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Faith Part Deux

August3

After reading about religion for 13 years, it occurred to me I might not come up with all the answers in my lifetime. You know, since, for thousands upon thousands of years, people much smarter than me had been working on this without an obvious consensus. I mean, what chance did I have? So I figured I might as well not wait for perfect enlightenment to get to do that whole Practicing Religion thing, but hitch up to a faith community for the journey. I had tried just NOT doing religion, but that hadn’t worked for me. I didn’t believe enough that direction either. If I hadn’t taken it on, I just would have continued reading and wrestling and obsessing till I died. And don’t get me wrong, I still do all those things! Just, you know, WITH my religion.

My church was the best place to start. It was as open-minded as open-minded can get. I didn’t have to believe anything. Not about Jesus or morality or dogma or squat. And that might sound kind of airy-fairy pointless but it wasn’t. Because there was a total passion for Jesus and the Bible and Christian tradition. The people there reintroduced me to all of that, and made it fascinating. I was learning all the time, especially about the ancient world and some context for all those troubling parts of the Bible. And yes, that thing is troubling. And gorgeous! And horrifying. And exciting. Let’s just say, there’s a lot going on.

Meanwhile, I was marrying Andy. I loved that any couple could get married at my church. Then I found myself weirdly disappointed that any couple could get married at my church. As in, Andy and I didn’t have to deal with any premarital counseling. We didn’t have to prove to anyone we were prepared for marriage. It wasn’t of concern. Now, look, I was marrying the best, easiest, wonderfulest person on the planet anyone could possibly marry and we were grown-ass adults. Why on earth did I so desperately want to be interrogated for months before I could do it? I could not explain it. And why did I feel awkward that I had to ask for a fidelity clause to be included in the vows? Weird, old-fashioned personality quirk, I guessed.

Do you know how hard it is to find a Biblical passage to read at your wedding? Let’s see, Adam and Eve, a couple of Proverbs about a good wife that probably wouldn’t apply to me (“…prudent wife…noble character…”). Some stuff about submission: mutual, yes, but still not great wedding material. Then Jesus says just don’t get divorced, people, and then Paul says, heck, get married if you HAVE to, I mean, so you’re not distracted by all your LUST, you know, and there. That’s the Bible on marriage.  I should have gone with Deuteronomy 24:5 –

“If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.”

Aw, yeah. But on the whole, it did make me wonder where all the Christian Family Value talk came from. The Bible has a bunch of rules for marriages that would be illegal (not to mention immoral) today and then a few dudes talking about how nice it would be if more people could just be celibate. I mean, seriously! Where were all the conservatives getting this?

Well, dear reader, I married him, and life went on.

I would go to Bible studies and other classes and continue reading at home and it was all grand. It’s kind of awesome when it turns out that everything that always bugged you about Christianity doesn’t have a solid theological basis and God actually agrees with everything you thought about life in the first place! And, yes, I could see what I was doing there, creating God in my own image and all that. In fact, I’d done it many times over the years when trying to work out how the world works, so don’t go and blame my church. But, man, I could back it up with some good arguments. Don’t you understand that homosexual activity in the ancient world is a completely different thing than what we’re talking about now? Do you realize how little is said about hell, and that they’re really talking about the local child-sacrifice-turned-garbage-dump valley? You get that there are several different genres of writing in the Bible, and it doesn’t present itself as an Instruction Manual for All Time, right?

And, well, I still essentially stand by that, but…I was a bit self-righteous. Well, wouldn’t you be if you were more enlightened than the ignorant masses? Sigh. Thankfully, at the same time, church was the one moment in the week where I was reminded I wasn’t the center of the world. I’d sit down in that lovely sanctuary and be taken down a couple of notches, in the best way. It’s still working on me. I have a long way to go. But it helped.

Well.

