Friday, April 30, 2010

Mama Bean posts links on Friday - April 30, 2010

I thought I went all crazy with the links last week, but I didn't at all. I just went crazy one day, because I had been largely away from my computer during my parents' visit. So, here's what I came up with...

- It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that my position on the Christian spectrum is on the progressive side of things. That being said, I'm conscientious that my blogging on the subject not be exceedingly polarizing, because...I don't know. I want to be Switzerland. My participation in the online Christian community is fairly broad and varied. I read people that live in other areas of the spectrum, when they have reasonable, intelligent, love- and grace-filled things to say, even if I disagree with them (on doctrinal issues, etc.) We agree on fundamentals, y'know? (I don't go crazy. I don't read things that are just going to piss me off, b/c my internet time is precious, not to be wasted on unnecessary anger.) But I often approach those sites that are a little removed from me with my defenses up, expecting to disagree, anticipating at least an internal argument to satisfy myself. John Piper is someone I approach this way. And consistently he presents a biblical, persuasive position that I agree with. It's enough to make me question my position on the spectrum, or at least try on hats from other points of view... This is an example. I'm always frustrated with pat(ronizing) answers along the lines of, "We're just little humans who cannot understand, so we shouldn't trouble out little heads about it." Because, let's face it, things do trouble us, our hearts and our little human minds. Somehow, when Piper says, "We're working with infinite realities that our brains are not capable of managing on our own" I don't have that knee jerk frustration. When he follows it with, "You can't learn one truth from God and then manage it with your brain" I don't get any sense of being patronized. The rest rings true; "You have to constantly submit every thought that you have about God to other thoughts about God so that God manages your brain. Otherwise you will take a truth and distort it in some sinful way." This is important for me to remember, because I can so easily get caught up in blogs, and tweets, and status updates, and forget to "be thoroughly biblical. Test everything by the Bible." It is good for me to find places, online or off, who remind me of these things, from whatever their position on the spectrum. (Huh, I probably coulda made that its own post...)

- Of the variety of Christian content available on the internet, I think I am most pleased with the new space for Christian humour and satire. These types of conversations were a little more suppressed before the web came along, at least as I perceived it, growing up with the internet being fairly new and then exploding during my key developmental years (i.e. adolescence and early adulthood.) Here's an example. It's funny, without being cruel, or un-Christlike. Plus, after posting it on fbook, I was prompted by Scott to learn more about Mars Hill, both Mark Driscoll's, and Rob Bell's. Good times.

- After an internet hiatus, I can always trust to welcome me back to the World Wide Wacky with fun, viral blurbs and videos. Here's a video of a magician appearing to sit on thin air, for an airline promotion of how comfy their seats are. A little research reveals, as Demetrio pointed out on fbook, that there are metal rods built into the legs of his clothing, supporting a small plate under his butt, and another support going up the back of his shirt, no doubt. But it's fun just to imagine he's floating :) Here's a website that will convert any URL into a site programmed during the early 90s. If you ever had a geocities page, this little trick will bring back many fond memories. Here's a series of pictures of gummi bear surgery. All the cool kids did things like this to their gummies, and I trust you will all appreciate the intricacy of execution involved here. (Click on the pic to embiggen it.) Finally, here's a video of the Best Salesman Ever demonstrating the drumming capabilities of a cute little keyboard. As he says so succintly, this IS Rock 'n' Roll.

- Interesting news from PepsiCo that they've changed the crystalline structure of salt. Chemistry is crazee, y'all! I *heart* it :P Apparently, we eat salty snacks so fast, the salt doesn't have time to dissolve quickly enough for us to actually taste it, so a bunch of the salt hits our stomach untasted, and thus unnecessary. This new salt dissolves quicker, so we taste it more fully, so they can use less of it, without changing the overall flavour of the snacks. Cool beans! Brother D tried to incite a fbook protest against GE foods, but I had to remind him salt doesn't have genes, so they can't be engineered. It's just little ions that can be reorganized for more tastiness - huzzah!

- I can't even remember what bloggity trail I followed to this site, but I'm so tickled by the find. It's a site selling cloth diaper components, so you can sew your own. If I ever figure out how to use a sewing machine, maybe I can make my own diapers, if we ever need more than the set we've got. (Although that seems unlikely. Both that I'll learn how to sew or that our current supply will become insufficient.)

- Here's a satirical take on the typical Academy Award winning movie. Genius.

- We've got a weekend of rain ahead for the Prairie Valley. Given the valley's tendency to flood, sometimes days of precipitation like this makes the residents squirrel-y. However, the winter was light on snow, the thaw was reasonable, and the rivers didn't trespass too badly past their banks. April was gorgeous and sunny and dry. Almost dusty. Allergies have been acting up every which way. So the rain is quite welcome. We took a chance on this delicious tea at the supermarket today; Tetley Green Tea with Lychee and Pear (decaf, for the nursing mama.) I plan to enjoy it all weekend loooooong...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mama Bean lived out a worst nightmare - and lived to tell about it.

Well, it happened.

I fell down the stairs while carrying Bean.

From the day he was born (or rather, from five days after he was born, since the midwife advised I not do stairs for those days while my stitches were healing) I have been scared of this happening. There are rational, physical reasons for this fear; our stairs are the steep, narrow steps of an older house, and I have the long feet of a (relatively) tall person. When I'm wearing socks, I often feel them slippery on the edge of the steps. I have fallen down these stairs before. I had become very conscientious about walking sort of sideways down the steps, so my whole foot stays on the step.

My precise fear is tripping forward, down the stairs or otherwise, and landing on top of Bean and crushing him. I have these sequential visions of this happening, then all the ways I might contort myself to remove him from danger. Twist to land on my shoulder. Reach out with the arm holding Bean, and down with the other arm to break my fall (and my wrist, no doubt.) Fall to my side and lift Bean over and around the side of my head. These visions get more complicated as he gets heavier (17 ounces in the last two weeks, finally, so he's almost 15 lbs. But still low percentile.)

Anyway, I slipped off the front of a step, and fell on my left sacrum, about three or four steps. It is a protective reflex to fall back - when we lose balance, all our extensor muscles contract to throw us back rather than forward. I rounded my shoulder of the arm holding Bean, but I didn't have the time or lucidity to enact any of the protective strategies I am constantly envisioning. He was uninjured, I needed ice. And an adjustment. He did get scared and started crying, poor thing. And now it's happened, it wasn't as bad as I thought, and maybe we can move on. Well, and I'm back to being hyper-vigilant while walking down the stairs, lol.

I wonder if other people talk through their babies the way Papa Bean and I do. It can be passive aggressive as hell, to be sure, but for now, when we do it it's mostly cute. (It is not cute when other people do it, as if anyone other than me or Papa Bean knows Bean well enough to speak for our child like we do.) (It probably will stop being cute when he actually starts talking, and the words we would have come out of his mouth are not what do come out.) Here's the conversation we had "with" Bean after the fall:

MB: I'm sorry I fell down the stairs with you.
PB: Say, "It's okay mommy, I forgive you."
MB: No, he's supposed to say, "It's okay, it wasn't your fault. It was just an accident."
PB: ...
MB: Because It was an accident. That's what he should say.
PB: Well, you said sorry, and we say "I forgive you" after sorry's. (A Relationship Rule of ours, I'll have to write about it some other time.)
MB: Well, then I'm not sorry... except I am. Sorry, Bean.
Bean: (giggle, smile, kick, wave arm, chew on Sophie...)

I reported the incident on facebook, and received the most lovely outpouring of support from other moms. J confirmed she thinks the same thing every time she goes down the stairs with her little D. Brother D uttered French epithets :) L reminded us of the previous results of stair-falling, namely, Bean's existence lol. K and J shared their own falls down stairs with children, affirming it happens to the best of us - and J wisely points out perhaps our pride is what's hurt the most. (K, I can't imagine falling when B was only 2 weeks! aie :S) And many others offered hopes for speedy recovery. I did limp through a day of work (perhaps not the best decision) but I'm about 90% improved today. Having yesterday off greatly aided the recuperation, although poor weather in Cowtown made for delays in my parents' return flights home. The weekend looks to be gray, so we will relax and recover nicely.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mama Bean really likes being a Chiropractor. Again.

I've been practicing in my little corner of the Prairie Valley for a year now. On the one hand, I can't believe how quickly it passed. On the other, it feels like a long year, because we packed so much into it, not the least being my pregnancy and the arrival of Bean!

When we arrived here, I wasn't sure I even wanted to be a Chiropractor anymore. We left Cowtown demoralized on many fronts, most of them financial. By the end of our first year of marriage, we were each working 60+ hours/week, myself as a full-time Chiropractor and part-time SBUX barista, Papa Bean as a full-time IT manager and in the tire shop at Wal-mart part-time. We had no weekends, no time off, only one or two evenings a week together, and no time for family or friends. We did this to pay The Bills, in particular the Cowtown-sized mortgage on our so-called starter home, and my considerable student debt, which I sort of jokingly (but mostly seriously) call the second mortgage. (Not meaning to sound too whiny here, we lived quite comfortably in Cowtown, and were happy and in love like proper newlyweds LOL. Just painting a picture of the circumstances...)

