Fonticulus Fides

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Thanksgiving for a Safe Return

My husband, in-laws and my mother-in-law's parents all returned safely from Missouri yesterday. Turned out everybody refused to drive the rental truck except my husband. After seeing it pull into the farmyard, I can understand why. A 15' truck is really, really big. Big enough that is makes you wonder that average folks are even allowed to rent such monstrosities and drive them over state lines without a special license.

But no mishaps. It was a lot bigger (and when fully loaded, heavier) than anything my husband had ever driven before, but he did all right. The worst part of the trip was that his mother rode alone with him -- knuckles white, lips pursed, blood pressure skyrocketing -- telling him to slow down every time they headed downhill. A truck like that sure picks up speed on the downhill stretches of road.

The kids and I drove out to the farm at 7:30 p.m. to pick him up. Edyn, who was virtually napless all day, slept on the way out while Zooey and I sang Christmas songs and chatted a bit about things like why cattle yards smell so bad. (They don't all smell bad, but some are pretty sloppy about manure management, and those will get you. And yeah, we passed one on the way out to the farm.)

When we climbed out of our vehicle, Zooey was flabbergasted at the vast number of stars in the sky. It was a very clear night, and out in the country, there are fewer competing lights, so the number of stars you can see is at least tripled. It was like being in the middle of the Milky Way. We stood there for a minute and stared at God's workmanship, but it was pretty chilly and I had to get Edyn inside.

It is SOOOOOO good to have my husband home again. I know, he was only gone 51 hours, but I missed him greatly. And yesterday, my pregnancy hormones were getting the better of me so every little mishap felt like a major catastrophe. My husband is the emotional rock in our household. When I'm pregnant & weepy like this and ready to fall apart, even just a look in his direction is enough to get me back on track.

I imagine we'll be heading out to the farm again tomorrow to help unload. My husband has a gig tonight & I'm trying to catch up on some tasks this afternoon, so today was out for us.


Ides of March, Nothing -- Beware Friday-After-Thanksgiving Sales!

Here's another reason I don't shop at Walmart. It attracts the worst elements of our society. In this particular case, a woman first in line for cheap DVDs at the Walmart's annual Friday-After-Thanksgiving "Doorbuster" sale was trampled, knocked unconscious and suffered a seizure. Most people simply stepped over or on her so that they could collect the coveted $29 piece of junk and keep on shopping. In fact the EMTs who showed up to rescue this woman found her lying unconsious on the floor while shoppers milled around her, seemingly oblivious to her injuries. Doesn't that just reek of Christmas spirit?

As for Walmart, that "caring" mass retailer, they have offered to put a DVD player on hold for the victim. Can't even fork a $29 item over for free to a loyal customer who was trampled in their store due to, apparently, a lack of security and order. Even though the item itself probably only cost WalMart $10-$15. Yeah, THAT's the kind of corporation I want to give our hard-earned dollars to.


Thursday, November 27, 2003

It's really late, but I didn't want the day to pass without taking the time to post my thanks. My husband left for Missouri Wednesday and won't be back until tomorrow, so I've been alone with the kids & very little time to dash down to the computer. (He's with his parents and uncle, moving his grandparents back up to Nebraska, ane he'll be driving the big rental truck all day tomorrow so please pray for a safe journey back for all of them.)

I have so many things to be thankful for, I don't know quite where to begin.

I guess the most obvious thing to be grateful for is that we have a God who is so loving and merciful, He sent His Son to us, to walk with us, to teach us, to die for us, and to conquer death and sin for us. A flabbergasting truth, really. It blows me away when I think of it.

I should think of it more often.

I'm exceedingly thankful for the Church, too. The Sacraments, the rich traditions, the order, the history, the enormous catalog of prayers and practices that help folks get through life, day by day. I've believed in Christ for a little more than 14 years now, and I've only been Catholic for 7 months -- I honestly don't know how I managed before having the wealth of Catholicism at my disposal.

I'm incredibly thankful to be married to a man who is everything I can respect, honor, love, share with, serve and commit myself to. Okay, he's not perfect, but who cares if his dirty socks never find their way into the laundry basket when the man himself is honest, hard-working, gifted, godly, devoted to his children, selfless, supportive...better stop or I'll never get to bed.

I'm thankful for my kids. Zooey, the child we thought we'd never have after those years of infertility. The joy he takes in every-day things is a constant reminder to me not to get bogged down in my life duties, but to find something to sing about anyway. Who was it that said "A boy is a noise with dirt on it..."? If you make it, "a perpetually moving noise with dirt on it and a disarming smile," that's Zooey. In a good way of course.

Edyn, our second big surprise. She is turning out to be such a tender and affectionate person, "mothering" her dolls already and offering kisses to a picture of a crying child in one of our story books. I grew up in such a...well, hostile family, I used to worry a lot that I would ever be able to create a loving family. Fortunately, God took care of that for me, and He gave Edyn an extra dose of tenderness that I really need, both as an example of how I can parent and as the much-appreciated comfort she provides throughout my day.

And our next big surprise, as yet un-named and unseen by any of us, except in foggy ultrasound shot. All I know about this baby is that he or she will be another blessing...I'm excited to find out in what ways.

I'm thankful that we have a decent home and one decent vehicle and wholesome food to eat. I'm thankful that we're all adequately clothed and live in a relatively safe community. I'm thankful for the many people who take care of us, from our good friends to my husband's extended family (especially Aunt Jeretta, who hosted the children and I today so that we wouldn't be alone on a holiday) to the Bishop and priests of our Diocese who consistently inspire us to holiness.

