Monday, October 30, 2006

For us...for our children...

Another thanks to Chookooloonks for another great link. I headed over to check out a new blog...Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting and came out on the other side informed and relieved. Relieved because frank, honest talks of racism are not common. I hear over and over about how everyone I know is not racist. Bullcrap. Sorry. but folks we all are. And until we acknowledge our own racism we can't begin to address it personally or as a nation much less as the world.

So, here. I'll go out on a my racism manifests itself...
I grew up in lower middle class white suburbs. There were no children of other races in my grade school and three in my Catholic all-girl high school. I lived my younger developmental years believing that I was not racist. Well, of course I thought that! I'd never had to face it! It reminds of me of when Dearie and I took a call at a church in northern Minnesota. We were in a town of 2,000 people. No African-Americans except for a few children who had been adopted by white families. When a discussion of racism came up, the Minnesotans couldn't stand for how racist the southern states were. They looked down their snoots and criticized up and down at the "Southern Racist Whites." I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. When called on it, I explained that racism was not just a white/black issue. Just earlier in the conversation they had been cursing the Mille Lacs band of the Ojibwe tribe because they were making all this money from the casino on their reservation (reservation, people!) and they had to go work for the Indians, all the while the Indians got to take more Walleye from the lake that was on their reservation (reservation, people!) than the white people did. How unfair! Now, sitting from my side of the room where I had not grown up with close proximity to and the racism involved with Native Americans, this seemed as ridiculous a mindset as they did about racism involving African Americans. None of us are racist if we stay in our homogenous bubbles.

Dearie and I are now at church in an urban transitional neighborhood. It is an incredibly diverse neighborhood ethnically, racially, and economically. This is both its strength and its weakness. It is a tight knit neighborhood, but also at times it can be a pressure cooker. It is here that I have had to look the ugliness of my racism in the face. What I have a difficult time discerning most days is what is my racism and what is my classicism. Not that one is worse than the other. I'm battling them both. When I look at my internal responses I realize that I never thought twice about having a black woman for an OB-GYN. I would vote for Obama in a heartbeat. I remember being worried about walking to my car one evening because a rather sleazy white guy was walking out at the same time as me, but felt comforted by and stuck close to a black man in a suit. But, it concerns me that I really notice it when it I see a black father interacting with his chlidren in a loving way or that it sticks out to me when I see a regular black couple kissing, just a regular old kiss, on TV. or that I cringe when my 4 yr olds refer nonchalantly but loudly to other children's skin color. Like a mother who'd hush her kids asking about a man in a wheelchair.

I am most unloving to the youth and this breaks my heart. Not all of them, by any stretch of the imagination, but unfortunately the ones who need it most. So many idle kids standing around. First, I'm self-conscious. "What will they think of the white lady?" I've heard the things the adults tell the kids that come to our church. That we don't really care about them. That they are just charity. That they are just our ticket into heaven. I hate that. I've thought hard about those things, to see if they had ant worth, and they aren't true. Second, I'm scared of many of them. Their lot sometimes seems so hopeless and desperate. and third, and this is the one I hate most to admit, I see no hope for them. I'm tearing up right now just thinking of the sinfulness of that thought.

But that is where children get their moments to teach their parents. My kids basically assault anyone walking down the street. They run up to them and shout hello and ask them how they are doing...etc. You should see the "tough guys" walking down the street with their pants so low they have to hold them up and their sleeveless undershirts that hang down to their knees and their gold teeth and attitude. My kids don't know they are supposed to be scared of them. They shout hello and honestly start talking about the weather or telling them about something they had done that day. And that's where the magic happens...the toughies, they melt. The exterior evaporates and they smile and talk to the kids. Sadly, sometimes the toughie look at me with a kind of fearful expression, like "Is it ok to for me to talk to them?"

Perhaps the children need to start a website "For Children Committed to Raising Parents with an Anti-racist Outlook"

Friday, October 27, 2006

You're no fun anymore...

This has become a running joke with Dearie and me. He likes to tell me that I'm no fun anymore. The truth of the matter is that I have never been fun. Seriously. Now, don't get me wrong. If we went out you'd have a good time. I am actually quite funny. But, not fun. I will never be the girl who drags you to all the clubs, or dances on the table (ok, a couple of times. but I had been partaking in adult beverages. perhaps I was, as my family says "overserved"), I won't run off and do silly things. It just isn't who I am. I am much more at home in the corner of a pub with a glass of Beamish. (Sorry, Julie, my family comes from Cork. You can still have your Guiness)

You see, I am a Melancholic. It's ok. That description is a little on the dramatic side. I'm not that bad. It's just the temperament God gave me. But, the problem with this temperament is that it's not especially compatible with 4 children 4 and under. Especially since I have a sanguine daughter. We couldn't be more different. I have come to forcing myself to be more peppy. more perky. I also have to force myself to be socialable, because let's face it, a gloomy pastor's wife does very little to help his career and smooth the relationship between him and the church. It can be exhausting. I'd rather take a nap.

