Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, July 31, 2003

With oral antihistimine (and prayer, too, probably), Zooey's swollen cheek is almost completely back to normal, and his eye is it's regular, beautiful shape again. There's still a little puffiness and discoloring, but we imagine he'll be his usual attractive self by his birthday party this Sunday. It looked so awful on Monday, we're all greatly relieved to see him return to normal.

Both my kids have beautiful eyes. Baby E has my husband's eyes -- large and round with thick, sooty lashes that curl just beautifully. Her eyes are still a striking blue, but we imagine that will change. Because in our family, we have hazel eyes and hazel can take a long time to develop. Zooey's were blue like that at a year and maybe even two, but they've muted back to a lovely blue-grey-green hazel that alters with the color of his shirt or surroundings. Kaleidoscope eyes. My husband's eyes are a different kind of hazel -- olivey green. So we'll see how the baby's eyes turn out in the next couple of years.

Well, I'm obviously dwelling too much on the mundane, so I'll sign off for now.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

My son, who turns 4 tomorrow, turns out to have an allergy to mosquito bites. I've always put something on him to deter bites, but he's spent so much time playing in the sprinkler this hot summer, a few mosquitoes have managed to find him. He got bit on the cheek Sunday, and now he has a huge purple knot crowding his eye. He's now on oral antihistamine, topical cream and a pain reliever when he needs it. He's handling it fairly well, although he was pretty embarrased when his face swelled up that first day. Hopefully the swelling will go down enough by tomorrow that we can take our planned trip to the zoo without fear of him being too ashamed to leave the car. Prayers welcome, as always. :-)


Monday, July 28, 2003

My apologies for the long silence. Been too caught up in my own thoughts, lately, I suppose.

Many thanks to all you kind readers who wrote to offer prayers & encouragement for my brother-in-law's marriage. I've had no updates, so as far as I know nothing has changed yet.

More than one person suggested Retrouvaille a Catholic ministry program designed to help married partners get back on track. I went to the web site and looked around, and the program does look very good. From the testimonials I've read, it seems well worth the time and effort to put things right in a marriage. Please, if any of you are in a marriage that seems to be not what it should be, go look at the web site. I'm sure these folks can help you.

At this point, I'm not at liberty to suggest it to my brother-in-law. I saw him yesterday for a few minutes, and he was particularly cranky so I thought the timing wouldn't be good. Plus he's pretty anti-Catholic, so even though neither partner has to be Catholic to participate in Retrouvaille, I don't think he would have been particularly receptive yesterday.

I have been really troubled by this, and often find myself at a loss for what to pray. Fortunately, there is recourse for Catholics in forms Protestants don't avail themselves to: we have written prayers to look up and make our own, and we can also simply ask a Saint to pray for the situation, trusting them to know exactly how to pray. So I have been trying to remember to do that. Old Protestant habits die hard, though, and I seem to forget that I have these options.

I hope to blog again very soon this week.


Monday, July 21, 2003

I received some troubling news over the weekend. My husband's brother's marriage is in one of those very difficult stages, and his wife has apparently asked for a seperation. My brother-in-law says they are in counselling and he thinks everything will work out, and I dearly hope and pray he's right! I really like his wife a lot, and I think the world of both of them. But they are coming off a really difficult year -- my brother-in-law was unemployed for most of it (though he has a great job now), and they had money trouble, her job was awful, they had a very high-strung and demanding 2-yr-old (who is now only a little mellower at 3), and some family issues on her side. Plus, I know her parents were against the marriage 6 years ago because they thought their daughter was too young and they didn't want her to drop out of college, which she chose to do in order to support my brother-in-law while he finished his degree. And, she'd planned on being a stay-at-home mother, so investing any further in her college education seemed pointless at the time. Now her mother is doing the, "I told you so, I knew you'd regret this" routine, which isn't helping matters at all.

So, I hope any of you reading my blog today will say a special prayer for my brother-in-law, his wife, his daughter and his marriage. I went here to look up patron saints for unhappy marriages and was surprised the list is so long. There must be a lot of unhappy marriages out there to warrant so many patrons. But I guess the more saintly intercession, the better -- right?

Everytime something like this hits so close to home, I look at my husband and thank God I am blessed with such a happy and solid marriage, and such a wonderful husband. I can't imagine being remotely happy without my husband, or being even a tiny bit happier with another man than I am with him. I wish everybody could feel the same way about their marriage as I do.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

Pardon me while I rant. And feel free to rant along with me.