One day in Bible study, one of the pastors asked us if it mattered whether the resurrection literally physically happened or not. I was dumbfounded. I may not have had the most solid belief, but I wanted my church to! Or at least recognize that even if you think it’s unknowable, that it would in fact make a huge difference if Jesus managed to come back from the dead, as opposed to just leaving a nice, fuzzy legacy that made people feel like he was still with them. I think it would have mattered to the disciples too. I mean, let’s think this through. You’re a bunch of uneducated, sometimes dense, sometimes cowardly dudes who have given up everything to follow this guy, and then he goes and gets executed in the most brutal, humiliating way possible and you are laying the fuck low so the same does not happen to you. Now, it’s entirely possible that after the crazy shit dies down, and you’ve still got a dead friend, you talk amongst yourselves and say, “That guy had some really insightful stuff to say about life. We should remember it and share it with everyone, because the world would be a better place if people acted like he said they should.” I can buy that. But they didn’t. These terrified and broken men started shouting from the rooftops: “Holy fuck, you guys! He came back from the dead! Fix your lives, cause this is a game changer!!!” And then they went and told as many people as possible, establishing churches in their wake, until they were killed for it.

That’s the part I can’t make sense of if the guy was still dead. Nobody’s that confused. Not en masse.

(Now, we could just call into question the veracity of the gospel accounts in the first place, but this last part is the generally historically accepted view of how the church started: dudes running around claiming Jesus’ resurrection and church planting. I understand questioning the claims of the gospels, but I think logic would eliminate us tossing the whole thing aside as some first century dudes’ Fiction That We’re Totally Making Up To Oppress People With Even Though It Will Take Us a Few Centuries Of Being Totally Oppressed Ourselves Before We Can Go Do All That Oppressing We Really Want To.)

So basically, I was having the surreal experience of being a raging liberal having strange conservative flashes in my church.

Next up, probably: I continue to confuse myself.

posted under faith story, God, husband | Comments Off on Faith Part Deux

Faith Story

July29

So.

Some of you may know I’ve been cheating on my progressive church with the capital “C” Catholic Church. Most of you are probably a little confounded by this. Or a lot. I’d like to dip my toes in the water of Explaining This. I’m nervous about it. I think I’ll do a bad job. But. I’m going to take it slow. If you have questions, I will be super happy to attempt to answer them as I tell this story. Any question is cool, as long as it’s a real question. So “How can you believe such stupid bullshit?” isn’t a real question because it’s secretly a statement. However, “That whole being against contraception thing seems like stupid bullshit to me; what’s your take on that?” works for me.

Anyway.

The story kind of starts with Andrew. Although I don’t know if he really wants the blame for it! When I met him, I was kind of religiously nothing. I was always interested in religion. I had spent the last decade or so reading – Judaism, a little paganism, and finally back around to Christianity – but I kept it pretty intellectually removed from life. (Actually, I’m still good at that.) So while I was coming around to the idea that Christianity wasn’t complete made-up bullshit after all and actually had some amazing, insightful, philosophically sound qualities, I started showing up for Sunday morning services at Ye Olde Progressive Dogma-Free Church about once every six months. I’d feel the tug, go, and then be done for half a year.

My moral compass was a bit damaged, especially relationship-wise, but before I met Andy I had finally decided that marriage and family were also not a big bullshit con that I didn’t deserve anyway, but rather something of value, something I wanted. I learned that love was not the warm fuzzies I felt (all about me) but an action toward another (all about them). (Don’t get me wrong: I’m still really selfish. But at least I know better.) When I met Andy, the complete opposite of my past choices, I immediately recognized a Good Man.

(Also a cute one. And there were still warm fuzzies. But that’s not what this post is about. Ahem.)

I once saw this interview on The Daily Show. I swear it happened, though I can’t find the video. Jon Stewart was interviewing Gene Simmons. Gene was talking about his wife, but also his many other women, and giving Jon crap for being married monogamously. Jon, utterly unfazed, smiled and said, “It’s the difference between pleasure and joy, my friend.”

Ah.