I'm thankful to live in a world where miracles still happen, where the constellation Orion springs mightily over my neighbor's house with bow stretched to the ready, where Terri Schiavo is still alive, where there are still generous people out there who try to help the needy, where there is great art and music and literature to be enjoyed.

And in a minute, I'll be thankful for my comfortable bed and cotton sheets, with the soft rhythmic breathing of a toddler beside me and prayers in my heart and on my lips.

Good night.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Recall Alert -- Pregnant Moms Please Take Notice!

Since Chirp is down for maintenance, I'm posting this notice in particular:

KB Specialty Foods Has Recalled Deli Chef Sour Cream & Cheese
Macaroni Salad

Reason: Listeria monocytogenes.
Distribution: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, North
Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas,
Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Read Article

Listeria is nothing to be trifled with. An old friend of mine contracted it on Mothers Day 1999 -- her baby was due in September but she went into premature labor and delivered the day after she ate the infected potato salad. Her little girl is a healthy, happy 4-yr-old now, but she almost didn't make it being born so early. And their first years with her were fraught with medical problems, RSV, asthma, you name it.

Listeria can also have terrible effects on the elderly and very small children. So watch out for this, particularly with huge family feasts this weekend.


This op-ed piece is from today's New York Times. I place it here in its entirety because you need to have an on-line subscription to read it and I know not everybody out there does.


Don't Tell the Pope

Pope John Paul II would be scandalized if he came to the Roman Catholic hospital here in the poor southwestern part of El Salvador.

Thank God!

The Vatican is increasingly out of touch and exerts a reactionary — even, in this world of AIDS, deadly — influence on health policy in the developing world. Here in El Salvador, church leaders in 1998 helped ban abortions even when necessary to save the life of a woman, and, much worse, helped pass a law, which took effect last month, requiring condoms to carry warnings that they do not protect against AIDS.

In El Salvador, where only 4 percent of women use contraceptives the first time they have sex, this law will mean more kids dying of AIDS. The reality is that condoms no more cause sex than umbrellas cause rain.

Here at the grass roots, the Catholic Church is a vibrant, flexible organization enormously different from the out-of-touch Vatican. At the Catholic-run hospital here in Sonsonate, doctors tell women about IUD's and the pill — and especially about using condoms to protect against AIDS. Their humanitarian work is a reminder that the Catholic Church is much greater than the Vatican: local priests and nuns often ignore the troglodytes in Rome and quietly do what they can to save parishioners from AIDS.

"The bishop is in San Salvador and never comes here," explains Dr. Martha Alica De Regalada. "So we never get in trouble."

The Vatican has consistently opposed condoms and safe-sex education, even claiming falsely that condoms don't protect against AIDS. That's on par with the church under Pope Urban VIII putting Galileo under house arrest — except that this will have more deadly results.

Yet I take my hat off to the much broader Catholic Church that is toiling in the barrios of Latin America and the slums of Africa and Asia. Catholic Relief Services, one of the most vigorous aid organizations in the third world, is an example of humanitarianism at its noblest.

At ground level, priests apply doctrine with a flexibility that must drive the pope wild. In the desperately poor Salvadoran hillside village of Chucita, where campesinos live in shacks without water or electricity, a teacher explained how his fifth-grade class learns about dealing with AIDS.

"A social worker comes in with a banana and puts a condom on it," said the teacher, Eduardo Antonio Ascencio Mata. The priests, he says, have no objection.

In the remote Guatemalan town of Coatepeque, Maryknoll sisters run a first-rate AIDS clinic and prevention program, saving lives on a vast scale. They work with prostitutes and school children and explain how condoms can protect against AIDS.

So what about Vatican teachings?

"Certainly, God does not want us to kill each other," responded Marlene Condon, who works with AIDS patients. "You've got to do something."

Elsewhere in Coatepeque, some priests hold meetings where young people preparing for confirmation learn about AIDS — and condoms.

The Vatican has appointed hard-line bishops to eviscerate liberation theology and bring parishes back into line. Still, the French and German bishops' conferences have urged that condoms be permitted to fight AIDS, and Bishop Kevin Dowling of South Africa is pushing hard for the church to change policy to save lives.

Just this month, Catholics for a Free Choice and 20 other Catholic organizations called on bishops to accept condoms as a way to fight AIDS.

The irony is that no organization does more to help AIDS victims and their orphans than the Catholic Church. Some 25 percent of AIDS care worldwide is provided by church- related groups. Yet the Vatican blindly opposes condoms, even within a marriage when a husband or wife is infected with H.I.V. A member of the Kenyan Parliament has called the church "the greatest impediment in the fight against H.I.V./AIDS."

Let's hope the Vatican will learn from its priests and nuns on the ground, who do so much heroic work fighting the disease. In Coatepeque, I spoke with Father Mario Adolfo Dominguez, who sighed as I grilled him on the theology of condoms.

"We don't recommend the use of condoms, but we're not opposed to their use because we know they prevent AIDS," he said, looking nervous as I wrote down his words. "There is no contradiction between Christianity and a piece of rubber."


My take on this:

Sometimes, good intentions lead to bad outcomes. I understand that the priests and nuns in question believe they are doing the right thing in trying to prevent the spread of AIDS. But you know what? Condoms break. Regularly. And they are misused. Regularly. They only have a 90% success rate in preventing the transmission of AIDS according to the World Health Organization itself (which supports the distribution of condoms to prevent AIDS).

Reality check -- that's like taking all the bullets but one out of a gun held by a suicidal person. If you really, really love a person whose life is at risk, you don't leave them with an opportunity to play Russian Roulette. You take the gun away altogether.

