Monday, January 31, 2005

The Way It Is Supposed to Be

Now that I have compared birth to death, I would like to share my marvelous birth experience with my seventh baby.

The pregnancy was normal, although it seemed the attending midwife and staff were overly concerned about me. My blood pressure was always a little high when I arrived for the appointment, but went down to normal after a little while. My blood sugar was just below the newly lowered threshold (I have already forgotten the number). Because of this I was treated as if I was in a dangerous situation. At the time I was 37. I am getting side tracked here, but that was probably one of the biggest frustrations of the pregnancy. They seemed suprised that I was holding up physically. I was also told group B strep test was MANDATORY or "They" wouldn't release my baby from the hospital for 48 hours. I am the type that like to be discharged ASAP, so this was a huge threat for me. I finally agreed to the test, and when I went back next visit to get the results, my BP was through the roof. As soon as they said it was negative, it dropped to normal. I was adament about facing the opposite direction while getting weighed, and Please don't tell me what I weigh unless it is a medical necessity. Each time I had a different nurse, I had to explain my distaste for knowing my weight. Doesn't anyone ever write anything down?? Meanwhile, I was reading Sheila Kitzinger books, wishing for a practice that has as much common sense as she does. Now, it is important to note I really like the midwife I have gone to all these years. She is kind, compassionate, non-judgemental, gentle, caring, and very nurturing. I would never be able to handle a physician practice, I am guessing. The practice "as a rule" doesn't see pregnancy as a sickness, but that is "within reason, of course". I mean really, who has seven babies? I really dread having to go back there again. I love the births with them, but hate the pre-natal care.

Anyway, I digress. I was supposed to be speaking of my wonderful birth. I had ALWAYS wanted a water birth. Each of the previous six times, I was refused ("The room is full", "It would take too long to fill the tub", "The nurse on duty is too busy") Truthfully, I was usually only in the hospital one hour before the last 4 babies were born, and the midwife even missed one altogether, and my dh delivered him. THAT freaked out the nurse on duty, let me tell you! Anyway, back to this birth. This time, my water "popped" about 3 hours before contractions got too strong. I actually heard and felt it. Very weird. I called the midwife on duty (not my usual one, but I was quite comfortable with her). Because of the advance notice, she was able to reserve the room with the whirlpool. By the time we got there, it was the last room available. Now I am skipping some funny stuff, like as soon as I told me DH my water broke, and started to pack, he took a nap to rest up. My single brother had come over to stay with the other kids, and he walked me around our circle drive at midnight, while dh was resting. Gotta love practical men.

Anyway, back to the birth. We walk into the room, and my dh immediatly started filling the tub. Didn't ask. I walked in and declared there would be NO baseline 30 min fetal monitoring with straps and supine positioning. "If you want fetal heart tones, do hand-held while I stand bedside. " I assured them I was in active labor, and they didn't need to keep checking me. They insisted, I refused, they insisted, I said, fine as long as I don't have to lie down. They gave up. My husband passed out copies of our birth plan, and made sure they all read and understood it. (Basically it requested privacy and quiet, and as little intervention as we could get away with. ) Now that we all had an understanding, things went along fine. I had read the book "Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth" just a week before, and had really identified with a statement about letting the fear rip right through you, so you can then get on with the labor (I also loved using the term "surges", instead of "contractions", and envisioned expanding rings of a pebble tossed in a lake). So, I became afraid just as I was begining transition. So I let it rip. "I want an epidural!!!! I can't do this again.!!!!" DH looked horrified, as he had never seen me like this before. "You don't know what it's like!!!!You don't know!!!" I realized after the birth, I had forgotten to tell dh about my new "let it rip" strategy. He was FLUMMOXED! About that time Mrs. Midwife arrived and being the pro she is, she told me, "Of course you can have an epidural. It just takes time to set up. Why don't you get in the tub so you can be more relaxed while we wait." I got in the WARM lovely water, and instantly I had forgotten about the epidural request. I relaxed. I floated. I felt the "surges" coming and went limp and let them do their work, and it didn't really hurt, but the power of my body was awe inspiring.

After many births delivering standing bedside, I had realized that left me feeling vulnerable and disconnected. There I was, facing the wall, while midwife and dh were standing behind me. The door is behind me, I had no idea who was in the room. When the baby is born, he gets grabbed from behind me, and then passed through my legs. I felt out of the loop. With my first 2 standing births, I was facing my husband, hanging on him really, when the baby was born. With the next two, he was behind me, and I felt all alone.

