In which I save my hunney’s life and limbs

Well, maybe it wasn’t all that dramatic.  I’ll let you be the judge.

Last night, Perry went to bed ahead of me.  When I came to the room, it was dark and the baby was sound asleep in his playpen.  Perry was still awake and rolled over to make room for me.  I undressed in the dark, and just as I crawled into bed he raised his arm in my direction.

“Knock that daddy longleg off my arm.”

His arm was a dark shadow in a dark room.  I could just barely see something on the back of his elbow.  It didn’t seem like a daddy longleg shape.  My brain was moving in slow motion, my sense of alarm rising slowly like the ocean’s tide.

“That doesn’t look like -” …SMACK! I slapped his arm in sudden panic and jumped backward off the bed.

“I think that was a scorpion!”

He looked skeptical when I flipped on the light a millisecond later, but he was already off the bed.  I’m not sure how he moved so quickly, but clearly he wasn’t taking any chances.

A daddy longleg scuttled across the floor, and we looked at each other.  “Are we satisfied with that?” I asked.

There was no answer.  He shrugged and went to the bathroom while I stood staring at the bed, unsure of what to do next.  Lydia just reminded me that he also left me alone in the room 12 years ago with a bat under similar circumstances, except that I was actively chasing the brute around the room.  Apparently we have a pattern here.  I probably shouldn’t expect him to help me with a copperhead if we ever find one in our bedroom, like my parents did a few years back.

As he left the room, I saw this:

scorpion tail under my PILLOW

Yes, I reconstructed the scene for you.  Just go with it, ok?  Feel my horror.  Let’s try again.  Then I saw THIS!


And I grabbed this

and this

and did this

to this



scorpion-and-quarterA full-sized nightmare neatly wrapped up in a 3-inch package.  Horrible?  Yes.  Did I sleep last night?  Yes.  Perry laughed because I was in the fetal position, but I always sleep that way.  My sleep position had nothing to do with this:


scorpion-stinger-close up

or this:


In our part of Texas, scorpions are like spiders.  If you don’t spray poison in, on and around your home, you will have one every now and then.  We’ve been blessed to have very few in our home in spite of the fact that we don’t spray.  They’re not dangerous – the sting is just a little worse than a bee sting.  But they’re terrifying to behold, and I NEVER EVER WANT TO SEE ONE IN MY BED AGAIN.

For tired young mothers of many

Back when we had a lot of Littles and no Bigs, daily life looked very different.  Sometimes it felt a little dark and hopeless.  How could I do everything that I need to do?  How could I be a good wife, a good mother, a good Christian, while battling morning sickness and creeping chaos of a house with so many little ones?

I struggled to do all the things that I thought I needed to do, often failing.  On a good day, I got everyone’s hair done before the mats moved in.  Laundry was always a struggle, but somehow I kept up.  Children and bedding got washed as needed because I refused to add another thing to The Schedule.

I often stayed up too late, either because the kids needed me or because I was savoring those few quiet hours of the day in which they didn’t need me.  Many nights, I was wakened once by a nursing baby, again by a crying 2yo and/or a wet 3yo and/or a sleepwalking 4yo and/or a 5yo who just threw up on the 3yo’s hair.  If the days seemed too short, the nights stretched on forever.  Neither afforded much time for sleep or rest.

At that time in our life, we had no family within 1,000 miles.  The church Perry had attended since he was 15 had dissolved in a mess ugly beyond belief.  He was unhappy at his primary job, and working 2 more jobs on the side.  We had personal problems and marriage problems.  In spite of a few local friends, we felt very alone in our world.

That was the bad side.  Sometimes, that’s what I remember about those early days.  When people told me to enjoy them because they would pass too quickly, I just hoped they were right.

But I also remember walking to the library on a crisp day with a double stroller packed full of shining faces.  I remember the friendly librarians who smiled when we walked in and knew us all by name.  We spent a lot of time there!

I remember our friends at the cheese factory who always greeted us with bright smiles, free tours, and sample bags for each child packed full of all the best kinds of cheese in the world.  Every visit turned into a picnic.

I remember building the Great Wall of China in the living room with wooden blocks, and a 4 foot Eiffel Tower made entirely of marshmallows.

I remember using Five in a Row for school.  We read endless picture books, and every single one was a favorite.

I remember snow forts and hide-and-seek and a giant wooden playset given to us for free by an acquaintance I barely knew.  Her husband worked at a local lumber store and was able to borrow a big flatbed truck to deliver it for us, fully assembled and ready for use.

I remember grocery trips that began and ended with laughter, packed full of smiles and compliments from every passer-by.

I remember the hot air balloon festival at the county fairgrounds, just a few blocks away.

I remember long family bike rides all over our little town with 2 little ones in a bike trailer behind each of us, and a fifth child on a baby seat, 8yo Deanna trailing behind on a bike of her own.  She seemed so big to us back then, and now she’s nearly 18.

I remember trips to the zoo, to used book stores, to Chuck E. Cheese, to our friends in the country with the huge country house, to Texas and Tennessee and Oregon.  We may not have gone to Disneyland every year, but we made memories – good memories!