That's what the Vatican says to do. Don't leave folks with a false sense of security in condoms. Tell them the truth -- if you don't want to contract AIDS, then don't have sex outside of a monogamous marriage between two HIV-free people. That's the only way to be sure. That's God's way of making sure.

Is it easy? No. Is it fun? No. Does it require a great deal of self-control and self-sacrifice? You bet. But priests and nuns in particular have the personal experience to help others choose celibacy and succeed in such a lifestyle. That should be their focus, not condom distribution.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Peony and Pansy Moss wax eloquent on the issue of breastfeeding in public today. Don't worry -- nobody's "whipping it out" over there...


Monday, November 24, 2003

It is always terribly hard for me to admit that I've made an error. It is especially hard for me to admit it when I know the error can foist some suffering on my husband and children -- innocents who should't have to pay the price for my personal short-comings. And it's even harder for me to admit when this error has been accomplished in miniscule bits and pieces over a long period of time and it's only the cumulative effect that has made me (and others) finally notice my mistake. I so very much wish my life had a rewind button at times like this.

Oh, the agony of unwinding a large, complicated knot of failure!


Friday, November 21, 2003

Big Purchase

Well, we're using a large chunk of our federal tax refund check for having two children on one item -- a set of bunkbeds and accompanying trundle. A store here was having a sale on the bunks and then you got either the trundle or a drawer unit free. Since we're about to have three kids, we opted for the trundle. For now, we're planning on just setting up the lower bunk for Zooey and using the trundle for Edyn. Kids aren't supposed to be on a top bunk until they are six anyway (and Zoo is only 4). Plus Edyn is climbing ladders now, and I hate to think of what predicaments she could get herself into if there was a ladder in the bedroom.

Zooey is extremely happy with the purchase, even though he knows he won't get a top bunk until he turns six. We're pretty happy with it too -- got a good price on it and it's solid wood and seems well made. It should be in town on Tuesday of next week. My next project is finding a twin mattress that will fit the trundle. We wanted to use a local mattress company (always buy local when we can), but the thinnest they have is 7" and that's about an inch and a half too thick. I also have to lay in a supply of bedding -- Zooey is still in a toddler bed with his old crib mattress right now. I use the fitted crib sheets for him, and on top, he's got one of the old flat sheets from our full-sized bed, which I cut in half and seamed to make two flat sheets for his toddler bed. And his blanket is a cotton alfghan that he adopted last winter as his own. Now I'll have to buy twin mattress covers, twin sheets and twin blankets, I guess. I will eventually make the kids each a quilt, but I doubt I can get it done before the winter's out, as limited as my time is.

Aside from bookshelves and a couple side tables from Target, this is actually only the second time my husband and I have purchased a new piece of furniture in the whole 9.5 years we've been married, if you can believe it. Our house is pretty much all decorated in Early American Cast-Off. The living room couch used to be his parents, the Big Red Chair and giant ottoman from Ethan Allen that everybody loves once belonged to the people who hired me as a nanny. The dining room set was my grandmother's, the bedroom set was my husband's great-grandfather's, and all four of the other dressers used to belong to somebody or other. Yeah, four dressers. One is the changing table with Edyn's clothing, one holds Zooey's clothes and spare towels, one sits in the living room and contains the TV, VCR, tapes and cds, and the remaining one is a series of junk drawers these days. I have this idea that I can trade in the Queen Anne dining room table & buffet and the last two dressers (also Queen Anne) for an antique Mission style dining room table, chairs and buffet, but I haven't been brave enough to try. We like Mission best and aren't really fond of Queen Anne, but I hear QA is coming back in vogue. Maybe it's possible that the desire for mission is falling off and I might find some savvy antique store owner who would jump at the chance to unload Mission in favor of QA. Then we'd all be happy.


Thursday, November 20, 2003

Question about Holy Water

Our parish has a -- for lack of a better word -- dispenser filled with Holy Water that apparently anyone may use. What sort of container is appropriate to take Holy Water home in? I know some folks annoint their kids with Holy Water as a regular blessing -- how else may it be used?

(And please forgive the silly questions -- as I've said numerous times, the Catholic faith is so complex, I keep unearthing wonderous new traditions and practices that I can make my own.)


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Submissive Wives

Mrs. Dashwood has posted some very sensible statements on a woman's duty to submit to her husband, all of which I whole-heartedly agree with.

My husband and I discussed these things before we were married, and what it has basically worked out to be is that we work toward a unified agreement whenever possible. But when it's not, my role is to submit and my husband's role is to never ask me to do so, nor to comment on my submission (either in terms of gloats or thanks). It's worked out well for us. Of course, in 9 years of marriage, I can count on just a few fingers the times I've had to "force" myself to submit. I may have had a differing opinion if it was a daily (or hourly) occurance.



Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor wrote your book. Not much escapes
your notice.

Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Here I thought I was going insane, but really, my life is just a Flannery O'Connor novel. That makes it so much easier to accept. I just love Flannery O'Connor. (Although if my quiz answers would have produced "Jane Austen" I would have been equally pleased).

Hey, darling husband of mine, if you happen to be reading this, would you please consider putting "Mary Flannery" back onto our potential baby names list?


Monday, November 17, 2003

Gee, thanks for telling me not to worry if my daughter wants to copy you, Britney but if you don't mind, I'd worry. I'd worry a whole bunch if my little girl decided it was okay to use her talents to spew sexually explicit lyrics over the airways, show off her body to sell her albums, openly admit to premarital sexual relations that were "a mistake" and to practice open-mouthed kissing with another woman in front of a national television audience.

