblestone plus 75 pounds of children--
Your final triumph was your tragic end.
We'll ne'er forget your lightweight sturdy chic-ness;
Italian leather, red upholstery.
But most of all, the many happy memories:
Three kids, 6 homes, 5 countries--joy of family.
Forced to move on, in dire straits without you;
An odd French pram now tries to take your place.
Overweight, bulky, impractical and frumpy.
None other e'er will match your style and grace.
It just ain't right to send you to the village dump;
Your faithful frame, strewn down along the hill.
Your spirit soars, lives off beyond the rainbow,
In all my dreams and in my heart you're with us still.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
My bed is like a little boat;
Nurse helps me in when I embark;
She girds me in my sailor's coat
And starts me in the dark.
At night I go on board and say
Good-night to all my friends on shore;
I shut my eyes and sail away
And see and hear no more.
And sometimes things to bed I take,
As prudent sailors have to do;
Perhaps a slice of wedding-cake,
Perhaps a toy or two.
All night across the dark we steer;
But when the day returns at last,
Safe in my room beside the pier,
I find my vessel fast.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Below is a post from our friend and classmate (visit her at her blog). She is, truly, a "builder" in spirit, I hope that you find all of her advice as helpful as I did! (Hi, Red here, reposting this because the links were not working earlier).
I buy a lot of organic produce for my family. The latest issue of Pediatrics just gave me another reason to justify the extra effort and $ it takes me to buy organic produce.
A study just published in the journal found that children age 8-15 with higher levels of organophosphate metabolites in their urine were significantly more likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD. You can read the study as published in Pediatrics here. What are organophosphates? They are neurotoxic chemicals used as pesticides on many fruits and vegetables sold in the US (also in some residential pesticides). As stated in the intro of the study, the major exposure to pesticides for infants and children is diet, and children are considered to be at greatest risk to these chemicals because their developing brain is more susceptible to neurotoxins and the dose of pesticides per body weight is likely to be larger.
Does this study conclusively say that pesticide exposure causes ADHD? No. More specific studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal and not just an association. However, the findings do suggest that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among kids in the US, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.
So what can we do about this? DON'T STOP FEEDING KIDS FRUITS and VEGGIES! Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides and is available in many of the grocery stores we buy from anyway. Plus, the more we as consumers DEMAND organic produce, the more grocery stores will carry fruits and veggies grown this way! Also, as summer approaches, farmer's markets are a great place to buy produce because many of local farmers do not use pesticides (just ask!).
Do you have to start buying ALL organic? Probably not. Some fruits and veggies are (on average) more contaminated than others. You can learn more at Foodnews.org, the website of the Environmental Working Group or just click here for their handy shopper's guide (I carry it with me to the grocery store so I know what to splurge on and what to buy regular):
We can make a difference. Remember, we vote 3 times everyday with the food we buy and eat.
Press on Builders and buy organic produce!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
You're wondering if I'm lonely:
OK then, yes, I'm lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.
You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely
If I'm lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawn's first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep
If I'm lonely
it's with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it's neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Here is a favorite from my Latin American Studies days:
"I Was My Own Route"
I wanted to be like men wanted me to be:
an attempt at life;
a game of hide and seek with my being.
But I was made of nows,
and my feet level on the promissory earth
would not accept walking backwards
and went forward, forward,
mocking the ashes to reach the kiss
of new paths.
At each advancing step on my route forward
my back was ripped by the desperate flapping wings
of the old guard.
But the branch was unpinned forever,
and at each new whiplash my look
separated more and more and more from the distant
and my face took the expansion that came from within,
the defined expression that hinted at a feeling
of intimate liberation;
a feeling that surged
from the balance between my life
and the truth of the kiss of the new paths.
Already my course now set in the present,
I felt myself a blossom of all the soils of the earth,
of the soils without history,
of the soils without a future,
of the soil always soil without edges
of all the men and all the epochs.
And I was all in me as was life in me ...
I wanted to be like men wanted me to be:
an attempt at life;
a game of hide and seek with my being.
But I was made of nows;
when the heralds announced me
at the regal parade of the old guard,
the desire to follow men warped in me,
and the homage was left waiting for me.
Julia de Burgos (1914-1953)
Saturday, May 8, 2010
...Texas Mommy and I thought we'd gather our six children (ages 6 and under), put them in a small chapel, and see if they could sit patiently and quietly through a baptismal liturgy for TEN babies. We'll let you use your imaginations for the outcome :)
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!
first commenter w/ the author of this one wins.... Builder respect and admiration
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
In honor of national poetry month, please allow me to share four of my favorite adult poems on the Tuesdays of May and four great ones for kids on the Thursdays of May.
It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.
It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
it is the motion that runs
from the eyes to the tail of a dog
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.
It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.
It is the serum that makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Bedtime can be unnerving for parents, especially when there are uncooperative children and/or fussy babies added to the mix. Here are a couple of small changes to our bedtime routine that have made a huge difference, especially with our two-and-a-half year old:
Me: finish reading the bottle number to nurse...
Nurse: "Umm, ok, did you open the bottle?"
Nurse: "How much of it did your children consume?"
Me: "about 2/3 of the bottle." (it was a 4oz bottle so this was not a small amount!)
Nurse: "Oh, ok...(long pause)... well, what child had the Tylenol."
Me: "I don't know, probably all of them. We have had the bottle for a couple of months. I think my two year old has had most of it, he has had some ear infections, and maybe my 4 year old has had some too."
Nurse: "Have you noticed any funny behavior from your two boys.
Me: "Everyday," and I begin to laugh.
Nurse: does not laugh. "Well, I suggest after we get off the phone you call poison control. When is the last time they had the Tylenol?"
