Thursday, May 29, 2008

the Visitation

Coming up on Saturday is the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holiday that's dear to my heart, and, I imagine to the hearts of most Christian women in the midst of their child-bearing years. It's the day we remember Mary's visit to her relative, Elizabeth, the one woman newly pregnant, the other near term. Though their pregnancies were miracles, and more amazing and wondrous than the nine-month journeys we go on, what mother can read that story without feeling a kinship with those two holy women? Our God - God himself - deigned to be present in the ordinary and extraordinary business of pregnancy. Because He came among us, and lived in a family, all of our family life can also be hallowed. It's His presence that can hallow it, when, by His grace, we ask him to be present with us.

I don't know of any official home traditions for the Feast of Visitation, but why not take a minute to write a card to any women you know who are expecting, or to those who are not, but wish to be? If Mary and Elizabeth could comfort one another and take joy in each other's presence during pregnancy, so can we.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, May 22, 2008

thrift store treasure

I love thrifting. I do. And I haven't been doing much of it lately . . . but I decided today that if I have four kids, I'm just going to have to figure out how to do normal things with four kids, so I packed everyone up and headed to Savers. I even made a list! I know, it seems funny to go thrifting wtih a list, as you never know what you'll find, but it actually worked really well, kept me focused, and I got several things that I wanted.

See?

The big thing I was looking for was 12-18 month girl clothes. Though the twins are pretty well supplied for most things, as they're inheriting their older sister's wardrobe, I discovered recently that the 12-18 mo. box in the garage had been under a leak in the roof and had developed a lovely case of black mold. Ick. Straight to the trash with that. So my plan is to just keep my eye open over the next year, so that when they get that big, I'll have everything they need again. I made a good start today:

And, though our twins don't usually wear matching clothes, even though (maybe especially because) they're identical, it's really fun to do sometimes, and I couldn't resist these matching paisley onsies from Baby Gap, only 99 cents each:


And I'm also a huge sucker for botanical prints. I found these matching, matted, framed pictures of oregano and thyme for $2 each:

And check out those abalone shells underneath. Though I'm not sure you're supposed to varnish shells that pretty, someone had varnished the insides (I'm sure it was to keep them from flaking), and so I think they'd be beautiful in the bathroom, holding odds and ends, and maybe even soap!

And finally, another thing on my list: muffin tins! I've discovered that those are great for the kids to play with, doing play with beans and water and playdough and such, but I wanted to get them their own! I found these two little ones:

AND I found an Eloise Wilkins Golden Book - see the little hand trying to snatch it out of the picutre? And an earring holder, something I've been looking for for awhile now, picked up today for 29 cents.

And the kids were awesome. The older two ran around and hid under the clothes racks, but always came out when I called them, and the babies slept, one in her car seat in the cart and one in the sling on me. Thank you, Lord!

Anyway, that was just a ton of fun, and I wanted to share!

Anyone else had any good thrifty fines recently?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, May 15, 2008

a present

I walked out my back door to today and stopped short because there was a dead rat right before my feet on the patio. I figure it was a gift from our friendly neighborhood cat. The cat's owners have a concreted-in yard (with pool) so the cat lives mostly in our yard, and likes to show his appreciation to us every once in a while with something little, furry, and not so much alive anymore.

I am proud to say that I am woman enough that I just shrugged, then went and grabbed the shovel and scooped up the poor dead thing and threw it away in the outside trash.

I am also proud to say that I am woman enough that I was totally squicked out and washed my hands about ten times afterwards, not just with hand soap, but with detergent.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Link-a-Rink-Dink

There is an art to the clean dirty joke - they're hard to make - and, well, this cartoon still makes me snicker whenever I think of it. I think the author knows the art.

I thought this was interesting: it's a chart showing breastfeeding rates around the country by state, and by age of the baby.

If you're a fan of the Darwin awards, you'll find this article just a wee bit funny, even though the fellow's merely a runner-up.

A bit of a rip-off on another site, but Stuff Christians Like is still funny. Try this entry to start and then enjoy browsing.

Here's a different take on the saying that "motherhood's the best job in the world". It's a particularly good read for the week of Pentecost, because it talks about the role the Holy Spirit in our mothering. It's all about grace.

