Friday, April 29, 2005

Back off, Barney!

A pet peeve of mine is when children's characters, like Barney and Elmo, look into the camera and tell my kids that they love them. "I love you!" Something in me makes me want to jump through the TV and grab that overstuffed throat with my bare hands and say, "I don't think so, punk." The reality is that they don't love my children, so why misuse the sentiment from the tender age of 2? You, Barney, do not get up in the night when there is puke to be cleaned and a boy to be comforted. You, Elmo, do not lay awake at night agonizing over the latest discipline issue. (You may think I've had a reality break, but it is something that I want to blog.)

I think this lazy use of "love" also can set a kid up for inappropriate situations in the future. I love my dear friends' children, but rarely verbalize it. When I do, I make sure it's in the presence of the parents. Unfortunately, this day and age has twisted and poisoned love, as seen by early sexualization of adolescents and increasing numbers of adult perp crimes. What are the chances of me teaching my son and daughter about the healthy, safe characteristics of parental/familial love when I have imaginary characters spewing it at the end of their 30-minute segments?

(This is one of the reasons I loved Mr. Rogers. He understood the turn of the times and maintained an appropriate distance with children while being warm and kind.)

My mommy spider-sense tingles when I hear someone on the TV trying to engage my children with the language of love. Someday it may be someone online, or a member of the opposite sex who flings the word in their direction as a lure. I want the boundaries I am steaking out now to instill the true values and characteristics of love so they will be wise and safe as they grow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Family (Flu) Day

We had a wonderful weekend with our friends, the Musielaks from Buffalo. I cannot put into words how perfect the timing was. It dawned on me that, though I really like my new life here in Illinois, most of the time I still feel like a visitor. Strange.

We had a special day planned for Sunday afternoon with just the four adults. Dee Norlin, who is amazing with four under four, came over and watched the kids so we could go play. I'm so thankful for the great afternoon and evening we spent together. When we got home, all of the kids were sleeping, and Dee still looked cheerful and energetic. I don't think I've ever met anyone who is truly energized by children the way that she is. What a blessing. To her tribute, she had four babies under five, the last two being 11 months apart. (I'm kneeling and bowing right now. LOL)

Sunday at 11p Izak started with an unusual cry... oh, that's right, the flu cry. I didn't reconginize it. Monday morning Libby joined in. I was just worried about getting the Musielaks out before they got it. As of Tuesday, they're still all standing. At noon on Monday Matt went down the hardest and slept from noon until 6 a.m. the next day. So family day was composed of the BRAT diet, stinky carpets, and frequent diaper emergencies. I think I have washed every piece of fabric in the house, some twice.

When I'm pregnant, and spending much of the work week alone with the two little ones, I tend to take Matt's sicknesses personally. I don't mean to get angry with him, but darn it, I do. I can laugh at it a little today. I pull the weight all week and I expect some help for ONE day. I look forward to a real nap on Mondays, adult conversation and companionship. When he disappeared upstairs I knew it was bad. The #1 rule is, If you're sick then go to bed and get out of my way. (Did I mention I have mercy gifts? :) ) When he stumbled downstairs Tuesday, he looked pasty and beat. He said, "You know, I don't get sick just to piss you off." I had to laugh. I know, but it brings out the height of frustration in me. But in my defense, I did check on him several times while he was sick and sleeping in the guest room (The #2 sick rule is, Don't sleep in the most comfortable bed. You might contaminate it, and the caregiver of the home needs to be well-rested to care for everyone else.).

It's already Wednesday. The week's half gone. Heck, before I know it it'll be family day... again.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

God Bless Benedict

You can tell when Matt and I actually have grown-up conversations because we tend to blog similarly. LOL I have been so moved by the whole Pope events that have occurred recently. First of all, I felt a great deal of warmth regarding Pope JPII. I appreciated the ways in which he used his authority. Granted, since I'm not RC I may not be aware of all of the ins and outs of his papacy, but what I did hear seemed to make sense, and held closer to Biblical teachings than some protestant churches I know. I don't think the RC is on target with their entire theology, but I can't think of one denomination who is. There may be some former RC friends out there who are reading this that react to the fact that I won't toe the line and condemn this religion. I have some wonderful friends who are definitely alive in the Spirit who are RC. I have a variety of friends who are protestant that are not. I think I'm harder on the protestant denominations because it's through these churches (the "Holiness Movement" in specific) that I became confused and disenfranchised with Christianity, so it's often despite Protestantism that I follow Jesus. Perhaps friends who used to be RC and are now protestant feel similarly...