I've long been a fan of Real Simple magazine and frequently purchased newsstand copies that covered my personal areas of interest. But no more.

Real Simple recently ran an article called "20 Rules to Break" which listed breastfeeding as a waste of time. They actually interviewed some ignorant male doctor who said there were no real benefits to breastfeeding. I don't know what rock this joker has been living under but here's a quick list off the top of my head:

1. Lifelong health benefits for babies, including lower instance of heart disease and weight problems, fewer allergies, etc.

2. The act of breastfeeding releases a hormone in moms that helps them relax. And what mom of a newborn doesn't need more of that?

3. The baby gets the benefit of mom's antibodies, which means baby is sick a lot less often in the early days (proven that with both my kids).

4. Women who breastfeed even one baby have a lower occurance of breast cancer.

5. Mother-baby bonding at its simplest.

6. The milk is always there, always the perfect nutrition and always at the perfect temperature.

7. Some studies indicate breastfed babies have higher IQs, but I'm not so sure about that. None of my siblings nor I were breastfed, and my brother and younger sister are both certifiable geniuses with IQs above 175. So it could be that smarter people choose to breastfeed, and their kids are inheriting their brains genetically. (Still wondering how I got short-changed in the smarts department, though!)

8. Breastfeeding costs next to nothing (nursing bra, nursing pads), but formula is expensive.

9. Baby is exposed to flavors of many different foods, which means they adapt to table food more readily when the time comes.

10. Poop from babies who are exclusively breastfed hardly stinks at all.

11. In the middle of the night, mom can feed hungry newborn simply by lifting her t-shirt or opening her nightgown, before either one of them is 100% awake, which makes for more peaceful nights. As opposed to what formula-feeding parents must go through in gathering up hungry baby, stumbling into the kitchen to find pre-made bottle, heating said bottle, calming down now really, really hungry baby enough to eat, and finally getting the now wide-awake baby back to sleep before going back to bed.

There are more benefits, too. This is just all I can think of. Read the American Acadamy of Pediatrics statement about the necessity of breastfeeding here.

Now, I should say I know from personal experience that breastfeeding isn't always easy to learn. Nobody in memory of my family had ever nursed a baby. Nobody had in my husband's family, either. Or if they did, they didn't offer any advice. My mom had been told her milk was "too thin." This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when doctors didn't know what "colostrum" was -- that's the early milk women produce during pregnancy. The regular milk comes 24-72 hours after birth, usually. Sometimes later. Anyway, some ignorant doctor held a sample of my mom's colostrum up to the light and pronounced it inadequate. So she fed us a dasterdly mixture of evaporated milk, Kayro corn syrup and vitamin drops. Far inferior nutritionally, but the best they had.

In the 1980s, my elder sister had her babies and tried to breastfeed the first two, but she had chronically inverted nipples. It was painful and frustrating, and the medical staff at her hospital told her she'd never overcome it, so she quit. She didn't even bother trying with her third.

When I had my son in 1999, I knew I also had inverted nipples, so I took some classes and read every book I could find. I figured I'd inherited those nipples, and since formula has only been around for less than 100 years, some female ancestors of mine had to have conquered inverted nipples or the genetic strain of nipple inversion would have died out because the babies would have starved to death.

Nursing my son proved to be difficult and frustrating. La Leche League told me my nipples ought to draw out by 2 weeks, but they didn't. It took four weeks on one side and six on the other. And I was nursing my son every 90 minutes, round the clock (hungry little guy!), so it's not like I didn't work at it. I also used a breast pump and did everything else LLL and the excellent lactation consultants at my hospital suggested.

I'm a stubborn person, so once I decided it was possible, I wasn't going to give up. And my husband -- who was dragged to a breastfeeding class against his will -- was 100% supportive and encouraging. He watched me cry a lot, and he watched our son cry a lot, and he never once said "Give up."

After 4 weeks, breastfeeding was a lot easier. After 6 weeks, it was a cinch. Now, a lot of people would say, "Six weeks is a long time," and in a way, it is. But when you look at the benefits for both me and my son, which really do last a lifetime, 6 weeks is nothing.

All this to say, breastfeeding was a lost art in this country for a long time. Partially due to the ignorance of doctors who told women like my mom that their milk was inadequate. And there are lots of women out there like my sister who could have overcome serious problems with proper help, but they didn't have it. So my opinion is, we need more education and more support for women, so they'll at least try breastfeeding. Women who have challenges like I did need even more help.

Every little bit of breastmilk you get into your baby's mouth is worth it, even if you have to supplement, even if you end up giving up.

