Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reformation Day

Tomorrow is All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as most of America has come to know it. There is such a large division between what people believe, feel comfortable celebrating, and interpret as the meaning behind this ambiguous day. Many evangelical Christians do not celebrate this event because of its Celtic roots, siting the ungodliness of the pagan rituals as reason to abstain. Without showing my own hand I would offer a question for the acceptability of Christmas, also founded on pagan rituals surrounding the winter solstice. Jesus was probably born sometime in spring - shepherds watching their sheep would have been out pasturing them during lambing, not typically done in the middle of winter *wink*. Even Easter is not without controversy, with opposition over the exact dating of the observance and how linked that dating is to original calendaring of the Nisan month (Jewish month which holds Passover). So, will our children be out trick-or-treating? Nope. And I will tell you why.

In today's culture there is little knowledge of an event called Reformation Day. Most people, many Christians included, don't understand how pivotal October 31, 1517 is to today's use, belief and understanding of orthodox Christian doctrine. And since this little blog is my personal soap box *chuckle* you get a free seminar in Reformation Day 101.

Once upon a time there was a monk named Martin Luther. He was German, and lived during a very turbulent time in the Roman Catholic Church's history. The Church held great power over the masses using illiteracy, and man-made traditions to secure frightful obedience to its policies. More than a religious refuge, the Church ruled politically often using injustice to secure lands, prestige, and greater power for its upper ranks. One of the most famous instances of these abuses was the selling of Indulgences, pieces of paper which, when purchased, secured the purchaser's way to heaven. It was basically a fund-raising campaign to rebuild St Peter's Basilica and it preyed on the peasants fear of a vengeful God who only accepted prayers from the Church leadership. Martin Luther became increasingly concerned over these discrepancies he saw between Church practice, and what the Bible actually taught.

On October 31, 1517 Luther posted a list of 95 instances where he believed the Catholic Church was in violation of God's biblical law. His desire was to discuss, and win over with evidence the Church leadership to accepting responsibility for their mistakes. What followed was not exactly what Luther planned. The Catholic Church excommunicated him, after trying him for heresy. When asked to recant his objections he refused, and the Protestant Reformation began! Ultimately the Reformation, as it became known as, would boil down to these five main tenets.

Sola Scriptura - "by scripture alone"
Sola Fida - "by faith alone"
Sola Gratia - "by grace alone"
Solus Christus - Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria - glory to God alone"

One of Luther's greatest acts in protest of the Roman Catholic Church was to translate the Bible into the lingua franca (language of the people) for the first time in centuries. As literacy increased and the masses personal ability to read scripture for themselves grew, the grip of men who had wielded power for their own gain, using God's holy name and Word to accomplish unholy acts, was permanently loosened. The Lord used the Reformation to bring his gospel to so many people; the good news that while you may be subject to authority in natural circumstances, spiritually your only true authority is Christ.

Instead of celebrating death with an emphasis on dark, sinister forces that really do frighten small children (and big adults) we choose to celebrate Life. It excites me that I can teach my children about the importance of Reformation Day, not only historically but spiritually as well. You see one day they will be asked by their Creator why they should be accepted into his perfect presence. Answers such as: my parents believed you; I went to church; I confessed to a man who said I could get into heaven now; I worked hard to be good and I never cheated on my taxes will not cut it. My children need to know that they are separated from God because they can never be perfect. Their motives and hearts' desires, regardless of their actions, constantly lead them to impulses which are contrary to God's perfect moral code of conduct. Their opportunity to enter God's absolute perfection ceased the first time they acted out from sheer defiance (can anyone say infant?).

So what do they say? Simply this - Christ was perfect on this earth, never once going against the moral law of God. When he died he literally exchanged places with me for the punishment I deserve in being cast out of God's perfect presence forever. Because he exchanged places with me, when you look at me God, you see only the perfection of Jesus which pardons ALL the mistakes - both known and unknown - I have ever made. I am acceptable to enter into your perfect presence forever!

That is SO much better than orange and black M&Ms from some stranger's house.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Buy A New Baby

Leah was peering over my shoulder while I scrolled through pictures on the computer today. I happened to be looking at some old ones of Caleb, and she saw one of him when he was still tiny. This is what she said -

Oh, how sweet. We need to buy a new baby.


Caleb has gotten into the rather hilarious habit of starting his sentences with, "because." - no introduction, prelude, contextual clues or prefaces. He mostly does this when he suspects questioning for his sudden appearance in the room (be it after nap, when he should be in bed, coming inside from playing outside, etc.).
"Because Hannah won't let me pick the movie."

"Because Bethany said I could, but I don't want to."

"Because I just need a little one."

"Because I think my tummy might hurt."

