Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Power of Prayer for Preschoolers

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I'm actually surprised to see how long it's been since I blogged -- sorry. It's a busy time of year for me. Every year in July, I help out a friend by editing and proofing her annual magazine about Lincoln. I've been doing it for 12 years now, and I just can't say no. So July is always busy -- too busy, especially with two children born this month! Anyway, all my free time has been taken up with editing, proofing and also planning Zooey's fifth birthday party. I can't wait for August!

I've also been learning some things about prayer and priorities. More to come soon, but I just have to share this story about Zooey.

Zooey's constant companion this summer has been a tiny metal Bobcat (the construction vehicle, not the animal) -- it's about an inch long and a half-inch wide, and it use to be a key fob, but the chain and ring seperated from it a long time ago. Zooey's best friend Jacob gave it to him, and since he rarely sees Jacob since school let out, I think that might be why he has attached himself to this minute object. He calls it Shelvin, which I think is a hilarious name (don't ask me where it came from -- I have no idea!).

Anyway, Zooey and Edyn were playing in the back yard on Monday afternoon and somehow, Zooey lost Shelvin in the tall grass. You see, we've had a lot of rain around here (thank you, Lord!), and my husband has been working long hours, so he hadn't had a chance to mow for like 10 days. Zooey looked and looked but couldn't find Shelvin. I helped him for a while, but our back yard is about 45 feet wide and 100 feet long, and Zooey had NO idea where he lost Shelvin. Imagine trying to find a 1" long object in that much tall grass!

As it got dark and the mosquitoes came out, I called off the search for the evening. We went inside to wash up, and Zooey hugged my leg and said, "Mom, I have bad news...I think Shelvin is gone and I'm never going to see him again!" He burst into tears and I tired to console him. My husband arrived home right about then, and he took Zooey outside to look one more time before bed. No luck.

Zooey was so sad. He asked me if it would be okay to keep thinking about Shelvin, and I said sure, the search wasn't over yet. My husband was planning to mow on Tuesday morning, and he might find him. I told Zooey he could pray to Jesus to help him find Shelvin, and he could ask St. Anthony to pray, too, because St. Anthony had a thing about finding lost objects. Zooey did that and his mood improved, but not much.

The next morning, I took the dog out to the back yard and surveyed the situation. Talk about a needle in a haystack! I could not imagine how I'd ever be able to find that tiny little Bobcat. I took three steps into the yard and kicked the grass around with my toe, thinking about how impossible this was. Then I spied a tiny bit of white sticking out of the mud at the base of a clump of grass. Could it be? I got down and fished it out with my finger.

It was Shelvin all right. Buried in mud up so that just that top quarter inch or so was sticking out of the ground! I was flabbergasted, and prayed my thanks to God and St. Anthony. Then I took it inside and washed it up. I couldn't help myself -- I went right up to Zooey's room and woke him up. "I'm going to put something in your hand," I whispered. "Are you awake? It's Shelvin!"

Zooey smiled wide with joy. "Thank you, Jesus! Thank you St. Anthony!" he whispered, and squeezing Shelvin tight in his fist, he shut his eyes and drifted back into sleep.

There are some who would say it was pure luck that I found Shelvin -- I'd like them to calculate the odds.

There are some who would say that God has much more important things to do than to help an almost-five-year-old boy find a toy carelessly lost. But you know, now that I think about it, is there anything more important that teaching him that his faith in God is valid?

I am so grateful that even though losing a toy is a little thing in the grand scheme of things, God understands what it means to the heart of a little boy.


Friday, July 16, 2004

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we play with science to conceive...

This story is sad in a number of ways, and if you've been thinking that the Catholic Church is wrong to deny infertile couples the chance to use certain forms of "modern technology," you might want to read it thoroughly.

First off, the more people who are involved with an act of conception, the more potential for human error. In other words, if it's just one man and one woman trying to make a baby the regular way, it's just about impossible to make a mistake. Add in a doctor, a nurse, a few technicians and two other couples who are also doing the same fertility treatment at the exact same time, and you get situations like this one, in which the woman from Couple A was accidentally inseminated with the sperm that might have been provided by the man of either Couple B or Couple C (they're not quite sure which).