Meanwhile, ridiculous articles like the one in Real Simple are doing a disservice to mothers who are on the fence about breastfeeding, or who are facing challenges like I did. And that idiot of a doctor they interviewed needs to go back to medical school.

Here is a website where folks can write to Real Simple or the doctor in question and voice their complaints. If you feel the same way I do, I hope you will write these people a letter. Maybe with enough people telling them they blew it, they will correct their mistake and print a retraction.


Monday, July 14, 2003

More on the Confession Issue

Davey's Mommy was kind enough to write and remind me about scrupulous tendancies. I do tend toward this myself, but in this particular circumstance, I was pretty sure I wasn't being overly scrupulous.

Without going into great detail, I was anticipating a certain circumstance would arise in my life. And in preparing to face it, I determined that I would really like to do X, but X would be the wrong response (a venial sin, based on the way my "Little Catechism of Confession" explains the 10 commandments in terms of mortal vs. venial sins), and I was certain Y would be a much better choice.

The circumstance did occur, several times in fact. And each time, though I had prepared myself to do Y, I chickened out and took the X route, basically to make things easier on myself. So, since I believed the action was a venial sin, since I had weighed my options ahead of time and understood them in terms of right and wrong, since I chose to do X with the sole motive of my own comfort, and since the situation had occurred more than once with no difference in my response, I thought it was pretty clear it was a confession-worthy sin.

Of course, I explained all this to Fr. during confession, but what he said was that because I should not have been put in that circumstance by the action of others, my choice was a means of "deflecting" the effects of their faults, and that's why I wasn't sinning in my choice to do X.

Davey's Mommy continued, "If you have no reason to believe the priest is not in line with the Church, I guess it's recommended to let his answer be final partly to avoid scrupulosity and the "rooted attachment to [your] own opinion" which the Catholic Encyclopedia ( describes as a
characteristic of scrupulosity but which obviously is also the source of a lot of sins
and wanderings from the Church."

That's very helpful, thank you. I have absolutely no reason to believe the priest is not in line with the Church. Our Diocese is tends toward the Orthodox (from what I gather -- still new to all this of course). So unless anybody has more input for me here, I will, for now at least, let the priest's word stand on this.

Kathy the Carmelitehas also offered her insight soon, so I am anxiously awaiting her thoughts & will post them here. (C'mon, now, Kathy -- you promised!)

I also want to add that one of the things I dreaded most about becoming Catholic (not that it was a hinderance to my conversion), was the idea that Catholics are very strict about sin. Having come from a fundamentalist Protestant background, I could only imagine how devastatingly difficult it would be for me to function as a Catholic and anticipated semi-weekly confessions just to keep track. Instead, I have found the Church to be overwhelmingly merciful in so many ways. All my penances so far except for the first have only required prayer, which doesn't seem like much of a penance for me, and the first required the addition of an action that I considered both easy and welcome. In fact, during my confession last week, I was so distraught about this sin issue and the circumstance I had faced, that Fr. actually told me that he would say a Rosary special for me about this, and I came away feeling like he was determined to do the bulk of my penance for me. Is that mercy or what?

I am continually flabbergasted at how loving and supportive our parish priests are. I mean, I guess you are supposed to expect such a thing, but these men appear to be tireless servants and so long-suffering in the confessional. Golly, am I blessed or what?!?!?

Please keep sending your thoughts to me at sparki777(at)yahoo(dot)com. And thanks for reading.


Thursday, July 10, 2003

By the way, Theresa was kind enough to write and help me clarify that muddy Catholic School issue I posted about on Tuesday. It's not that we are to choose Catholic schools above anything, but where the choice is public or non-Catholic private or Catholic school, we are to choose Catholic. A Catholic homeschooling family is keeping within Church teaching as well.

Thanks for helping me figure that out, Theresa!


I've been preparing for confession for a few days now, and I went to the late morning session at our parish. I had examined my conscious as carefully as I could, so imagine my surprise when the priest told me that one of the sins I had just confessed wasn't a sin at all. I had been certain it was a venial sin (which I know we don't have to confess but it was really bothering me). I wasn't sure what to do, so I just said, "Yes, Father" to his explanation and then continued.

I really don't know what to make of it. Even now, I'm pretty darn sure I was sinning. I know regardless of what the priest says, God will forgive me because I confessed and repented, willingly and sincerely. But, blimey, what a predicament!