Why do I sometimes think of those days as dark and full of chaos?  They were also some of our happiest, most carefree times.

I think attitude plays a huge part in what we remember, how we remember it, and which memories we call to mind.

You can’t change your attitude in the past, but you can pray for a good attitude today and in the future.  You can choose which memories to review and relive, and which to let go.  You can look back with a good attitude and call to mind the good times, forgetting the bad ones – or seeing how God used those bad times to bless you in ways you didn’t understand at the time.

Now I’m the mom with older children, speaking to the tired young mother.  Now I’m telling you to enjoy those days, because they will pass quickly.  It’s true.  I nodded and smiled when they said it to me, but I didn’t really believe their words.

Now I see the end of my baby days coming soon, the end of a season approaching.  Yesterday, I was you.  Today, I am my mom.  Tomorrow, I’ll be my grandmother.  They were right.  It does happen quickly.  I’m sorry I ever doubted them.

Yes, your days are long and busy, and you never seem to get enough sleep.  You don’t think you spend enough one-on-one time with your children, and you feel guilty or stressed or worried.  I’m not discounting that.  This a busy season in life, and a hard one.

But still enjoy it.  Remind yourself to remember the good times, and let the bad times fade out of time and mind.  Ask God to help you do better tomorrow, and let the day’s failures disappear when you crawl into bed.

Life with Littles

I’ve often been asked how I got through each day back when we had lots of little ones and no older children to help out.  I have written about those bygone years before, but it’s been a long time and there’s no harm in revisiting old subjects is there?

The easy answer is that I got through the days one at a time. Anyone can run a house with 6 little ones for a day, right?  Just one day?  All it takes is 3 meals (2 if you cheat or run so late that breakfast turns into brunch), a load of laundry (better make it whites!), a few baths (or send them out to play in the hose; who will know the difference?), and straighten the house after they’re in bed.  Somewhere along the line, squeeze in a few minutes each of Bible reading and reading lessons.  It’s not ideal and it won’t work that way forever, but you can do this.  Some days you can do a little more, and some days your 4yo will tell you she was out of undies 2 days ago.

Don’t fret about the fact that you have to do it all again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

God doesn’t give us the grace, or the energy, or the patience we need for the whole upcoming year all in one dose. He measures it out for us day by day, like the manna He gave the Israelites in the wilderness.  Planning ahead is good in general, but when the Israelites tried against God’s command to gather enough manna for the following day they found it rotted.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  Do your best today.  God’s way keeps you coming back to Him.  If you start feeling like you can do this all on your own, things are about to go downhill.

I said that was the easy answer, but it’s not the only answer.

Things went better if I worked hard and made good use of my time. I had more energy back then and got by on less sleep than I do now.  We sometimes made cookies instead of doing laundry, but more often it was the other way around.  I once made a full round of fancy Easter dresses, working late into the night.  Never again, but some of those dresses are still in circulation.  Those days were often a blur, and I have mercifully forgotten much of the hurry and bustle and exhaustion.  I have also forgotten many of the good times, but that’s ok.  I have living and visible reminders all around me, and they remember.

Things went better if I reminded myself that this was only a season in life. Sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but remember those busy days won’t last as long as they feel.  In a year or two, you won’t have the same crew of Littles you have now plus a new baby.  Your whole crew will be a year or two older.  They will all move up a step, and the baby will have a new name and face.  In effect, you’ll have a new oldest child, not a new baby.  This realization was an epiphany for me when I felt like I was at the end of my rope with 4, 4yo and under.

Things went better if Perry and I stayed on the same page, and on good terms. We had times when our relationship wasn’t the best, and I’ll readily confess that these times were hard not just as a wife but as a mother.  There is a trickle-down effect, and parents need to realize that their relationship with each other and with God deeply affects their children.  I was and am a Christian first, then a wife, then a mother.  I am His, then his, then theirs.  I do the children no favors when I allow my priorities to become skewed.

Things went better if I was consistent in the children’s training. It’s so much easier to mother a child who obeys commands the first time than one who tests every boundary, every time.  I know every child is different, but a challenging child is not an excuse for ineffective parenting.  It only means we must – must – work harder at parenting effectively.  Invest time early, and your days will go much more smoothly.  That’s the blessing of consistent rules and discipline: if the boundaries are clear and firm, your children will learn that it’s fruitless to test them.  There is no need for 2’s to be terrible.

Things went better if I got sleep. This is more easily said than done, but sometimes we fool ourselves.  I tell myself that I need to wind down after the kids are in bed, but before I know it, it’s 1 AM.  It’s so easy to vegetate in front of the TV after a long day of chasing toddlers and putting out fires, but even now I know that my day will go better if I don’t allow myself that free time in the evening.  Go to bed!  Yes, you might need to wind down, but 40 minutes of winding down in bed is better than 3 hours of winding down in front of the TV or the computer.

