Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Interesting article on Mother Teresa’s Dark Night of the Soul.

“…believers don’t claim to “know” God. That’s why they are called “believers.” To be a believer means, “Even though I do not know, I have faith.” Nor do believers, however devout, experience God on a constant basis. There is a big chasm that [sic] between the terrestrial and the transcendental, and a terrible silence usually separates the two. A glimpse or foretaste of eternity, this is all that we get, if we’re lucky.”

I didn’t realize that Christopher Hitchens’ hate-filled book on Mother Teresa was called The Missionary Position. I hope I never understand this ideological loathing. The most despicable “religious” practice I can think of is that of human sacrifice, but I don’t hate a religion that espouses it, and I certainly couldn’t take one person and direct all of my animosity against human sacrifice to that one person. I don’t care that Christopher Hitchens is an atheist, and I certainly don’t hate him because of it. I don’t even pity him because he is an atheist (sadness, not pity, and still firm hope…always hope). But I do pity him for needing to sink to such depths to…what? justify? his beliefs. He cannot prove that God does not exist any more than I can prove that God does exist. Does slandering a saintly dead woman really win him converts?

Blessed Teresa, please pray for Christopher Hitchens, and I will too. It’s the meanest thing I think we can do to him.

Technical difficulties

Oh, so much for trying to be pretty with my blog. This is why I have such a Plain Jane look!

I just barely got that big belly of mine out of the posts on Jennie’s computer, and now Mrs. Marco is saying they are doing the same thing. Mrs. Marco, is it the belly picture?

Anyone else?

My computer screens are wide, so I have lots and lots of white space here and can’t tell. Please complain away in the comment box and I’ll start working on losing that gut.

Labor Day

We celebrated Labor Day by laboring. I did my best to ignore the phone and the doorbell and plowed through our usual Monday curriculum. Bill became the de facto doorman chasing away the neighborhood children who wanted to play. I am quite certain that my children, the neighborhood children, and all the adults in the area are convinced that either 1) homeschooling is an oppressive burden or 2) Fritz and Billy’s mom is the meanest person on earth. We were done by 1130 am; it wasn’t that bad.

I like a day off as much if not more than any school kid. Believe me. And since I’m not used to starting school in August, I would gladly have taken a four-day weekend like the kids here. But I’m banking my vacation days for October when I’ll really need them. My kids will love me then.

And besides, it was Labor Day, a day to honor America’s workers. I suppose, being the descendant of factory workers, that I should swell with pride at what blue collar workers have done for my country. I don’t know. I have a feeling that most laborers are just trying to put food on the table and a roof over their heads and aren’t particularly concerned about the “big picture” and how their little cog moves the great wheel of the US economy. Yes, they worked hard and deserve a pat on the back. But Labor Day isn’t like Memorial Day where we honor soldiers who died doing their jobs.

Timed nicely for the “holiday” was this report from the UN about American workers being the most productive in the world. It was a pretty interesting article, not so much for the statistics about industrialized nations but for the comparison to people from other countries. The next time someone talks about “poor people” in America, it might be worth a second of thought to think about what poor really means, on a global scale. An industrial worker in China produces, on average, over $12k worth of output compared to an industrial worker in the US who produces over $104k worth of output. A farmer in China produces $910 (that is nine hundred and ten dollars) worth of output compared to an American farmer who produces over 52 thousand dollars worth of output.

Last year, I spent more on groceries than ten Chinese farmers produced. That’s a lot of rice. And I’ll bet there’s no holiday to recognize their labor either.

Birth plan

Later this week, I have another appointment with my midwife. The due date is a mere six weeks away. I forgot to mention in my list of to-dos this month: unpack the baby stuff. That would probably be helpful, huh? Do I wash it all in Dreft, too? One mom told me she just uses the second rinse cycle instead of bothering with Dreft. I’ve used Dreft with all the baby’s things until it’s used up and then switched to the double rinse. Such big decisions…so much extra work…

My midwife, Suzanne (I may as well name her, since she’ll be a big part of my life in the next six weeks), is interested in my birth plan. I’ve never really had a provider care about my birth plan. If we wanted to set a mood, that was up to us. All other ideas, like pain medication or breaking my water, were on the spot decisions …or orders (“I’m going to break your water now…whether you like it or not…”).

Since I haven’t yet settled in my mind the home birth or hospital birth question (I have six weeks, right?), I’ve come up with two plans. They are pretty similar.

Hospital birth plan: I wake up well rested on a Saturday morning (has to be a Saturday). I feel some regular, dull achiness about my midsection, but I’m able to rotate the laundry, eat a nice breakfast, feed my children, and take a shower. At a reasonable hour, say, 8 am, I use the toilet and my water breaks, conveniently, at that time (who wants to be mopping while in labor, right?). This gives me a clear indication that the baby will be coming soon. I call the midwife who says she’ll be right over. I call a few neighbors who gladly take the children. I begin to notice stronger contractions, but they are not too uncomfortable, and they are definitely not in my back. Suzanne shows up, checks me, and lo and behold, I am fully effaced and at 5 cm! We head to the hospital (it takes us about 40 minutes), and my contractions continue to be manageable, but I notice they seem to be only 3 or 4 minutes apart. Once at the hospital, they seem a bit stronger, but I’m still walking around and smiling. Imagine my surprise when Suzanne checks me again, and I’m at 8! The next half hour is a blur, and those contractions become pretty uncomfortable, but then I feel the need to push, and out comes a beautiful new life. Bill is home in time to put Petey down for his 1 pm nap.