Apparently he has taken to heart the adage, "waste not, want not."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Version 2.0

For those of you who receive Letters from Odd via email, you might want to take a moment and actually link to the blog. I have made some changes, and I think you might enjoy the new "look".

The Ride Home

Play: The Ride Home
Christopher, 35 - Daddy
Trisha, 33 - Mama
Hannah, 8.5
Bethany, 6.5
Caleb, 4
Leah, 3
Mary, 22 months
Stage: Interior Ford Econoline 12-passenger van. Baby plays synthesized nursery rhyme music during entire scene, never letting one song completely finish before changing it to a new one - or better yet, repeating the one she just failed to complete. Christopher is driving, Trisha is in the front passenger seat. Mary is in a car seat, in the middle of the row directly behind Christopher and Trisha. Caleb and Leah share the bench behind Mary with "no man's land" between their car seats. Hannah and Bethany are in boosters in the very last row of seating.
Lighting - dark. Time - coming home in the evening from church.

Act 1: Scene 1
The First Five Minutes

Leah: My name is Leah. See, Mama I put it on the "magadoodle".
Caleb: Leah, Seah, Meah, Weah
Leah: NO Caleb, my name is LEE-AH.
song playing: There was a farmer had a dog and...
Bethany: Hannah, how do you spell "road sign"?
Caleb: Geah, Veah, Deah
Leah: AAHHH, NO Caleb, my name is LEE-AH.
Hannah: Bethany Rhode Island is off the coast of Virginia.
Mama: Caleb stop antagonizing your sister. Leah, stop yelling and ask politely the first time.
Daddy: No Hannah, Rhode Island is not off the coast of Virginia. It is close to Connecticut. (to me): I've been to Rhode Island. It is called the Ocean State.
Mama: Rhode Island is called the Ocean State?
Caleb: California is the biggest state.
Daddy: Not quite buddy. (to me): Yep.
Hannah: Its probably Alaska or Texas.
Leah: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?
song playing: Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb...
Caleb: The biggest state is Elasta-girl?
Bethany: When we get home can I bake something?
Daddy (to me): Interstate 95, and then Interstate 195 which runs between Rhode Island to Connecticut, then into Rhode Island hugs the coast line so much that when you drive it you feel like you have been on it forever, even though you have gone very little distance on the map. I remember thinking, "I must have gone further than this!"
Mama: Leah, stop repeating yourself.
Caleb: The far-est state is America.
Hannah: We live in America, Caleb. It's not a state it is a nation. We live in California.
Caleb: Na ah, Hannah. I told Mama that the far-est state is America.
Hannah: Caleb, stop it! That isn't true.
Mama: Hannah, when you were his age did we insist on you always getting every answer right? Or did we allow you to make mistakes, and not over-correct you all the time?
Hannah: You let me make mistakes.
Mama: So you brother deserves the same chance. I am perfectly capable of correcting him, if I need or want to.
Bethany: Leah, stop pulling on the seat belt.
Caleb: Can we listen to music?
song playing: Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies...
Leah: Mama, I big! Yeah, I big and I Leah. I bigger than Caleb.
Caleb: NO your small.
Leah: No, I big.
Bethany: Hannah, how so you spell "road sign"?
Hannah: r-o-a-d space
Daddy (to me): Do you know what the first state in the union was?
Hannah: s-i-h-n
Mama: "Sign" is not spelled with an "h", it is s-i-G-n. (to Christopher): Virginia?
Hannah: Oh, that's right.
Daddy: No, but that's a good guess.
Caleb: Leah its my turn! You had it all this time and now I get to play with the magnadoodle.
Mama: Maryland?
Leah: No Caleb. I bigger. You can't have it!
Bethany: Leah, you have had a long turn. Give it to Caleb.
Hannah: Did you know that there was a man that walked around the entire world?
Daddy (to me): No, but that is another good guess. (to Hannah): What do you mean he walked around the entire world? Did he walk across each continent?
Caleb: I want the magnadoodle!
Mama: Caleb, Leah is having a turn for this ride. Next time we are in the van you can have a turn with the magnadoodle.
Hannah: I don't know. But he wore out 21 pairs of shoes doing it.
Daddy: Wow! That's a lot of walking.
Caleb: How far is it to get to San Diego?
Bethany: Hannah, how so you spell Del Rey Oaks?
Daddy: Depends on how you got there. You could take a plane to get there fast.
Caleb: What about real slow?
Mama: Then you would walk.
song playing: This old man, he played one, he played knick knack...
Caleb: How long would it take you to walk there?
Hannah: D-e-l space
Daddy: About 3 months.
Leah: I see the ocean Mama! I saw a shark!
Hannah: R-e-y space
Caleb: Can you promise me that just me and you will walk to San Diego Daddy? It can be a special treat.
Leah: And I saw a whale. A REALLY big whale.
Daddy: Buddy, I don't know if I can promise you that. But we will do special man treats as you get bigger. (to me): So, do you know what the first state in the Union was?
Mama: A whale Leah? Wow! That's pretty cool. (to Christopher): I give up, which one?
Hannah: O-a-k-s. That was easy.
Daddy: Delaware.

Act 1: Scene 2
The Next Five Minutes

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Adventures in Thumb-Sucking

Leah sucked her thumb in utero. I actually got to see her do it using ultrasound at only 5mos pregnant. When she was born she never took a pacifier, but self-soothed with her own thumb from the first. No other child before or since has naturally thumb-sucked. Just to clarify, the "no other child" includes my son.

Caleb was 13mos old when Leah entered the world. Not very big. He had used a pacifier for bedtime, but when he started chewing them like teethers, and creating daily choking hazards for himself, we removed them altogether. So when Leah joined him in his room she sucked her thumb, and he sucked nothing. Naively I thought Leah's penchant for her thumb would not affect Caleb. I was wrong. At 18mos Caleb began imitating Leah. By two he was a full-fledged thumb-sucker. And at three Christopher and I began to wonder how this whole weaning thing was going to work. Unlike Leah, who sucks her thumb for bedtime and when she is especially tired, Caleb sucked his thumb whenever there wasn't something already occupying his hands, and even then he often tried anyway.

When Caleb turned four, and there was no stopping in sight, we decided it was time to take some action. Like other naive parents we started with the simple discussion of, "Now that you are FOUR buddy, you don't need to suck your thumb. Daddy doesn't suck his thumb, and if you want to be a man like Daddy you will need to stop sucking yours." I laugh aloud at the foolishness of this attempt. Caleb stared at us, nodded his head in absolute agreement that he was big, he did want to be like Daddy, and then stuck his thumb in his mouth. For the first several weeks we called his attention to this action every time we saw him do it. But pretty soon we sounded like drill instructors barking orders every other minute.

"Caleb, get your thumb out of your mouth."
"Caleb, thumb!"
"Caleb, you are sucking your thumb."
"Caleb, stop it!"

Something else was needed.

One day in Walgreen's I spotted a little bottle of fingernail polish in the baby section. As I inspected it closer I realized it was an aid for breaking the habit of thumb and finger sucking. You painted this nasty tasting solution on your child's nails, and when they stuck the offending digit in their mouth they were met with a pungently bitter taste as a reward. Perfect. I bought the ridiculously overpriced gimmick and went home. I immediately painted Caleb's thumbs with my new solution and sat back to watch it work wonders. I even painted my own nail to see how badly it really tasted. Yuck! It was pretty bad. The problem, as even I could recognize as a non-thumb-sucking-bystander, was in the longevity of the taste. Namely an almost instantaneous diminishing of the bitterness the moment it started performing its task. Caleb made a face, made another face, then sucked his thumb quite happily. Back to the drawing board.

I tried taping his thumb to his fingers, which indeed kept him from thumb-sucking, but that was only reasonable at bedtime when he didn't need his opposable thumbs to function. And, as I said before, Caleb quite took to thumb-sucking when he finally decided it was for him. This was no amateur habit relegated to bedtime stories and cuddly blankets. Taping, it became apparent, would not be the fix.

Then I saw an ingenious little device called a "Thumb Guard" in a catalog I receive. I read the blurb, somewhat skeptical but nevertheless intrigued by the concept. The price tag was enough to make me seriously question its purchase, but when you become desperate... well, you know the saying. I bought it.

We told Caleb about our purchase. He was pretty excited, if only from the recognition that this might get his Mama and Daddy off his back! We waited expectantly for the package to arrive, and when it did we gathered as a family to fit him with his thumb-guards for the first time.

The concept is very simple. The tube breaks the vacuum, the pleasure deriving sensation created by thumb-sucking. So while it doesn't stop the action itself it does render the action pleasureless, and in theory breaks the habit out of removing the reason for it in the first place. One of the main selling points to me was that you placed the guards on the thumbs, and left them there 24/7. It didn't matter if he was settling down for the night, or playing on the trampoline, the guards protected his thumbs from the smallest breach in his own resolve (which was as rock solid as tissue paper). The box advertised results in as little as one week, with most children completely free from thumb-sucking in 14 days.

It would be a lesson in understatement to say it took Caleb a bit longer.