Moving two provinces over cut our debt load in half. Our house (and mortgage, and mortgage payments) cost $100000 less. We paid off half my student debt. I transferred with SBUX and PB found low-stress IT work with the school division, and we had evenings and weekends to, like, talk to each other. Buy groceries together. Have a weekend, and a yard. Grow a 1500 square foot vegetable garden. It's not that we wouldn't have been able to do these things in Cowtown, it just would've taken over ten years (conservatively) to get there. Who can say what that would have cost our friendships or family relationships - or our marriage? This is the foundational reason why we love living here.

There is a world of difference between associating in a practice and owning your own. When I graduated, I didn't think I could handle the weight or complexity of being Responsible For Everything - so I assumed associating was the way to go. Well, as Henry Ford said, whether you think you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. Which is to say, I probably couldn't have handled being my own boss right away, and there were a pile of lessons I needed to learn that only the experience of associating would provide, but I do wish it could have been a somewhat less painful learning process.

The responsibility of ownership is heavy, but it is not crushing. Certainly not as crushing as the weight of my Cowtown failures, which made me question my entire career. Really, ownership is freeing. Of course, I was blessed to join the most perfect clinic in the wholeworldever. The woman who founded this clinic twenty-some years ago is pretty much everything I want to be. Plus, she manages most of the nitty-gritty of keeping our doors open, for a measly little fee on my part, which appeals to my laziness and aversion to paperwork.

But here is what I really love: in my clinical decision making, I answer only to myself and my patients. So my decision is based on what I think is best for them. I know this sounds really obvious, and how every healthcare provider should make decisions - I mean, it's not rocket science. But when I was working for someone else, I felt pressured to make decisions that would benefit them as well, and benefit their practice, of which I was merely an employee. And so I compromised - not because they asked me to (in so many words) but because I felt responsible for more than just my patient's well-being, and more than just my well-being, but also for the whole clinic's (financial) well-being. And that is just no way to practice.

The Chiropractic profession is rife with practice management companies offering professional coaching. The Masters Circle bases their coaching on the mantra Be Do Have. Which means Be the person you envision you'd like to Be, Do the things that Being that person entails, and you will Have the things that vision entails. You have to start with Being first. I didn't want to Be the Chiropractor I was in Cowtown anymore. I wanted to be compassionate, and clinically honest, and have work-life balance with my husband and family. So I did what was necessary to work in a practice that allows me to Be That Way. And now I have the family, lifestyle, and career I love. One year down...many more to go!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mama Bean posts links on Saturday - April 24, 2010

- What a terribly apropos way to start this week's Link Love. Seth Godin tells a story of overhearing someone in a coffee shop seeing his website for the first time, and his inability to personally guide them to the best parts of his digital self. I've definitely been worried, in my absence from the blog recently, about maintaining the quality standards I've set for myself, and someone's first impressions based on my blog activity as of late, so this link particularly hit home this week. He admonishes the online world moves too quickly for nuance - every byte you put out there could be the only thing anyone ever sees of you, so make it worth it. "Every interaction might be the whole thing." I don't need Seth Godin to tell me to be nervous about this - I'm always looking to make each entry stellaramazingincredible, and acutely aware of putting my best foot forward in commenting, facebook statuses, and tweets. (cf. loosely, this entry about blog self-censorship. K wisely pointed out the Internet is forever.)

- This is a post about the intersection of parenting and environmentalism. When I was younger, I used to say I didn't want to have children. The real reason was because babies scared me, but the reason I told people was that the world was too broken to bring another human into. And I still struggle with this; how do I teach my children about the birds and the bees, the actual dying birds and bees around the world, without conveying a defeatist attitude? Because it is my responsibility to teach them the truth about their world, and help them make positive life-long decisions. I suppose growing up in our Cheapskate Hippie household will help, but as the author points out, "I want with all my heart to help our children find a path forward, but I am having a hard time seeing the forest for the falling trees." I got some very encouraging feedback from Mike, who was the person to open my eyes to Peak Oil many years ago, and also one of the people who inspired our vegetable growing. He points out only colonized bees suffer from Colony Collapse, but we can still support wild bee populations. For e.g. drilling hole in a piece of wood to look like honeycomb will attract wild bees to create nests nearby. He felt his enthusiasm regarding small changes still making a difference was lame, but I told him I find him delightful and charming. And helpful!

- Another Skeptical OB post, this time about understanding lactivism in the context of the dominant mothering ideology, which is Intensive Mothering. Breastfeeding is an integral part of what's considered success as an Intensive Mother, and those who rigidly adhere to the ideology will find a failure to breastfeed tantamount to failure as a mother. Which is, of course, ridiculous. It's important to recognize, although this ideology is the cultural standard, that doesn't make Intensive Mothering the Truth, the Way, and the Light of parenting. When you break from the dominant ideology, you leave room for flexibility, and adaptation, where each parent and each child has the freedom to figure out what works best for them. Maybe Intensive Mothering works best for you - yay! If it doesn't, something else will - yay! As Dr. Amy points out, "There's nothing wrong with the dominant ideology of intensive mothering. There is something wrong with insisting that the dominant ideology is the only correct ideology" (This would be a good parallel discussion on denominationalism in Christianity...)

- Don't click this link if you're scared of ants. It's a video of ants eating a crab essentially from the inside out. Apparently it gave Char nightmares. (Sorry!) I found it interesting in a car wreck kind of way. Insects are fine to watch from afar, but I get a little squigged when they're right in front of me. Ants in my own backyard get boiling water poured onto their nests. (It sounds cruel, but it's a quicker demise than some of the neurotoxin poison control options.)

- What really happens after you save the princess. Okay, maybe the joke is sexist and demeaning. But it's kind of cute and well executed, and it made me laugh. It could make you laugh, too...

- Ooh, three videos in a row! This is an Oscar-nominated short animation depicting a fictional world constructed of corporate logos. Very well done! There are thousands of logos, and it's all terribly clever. The story is cute, too, and then there's the sociological message-y undertones...but I didn't read too far into it. Too much thinking ;)

- This is an interesting follow up to a math education link I posted a few weeks ago. It's basically a (very loooong) collection and summary of different parents' experiences with self-directed math education. He draws interesting distinctions between the categories of math children learn: playful math, instrumental math, didactic math, and college admissions math. I haven't finished the whole article yet, because I got distracted by his link to his article on the Sudbury Valley schools. I've lately found myself preoccupied with homeschooling blogs, and educational theories, I suppose because I have a kid now who's going to need educating at some point. I don't think homeschooling will work for our family, but really, we're all homeschoolers, because we all have a responsibility to complete and complement the education they receive at school. So I want to gather ideas and plans now...I know, a little obsessive on my part /shrug.

- This link probably deserves its own post. It's a fantastic entry by an adoptive parent about God's place in adoption. Basically, adoption is always God's plan B for a child - plan A is always for children to grow up in their family of origin. Now this may not sound so revolutionary or anything, but within some Christian circles, this is an incredibly unpopular viewpoint. The popular warm and fuzzy thinking is that God created these children to be adopted. Which really diminishes the birth mother's role to some kind of unworthy surrogate, and ignores the real pain and complexity of her child's separation from its original family. I say this from the perspective of someone who is both Christian and adopted. I commented on the post, "Growing up, I always knew something bad (sin) was the reason I wasn't raised by my original family, but I was told to ignore that reality, because it showed a lack of gratitude. It is important for adopted children to feel they can grieve their lost family, and still be happy and blessed and feel gratitude for their adopted family." These are issues the adoption community is only coming to grips with in the last few years. The best resource I discovered in my mid-20s to really help me understand my feelings about adoption is this book. If you are participating in any aspect of the adoption community, I highly recommend reading it.

- As a follow-up to yesterday's post, here's a great summary from the Pioneer Woman about why she loves growing her own vegetables.

- To be honest, I didn't read this article closely enough to say anything super meaningful about it. It's a (virtual) debate about the Church's relationship to the Arts, and how Christianity has "radically abdicated its understanding of the power of beauty; and since beauty might be the only argument for God the people of our time are actually open to, that means we are largely failing to tell the Christian story to the world." The one point I really liked about the article was a brief comment on the progressive bibilical illiteracy of our youth. (Good grief, I sound crotechety and old...) There is this whole generation of children growing up with a gap in literary comprehension because they don't know the basic biblical allusions made in older literature. I have wondered about this before, how the trajectory of modern literature will travel as biblical allusion becomes increasingly irrelevant or simply unknown. The article's broader point is how to responsibly use art to engage modern culture, without succumbing to the flashy, trashy, etc. standards of Hollywood. Anyway, I'm not doing the article any kind of justice, read it at the source :)

- Fun for the Finale! It's the Four Chord Song! They're ALL the Four Chord Song! Wheeee!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mama Bean and Papa Bean wish everyone a happy Earth day!