Some of my friends have asked me if I'm worried about "losing myself" because I "fake it" so much. But, I don't think so. or maybe. but would that be so bad? I know that my temperament has many strengths that I am proud of, including a strong sense of social justice, but there are also some very dark sides that must be fought against to bring about a better balance. If I just hang out in my gloomy world simply because it's "authentic" what does that get me? Don't we all need to fight against our demons inside?

I mean really, how bad can it be when at the end of the day, my kids are happy and feeling secure, I'm feeling good because I had a good parenting day, Dearie's church members feel listened to and important? How bad can it be that I had to force it? And by forcing it, don't we end up bringing about a transformation in ourselves? When I wake up gloomy and force a happy face, I tend to surprise myself midmorning when I realize I am genuinely in a good mood. Isn't the perfect me, that me created in God's image that I am trying to uncover, worth a little "forcing?"

I'll never be fun. I'll never be Miss America. I'll never be surrounded by a big group of friends. But "Schubert, in his Psychology, says of the melancholic nature: 'It has been the prevailing mental disposition of the most sublime poets, artists, of the most profound thinkers, the greatest inventors, legislators, and especially of those spiritual giants who at their time made known to their nations the entrance to a higher and blissful world of the Divine, to which they themselves were carried by an insatiable longing.'"

Hey! That's pretty cool, too. Maybe even cooler than dancing on tables.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Silly city kids...that's not a real farm

Real blog tomorrow, promise.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

You're Killing Me, Here!

Skaterboy's first high school dance...sigh. Notice he's wearing Dearie's tie from our wedding...double sigh

Saturday, October 21, 2006

For us...for our daughters...

If you have a daughter and this doesn't have you weeping, you're a stronger mom than me. Hats off to Dove for their Campaign For Real Beauty. Sure, it's a marketing gimic. But better this than the alternatives. Your daughters should watch this one with you. It's such an amazing reminder. Have a look around the website. There is a lot of useful, interesting stuff on there. And yes, some product placement.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Speaking of Faith

Turns out I don't have any.

I've been thinking and praying about this a lot lately. A couple of things really got me examining this. First, the book If You Want to Walk On Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg and then the book The Myth of a Christian Nation by Gregory Boyd. In Ortberg's book he discusses our comfort zone as our boat. The things that we can't leave behind to be in full communion with Christ. In Boyd's book, he discusses our patriotism as a form of idolatry.

Now, patriotism is not my problem...but my family is. I don't trust God with my family. There I said it. I realize that Christianity/Catholicism has become a "lifestyle" for me instead of a pure expression of my faith. I read my bible every night, I pray and examine my conscience, I confess, I look for inspiration and how to better order my life. You see, I acknowledge Christianity as a wonderful, ethical, moral way to live your life. The loving your neighbor, the letting go of materialism, the caring for the poor and oppressed, the sacrificing yourself for those around you. I even use the bible as my primary parenting manual. I start and end each day looking at my parenting and whether I am expressing God's love to HIS children in a way that is fitting to the responsibility I have been given in raising them. And ditto for my marriage.

Sounds great, huh? But, I now realize I am nothing but a clanging gong. I don't trust God. He is too unpredictable for my tastes. He makes me nervous. Let's face it, there are plenty of good faithful people who have horrible things happen to their families. Hell, look at Job! Sure he got replacements for everything in the end, but I don't want any replacements, thank you very much. I want everyone that I have right now. safe. here. with me. You can have the house, the van, the life savings, but leave my family alone. They have become my idol.

I know what I have to do. I know that somehow I have to turn them over to his care. to truly believe that my children are first and foremost HIS children. But, the reality is. I don't want to. I'm too scared. I know that I can only protect my family with God's help. But that's just where I like it. With God helping me.

ugh. I have a lot of work to do. my boat is too comfy. I guess that leads me back to one of my favorite hymns but with less organ.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Love is....

Unadulterated joy. When your heart is so full that it bursts out of you.

Happy Love Thursday!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Not All in the Family

A few weekends ago, our neighborhood held it's annual art fair. It is a big big deal. And though Ladybug was only a couple weeks old, we all signed up to volunteer. Volunteering is something that is incredibly important to the health of our family. Even our troubled and difficult teenager (will blog about that someday) thrives when he is doing "Man's Work" with the other men of the neighborhood.