This is excellent, a post about what to do when talking to atheists.

The Ten'o'Clock Scholar has a post up about establishing a summer routine that's full of good ideas.

Speaking of Pentecost, Ranee at Arabian Knits has a cool post about her family's traditional "Tongues of Flame" Pentecost barbeque. Along with some reflections about what kind of old people she and her husband are aiming to be.

And, um, apparently there are parts of the country where breeding populations of giant pythons have established themselves (these snakes can swallow entire DEER) and it's quite possible that they may eventually spread across the entire lower third of the United States. They're not scared of cities either, and enjoy curling up in house basements and around air conditioning units and such. Great.

aw . . .

I just wrote that last post while nursing the babies. And when they finished eating, just now, they looked up at me with half-closed eyes, and gave me each a very happy, sleepy, milky smile.

Oh, so cute.

Can these little chubby girls, with their bright blue eyes and double chins possibly be the same little babies I used to visit (visit!) every day in the NICU, all tiny and alone in their isolettes? Wow. Praise the Lord almighty, who surely has showed His glory in the lives of my daughters. Thank you, Father.

Happy Pentecost!

I hope you are having a good Pentecostal week. Hee. We're doing our big family celebration of the holiday tonight. I'm making this curry (spicy food to remember the flames of fire) and we've got a bunch of red roses on our table right now (the backyard bush seemed to know that this week was Pentecost and produced bountifully) that my almost-four-year old is dearly, dearly looking forward to shredding. We'll be sprinkling them also over the table, also to remember the flames of fire. I'll try to remember to take pictures and post them here tomorrow.

I'm thinking about how to explain the Holy Spirit to my kids. I think we'll start with talking about with the Creed says of Him, that He is "the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father" and that "He has spoken through the prophets." Then, I want to show them an example a professor of mine used. He said, think of a picture of Jesus drawn on a chalkboard. And then picture a guy standing behind the chalkboard, but reaching his hand around the front of it, pointing to the picture of Jesus. His point being: what the Holy Spirit does is to point us to Jesus. He keeps turning our faces around, saying, Look there. Look at Him.

And He helps us to pray. And He prays for us.

I'm hoping that our dinner conversation, amidst spicy chicken and red rose petals, will sound something like that. And I hope remembering the special supper and special table decorations will help my children to remember what we teach them about the Holy Spirit.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, May 11, 2008

why I should have known I was having twins

and why I shouldn't.

I'm really writing this post for my own amusement, but as I was fascinated by twins before I had them, I figure at least a few other people might be interested.

I didn't find out I was pregnant with twins until 20 weeks gestation - or halfway through a normal pregnancy. Turned out to be more than halfway with my earlybirds! Most of the pregnancy seemed much like my first two pregnancies, but there were a few oddities . . .

Signs That Should Have Clued Me In:
1) The pregnancy test. You know how you're supposed to pee on the stick, and then wait five minutes or so to read it? The extra line sloooooooowly turns blue, and then you know. Well, with my twin pregnancy, that line was there instantly. Thick and dark and blue. I remember telling my husband that according to the test, I was VERY pregnant. I had no idea how true that was.
2) How very, very tired I was. Not just normal pregnancy tired. Not just, "excuse me, while I find the nearest flat surface and become prone" tired, but "excuse me while I sleep standing up" tired. I thought it was different than my prior pregnancies because I was chasing two toddlers, and that was what was making me tired. Nope.
3) Fundal height. The top of my uterus was several inches higher than it should have been for how far along I was.
4) Hearbeats. I'm not so sure this should have clued me in, but I kind of think it should have clued my doctor in. When he looked for the baby's heartbeat at the last appointment before my ultrasound, he said something about "there's the heartbeat, and you can hear a bit of an echo." Um, yeah.