Another strange emotional link that I had with PJP2 was 9/11. For some reason I remember a camera shot of the Pope in is his special place of prayer that day at the Vatican. It was a side profile from a distance, he was leaning on a beautiful podium in prayer, and in the silence he began to weep, his hands covering his face and he slumped over the podium. That image has stuck with me. Not sure why, maybe it confirmed the tenderness I saw in him.

My mother's mother also had Parkinson's Disease from a very young age. My earliest memories of her were with the masked expression, sunken posture, and occasionally, incomprehensible slurred speech. When the conversation turned to "Hellooo? Is the Pope Still in There? How Can He Possibly Be Functioning?" I always thought of my grandmother, and the value that her family placed on her, though the interactions were becoming fewer and farther between... the whole sanctity of life thing. I thought about the caregivers that gently fed him and cared for his failing body. I thought about the humiliation that often accompanies the deterioration of the body, and how in the faithful it often adds a beauty to the spirit. So I cried when PJP2 died.

My stomach turned and churned on Sunday when I Matt and I paused on a televised protestant church service. At first we were taking note of the traditions that so annoyed us... I won't go into them lest I play my hand. ;) And then the preacher stood up and open with an illustration of the "chaos and emptiness exemplified by organized religion"-- and he had the balls to begin ranting about the RCC, the Pope's death, blah blah blah. I was flabbergasted at the disrespect, condescension, and hypocrisy of it all. I thought, You sit there singing your hymns in your robes, standing behind a pulpit, looking out over your pews, praying the Lord's prayer in unison, and you give no credit to the very religion that spawned you?!? Nice. Some protestants are quick to bitch and forgetful of their own past. And I think every religion has their own "We're right, everyone else is damned" clause. Must we be so acrid about it? True Christ-followers, regardless of the name over the door, possess the winsome beauty of the Holy Spirit, the character of Jesus, and kinship with the Father's own children, their spiritual brothers and sisters.

So I cried again when the bells rang that "Habemus Papum!" What a rich tradition. And a humble man's life is changed forever. As he commented on trusting in the prayers of his people, I thought, I don't think the prayerful devotion of the RC for their leader on a world-wide scale has any duplicate in the protestant realm. We don't view praying for our leaders as seriously as I've witness within the RC.

Well, my rant is fading. Thanks for listening. My daughter has become mobile so I need to run. God bless Pope Benedict the Sixteenth.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Another Family Day

Mondays are pretty sacred in the Furr house. We generally ignore all phone calls and spend the day together. Today it was 80-degrees in Chicagoland. Matt suggested we go to a park, I believe the term was "explore." So I spent time packing a picnic lunch and preparing for said adventure.

It began to go slightly awry when Libby decided she'd take a super long nap. This endangered the good graces of older brother, who typically starts to go South around 11:30a. I pulled her from her bed at 11a and loaded her in the car seat. She sobbed. Once we all got on the road Izak (2.5y) decides he is going to stop using his "words" and just sits in the back seat yelling, "Please! Please!!" He was trying to demand water and pretzels, but we were ignoring him because he wouldn't ask politely. So about 9 miles into our journey and things didn't look good. We had located a state park that looked like it would be fun for picnicking and play... once we found it, we had to turn back because it was on fire. You heard me, as in flames and smoke. The give-away should have been the big tower of smoke that I spotted 5 miles away. It appeared to be a "controlled" burn, perhaps an old field. The sign on the sidewalk said "No access." Matt thought it was probably just for the bikers, since it was across the sidewalk. I assured him that since there were 5 acres of flames and the wind was blowing over the rest of the park, that perhaps we should find another place for the children... But by now they're sobbing and hungry, and things are not looking promising...

