UPDATED: {dusting the shelves}

IMG_3992Half a dozen blog posts percolate in my mind, but this space lies dormant as I tackle more urgent to-dos. (Those diapers just don’t change themselves!) Hence, a new feature of the blog — {dusting the shelves} — to be published whenever I need to quickly clear my head and fill a little gap in the admittedly spotty narrative of “On This Shelf.” So, here goes, in no particular order of importance: Continue reading

Not Trump, Not Trump, Please Not Trump!

FullSizeRender (8)Count me among the many horrified spectators of the Donald Trump campaign for the presidency. (Also, color me embarrassed that, after the first two debates, I praised Chris Christie, the shameless opportunist! Then again, he did deliver during those debates and, at that time, he deemed Trump temperamentally unfit for president, an opinion with which I wholeheartedly agree.)

It’s not just that Trump is crass, narcissistic, egomaniacal, inexperienced, uninformed and unprincipled; it’s precisely that he taps into our most shameful impulses as humans, from anger to lust to greed to envy to baseless suspicion of “the other” to the unchecked will to power. For all that his slogan is “Make America Great Again,” he appeals to nothing that is good or great in Americans; he makes no reference to virtue.

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Parenting á la Antonin Scalia

FullSizeRender (7)Ever since the unexpected death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia nearly two weeks ago, his personal life as a husband and father of nine children has come into focus — in part because of this widely-circulated op-ed by son Christopher Scalia, and this hotly shared homily from his funeral, delivered by son Father Paul Scalia.

In summarizing Scalia’s legacy, it’s obvious to cite his brilliant intellect, his principled originalism and his consequent rigorous analysis of legal text, his sharp prose and his congenial collegiality with his fellow justices — and, indeed, he is most “relevant” to the public in his role as a Supreme Court justice, even if a surprising number of Americans had never heard of him as recently as last year. (I cannot relate to this, as I was utterly starstruck when, at a long-ago Ash Wednesday Mass in D.C., I spotted him in a nearby pew!)

Yet, from where I sit, in all the throes of inglorious stay-at-home motherhood, Scalia’s apparent ability to welcome and raise nine children with some degree of effectiveness — with, of course, more than a mere assist from his wife, Maureen, who, it sounds, did the lion’s share of the day-to-day work of raising their children! — dwarfs all of his other mountainous accomplishments.

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{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Desk1Tidy Desk Edition

When the Oilman and I searched for a house, I told him I needed room for just two things: My piano and my books. Two kids later, I realize how lucky I am that we just happened to buy a home with a very large laundry room and a hardworking mudroom — because, let’s be honest, I now spend far less time reading and playing piano than I do washing baby clothes and bundling Sweet Potato to go outside.

Lucky, too, that we bought a home with a dedicated office space because, as board books and toys have crept slowly out of the nursery and into the living room and kitchen, this room remains one of just two “adult” spaces in our home (the other is our bedroom). I write at this desk, but I also write in bed at 2:30 a.m. and in the living room when the Oilman is home and I want to be with him while I write. Because I spend far less time at my desk than I wish, it’s usually pretty tidy, but I spruced it up especially for this edition of {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

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Dark Days in OKC

FullSizeRender (6)Yesterday, in response to “the current commodity price environment,” Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp. completed what we hope was its first and only round of mass layoffs. The company laid off an estimated 700 in Oklahoma City alone.

You’ll recall, perhaps, that the Oilman works for Devon. He was spared, and we are grateful. Our own good news was cause for relief, but not for rejoicing, as it came on a day when respected colleagues and friends received announcements of an opposite sort.

Since a companywide townhall meeting Jan. 20, we knew to expect these “reductions” — but that merely heightened our anxiety rather than eased the reality when it came. Suffice it to say that the last month has been nerve-wracking and yesterday even more so.

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Sick Days

Sick DayYou’ve seen the commercial: Moms don’t get sick days.

Kiddos do, though, and, this past week, we’ve taken them. Sweet Potato has battled the unsparing allergens of the Oklahoma air and Mint Julep just can’t seem to shake a lingering cough. At first, I made that rookie mistake of attempting to carry on as though neither little one were sick, but, by Monday, I was tired of the charade and the babies were just so very tired. So, we decided to make a thing of it.

As always, I felt the need to read before I felt the ability to act, so I consulted my beloved Auntie Leila. I knew she wouldn’t let me down and she didn’t. Step by step, she explains how to care for sick children. I realized as I read it that I already knew all of it: My mama was an expert nurse, which was why I actually liked to be sick as a child, even though I very rarely was. I’d like to be a caretaker of that caliber someday myself, although I’ll admit I’m lacking in the natural compassion that can turn an illness into an opportunity to experience extraordinary tenderness.  I’m praying for it, though.

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Idioms Are Instructive

Outside“Isn’t she just a tall drink of water?”

“He’s a breath of fresh air!”

“What a mover and a shaker!”

At just 18 months into this (27 months if you count pregnancy!), I’m obviously still very new to motherhood. I’m even newer to motherhood of two. So far, all the cliches have proved true: It’s hard. It’s the best. The days are long, but the weeks are short. Continue reading

Of Mint Julep’s Debut

Mint JulepBecause some people love a good birth story …

It’s 2:28 a.m., and I wait, breathlessly, to see whether Mint Julep will actually remain asleep in his bassinet in a nearby room. Before his arrival, I never knew the grueling reality of sleepless newborn nights: From her first night at home to this one, Sweet Potato never slept fewer than four hours at a stretch. At six weeks, she reliably slept six to eight hours at a time. Mint Julep sleeps … with no very great predictability.

Needless to say, I’m exhausted and frustrated by this, but, as often as I’m exhausted and frustrated, I’m also happy, humbled and grateful for the arrival of our sweet son and for this precious postpartum period of awed adjustment. It helps that Mint Julep made his debut with genuine aplomb!

After about four weeks of prodromal labor, I awoke to a particularly painful contraction at 2:20 a.m. (about this time!) the morning of Dec. 30. I leaned over to wake the Oilman and whispered, “I think he’ll come today!” after which I went back to sleep.

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Holiday Home Tour

First, two Christmas-related PSAs:

1.) “Happy Holidays!” is not a secular greeting. “Holidays” comes, quite literally, from “holy days.” By all means, stoke your outrage about the very real war on Christmas (which originated, interestingly, not with secularists but with non-liturgical Christians wary of liturgical Christians and continues, IMHO, as much with overzealous Christmas enthusiasts who omit the observance of Advent as with those who would denude the public square of every last Nativity scene), but, please, do not cede the perfectly cheery and charmingly alliterative “Happy Holidays!” to the enemy. Please do feel free to say “Happy Holidays!” at other times of the year, too, as, for example, during the Easter Triduum or the, er, Autumn Triduum.

2.) The Twelve Days of Christmas begin, not endon Christmas Day. They span the time between Christmas Day and the Epiphany, the feast at which we celebrate Jesus’ revelation of Himself to the three wise men from the East. If you’d like to observe the Twelve Days of Christmas, here are some ideas to get you started.

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Renaming Rhett

Remember that detailed post I wrote to explain how the Oilman and I arrived at Mint Julep’s proposed legal name? Today, at 37 weeks four days pregnant and contracting very irregularly (drat prodromal labor!), we’re no longer sure we’re going to name him Rhett, after all. We still like the name; we’re just not sure it’s his name, you know?

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