Just my opinion, of course. But then, I'm a 39-year-old woman who has been around the block a few times and you're just 21 so you'll have to forgive me for thinking I might know more about the effects of your actions than you do.


Proud Mommy Boast

Actually, I'll brag in a minute. First, I'll confess that I let Zooey watch The Wizard of Oz last night. I found out today that it's on the Vatican's list of "approved" family movies, so that's okay. But I also forgot that most kids are frightened to death of various parts of the movie. It never bothered me when I was a kid. I figured Zooey would enjoy it.

Well, a half hour into it, I had to hold him on my lap and tell him that Dorothy was going to be just fine even though she couldn't get into the basement. "She's going on a special trip," I said. "She's going to make some new friends and help some people, and then she'll come back home again." Inside, I chastened myself for jumping the gun. I offered to shut the movie off if it was making him sad, but Zooey said no, and I thought it might be better for him to see the happy ending. I just forgot all the stuff that happens in between.

He watched the movie intently, and I watched him intently. He was nervous when Dorothy got to Oz -- "I'm worried. How will she get home to her bed?"

I assured Zooey that things would turn out just right & Dorothy would get home again, and that satisfied him. A little bit down the yellow brick road, and Zooey looked concerned again. He wasn't so sure about the scarecrow. I explained it was just a guy in a scarecrow costume, and that he was going to be a good friend. He accepted that and returned to enjoying the movie. I prepared him for the apple trees, the tin man, and the lion in the same way, and we got through those.

Then the poppy scene came on, and Zoo got very agitated. "They need help!" he exclaimed, a little panicky. I held him close while we waited for Glinda's snow to awaken Dorothy, Toto and the Lion. Then I prepared him for the Wizard -- "It's just a guy who wants everybody to think he's scary, but he's really not. He shows people a movie that is supposed to scare them, but in the end, you'll see he's just a regular guy."

I'd forgotten about the flying monkey bit -- in fact, I think that was edited out for TV when I was a kid. But Zooey took that in stride, saying something about all the boys in "monkey Halloween costumes." When Dorothy was carried off, he said, "She needs her dog!" and he was actually happy that a monkey nabbed Toto because the dog and girl would be together. But he just about collapsed when he saw Toto stashed in a picnic basket. "What are they going to do to the dog?" he moaned, tearing up a little. I told him Toto would get away, and just then the little canine popped out of the basket and escaped. Again, I offered to turn off the TV, but Zooey refused, and I concluded that the happy ending would be in order.

To my amazement, the chase and cornering bit didn't bother Zooey at all. Nor did the Scarecrow getting set on fire. It's almost like he knew Dorothy would come to the rescue. Then he was happy that the "witch in a bad mood" was gone and everybody would get what they needed from the Wizard.

But in the last Oz scene, when Dorothy is finally going home, Zooey started to cry. "She has to say good-bye to her friends," he explained. I hugged him close and reminded him that he has to say good-bye to his friends, too, but they always get to see each other again in a few days.

So, bad mommy for letting Zooey watch a movie that was too intense for him. But I am so glad that Zooey is an empathetic child, who worries about the safety and feelings of other people. Even pretend people on a TV screen.

That's the really mommy boast. But I'll throw in another. Zooey's learning to sing "Away in a Manger" at preschool for the Christmas pageant, complete with hand gestures. He is so darn CUTE when he sings it for me, raising his hands and wiggling his fingers to represent "...the stars in the sky..." So, racking up the "bad mommy" points, I'm going to ask my husband to record Zooey singing the carol (my husband can play along on guitar) and make copies that I can send to all the grandparents. I'll be kind (or at least cheap) and not send it out with Christmas cards, though.


This is old news about a crib toy made in China that utters a rhythmic "I hate you" message over and over again, but it just came to my attention.

A mother interviewed in the article speculates that the Chinese put the message in on purpose. "China is no friend of ours," she says.

Well, you wouldn't think so if you inspected most of the products on today's store shelves. I tried to do some Christmas shopping over the weekend (I want to get it all out of the way before I get too enormous pregnancy-wise), and while I was able to easily pick out some board games for nieces and nephews that were made in the U.S.A. and a couple other friendly nations, I struck out on infant toys. I must have looked at every single infant toy available, and without fail, they were all made in China.

Because of Chinese policy on family size, euthanasia and religion, I do my best not to buy anything made in China. And boy, it's tough to do and still maintain a budget. I buy almost all my kids' clothing used, except shoes & undies. Well, I might buy a pair of dress shoes used, if there was little or no wear showing on them, but not for every-day shoes. But I can't afford to spend $38 on a pair of kids' shoes that my young ones will wear less than a year. The obvious choice is to go to Payless, but every single pair of shoes that I've ever inspected there have been made in China. (The web site doesn't tell you this, btw. You have to look at the shoe itself.) And even though I'm just representing one small U.S. family, I feel compelled to "vote with my pocketbook" and avoid Chinese-made items when I can.

Still, I have had to give in on occasion. Edyn's wearing a pair of Payless shoes right now. I regret it, but at the time it was a choice between a shoeless child and buying one under-$10 item made in China. Siiiigh.

I wish more people who are opposed to Chinese policies would be more diligent about the items they buy. But it is sooo hard. You can't even count on a Catholic bookstore to avoid stocking China-made merchandise. I bought some Christmas ornaments at our local Catholic bookstore last year, thinking for sure that they'd be okay, but when I got home and took them out of the packaging, I was stunned to see every last one of them was stamped "Made in China."