Yeah. I was starting to get that distinction. Eventually, I would be able to see it in more categories of my life. I mean, that’s kind of what Christianity is selling: it seems like a rulebook to kill all pleasure, but it’s actually in order to replace it with joy.

Somewhere at about a year of dating Andy, I knew we’d be getting engaged before long, and I started going to church regularly. And Bible study. I know, it’s hard to explain. Funny thing is, before that, I could have given you plenty of historical or scientific or philosophical reasons to take Christianity seriously, but that’s not what got me through the door. There was something in me, that when I thought about having a family – family – made me seek a place to mark those milestones. What I told Andy after we were engaged, when trying to decide what kind of wedding we’d have, was that I didn’t know what I believed about God, but I knew this was sacred.

And that’s how it started. Family turned me to God. Family is where I saw God. Family is where a lot of abstract theological concepts started to make gritty, real-life sense to me. Sacrificial love? Got it. The interplay between justice and mercy? Totally, we’ve got kids. Good and Evil and Love and Free Will as very real things and not meaningless terms we attach to biological impulses or whatever? Uh, hell yeah. All that is grand and cosmic is also right here in my house.

So. That’s the beginning.

 

posted under faith story, God, husband | Comments Off on Faith Story

Zachary’s First Birthday

July18

My little bitty baby that I just had…

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…is one year old.

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He drives cars now.

Sigh.

We made him a cake. This is Andrew hammering some hard candy for my sugar sculpture (I’m making that sound fancier than it is.)

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We made jokes about playing Candy Crush. Mostly me. Andrew mostly didn’t laugh. Cause I’m not funny.

This was the cake. (All the pics from here on out are my dad’s. He’s awesome.)

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It’s a campfire! Cause it was a cowboy birthday. (This is totally what cowboys do, right?)

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Sure they do.

This is me awkwardly reading a blessing (off my phone) for my beautiful child. I wasn’t so much awkward in real life as awkward in my head cause I feel like I’ll never get used to acting like a religious person out loud. If that makes sense.

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But these babies made the sacred all obvious in my life, so that’s what I do now.

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I’m all full of sloppy emotion over this boy. My sister-in-law was all, “It was hard when my last baby turned one too,” and I said, “Last?!?!? Oh, no, if I thought about it that way, I’d be much worse. I haven’t given up hope yet!!!!

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Love you, baby boy. May you enjoy many, many more happy trips around the sun.

 

 

 

 

It’s Pictures Again

July15

Since we last talked…

Fourth of July.

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Zachary had his first Zoo train ride that he could really appreciate.

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Audrey learned how to do this.

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Zachary learned how to do this.

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And tomorrow he’s one year old.

I have a lot to say but have lost the urge to talk quite so much. Well, type so much. I still talk a lot. Maybe soon. Got to go watch The Jim Gaffigan Show. I’m very excited about that.

posted under Audrey, husband, TV, Zachary | Comments Off on It’s Pictures Again

Fiber Cannon

June16

Baby eats bananas.

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Baby gags on bananas.

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I’m not supposed to find that hilarious, right? It’s just that I’ve gotten used to him gagging on everything, since he was tiny and sticking fingers too far down his throat. I’m always vigilant and a tiny bit terrified, but mostly just resigned to it.

Posting from the pediatrician’s parking lot. We’re early, baby’s napping, so we’re biding time. Audrey is checking out the state map. Audrey’s about to get checked out for constipation. We’ve always had some difficulty with poop, but we may have gotten to a bad place. I’m extremist, so we’ve cut all dairy from our cheesy diet, and putting better things in her. Her body was never into it anyway, though her soul sure was. Must dissent from Big Dairy propaganda and be healthier! (See, I’m extremist.) (For now.)

I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom from Andy when I was pregnant with Audrey:

“Keep that fiber cannon loaded!”

 

posted under Audrey, food, husband, pregnancy, Zachary | Comments Off on Fiber Cannon

Here We are in the Present Tense

July13

39 weeks pregnant today. Some days the baby seems ready to go, others all is calm. Ah, the edge-of-your-seat time of pregnancy. It’s really hard to focus.

