Dear Mary,

STOP GROWING!! I mean it. Just for a few months, okay? You are really cute. You are easy to please. You don’t move when I put you down. You sing these really sweet gurgle-y baby songs. Sometimes you even nap for an hour or so. Your smile makes everybody smile back. You tame tough nine year old boys into gentle baby-talkers. Stay for just a little while longer, okay?


And, yes, it is still there

Monday, nap time

Peter: Where’s my race car?

Me: I put it on top of your dresser. You can have it after nap time.

Monday, bed time

Peter: Where’s my race car?

Me: It’s still on your dresser. You can have it tomorrow.

Tuesday, nap time

Peter: Where’s my race car?

Me: Buddy, it’s still on your dresser. You can’t have it until after nap time.

Tuesday, bed time

Peter: Where’s my race car?

Me: On your dresser. Tomorrow, Petey.

Wednesday, nap time

Peter: Where’s my race car?

Me: On your dresser. Sorry, honey. I’ll get it down after you nap.

Wednesday, bed time

Peter: Where’s my race car?

Me: It’s on your dresser. Still.

Peter: That’s not my race car. That’s Jenny’s race car. My race car is downstairs.


Baby Talk

Peter’s latest addition to his vocabulary: horrible.

I don’t know if he knows what it means. I think he just likes the way it sounds.





That’s how he sang himself to sleep tonight.

Birthday Boy

When Billy was a toddler, he liked to get up between his father and I. He would grab us by the head and pull us in so that we three would all have our head resting on each other. It was sweet.

Bill deployed a few days after his third birthday. Billy didn’t do this with just me – it was something he did with all three of us. As time went on, I completely forgot about it. Bill returned a few days before his fourth birthday. Several weeks later, we took a train from Philadelphia to Orlando for one of the worst vacations of my life (it’s another story, and so is my trip to Paris which ranks as the worst trip). At one point, Bill and I were sitting on aisle seats opposite each other. Billy stood in the aisle, his head on level with ours, and pulled us close. Suddenly, I remembered that he used to do it all the time, and I’ve never forgotten it since, though that was the last time he ever did that.
That little boy turned 8 yesterday. He declared it was the best birthday ever. With Billy, everything is “the best” or “the worst.” It’s tough to be the second son, especially when your brother is less than two years older. But where Fritz has taught me everything I know about unconditional love, Billy has taught me the magic of the multiplication of love. It is not that my love is divided between my children but that our family love increases.

Happy birthday, big guy.

The Evolution of a Side Dish

The boys had their Cub Scouts’ Blue and Gold Banquet yesterday. Every family was supposed to bring a side dish. The theme was “Chinese New Year” and our $5 per family contribution was paying for Beef with Broccoli, Sweet and Sour Chicken, rice and drinks. Since my kids don’t like Chinese food (and probably half the kids I know don’t either), I thought I’d make macaroni and cheese.

That was THE PLAN.

When I went to the grocery store early in the week, I completely forgot about THE PLAN. For the rest of the week, I kept reminding myself I needed to go back there for virtually every ingredient in the recipe. I even made a list. The week progressed into Friday morning, then Friday afternoon, then Friday evening, and I was too tired to summon the strength to go to the store. I looked in the fridge and saw grapes and a melon and apples. Suddenly, I had a NEW PLAN: fruit salad.

A little voice in my head told me I’d better do it right after the kids went to bed. But I was tired from my usual long day, and wanted to sit for just a few minutes. I reminded myself that if I didn’t do it that night, I wouldn’t have time the next day. But my few minutes of sitting was all the free time I had. My adoration hour is from 10 pm to 11 pm, and by the time I got back from that, I crawled straight into bed.

The next morning, I thought about my NEW PLAN, and told myself that I would still be able to do it. It would only take about ten minutes. But I had a house full of kids to get ready, Mary would not let me put her down, and I was trying to help Billy decorate the cake he was entering in a contest at the Banquet. Finally, it was time to go.

I washed the grapes and put them in a bowl. It was MY SOLUTION.