Back to this birth. Dh was just sitting next to the tub, stroking the back of my hand, making sure I didn't clench into a fist, and reminding me to keep my jaw slack. Mrs. Midwife was sitting on the other edge of the tub, keeping eye contact with me so I didn't retreat into my fear. Very calm, very private (remember, we're in a bathroom, not the main room), very medatative, very peaceful. This went on for 30 minutes or so, and I started feeling more pressure low, and a little pushy. Remaining transfixed by the warm water, I just let it all happen. Total bouyancy, trust in my body, power positively surging through me. Mrs. Midwife askes me if I am feeling pushy, and thinks about getting her protective gear on. "After the next contraction, I'll go change." The next contraction begins, the power envelopes me. I feel the tell-tale burning, and know this is near the end. Next thing I know, Mrs. Midwife says, "Whoa, we have a baby!!", and reaching into the water gently places my sweet love on my chest. I was in awe. She was lovely, tiny, perfect, I had known her forever, it seemed. Dh had almost missed it, as he went to change the CD. What I remember is there was no blood, no confusion on my part, no utter exhaustion. Just joy. Then, after the cord stopped pulsing, it was cut and I had to get out of the tub before the placenta was delivered (why? no one explained that one). That was the worst part, as I was freezing in the air, began to bleed, and could no longer hold the babe. It took awhile to get me to stop shivering, massage the uterus, which would do it's job for a while, then quit, then start up again. Very irritating. After a few shots of something stronger that pitocin, all was well. I felt terrific, no tearing, no bottom pain, just pretty intense afterpains . All in all, I felt it was almost perfect.

I had read in my Bible recently the quote in Genesis, after the fall, and I noticed for the first time it says, "Your pain in childbirth will be greatly increased." This leads me to believe that even before the fall, there was some pain with birth. The kind of pain that lets you know the power of the event, but doesn't lead to despair. I feel I experienced the closest thing to that kind of birth. I am so blessed, and, I might add, significantly less fearful of the next birth, should there be one.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dread and Joyful Anticipation

I have been ruminating about birth, and why women, as decendants of Eve, are given childbirth as a way of participating in salvation. As someone who has given birth naturally seven times, I have spent much of the last 12 years contemplating the purpose of the birth process, spiritually speaking. Of course, I am not implying that women who do not give birth do not achieve salvation. My comments here are limited in scope only to women who have given birth.

I didn't give this any thought during my first pregnancy. It was as the second birth was impending that I had such a mix of dread and joyful anticipation. I felt pulled in opposite directions. One day, glowing with mother-love-birth-power, the next cowering in dread and fear. Just thinking about the pain I was going to have to endure gave me a cold shiver. Then the uncertainty of the birth would plague me. What if it takes 36 hours? What if the baby dies? What if I die? What if the baby has a deformity? I would console myself with the hope of a successful birth, a healthy baby. One evening, I realized these are exactly the same emotions I have about death. Thinking about the certainty of death would give me a cold shiver. What will it be like? How much will it hurt? How long will it last? When will it happen? What will the outcome be? Then I would be consoled with the hope of Heaven. As birth approached, I would mentally envision walking up to the edge of an abyss, and looking deeply inside. That is what giving birth is like to me; as close to death as I have ever come, where life meets eternity, totally self-giving, trusting relinquishment of my future. What will be WILL be. Amen.

My husband found my comparison fascinating, but then asked,"What is men's preparation for death?" I think that men are hard wired to face death frequently, in defending his family, home, country. Being brave, facing the world, running interference between the world and his family, daily toiling, sweat on the brow. Women tackle death preparation in huge mouthfuls, with the birth of each baby. Men tackle death preparation in small daily portions.

And so it goes. With each pregnancy, I would struggle with the fear, the dread, and try to heal the irritation with hope. During each birth, I would realize that being able to pray, to offer up the pain, to concentrate on the hoped-for outcome, would assist me in my final illness. Because of birth, I have practiced praying through pain and fear; I have practiced focusing on hope and pushing away despair. During the joyful first moments of connection with my new wee one, the joy, relief, and love just gushing through me, I have had a small glimmer of heaven.

With each successive birth, I have gone through the same process. I think I struggle most with the inevitability of birth. Once pregnant, there is no getting out of it. Just like death.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What Happened to my Baby?