Week One: 24/7
Week Two: 24/7. We see no noticeable deceleration of sucking when given the opportunity to go without the guards.
Week Three: 24/7
Week Four: 24/7. During this week the unthinkable happens and one of the guards breaks! We paid far too much money to have it break after only 3+ weeks of instructed use. While we wait for the replacement we see the reality of Caleb's dedication in this matter - namely, none.
Week Five: Our replacement finally arrives and we are back to 24/7.
Week Six: Christopher and I decide it is time to up the ante, and tell Caleb that he will get a skateboard when he stops sucking his thumb completely. For the first time we see real sparks of interest for this little game his Father and I are playing. "You mean a real skateboard? A Spiderman skateboard?" Spiderman? Where did that come from? No time to stop and think now though because the answer could make or break this deal. "Yes, a Spiderman skateboard!"
Week Seven: We move the wearing to bedtimes only, and Caleb seems to be actually working at it during the day. We still have to remind him occasionally, but by-and-large he is free from day sucking.
Week Eight: Another broken guard. Unbelievable!!! We are able to continue using the defected one until the replacement arrives, so we don't have to stop training. The mantra in our house becomes, "Caleb, you want your Spiderman skateboard don't you?"
Week Nine: Wasn't this supposed to work within 14 days? I ask my prayer partner to lift this up in her devotion time. I start praying with Caleb each night that he would lean on Jesus for all his needs, including whatever security he derives from thumb-sucking.
Week Ten: We buy the skateboard and hide it in the garage.
Week Eleven: WILL THIS NEVER END?????
Week Twelve: We pull the skateboard out and let Caleb see it. He can't step on it, ride it, do anything much more than touch it, but we feel like he might need to see the thing to get him over the final hurdle. We put it on a shelf in his room, so he can see it during bedtime and be reminded of the reward.
Week Thirteen: We take the thumb-guards off and watch him like a hawk. He seems to be fine during the day, but is he unconsciously putting his thumbs in his mouth during nap and bedtime? We check him multiple times throughout the following few nights. No thumb-sucking. Could it be that he is finally broken of the habit?

On October 4th Daddy, holding the Spiderman skateboard, shares the news that Caleb has DONE IT! He has stopped sucking his thumb completely, and has earned his reward!

He loves his new skateboard, and rides like a champ!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quantity Break

Don't you just sometimes wish that Costco sold in bulk?

It would be so much nicer if, rather than the 1750 Q-tips sold in this package, I was able to buy in a more reasonable amount - say... 1800.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Hulk

You remember the Hulk. He was just another normal man but when he became enraged (always for the good of the people) he did that bodybuilding move that showed all his muscles while his shirt ripped off... oh, and he turned green. Well, we have a Hulk in our house.

It started with Hannah. At around the age of one, she began to clench her fists and tense her muscles so hard that she would shake. Christopher's cousin aptly named it "The Hulk", and once trained to the name Hannah would do her crowd-pleasing move on command. Since Hannah each of our children (some with greater success than others) have been members of the Hulk club. Our latest member is Mary.

Once again, it started when she was barely one, and by now she has it perfected. She sits in her chair, jaws locked, fists clenched, muscles shaking, tendons strained as she tries desperately to stop the villain... oh, and turn green.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

At The Tone


"Effective September 19, 2007 the Time Announcement Information Service has been discontinued. We apologize for any inconvenience."

This is what I heard recently when I dialed trusty POPCORN on my phone to get the current time. It was a good thing I was sitting down. They need to warn a woman about a move of this magnitude. I have been calling POPCORN (767-2676) since a child for all manner of official, and slightly unofficial business. Things like: checking CBS and their ball count-down for the New Year; pretending to chat on the phone like a grown up; making sure my husband has his watch set to the SECOND for his scheduled top-secret rendezvous with bedtime; casually checking the order of the universe, and seeing that time continues to move forward.

And now, just like that, it is gone.

The thing that irks me is that no substitute for time management has been given. I imagine the giant "they" behind this fiasco assumes everyone has Internet connectivity, and prefers to check time on the web (especially in the middle of a power outage when all us home-officey types have our back-up generators going). Or maybe we all have some electronic device, be it a PDA or cell phone, which carries time for us. But eventually all of these require setting, batteries, tweaking of some sort before they can function, and without POPCORN I am afraid we might just find ourselves lost. Wake up, people. This is a conspiracy.

So, I leave with this thought.

Time wounds all heels.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Chef Bethany Strikes Again

Another brilliant recipe put forward by our budding gastronomist. Bethany has a unique style of blending ingredients which not only enhance they natural character, but add layers of dynamic flavor. Please enjoy the following with love from our home, to yours.

A Dessert
-Crack an egg (not boiled) and put in a bowl
-Cut up a single square of Baker's Chocolate into small pieces, and put it with the egg
-Mix together to make chocolate
-Add M&Ms or Skittles (whichever you prefer)
-Put in the oven for 3 minutes at 50deg or until it gets "doughy"
-Shape it and put it onto a platter
-Put it back in the oven until it turns into cookies

"Then share them with everyone!"