In the end, there was more than enough food. At least two other people brought macaroni, and several brought spaghetti. All my grapes were gone.

Next time, MY SOLUTION will be THE PLAN.

Adoration Hour (a sonnet)

I come slowly to this holy hour,
Within my heart deeply regret my pace.
In truth do I long to receive His grace,
Knowing this time in prayer it does shower.
Time and again witness to His power,
I should eagerly run and take my place.
Seeing Him there contained in that gold case,
Incomprehensible Truths; I cower.
How can it be that God, Maker of all,
Deigned to be there for all of us to see?
Crumb of Divinity captured and shown.
Something so great found in something so small.
God speaks softly in a whisper to me,
Blinking back tears trembling before His throne.

Clothes shopping

I’m shopping for clothes…ack.

I wouldn’t mind shopping for clothes if my size were in the single digits.


The idea of spending money on something that really had better not fit me in 3 months is depressing. But so is getting dressed every morning.

And it doesn’t help that I’m very picky. My arms are short, so nothing long-sleeved. I like 3/4 sleeve best unless it’s hot. No V-neck (always too low). No boat-neck (they always slip off my shoulders). No trim at the neck or cuffs that might irritate my sensitive skin. Must be nursing-infant accessible. And what is up with cowl-necked sweaters? Can we please move on to the 21st century? Or at least the last decade of the 20th?

And then there are color issues. I like blue. Outside of that, my taste is very limited. Black and gray and navy are great…for winter. But spring is coming (right? spring is coming? sometime?) and I prefer lighter colors in the spring. But a wardrobe of blue shirts ranging from pale blue to robin’s egg blue is rather boring. Lilac is cool. And, uh, that’s about it. I’m actually considering pink, because coral just won’t look good on me.

And then I look at pants. I prefer boot cut. Tapered legs seem plentiful. Yeah, I’ll order one of them and a cowl-necked sweater and play some Go-Gos.

I’m just glad I’m doing this all online and not in a store. I’m exhausted and I’m not even physically trying on clothes.

Thank goodness I’m not looking for a bathing suit.

P.S. Holy cow! Spell checker worked!

Must be Lent

Let’s see…

Yesterday, at a store, an old man told me I should get myself fixed because I had one too many kids already.

I had only my three daughters with me.

…moving on…

At another stop, I sat in the car with the kids while Bill ran in for something, quick. But quick doesn’t happen when there are long lines. One child had to go to the bathroom. We waited, but the issue became urgent.

So, I interrupted Mary’s snacking, put socks and shoes on the one who kicked them off, got everyone out of the car and across the busy parking lot, went into the store (no husband in sight – I think he hid when he saw us coming), found the bathroom, and got the child into a stall.

She was a bit…stopped up, shall we say? No pressure, honey, I kept thinking. There are only six people standing here waiting for you to go. “How about we try again later,” I suggested. Nope. We were there for ten minutes.

…then, a new day dawns…

This child has been battling a cold for nearly a week and is still pretty miserable. And misery loves company. She really should just take a nap, but instead, she’s using naughty words and annoying her siblings for no good reason. To cap it off, she mooned her sister.

What the…?

And because we have been emergency room-free for way too long now, Peter whacked his mouth on the window sill and cut it from left to right between the lip and the chin. We thought it went all the way through, but the doctor wasn’t sure. He ended up using dermabond on the outside and leaving the inside alone. I had to give Peter Advil this evening, and expect I’ll have to do it tomorrow too. This poor kid’s chin now has three scars.

The only thing that bothers me about this is the doctor’s instructions to keep an eye on the inside laceration and wash food out of it if necessary. Oh, the joy.

But this is all good stuff. Really. I’m smiling in the midst of it all. Even the desire to punch the old man in the nose was more an after-thought than a true wish. I’m sure he meant well.

It must be Lent. Ever notice that the more charitable you wish to be, the more difficult it is?