What a week it has been in the life of my youngest! She has begun solid food, she has learned to crawl, and just now I discovered her first tooth. And I just put my maternity clothes away! Where did the wee one go? With each child, this first year gets faster and faster, and seems to break my heart more deeply. Of course, it has it's own joys, watching the progress a healthy baby makes, I just wish I could slow things down a little. I have this constant nagging feeling that one day, I am going to turn around and it's all going to be over. Is this desire to slow time down one of the yearnings we have for heaven; permanant, unchanging joy? Love without loss? Love without fear? I have always thought the birth process prepares women for death, and now I am finding the mothering process prepares us for heaven. I am working on a more elaborate post regarding the birth process and preparation for death. Until then, I will toss these little musings out, and see what happens.

The Pit of Despair

Well, my computer was down for a few days, and I really missed checking up on my new blog community. I did get more laundry done, and got my bedroom cleaned, so maybe my guardian angel pulled a wire or something, them mercifully reconnected it today.

We have a three bedroom house with 7 children. Currently the baby is in our room. Consequently, I cannot go in there to put away clean clothes, dust, vacuum, make the bed, etc, etc, if she is asleep. If she is awake, I don't have a large block of time to give to the room. Once she is asleep for the evening, I can't go in there unless I am ready to have her up. This means I can't put on pj's, wash face, brush teeth, etc. When I do go in there, she instantly cries, screams, literally shakes her fist until I pick her up. Ever try flossing under those conditions? I have slept in my clothes more times than I care to admit, because I will stay in the living room reading, folding laundry, watching t.v., and then fall sound asleep. My dh can sneak in the room with out her waking up (go figure), so at 3:00 am, he stumbles out to the living room with a crying baby for me to feed. I usually go back to my room, and feed her in bed, but never had a chance to put on pajamas, brush teeth, etc. YUCK! I could put her in the other girls' room, but there are already 3 of them in there, so baby would get woken up frequently. So in the meantime I am left with a bedroom I call "the pit of despair", a totally out of whack routine, and for some reason a complete lack of creativity in adapting to this situation. I used to follow Flylady, and I am sure she wouldn't allow these excuses. I NEED MY ROUTINES BACK, but I am not sure what to do. Any suggestions??

I did get to clean my room this week, because the lady that tutors my kid's math loves holding her, and held her through all the math, giving me 1 hour uninerurpted to clean, vaccum, dust, and put away clean clothes. I actually finally got the bin of maternity clothes out of there, and the baby is 8 months old. But the problem remains, on a daily basis, I need to take care of my space and my person more consistantly, while giving baby a peaceful place to sleep. Speaking of baby, she is starting to crawl, is thrilled, and soooooo cute. She also wears herself out, and is currently begging to be put to bed, so I must end for now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Reality check, please

This has been a challenging day. Baby has been up much the last two nights, for no real reason I can find, other that just wants to nurse all night, then play. Then she falls SOUND asleep at 6:00 am, just when I should be getting up. I have not been able to get up then, with only 3 hours sleep, so we have been getting a late start on school. Today our septic system backed up, which was inconvenient. So, I dealt with that, instructed the kids to look over their assignment sheets (well worth all the time I spend on them on Friday afternoons), and get busy. I had 5 laundry baskets full of clean, folded laundry to sort, and so on. At 4:00, when my 6yo was leaving for choir, I asked my 6th grader for an update on what he has accomplished today. NOTHING. On one hand, I could see he was tempted to lie, but didn't. Good for him. On the other hand, he deceived me all day by acting as if he was busy every time I checked on him. I was so mad, I didn't know what to do about it. Yelling is a waste of time. So I just said, 'You're in big trouble, as soon as I think of a punishment, I'll let you know." I felt hugely ineffective as a parent, but I was so ticked, I couldn't even think. Since then, I have decided to shut him down til Friday bed time. This means he will do nothing but school work, eat, and sleep. Should he get finished, he'll start on Monday's work. I just get so torn, when it seems that if I stay on top of the kids and their school work, the housework gets behind. I catch up on housework, and the kids take advantage and get behind. I feel the effect of so much darkness on my productivity as well. Once it gets dark, I start to slow down. Since it happens so early, I am literally dragging myself around the rest of the day. Anyway, no one said this is easy, but it is soooo easy to get discouraged. I don't pray enough, and even when I do it's pretty weak and whiney.