I need some advice from any of you out there who are wiser than me (if there's anybody who still happens to be reading this painfully boring blog of mine). If I should happen to fall into this action again -- which I still consider a sin -- I think I ought to confess it again. But in doing so, would I be disobedient to the priest's instruction today? And what if I should confess it again to a different priest, and he agrees with me that it is a sin? It's not that I expect every priest to agree with every other or to be flawless in their instruction or anything -- I'm just not sure how all this works.

Please help me out and offer your thoughts by e-mail to sparki777(at)yahoo(dot)com. I will post everything here because I think there are still a few new converts out there reading, and they may find your insight equally helpful.



P.S. Yes, I know I promised comments capability a long time ago, but I simply can't figure it out. I drafted an HTML-savvy pal of mine to help, but we haven't been able to find a compatible time with which to do it. Hopefully I'll have comments up and running by the end of summer. My apologies!

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I am happy to report that we have received confirmation that Zooey is enrolled in the preschool program at our parish school next fall!

Getting him into preschool has been more difficult than I would have thought it would be. Not all of the parishes in town have preschool programs. I tried to get him into a 3-yr-old program for fall 2002, but had no luck. The one we liked ended up cancelling their 3-yr-old program because they needed the space for all their 4- and 5-yr-olds. But we figured a year later wouldn't really hurt.

Last October, I started calling around to get Zooey on a waiting list for 4-yr-old preschool for fall 2003. I was amazed how many programs were already filled up. The parish directly south of us had an opening, but their cut-off date was June 30, exactly one month before Zooey's birthday. So they wanted him to be with the 3-yr-olds, and that didn't sit well with me. Zooey already knows the whole alphabet and has been learning phonics on his own without any formal instruction from us. He can count fairly high, recognizes all his numbers up to 9 (and sometimes teens and twenties, depending on his mood). He does chores at home, plays well on his own or with groups, and recently has been attempting to "color within the lines" though we've never asked him too. In other words, I think he's practically ready for kindergarden, so I didn't want him stuck in a 3-yr-old preschool.

By spring, we were able to get him on a waiting list for the school we liked best, with only two hitches. First, there was no guarantee a spot would open for him. Second, it was afternoon preschool, and he still takes a nap in the afternoon (although he's about to give it up).

Then a minor miracle happened: our parish priest decided it was high time our school had a preschool program. The price is right -- three mornings a week at just $75 a month. The program features religion, literacy, numerical reasoning, music, fine motor skill development, and large motor skill exercise, which is everything I wanted. He will start each day with Mass, hooray hurrah. And depending on how the first semester goes and his "kindergarden readiness assessment," we have the option of moving him to either full day preschool three days a week (8:00- 3:30) or half days five days a week in the spring.

I'm pretty skittish about "kindergarden readiness." I've been told that boys are pretty much automatically held back until they are 6 around here, in both public and private schools. My husband and his brother were both held back, and since both are bright, school was painfully boring to each of them. There was no need to hold either one of them out of kindergarden until they were 6. Since my boy is already showing most of the signs of being ready and he's not quite 4, I really don't want him to start any later than 5. But he needs to prove himself to professional educators in a preschool setting. And I think he's going to do just great at St. Mary's School.

A word on homeschooling: I'd love to. I think it's a fantastic idea, and were I in a position to homeschool my kids, I would in a heartbeat. There are several factors that prevent this for our family (which I'll get into sometime but not today), but I'm still all for it. One of the things I need from St. Mary's School right now is the religious education Zooey will receive. My husband and I have only been Catholic for what, two-and-a-half months so far. We honestly need some wiser people to help us educate our children, because we're infants in the Catholic faith ourselves. We know it's not a bad thing that we'll be learning right along side Zooey for the most part, but the structure and experience that the school will provide is crucial to our family at this time.

Also, isn't there some sort of mandate that Catholics send their children to Catholic schools if at all possible? Our parish school rates extremely high in academics, religious education (conservative Diocese), community service, and safety, so I don't have much reason to think I could do better with a homeschool. If our parish school was faulty in any of those areas, I might feel differently, of course.

Anyway, for now, we're all happy and confident in this situation. Zooey loves to look at the school building as we leave Mass on Sundays. "That's my school!" he shouts with glee.

Am I crazy for hoping he always feels that way about his education?


Monday, July 07, 2003

So lemme get this straight – Baptist church, guest evangelist preaching repentance asks for a sign, the steeple is immediately struck by lightning, the charge travels through the sound system (blowing it out) and out the microphone held by said evangelist, "enveloping" him but not hurting him. Oh, and the church had to be evacuated because it was on fire.