I consider our household pretty average and middle-class in our consumption, by North American standards. We have a house with multiple rooms, gas/electricity/running water, two cars (ugh), more computers and electronicalz than I care to consider. But ever since we moved outta Cowtown, our lifestyle has gotten distinctly crunchier. We're turning a little granola, friends.

But, lest anyone think it's for altruistic reasons, I must clarify that this additional Whole Grained living is only secondarily about being good to Mother Earth, and primarily about being, um, cheap. Somehow, we end up making all these decisions about reducing, reusing, and recycling out of some money saving motive. (And by "somehow" I mean "Because Papa Bean is a miser..." lol) You could call us frugal flowerchildren. I prefer the term Cheapskate Hippies.

We both grew up in pretty average and middle-class households, built on blue collar roots. Neither of our families had a tonne of extra money to just be tossing around. But we each responded to this budgetary upbringing very differently. Despite having the wealthier family, I came out with a poverty mentality that makes me quite spendthrifterly. I'm bad at delayed gratification when it comes to money, good at retail therapy. (In many other respects, crafting for example, I am good at slowly and methodically performing something mundane toward a long-term goal. But not when it comes to saving.) Papa Bean, on the other hand, readily adopted his parents' anti-spendthrift ways. (It bears noting his mother grew up in our current province, whose residents are known for their penny pinching. Local readers know what I'm talking about.) Thus, he is the driving force behind our parsimonious granola-ness.

All the extra crunchiness has become especially apparent now that we're parents. On the Reusing front: all of Bean's furniture and large implements (stroller, car seats, etc.) are secondhand from friends and family. More than 80% of his clothing is also passed down from sisters-in-law, cousins, and friends. None of this had anything to do with wanting to lower our consumption footprint. It was all about saving money, baby.

This is also why we Reduce by cloth diapering. We used disposables (and continue overnight and when we're out) for three months while researching the cheapest system with all the elements we desired. One of the main reasons we chose Greenline Diapers (oh yes, that is yet another link to my son on their site, because I am egotistical like that) is because the liners are microfiber towels, which don't require extra rinsing or special detergents, and dry super fast, even when hung to dry. Which is what we do, because, as I've mentioned before, not only are we gonna do the cheap thing, we're gonna do it as cheaply as possible.

One instantly Green-ing aspect of living in the Prairie Valley City is free blue box pick-up. All we have to do is buy (or paint) as many blue containers as we need, and toss out recyclables in it for weekly removal. We don't have to sort. We don't even have to rinse out the tin cans. The only thing they won't take are plastic shopping bags. It's not that we didn't recycle in Cowtown, but blue box pick-up cost money there (at the time, it's free now) so we just collected haphazardly to drop off ourselves at the recycling depots. And there are still such depots here, for dropping off larger items that don't readily fit in the blue box in the alley. It's fantastic! (Yet, to our dismay, a lower percentage of PVC citizens recycle regularly, compare to Cowtown. Participation rates are quite discouraging right now, but I think the city is trying to improve that.)

The area where the Cheap part of our hippie-ness most shines through is food. For example, we don't eat much meat, but only because we worry about finances, and meat is fricking expensive. So we buy it on sale, or we buy cheaper cuts, or we eat eggs and peanut butter instead. As much as we're concerned about the poor quality of commercial meats (and poor quality of life for the way those animals are raised) we can't afford, right now, to buy ethical meat in any meaningful way. However, a big benefit of living in such an agriculturally active province is ready access to small, local farms growing lovely, happy animals in quality ways. So, we've sourced where we'll buy the meat when we can afford it. We're gonna be all hippie about our meat one day, but we've gotta be cheap about it! (An as aside, Papa Bean will make the argument that hunting for meat is another way of being cheap and granola-like, because the animals live naturally, and he hunts ethically, etc. He has convinced me, slowly, but I have not yet acquired the taste for wild meat. However, the more money he spends on bowhunting gear, the less cheap it seems to me.) (Being cheap is why we don't just frequent the organic grocery store or farmers' markets, which abound in our neck of the North. These are excellent ways to be Green, we just can't afford it right now. One day - but not now. Hell, one day we might sell food at the farmers' market!)

Which, of course, brings us to the Gardening. At breastfeeding group this week, we were discussing, in honour of Earth day, things we do to be Green-er in our parenting, and I threw out this totally arbitrary goal that we are committed to growing at least half of our vegetables for the year. Because, in the moment, I kinda figured we must grow enough food to keep us from buying vegetables at least six months out of the year. Last summer, our first year gardening, with a limited harvest due to poor growing conditions, we still cut vegetables from our grocery budget for at least four months, more or less. So now it's here, in virtual ink - we are going to grow half of our vegetables for the year. Or die trying! haha But that's really why we do it - to help us spend less money on food. Even composting is about saving money - more compost means less money buying soil amendments! It's really just ridiculous :)

I started making my own yogurt. I'm trying to tell myself this is pure crunchiness, no cheapskateness. I like to picture myself in a flowery skirt and apron as I boil my milk and stir in my starter. But I can't escape the little voice in head telling me I used to only buy yogurt when it was on sale (< $2/L) or half-price /sigh. Papa Bean has totally converted me!

So, what do you do for the Earth's benefit? And how does it benefit your pocketbook?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mama Bean is absent again

Parents are visiting.
For nine days.
Do not think regular posting will be possible.


Will crank out a Friday Link Love For SURESIES.
(Because I deffo have made time for webs and links and love.)

Except I had a browser full of tabs waiting for me to Deal With Later. And I accidentally closed it without saving the tabs. And now all those shatteringly inspirational or funny or whatever things that I didn't have time to read or manage or save or link or whatever are GONE! LOST! (or whatever. These are the words of the day!)

This is the problem with So Much Internet. When you're just stumbling around, it's very easy to lose track of these little shiny needles of Awesome in the big pile of World Wide Mostly Porn. day I'll write about my discomfort regarding writing blog posts directly to people, as opposed to abstractly writing about things that people may or may not be reading. It feels very presumptuous and ego-filled to do so, as if anyone was getting really unhinged about how I haven't posted much lately.

And yet, here we are. Me writing pointlessly on and on about how I'm not writing, and you feeling comforted and calmed that I have checked in, laid out the 411, and offered assurance that I will return to my Normal Posting Schedule. Yeah, right.

Until Friday! (Hopefully sooner...)

Remind me to tell you about that time I went to play with the baby goats, mmm-kay?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mama Bean is thinking about Easter - 3rd Sunday

So I'm realizing that the Easter season celebrates the entire time of Resurrection, that is, all the time Jesus lived on Earth after leaving the tomb, before ascending to Heaven. That's why it takes seven weeks, he did a lot of stuff! Of course, he did plenty of teaching in his first Earthly life, so the miracles and teachings during this Resurrection time must speak to the new implications of what being a follower of Jesus will be.

Last week's gospel reading of the story of Doubting me-I-mean-Thomas taught us being a disciple will involve belief without seeing, will require faith. This week's gospel reading is the story of Jesus' third appearance after rising from the dead. First, he miraculously fills the disciples' nets with fish and then eats with them. (It's always about eats! It's biblical!!) Then Jesus questions Simon Peter's love three times, at the risk of hurting Simon Peter's feelings (He must know his repeated questioning will have that effect. What other ways does God risk hurting our feelings to convict us of the importance of what he's trying to say? There is no biblical promise that choosing discipleship will make us feel good.) because his instruction is so important: take care of his sheep. Being a disciple means taking care of each other, in Jesus' name.

[Extended digression: I spent some time pondering the meaning of the super-fish-filled miracle. I was thinking how Simon Peter is so excited to see Jesus after he's been blessed with all this fish, but so quick to feel hurt when Jesus really questions his love, when Jesus really gives him the gears about doing the true work of discipleship. It's really easy to feel loving toward God when we're being blessed. But it's easy for that loving feeling to turn into lip service when God starts asking us to get to work. Does that make sense? Maybe I'm taking the metaphor too far. One word that really came up for me was abundance. God blesses us abundantly, with fish/food/sustenance. He also blesses us abundantly with work to do, sheep to care for, opportunities to be the hands and feet and giant bleeding heart of God. Okay, end digression.]

The usual OT lectionary reading is replaced with passages from Acts during Easter, again to examine the implications of the Resurrection, particularly in re: the formation of the early Church. This week's story is of SaulPaul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Nobody took care of the early church like Paul, amIright? But Paul's work wouldn't have started if not for Ananias' willingness to obey God, and find Saul even though he was afraid of the persecution Saul had wrought upon Christians. Ananias understood the implication of the Resurrection that we are God's hands and feet now.