Things went better when I thought of “me time” as a gift, not a right. If I didn’t feel entitled to “me time,” it was a sweet gift when it came.  Grocery shopping alone in the evening, volunteering to mow a lawn for a summertime customer while Perry stayed home with the kids, a late-night in-house movie with my sweetheart: these were welcome times, but if they were few and far between that was ok.  In the high-power career of Motherhood, you are a highly valuable asset to the corporation.  The hours are long and replacements are rare, expensive and poorly trained.  You knew that when you signed up for the job, right?

Things went better if my attitude was good. And now we’ve come full circle.  It was easy to stress about tomorrow, and worry that because we didn’t do reading lessons or Bible today our children were doomed to grow up ignorant heathens.  But all that was really required was to repent if I was squandering time or making poor choices about priorities, then try to do better in the morning.

100+ Reasons to Have Children

Lately I’ve come across several lists of reasons not to have children.   I find it very sad and telling that nearly all of the authors’ reasons are based in immaturity, materialism, myths, and misconceptions.  Yes, children require work, money and personal sacrifice, but these are all things we do willingly because we love them.  These are joyful sacrifices for a worthwhile cause.

I couldn’t help but work on my own version.  Here are a few of the perks of having children, in no particular order.  Some are tongue-in-cheek, while others are dead serious.  I’ll let you try to guess which is which.

Please understand that I am not criticizing those who do not have children, particularly those who struggle with infertility.  I am also not suggesting that you or I should have children just so that we can save some bucks when it’s time to file taxes, or use the stork space in the grocery store parking lot.  My point is that children are a blessing and a delight, not a burden to be avoided at all costs.

What would you add to the list below?

100+ Reasons to Have Children

  1. Have a happier marriage.
  2. Pay less income taxes.
  3. Learn to share, and like it.
  4. The ultimate diet plan: morning sickness and breastfeeding.
  5. Enjoy snuggles on demand, around the clock.
  6. Cuteness abounds.
  7. Disposable diapers.  There.  I said it.
  8. Receive preferential treatment in grocery lines.
  9. Be seated first (or last, if you prefer) on planes.
  10. Park in the “stork” space at grocery stores.
  11. Have an excuse to buy cool toys and cute little outfits.
  12. Children will love you on your worst day, and…
  13. they think you’re beautiful, even on bad hair days,
  14. or when you’re not wearing makeup.
  15. Free entertainment: kids are hilarious.
  16. Laughter is good for your health.  See above.
  17. Have family still living when you’re old.
  18. Have someone to help you when you’re old.
  19. Grandkids!
  20. Have someone to help care for your pets.
  21. But who needs pets?  Kids are way cuter, and they last longer.
  22. Unlike pets, kids eventually learn to take care of their own poop.
  23. Get a lollipop every time you go to the bank, along with your children.
  24. Tone your arms the old-fashioned way: tote a toddler.
  25. Kids eat free at many restaurants.
  26. Have an excuse to buy junk food.
  27. Sharing your junk food means less stays on your own hips.
  28. Children will eat and appreciate your failed cooking experiments.
  29. Embarrass your kids.  You won’t believe how fun it is.  Displays of affection with your spouse work well for this.
  30. Be better able to encourage other parents during rough times with their children because you’ve been-there-done-that.
  31. Blow bubbles.
  32. Give your friends somewhere to send their kids’ hand-me-downs.
  33. Burn calories: play with your kids.
  34. Kids will help hone your reactions with obstacle courses on the stairs.
  35. Save money by not buying birth control.
  36. Have sex without worrying about pregnancy.  It’s fun.
  37. Ask anyone who has given birth: the pains of labor are worth it.
  38. Pregnancy reduces menstrual cramps in subsequent periods.
  39. Pregnancy lowers your risk of ovarian cancer.
  40. Breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer,
  41. and uterine cancer,
  42. and osteoporosis.
  43. Not using birth control lowers your risk of ectopic pregnancy.
  44. Think pregnancy dooms you to getting fat?  Take a look at my mom with her 14 kids.  Can you even tell which one she is?
    Mom and 14 children
  45. Pregnancy requires you to eat more.  I can appreciate that.
  46. Be motivated to be a better person.  Little eyes are watching.
  47. Help raise the languishing birth rate.
  48. Learn alongside your children.
  49. Read books you never would have discovered on your own.
  50. Reread your childhood favorites with and to a new generation.
  51. See the world through new, unjaded eyes.
  52. See yourself through your baby’s eyes.  It’s amazing.
  53. See yourself through your children’s eyes.  You’ll never be the same again.
  54. See your flaws reflected in your children.  It’s enlightening and humbling.
  55. Kids will make you proud and keep you humble.
  56. If you make a mess while eating, everyone will assume the kids did it.
  57. Kid will say what you wish you could say, but can’t.
  58. Strengthen your relationship with your own parents by becoming a parent yourself.
  59. Stay physically active.  It’s much harder to be lazy when little ones depend on you.
  60. Improved immune system.  It’s a law of nature: Moms never get sick.
  61. If you do get sick, you have someone to take care of you without your spouse taking time off work.
  62. Baby smiles.
  63. Carrying a baby?  Strangers will smile at you.
  64. Babies are also a great conversation starter.
  65. Learn to delight in everyday occurrences.
  66. Translate toddler gibberish with ease for puzzled onlookers.
  67. Your own love for your child gives you a small taste of how much God loves His children.
  68. Live vicariously: remember that toy you never got as a child, but you’re too old to want it now?  Let your kids try it out.
  69. Relive your childhood: remember the toy you did get as a child?  Let your kids try it out.
  70. Rediscover the joy of crayons.
  71. Job security: moms have it.
  72. Learn and believe that happiness really doesn’t come from material wealth…
  73. …yet be amazed at how much joy you can buy your child with a quarter.
  74. Kids are cheap.
  75. Marvel that 2 people can produce children that are better-looking than either parent.  Heredity is a strange and wonderful thing.
  76. Be welcomed home like a returning war hero every time you go grocery shopping or to the post office.
  77. Be looked at like this:
  78. Soft little fingers and toes.  They’re cute on other people’s children, but utterly priceless on your own children.
  79. The unbearable cuteness of newborn-size diapers. (credit: Deanna)
  80. Discover your super powers: make milk, and heal mortal wounds with a kiss.
  81. Ask any parent you know if they regret having kids.
  82. Learn to appreciate simple pleasures: ice cream cones, a single M&M, homemade cookies.
  83. Do you love your spouse?  Experience a miracle: a new person who looks like both of you.
  84. After 10 years of children, washing dishes becomes optional.  (credit: Deanna)
  85. Get special treatment on Mother’s Day.
  86. Breakfast in bed is fun, even when it’s cheerios and multi vitamins.  (credit: Becca)
  87. Experience the triumph of potty training.
  88. Have the advantage of a youthful memory again: have your kids remind you about important things.  (credit: Megan)
  89. Expand your wardrobe: share clothes with your teens.
  90. Gather candy from the piñata without getting funny looks.
  91. Have help cooking.
  92. Be a safer driver,
  93. In a safer vehicle.
  94. Free or cheap manicures and pedicures.  I pay a dollar.
  95. Ditto for back/shoulder rubs.
  96. Perpetually late?  You don’t even have to blame it on the kids.  People will assume.
  97. Vanity?  You’ll look at your baby in the mirror instead of yourself.
  98. Paint your kids’ nails in a color you like but could never wear yourself.
  99. Have your bed made for $.25/day.  Maid service has never been so cheap or cheerful, and there’s no need to report payments to the IRS.
  100. If you’ve never had a baby fall asleep on your chest, you just don’t know what you’re missing.
  101. Homemade friends.  My children are some of my favorite companions.
  102. Kids with money ROCK!  They buy their own clothes, treat you to Starbucks, and buy you unbelievable birthday/Christmas gifts.
  103. World domination through militant fecundity! [maniacal laughter]
  104. Children are part of God’s purpose for creating marriage:But did He not make them one,
    Having a remnant of the Spirit?
    And why one?
    He seeks godly offspring.  Malachi 2:15

