Saturday, March 31, 2007

An Abusive Wife

Call the cops.
Have them come arrest me.
My family is SO abused.

Do you know what my poor miserable husband endured this week? He didn't get a cherry pie for his birthday. Can you believe it??? How much abuse can a man be expected to endure?

And then, to rub salt into his wounds (and because there are no cherries in the house), his abusive wife made banana cream pie. How can he be expected to eat his second-favorite pie in the world, when he hasn't yet eaten his cherry pie this week? Oh, the horrors!

Okay, seriously now....
You have to wonder about how well you're feeding your family when you begin to realize how spoiled they are. Oh, the veggies should've been boiled for about one minute less. Or it would've been nice if the food had been cooked in a shallower pan so that it could develop a crunchier crust. Or the cantaloupe should've ripened one day longer or one day shorter.

It's almost enough to make me intentionally give them cruddy food, so their tastebuds aren't so outrageously spoiled and so the bar isn't set so high! Like the line in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer," when you get really good at something, people expect fantastic results all the time. Anything average becomes disappointing. Maybe it's better to keep expectations low. Anybody for PBJs on white bread for the next 26 meals??

Friday, March 30, 2007

Brian's Song

Short movie that we managed to make time for last time, partially by turning it on during supper. Brian's Song is a movie I saw when it was new back in the 70s. I remembered the part about the friendship. Back when I saw it the first time, I didn't realize what a big deal it was that a black man and a white man became friends and even [gasp] roommates when they played for the Bears. I remembered the part about Piccolo dying of cancer at the end. What I didn't remember was how funny the movie was!!

Going off totally off on a tangent now: Watching the movie sure made me realize something about the change in language in our society. When somebody near the start of the movie expressed surprise or shock, he said, "Golly!" Golly? Wow, that was a nice change from the "oh my god" you hear all the time on tv and in movies now. There was also a scene that would never ever make it in a movie today, where Piccolo was trying to egg Sayers on to do his exercises to get back his strength after an injury. He called his friend a particular N-word (a 6-letter pejorative for a black person), and the two guys ended up laughing uproariously over the stupid attempt to anger Sayers. Definitely NOT something you'd see in a movie today!

Something else we've had the last week or so from our Blockbuster membership is the first disk of the second season of The Flying Nun. The kids and Gary have seen more of it than I have. But I've caught a few episodes when I've been working in the same room. And these are just a crack-up too. Fun and light-hearted and silly and wholesome.

Infant Communion

My husband tells me there's an interesting discussion going on over on Pr Petersen's blog. I'd love to go look, but laundry and cooking call. Looking forward to reading later.

How can it be that I have accomplished so much nothing today? Okay, Maggie and I did some schoolwork. And we have a nice dinner: stroganoff over noodles, hot fresh whole-wheat bread (with homemade peach jam), roasted carrots, and homemade banana cream pie. I sure do like eating, but sometimes I wonder if I oughtn't be doing something else with my time other than cooking.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Third Use" and Penance

There's a difference of opinion within our synod about whether the "third use of the law" needs to be specifically and pointedly preached. Some pastors think that preaching the law is what is necessary, and that the Holy Spirit will also use that damning law to inform Christians of how to live. Other pastors think that an important part of sermons is to say, "Now that you've been forgiven, thus-and-such is what you should be doing."

Regardless of what he intends, when the pastor "preaches third use" his people are hearing that good works are more important than forgiveness. A pastor who "preaches third use" (as opposed to "preaching the law") definitely thinks forgiveness is important; he also knows that it is the Gospel that causes us to want to obey the law. But somehow, nevertheless, the message still comes through that Christianity is mostly about being good.

How does this effect his people's desire for private confession?

When pastors "preach third use," do they have people clamoring for the pastor to "hear their confession and pronounce forgiveness to them in order to fulfill God's will"? When pastors "preach third use," what goes through their people's minds when they dare to begin thinking about the possibility of maybe considering going to confession?