Preschool update: I just turned on the TV so I could get a break from all the stories Audrey is demanding to read. How’s that for irony? Am super impressed with the selection of books we got in our package. Obviously.

Audrey’s doing better at going to bed and staying there. Best possible advice came from Andy’s aunt on Friday when I was rambling on about being at a complete loss to parent: “Wait till she outgrows it. This too shall pass.” I need to embroider that on a damn pillow.

This is all I know. My brain has nothing else in it that’s not straight-up crazy talk that I only save for my husband.

Later.

If I Give You a Quarter, Will You Leave Me Alone?

July2

Aud took the last several days off from that whole sleeping-easily-through-the-night thing in order to torture us. At least I assume that was her goal. She decided bedtime was horsecrap after all and starting staging a revolt every evening. We do her whole sweet bedtime routine, tuck her in, and she says, “I have to go potty.” Well…fine. I mean, you don’t say no, right? But then she’ll go potty, step one foot back in her room and announce, “I have to go potty again.”

Aw, hellz nah.

So we try to leave. I mean, suck it up, kid. It’s over. But when we ignore the demands to go potty, she just strips to prove her point. WHUT. No. And then more waking at night, cause she’s been busy enough to suck down a bunch of water in her room, and damned if she doesn’t want to pee in the potty and not her diaper, sure, but then why give her water at night, oh right, the husband thinks people need access to water at night and BLEH.

Two nights ago I was awake from 4 to 6 because my brain and body just didn’t want to go back to sleep after being yanked into consciousness. I may have wept quite a lot.

I thought through a couple of approaches to this whole insanity. (You know, other than the unseemly thoughts that run through my head when I’m being yelled at in the middle of the night. And also wondering if there was a chastity belt version of a diaper she couldn’t get off.) I’ve heard of handing out a couple of poker chips or something at the end of the evening and telling her if she wants to call me to do something she has to pay me one chip. Any “money” she still has in the morning can be used to buy something special. Sounded solid, and like she might be ready to grasp that kind of long-ish range thinking.

Then it also occurred to me that we’ve been watching too much TV lately, not getting enough ya-yas out, and that when bedtime comes and she actually has Mom and Dad’s focus for once, it’s too joyful to give up. So, maybe we should also, I don’t know, parent her during the day or something.

So I decreed yesterday to be a TV-free day. It was never, never on. Nope, No Daniel Tiger today. No nothin’, kid. Bring me a book and I’ll read to you. Andy was home more yesterday and got in some solid ride-Daddy-like-a-horsey time. We went outside. We were like people.

At bedtime, I gave her two quarters (couldn’t find any other suitable token). I told her if she needed to come out again, she could pay me. (I let her sneak in one more potty trip before I left though. Well, two seconds after we called it a night, she was complaining some nameless complaint of need. I went downstairs and heard her say, “I take it off.” Aw, man. Then she asked for a kleenex. I hollered, “Are you going to pay me a quarter for it?” “YES!” Kay, then, fine. I went up and she was naked from the waist down. “Well, you owe me a quarter anyway to put that diaper back on.” Diaper back on. Kleenex. “I need to pray again!” You and me both, kid. We said the bedtime prayer. I went back downstairs.

“I have a wedgie!”

Well. To be fair, I had just tried to pull the pinned cotton diaper straight back on and not refold it or anything, so…that’s probably valid. I went up and tried to rearrange it without taking it off. Downstairs.

“I still have a wedgie!”

Eff. I went back up and stuck my hand down her pants again. She giggled. “You all good here now?” “Yes.” “Okay, you still have a quarter. Stay in your room so you can buy M&Ms tomorrow.”

And it was finally night. She stayed in bed all night.

I didn’t, because my body thought it would be fun to practice flooding with adrenaline and being jerkily awake until 2:45 in the morning, with extra Braxton-Hicks-ing, but the kid made it, so yay.