Want to see another list, more thoughtful and eloquent than mine?  40 Reasons to Have Kids

If, on the other hand, you like ’em funny, try this: Reasons to Have Children.

Visit other posts about being a homemaker at the Homemaking Link-Up


An open letter to working moms

Dear Working Mom,

I see you nearly every time I’m out with my children.  Sometimes you are very young, sometimes you look older.  You might look happy one day and tired or stressed the next.  You are different every time I meet you, but you say the same thing to me nearly every time:  “You’re so lucky.  I wish I could stay home with my children but I just can’t afford it.”

Usually I smile and agree that I am blessed, but quite honestly  I’d like to challenge you.  You say you can’t afford to stay home.  Maybe you can if you’re willing to make some changes.

  • Will you trade in your 2 year old car for a 13 year old mini van?  The side door might not work very well.  Yes, it will break down occasionally on your way to the kids’ dental checkups, but that’s ok.  Your dentist will understand.  Do plan to change a flat every now and then, since you might be driving on older tires.
  • Will you buy your clothes at thrift stores from now on?  I know your clothes aren’t terribly expensive now, but even inexpensive clothes add up when you buy them new.  No, you won’t always be able to wear exactly what you want, but you might find that it’s not such a big deal if you’re spending most of your time at home.  Your kids won’t make fun of your fashion sense.  Well, not unless they’re teens.  Then I can’t vouch for them.
  • You might have to reconsider cable TV.  Anyway, the last thing you need is to watch the average 5 hours/day of TV.  Too much of it is about working moms driving late model cars and wearing all those clothes you won’t be buying.
  • Something as simple as grabbing pizza on Friday night might become a financial decision, carefully weighed out.
  • Your children should expect some changes too.  Ballet lessons, karate lessons, and sports might go on the chopping block.  They might be among the sad minority that does not possess a laptop or cell phone.  They might never visit Disneyland.  Summer camp might even be crossed off the calendar.  Don’t let the guilt get to you.  Just like adults, children are not entitled to all the best in life.   Children need to understand that these things are extras.  They are wants, not needs.  The sooner your children know this, the happier they will be.
  • Would you be willing to sell your house?  If you’re serious about wanting to stay home with your children, this might be what it takes.  Are you willing to live in a smaller, older home, in a lower priced neighborhood?