Even though my father-confessor does NOT tell me what to do or how to be good, even though he does not "preach third use," even though he does not give penance, I still sometimes fear what he might say. There are times my sinful nature wonders, "Can I really say this in front of him? What if he comes back with a line, 'Well, if you're really sorry about that, then you'll do' yada-yada-yada." And I know I'm incapable of doing whatever-it-is. But then I grab hold of myself and think about the sermons. In his sermons, the point of the law is to slay the sinner, to leave the sinner no means of patting himself on the back, no means of thinking that I'm doing an okay job of being a good little Christian, no means of planning out "better obedience" (which would allow me to pat myself on my back later, if'n I can't do it quite yet). In his sermons, the point of the law is to smash our self-righteousness so that Christ's righteousness is the only thing we can cling to. So I know it will be the same in the confessional. The point of his absolution is to assure me of what Christ has done for me, assure me of Christ's love, assure me of His promises. The point is not to make sure I start behaving properly. Pastor trusts that the gospel will do that of its own accord, in God's time, and in God's way, and with God's measure of good fruit.

But if a pastor's sermon preaches "third use of the law" to make me into a good person, then how would I ever know to trust him with my confession made in private? How would I know that he would forgive instead of giving me law to perform ("third use" though it be)? If I am weak and sinful and cannot perform the law, what good would it be to go to the pastor, suspecting that I might just to be told what I should do? Does the commitment to "preach third use of the law" among us undermine the yearning of the people for that Sacrament of Private Absolution? Does "preaching third use" teach us to shy away from that Sacrament?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

American Idol

Bummers! Chris left tonight!

My plan was for Sanjayah, Haley, Chris R, or Phil to leave soon. I didn't care which order, but it was okay with me if they didn't come back. Jordin and Lakisha were on my next tier. I wanted Chris S, Gina, Blake, and Melinda to be the ones who held out till May. I figure the final night should come down to a choice between Blake and Melinda, even though Chris S is [was.... boohoo] my favorite.

Well, I've managed to discipline myself much better this year, and not get totally hooked on this season's Idol. But with Chris getting low-votes last night, the show just lost much of its draw.


The organist wasn't at church on Sunday. So tonight she was asking Pastor how it went: if there had been a substitute or if we'd sung a capella. She mentioned again about how his wife should be trying her hand at accompanying the congregation.

I know she's intending to be encouraging. But it just doesn't come off that way. It's pressure. Unwanted pressure.

There are people who have free time to devote to reading or to learning new things or to hobbies. I would dearly love to spend time learning the organ, or at least getting good enough at piano to be able to accompany the congregation on organless Sundays. I would love to get my German back and learn it well enough to be able to read Gerhardt's hymns without having to puzzle through them auf Deutsch. I would love to have the time to take care of the yard properly and to grow a vegetable garden. Maybe even an orchard and an herb garden and a flower garden. I would love to get my Greek back. I would love to read a book that I want to read to myself, instead of reading only what's necessary for the kids' schoolwork. I would love to sew again. I would love to write articles for magazines and the local newspaper. I would love to catch up on projects (like photo albums). I would love to rest.

But I can't. So I don't. I do what's necessary, just like a lot of other moms. And that's okay. Really, it is. But what makes it hard is when other people presume that I'm as bored as they are, and they have suggestions for what I can be doing in my spare time to "serve others." And what they intended as encouragement just becomes another weight, another load, another discouragement.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hospital Update

We spent the day at the Cleft Palate Clinic. We saw an x-ray video of Maggie speaking, and we saw the aerial view of the top of the back of her throat while speaking too. She's got very good movement in her palate, as well as lateral movement in the sides of her throat that's nearly average. The speech pathologist rated her as having "moderate hypernasality." One small point of her palate can reach all the way to the back of her throat to shut off air supply to her nose while speaking, but WAY too much air is leaking through into her nose.

So she will be having another surgery. For those of you who know about vcfs surgeries, it'll be the sphincter, not the flap. It allows for less obstruction of the airway than does the flap surgery. Basically, she will have some muscle tissue near her tonsils cut and wrapped around the back of the inside of her throat. That will fill up space, making it easier for the palate to reach to the back of the throat, and also make for less work to pull in the sides of her throat too.

Both the pathologist and the ENT are totally at a loss to explain the sudden onset of the hypernasality on the day of the open-heart surgery. They said that adenoids decrease in size at puberty, and so the palate-length she was given during her Furlow surgery is no longer adequate, due to the changes in her pharynx. Basically, they expect the back wall of her throat to move a little further from her palate during puberty. But that doesn't explain why she was fine on the morning of November 28 and hypernasal after she was extubated. But they do know how to fix it.