We live in a transitional, urban neighborhood that takes civic pride very seriously. (Does anyone remember that old cartoon where they say over and over, "Civic pride week, help beautify your city"?) And though we hear more police sirens than most people would be comfortable with, we love love love this neighborhood because of its community. My kids know and love all my neighbors and all my neighbors know and love my kids. We do quarterly block improvements, tending the block gardens and helping with anything neighbors need. For example, when my next door neighbor was putting in a brick patio, Skaterboy and Dearie were over there with another neighbor helping put it in.

So, for the Art Fair all of the kids helped rake leaves and pick up lawn debris in the boulevard so they could set up the tents. They love doing it. It gives them purpose and the feeling of belonging to something bigger. And God does command us to "Love our Neighbor"

I'm going to post some links over on the right to some great places to help you get started in finding family friendly things to do together to make the world a better place. It's important in this crazy, troubled world that we start to tip the balance and take away the fear. And you will be amazed at how naturally it comes to your children and how strong your family will become when you turn outside of yourselves and serve the world.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cakes' Breastfeeding Tips pt.1

I promise I won't turn this into a strictly "Mommy Blog" but several new moms have asked for my breastfeeding wisdom (as if) and so I figured I'd put it down on blog paper. This not your basic info you can get from the books, It's just a bit of real world experience. So, definitely read the books. Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments section. This is part 1. I will add another installment next week that will include my favorite music to breastfeed by.

1.) Always, always, always ask for a lactation consultant in the hospital. This is the fifth baby I have breastfed and it still took us 2 days to perfect latch on. The hard part was that Ladybug was born at 11:42pm. I went to my recovery room around 1am. There are NO LC's around at 1am! I was lucky because I knew the signs of a bad latch (see number 2) but if I was a first time mom, and I was expected to breastfeed through the night, I'd've been screwed. Better yet, get yourself a nice doula/LC to help with delivery and recovery. You'll be amazed at how easy she will make things.

2.) Signs of a bad latch:

  • Dimples. Baby's cheeks should not dimple when she is nursing.
  • Mush mouth. Baby's upper lip should not be all mushy and sucked in.
  • Straw sucky noises. This is hard to explain. Noises from baby should be more "slurpy" sounding than kissy/straw sucking noises.
  • Bottom lip flipped down and out. Baby's bottom lip should be flipped open and under. Like if you just grab your bottom lip and pull it down in a pout.

  • 3.) Lots and lots of lanolin for the first few weeks. I personally prefer the Lansinoh brand over the Medela brand, only because it is more liquified so easier to apply to the nipples. Though that can be easily fixed by rubbing the lanolin between your finger and thumb to warm it up. I also like to just apply a dob of it to my breast pad, especially during the ultra-sensitive time during engorgement when your milk first comes in.

    4.) If it is going to touch your breast, make it cotton. No kidding. Cotton nursing bras and cotton breast pads (see #5). I have been particularly happy with the cotton nursing bras at Target sold under the Liz Lange label, and they are only $11.99 so you can stock up. I recommend 3 nightime bras and at least 3 daytime bras. The thing is, if they get wet from leakage you really need to change it. The dried milk can begin to grow bacteria and if that gets into your milk ducts, you're in trouble sister. I have battled mastitis. It is not at all fun. Very very miserable and painful. Target's nursing "sport bra" makes a nice sleep bra. I don't think it is near enough support to do any real exercising in, but it is very comfy. I would also stay away from underwires at least for the first few months. The underwire can put too much pressure on a milk duct and cause it to clog. Clogged milk ducts are also very uncomfortable.

    5.) Leakage. In the beginning it is inevitable. I have found personally that after a few months when my milk supply evens out, I don't have near the amount of problem with leakage as in the beginning, especially, right after your milk comes in. Again I recommend using cotton nursing pads. I love love these I go through probably 4-5 pairs a day/night in the beginning. So, having 10-12 pairs on hand would be helpful. I wash mine with my baby laundry, but bleach them once a week to be sure to kill bacteria and to wash away some stubborn lanolin. I do use disposable breast pads when I go out, b/c the cotton ones don't fully protect against the early month's let downs, though you can help a bit by pushing the offending breast in and up. I like the Lansinoh ones and it's nice because they come individually wrapped so you can throw a few in your diaper bag and purse. But at home I use only cotton because eventhough the disposables say they are breathable, if they are leak-proof there can't be a whole lot of breathing going on, which can lead to cracked and irritated nipples. To help keep my cotton ones dry, when I nurse at home I undo both sides of my bra and hold a burp cloth up to my free breast. Again, once it gets wet change it.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Henceforth to be known as...Ladybug

    Ladybug arrived on September 21st at 11:42 pm. She weighed in at 7lbs 14 oz and was a towering (for my family) 21 inches tall.

    Mom and baby are doing well. The rest of the family has lost its mind...