To sum it up, are you willing to give up a middle class lifestyle?  I know you’re not rich now, but you could get by on less if you really had to.   Is staying home with your children worth that much to you?

I realize that not every situation is the same.  You might be a single mom, struggling just to keep the electric on.  Some churches would help you, but you might not be in that sort of church.

You might be willing to make all the lifestyle changes that would enable you to stay home but your husband insists that you work.

Maybe your husband is disabled, and truly can’t support the family.

Maybe you have other truly extenuating circumstances.

Or maybe you didn’t really mean that you’d love to do it.  Maybe you just meant it might be kinda nice, if you didn’t have to give up any of your current creature comforts.

But maybe, just maybe you really never thought of it this way and now you realize that you can afford to stay home.  Will you do it?

Rules I never thought to tell them

I think we all have this list tucked away somewhere, and everyone’s list looks different.  Here’s the Headmistress’s list.  I would love to know what’s on yours.

First, a few basics:

    1. If you learned it from Calvin and Hobbes, it’s probably not allowed.
    2. Emulate The Three Stooges and Little Rascals with great caution.
    3. Don’t be stupid on purpose.

    And some specifics:

    1. Do not play in the dryer. Do not turn on the dryer while somebody else plays inside.
    2. Don’t hold a 5 lb. bag of elbow macaroni upside down and shake it to test the zipper seal.
    3. If you must play Catholics-and-Protestants-at-the-Inquisition, please do it quietly.  For the neighbors’ sake.
    4. Don’t drink up the leftover communion wine at church.
    5. Rough-housing does not mean it’s ok to push your friend down the basement stairs and lock the door.  Even if you’re already remorseful, you will be punished.
    6. Don’t color on puppies. Especially not Golden Retriever pups.  Especially not with a black permanent marker.
    7. Don’t pour water inside plaster walls on the second floor.  I don’t care if you think there’s a rat in there.
    8. Don’t hold down little boys and punch them, even if somebody just finished explaining that little boys like to play rough.
    9. If you find old gum stuck to the bottom of a chair, it will not be funny when you stick in your dad’s hair.
    10. I know it’s cool that the tree branch makes snapping noises when you stand on it, but that doesn’t mean you should jump up and down.
    11. Don’t try to cut holes in the floor with a butcher knife.  I don’t care how realistic your dream was.  You will not find a secret tunnel leading to your grandma’s house in Tennessee.
    12. Don’t cut holes in your sister’s underwear and put them on the dog. Even if I laughed when you did it, don’t do it again.
    13. Do not rifle through your uncle’s pockets while he is sleeping.
    14. Do not dig 4 ft. deep pits in a city yard and threaten to bury your little sister.
    15. Do not hide on the roof. I don’t care if you’re playing hide-and-seek and can’t find a better place.
    16. Sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag might be fun, but I don’t approve.
    17. Don’t have mud fights with the neighbor boy.  I don’t care who started it unless it was you.  Then you’re in even more trouble.
    18. If you eat bugs in any form – including fried walking stick bugs with cheese – don’t tell me about it.  Again.  Yes, it’s very cool that the rocks were hot enough to cook them outside, but I still don’t want to know.
    19. Just believe the TV for once when they tell you not to lick a frozen telephone pole.  Extend this to include the side of the ice cream maker, the ice tray, and the inside of the freezer door.
    20. Don’t play in the laundry chute, even if you saw your uncle doing it first.  Nor should the cat be encouraged to do so.
    21. Ask before you decide to walk to the library.  Especially if you’re 4yo.

    My dignity is saved by my crazy gypsy skirt

    Today we visited my parents’ church for the first time.  We arrived early – a trick we need to perform more often – and occupied the back two rows.  Dad is working out of town, so with Mom and my 5 youngest sibs we made 17 heads in all.

    A few minutes into the sermon, Bethany was sitting contentedly in my lap and I became vaguely aware of an odor.  Just as it wafted up from my subconscious into my conscious mind, I felt Rachael tugging frantically at my sleeve.

    cue horror music: zeet! zeet! zeet!

    I looked down and saw.  poop.  everywhere.  It was flowing in streams, even.  Like lava descending from a volcano.

    It had spurted up and out of the back of Bethany’s diaper, coursing down the ample folds of my skirt and across the upholstered surface of the pew in which I sat.  It was touching Rachael’s dress in two places, which explained her frantic tugging on my sleeve.  I was sitting in a poop puddle.  I was a poop puddle.  It wasn’t pretty.

    I stared in quiet horror for a few long moments, assessing my options, then I leaned over and tugged frantically at hubby’s sleeve.

    Long story short: My 16yo sister took Rachael to the bathroom to rinse the hem of her dress.  Deanna took Bethany to the bathroom to strip her down and rinse her everything. Hubby brought me a handful of paper towels while I tried not to move too much, and another sister brought more damp ones.  I wiped, scrubbed, and sponged the pew as well as I could, then grabbed the whole mess and sprinted for the bathroom, trying to look cool, calm and casual.