Signs That Made Everything Seem Normal:
1) My blood tests. Often multiple pregnancies are discovered because your AFP results are high. Mine were normal. I sort of wonder if this was because the girls were sharing the placenta and everything else, and so there weren't as many extra hormones going through my body as other twin moms would have.
2) I wasn't hideously sick. I remember watching my friend, Elena, a mom of fraternal boy twins, suffering from awful morning sickness. I figured that was par for the course with twin pregnancies. But no throwing up. So it seemed like it was just one.
3) I gained LESS weight during the first half of my twin pregnancy than I had during my two singleton pregnancies. Now I think it was because it was all going to the girls and their monstrous placenta rather than to my hips, but I'm still not sure what that was about. I sure made up for it by the end, though!
4) Movement. I actually felt the girls move later than with my other two pregnancies (turned out this was due to an anterior placenta; if your placenta attaches in front, you can't fell kicks well till the babies grow up above it, because the placenta absorbs their kicks). So there weren't any extra kicks to clue me in to the extra baby.


So, there was enough there that I wondered a few times, but I always told myself, "Nah, everyone wonders if she's having twins. Don't be silly."

That all ended while I was laying on my back in the clinic, after the ultrasound tech had warned me that she'd discovered that the placenta was anterior, and then said, "And, um, there's something else I need to tell you . . ."

:D

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, May 5, 2008

ascension day pictures

Sadly, I didn't bring our camera to the park, which was where we found our toddler-and-preschooler-friendly hill. But, happily, my daughter provided a different kind of picture of our Ascension Day climb. Here it is in process:

And here's the finished product:

I was actually really happy to see her making this, because at the time, I didn't think much I was saying about "Jesus going back into heaven to make a place for us" was sinking in. But when she started drawing this morning, with her green crayon, she asked me to name green things for her to draw. "Leaves," I said, "trees, hills." And she said, "Look, I'm drawing an Ascension Day hill." And I asked, curious, if she remembered what happened on Ascension Day. "Jesus went up into heaven!" she cried happily.

Wow, it actually worked!

And this makes me even more excited about our Pentecost plans. We just haven't celebrated the church year that much this year, since I went into the hospital on January 1st, and wasn't here to do any of it. So it's exciting, as we start up again, to see again how well the object-lesson-like traditions of the church year help my children remember the gospel story. To use the old expression, it just tickles me pink!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, May 4, 2008

thanks for praying; my little boy woke up without a fever this morning.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Linkety-Dinketies

For your weekend perusing pleasure:

-Sew, Mama, Sew! has a whole batch of tutorials up.

-One of my favorite web writers, Linda Holmes, has a great article up about the awful trend of rom-com's basing their entire plots around breaking up weddings. She points out:

A person worth stealing away in the first place must have given it some serious thought before deciding to get married, so interfering is most likely not doing him any favors.

and

. . . the nature of commitment is declining involvement with people you are sincerely attracted to, since of course, not pursuing the people you are not attracted to doesn’t require any commitment

Read the rest of the article here.

For my fellow Episcopalians, here's a very good question: Does the Presiding Bishop Know What She's Doing?


Erin of A Dress a Day writes this:

Sometimes when people say they're afraid of failure, what they really mean is that they are afraid of humiliation. Which is completely understandable. But, speaking as someone who has felt humiliated more times than she'd like to remember, humiliation passes. (It passes like a kidney stone passes, but that's another story.) Not to mention that humiliation passes differently for each person: you remember it for months; the witnesses remember it for seconds (they have their own humiliations to obsess over, and don't have time for yours).

Read the rest here.


And, finally, writing agent Chip MacGregor is hosting a contest:

For those not in the know, this contest grows from my belief that every poet has the same message, which can be subtly summed up this way: "LOOK AT ME! I AM SENSITIVE AND REFLECTIVE AND NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME! SO I'LL SHOW THEM HOW DEEP I AM BY WRITING POETRY!" (Feel free to edit that statement if you're truly deep and meaningful.) I want you to know that I'm here for you poets -- in fact, I was once accused of being sensitive, and have occasionally been forced to reflect on something, until I could grow up and get over it. Therefore, I've set aside the next few days just for you. Write! Create! Sit and contemplate your navel! Do...um...whatever it is you poets do while the rest of us are out earning a living. (Drink heavily?) Then send me your bad poetry.

How can you resist that?


Have a blessed Sunday, friends. And, if you have a moment, please pray for my son, who has a bit of a fever. Please pray both that he gets better and that the babies don't catch whatever it is. Thank you!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell