Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is Good News

Regarding tonight's new blog post that isn't: it's a very good thing!

I might have mentioned an anthology that published earlier this month, in which I have an essay?

Well, an editor from a major parenting magazine read the book, liked my essay, and asked me to submit a piece for her magazine. I sent two. I like this thing where people ask me for stuff and I send it; it cuts down on some of the rejection I'd be experiencing if I were actually sending out unsolicited manuscripts like I should be!

Monday, May 28, 2007

I Need a Weekend!

My view of days of the week is shifting, now that I have a preschooler. Saturdays used to be the most relaxing days of the week. Now they're the days when we have a toddler home all day long, wanting to play. That's lovely and all, but when the child won't sleep in past 6:00 . . . I find school days - when I just have Ada for a few quiet morning hours - to be quite relaxing. And on Sundays, there's free nursery at church in the mornings. Paul is a very involved parent, but it's lovely to have little breaks, too.

So. Friday morning, Ellie, Ada, and I went to Grant's Farm with friends. Once again, Ellie loved it. Especially those eagles! This time she helped feed a bottle of milk to a baby goat. (Yes, I know they're called kids, but that's confusing.)

Friday evening, another friend took all 4 of us to the Cardinals-Nationals game. The Cards lost, but it was a great game and a wonderful time was had by all. I couldn't believe that both girls lasted for 9 innings. Of course, there was plenty of red for Ada to stare at, and we kept Ellie supplied with junk food.

All day Saturday, Ellie suggested that we "go bye-bye, go bye-bye."

Where do you want to go, sweetie?

"Ballgame!" she cried, complete with miming of batter swinging at pitch. She made do with t-ball in the driveway, after she and Daddy napped in the hammock for a couple of hours. We also bought a new fridge, went out for pizza, and had hours of fun with Quicken on Saturday. A budget! Imagine that.

On Sunday, after church, we spent the afternoon/evening at The Magic House and out to dinner with yet more friends. What a great weekend.

Today, we went to the St. Louis Renaissance Faire - without friends! Then had baseball friend over for a just-us BBQ this evening. We're all pretty wiped out. Ellie actually went to bed early, and, just as uncharacteristically, Ada had a little bit of a hard time winding down.

I didn't get the bathrooms cleaned, the baby toys washed, or laundry put away. Alas.

Also: mysterious spotting or never-ending lochia?


Please don't let my usual posts about daily life, amazing daughters, and current events fool you.

I am miserable, down to the depths of my soul.

Spend time with me, with my family altogether, and things proceed as always.

But they're not.

The one thing I didn't want to inherit of my mother's was her bitterness. And I felt that the thing I had going for me, to save me from that, was a better marriage. I love my mother and my father, but I never wanted the marriage they have. I gave my soul to one man to love and cherish, and felt perfectly secure that I was safe there.

I was wrong, and I can never imagine feeling whole again.

Friday, May 25, 2007

She's Baptised

Adelaide turned four months old on Wednesday, and her baptism last Sunday was a wonderful sacrament.

It was very meaningful to us to have Ada baptised at our church home, with our minister involved, my dad performing the baptism, Ellie helping pour water my dad collected from the River Jordan into an ewer, and even a little high church annointing with oil (I haven't washed her hair yet).

Unfortunately, I couldn't really concentrate on it at the time because I was distracted by my older daughter. Never shy, Ellie loved being in front of the whole congregation. She kept walking away from the rest of us to stand at the top of the steps, open her arms to the crowd, and say, "OK! OK! OK!" like a very enthusiastic benediction.

Now I'll step back and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Surprise Party

I have this theory that Paul lives life at a different speed than most men his age.

When I started introducing him to my friends at work, they all thought he was older. "No, Paul just turned 23," I said. "Your Paul? Not the guy I met. He's 30."

Monday, Paul finally turned 30. And he's spending a lot of time lately contemplating the gray hairs on the sides of his head and the increasing prominence of his forehead. I helpfully remind him that at 6'4", at least he doesn't have to worry about anyone catching a glare off the slightly thinning area at the crown of his head.

I shouldn't joke; he takes this all very seriously.

Anyway, our marriage has been bad and our money has been low, but for such a milestone I had to do something special, so I threw Paul a big surprise party last Saturday.

I asked Paul what he wanted to do for his birthday, and invited the few friends he wanted to have over for an informal barbeque. I also invited over a lot more people, and I'd secretly arranged with his parents for them to drive out from Wyoming (Paul's birthday was the same weekend as Adelaide's baptism, so it was a 2-for-1 trip).

I took Paul to a barbeque place to test it out, then arranged for them to cater the party. (I had only shopped for the amount of food Paul would expect to grill for the party he expected to have.) I hired a clown. I asked my dad to take Paul out somewhere for the afternoon so that I could set it all up and laid the groundwork for that.


Paul wouldn't leave the house. I am a great liar, but eventually he became suspicious and agreed to leave the house for an hour, fully expecting to be surprised when he got back. He was surprised, by the number of people here, his parents, and the clown. I made him take his balloon Eeyore hat to work, but I don't think he wore it.

After several mistrials, the cake turned out looking great, thanks to the help of my mother and youngest sister. Sadly, I can't post a picture of it, since it is the logo for Paul's new employer.

Anyway, success. Now I just hope that someone will send me some pictures; I didn't take too many. And now that Paul's midlife crisis is over, I'm looking forward to his retirement.

This is what Paul wanted to do instead of going out to a movie with my dad:

Jessica, you left your balloon.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Mo Money, Pease

So I'm not working anymore. But Paul's got a new job with a higher salary, so that only puts us about $3000 behind annually. Our expenses are higher now, with two kids, and Paul was between jobs - unpaid - for a couple of weeks. But we'd be fine.


A couple of wee glitches have presented themselves.

1) Termites are eating our house, which is a combination of brick (yay!) and real wood siding (gasp). MoneyMoney.

2) Apparently, my company didn't stop paying me when they should have. Yes, I should have squirreled that money away instead of drinking it at Starbucks. But I didn't and now they want it back. Working it off is not an option. MoneyMoneyMoney.

3) Yesterday, our freezer decided to stop freezing and our dryer has gradually become less interested in drying. We have a lot of slushy foods and damp clothes around here. It's hard for me to be too upset: our frig is dark brown and our washer and dryer are similarly aged; we acquired both from the previous owners when we bought this house. Still, MoneyMoney.

When it doesn't rain, it sandstorms. Or something.

Stroller Query

Huge weekend report coming: Paul's surprise 30th birthday party. Adelaide's baptism. Family visiting. A controversy and town hall meeting at church. But for now -

Here's what I want in a stroller:
  • Will sit my two girls side-by-side. They want to play together and they both want to see out/interact with the world around them so this is critical.
  • Cup holders for the girls are a must-have.
  • A snack tray would be great too (good for keeping Cheerios or small toys)
  • A parent cup holder - or two - is very important.
  • Also nice: tall and/or adjustable handle, multi-positional seats, and wheels in the middle as well as on the sides.

Combi Twin Savvy is the closest I can find to this, but there's no adult drink holder. And what's the difference between the EX and the LX, anyway? Anyone with any ideas? I've searched the websites of every stroller manufacturer in the world, as listed by Consumer Reports. Did I miss anything anywhere?

Seriously, how picky am I? Side-by-side and everyone gets a bottle of water. Why is that so hard?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back and Forth

Like most kids her age, Ellie loves the phone. Since her daddy works outside the home and her grandparents live far away, she gets lots of practice with the real deal to supplement her regular conversations on toy phones and similarly shaped objects. (The remote control was last year's favorite.)

Last Friday, I accompanied Ellie's preschool class on a field trip to Grant's Farm. Later that afternoon, Ellie talked to my mom about it on the phone.

"Hi, Gah-mah!" Ellie said.

My mom said hi and asked Ellie what she'd seen at the farm.

"Camel! Eagle. Chickens. Goats. Bye bye!" She waited for my mom to say goodbye, then passed the phone back to me.

My mom nearly cried with happiness. Hi and Bye aren't new additions to Ellie's phone conversations, but they're a little inconsistent, and she didn't used to wait to hear responses, let alone answer questions. This question she answered appropriately, in detail, with no prompting from me (I'm often whispering in her ear, exactly as I should not be).

Instead of a dinner conversation like this:

Mommy: Ellie, what did you see on your field trip today?

Ellie, eating pizza: 'za!

Mommy: Did you see an elephant?

Ellie: Eh'fant. Mo 'za?

I got several real conversations with Ellie where she was able to let me know what she found really interesting. And the camel that came right out into the road with us was far more interesting to her than the elephant. After all, she stayed way over on the other side of her pen and we saw elephants at the zoo just a couple of weeks ago.

I know that people dealing with infertility are annoyed when I complain about my kids keeping me up at night. Similarly, I get frustrated when parents complain about their kids talking too much and asking too many questions. I look forward to feeling that particular frustration.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Finger-Sucking Good

Adelaide is 3 months and 3 weeks old now, and finally starting to look and act her age. By which I mean, people's eyes no longer bug all the way out of their heads when I tell them how old she is. Ada has looked and acted 3 months old since the moment she was born. I have never seen a newborn with the intent, almost piercing gaze she had from her first moments breathing air. I look forward to seeing how that trait is borne out in her future personality.

Anyway, here's the obligatory status report on what my amazing baby is doing these days. Surely, you're just as interested as I am, right?

Ada loves to suck on her fingers. Usually the middle two on her right hand, but any fingers - hers or someone else's - will do in a pinch. She also drools a lot and tries to put everything in her mouth. I refuse to acknowledge that teething might be a possibility.

She likes to grab and hold toys dangling over her play gym or car seat, and she sometimes holds her own toes. She can roll from her back to either side, and has twice rolled all the way over onto her tummy.

The first time that happened, I was getting dressed for a party when Ada's mild complaints suddenly became more frustrated and muffled. I poked my head out of my room to find her face down on the floor beside her play mat with her big sister sitting right next to her. I scolded a confused Ellie for rolling the baby, of course.

The second time was today. Ada was on her mat on the floor while I wiped the worst of the lunch mac and cheese off Ellie's face. Since no one was near the baby when she rolled over, bumping her head into the edge of the entertainment center in extremely slow motion, I feel pretty bad about yelling at Ellie last time. I would have blamed her this time too, if she didn't have an airtight alibi.

I can't believe I have a baby who can already find her own feet, contemplate her own hand, suck her fingers intentionally, grasp toys, and roll. Good grief!

We had a hard time getting her to sleep last night. We'd tried nursing (guess who pulled that short straw, yet again) and rocking and walking and dancing (all Paul). She was really frustrated, as were we. Finally we put that wakeful baby down alone in her crib: immediate success.

Some baby. I'd love her even if she were colicky, but she's sure making it easy on me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wanna Buy a Book?

Several months ago, I got a comment on my blog from a writer who was compiling an anthology of essays by mothers of children with Down syndrome. She suggested that I submit an essay. I did so, and it was accepted. The book, Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives, publishes today (from Woodbine House). It's also available on

From what I've heard, it's a very good read. I certainly support its purpose: to help educate people about what it really means to have Down syndrome or to have a child with Down syndrome.

As I've said before, I believe that too many women, when faced with the unexpected and unwanted diagnosis of a fetus with Trisomy 21, choose to terminate their pregnancies because of fear of the unknown and overly negative assumptions about what life will be like with and for a child with a disability.

As an indirect result of my essay in Gifts, I was interviewed by a New York Times reporter for a piece in Sunday's paper. This was exciting (I get a chance to speak about something I feel very passionate about) and flattering (someone wants to hear what I have to say!). It is also a little scary because, unfortunately and ironically, a few of the people who are most ardently "pro-life" are scary and violent. I've been harassed by anti-abortion trolls before, so being public like this does make me feel a bit uncomfortable, largely for the sake of my children.

But the risk is small and I think it's worth it for the opportunity to continue this discussion publicly. I'm glad that people are talking about prenatal testing, abortion, and morality. I hope that the discussion continues, loudly and with enthusiasm, for many years to come.

Clarifying my position on abortion and genetic testing:
I believe that abortion should be legal, safe, and accessible. I do not believe that it's for me, any religious group, or the government to decide what a particular women or family can bear. I believe choosing to continue my pregnancy with Ellie helped me feel invested rather than trapped/resentful.

I believe that there are serious moral concerns with regard to abortion, and especially abortion of specific fetuses (e.g. those with non-fatal traits that the parents deem undesirable). I believe that we don't do any favors for the pro-choice movement when we decide not to discuss the nuances of these issues.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What's Your Theological Worldview?

This is a very interesting quiz, more sophisticated than most. And my results surprised me a bit. I do agree with the description I got, but wish I could read the other options to compare.

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I have always liked my hair, even though brown hair isn't quite as glamorous or exotic as some other options. My hair is soft, full, thick, and healthy. One of my favorite things about it are the strands of bright copper that are sprinkled throughout my hair, visible only in certain light. They look metallic, more like copper tinsel than human hair, but the same texture as the rest of my head.

Lately, the copper strands have been matched and are quickly being out-paced by the development of pure, shocking white strands. The white hairs are more wirey, curlier, and just as metallic-looking as the copper strands. I am trying to embrace this, but am failing.

Another natural part of aging is becoming one's mother. We all become our mothers, it is said, and I've been rather looking forward to it. My mother has spent her life trying not to be her own mother, and has had some terrific successes.

If I become my mother, I will be thin and fit, running several miles several times a week. If I become my mother, I will be able to manage a budget and get straight A's in grad school while running a household. If I become my mother, I will be an excellent mother. I will approach motherhood like any other high-powered career, preparing the each day's activities in advance.

When my children are bored, I will have wonderful, creative activities for them to do. My children will brag about me and share stories of the things I've done for them for years to come. Who wouldn't want to be my mother?

But as my mother ages, I think she's changing.

Did she used to just hide her feelings from us, or has she always been so negative, critical and judgemental?

One of the things we tease my mom about is her willingness - almost eagerness! - to accept any discomfort to avoid telling anyone what she really thinks. Martyrdom suites her. But lately . . .

"You have to do this with your daughters."

"You're crazy to do that with your daughters."

"Sarahlynn, that's horrible! You sound like my mother!"


My mom was a special education teacher. A learning disabilities resource room teacher, to be exact. Then she became a school diagnostician, the person who tests kids for inclusion in various special ed services. And now she's a school psychologist, and spends lots of her time in meetings with school officials and parents, trying to find the right diagnosis and educational solution for each child.

She's becoming increasingly bitter, and, especially given the communities she serves, I can imagine the tendency toward burn-out for people in her job.

Still, I was stunned recently when she expressed frustration at the mothers who work jobs that keep them out of the home in the late afternoons/evenings, especially when the kids don't have a great dad at home to help raise them.

"When the kids are young, you just find a different job," she said. "I don't care how; you just do it. There are things more important than money." Among the unacceptable jobs some of the mothers had were waitress and school custodian.

Wow. This is my mom, the liberal from a large extended family of liberals, most of whom choose jobs (clergy, social work, teaching) based on helping people, rather than making vast sums of money. These are people who are usually so sympathetic, who see the various sides of a problem, who go (almost too far) out of their ways not to be judgemental. It's . . . stunning to see how she's aging, and, yet, almost inevitable.

She used to lecture me about the mind being like a steel trap, tending to close tighter and tighter as we age, so that we must work ever harder to keep it open.

My mom's hair used to be such a dark brown that it looked nearly black. It's pure white now, and she looks exhausted. I hope that I'm in a position, as I age, to indulge myself with things I love to do, things that energize me, rather than feeling tethered to things that hurt and exhaust me.

As much as I love and admire her, perhaps I don't want to become my mother after all. I might even dye my hair.

Monday, May 07, 2007


It's been very humid here lately, and I've decided to embrace that. My hairbrush is on summer hiatus, called into service merely for its pleasure-giving skills. My original hair pick from 1987 has not yet earned its retirement, and I've even purchased some gel. My hair is used to being softly brushed and product-free, so this is a bit of a change of pace for me. I wash, gel, pick, and air dry. It's quite freeing and brings back memories of the late 1980's (minus the wings and bangfall)!

I was leaning over to unbuckle Ellie's carseat safety harness yesterday and she started to pet the top of my head.

"Bumpy," she said.

"Yep, Mommy's hair is pretty curly right now," I responded, showing her one particular corkscrew curl at the side of my face.

"Cuhlee-cuhlee-cuhlee-cuhlee-cuhlee-cuhlee-cuhlee-cuhlee" she said until her tongue tripped over itself and we both dissolved into laughter.

I love Ellie's emerging language and joke telling. I love the way she stops at the end of the driveway, carefully looking left, right, and left again before shooting a michievious glance back toward the house and escaping into the road. I love the way she's learning to sing her ABCs. I love the way she puts her face right in front of her little sister's and says, "Ada laughing!" until Ada does start to laugh. I love the way she picks up a baby doll, puts a purse over her arm, and tells me, "I'll be back soon," as she tries to get out the front door. I fear the day she masters the doorknob.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Babes in the Holy Land

Today's cute Ellie story can wait until tomorrow; tonight I want to honor the Sabbath by posting a wee little rant (note how I'm prepping for our upcoming trip to Scotland) about an article I read recently in Newsweek, Babes in the Holy Land: Israel flirts with a new public-relations strategy. The gist is that Israel is trying to attract more tourists, specifically American men under age 35, and are trying to lure them over with an ad campaign featuring mostly naked women.

I have three main complaints.

1) Feminist: Well, duh. This one's too obvious to dissect. I will say this, however. How dumb is it to decide that American males ages 18-35 should be the target demographic? How many men in that age range are planning transatlantic vacations? Hint to the PR folks: college boys are sticking closer to home (cheaper!) and older men are usually traveling with their wives/families. Guess who's doing most of the vacation pitching and planning. Go ahead, guess. I'm tired of marketing campaigns aimed at such a narrow segment of the population, especially when it doesn't seem to make any real sense in today's market.

2) Writing: Wow, is this clumsy. Perhaps I should have skipped applying to grad school and applied for a job at Newsweek, instead. Look at that subtitle! The article goes on to use a photographer's tattoos as a metaphor for the ad campaign itself. The closing line is, "The reality of Israel is often having to choose: go with the girl, or go with God." I can just hear this guy chortling to himself over his cleverness. Groan.

3) Professional: The idea is to branch out from trying to attract mainly Christian evangelicals, because that support might dry up, and they don't want to turn off the secular liberals. A couple of problems here. A) There are lots of Christians who are liberals. B) There are lots of non-religious folk who are actually interested in Israel's history (more than its babes). C) There are plenty of liberals, secular and religious, who will be turned off by this exploitative and nonsensical PR strategy. What is with assuming that not-evangelical-christian = secular-liberal = wants to see naked women?

I think the marketing dude just wanted to see the mostly naked chicks.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

At Least She's Sharing

Today, we introduced Adelaide to solid food.

By we, I mean Eleanor.

And by solid food, I mean peanut butter Ritz cracker sandwiches.

Our therapist, who made her weekly house call shortly after this incident, suggested that we should follow up with a strawberry for dessert.

I decided that some botulant honey would be a lovely chaser.

Yesterday's installment of Kill Baby Ada With Love involved a secret wounding when I stepped out of the room for a moment. When I popped my head back in to see what the screaming was about, Ellie was sitting sweetly next to the baby, offering her a rattle and assuring her that she was OK. When I asked if she had been the one to hurt Ada, Ellie cried and apologized, then told me that Ada was happy, she was happy, I was happy, daddy was happy, grandpa was happy, and grandma was happy.

Indeed, we are. All very happy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The House is Neat, Finally

Quick update on my way to bed.

Adelaide is the most wonderful, sweet, easy baby to care for. Lots of smiles and laughter, great eye contact, little crying, quite a bit of playing on her own with a toy (or just watching the nearest ceiling fan). I'd be constantly overwhelmed with gratitude for this amazing gift, if I didn't spend the other half of my time panicking because she's too easy. Might something be wrong? Or might I be giving her too little, since she demands so little from me and Ellie demands much more? Ah, motherhood.

I had a challenging trip to the dentist today, with another planned for two weeks from today. I am such a dental whiner. But I take such good care of my teeth and get cavities anyway. It's very frustrating.

Ellie is 3-1/2 years old now, yet still our basement is much more accurately described as "Pit of Despair" than "Fun Playroom." My "30 minutes in the basement nightly" plan failed miserably last fall. My new plan is "one box per day," and so far it's working wonderfully, not least because I'm just doing it, not waiting for help. I find that when I start, I always get company and support!

One other not-so-little thing. I decided to stay home. I had a fantastic conversation with my boss on Friday, and as soon as I told her what I wanted to do, I felt amazing. It was the right decision! We left things on very good terms, with the possibility of me doing some work for the team over the summer and possibly coming back part-time later in the year or whenever I'm ready.

I'm tanning right now, as I type in the middle of the night. Also moisturizing and wearing sunscreen. Thanks, Neutrogena, I hope you work your magic on my skin.

Happy! Energetic! Getting things done! Must be spring!