Paul's conversion is an integral piece of the Church's story, with a Depth of Detail to be examined and learned from. What sticks out to me this time is when the Lord says to Ananias, "Go, for he [Paul] is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." God affirms he is going to use Paul for his glory, and he immediately identifies it will be through suffering. So, discipleship will involve work (caring for the sheep) which will glorify God, but must involve suffering. It's not all nets full of fish, people.

This week's Psalms reading has an interesting question from the suffering author: "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!" This Psalm (30) has another phrase that is a lyric in a popular worship song; "Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning." But noone's yet written a song based on the downtrodden's plea to God that at least he can worship better than dirt can, as if that's some kind of leverage against the Creator of the Universe. I'll have to get to work writing that worship song. Because the Psalmist is right, we must be alive to be of Use, and Jesus' instruction to Simon Peter, and Paul's conversion to be an instrument of God clearly demonstrate we are to be just that, Useful.

All of the NT readings during Easter are from Revelation, which is a picture of the ultimate, future implication of the Resurrection - Jesus' life/death/life are what will allow the realization of the visions in Revelation. I don't tend to interpret Revelation as a direct prophecy of The Endtimes, I read it more as a dream, a description of the Kingdom of God. I find a lot of peace and joy in the book, and this week's reading is a good illustration of why.

It is a word-painting of angels surrounding the throne of Heaven, in constant worship. Of every creature "in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea" singing to the Lord. This ocean of praise and light and love and music for God. And the four magical creatures, whose most magical feature is that they are Living, and their affirmation of this worship, their affirmation of the music and joy, that all they can say is Amen. An amen that fells the elders. One day I will experience this true life, this true worship. And I will become alive in a way that is nothing like what I call living here.

I'm pretty staunchly against any attitude that treats Christianity as a ticket to heaven, that turns this life into merely a waiting station, with nothing meaningful to be done until we die. Jesus' mandate to care for his sheep, and Paul's conversion to suffer for God's glory tell us the implications of the Resurrection are for us to Be more and Do more than sit and wait for our reward. (Not that we earn our reward, this always gets so thorny, and hard to say, please bear with me as I muddle...) Revelation's picture of the Kingdom of God motivates my faith, because I see myself as a member of that vision, a participant in that heavenly congregation. As such, the light and beauty of the Kingdom inform and infuse my life now. Here. For all of us. We work now, we care for Jesus' sheep now, and yes, we suffer now, because we carry inside ourselves the light of that Tomorrow. And this is all because He Rose. All the life in me says Amen to that.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mama Bean posts links on Friday - April 16, 2010

- I feel like I should orchestrate these link lists like a mix tape; start with a little fun timez, proceed through some Srsly Scientifical Studiousness, toss in some God and His People activity, and finish with more fun timez. Or alphabetize? Sometimes the order I post links through the week falls into this nice logical sequence for Link Love, other times we're jumping around all ADD-style. Which, now that I think about it, is fairly apropos vis a vis the nature of the interwebs. So without much further ado (why do people sometimes say this "further adieu"? That doesn't even make sense. Just because further ado is a sort of pretentious thing to say doesn't mean you have to supplant a nonsensical french word pronunciation to make it sound even more pretentious) our first link is a picture of what they thought home computers would look like in 2004 fifty years ago. B commented it's "[t]oo bad someone invented the mouse. Otherwise we apparently would have awesome giant steering wheels on our computers."

- No more fun timez, right in with the Contentious Mom Issues, namely the Mamageddon of Breastfeeding v Formula Feeding. (Isn't Mamageddon the best term ever? We must fight about this totally ridiculous parenting issue as though it is The End Of The World! RAWR!) I read this blog post about how much of the reason why moms end up formula feeding has to do with lack of support in the hospital (or from family or employers.) I posted it because of the discussion at our breastfeeding group that revealed the majority of moms felt totally overwhelmed by the nurses in the hospital pressuring them with totally contradictory messages to feed-more-pump-more-the-baby's-not-gaining-it's-going-to-get-dehydrated-and-die-you're-a-terrible-mother-why-don't-you-just-let-us-give-it-a-bottle-already!?! RAWR MAMAGEDDON!! L pointed out that the author has a "somewhat inflammatory and judgmental" writing style, which I think is to be expected from someone whose blog is titled Tact is for people who aren't witty enough to be sarcastic. So maybe I wouldn't write it the same way, but I agree with the general idea that one of the bigger barriers to successful breastfeeding is not that moms don't want to do it, or don't know that it's a good choice, but that they are poorly equipped to fight against the fear mongering and their own self doubt.

- This is an incredible, poetic description of what the blogging community can be. It's a good account of why I do All Of This. I totally realize the online world is not Real Life for everyone, but for me, it is as much my real life as my offline world, and I am conscientious to language it as such. I know there are ways technology has contributed to greater isolation to the detriment of offline community and relationship building, and I am an advocate for everyone finding their own balance. For my balance, I take the social mediaz and real-ize the shit out of them!

- (Oh man, there will be no fun timez anymore ever again I'm sorry) Is it necessary to draw a line between being forgiving and actually forgiving? Is this an important semantical separation? I think this is a compelling argument. On the one hand, God is always forgiving, that is, in a state of readiness and eagerness to forgive. But, actually forgiving should not and does not happen without a person acknowledging a need for it, i.e. repentance and confession. To imitate God, we are also eager and ready to forgive at all times, but actually do the act of forgiving only when someone has requested it. This resonates for me, as a people-pleaser kind of personality, that I can have a forgiving heart that's ready to forgive at a moment's notice but (and it's a big but) I shouldn't preemptively do the act of forgiving people, making myself a total doormat with no self-respect.

- Fun Timez Returneth! LULZ This is a video imagining The Attack of the 8 Bit Universe. I didn't play many video games as a kid, pursuing other branches of the Nerd Family Tree, but even I chuckled at this one. And dated myself a bit in the process, as there is this entire generation of kids now who don't have a clue what these games and characters are from.

- Hmm, combination of fun timez (cartoon) with theologicianing and critical thinky-stuff. This is a picture of the parallels between the hierarchy of heaven (described in Revelation) and the hierarchy of the Church. It is meant as a cultural criticism, I think, to challenge why this format is used, what it's value may or may not be, if there might be new imaginings that could better serve humanity. Niel commented, "It's no coincidence that religious groups often choose to build their churches in such a manner as to inspire awe." Bang on, bro. I replied, "It's probably good to have physical and organizational structures that inspire awe, but that awe should be directed towards God, not a person (priest.) These can be heavy issues to face, and so even an edge of humour helps to lighten the load, as it were." I just discovered thenakedpastor this week, and I'm really enjoying his insights so far.

- Another new discovery this week: Hyperbole and a Half. She (I think?) is a funny blogger with funny pictures and everyone should enjoy her (?) !! This post is about her method of dealing with all those people who think "a lot" is one word. It is more than hilarious. It's like another Bob the Angry Flower's apostrophe use guide.

- (End of fun timez back to seriousness...rollercoasterwheeee) "[T]he evidence strongly suggests that the rising prevalence of autism if largely an artifact of broadening the diagnosis and increased surveillance." Before the 1970s, an ASD diagnosis carried a stigma, while mental retardation (MR) did not, so parents funneled their resources into getting an MR diagnosis, which also afforded them greater social support at the time. After the 1990s, as ASD lost the stigma and gained better access to public resources, parents began mobilizing their resources for an ASD diagnosis instead of MR. Interesting, right? A new study found children who live near another child diagnosed with ASD are drastically more likely to be diagnosed, because proximity provides access to information that allows parents to marshal their resources into effective diagnosis. These are sociological reasons for the apparent increase in ASD incidence - it is not a true increase in incidence, and that is important for determining how we allot research dollars. Everyone who commented on this post on my fbook stayed really respectful and non-histrionic, and for that I am grateful. I am well past the vaccine-autism link, the science is clear, there is no link. However, I still think there are strong connections between diet, gut health, and symptomatic control, and I hope more research is funded in that direction.

- Take this quiz to see how observant you are! Don't cheat, you Cheaty McCheatersons. I scored 15 out of 25, which I guess is pretty good.

- Oh by the way, would you like to watch my son eat cereal? Of course you would! You can also watch The Hand of Mom wipe cereal off his forehead and smear it into his bib. And you can hear me laugh a lot. Or alot. (haha do u see what I did thurr?) I got stuck in the youtube vortex of watching a string of suggested videos from Bean's video, and ended up watching clips of puppies and raccoons being bottlefed. Everything on the internet ends up with puppies (or porn. Your choice.)

- Not quite puppies, but this elephant seal sort of behaves like an overgrown beflippered puppy. It's super cute, except I couldn't help thinking about the fish breath.

- Phew, a whole string of only fun timez all the way. This is an excellent kijiji (tooooo maanyyyy iiiiiiiiii's) ad for the manliest Jeep Liberty you've ever seen. Are you Chuck Norris enough for it? I didn't think so! Never mind, the ad has been removed. Trust me, it was hilarious.