But does this woman in the article have a point that the Chinese are purposely trying to hurt our kids? Well, thinking back on the recalls I've seen, last year there were Gymboree stuffed toys made in China that had to be recalled because they had needles and sharp metal chards sewn into them. And just a few weeks ago, there was another recall for Chinese-made Lamaze toys coated in lead paint. In fact, Chinese manufacturers routinely have recalls due to lead paint. They keep painting that crap on baby toys and sending it over. Are they trying to hurt our young?

I wouldn't put it past them. After all, they gamely slaughter thousands of their own babies every year.

Please, if you disagree with Chinese policy like I do, pay attention to the items you are purchasing and find alternatives to "Made in China" whenever you can. If enough of us do our part, the trade relationship our nation has with China will soon begin to crumble. You can also write companies like Gymboree and Lamaze, who are supposed to be family-friendly, and ask them to be more careful in choosing their manufacturers. Meanwhile, know that the more you support U.S. manufacturers, the more they will be able to compete on price.


Friday, November 14, 2003

I must have missed this on my regular recall notices, but I thought I should post it here. There is a long list of medications on it -- if you have any of the meds on hand, please call the 800-number on the label and check to be absolutely certain about this recall.

Medication Recall

All drugs containing PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE are being recalled. You
may want to try calling the 800 number listed on most drug boxes and inquire about a REFUND.

Please read this CAREFULLY. Also, please pass this on to everyone you know. STOP TAKING anything containing this ingredient. It has been linked to increased hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in brain) among women ages 18-49 in the three days after starting use of medication. Problems were not found in men, but the FDA recommended that everyone (especially women and children) seek alternative medicine.

The following medications contain Phenylpropanolamine:

Acutrim Diet Gum Appetite Suppressant
Acutrim Pl! us Dietary Supplements
Acutrim Maximum Strength Appetite Control
Alka-Seltzer Plus Children's Cold Medicine Effervescent
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold medicine (cherry or orange)
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine
Original Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold &Cough Medicine Effervescent
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold &Flu Medicine
Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold &Sinus Effervescent
Alka-Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine
BC Allergy Sinus Cold Powder
BC Sinus Cold Powder
Comtrex Flu Therapy & Fever
Coricidin D Cold, Flu &Sinus
Dexatrim Caffeine Free
Dexatrim Extended Duration
Dexatrim Gelcaps
Dexatrim Vitamin C/Caffeine Free
Dimetapp Cold &Allergy Chewable Tablets
Dimetapp Cold &Cough Liqui-Gels
Dimetapp DM Cold &Cough Elixir
Dimetapp Elixir Dimetapp 4 Hour Liquid Gels
Dimetapp 4 Hour Tablets
Dimetapp 12 Hour Extentabs Tablets
Naldecon DX
Pediatric Drops Permathene Mega-16
Robitussin CF
Tavist-D 12 Hour Relief of Sinus &Nasal Congestion
Triaminic DM Cough Relief
Triaminic Expectorant Chest &Head
Triaminic Syrup Cold &Allergy
Triaminic Triaminicol Cold &Cough...

Note from the person who sent this to me:

"I just found out and called the 800 number on the container for triaminic and they informed me that they are voluntarily recalling the following medicines because of a certain ingredient that is causing strokes and seizures in children:

> Orange 3D Cold &Allergy
> Cherry (Pink) 3D Cold &Cough
> Berry 3D Cough Relief
> Yellow 3D Expectorant

They are asking you to call them at 800-548-3708 with the lot number on the box so they can send you postage for you to send it back to them, and they will also issue you a refund."

Please double-check all your over-the-counter meds for this PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE and call any manufacturers that use it -- even if your particular bottle isn't recalled, it's better to be safe than sorry.


I meant to blog last night about the gorgeous sunset our Lord treated us to in Nebraska, but I never got a chance to sit in front of the computer. It was really breathtaking -- vivid pinks and oranges, and the sun seemed to pause just after it dipped past the horizon, so the colors hung in the air for what seemed like an hour.

I've seen sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico and plenty of other places in the Midwest, but nothing compares to the sunsets I've witnessed in Nebraska during autumn. The colors are so rich, the expanse of the hues so much larger. It fills your eye entirely, from the farthest corners of your peripheral vision.

Part of the spectacular color is, I'm sure, due to lower air pollution levels. But since the colors are so much better in the fall than during spring or summer, I attribute much of the effect to harvest. I think the gold, orange and red chaff that flies up into the air from the combines is carried high on the wind, and the setting sun reflects all those miniscule, glittery particles. Just my personal thought, of course -- not scientific research.

If you are from the city like I am, you might wonder what produces orange or red chaff. The gold color is from the corn, of course. Soybeans (second largest crop) tend to be tawny or a drab greenish-brown color. But the third largest crop out here is grain sorghum, or milo. In fact, more milo is grown in Nebraska than anywhere else. It's a good dryland crop -- doesn't need irrigation, and if you farm no-till, it can do a good job replenishing the soil. If you plant too many nutrient-hungry crops in a row, say six consecutive years of corn in the same field, your soil gets worn out and can't sustain a crop well. Which is why crop rotation is so important. And out here in the plains, a good dryland crop like milo that requires no irrigation is a good choice.

Milo comes in several different colors, but the most popular ones are orange, red and yellow. Hence the different colored chaff. The milo plant looks something like a small corn stalk topped with a cone-shaped head of small pearl-like grain. Some farmers fill the left side of their planters with one color grain and the right side with another color, and when the grain heads ripen, their fields are striped orange and crimson.

The grain itself is generally used for animals, like dog food or cattle feed. There is also a grade for human consumption, that is typically pale yellow or white. It's called "millet" when it's meant for humans, and though it's been a while since I had any, I remember it being quite a bit like couscous.

Job update...

My husband's job interview went well. He will probably be offered the job officially sometime next week. But the salary is dismal. It's quite a significant pay cut. Some of that will be offset by commissions, but those fluctuate. So the sensible thing to do is to budget using the salary only and then apply commissions to things like unexepected expenses, savings (if we ever had enough to save) or accelerated debt reduction for the few debts we carry. At this point, I don't know if we can live on the base salary he'd get. We'll have to work on the numbers and see.

Mentally, though, the job would be so much better for my husband. The work atmosphere would be totally different. He'd enjoy it more, he'd be more respected. He'd be far less stressed, which would give him more energy for his side business. And if that could grow, it could also help offset the significant reduction in base salary. I hope we find a way for him to take the job. But part of me is so depressed that an assistant manager with previous management experience and a college degree might have to settle for $16k a year! That's hardly a living wage, even for a single person. Let alone a married man with three kids.

Well, I know God will help us live honorably, and that's really our primary goal. It's not like we need an enormous income...but we do want to be able to cover the basics of food, housing, medical care when needed, etc.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

My husband's update...

He took the high road. He quietly set things to right without confronting his co-worker, although he did let his immediate supervisor (not the owner of the company) know about the situation.

Tomorrow night, he has a job interview. It would be a good job for him in some ways, and he is well-qualified. I hope he gets it. Just to be able to get out of the situation he's in now, where he's not respected, not adequately compensated for the work he does, etc.

Farm update...

My father-in-law got about 85 bushels to the acre in corn. Not too bad, considering he doesn't irrigate and it's a drought year. He usually averages around 110, so that's only a 23% difference. It could have been a lot worse.

Unfortunately, the bank is foreclosing on the farm immediately to the north of my father-in-law's. This was the original parcel that Great-Great-Grandpa Andrew got when the Civil War ended and he got a land contract from the USA. This is the Andrew that grew the operation into the largest farm in the county. Even the creek that winds through many of the farms in the area is named after him.

When he died, he divided his farm among his children. My father-in-law works land that was left to Andrew's daughter Clara and her husband Charlie. They had two children, Daisy and another Andrew, and the farm was divided in half for each of those kids. Daisy sold her share off in bits and pieces to support herself as she grew older, but the second Andrew -- my husband's grandfather -- kept his part and that's what my father-in-law and his siblings inherited. My father-in-law owns the acreage that includes the farm house Charlie built, the barn and various other outbuildings. The other siblings own the rest in kind, but it's all farmed together.

My father-in-law's second cousin and her husband run the farm to the north, which she inherited much like my father-in-law inherited his portion of Great-Great-Grandpa Andrew's original holdings. But they haven't managed it well. They declared bankruptcy in 1998, and there's been nothing but drought since. So now the foreclosure.

Not only is Andrew's original parcel, it also is the site of the duggout he built when he first claimed the land. Yes, he actually lived in a man-made cave, neatly whitewashed, along the shores of the creek. Just like in Little House on the Prairie and Giants in the Earth.

The duggout collapsed many years ago, but you can still see the site. And above it, on the ridge, is the family cemetary. This is where Andrew, all his children and most if not all of his grandchildren are buried. The graves of my husband's grandparents and aunt Clara Beth and great-aunt Daisy are there. And I know my father-in-law always intended to be buried there, too.

We don't know yet if the family cemetary will be part of the sale of the whole farm or not. My father-in-law and his siblings, even pooling together, could not come up with the price the whole land promises to fetch. It could be $300,000, my father-in-law says. If there is an opportunity to buy just that little bit of land where the cemetary is -- an acre, I think -- they might try to do it. And it's possible that portion was never intended to be part of the sale. We'll just have to see.

Farm foreclosures are so hard, especially when the land has been in your family for over 100 years. You lose not only the land, but the house, the barn, all the equipment. Sometimes, depending on how the mortgage was written, folks lose their furniture and other memorabilia. They might only be allowed to take their personal clothing and sundries.

That's what happened when my grandmother's brother lost the family farm. She had to bid against antique store dealers and other folks to get a dining room chair her grandfather had made by hand. And when somebody outbid her on the oval framed photos of herself and her brother Charles, who was killed in WWI, she had cried and begged the woman to just let her purchase the photos themselves -- Grandma didn't want the frames and concave glass, just the pictures.

I have them now. I want to get the one of my grandmother framed. She's a baby, maybe 10 months old, and three or four kittens are playing in her lap. She has the biggest smile on her face. Someday, I'll scrape together the money to get an oval frame and flat glass for it. Someday.

Anyway, I hope Randy and Marilyn aren't going to go through the same loss when the foreclosure auction is held. I hope they'll be allowed to keep their family photos and some furniture and dishes, pots and pans, towels and sheets, and other practicalities. It's hard enough to start over in your late 50s or early 60s without having to start completely from scratch.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Don't look at me...

...because if you do, I'll let you down. More than likely, anyway. That's how it is with us human beings. We fail. We fail each other, we fail ourselves, and we fail God. Sometimes intentionally. More often -- I hope -- unintentionally.

And yet we're put in a position to rely on each other. That's how people were made. "It is not good for man to be alone," God said. So He created Eve and gave humans the means of creating a family, which would grow into a community, which would grow into the human population.