Call me crazy, but the "sign" seems to be a "Stop that!" sort of message, don’t you think? The lightning bolt, the damaged sound system, the fire… But members of the church gleefully reported that it was "Awesome!"

Are you wondering how anybody could take that "sign" as positive? Well, welcome to the mind of the American evangelical.

I experienced something similar to this about eight years ago, when my husband and I were still attending that charismatic/pentacostal/evangelical church. It was the "beginning of the end" there for us. They brought in a guest evangelist who was a "healer," and the whole congregation was up in arms. Reports varied wildly, from "definite miracles" to "devil in disguise," though the scales tipped more heavily in favor of the man. I was at a mid-week service watching him do his stuff, and it was just like so many charleton preachers I’d seen exposed on television.

The senior associate pastor’s oldest boy had a genetic growth inhibition, and I watched the "healer" compare the youth’s height to the pastor’s wife, then sit the boy down in a chair and call up all his friends to crowd around him so they could "See it happen right up close." This, of course, cut the rest of us off from view. Apparently, the "preacher" slowly pulled one leg out until it was a couple inches longer than the other. Easy to do – the kid wants his leg to grow, so he stretches out as much as he can, which gives you an inch right there. The rest comes from a minor adjustment of the hips, which the "healer" can mask by pressing on the boy’s opposite thigh just so.

I remember clearly how the boy laughed and said, "Well, do the other leg now!" The man "evened out" the "growth." The boy stood next to his mother, standing tall as he could, and she – being a mom, wanting the problem solved – seemed to shrink into herself a bit. Voila, the boy was now two inches taller than his mother, when he had started out exactly the same height.

I bit my lip and shook my head as 50 or more people ran up and got in line, waiting for a personal touch of the healer. I went up, too, telling God that I trusted Him to show me if this man was for real or not. I showed the "preacher" a long scar on the back of my wrist from two surgeries, explained the lack of motion and early onset of arthritis. He gave me wrist a twist – which hurt – asked me if it was better. I said nothing, and he told me to give it time and pronounced me "healed," shooing me off the stage as the applause thundered on.

I was pretty sure he was a fake, but the ardor with which all these other people – whom I loved and respected – embraced this guy confused me. I decided to keep watching and waiting.

The next night, the "healer" was preaching when a bolt of lightning shook the building. All the electricity was gone, and we fell into darkness. Sitting near the back, I jumped up and felt my way to the nursery, where about two dozen kids were bawling with fear. (I was on staff, so I knew the building well.) Emergency lights came on outside one of the nursery doors. I dashed in and tried to help the two teenage babysitters account for all the babies and toddlers. Pandemonium. Some parents showed up right away, and we were able to match them with their kids in the narrow beam of the emergency lights. Other parents took their time, oblivious to what their tiny children must be feeling in such a situation.

My evaluation of the experience was all pretty negative. There were all these little kids in a nursery – some had been there every evening, all week, with just graham crackers, saltines and water to fill their tummies. The adult volunteers all wanted to be in the "healing services" so we could only scrounge up a couple of teenagers to keep track of so many little kids. I wasn’t a mom then, but I still thought it bordered on neglect. Now that I have kids, you wouldn’t catch me ever leaving my children in such a situation.

And what kind of "sign" was God sending us? In my mind, I thought it was clear that this was not a positive thing. If it wasn’t just a coincidence, it was definitely God’s way of putting an end to the chicanery I had been witnessing.

Furthermore, I didn’t like the way the church was dividing over this fellow. Seems like anybody who was really "of the Lord" as we used to say would bring people together, not cause so much strife.

On top of that, I noticed that the senior associate pastor and his family -- including the boy who was "healed" stopped coming to any of the services until the guest preacher left town. Nobody ever said anything aloud, but it was evident that the young man was still only as tall as his mother.

But the day after all this happened, there was only positive chatter about the "healer." Some folks even attributed the lightening strike to his "power." The church sent him on his merry way with a wallet full of money…and never mentioned him again. If the pastoral staff ever joined the senior associate pastor in a conclusion that this "preacher" was a fake, they never said anything to the rest of us.

It’s a sad thing when people hunger so much for a "sign from God" and don’t see it when He answers their prayers.

Being Catholic puts the whole idea of "signs" in different light. We have sacramentals. We have saints. We have religious art, statues and icons. And every day at Mass, we have the most wonderous Sign of all, when Christ enters each of us through the Eucharist.

