Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I Forgot One

One more weird Catholic thing - although this is really more about my OCD streak than I usually care to reveal. You've seen Catholics do the sign of the cross (do other Christians do it? I don't know). We say "In the name of the Father," (touch the forehead) "and of the son," (touch the chest) "and of the Holy" (left shoulder) "Spirit," (right shoulder), Amen."

So when we were learning how to do it, I guess in first grade or so, it was explained to us that you begin a prayer with the sign of the cross (SOTC) so you'd get God's attention. Like, "Hey, God, gonna pray right now, so listen up, yo." They likened it to picking up the telephone - it was like we were opening the line to God, then we'd talk to him, and then we'd do the SOTC again at the end of the prayer, and that was like hanging up. This was their explanation for why we do the SOTC at the beginning and end of each prayer. Fairly reasonable explanation to a bunch of 6-year-olds, right?

Except that I, again, took it quite literally.

When we enter church, we put our fingers in a bowl of unsanitary "holy" water and make the SOTC. No problem - we're picking up the telephone line as we enter God's house (with Jesus in that little house on the altar), right?

Except that we make the SOTC again when we genuflect before entering a pew inside the church. If we picked up the telephone line when we entered the church, it stands to reason, then, that if we make the SOTC again, we're hanging up, right? And therefore God won't hear any of the prayers we might make as we kneel in the pew before Mass starts.

So, the solution, of course, is to surreptitiously cross oneself quickly after entering the pew, thus picking up the telephone line again. Phew.

Except - we make the SOTC again when we finish prayer and sit down in the pew. Well, there we go hanging up again! Again, a quick SOTC must be made in order to keep the communication lines open.

Except - here comes the priest and he opens the mass by making the SOTC again! Crap! Now the Mass won't count because we just hung up on God! Do it again, quickly! Get him back on the line! And so on.

The Mass ends with, again, the SOTC, and if I'd kept up, I was saying my goodbyes to God and hanging up appropriately. Except...I had to cross myself AGAIN with the holy water as I left the church, thus picking up the telephone line again. It wouldn't do to leave the line open like that, because God would think everything I thought from that point on was a prayer, and I just didn't need that kind of responsibility. So, again, a quick SOTC as we got in the car, and everything's kosher, so to speak.

I did wonder why no one else seemed to be compulsively crossing themselves - if what the nuns said was true, was it possible that I was the ONLY ONE who'd figured this out? Yes, as a matter of fact, it was.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Strange Things I Believed as a Catholic Child

My mother was Catholic, my father was not. They had a deal that any boys they had would be raised Methodist by him, and any girls they had would be raised Catholic by her. God might love Catholics more because they ended up with three girls, and Dad never had to become Methodist (he was raised Jehovah's Witness, which is a whole 'nother post).

So I spent 12 years in a plaid skirt. And yet, I know quite a few non-Catholics who know more about the religion than I do. Perhaps it's because I stopped listening around second grade. So I present these to you, not as weird things Catholics believe, but as the weird ideas I got in my own head about what they believe.

1. Anyone, at any time, can get "The Calling."

On Vocation Day, we had to watch videos of nuns and priests talking about their vocation. It was sort of like career day with one career. What it really was, was a recruitment seminar. They wanted to be sure that we heard The Calling to become a priest or nun if that's what God wanted. But they did a lousy job of making it look like a fun life, so I was scared to death of "The Calling." The nuns would explain:

"I was in high school when I got The Calling."
"I always thought I'd marry and have kids, so I was not expecting The Calling."
"I got The Calling as a small child."

You know how sometimes you think you hear someone saying your name and you look around and don't see anybody you know? As a child, every time that happened to me I was terrified that I was getting The Calling. I thought these people really heard a voice calling their names. I didn't realize that The Calling was actually a conscious decision, and one that most nuns/priests were happy to make. The ones at my school certainly didn't look happy, and I already hated going to mass.

2. Babies who die before they're baptized are in a big airport lounge somewhere.

Surely you've heard of Limbo. Besides being a dance performed by drunk people on cruise ships, it's where babies go if they die before they're baptized. See, we can't have people who aren't baptized getting into heaven - that will make people think they don't need to get baptized and will go against our claim that we're all born with original sin. But on the other hand, we can't say that we think little innocent babies go to hell, either, because that'll offend all the baby lovers out there. So the Catholics made up Limbo.

As a child, when I thought of people stuck waiting, I pictured an big airport waiting lounge. I'd flown enough as a small kid to know that that's where everyone waits. Sometimes you wait a long, long time, especially if you're a military family waiting at an Air Force base to travel space available on a cargo plane to Hawaii because your dad doesn't want to pay for real airplane tickets (again, another post). Thus - many babies stuck at gate 7C.

The idea of babies being stuck somewhere was distressing enough that they shut Limbo down a few years back, and said babies were virtually baptized or something. But it was ingrained enough in me that I felt we had to get A. baptized. Just in case Limbo reopened.

3. Jesus is 10 inches tall.

Many Catholics take their First Communion around second grade. I guess they think that's the age most kids can start to understand the idea of the Body of Christ and all the mystery surrounding the sacrament. They're wrong. Kids are still very literal at that age, so if I'm seven and you tell me that Jesus lives in that little house at the back of the altar, I'm going to think that Jesus lives in that little house at the back of the altar.

But I'm not a complete idiot, and even at seven years old, I'll know that the host doesn't actually turn into Jesus' flesh, even if you tell me it's not a symbol, it really does change. That's why you want us to bow our heads when the bells ring during mass,* signifying the transubstantiation - so we won't see that, actually, NOTHING HAPPENS.** Well, you guys might not know this, but I kept my head up once. And nothing happened. Also, I reasoned, if the host really did turn into Jesus' flesh, we would have run out by now. Especially if he's only 10 inches tall. And why do we have to be cannibals, anyway?

Whenever I brought these issues up in First Communion class, the nuns would start talking about faith. Again, I wasn't an idiot so I understood that they were really saying, "If you ask those kinds of questions, you're a bad Catholic and maybe you're not ready for the First Communion." Well, my mother was counting on me wearing that very short poufy dress that both my sisters wore to their First Communions, so I learned to keep my mouth shut.

And stop listening.

*When A. first heard these bells at his great-grandmother's funeral, he turned to me and said, "Telephone!" Ack! Maybe it was THE CALLING.
** I need to watch out. Apparently sometimes when you doubt the whole transubstantiation thing, God plays a trick on you and actually turns the host into a slice of heart and the wine into coagulated blood clots. Yuck.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Two-Handed Typing

I'm typing very fast because Ben just fell asleep in my arms and I put him down, which woke him up, of course, and I think he's going to demand to be picked up again. I read somewhere that if you're going to put them down when they've fallen asleep in your arms, you're supposed to stop after every tiny movement towards putting them down and wait 30 seconds before the next tiny little movement. I just don't have that kind of TIME, buddy.

I'm going to start calling him Mr.Pilates. He's constanty lifting both his head and his legs up if he's lying on his back. It's like he's straining to sit up, but if I sit him up, he shoots his legs out straight as a board and goes back down. He's going to have a six pack by the time he's 6 months.

Mini-Cooper displays two T-shirts that I want. The mom's says, "Supply," and the baby's says, "Demand." God, no kidding.

Stupid things I heard on TV:

"Having the right tools to cook with is important, but knowing how to use them is even better."

Nah, I'll just have them, thanks. Don't want to overdo it.

"I don't ever want to be that close to death again."

Hmmm. Got some bad news for you, lady.

Phrases from Thomas the Tank Engine that have inserted themselves into our family's conversations:

"You have caused confusion and delay!" (my favorite)
"Bust my buffers!"
and, said in a low, growling voice, "I like children."
"Roads have their uses as well as rails."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

New Baby Ticker

pregnancy week by week

No, it's not for me, it's for Big Niece. I like that it tells you what the baby's doing at each stage. Way more useful than a floating balloon. Less than 15 weeks until I become a great aunt!

Big Niece is the first person I've known for their entire life. I was all of 10 when she was born. Although we didn't know her sex, and I knew there was a possibility that the baby could be a boy, I really didn't think that would happen. A boy? In our female-dominated family? Nah. Now here I am with two boys, and she's expecting a boy of her own. We both had the same reaction (as did middle sister, who had the first boy) - "A boy? I don't know what to do with a boy!" But I told her, now that I know, boys rock.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


No one tagged me for this, 'cause no one loves me, but I'm going to do it anyway - picked off Jess' site....

Three screen names that you have had: psykphd2be, lunasea, brklyartist (when I was being pretentious)

Three things you like about yourself: that I have a sense of humor about being a mother, that I'm honest, that I can sum things up quickly.

Three things you don't like about yourself: I'm a procrastinator, not good at housekeeping, can be lazy.

Three parts of your heritage: Irish and English. Wish I could throw in Native American, 'cause it would be cool, but I can't.

Three things that scare you: the ocean, losing my children, fire.

Three of your everyday essentials: coffee, the internet, the newspaper.

Three things you are wearing right now: red/white striped VS underwear, pink Land's End T-shirt, denim shorts.

Three of your favorite songs: Melt with You (Modern English), Do You Realize (Flaming Lips), Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell).

Three things I want in a relationship: someone with a sense of humor, someone who makes a good dad, someone trustworthy. Fortunately, that's what I have.

Two truths and a lie: I've fired a shotgun, I love "Everyone Loves Raymond," I speak some Italian.

Three things you can't do without: lipbalm, kleenex, coffee.