We rely on each other, because we have to. Because we're supposed to. And still we fail.

Yesterday, I experienced the feelings of sorrow, confusion and betrayal that come when somebody you trust lets you down. Today, my husband found evidence that a co-worker made an underhanded move that might very well have costed my husband the last bit of respect he gets from a generally disrespectful employer...and maybe it would have even costed my husband his job. He's still trying to decide how to deal with the situation, so please pray for him.

These situations are regretful, but they are unavoidable as long as we must rely on mere mortals. And so we must.

At work, you rely on your co-workers, your supervisors, the people who run the business to keep it financially stable, the customers who keep you in business, etc. At home, you rely on other members of your family.

In the community, you rely on your neighbors to be honest and trustworthy. You rely on the fire department or police station to come to your aid if need be. You rely on your government to keep things functioning (and maybe even to not tax you unfairly, if you are idealistic enough). You rely on health care professionals to know how to help you in sickness and injury. You rely on the electric company to provide continuing service. Go to a restaurant and you rely on the kitchen staff to prepare your food well, without deadly additives like rat poison or bacteria like e. coli.

Maybe the issue of inter-dependence is supposed to make us more reliable. The sense of responsibility, you know. We're supposed to do our best on the job because it's our "contractural" agreement with the boss, in exchange for the paycheck. We're supposed to think, I vowed to love, honor and serve my spouse, so now I have to, whether I feel like it or not. I admit, there have been times that such a thought is the only thing that has made me a decent wife to live with at times.

But that doesn't work for everybody. Witness my brother-in-law. I was at the wedding, I heard their vows. I saw the love-light shining in their eyes and the wide smiles of joy after they were pronounced "husband and wife." But she's gone now. He's settling into a new rhythm without her. Their daughter is growing more accustomed to seeing her parents one at a time instead of all of them working as a family unity. The vows have been broken, irrevocably, it seems. The words uttered a bit more than six years ago have fallen meaningless to the ground.

And what about the other people who have not made a vow, whose responsibility to us is sort of an "unwritten code of honor." My husband's co-worker is trying to pass the blame for a serious error onto him, somebody whom the boss might consider "more expendable" than the co-worker himself (who happens to be the boss' nephew). Is he afraid of Uncle's wrath? Or dishonoring the family? Or is he just a moral-less, lying cheat?

The people who let me down weren't necessarily trying to hurt me, but attempting to help themselves, and indirectly, a whole group of people -- including me. From their perspective, I'm sure their actions seem harmless. From mine, it's a betrayal of trust and a sign of disrespect toward me.

My case seems to be a cut-and-dried "forgive and forget" because I don't think there is any malice involved. My husband's is different, because the issue of self-preservation (keeping his job and not allowing the co-worker to try such tricks again) comes into play. My brother-in-law's is far more complicated -- too many people involved, too much hurt, too much potential harm to a child, the matter of breaking a marital covenent...

Regardless of how the serious nature of their misdeeds and regardless of what steps we must take in reaction to the situation, all the people who let us down deserve our mercy, our pity and our prayers. And a keen awareness that they're not the only ones who fail others. It's something we all do, to varying extents, at one time or another.

I pray that God will help me overcome these failings. I know I've let my husband down, my children, my relatives, my friends " what I have done and by what I have failed to do..." I pray for forgiveness, from God and from the one's I've hurt.

We are none of us perfect. We can only strive to become more like Christ, by taking His Body unto ourselves and letting His Spirit work within us and through us, by dying to ourselves and living for Him.

I have such a long way to go.


Thursday, November 06, 2003

I've neglected to go to From the Anchor Hold for the past couple of weeks, and boy am I sorry about it. KMK posted a wonderful piece from the Archbiship of Denver about the role of women. Good reading, so please don't pass it up like I did. Just scroll past the recipe (you can get back to that later).


While I admire this woman very much for putting her children above her career, I think it must be time for her to accept the fact that the career she chose is no longer compatible with motherhood.

If you don't have time to click on the link, the gist of it is, a married couple are both in the Army. The husband is stationed in Iraq already, the wife has received orders to go. They have seven children between them, ages 2 through 12. Most if not all the kids are from previous marriages, but they have full-time custody of all the kids. The husband's ex-wife wants custody returned to her while he is in Iraq. The only way they could stop this (reason why is not given) is for the wife to go AWOL.

We are in the middle of a conflict overseas. We need our soldiers more than usual at times like this. We need our soldiers to fulfill the duties they swore to uphold when they joined the military. Obviously, when this woman joined and had children, there was no ongoing conflict, and she could count on staying close to her kids. But times have changed, and she is experiencing a major conflict between her duty as a mother and her duty to her country.

I understand how she might want to do both, but when it comes to such a situation, she needs to be at home with her kids. Her husband, after all, is still in Iraq and may not ever come home (may God preserve him, though!). Her kids need her to be here, and I applaud her for wanting to stay and feeling that this is the absolute right thing to do. But I also agree with the military -- if this is her choice, she must be discharged from the service. In this case, she can't fulfill both duties, so she should be released from the obligation that is less binding. IMHO, anyway.


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

On behalf of the unborn everywhere in the U.S., thanks, Mr. President.

I hope it sticks. But I fear it won't, since three years ago, a similar state ban here in Nebraska was overturned by the Supreme Court because it lacked a provision for "health of the mother." From what I understand, this U.S. ban has the same lack of clarity.

I'm neither a doctor nor a lawyer, but it seems to me that if the health of the mother is an issue and we're talking late-term pregnancies, wouldn't a C-section provide the mother the same relief (end of pregnancy) while giving the child a chance to survive?