- Dood, I'm totally gonna end this list of linkedy-lovedness with politics /sigh. I know, bad idea. But bear with me, maybe plz? Here's the marriedtothesea comic. Okay, now I will write something nonpolitical that is a little related but not really. I get a little tired of people in my neck of the North who complain about the weather. I don't mean like gripe about a genuinely cold or dreary or wet day. I complain about that, too. I mean people who are upset and dour whenever it isn't 20 degrees, sunny and clear. We live in Canada! There are seasons here! If you don't like seasons, you should move! If you "can't" move (like your job? want to stay near your wife or your kids? enjoy the socialist healthcare oopsIgotpolitical?) then spare us, and try to deal in silence. Like the rest of us. Sorry, that's like an uber-harsh note to end on, isn't it? Hmmm....LOOK IT'S CUTE! (Forgive me?)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mama Bean is no longer absent

Be prepared for the utter fascination of a complete account of my Wednesday. Because that's exciting for all of us! And I guess because one day, I'll wonder how I spent my days when Bean was small, and then I can read this and remember. With Great Interest, naturally.

Bean wakes up maybe once or thrice a night. He woke around 4:00 and 5:30-ish; I got up the first time to return the precious soother to his gaping maw. I had Papa Bean do the next one, because I worry that my presence later in the morning will just make Bean really hungry and he won't want to go back to sleep. I worry about teasing him with, y'know, the milk jugs. He stayed asleep until 7 or so, when we got up for first breakfast. We've been doing this in bed for the past couple days, which lets me sort of sleep through it, but I'm worried he doesn't eat for as long.

After he eats, I have to pump the other side, because long sleeps mean both fun bags are milk-full. The frozen milk bank ran out long ago, so this morning pumping is essential for keeping Bean in bottles while I'm at work. I just don't pump enough while at work anymore. I left him in bed with Papa Bean, but normally I bring him into the office and settle him into the command centre for morning playtime. Then I turn on the 'puter, and pump while I peruse the morning 'nets. Email, tweetdeck, fbook, and RSS. Bean usually lasts about an hour from the time he wakes up, then he has first nap until 10 or 11. There are days when I go back to bed for first nap, too, but yesterday I stayed up and did internets, because we had a nurse coming over at 10 to gather info/samples for our life insurance application, so there was no sense going back to sleep.

We recently met with a financial advisor from Investors' Group, who set us up with life insurance for both of us, disability insurance for me, and an RESP for Bean. The insurance people need urine and blood samples. I hate needles, so letting-of-blood is tough for me. I warned the nurse that I have deep veins which tend to roll, and they corroborated my witness. I have the bruise in my arm from her first attempt to prove it. I was holding Papa Bean's hand while she dug around for it, and I swear I was clutching it tighter than I did during Bean's delivery. I. hate. needles. Thank goodness she used a smaller gauge needle on the other arm (on the first try) to get the samples. But then I had jinxed her, because she couldn't get PB's vein either. His bruise doesn't look as bad, but his muscle is more sore. She ran out of the necessary equipment, so she arranged to come back later that night.

Bean woke up for second breakfast after the nurse left. He was all smiles. PB and I sometimes race each other up the stairs when Bean wakes up to get the first post-nap smiles. They are especially sweet and coy. Daytime feedings happen downstairs with a little more computering. Used to be more, because he'd feed for 20 minutes or more, but now it's like 10 minutes, which is enough for a couple entries on the RSS. PB and I had a mirrorful of tasks to get done (I write to-do lists in nonpermanent marker on our bathroom mirror) and in the interest of efficiency, we split up. Normally we like to run around shopping/erranding together, like a little date, but this is uber-inefficient when lugging Bean in the Beanbucket. So he went to the stores to pick up supplies and foodz, and I stayed home with Bean in the Beanbumbo doing dishes.

Bean gets first cereal a little after second breakfast. He can do about 4 or 5 tablespoons (dry) with just enough water to make it moist, but not too puree-y/runny. If I wait too long, he gets fussy and tired, and then feeding doesn't go so great. Basically, for now, he is good being awake for an hour and a half at home. So I put him back to bed for second nap, then PB came home, and we watched some tv and webbed while we ate lunch. Bean woke up just in time to leave for breastfeeding group at 1.

BFG (ha!) was really busy yesterday! Lots of new babies, seven and eight-weekers, so wee and wiggly. Bean only gained two ounces, I was not impressed. This was after feeding him (lunch) during group discussion. Definitely starting to get a complex about his weight. I have enough weight-related complexes of my own, I don't need extra for my kidlets. The group question of the week was what we're looking forward to doing in summer. I said getting in the garden and eating dirt lol. It's fun to be one of the moms with an "older baby" now, because I can answer questions and offer my own perspective. I feel useful. As always, good conversation and community, and then the Beanlet started squawking and it was hometimes. He lasted just short of two hours, but often when we're out being social he can go three or more hours awake. I think he shut down a little early because group was so noisy and busy this week.

I thought he would fall asleep in the car, but he was still awake, albeit dazed, when we got home. I gave him a quick snack (still part of lunch) and then down for second nap. While he slept, PB and I set up the seed-light for our grow op. Friends at church gave us a fluorescent light fixture which just needed a little cleaning up, one new bulb, and a new cord. I feel so blessed to have a handy kind of manly man who knows how to do these things. Here is the finished product:

This is in the back room of our basement, where the furnace and workbench are. You can see PB's quiver of arrows on the wall, and the dried bunches of sage from last year. The light is hanging from two eye-hooks in a floor joist. We used cheap 90lb dog chain and S-hooks. Luckily the fixture already had holes in it for eye-bolts. We were going to put the seed-flats on the table, but we had enough chain to hang the light to the floor and keep our coffee table for coffee-ing. We will have to insulate the trays from the floor somehow or nothing will germinate, but we don't want to buy a seed heat mat (very chac-ching!) Not sure about a solution yet. I have bought the seeds we're going to start early, mostly squash, the cantaloupe, and cabbage. The pink light is the special growing light we bought, the other three came with the fixture - not sure why one is yellow.

Also, at the suggestion of Aunt Leila that doing so would make me feel like a domestic goddess, I had PB help me hang our broom and dust pan on the wall. And it worked! I feel like a more accomplished housekeeper already, and it really does make it easier to grab the broom and sweep up a little. I don't know why this is so much different from keeping the broom on the floor next to the fridge, but it's awesome. (Well, and keeping your broom on the floor is bad for the bristles, right?) Thanks to Aunt Leila for the awesome tip!

I quickly whipped up this tomato soup cake for small group later. I can't believe Bean stayed asleep through all of this. The cake is definitely a little strange, it's a very thick batter, and it smells super tomato-y when baking. I used butter instead of shortening, and added chocolate chips. Luckily I thought to have PB pick up cream cheese and icing sugar during his earlier outing, so I could make the icing. (I think I need to do a whole separate post on all the baking I do now.) At some point Bean woke up for early dinner, and PB finished some of the dishes. I did the phone interview for my disability insurance at one point, funny how the day is running together now. There was more computering and tv in there - we watched Glee! Most excellent. I've taken to updating my fbook status with funny lines from the shows we're watching. It's an activity much more suited to twitter, I should consider changing this newly formed habit before I'm really entrenched. PB tried to give Bean second cereal somewhere in here, but he was cranky, didn't eat much.

I ate dinner (salad and tuna sandwich) but PB couldn't because he was waiting for the nurse to return for his blood sample. She came just before small group started, but still couldn't get a good vein, or ran out of equipment or something. She said she'd come back the next day (today). During all of this, Bean should have been enjoying third nap, but he was very noisy and cranky and wouldn't sleep. I think he's trying to drop a nap, but he still gets sleepy feeling and doesn't know how to deal with it other than to get fussy, so, y'know, it's a process. We're learning.

Small group arrived and we headed into the basement with our cake and beverages. We've been watching a nooma video each week and chatting about it. They're interesting blurbs, but we don't have the discussion booklets for every one, so the self-directed conversation hasn't always gone very far. Next week we're going to meet at a Christian book store and choose a new study. Bean likes hanging out with us while we're chatting, and he needed late dinner during this time as well. Normally we might give him third cereal after this, but he melted down quickly, so I just put him to bed, around 9. I don't know if this should be considered fourth nap or just bedtime, because I do wake him up between 10 or 11pm for "midnight" snack, which I consider his bedtime, and usually mine (though not always.)

After small group, we finished up internets and tv shows, when Bean woke up at 10:30. Normally he doesn't wake up on his own for midnight snack, it was weird. I nursed him, and then gave him a bath. He had the second part of midnight snack at 11:30 and went to bed. Then, for some unknown reason, we stayed up chatting with people and facebooking and generally delaying bedtime,which was really silly. We didn't get to bed until after 1, which was definitely a bad idea. It's becoming a bit of a habit, staying up late after he goes to bed. We'll have to break it, soon. Bean woke up three times this morning, around 4, 6, and 7, but didn't wake up for first breakfast until 8, which was nice. Of course, on work days (Tuesday and Thursday) it's actually better if first breakfast happens around 7, because I have to fit in three feedings (and first cereal) before I leave at 1:30 for work.