    In the bathroom I had another long, thoughtful moment, then I took off my skirt.  With one eye on the door, I rinsed it out in the sink.  Glad I decided to wear a slip this morning, though it didn’t seem strictly necessary at the time.   When my skirt was as clean as it was going to get, I briefly eyed the iron the floor.  Why was there an iron on the restroom floor?  Did God prompt somebody to put it there for me so I could iron my skirt dry?  I decided not.  Wearing dry clothes was not really a priority at the moment.  I felt it was more important just to be wearing clothes.  I rolled the wet skirt in a baby blanket, gave a quick twist, and put it back on.  Hurray for crazy gypsy skirts that hide details like the fact that your clothes are sopping wet.  I like to believe that it also hid the poop I was wearing a few minutes earlier.

    The rest was easy.  I smiled at the lady in the hallway (if she only knew!), and eased open the door of the sanctuary.  Slipped back into my seat just in time for communion.  I  had missed the last half of the sermon, but I heard enough before the incident to know what it was about.  I’ll just close with the scripture text that it was based upon.  I think you’ll see why.

    Psalm 127

    A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

    1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
    its builders labor in vain.
    Unless the LORD watches over the city,
    the watchmen stand guard in vain.

    2 In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
    toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to [a] those he loves.

    3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
    children a reward from him.

    4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are sons born in one’s youth.

    5 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
    They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

    The Great Poop Flood of ’99

    This is one of family stories, and it’s high time I share it with the rest of the world.  That way if I ever refer to the Great Poop Flood, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    My husband and I had planned to spend Thanksgiving of ’99 with my in-laws who lived 2 states away, but just 2 days before leaving we decided to stay home instead. Neither of us had a solid reason; we just didn’t feel like we should go. I was very pregnant with our 5th child in 6 years, and two states was a long way.
    The in-laws were disappointed. The children were disappointed. Hubby and I were even disappointed, but we just couldn’t get motivated about going and so we stayed home.

    Thanksgiving came and went, quiet and uneventful. Friday passed.

    On Saturday morning the fun began. One of the girls complained about an odor and tried to blame it on her sister. I corrected her: “Did you do it? No? Then it’s rude to comment about it. Hush.”

    A bit later, I heard them discussing an odor again. “Maybe Mom’s cooking broccoli.”

    A moment later, through the small under-construction gap in the bathroom floor, one of the girls spied an unexpected sight in the basement.  Something was floating across the basement floor.

    I ran to the bathroom to see what I could see, and my husband thew open the basement door.  He saw his shoes floating past the stairs.  He sprinted down the stairs and into the basement barefoot, thinking a pipe had burst.  If only that were true.

    We saw dark, swirling waves. With toilet tissue floating. Waves of whirling, twirling sewage in my basement. And goldfish. The girls swear they saw goldfish.

    There was sewage backing up, spewing like a fountain out of the washer drain. We had several inches of city sewage and anonymous floating items in our basement. While I gaped in horror from the stairs, Hubby donned his manly boots and courageously slogged through the mess to find the source – the washer drain pipe was spurting like a geyser gone horribly wrong – and he slowed it by plugging it with a wadded up rag.
    After a panicked phone call and 45 long, slow minutes, the city sent somebody out to unplug the clog in the sewer lines under the street in front of our house.  They pulled out two bed sheets that somebody had flushed, and finally the flow stopped.

    The sewage slowly seeped down through the heavily clogged floor drain in our basement.  A day or two later, at our request, the city magnanimously sent a man with a vacuum on his truck to suck up what was left. Then we were on our own.

    I won’t go into details about how we handled the situation, but it involved several pairs of boots, a hotel room, lots of photos for an insurance claim against the city, a whole lot of bleach and paint, and a small mountain of our possessions on the street curb marked with warnings against scavenging. It mostly involved a very pregnant me killing time at the hotel with 4 rambunctious kids, 5yo and under, while Hubby did the dirty work.

    We lost a sofa, a bookcase (with books. oh the pain!), many of our videos, a TV stand, and 3 months’ worth of food, plus many misc. items.  The food was one of the first things we put out for the trash man, and it disappeared long before the trash was picked up.  After that, we put out signs begging, pleading and warning people not to look for treasure in our trash.

    It took 5 days and 5 nights in a hotel while Hubby spent 5 cold northern November days and nights airing out the house and carrying, cataloguing, cleaning and/or disposing of many of our earthly treasures.

    It took many months of paperwork, phone calls, and trips to the city auditor’s office to establish that it was the city’s responsibility.

    It took us two years to be reimbursed for our losses from the city sewer backup.

    It took us 2 hours to realize how thankful we were to be home that Thanksgiving.

    Ectopic pregnancy and the sanctity of life

    As Christians, we are unabashedly, 100% pro-life. We believe that life begins at conception; that every human life is created in the image of God; and that abortion is wrong in every case. This is where we differ from many other “pro-lifers” who are willing to grant that abortion may be merited in certain cases.

    Abortion is murder – even in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother may be at stake. We must never reason from difficult cases to make ethical judgments and we must understand that modern bioethics and medical ethics are not reasoning from God’s law.

    Doug Phillips recently broached the question of ethical treatment of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy on his blog when he posed the following question from the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy:

    A mother conceives a child. The doctor tells the parents that they have a tubal pregnancy and that the baby has little to no chance of survival, but its continued life poses a threat to the life of the mother. What are the relevant biblical principles? What facts must be determined to make a biblical ethical decision? What medical options might be available. Is killing the baby through abortion defensible through Scripture? If so, defend your position? If not, defend your position? Are there other options?

    Certain loud sectors of the blogosphere accused him of endangering the lives of countless women because he suggested they might not need to automatically and immediately abort an ectopic pregnancy.

    I was intrigued by this question and the possibilities it presented, and I was not ready to accept the assumption that failure to aggressively treat an ectopic pregnancy amounts to suicide.  I stayed up until 1:00 that evening researching the subject, and here is what I learned.


    Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. In 95-98% of cases, it implants inside the fallopian tube – this is why it is commonly referred to as tubal pregnancy. Other possible locations are in the cervix, an ovary, or in the abdomen where it will attach to a blood supply such as the bowel or liver.


    The standard treatment for ectopic pregnancy follows one of 3 courses: chemically induced abortion (usually by means of a drug called methotrexate); removal of the entire fallopian tube which contains the baby or a the affected portion of the tube; or removal of the baby and subsequent repair of the affected fallopian tube.

    All 3 approaches directly result in the inevitable death of the child.

    However, there is at least one more option: Wait. Be ready, but wait. Treat the mother if necessary but do not kill the child. No abortion.

    The primary argument against the Watchful Waiting method of treatment is that it is dangerous to the mother. Alarmists will try to equate it to a death sentence – and for what? The child was doomed from the start, right?

    No. The outcome is not so easily predicted as some would have you think.


    Yes, there is a high likelihood that the child will die. How high? Nobody really knows, because nobody seems to recommend this approach. There was recently a documented case of anundiagnosed ectopic pregnancy that was delivered by c-section at full term. There are others as well: A baby born in 2000 was attached to the mother’s bowel, as was this one in 2005. This 1999 triplet developed in the fallopian tube, while his two sisters grew in the uterus. The triplet article states that there are 60-100 cases of babies growing outside the womb and surviving.

    update: Here are 5 more documented cases of ectopic survivors. Thank you to Christina for the link.

    Yes, these cases made headlines and amazed the whole world, but how many more cases would do so if we didn’t diagnose and automatically abort them? This site seems to indicate that the prognosis for the ectopic child is not entirely hopeless, at least in the case of abdominal pregnancy:

    Prognostic: The abdominal pregnancy is associated with high maternal (0-20%) and perinatal (40-95%) mortality. Maternal mortality is about 5.1:1.000 compared with 0.7:1.000 in other ectopic gestations. The perinatal mortality has been traditionally high. However recent progresses have result in a 70-80% increase in the survival in fetuses older then 30 weeks…

    But what about the mother? Is it right to sacrifice her life with so little hope of gaining the life of the child? In the case of abdominal pregnancies that are allowed to continue, the article above goes on to state that:

    Mortality and maternal morbidity are directly related to the removal of the placenta during childbirth. The remove of the placenta depends on the degree of invasion, the location of insertion, the involvement of the other organs and the surgical access to the placental blood supply. If it is possible, the complete placental extraction should be done. If not, the placenta should be left at the place, following by occlusion of the umbilical cord. The subsequent management is expectant. The placental reabsorption can be accelerated with methotrexate, selective arterial embolization and secondary laparotomy.

    So the life of the mother may be in danger, but she is far from doomed! There are procedures for dealing with the risks of advanced abdominal pregnancy – procedures which allow for the possible survival of the child!

    For those pregnancies which implant in the fallopian tube (far more common than abdominal pregnancy), the dangers are surprisingly moderate. Although many will succumb to scare tactics, a plain reading of the statistics can be very reassuring.


    • Currently, up to 1 of every 50-60 pregnancies is estimated to be ectopic.***
    • Over 100,000 ectopic pregnancies were reported in the US in 1992.
    • 1 out of 2000 ectopic pregnancies ended in the death of the mother for the 1970’s and 1980’s. The mortality rate has fallen even lower in recent years due to advances in medical care. Recent estimates put it at ~3 in 10,000.
    • At least 14 studies have documented that 68 to 77 percent of ectopic pregnancies resolve without intervention (American Academy of Family Physicians).
    • Tubal rupture occurs in approximately 20% of cases. The statistics seem to indicate that this is the number of women whose initial symptom is tubal rupture, i.e. they receive no treatment at all prior to rupture. Studies indicate that another 10-30% may experience rupture while under medical care.
    • Contrary to popular belief, death from rupture is rare where medical attention is available. In the US, 25-50 women die from ectopic pregnancy each year out of about 100,000 reported cases.

    Let’s do the math, shall we? In spite of the fact that hospitalization and surgical treatment pose risks of their own and many women have surgery without having experienced tubal rupture, we will generously assume that all of the reported deaths occur among those women who didn’t receive treatment until after rupture.

    If there are 100,000 ectopic pregnancies reported each year and 20% of them result in rupture of the fallopian tube, then about 20,000 women are treated annually in the US for actual tubal rupture. A total maternal death toll of 50 would mean that 1 in 400 of those who experienced tubal rupture died. That’s a death rate of 0.25%.

    Since rates of ectopic pregnancies have continued to increase rapidly while mortality rates for the mothers are decreasing, actual current numbers would look far better: a death toll of 25 (the number reported in 1992, the most recent I could find) would bring the chance of death after rupture down to 1 in 800, or 0.125% (20,000 ruptures divided by 25 deaths).

    A mother who is aware of the situation and under a physician’s watchful care would likely fare even better. If we accept 40% as the rate of eventual tubal rupture (20% happening initially and the other 20% occurring during treatment and medical care), then we have a death toll of 25 out of 40,000 cases of rupture, or a 1 in 1,600 chance of death.


    The chance of death for a mother who chooses not to abort an ectopic pregnancy appears to be something less than 0.25% – possibly as little as 0.06%, or about four times the risk of full-term labor and delivery.

    Does this sound like a death sentence for those who would refuse to abort an ectopic pregnancy? Or does this sound like a reason to reconsider the standard course of action in a difficult situation?

    We should always question the presuppositions of the scientific community – from stem cells to aborting tubal pregnancies – because they DO NOT reason from a Christian foundation. Once we begin to question them and their assumptions we start to realize that they are not as sure of their conclusions (or shouldn’t be) as they claim to be.

    As Christians, we must always begin with God’s word and work from there. Some decisions will be easy and others will be difficult, but all must begin from the same foundation: God’s Word is authoritative and sufficient for every facet of life.

    When we start from this presupposition, we just might find that the difficult decisions aren’t so difficult after all.


    CDC Ectopic Pregnancy Surveillance 1970-1978

    Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia

    Ectopic Pregnancy: Dr. El-Mowafi

    Ectopic Pregnancy on Wikipedia

    Time and Risk of Ruptured Pregnancy

    Study: An Institutional Review of the Management of Ectopic Pregnancy

    Fast Facts on Ectopic Pregnancy

    eMedicine: Ectopic Pregnancy

    Ectopic Pregnancy: Risk Factors

    *** Figures from the 1940’s estimated that about 1 in 30,000 pregnancies was ectopic. This number has skyrocketed due to common risk factors: hormonal birth control and IUDs, tubal ligations, STDs, PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, usually a result of STD caused by promiscuity), in vitro fertilization, and abortions – all practices which many Christians find ethically questionable or morally wrong.

    follow up here: Ectopic Pregnancy Clarifications

    Removing a toilet tank in 10 easy steps: a beginner’s guide

    In the course of tiling and grouting in the bathroom, it has become necessary for me to remove the tank of the toilet.  Our only toilet.  Hubby was willing to do this for me, but he assured me it was easy and since it didn’t involve looking at or touching a wax ring (the single most disgusting thing in the world, worse than urinals and possum poop combined), I was game.

    Today he took 4 of the older children to work with him, so I took my chance as naptime was beginning.  Remember, this is the only toilet in the house.

    Just in case you’ve never yet had to remove a toilet tank, here’s how it’s done:

    1. Use the toilet.  Invite everyone else in the house to do so as well.
    2. Turn off the water supply to the toilet.  Usually, you’ll find a little handle on a little hose running from the floor to the bottom of the tank.  Turn it clockwise.
    3. Flush the toilet to empty the tank.  Hold down the handle until the tank is entirely empty.
    4. Remove the lid and set it somewhere safe.  Peer down inside and quiver with repulsion at the mineral deposits.  Just think: this is the clean end of the toilet.
    5. Unscrew the water supply line from the bottom of the tank.  Have a towel handy to catch the bit of water that will come from the hose.  Relax.  This is not toilet water.  The floor behind your toilet is now actually cleaner than when you started.
    6. Put your hair in a ponytail.  Lean down with your face under the back of the toilet and locate a small bolt on each side of the tank, which fastens the tank to the toilet base.  Did your hair touch the floor behind the toilet?
    7. Carefully remove the nut from the bolt on the first side.  You may need a pair of pliers, though these shouldn’t be very tight.  You will definitely need that towel again because even though the tank looked empty, it wasn’t.  You’ll have to work a little harder to keep your cool about this water: technically, it is toilet water, but relax.  It’s not coming from the business end of the toilet.  This is clean toilet water running down your arm as you unscrew the nut.  Are you buying this?
    8. Carefully remove the nut from the bolt on the other side.  This might be a good time to reach for a second towel, because defying all logic, you will probably find that the tank is still not empty.  Clean toilet water…clean toilet water…
    9. Now, take a deep breath.  Gently lift the toilet tank and try to ignore the sloshing water inside (how is there still water in there???).  Set it carefully in the tub, making sure the little bolts protruding from the bottom slide up into the tank so you don’t end up with 2 new holes in the bottom of your tub.
    10. Wash your hands.  Twice.  In bleach.

    There.  Wasn’t that easy?  Now hurry up, do whatever you needed to do back there, and get the thing back on!