God knows that people need signs. The whole Bible is full of this hunger that people have for holy things. Isn’t it a terrible shame that so many modern evangelicals have so thoroughly wiped their religious practices clean of holy things that they can’t tell a true Sign from God from a fake?

Thanks to Envoy Encore for the heads up on this story.


I'm still around. I just don't have anything interesting to say today. I'm trying to think of something blog-worthy, honest.


Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Yesterday was my daughter's first birthday. Still hard for me to believe she's one already! We had a little birthday party for her on Saturday, while my parents were still here. Butterflies. I made a cake, frosted it green and stuck large multi-colored sugar-cookie butterflies into the top. (I'd pushed large toothpicks into the cookies the second they came out of the oven, and that worked fine.) She got nice and sticky, covered ear-to-ear and fingertips-to-elbows with bright pink frosting.

The memories of E's birth are pretty funny. I had woken to a contraction around 3 a.m., but the next wasn't for 20 minutes and I didn't have to manage them in any special way, so no big deal. They sped up a little when I got up and showered, so my husband took Zooey, then just four weeks shy of his third birthday, to our friends' house for the day and stopped at the office to take care of a few things. But my contractions puttered out and I was left thinking the whole thing was just a sham, even though I was four days past my "official" due date. I set up the changing table and paced, disappointed. My husband returned home & we climbed back into bed. At 11 a.m. -- wham! I was in active labor.

My dear, darling, wonderful husband notified the doctor and the hospital and then proceeded to drive me absolutely nuts for the next 45 minutes while he washed his coffee cup, straightened up the house and puttered around for a while. The ride to the hospital was NOT fun -- the seat belt tightening under my belly at each stop light was thoroughly annoying, and I kept telling my husband not to drive over any bumps -- as if he had a choice! Though we live in Lincoln, Nebraska, we had to park somewhere in Iowa because the hospital parking lot was underconstruction (exaggerating), but I wanted to walk in instead of riding the courtesty golf cart that zipped over when some lady flagged the driver down.

Our room wasn't ready -- busy day in the maternity ward. (We found out later that another mom had given birth in the lactation consultant's office because all the labor rooms were full. And I recovered up on the orthopedic ward because maternity was overflowing.) So we went to the waiting area to labor. A grandmother wandered in to watch TV while her daughter or daughter-in-law delivered in another room, but after watching me have one episode of back labor, she disappeared in search of coffee and never came back.

At 12:30, my husband ran down the hall to say we needed a room NOW, and they obliged in about ten minutes. At 1 p.m., I was checked & told I was about halfway there, and my doctor was called & told it would be "an hour or two." My nurse started filling the jacuzzi tub for me -- best cure for back labor! At 1:10, my husband, who had missed lunch, went down the hall to the snack machine, and I went into the bathroom to pee. Minutes later, I couldn't talk, so I slammed the laundry cart against the bathroom wall two or three times, and my nurse and husband came running. They knew what I didn't -- the baby was right there! The nurse pulled the panic string and somehow, she and my husband got me up onto the bed. I got to squat because nobody took the time to make me lay down, hee hee hee! Four other nurses came running in, one got on the phone and all the rest started chanting, "Don't push, don't push!" Like I could help it. Our little girl came flying out in two pushes at 1:20. The doctor walked in at 1:21, just in time to hand her to me so I could nurse. Perfect baby with a perfect little head (thanks to a short stay in the birth canal and the smaller skull she inherited from my side).

Now that baby is a 22-lb. ball of fire with big blue eyes and a stubborn streak. She knows darn well how to climb off the couch feet first, slithering down on her tummy, but the other day she decided to go down squirrel-style -- hands first, then head. I was right there but just missed catching her. She tucked her head in time to avoid injury but didn't enjoy tumbling onto her back and cried heartily. You'd think that would have stopped her, but she's not giving up. She keeps trying to climb down head first! Takes after her mother, so we desperately need prayers.

The kids get along great, and I'm so glad. I've never been particularly close to any of my siblings. But Zooey, upon arriving at the hospital, snuggled up with the baby in his arms and sang, "Rock a bye, baby, on the tree top..." except with his own special line at the end, "And Zooey will catch you, cradle and all." Now, they make each other laugh like nobody else can, and if one is crying the other is sure to show up to offer comfort in some small way. They even play with Legos together -- Zooey puts them together and E. takes them apart. So far, so good.

Children are such a great blessing. Go on, go find yours and give them some big hugs. Or if they are grown up, at least call them or something. And if you are praying to conceive right now, I pray with you that you'll be welcoming another blessing very soon! (Hear that, Davey's Mommy?)