Anyway, so far today we've watched the AI performances for this week, and we're in the middle of Criminal Minds. Bean just had second breakfast, and we'll eat lunch before he has first cereal. Then I'm off to work! I know this post was totally enlightening, and I hope your Wednesday and Thursday are just as interesting and fantastic as mine!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mama Bean won a prize!

I've never won anything before! Well, okay in junior high I won a missions trip to Venezuela, but I would have had to raise my own money to go, so I mostly won the privilege of going on the trip, and then I couldn't go anyway because I was studying all summer for a piano exam, so I didn't get to claim my prize. So... I've never actually gotten a thing that I've won before!

Margaret gave away a charm from her Etsy store on her blog. Lucky me! In case you couldn't tell, I'm super excited. Thanks, Margaret :)

I'll have to figure out these FCC rules or whatever (do they apply to Canadian bloggers?) and have prizes and giveaways one day.

Mama Bean doesn't like facebook status bubble bursters

You know these people. These are the people that have to suck the wind out of your sails when you post happily about some small-but-BIG-to-you life victory or celebration. There is a sense that they just want to share their experience with a similar situation, and demonstrate the common ground that ostensibly explains why you are friends (on facebook, anyway.) But it generally just sounds like oneupmanship. Or gloating.

Examples abound with parenting-related status updates. "Jane Doe is so happy Baby Doe didn't spit up her breakfast today!" Such a lovely status update, hooray for Jane Doe, because a) spit up is gross and b) it's worrisome when your baby keeps ejecting the nutrition so painstakingly given her. And then Bubble-Burster comes along, "Haven't had to deal with that. Baby Burster never spits up! LOL" Yeah, L-O-effing-L. Shut up, Burster.

On friend K's status recently, "First robin of spring!" I feel K's joy, because this is the hallmark of impending thaw-and-bloom I look most forward to every year. (As opposed to the return of the blasted Canuckian Geese, which I dread, as they are akin to rats.) When you live in a place with seasons, these transitional touchstones are important and visceral. (I am not being melodramatic.) So Douchey McBubbleburster comments, "They never left down here all winter long." Well, whoop-dee-effing-doo for you. Clearly, you don't live somewhere with seasons, and you cannot appreciate robins as we do, except to brag about them to the robin-deprived.

Look, I don't know K's commenting friend, I don't know where he lives, maybe their relationship can accommodate this kind of interplay. I'm just saying, from my perspective, it's annoying. The appropriate response to someone saying, "Yay for me!" is not "Yay for me, too, in this way that subtly one-ups your Yay!" The appropriate response is "Yay for you! I am happy you are happy!" and then, y'know, share your story if you feel like it. Am I being over-sensitive? This is entirely possible, I'm thin-skinned as all get out.

Don't get me wrong, I loooOOOOOOOOOooove comments. (Well, I don't love people who explain to you why the joke in your own status is funny. I know why the joke is funny - that's why I made it. But, I digress-as-usual.) Comments are like my crack, just ask Papa Bean. I actually giggle when I see them. (OMG, I smiled for actual days after Aunt Leila and Her Bad Mother commented on some posts the other week. Blogging heroes came to visit! So. Much. Happy.) So this should in No Way be taken as an admonition to forego commenting. If the only way you know to comment is by raining on my parade (or confirming that I did, in fact, make a joke) then by all means type it up! I promise your comment will bring me glee, No Matter What. I'm just saying, maybe try to keep my bubble intact, that's all :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mama Bean is thinking about Easter - 2nd Sunday

One of my favourite church events as a child was the candlelight Christmas Eve service. It was special for many reasons: I got to stay up late, I got to hold my own candle and stare at the flame very closely with no one telling me to be careful, I could watch the wax melt and tilt the candle carefully to drip on to the protective cardboard. And I could look around and see the warm, mellow golden glow of candlelight suffuse the darkened sanctuary, normally so boring and white-walled. This is how I learned fire was magic. This is where music married liturgy (or as close as we got, anyway) to make worship. This is where I saw light change a room the way Jesus changed the world when he was born.

As my childhood church grew, that amount of candle power became too great a liability, and the service was gradually pared down, until the only fire present were the candles in the Advent wreath. So imagine my delight, when we attended our first Easter vigil mass last weekend, and everyone was given a delicate, thin taper to be lit during the Service of Light. It was so beautiful to experience that glow and warmth again, to see a whole room of people lit up by hope. That's what I felt the little flames were burning for: hope that he didn't die in vain, hope for the miracle coming the next day, hope for the freedom bought by these events we were remembering and celebrating and waiting for.

There is something extra solemn about hearing scripture read in the dark. Especially these very familiar passages of the Creation story, Noah's ark, the parting of the Red Sea, interspersed with reverent psalms, intense and quiet in the shadowed sanctuary. It really was elevated from merely reading the Bible to experiencing the Liturgy of the Word. It was a reminder, a nudge that perhaps merely reading the Bible should always feel this solid and heavy and real, not just one Saturday a year.

Duty-named-Bean called near the end of the Old Testament readings, and I used a pew in the back to feed him, when the passage from Luke 24:1-12 ("Why do you look for the living among the dead?") was read. This is when the lights are turned on again, and everyone sings a joyful hymn of praise that I think is called the Exultant. It was so beautiful to see these elements of music and light and symbolism used so purposefully to evoke the Meaning of Holy Saturday. Even if you're not really concentrating (as I was somewhat distracted by the little wriggler on my lap) your eyes and ears will See and Hear. I feel like these tangible sights and sounds deliver the message to the back of your mind, and down to your heart, even if the front of your mind wanders. I feel like even the most passive observer would subconsciously register the built-in metaphors of dark to light, silence to singing, despair to hope to Joy.

The importance of So Many Symbols was really driven home during the Liturgy of Baptism for the adult catechumens. Baptism is the central symbolic act of belief. (Can I say that? Can I make such a definitive declaration of theology? I can't say I really know what I'm talking about in any academic capacity, so please forgive me if I'm treading on theological toes.) I enjoyed the repetition in the ceremony, each person invited into the tomb of Christ to be reborn, each bathed in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit. Each cycle seemed to push down my heart with the gravity of what was happening, compacting my feelings of wonder into a very dense core of celebration for the baptized.

I kind of appreciated that we didn't pause to hear each person's individual faith story, as is commonly done in Protestant churches. I appreciated how the focus remained on God, on his work in their lives, on the straightforwardness and completeness of the rite as written, nothing added, nothing taken away. It seems fitting to become a member of the community by each undergoing this very standardized, simple, and significant process that is the same for everyone. No one's baptism or testimony is more special than another's - God works the same in us all. This was underscored by a re-lighting of our tapers while the whole congregation renewed their baptismal vows. I don't know if it was proper for us to participate in this, but I felt led to do it, and affirmed with peacefulness at each "I do." I hope it isn't considered wrong the way it would be for us to take the Eucharist or something. After this, blessed water was taken along the aisles and sprinkled over the crowd with braided palm fans - it was fun! For me, this was when the atmosphere really changed to Joy, even more than when the lights were turned back on during the Exsultant.

The last part of the Vigil is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which we of course abstained from. I tried not to stare, but I liked watching everyone go up to receive. Everyone had a wafer, but not everyone drank from the communal cup. Is this a hygiene thing? I guess in the age of H1N1... Then we all prayed the Lord's Prayer. It was so uplifting to hear hundreds of voices raised in these solemn yet comforting words. Some of my deepest impressions from the evening definitely come from these moments of communal action, these Catholic, universal behaviours. I understand now the value of standardizing these activities, so that we are all participating in the same story the same way and feel the connection and Love that comes with that. I can see how those raised in the tradition might find the pomp and circumstance sort of boring, and leaning toward legalism ("Do this to be a good Catholic and get to heaven.") and why other denominations have moved away from these things. But for someone watching from the outside in this situation, I was deeply moved by the community of the experience.

I am committed to celebrating the whole season of Easter, by reading the lectionary each week in preparation for Sunday. During Easter, a reading from Acts replaces the usual Old Testament passage, then a portion from Psalms, a reading from Revelations, and the Gospel of John. This week's readings contrast Thomas' doubt with Peter's determination. In this equation, I lean toward Thomas. During Easter, I want to feel the wounds to make it Real. I pray to have the faith to be blessed as "those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." I cannot imagine standing up against the High Council, as Peter and the apostles did, saying it is more important to obey God than any human authority. But the Psalms encourage me, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." And Revelations? I think this is meant to draw my mind forward. To consider the implications of the resurrection for the apostles in the past, or for my life and the Church today, but also for the world tomorrow. The Earth will be resurrected, too, and Easter celebrates this as the culmination of Jesus' work.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mama Bean is caught up in the all-same all-different one-community-ness of Parenting

I've written about parenting paradoxes before (feeling simultaneously the strongest/most capable and weakest/most vulnerable ever) and another one occurred to me recently. All us parents are simultaneously doing the same things and doing totally unique things. And there is, in turn, a positive and negative side to each part of this paradox. Learning to navigate the Ambivalence of it all is a challenge.