I’m tired and it’s taken me two days to write this little tale, so I’m not sure where I was planning to go with it. We just put her to bed crazy late (family party, yo!) and gave her her quarters and we haven’t been bothered at all. There’s hope! Parenting by bribery! And also some actual parenting!

Don’t know if I’ll bother with bed myself. Firecrackers, man…

 

 

 

 

 

This Week in Stuff

June24

You know when it’s hard to blog? When you’ve felt catatonic for a week. The crazy preggers congestion/exhaustion took over last Wednesday and I’m only starting to feel like a person again. A person who still needs a nap every day, but a person.

Here’s what I know:

Aud and I have been taking a parent-child swimming class for 40 minutes in the early evenings the last couple of weeks. Her preschool BFF is doing it too, which is a treat. Aud sort of loves it. For a few minutes each time. Then she’s cold and desperately over it. “I NEED TO GET OUT.” Pretty proud of her for sticking through a lot of it. It’s been a treat for me! Stepping into a pool and feeling the bowling ball in my belly just lift up is so freeing. If I weren’t wrastling a squirming toddler the whole time, I’d been in complete heaven. Our last night is tonight.

Speaking of preschool buds, I just got the call that a two-morning-a-week spot opened up in the fall. Haven’t even told the husband yet. Am…torn?…but leaning toward…not? It is a really lovely experience for the kid. She’d have something that’s just hers when the new brother invades. But it would also be a bigger pain to shuttle her back and forth with said brother. And there’s, you know, that money that we could always find another use for. Eh.

We’ve added another name to the running for boy child. Guess we’ll figure it out when we meet him. Or something.

I had a birthday this weekend. I was miserable and cranky and no fun but there was food and cake, so that’s nice. Gonna get a night out with my hubs tomorrow and if I’m continuing to feel better, that should be a treat!

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My mommy made me strawberry shortcake cake. It was INTENSE. My honey brought me roses that don’t die (even though I’m a terrible plant killer!). The first time he did this was a year and a half ago on Valentine’s Day and now I have a big ol’ rose bush in my yard. It’s awesome. Men of the world: take note!

How to Name a Baby

June17

So we’re still hung up on a name for our kid. I think we’ve got a vague list of hopefuls we can take with us to the hospital, but just in case we come up with something on the fly, I’m assembling a rigorous testing process before we declare our choice to the Law.

1. When you combine it with our last name, does it sound dirty? It’s so much easier to do than you think.

2. Do the initials spell something stupid?

3. Is it too trendy? As Freakonomics taught us, it can look trashy on the way down.

4. Is it going to be trendy in a few years?

5. Does it sound right in real life?

6. Google. Are there any serial killers with that name?

7. If you were going in for heart surgery, and this was your doctor’s name, would you feel less confident?

8. Is there an obvious awful name kids could turn it into? (Always remembering, kids don’t need specific inspiration to insult each other.)

Anything I’m missing?

 

 

Nesting

June7

What a stupid term.

But.

Things that Need to Happen Now So I Can Be Psychologically Okay:

1. Have a completely packed hospital bag which needs to magically include the things I’m using every day even though I’m using them every day.

2. Have everything at home in a constant state of order so that whenever I go into labor, my mom can find whatever she needs for Audrey when she comes to watch her.

3. Anchor the bookshelves in the playroom so Audrey doesn’t kill herself.

4. Anchor the dresser in Audrey’s room so she doesn’t kill herself.

5. Anchor our swingset so Audrey doesn’t kill herself.

6. Figure out where I’m going to change the baby’s diapers downstairs and set it up. Seriously, where?

7. Finish the pages in Audrey’s Big Sibling Book that are supposed to be done before the baby’s birth.

8. Oh, crap, finish Audrey’s baby book.

9. Talk Junior into turning the right direction in Mama’s belly before long.

I need a nap.

posted under Audrey, husband, pregnancy | Comments Off on Nesting
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