Leaving the park my comment was, "The first park you see, we're stopping. I don't care if it's in a subdivision. You pull this van over." We noted that the funeral home did have a nice basketball hoop, but no swings or slides for the kids, so we continued down the road until we came across a little lakeside park. We squealed into the parking lot at noon and ran for the swings. Ah, ideal picnic, soft breeze, the sound of the highway just off to our left, but hey! We were out of the van, and for the moment, not crying or screaming, "Please!!" After an hour we started the bittersweet journey home for naps. Note: Izak doesn't leave playgrounds gracefully.

It was a late start, but besides the forest fire and utter desperation of the park hunt panic, it was a really good day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Baby Number Three Update

Monday Matt and I went for our 13-week appointment. I love the fact that it's a priority to him to come with me to all my doctor visits. We met another doctor in the practice... I asked Matt on the way out if he thought she was even old enough to drive. We're probably the same age. She was a size zero, 4-foot-nothin' pleasant Asian woman with really tiny hands. The things you notice after two births.

It took a minute but she caught up with the zippy little baby in my belly... heartbeat 160. I laughed, "It's a girl!" And Matt said, "But you're sure it's a boy." I know the heartbeat thing has no scientific backing, but it was right with both of my previous babies (faster hr = girl, slower = boy). Mommy brain trumps nurse brain, observes my husband. So now I have no idea. I love the surprise at birth. "It's a ...... !" One of the few things that I am genuinely delighted to find out after the fact.

Of course, we have names picked out, and as much as I don't care what you may think of them, I'm not going to post them here. If we're good enough friends to talk outside of this forum, and you want to know, I'd be happy to tell you.

The insurance company has denied my request for a month of meds at a time, and is insisting that I get 20/$25. I'll continue to argue this because the main reason for denial was that my form was (for the SIXTH time) filled out incorrectly by the doctor's office staff. I have a copy of the form, I'm an RN, I'll do it myself and take it in to them. Overall, I'm really unimpressed with this medical group. I like the doctors, but their ancillary staff is fair to poor. The office manager who sits behind the glass as you walk in has never once smiled. Bad attitudes, lack, lack, lack of professionalism, shoddy attention to details, all except for this sweet CNA at the Gurnee office named Vickie. She has to be one of the sweetest, most thorough assistants I've met. I keep thinking, The office staff isn't going to deliver the baby. And it pales when compared to my midwifery practice in New York. But I adjusted my expectations downward for this third one as I am dealing with doctors and lackluster staff. I'd love to write a letter to the docs right now about my experience so far, but I know how the passive-aggressive thing can work in health care. I'm not suicidal! When it comes to the hospital, I understand that they only have private post-birth rooms. Cool, no roomies! I think I'll be lucky to get to the hospital with much time left before the baby comes.

The kids are waking up. Gotta run.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I admit it, I used to roll my eyes at the thought of recycling. For one, I had no appreciation for the shrill argument involving trash in space and holes in the ozone. The way it had been presented made me rear back on my haunches and shout, "Someday this world will be consumed by fire! So who cares?!" I had made friends with people who were slightly less shrill, but still difficult for me to handle. They used the argument that we needed to be "creation conscious," but would turn the talk into an attack on large churches, Republicans, and then ranted about examples and studies that seemed so outlandish and self-righteous that I, again, tuned out.

Then I became friends with Carrie Musielak. In her Eden home she religiously folded up old boxes, rinsed and stored plastic baggies, and collected soda cans. I was stunned when I came by to visit one morning before the trash had been collected, and I saw a mammoth recycle pile that equaled the size of the trash bin. Something in me clicked. I could do this. Carrie never shoved anything down my throat by lecturing, or accused me (in so many words) of being a lousy Christ-follower. She lived the example.

So I began learning what the recycle center would accept, made a little side container to put items in, and started on the road to recycling. (Note: The financial incentive that MI offers for soda cans and bottles was a huge reason that I did save those items when I lived there.)