Since all I've been doing is asking for your prayers lately, I might as well continue.

My mom's favorite aunt, Anne Lichtfuss, died this past Monday. Her funeral Mass will be tomorrow. Aunt Anne was married to my grandmother's youngest brother, George, so she was the last of that generation to pass on. She would have been 93 this coming January.

I didn't know Aunt Anne very well -- I remember visiting her when I was quite young, sometime after her George had lost the farm and they moved into town. The next time I saw her was shortly after my grandmother's first stroke, and the only other time was at my grandmother's funeral in 1998. Aunt Anne had been like a second mother to my own mom. Since my grandmother worked, my mom went to boarding school most of the year but summered on the family farm near Janesville, Wisconsin. If I remember right, it was the last hand-operated dairy farm in the entire state of Wisconsin when George finally invested in automation sometime during the 70s. But it was too late for him by then, and he was never able to make up for lost time.

What little I know about Aunt Anne was that she was a very joyful woman, quick to smile and quick to laugh. She plied my husband and I with cookies and other sweets when we saw her last and shared a couple of family stories with me. Sure wish I would have had time to learn more from her -- family history has always interested me.

Anyway, if you would be so kind as to pray for the peaceful repose of her soul, I would be very grateful.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I was talking to this woman yesterday and today, and our conversation made me think about how many times I persist in sin because I think I'm entitled.

What I mean is, I use various circumstances in my life as "excuses" to sin. I blame my short temper on pregnancy hormones. I laze around all day because I was up with a feverish/teething baby at 4 a.m. I bop around the internet instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing in the interests of "stimulating my mind." I convince my husband to let us indulge in a restaurant meal we really can't afford because I "deserve" a night off from cooking and he "deserves" a special dinner.

Okay, it's not murder or stealing or anything like that. But the problem is allowing the attitude to exist. It enables me to cultivate an attitude of self-indulgence, when what I should be doing is following the example of our dear Lord and His mother Mary and all the saints, and cultivate an attitude of self-sacrifice. And I know darn well that the more time I indulge myself, the less time there is to train myself to go without for a little while, for the good of others or simply because I accepted such an obligation.

This woman I speak of was asking how she could find self-forgiveness for a serious sin. She's not Catholic, she's Protestant, so instead of going to confession, she relies on the means available to her -- asking for the advice of other believers, whether they are trained to understand such things or not.

She felt that God had forgiven her for this transgression (which from my understanding is indeed a mortal sin) but she couldn't forgive herself. As our conversation progressed, I realized that she was hanging on to her sin. She felt that she was entitled to it, that she deserved to indulge herself after years of personal unrest and dissatisfaction. I did my best to encourage her to a more complete repentance -- not settling for, "I know it was wrong, but..."

She wasn't ready to hear that. She wondered why I was angry with her, and I told her truthfully that I'm not. I'm more sorry for her than anything. She suggested that God would be more forgiving than I am, and I wondered aloud how she could be so confident, when she refused to give up the idea that her sin was justified. Repentance is, after all, total repentance, whether you are Catholic or Protestant. I don't think any of us can stand before Christ crucified and dying for our sake and say, "Gee, I know I broke one of the Commandments, but after everything I've been through, you can't blame me!"

Our conversation is over. She is seeking the support of more liberally minded folks who agree that she can't be blamed for making the choices she made. And she's getting it.

I understand. I do it, too. Maybe I haven't stepped into the arena of mortal sin since I came to know Christ 15 years ago, but I indulge myself in venial sins all the time. And I know the attitude of self-indulgence can grow and take over to the point where a person can even justify a mortal sin. I have to watch myself.

"Take care of the little things," my grandma used to say, "and you won't have as many big things to deal with."


Monday, November 03, 2003

Edyn's running a 103-degree-plus fever this afternoon. I don't medicate until 102 or above on dr's recommendation, so she's sleeping off the fever with a dose of Tylenol right now. No other symptoms, other than sleepiness. She's been working on teeth again, so I hope that's all it is. Poor baby. Prayers welcome, of course.


Outside my window on the cold, drizzly morning today:

Somebody parked a bike next to a lamp post and left their helmet dangling off the handlebars. I'm thinking how uncomfortable it will be for that person to put on a cold, wet helmet and ride a cold, wet bicycle to their next destination.

A man in an expensive-looking black cowboy hat, a long black duster, blue jeans and black cowboy boots came around the corner with a cup of coffee from the bagel shop, got into his white Chevy pick-up and drove away. Couldn't see the plates, but I wonder if he really is a cowboy from the western part of the state of if he's one of the urban variety.

Various people hurrying on foot with umbrellas. Unlike my memories of Chicago and other larger cities, only a handful of the umbrellas are black. Of the two most recently crossing past, one woman had a pink floral umbrella and the other had a violet one with a small yellow, white and blue designe that looked a bit like somebody had pasted postage stamps all over it.

A college student with no hat or umbrella just walked by, carrying a large project board sealed against the rain in a dark green plastic garbage bag. One would think she would be holding the board over her head to stay dry, but she's not -- she's more protective of her project than of herself. I hope she gets a decent grade on it.

All these people. I wonder if anybody ever prays for them? When I look back at my life and all the rough spots, I know it was the prayers of others that helped me. Everybody needs to be prayed for. Some of you were kind enough to offer prayers for my husband these last few days, and I want you to know that I can see your efforts are helping him. Thank you so much. I pray that God will bless each one of you in return...and bless all these people who crossed by my window this morning in the rain.