The doctor understood our leeriness of scheduling surgery soon, since it's only been four months since the open-heart. So we're planning for it to be in August, after the wedding and CCA symposium and HT conference and LCMS convention. This is a "little" surgery, only three hours in OR, and probably only a one-night stay in the hospital. The lung problem I see on the horizon is that she may not be able to blow up balloons post-surgery, as it would be too much pressure on the stitches in her pharynx.

I was pleased with what the speech pathologist reported. Maggie is quite understandable, given the amount of air that's escaping through her nose during speech. If she speaks slowly, enunciates clearly, adds a little volume, and opens her mouth wide while talking, she can compensate nicely for the hypernasality. But it's more work than it should be for her. Hence the need for surgery. Maggie's tests with the pathologist demonstrated very good articulation of sounds. The only thing she had ANY problem with whatsoever was a smidge of laziness on the s-sound. But her r-sound and all the others were spot-on. Yippee for that!

The other nice thing is it sounds like we're not necessarily going to need speech therapy. "Just" surgery. So it's not going to have to be two or three trips a week to Milwaukee for therapy. Another yippee!

Monday, March 26, 2007


The doctor needs me to go to the hospital for some tests. She couldn't get me in to the local hospital today. But tomorrow I have to be at Children's all day with Maggie for speech pathology, x-ray, and ENT. So I floated the idea of having me take the tests while we're at the big medical complex in the city tomorrow. Doctor thought it was a great idea. She called to make the appt. They laughed at her! The first appt available is in two weeks. She needs test results sooner than that, so she called around the urgent care facilities in our county until she could find someone who could fit me in today. Goodness gracious, the big city sounds like the Canadian health care system: you better not need anything right away. Emergencies are not permitted because they weren't scheduled in advance. ;-) It sure is different out here in Podunkville where there aren't so many people to fit in.

The Strain of Multi-Tasking

Mom: Maggie, you didn't finish your apple. You ate less than half of it. Get back in here and eat the whole thing so it's not wasted.

Daughter: But Mom, right now I'm doing my schoolwork with the pictures of the body, and putting the parts where they go on the big piece.

Mom: You can come in here and eat your apple AND play with the anatomy felts.

(But she couldn't. She stood there and began to eat the apple.)

Son (coming to the kitchen closet to fetch a broom): Hey, the vacuum cleaner is sitting in the hallway instead of being in the closet. Hey, Maggie, come put the vacuum away.

Daughter: I can't. I'm eating my apple. MOM TOLD ME TO.

Mom: First, you were supposed to put the vacuum away without being told. Second, you can chew a bite of apple while you put the vacuum away now, and then come back and get another bite of apple.

(Daughter managed, with great pains, to accomplish this 3-second endeavor of multi-tasking.)

Mom: Now, you need to mop the floor.

Daughter: But, Mom, you told me to eat my apple!

Mom (just a mite exasperated): Take a bite of apple. Chew it while you go to the closet and get the mop bucket. [Task is accomplished.] Now take a bite of apple and, while you're chewing, go fetch the ammonia for the bucket. [Task is accomplished.] Now take a bite of apple and chew it while you're filling the mop bucket with water. [Task is accomplished.]

(Mother wonders how long these minute & detailed instructions will have to be given before child figures out that two things can be done at once. Can you even imagine how hard it would be to accomplish anything at home if you had to WAIT -- doing nothing else -- for the wash machine to get done before you could change a load of laundry??)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


On those few warm days we had a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the centipedes had gotten really bad in the basement again. But then we dropped down to freezing temps, and the situation improved. But now we're having nice, pretty, warm days again, and they're back. Walking on centipede corpses (or the live bodies that you are turning into corpses as you be the Bigfoot Godzilla tromping on the little dudes) sounds like walking on a floor littered with potato chips. All that crunching... yuck!

The Asian beetles are back too, but not in such massive numbers as the box elder bugs. It's just plain disgusting when bugs crawl on you, in bed, during the middle of the night. Yuck again! We've sprayed so much poison in the south end of the house that I can taste it. We bought bombs but can't find a time until next weekend when we can all be out of the house for the necessary amount of time for them to take effect. I'm hoping that within a week this will all be a bad memory.