I cloth diaper too, and I am amazed at how much less trash there is on a weekly basis when I'm using cloth. I've taken a break during the first trimester of my pregnancies because the nausea and vomiting is so severe, and the smell can be overwhelming. But today I fired up the cloth train and tossed the kids in their soft, white cloth Bumkins. It feels good to be back...

I accept the responsibility of trying to minimize the amount of disposable diapers that I toss into landfills. Plastic diapers (all disposables are plastic) do not biodegrade. Wouldn't it be amazing if they invented biodegradable disposable diapers? Wow...

All of this is now compounded by the fact that every time I drive to church I pass a huge landfill on Route 83. Matt and I have nicknamed it "the Rosebud." Stinks to high Heaven. And the little voice in my head says, This is why you must take your trash seriously. So now I buy paper bowls, paper plates, and soon paper cups when company comes over. It's why I get so bummed when the plastic baby food containers are #7 recyclables. Illinois accepts #1-5. It's why I'm flushing as much baby waste as possible. I don't pretend to be a hard-core, save-the-planet, God-hates-development-and-technology activist. The arguments still leave a bad taste in my mouth. But in a small way I'm taking the responsibility that I believe is reasonable for my family at this time. I run the household operations. I decide what comes in and goes out. And I have established recycling as a value for our family.

Friday, April 08, 2005

They're heeerrrreeee....

Hi, all. Sorry it's been a bit since my last post. I try to keep up with two posts a week. The way I've been feeling (green with my head in the toilet) I've just been trying to get through the days until Matt gets home in the evening. Haven't felt much like talking.

My in-laws have begun landing in the Lake Villa pad, starting last night. SIL, BIL, and three nephews are here for a few days. They're on their way home from skiing in Colorado over Spring Break. The basement is finished and was ready for the boys last night, but there were a few too many new sounds and three too many overactive imaginations. So the five Carys ended up bunking together in the guest room. This morning Izak was thrilled to find his cousins here. And within the first hour of play Izzy had smacked into a corner and received a bloody lip/shiner. Then I hear, "Look at Izak dance on the pool table!" The littlest monkey had figured out how to climb up to new heights. I pretended I didn't hear it for a minute, but then decided to intervene before he broke his neck. This evening the parent-in-laws come with lasagna!. Yum. And Suzy and I will hopefully get a chance to hit Motherhood. I need some summer outfits, since the girls that I shared clothes with are back in NY. Mom gave me money for Christmas that I think I'll use it now.

It's wonderful to have the room for 7 visitors and not displace my own family. The Carys have always been amazing sports when it came to visiting and making due with whatever our current housing situation was. Seminary dorm, one bedroom loft, two bedroom old home... they just pile into these tiny rooms and somehow manage to sleep and enjoy themselves. Troopers!

Another thing that makes me pause before I blog is that when I'm pregnant I become very blunt. Not a lot of diplomacy. I don't get out-of-control emotional or sappy - I get to the point. Maybe it's because I feel so crappy, and the normal coping mechanism is slim to none, but I feel very strongly about things and want to express unfinished, unedited thoughts. And for me, that's a bit unsafe.

Pregnancy is such a vulnerable time for me. I feel like an exposed nerve. It's a time when things happen in me and to me. The physical birth along with the time of transformation that God takes my soul through is so humbling, so intimate. It's hard to explain. It is like walking in the wilderness where you are unsafe, yet protected. I feel the weakness of my flesh. I'm acutely aware that God alone provides everyting I need, including safety. Scripture talks about walking quietly with God. Pregnancy is a time when He is so near to me that I can receive His tender thoughts as my own without much hesitation. His words stick deeply in my heart. It's hard to not have an outlet by which to express my gratitude... leading worship was always a much more powerful time for me when I was carrying a baby (not to mention when I sing the nausea goes away!). And being so far from close women friends who bear me up and surround me with prayer... it's hard. So this particular journey into the wild woods of pregnancy is especially hushed, lonely, and bittersweet-- but in the best ways possible.