Me: Now mildly concerned, "I have no idea, it hasn't been in the past week."
Nurse: "Ok, well, you need to call poison control, and you also need to call this product information number. We are advising all parents of children who have consumed the contaminated Tylenol to call this hotline. Do you have the number for poison control?"
Me: a little more concerned, "yes, of course, I'm the mother of 2 young boys. Can I ask you to give me a little more information about how this product was contaminated, I mean, what is the possible risk to my children?"
Nurse: "You will need to call the number for more information, but I believe some of the bottles contained higher than normal doses of the active ingredient. In addition, there are unknown products in the bottle.
Great. I thank the nurse for the information, forgettting completely about sick daughter and nosebleed, and I call the hotline number. And, after waiting on hold for about 15 minutes--don't you just love corporations-- I give the rep the info about the bottle, and this conversation ensues.
Customer Service Rep: "Thank you for your address, I apologize for the inconvenience, we will be sending you a refund voucher."
Me: "Umm, I don't really care that much about the $7, but I'm a little concerned about the possible effect on my children of consuming this bottle of Tylenol. Can you answer a few of my questions regarding the possible risks or side effects?"
Customer Service Rep: "No, I'm sorry ma'am. You will have to call back on Monday to get that information. You will need to speak with a product representative."
Me: "Um, ok, well can I leave my number so a product representative can call me back tomorrow?"
Customer Service Rep: "No m'am, I'm sorry, but we can't make outgoing calls here. We just receive calls, we are a reception center only."
Me: "So you are telling me that my kids consumed some potentially harmful Tylenol, with unknown products, and you have no further details, and to find out more I have to call you back, and wait on hold again?"
Customer Service Rep: "That's right ma'am. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience."
Me: "Ok, well I find it pretty upsetting that in this particular case, when you have sold a defective product posing potential harm to children, that you do not have a system set up to return the calls of concerned parents. I find it hard to believe that with all the technology available to us, you don't have the ability to make outgoing calls."
Customer Service Rep: "I'm sorry for the inconvenience."
Me: realizing slowly that I'm wasting my time and breath talking to this guy about the poor customer service system, "I know this isn't your fault, but tell your manager that the system you guys have stinks." I then do my own research, call poison control, and confirm my suspicion that my kids will be fine.
Now, I have a tendency to lose my patience and my temper in these sorts of conversations with customer service representatives. I have been known to yell, cry, and name call. I'm sure I've given more than one priest a good chuckle in confession as I describe my embarrassing behavior. I loath the administrative dealings of large corporate customer service departments. I find it amazing that they can't make an outgoing call, they cannot transfer you to a supervisor without at least an hour wait, and that you always hear a voice telling you about the abnormally high call volume and the longer than normal wait time. The general feeling of helplessness that comes from the entire experience is unsettling. When I'm postpartum, overtired, or pregnant the after effects of these experiences are really frightening.
I've been meditating on this a lot lately, because last week I had a battle with Verizon over our internet connection. The internet had been down for 5 days and I spent over 8 hours on the phone trying to get the connection fixed. It was frustrating, and my efforts were pretty much futile. While each conversation didn't end in tears, each day I allowed the feeling of helplessness to consume me, even if only for a brief time, and I lost my interior peace. I then read this passage:
The exercise of freedom as a choice among options, plainly is important. However, to avoid making painful mistakes we also need to understand that there is another way of exercise freedom: less immediately exciting, poorer, humbler, but much more common, and one immensely fruitful, both humanly and spiritually. It is consenting to what we did not originally choose...The highest and most fruitful form of human freedom is found in accepting, even more than in dominating. We show the greatness of our freedom when we transform reality, but still more when we accept it trustingly as it is given to us day after day...in order to become truly free, we are often called to accept what we did not want, and even what we would not have wanted at any price. There is a paradoxical law of human life here: one cannot be truly free unless one accepts not always being free!
To achieve true interior freedom we must train ourselves to accept, peacefully and willingly, plenty of things that seem to contradict our freedom. This means consenting to our personal limitations, our weaknesses, our powerlessness, this or that situation that life imposes on us, and so on.
Quoted from Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe
In the life of this simple mother, it means accepting the difficult reality of customer service departments at large corporations. I am not "helpless" in a spiritual sense. I can "do something" about the situation. I can accept it as God's will in my life. I'm naturally an active and aggressive person, so the image of actually choosing acceptance, rather than passively dealing with the trials given to me, frees my soul and leaves me ready for the next challenge. To have interior freedom and peace, I don't need to be passive. I have a choice to make with regards to every trial.
And so today I'm praying for the grace to choose acceptance of small trials.
On a practical note, I got more information from my own web searches on the recall. If you want a complete list of recalled products, check out this site. I'm sure my kids will be fine. They have consumed unknown products before and I'm sure they will do so again in the future.
Friday, April 30, 2010
We are overseas, so I do not have the luxury of going to a store, so websites only if you please. My 2yr.-old trainhead (and the rest of us) thank you.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
And then we begin a short or long request for the light to change to green using lots of big words and fancy language by keeping our eye on the lights the other direction waiting for them to change yellow to make our final triumphant request for green. The boys squeal with glee that we have once again made the light change at our command. Rocket science it is not, but it does give the illusion to a 3 year old of power over the lights.
And then on judgement day we shall get our first square look at ourselves. We shall see the full picture of the workings of grace in our life. We shall see how little we ourselves had to do with our heroic decisions and our supposedly noble deeds. Almost, we can imagine God smiling at us in loving amusement as he sees our chagrin; as he hears us exclaim in confusion, "Why God! It was you all the time!"He later writes, "It becomes our responsibility, then, to do our best in removing obstacles to the operation of grace; to do our best to facilitate the effects of grace."