As if that's not bad enough, the clinic wanted a do-over, and the woman almost followed through. The lawyer from the clinic reports, '"Ms. H--- asked for and was given prescriptions to interrupt the insemination process...My client is terribly sorry that human error occurred and saddened that Ms. H--- decided not to take the medication she requested and was prescribed."

Need a translation for that? Ms. H-- initially asked for the "morning after pill" so she could force her body to shed the uterine lining and prevent any possible conception. The clinic was eager to help. She decided not to preferring to wait and see if the insemination worked at all, and also refused the doctor's encouragement to get an abortion after she did indeed turnup pregnant. -- after all, she's 40 years old and she's been trying to get pregnant for 5 years. This might be her only chance.

And if THAT wasn't bad enough, this woman is concerned that her fiance might leave her if the baby isn't is. From my objective standpoint, I should think she would be more concerned that he might leave her because he hasn't bothered to marry her yet, even though they've been trying to have a baby together for at least five years. But when you are in the thick of these things, it's often difficult to see the forest from the trees.

Of course, nobody has yet to think about what the child him/herself is going to think of this in the end. Supposing he/she is the child of Mr. Couple C, and supposing Mr. and Mrs. Couple C are never able to conceive. Maybe Mr. Couple C is going to want parental rights -- after all the baby is his, too, conceived the way he planned on conceiving a child, just with the "wrong" woman. Bam! Instant custody issues.

And has anybody bothered to think about what the child is going to think of his/her complicated/sad/frustrating/legally messed up conception?

Believe me, I am not trying to belittle the plight of infertile couples. We went through two years of infertility ourselves before Zooey. It was the absolute worst experience of my life. It strained each of us spiritually. It almost destroyed our marriage at one point. It's an awful, awful cross to bear.

But having lived through it and having been faced with all the decisions these new technologies put people through -- and all the risks -- I understand, appreciate and agree with the Catholic perspective on this. Which in a nutshell is that anything that helps a couple conceive a baby the usual way is good -- surgery, hormone treatments, etc. Everything else carries grave risks.


Thursday, July 15, 2004

Why put a 62-year-old with a clean record in jail at all...

Especially when we apparently can't keep rapists, child molestors and other people who are really a danger to society behind bars because of prison over-crowding?

I'm not saying that Martha Stewart should be let off the hook, but let the punishment fit the crime. Levy a huge fine, demand community service, put her on house arrest. It's her first offense, and she's 62 with a spotless record. Putting her in jail when our prisons are so full we have to release the real societal menaces just doesn't make any sense to me at all.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I guess my grandma was right about honey...

I have long suspected that cough syrups are worthless and I'm kind of glad to have scientific evidence that sugar water does just as well. So my grandmother's solution of a teaspoon of warm honey wasn't too far off the mark. Of course, you can't give honey to little children, but for the older ones (and us adults), this is a down-home remedy worth trying the next time you have one of those dry, racking coughs that keep you up all night.


Friday, July 09, 2004

Farm Update

Back when I was a kid, I remember riding in the old Rambler with my family past rows and rows of corn on the way to various campgrounds in Illinois and Indiana. My dad taught me that old saying, "Knee high by the Fourth of July," which meant that if the corn stalks were at least as tall as a man's knee by Independence Day, his crop was established enough to turn a decent yield.

We were out by the family homestead on the Fourth last weekend, and the corn wasn't knee high -- it was shoulder high. Part of that is due to the seed that's available now, which turns a harvest faster. Used to be you needed 120 days or more from planting to harvesting, but now you can get a corn crop in 100 days, or even 90. The stalks establish faster, so they can set ears faster.

Another advantage has been the weather. We've had so much rain, we're out of any drought threat in this part of the state. Wish I could say the same for the western panhandle, which is in extreme drought. Funny how you can get in your car here in the east where everything is green and the soil is downright spongey, but if you drive six hours west, you see parched land. Drive a couple hours more, and the land is so dry, it's cracked like the Dead Sea, with not a single sprout of green vegetation to be seen.

We're still praying for rain, but not for us -- for the farmers and ranchers west of us. Still, we'll need the rain to continue though the summer for our farmers to reap good crops. Rain in July makes corn, rain in August makes beans (soybeans, that is).


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Pray for these two small ones...

...premature twins who died shortly after birth, and for their mother who is facing charges. Honestly, having been pregnant three times, I have trouble understanding how any woman could be pregnant and "not realize it." Sure, there can be break-through bleeding that looks like a regular cycle, but once those little babies start rolling around and kicking, it seems impossible to chalk it up to mere indigestion.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

"There's nothing worse than bad drains..."

That's a quote from some British novel I read a while back, and I've been racking my brains all day trying to figure out which one. I've got it narrowed down to either A Room with a View or Busman's Honeymoon. (Didn't know I was a Dorothy Sayer's fan, did you?) Seems to me "Poor Charlotte" had bad drains and that's why she came to stay with Lucy that dreadful summer Lucy was engaged to Cecil. But I also think that drains were the issue with Harriet's childhood home, which Lord Peter purchased as a wedding gift. So maybe it was both.

Anyway, I wish I had time to read those fun novels to find out which one it's from. But alas, a bad drain means having the rooter man in and lots of cleaning up with bleach and scrubbing mechanisms and lots of laundry piled up for three whole days because nothing ever goes wrong at our house unless it's a holiday weekend when laborers tend to charge double. I am very thankful though, that the rooter man is the brother-in-law of a friend of mine, both nice to work with and reasonable. We are only $100 poorer for this and were expecting it to be at least two-and-a-half times that.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Happy Birthday to Edyn!

Here it is, her second birthday already. I can hardly believe it's been a full two years. And I can hardly believe it's been only two years, because I simply can't imagine how things were before Edyn was born.

I am so blessed to have this child, who is naturally inclined to mother all the rest of us. That's a two-edged sword, of course -- utterly empathetic and compassionate on one side, and a bit bossy on the other. Well, I guess we'll just have to teach her how to manage these traits for the greater good.

Edyn needs a hair cut. The whispy ends of each strand fall down to her shoulders and curl up a bit. That's why I haven't had them cut -- I know all the curls will disappear with the first trim. The bangs we had cut at Christmas time (and didn't like) have grown out long enough to be swept aside, but not yet long enough to work into pigtails. Here eyes are still a startling blue...I really hope she'll keep them, but if the rest of the family's track record holds up, they will start changing this year.

I have had several people say something along the lines of "Uh oh, you're in the terrible twos again!" I laugh them off. When I was a new mom, somebody told me that the terrible twos really start at about 18 months and last about 18 years, ha ha ha! Little E does show some of that desperate need for autonomy.

"Do it myself!"

"My turn!"

"Me too!"

She's got the perils of being a middle child, too. Sometimes she wants to be a big girl equal to Zooey. Other times, she wants to be a baby like Laurel. And whatever she wants changes on a dime. At Mass two Sundays ago, Zooey started trekking up to the front to put his offering money in Fr. W's basket (so nice of Fr. W. to let the kids get a bit of exercise in the middle of Mass!). Edyn shouted, "Me too, me too!" and pretty much leapt off my husband's lap and ran after her big brother. Then when she came back to our pew, she shouted "I did it! I did it!" (Yes, we shushed her properly. ) Then she snatched a toy that Laurel was chewing on and stuck it in her own mouth.

My husband's off work today, so it's chicken on the grill, corn and watermelon for supper tonight, followed by an ice cream cake with two candles for Edyn. Siiiiiigh...time goes by way too quickly.


Made in ChinaChinese Prisons

Steven Riddle touches on a subject I am particularly concerned about, the American consumer’s inadvertent support of China’s human rights atrocities. You might also want to read this article. Thanks to Peony Moss over at Two Sleepy Mommies for the heads up.

Peony is right in that it is virtually impossible to find some products – children’s shoes, for example – that have not been made in China without paying sometimes 10 times the price. We simply can’t afford that kind of cost in our family. I solve it as often as I can by purchasing used clothing, dress shoes, water socks and winter boots (the rarely-worn-before-the kid-outgrows-them variety), but regular day-to-day shoes in good condition are hard to come by, even in a consignment shop. So many times, I buy new shoes for my kids that have been made in China, simply because I have no other option.

Maybe you’re an influential policy maker who can change this thing about America (though I doubt it – if you were, you wouldn’t be reading my blog!). If not, though, you can still combat it by voting with your pocketbook. If Chinese-made goods languish on the store shelving unsold, the stores will stop carrying them. I urge you to consider this carefully and start looking for the "Made in…" notice on the products you buy. Your budget may suffer, but better your budget than the people forced to make these goods under appalling conditions and laws.