It is super awesome to realize I am not the only one dealing with [insert parenting activity.] I have been so comforted by meeting and chatting (commiserating?) with other moms who went through the same struggles, the same challenges I dealt with when learning to breastfeed. A public health nurse visited our breastfeeding clinic looking for positive thoughts about breastfeeding to include in an information handout she was preparing for new parents choosing whether to BF or FF. What she got was a chorus of women who wished they'd been better informed, less bullied, more supported, less alone. It is powerful to hear each others' stories, realize the similarities, and take our place in the common narrative. It builds confidence.

The potential problem with this is the difficulty in choosing a different way. It is really easy to suddenly feel like a maverick (cf. choosing homebirth.) It's part of the reason behind our susceptibility to the Mother Guilt - when you're not doing what everyone else is doing, it's easy to feel judged. And all alone again. The solution involves letting us all Balance on the Ambiguity: we all have a place in the Big Story, and we all have our Own Story.

And that's the other side of the paradox, which likewise has its plus and its minus. Everyone is doing their own thing, and they are all valid ways to do it. (Barring, like, negligence and abuse, obvs.) When I bring up a concern at clinic (what do to about fingernails, how many blankets to use, when do I start solids) I hear a pile of different ways to deal. Most of them will contain some nugget of what I'm already doing or intending to do, giving me confidence to go ahead as planned.

Sometimes. The potential problem here is that all the different methods and styles just leads to confusing baby-punditry and no clearer answer of what to do. And then we're back to the Mother Guilt, because it's impossible to do what everyone is doing. Everyone is doing something different, and often contradictory. Back to feeling alone. The solution, again, requires balance: we agree on some Standard Fundamentals, we agree to Gracious Diversity.

The potential problem with each component of the paradox is self-blame and guilt. To avoid this, we have to give each other permission to occupy a unique space within the big story. I think this is one of the functions of the online mommy-blogging community - this big place to find common ground and celebrate differences. But for me, learning to walk the edge of this two-sided Ambiguity has happened in my offline community of moms at breastfeeding clinic. It fascinates me, because we come from a huge range of income levels, careers, marital statuses, personalities. There are definitely women at the clinic I would not be friends with under other circumstances (and vice versa, no doubt.) But in that room, we are all moms, we are all in this together.

The positive side of both components of the paradox is increased confidence. When I navigate ambivalence successfully, I grow more certain about my choices. Especially when I am encouraged by other mamas, doing the same stuff as me in their beautifully unique ways. I found that confidence when I jumped into community, and now, I cannot imagine parenting in a vacuum ever again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mama Bean posts links on Friday - April 9, 2010

- I'm exploiting my son's cuteness! lol Not reeeeeally. I sent some pics of Bean modeling his cloth diapers to Greenline, and they added them to their website. I like to show him off. Little ego strokes. I guess that is pretty exploitative - mombloggy gods forgive me!

- I am a little disappointed in this picture series of how peeps are made. It didn't show the marshmallow getting pressed into the peep shapes, which is what I really wanted to see. But I did like the picture of the sugar getting sprayed with yellow dye, which was JC's favourite part as well. I wonder how bright the pink dye must be! I'd never tasted a peep until this year, when Papa Bean and I bought some on sale. They are kind of boring - it's just plain marshmallow. I thought they'd be flavoured (citrus? banana? How AWESOME would banana be? That's my favourite fake flavour. I wish we'd done the organic chem lab where you make the ester responsible for fake banana flavour. Instead, I got to isolate clove oil. Booooooring, and not at all delicious. Oops, I've run off track.) Sooo... yay peeps? Nope.

- As Dr. Lovely pointed out on my fbook this week, Seth Godin is a genius. He is one of my favourite daily visits. In this post he lays out some ways virtual friends should be encouraging and challenging you to grow and be your best. In some corners of the momblogiverse, encouraging and challenging start to look more like sniping and spiteful attacks. But I have been blessed with some really excellent friends where the online and offline demarcation is blurred, and it's truly the best of both worlds.

- Oh man, this tab was sitting on my browser for days. I really enjoyed it, but kept hesitating to post it, I don't know why. He's a talented kid, and he sings the theme songs to a bunch of the shows I watch. Videos like this are what the internet is for. (Also, the internet is for porn! Eeeeexactly...(no the link is not NSFW)(Brackets within brackets again, with a side order of italics. Seriously...)(And it would appear ellipses are also becoming a problem...))

- True friends will drive you to the airport. True lovers will pick you up. At the gate. Jane Friedman laments a potential shift in her relationship when he picks her up by waiting in the parking lot and calling her cell. I might feel the same way. Papa Bean always made it to the gate during our back and forth visits while I was at Chiropractic college. I was not so great at being on time...but he still loves me. We wouldn't have survived a three year long-distance relationship if he wasn't so patient. JC and Jenn likewise shared touching stories of their lovers' dedication (waiting with Gwen Stefani tickets, and somehow consistently circumventing security blocks others' unromantically comply with, respectively.)

- For some reason, I pay a lot of online attention to Unfriendlies toward Chiropractic, including Science-Based Medicine. The bloggers there recently met with Josephine Briggs, the director of the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM.) SBM is dedicated to bringing about NCCAM's demise, which makes this post feel a little like lip-service, but I guess we have to be thankful for any dialogue, even if it feels a little fake. The SBM folks are always calling for better research from CAM providers, but then they want to kill the primary funding source of that research, which is just another way of saying they don't actually want the research to get done at all. It's very frustrating, from my position as a scientist, because I want the evidence to back my profession as much as anyone, and I know we need that funding to accomplish it. So. Where was I going? I wish they'd back off sometimes. Dr. Amanda points out no amount of research may be sufficient, as our profession has produced some compelling studies thus far, which they discredit in various ways, chiefly that the research isn't the gold standard double-blinded randomized controlled trial. But there are major barriers to successfully engineering that kind of study using Chiropractic methods, namely, how do you deliver a sham/placebo adjustment, and how do you "blind" the providers? Anyway, scientific conundrums make the world go round, this was just an interesting article for my Chiropractic colleagues, showing the NCCAM director going to bat for us against some of the Big Bad Skeptics.

- Help me, eh? If Canadians were phishers...

- Last week me met the Sharing Machine family of webcomics, this week we meet xkcd. His depiction of hell is pretty much bang on. An American friend commented this makes him think of Health Care Reform, which made me lol. In this particular issue, I liken being Canadian to being like Switzerland - I'm neutral! Which isn't totally true, because I think universal healthcare is a great idea. But I don't know enough about the HCR bill as it stands to know if it's the best solution, and I also do know the legislation will likely adversely affect some of my Chiro buddies. So, yeah, I'm SwitzerCanada, and that's all I'm going to say about that haha.

- So I mostly posted this picture because it's a dress that's a hippo and hippos are my FAVOURITE omg pon1es!!!11!!!!1 The dressed was fugged, but I don't care. If I were model-thin, I'd wear it. And then I'd go eat a gosh darn sandwich...

- Oh man, we're heavy on the boring and scientifical this week. Alright, so this huge study followed the dietary habits of a whole pile of people for many many years, and found only a slight protective factor against cancer from a diet high in fruits and vegetables. But what does it all mean? It does not mean we don't have to eat fruits and vegetables anymore, that's just silly, they are healthy and full of nutrients, and offer numerous health benefits besides their long purported helpfulness against cancer. The point is, that hypothesized effect of high order protection against cancer is actually almost statistically insignificant, so we should stop spending valuable research dollars in that arena, and apply them more judiciously to other avenues. At least, in my analysis.

- And yet another thinky post: a case study of elementary students who didn't start learning rote arithmetic functions until grade six. They learned to count and measure things, to have some very practical experience with numbers, but instead of endlessly drilling tables, they told each other stories. They talked to each other. They used language. Guess what? Math is a language. Any discipline or area of knowledge is just a language, and when you can navigate words and word systems with ease, you can learn new languages more easily. These kids caught up to their standardly taught peers quickly, and consistently out-performed on word problems requiring reasoning and critical thinking. This case was performed decades ago, with no policy change in site, but I think (as the author points out) that homeschoolers have probably been doing this in a modified way for ages. There is something to be said for a middle ground - teaching concepts and focusing on language instead of rote recitation and drills, and there's something to be said for the Montessori method of allowing children to guide their own learning, so they learn things when they're ready to learn them. Maybe we aren't really ready to learn math at seven years of age. And by we, I don't mean myself (or Char, who commented) because I loved math in elementary school, table or word problems, didn't matter. I was a n.e.r.d. to the nth degree.

- The internet celebrates the Found, perhaps no where more explicitly than here. Today's post is a shopping list that ends with "too much ear wax." In my head, I read this list as a beat poem.

This week was not a terribly active blogging week. Too much happening in the offline world - Easter potlucks with friends, Easter vigil mass, Easter church brunch, and friends visiting overnight. I have a string of ideas to work on, hopefully this weekend will have a little more time for it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mama Bean drives a short car

I kind of hate getting stuck behind tall vehicles. Trucks, SUVs, vans, wheeled beasties. I drive a Civic. I cannot see around them. I don't understand why we might be going slower than the speed limit, or why the cars aren't moving when the light seems green or the neighbouring lane is moving or, whatever, why things are happening that shouldn't be, etc.

I learned to drive in short cars, Toyota sedans. Then my parents bought a Subaru station wagon, which felt like a lot of car after the Camry. (Totally random note: for all the years we owned the Camry, I thought it was pronounced cam-ray. I knew very well how it was spelled, but still called them Camrays for my whole life until university.) It took me awhile to figure out how to park the wagon. And then my dad and my brother bought me a Jeep Cherokee. Suddenly I was way up high and could see for dayz! But goodness, did that thing consume gas. No, not consume, devour. Not the best thing for my full-time student, part-time data enterer pocketbook. It's really easy to be a bully in an SUV because you can see all these things that the wee compact cars can't. It's probably a good thing I moved to Chiropractic college and was essentially car-less for three years, to break my bad habits. Then I got my Civic - always wanted a Civic. I love him (Kevin, his name is Kevin) and we zip around. But he is short. I don't like the big cars anymore...

When I started commuting to work in the Prairie Valley City, it seemed I was being annoyed by large vehicles more than in Cowtown. This is not because PVC has more trucks or anything, even with the agricultural folk in their agricultural trucks. If anything, Cowtown has more expensive, environment-killing autoliths barreling around the roads, because all the rich Cowtownians can afford it. I finally figured it out this week, and the reason has to do with why this is the (so very) Prairie (ironically) Valley City.

Technically our city is in a valley, but it's like an ice age valley that is a whole province wide. The glaciers carved out this great swath of prairie that is F-L-A-T. So when some beastmobile plants itself in front of you, there is no slope to the road that allows you to scope out what's in front of the dude. All you see is bumper. This flatness also means there is no topography requiring roads to be curved around - all the roads are straight. (Extended aside: this does not create, as one would expect, intersections with ninety degree angles. Somehow all these straight roads cross each other at whackadoodle angles not normally associated with driving. Or city planning. But I digress. Again. But I think readers who live in the PVC know to what I refer.) Curved roads also allow you to see the cars ahead of whatever sight-obscuring creature may be in front of you. So I've determined the flatness and the straight roads are the reasons I've been more frequently annoyed by tall vehicles here than I was in Cowtown.

(Another extended aside: this is not a post about the superiority of Cowtown's roads or anything. They have their own driving hassles there. Cowtown has topography and curved roads around that topography because it was built in this transition zone between the prairie and the mountains, and because they damned up their river to make a giant lake in the middle of the city. It is also a younger city that has more purposely grown outward from a central nugget of metropolis. PVC has older roots, basically a patchwork city formed from a gaggle of small towns and forts that grew into each other. Much of the road confusion is because of this, and because of our own abundance of waterways, which must be circumvented in a variety of creative ways. Still, there are no hills. Which means no drainage, so spring thaw creates all new bodies of water in every road, hiding extensive potholes. Wide-as-the-road potholes. Ugh, I'm digressing yet again.)

This will hardly be the last time I talk about driving in the PVC. I have many thoughts on the topic (see above asides.) I have a tendency toward the, shall we say road-ragey. Hence, many thoughts, not all of them kind. (I can see myself cutting profanity from my vocabulary in most of my life except this, so if Bean learns bad words anywhere, it will be in the car.) Before I post my driving entries, even while I write them, I will try to channel as much niceness and patience and grace as possible. I know in most cases I am raging against factors I cannot control. I cannot add hills to the Prairie Valley, I cannot curve-up the straight roads, I cannot take all the cars taller-than-me off the road. In that case, at least, in the near future I'll be driving something taller myself. One less thing making me get all stabby-like.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mama Bean's baby Bean has stinky feet

Papa Bean is pretty sure we're not bathing Bean enough. Because I am lazy, I was inclined to disagree, until I smelled Bean's toes the other day. They smelled like adult feet. Adult feet in old flip-flops after an August day walking around outside. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but they did have that distinct baby toe-cheese aroma. So maybe we're not bathing him enough.

Everybody talks about how good babies smell. We have a friend who is addicted to "fresh" babies. Maybe she means babies less than about three months old. Bean smelled good for about three months. We didn't bathe him at all for, like, three weeks. I think in the hospital, newborns get washed off after they come out, but Bean was just sort of dried off with receiving blankets, and all the lovely protective vernix just gradually got rubbed into his skin as we went about our business. Feeding and diapering and trying to get sleep in two hour increments was overwhelming enough, I'm not sure I could have handled bathing him. Well, and the baby-pundits tend to agree (it happens!) you don't need to bother with more than sponge-bathing while the umbilical stump is still around, because you have to keep that stumpy dry. So we just let him ripen, lol. And he smelled really good, even with various amounts of errant breastmilk and pee sort of dripping about. This sounds so disgusting now, but at the time, at the Delirious silly time, it seemed totally fine. Weird. (Let's be totally honest, it was a miracle I had a daily shower during this time.)

Papa Bean was beyond excited to give Bean his first bath. When I told him we had to wait until the stumpy fell off, he insisted on a little washcloth wipe down - so cute! There is pictorial documentation. Stump fell off after a couple weeks (pictorial evidence of this was also collected) and then I made PB wait until the area looked healed. Bean needed a bath by then because a) there was cradle cap and b) there was cheese in his armpits and neck folds and finger/toe creases.

I used to scratch off the cradle cap while he nursed. It seems to basically be oil and dried sweat and dead scalp cells. I went a little overboard though, because he got little scabs where I scratched too much off. Man, I am making myself sound like the most Awesome Mother EVER in this post *sheesh* aaAAAnyway, the midwife told us to put a little shampoo on his head and scrub it fairly vigorously with one of those soft, dense bristled baby brushes, and it would wash away. And it did. I think we did that two or three times, and now we just rub his shampoo in with our fingers, and it hasn't come back. Lucky us, I know cradle cap is like a plague for some heads.

As for the crease-cheese, it just washes away also. It kept re-forming every three or four days, so that's how often we bathed him, except sometimes it was more like once a week. Keep in mind, Bean doesn't poop that often. Maybe if he was sending poo up the back of his diapers three or four times a day, I'd be more inclined to bathe him every day. Please don't call child services. I'm not neglecting his hygiene, I swear. But we really have Papa Bean to thank for that. He's a clean guy, this husband of mine. Thank goodness, eh?

The cheese stopped when we got a better handle on breastfeeding, and milk and spit-up weren't constantly dripping about into random places. Now, he smells for different reasons. I think he has started to sweat more. Leeeettle babies don't seem to sweat much. I mean, to hear grandmothers and aunties tell it, little babies are constantly too cold, and thus wouldn't ever have the opportunity to sweat. However, I think I detected some sweaty moments in the Delirious Early Days, but what do I know? I'm new at this. Now he sweats in his car seat, and sweats when he naps too long, and sweats if his diaper is full. Sweaty. He'll get sweatier (and stickier, etc.) from what I understand. Awesome.

Also, he eats solids now. Just rice cereal, a few times a day. Most of it does end up in his stomach, but some of it ends up on his face, in his nose, down his chins and neck, onto his hands, and into his clothing. Dried breastmilk doesn't really have an odour, but cereal definitely does. Plus, it looks like dried boogers when I don't wipe it all off after a meal. This is a whole realm of cleaning I never considered. Could someone create a thing that would hold his arms back and keep his hands out of his mouth while I'm simultaneously putting sticky carbohydrate porridge in there? Right now that thing is whichever parent isn't doing the feeding. But like, srsly, it's not supposed to take two people to feed a baby, right? So, yeah. And then, with solid food comes new poop. Less runny and milk seedy, more... poopy. And stinky. Frankly, I don't know why I was so worried about Bean only pooping every few days. Now, I kinda wish he'd only unleash this stuff on us once a week. It's gross. It gets grosser, from what I understand. Awesome, again.

So, we had almost gotten into the rhythm of bathing every other day, and now Papa Bean is pushing for daily. And given the status of Bean's stinky cheesy feet, I kind of agree. Plus, then I'll feel less negligent than I do having written this post for all the world to see. And if this wasn't way more than anyone ever wanted to know about my child's unbathedness, then I just don't know what TMI Tuesday is even for!