Shopping with kids

On Saturday, Katie and Jenny were moaning because there were no little girls around to play with. I needed to go to the grocery store, so I invited them along, and the proposition did cheer them. Of course, I took the baby, too. But by the time we headed for the door, Peter was up from his nap with shoes on and coat in hand. He has a sixth sense.

“I want go too.” Nevermind that he has no idea where we’re going.

“Use this time wisely,” I scolded my husband wondering why I was taking four little children to the grocery store on the busiest shopping day of the week.

It wasn’t too bad. Mary didn’t get fussy until the very end, and Katie was very helpful in putting the items on the belt for the checkout.

But I could tell I’ve grown weak from lack of doing such an exercise in quite a while. I bought kid yogurts AND drinkable yogurts AND a big container of pretzel rods AND a bag of generic fruit loops. Believe it or not, I said no to twice as many things.

Let’s talk about sex

My friend, Rachel, emails me: “P.S. Did you hear about the Christian sex toys thing on NPR?” No link, no other info. Well, goodness, who could resist googling that?

Here‘s the story, and here‘s the NPR blog post with the comments ranging from medieval “Christians” who think sex is a necessary evil to secularists who think sex is the Ultimate Good. Eventually, it just became the latest web-based pressure-release valve for anti-Christian vitriol.

Reading through, I’ve noticed that many people on both extremes have swallowed a few fallacies about good, Christian living.

Myth #1: It is immoral for Christians to make money. Folks, there is no manna falling from heaven. God expects us to provide for ourselves and our misfortunate neighbors, too. Unless you own a farm, the best way to do that is with cold hard cash. It is immoral to hoard your money, it is immoral to steal someone else’s money, it is immoral to practice unfair lending. But it is not immoral to make money.

Some commenters criticized the company for selling the exact same products as any other sex toy supply store. A dildo is a dildo is a dildo. Making one with a “Christian” theme would be blasphemous (think: The Exorcist), don’t you think? One person complained that the company used the same immoral suppliers as all the other stores and suggested that these people should be manufacturing their own supplies. Gee, I guess they just didn’t have a few spare million dollars to get that idea off the ground.

Then there were the people who thought it was all a gimmick. If by that they mean that these people have come up with a marketing tool to distinguish themselves from all the other sex toy suppliers, then they are right. But that’s not immoral. It’s all part of doing business. If by gimmick they mean “false advertising,” then we’d need some evidence that these people aren’t Christian. Like maybe membership cards for the local Satan worshipper’s church.

Myth #2 Sex is immoral. No, lust is immoral. But if you’ve never experienced sex within the context of a loving, selfless marriage, then I can’t blame you for being confused.

I guess this is why so many commenters had problems with the idea of praying regarding your sex life (kind of like praying that your planned bank heist went smoothly). One person actually mused that Jesus had bigger concerns to deal with and others felt (snarkily) that Christians should spend their time praying for world peace instead of satisfaction. It’s no wonder that they don’t believe in God. That God they describe is so small, so limited. The Christian God is capable of caring about all things from world hunger to that annoying hangnail on your little toe.

Myth #3 Sex is only about making babies. Being “open to life” is not the same thing as restricting sex for fertile times only. Christopher West writes:

This is how husbands and wives build an authentic spirituality: by loving one another according to the Holy Spirit in and through their bodies. Marital love is shown in numerous ways, but spouses who are filled with the Spirit realize “among the possible manifestations of affection, the singular, or rather, exceptional significance of [the conjugal] act” (Nov 21, 1984). They come to understand that their sexual union “bears in itself the sign of the great mystery of creation and redemption” (Nov 14, 1984). In a word, they come to understand that their union is “Eucharistic.”

Sex is primarily about union. Children are the fruit of that union.

Myth #4 Sex toys are immoral. It’s all how you use them. Onanism is immoral. Lust is immoral. Orgasms are most definitely not immoral. Within the context of foreplay, if a couple requires a little assistance, it is not immoral to get some.

Of course, finding assistance is difficult. As the NPR article wrote, the couple who started the business wanted to buy massage oil without viewing pornographic images. Hence, their store.

I wish them good luck.