Three places you want to go on vacation: Ireland, Switzerland, Hawaii.

Three things you just can't do: a cartwheel, roll my "r"s, enjoy raisins.

Three kids' names: Jake, Emma, Liam (note - have not succeeded on any of these).

Three things you want to do before you die: Visit the Alps, see my kids have kids, get a really good camera.

Three Celeb crushes: George Clooney, Dr. House, Morgan Freeman.

Three people you want to know these things about: beastarzmom, trish, beej.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I Love...

...that I'm married to a man who makes up his own words for the 1,289th reading of "If I Could Drive an Ambulance," and sings them to the tune of "Oh Christmas Tree:"

Oh Am-bu-lance
Oh Am-bu-lance,
This lady's leg is broken.
Oh Am-bu-lance
Oh Am-bulance,
Please take her to the hospital.

...that he also thinks the children's book "Love You Forever" is as creepy as I do. I know it's a beloved standard, but I think it's weird that the lady crawls through her son's window late at night. And rocks him if "he's really asleep." What does she do if he's not really asleep? "Um, sorry, son, I was just practicing my firefighting drills..." Although I do like that the mom calls her son and says, "Come visit me because I'm old and sick," you ungrateful lump.

Speaking of weird children's books, A. got another one from our friends. These are friends who have saved absolutely everything, including original boxes and directions, from his daughter's childhood. The daughter just graduated from college, and they've found termites in their garage, so it's time to clean it out.

So now we have this horrible book titled, "I Have to Go!" In it, little Andrew is asked numerous times, in numerous situations, if he has to go potty. Andrew always answers, "No no no no no!" And then, several seconds later, yells, "I HAVE TO GO!" so Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa have to drop what they're doing, pull the car over or rip him out of his snowsuit and rush him to the bathroom. Parents do and say nothing.

The climax occurs after he's gone to bed, again promising that his bladder is empty. All the adults predict that he will call out in 10 minutes that he has to go potty, but he doesn't. Instead, he yells, "I WET MY BED!" They change his jammies and his sheets and he still says he doesn't have to go. The parents do and say nothing, although Grandma does mutter, "I never had these problems with my children."

Now, granted, my kid isn't potty trained yet, but I think this is the point where the parents step in and say, "Guess what? You're going anyway, you little brat." or, "Hey, it's a diaper night!" Not in this book. He does end up going potty with Grandpa, which probably leads to a sequel: "I'd Like to Go to Bed Before Dawn, Grandpa, So Could You Have That Prostate Checked?"

Current favorite bedtime reading is the informational brochure for the "322CL: Hydraulic Excavator." It weighs 53,600 lbs. and does not appear to have a CD player in the standard model. We picked up this riveting edition at the Caterpillar showroom.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

If Ben Could Talk....

HI!! I'm Ben, the happiest baby in the world! Everything is so absolutely fantastic, I can only shake my head in wonder. Delightful, everything is just delightful. You people are so funny! I just can't get enough! Oops, did I just throw up again? Is it all collecting in my neck? Hah Hah! Everytime that happens it's just as funny as the first time! Almost as funny as when I sneeze!


Oh, hey, what's that floating into my field of vision? Could it be my hand again? I wonder what happens if I bring it reallyreallyclose to my eyes? Wow, this thing's fascinating. Does everyone have one of these? It looks like it could be really useful if I had more contol over it, too. Whaddya mean I've got TWO of them? Jackpot! Whoa, where'd it go? It keeps disappearing. I hope it comes back.

Oh, it's the black and white mobile again! I LOVE this thing! I am SO happy to see it! These guys are my best friends. Especially the face with the bald head. I keep telling it I love it and it always smiles back because it loves me too. It's always happy, like me. Life is good. There's that Mama again - she's awesome and I have to give her the biggest smiles. I am so overjoyed to see her! She's the best!



Friday, June 10, 2005

Necessary Lunasea

So I've had to come up with a policy regarding comments on this blog. Here it is: Feel free to disagree with me (plenty do), but personal attacks will be deleted.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

How to Melt My Heart:

When I come stumbling into the kitchen in the morning, say, "Good morning Mama! I glad to see you! Did you have good sweep? I glad to see you! We got pancakes for you!" Even if you and Papa already ate all the pancakes.

It's been over an hour since I put A. to bed and he's still awake in there. Not complaining, mind you. He's just singing and telling stories to himself. And turning the Ocean Wonders Aquarium (toy of the devil, that thing is) on and off. I love that he can be happy as a clam in the crib until he falls asleep Sometimes when he wakes up in the morning, G. will go in there and A. will say, "No, I not ready to wake up yet. I still westing."

Other things he's been saying a lot lately:

"Oooh, das wee-mock-uble!" Usually about one of his train engines. Not sure what he thinks "remarkable" means, though.

When he bumps his "bike" into a curb: "Uh oh! I in twubble now!"

"Das a good ideee-uh!" about pretty much anything.

I was surprised he said this in response to my suggesting moving to a big boy bed soon, since he loves his crib so much. And, proof that my child is one of the best children in the universe...he's never tried to climb out of it and he'll be 3 in September.

Up on My Sooooapbox, All Covered With Cheese....

The SF Chronicle has a group of readers that respond to various questions about topics in the news, and some of the responses are printed in a column called "My Two Cents."

Recently they asked the question, "Has mental illness affected teenagers in your family?" And we have this insightful answer from Justin Whitney of SF:

"At least six members of my immediate and extended family are currently taking antidepressants. At family gatherings, everyone seems chipper, if slightly glazed. But you cannot convince me the problem is chemical. Medication is a form of denial."

Spoken like someone (ahem...a man) who's never experienced PMS. Moods are affected by brain chemicals/hormones and even blood sugar. They are. Period.

It reminded me of a disagreement I had a few years ago with my best friend. She insisted that the lead in some movie, I can't remember which, was Keanu Reeves. I was pretty sure it was Christian Slater. We went back and forth for a while, but she didn't enjoy debate like I did. Finally, exasperated, she said, "Can't I have a different opinion?" Surprised, I answered, "No. Not on this."

Well, we were both psychology students and you can imagine how that had to be processed. She thought I couldn't tolerate her being a separate person, and I had to explain that of course she could have a different opinion. On subjects that were subjective. This wasn't about reasoning or opinions, this was about FACT. Either I was right or I was wrong about Christian Slater. It didn't make sense to say that it was my opinion that the lead was Slater, and it was her opinion that it was Reeves.

Whitney's comment reminds me of that argument. Dude, it's not a matter of opinion. If you "can't be convinced" that depression is sometimes chemical and that medication is a form of treatment, not denial, then watch out for the edge of that flat earth you live on.

Oh What the Heck, Here's Another Rant:

And in "breastfeeding in public" news...we have reaction from Ken Schram in Seattle to the nurse-in at ABC studios. He doesn't approve of mothers nursing in public, saying,

But for guys, it is nigh on impossible to switch from breasts as something sexual to breasts as take-out-food.

To which I say:

Hmmm. Your inability to tolerate your sexual urges vs. my baby's need to eat...gee, that is a tough one. Sorry, gonna have to choose the baby.

Oooh, someone got up on the sarcastic side of the bed this morning.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Train of Thought

Don't you hate it when life gets in the way of blogging?

There are a couple of issues currently getting in the way: One is that I often only have one hand available when I'm at the computer. I know it shouldn't stop me - heck, I bet there's a one-armed blogger out there somewhere who doesn't let it stop him/her! I'm never gonna get misquoted in the newspaper with this attitude!
"I was sad because I did not have two hands to blog...then I saw a woman with no hands and she blogged with a stick between her teeth." Heck, I don't deserve you, my loyal readers.

Whoa, um, where was I? Oh, the second thing is that I am a flybaby. You've probably heard of Flylady ( Yeah, yeah, I know - I don't really believe her when she says, "I love you!" either and all the positive reinforcement gets a bit cloying, BUT...the routines work. They work, and I'm newly productive. I sold 4 (Four!) things on e-bay, and got them to the post office on time. I've already started the laundry and run the dishwasher today, and taken both boys to a dr's appointment. AND..I make menu lists now for the week and go to the grocery store once, maybe twice, a week. Yep. Believe it or not.

Which is a good thing, because G. actually starts at Major HMO today. It's been a ridiculous ride (they called him because the background checker couldn't confirm a previous employment teaching workshops...for them), but he really starts today.

Friday was G's birthday. We packed a picnic and headed to the beach. A. kept saying he wanted to build something "inniseen," which we finally figured out meant "interesting." He did, in fact, build a very interesting pile of sand, oops, I mean castle. His other new word is "bootiful." I made a small scrapbook for him, and he leafs through it, saying, "Wow! I love dis! Iss bootiful!" Which I thought was sooo sweet until he also told me later, "Wow! Look at all da (grocery) bags! They're bootiful!"

But the really, really weird thing lately is that....I'm quite happy lately. Not sure if the nursing hormones are working on me better than they did last time, or if the answer is staying on Prozac and not going off it again...but whatever, I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I feel so darn LUCKY to have my two boys. I keep thinking, "This is how it's supposed to be." Still got the financial issues, but whatever - there are so many things that are more important than money. A. has finally admitted that I am AS FUN AS PAPA, and Fussy Boy Ben is fussy and spitty, but totally in love with me. I'm even thinking maybe of having another one in a year or two. My God, are those pigs flying outside my window? What happened to the most ambivalent mother on earth?

All of which makes me kind of boring, I'm afraid. Wait, I know I've got angst in here somewhere...

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