Home birth plan: After several hours of good solid sleep, I wake up around 1 am. While going to the bathroom, my water breaks, and I decide I better call the midwife right away. As I’m doing this, I notice some strong, but not too bad, contractions happening every few minutes. Suzanne says she’ll be right over. I decide to wake Bill, and pull the comforter off the bed (and fold it neatly off to the side). When Suzanne shows up, she checks me and, holy cow, I’m at 7 or 8 cm! The next half hour is a blur, and those contractions become pretty uncomfortable, but then I feel the need to push, and out comes a beautiful new life. It’s about 2 am. I didn’t scream, and my moans do not wake any children. The dog remains calm despite the middle of the night interruption. By 3 am, the house is clean, I’ve showered, the paperwork is done, Suzanne leaves, and Bill and I and the new baby settle down to sleep.

Alright, so I’m an optimist.

As you might imagine, I’ve never had a birth story like one of those. I generally have a good day or two warning that labor is coming: I’ve had prodromal labor each and every time. I’ve had back labor each and every time. With my two non-epidurals, I screamed, quite loudly.

And may I just say right here that there is perhaps nothing more irritating than having someone criticize your screaming while you are in active labor? The very idea that there is a wrong way to scream makes my blood boil.

But I can dream, right? I can imagine and plan for a calm, perfect birth. I can pray to St. Gerard that I don’t have back labor, and that I learn just how manageable contractions can be when one can actually relax between them. I can hope that I’m not totally exhausted from days of prodromal labor that I have no strength left for the real thing. And I can expect that I won’t have to bother neighbors in the middle of the night to be with my kids, and that schedules and routines won’t be thrown off track from Day 1?

I suppose I’ll just have to make sure that I know where the matches are for that “Clean Linen” scented candle and make sure that my favorite classical music CDs are all in one spot. I guess I’ll put together my list of neighbors who are willing to come over in the middle of the night, or who can handle my brood while still getting their own off to school. And I’ll have Bill practice his back compression techniques, just in case.

“Ask, and you shall receive,” says the Lord. Okaaaay…I’m trying to be really specific to avoid any confusion. But Lord, I will accept any alterations to that plan that you deem necessary. If I wake up at 2 am, instead of 1 am, that’s fine by me.

Time marches on

Except for my husband and my daughter, Katie, everyone has a different birth month. It’s great. I love spreading the celebratory cheer throughout the year. But, naturally, this inspires some of my children to think ahead to their own birthdays and ask for things that they would like. My usual response is always a request that we discuss the matter in the appropriate month for them. It’s a habitual question asked without thinking.

On the way to church today, Jenny was asking for some product she had seen advertised on TV that she isn’t likely to get. Out came my knee-jerk retort:

“How about we talk about this in Septem—, oh. Arrrrgh!”

New Month’s Resolution for September

I am so glad that we moved recently. The necessary clutter and disheveled closets that inevitably occur when one lone woman tries to stay on top of a household full of small children are still in the manageable stages.

I am so glad I started school three weeks ago. Routines are in place. If I say, “Go fetch the Solutions Manuel,” my son knows what I’m talking about. I understand all those cryptic abbreviations on my daily planner.

Topping this month’s to-do list are some pretty big chores. I could put them off, but I’ll regret it. One is stocking my freezer and pantry with at least the ingredients for some basic, easy meals. It would be nice if I actually converted the bricks of ground meat into homemade meatballs or hamburger patties, too, but I’m not going to push it. If I have meat, pasta, and a jar of Ragu, I can throw together dinner in short order. And heaven forbid we run out of frozen waffles and I have to listen to complaining after being awake all night with a baby.

And then there’s the big clothing swap: the dreaded chore of pulling out long pants and shirts and then lugging kids to stores or the thrift shop to find pants long enough in the leg but narrow enough in the waist. Finally, the temperatures are showing a bit of promise that they may go low enough that someone might actually want to wear pants. I’m not getting any skinnier, so the awkwardness of doing the chore with a big belly can’t deter me from this. I might gamble on decent temps through mid-October, it could happen, but doing this job with a newborn who must be held constantly doesn’t sound very appealing either. It’s really got to be done by the end of the month.

And then there’s our fourth annual Oktoberfest. Bill actually suggested not doing it. I actually considered his suggestion. But I think if we keep it simple, it won’t be too overwhelming. Of course, if you know me…or Bill…we don’t know how to do simple. The date is September 29th, so if you think you might be in the area, and you like German beer, bratwurst and warm potato salad, this is the place to be.

With such a busy month, who has time for a resolution, right? No, no, no. This is exactly the kind of month where one does need to resolve something to keep one’s sanity. For me, it will be my walking. I definitely feel much worse if I don’t go out and stretch those aching hips with a stiff waddle around the neighborhood. I’m aiming for three days a week, minimum. The dog is hoping for every day. That’s it: 20 to 30 minutes around the block.

Do you have a new month’s resolution?

Nice Matters

The ever so sweet Rosemary has nominated ME for a Nice Matters Award. She obviously can’t hear the evil thoughts that frequently pop into my head!

When I read The Story of a Soul by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, I was really blown away by her “little way.” I could understand why this text propelled her cause to sainthood. I thought I was doing well by not voicing those less than polite opinions. And here is a woman who wouldn’t even nicely ask someone to please stop splashing her with water as they washed the laundry. She preferred to just happily offer it up. When I think of nice, I think of her, and I know I don’t rate anywhere near that!

“This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded please pass on to seven others whom you feel are deserving of this award”.

I’m pretty sure I don’t read mean people’s blogs, so don’t be offended if I haven’t listed you here. I think you are all nice. And for those of you I have listed, I’m willing to bet you don’t feel you can compare with St. Thérèse! Here we go:

Kristen Laurence with Small Treasures

Margaret the Minnesota Mom

Esther, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

Lillian at Smithflections

Michele, Queen of the Castle

Celeste on The Great Adventure

Melissa with Bountiful Blessings