My ideal me would be one that would wake up bright eyed, walk down to my icon wall, and spend 15 minutes in prayer. Then get a good work out for 30 minutes, then make breakfast and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. Then wake the children, have them get dressed and eat, then tidy the house as a cheerful, cooperative team. Then we would start school, the little ones would play quietly at our feet. We then would break for recess, and I would do some quick housecleaning. Then We would cheerfully resume school, and the baby would go down for a nap. We would eat lunch while I read aloud, then the rest of the little kids would go to nap. Baby would continue to sleep. I would begin a healthy, tasty and colorful dinner, that will be done right on time. The children would spend the afternoon finishing school, or following independent persuits of interest. The children would set the table for dinner. Every one would eat it and thank me. Then the children would clean the kitchen while dh and I would have witty and fulfilling conversation. We would play a family game, say family prayers, then the children would retire. Dh and I would have a little more time to ourselves, then go to bed. Oh, I think I forgot to have the baby wake up. Well, she would wake up near the end of the school day, and then go to bed again when the other children do. When she wakes up at 3:00a.m., I will take delight in our one-on-one time, and treasure every moment. I would quickly go back to sleep, and wake at 6:00 am the next day, bright eyed.

Maybe tomorrow I will write about what it's really like here. The comparison of the two certainly explains my discouragement though. This ideal me is so ridiculous, and yet, I still suffer from not meeting this image. What is wrong with me?? I need a reality check, big time.

Monday, January 17, 2005


I have had some remarkable talks with my older children recently. Out of the blue. My 8 year old was up at 4:00 am with a bad dream. So we sat up, had warm milk, and talked for a while. The dream was standard 8 year old terrors - trapped in the basement with her sister and a witch (we had just watched the Wizard of OZ), and the witch trying to poison them. She took the poison out of her cup, but couldn't get it out of her sister's cup. After listening to the dream, and sitting quietly, suddenly she says to me she hopes I have another baby, even though we already have one. Turns out a neighbor girl explained that her mom didn't think she could handle anymore children, so she took "medicine" to keep from having more children. I hadn't ever approached this topic with my 8 year old before, but I explained that it wasn't medicine. It doesn't make anyone well, it actually stops the body from working properly. Then I told her we believe having children is a good thing, and only God knows if we'll have more or not. She was quite relieved to know I wasn't taking that "medicine". This made me wonder the effect contraception has on children. If a child knows his parent don't want any more children, and are making sure they don't have any more, does that reflect on the existing child? What does it do to a child to hear their parents say, over and over, "We're DONE, got my hands full already. Can barely handle the kids I have. No sir, no more kids for me."

My daughter thanked me for my time. Seemed suprised I was willing to entertain such conversations in the middle of the night. Seems to me if I want my kids to come to me with problems, they better know I am there for them anytime, not just at my convenience.

My daughter also thanked me for haveing 7 kids, and that she loves being in a family like ours. I went back to sleep with a peaceful heart, I tell you, a happy, grateful, peaceful heart.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Help, please

I have been trying to figure out how to link to other blogs on the side bar. I also "signed up" for St. Blogs parish, and suddenly the link disappeared. How do I use the side bars? Any help would be appreaciated. I feel ungrateful since others are adding me to their lists. I just don't know how to do it. Thanks in advance.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Babies don't keep

"Dusting and mopping can wait til tomorrow, for babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow. So dust take a vacation, and cobwebs go to sleep. I am rocking my baby and babies don't keep."

Or something like that. My mom had a framed needlework picture of this quote when I was little. Now I understand it, and that is what I did today. I held her, kissed under her moist neck, blew raspberries on her tummy, kissed her toes, and looked at all the flecks of color in her oh-so-blue eyes. She'll be 8 months old in a week. How is that possible? She is about to crawl, so before she is quite a lot less interested in snuggling with me, I took at least an hour of pure baby joy. Then I had a tea party with my next 3 youngest, and read them a story, one of my personal favorites, Roxaboxen. I had gotten one of those, "What am I supposed to do with this?" type gifts, a tea pot, two cups, two spoons, a box of tea and shortbread. All really too small to be practical, but very cute. So, today, I said to the littlies, "How 'bout a tea party with my present?" My 4 yo dd got wide eyed, "Really, today, really??" Ususally during school, I try to keep them busy and quiet. Today I sat with them and read and sipped tea, and ate a shortbread biscut. For the first time in a long time, I haven't wondered where the day went. I know where it went, straight to my heart.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Random thoughts on books, baby teeth, and community

Here is a collection of slightly unrelated thoughts that have been bouncing around my head.

I began my reading program, and it's like getting together with a good old friend. Last night I hired a babysitter so I could get some errands run. I swiftly completed the tasks, then went to Panera, got a steaming bowl of French Onion Soup, and read for 40 minutes. Came home refreshed and even unflappable when all seven kids were still up. Saturday I spent some time reading, and later my 10yo dd said, "Mom, you seem so happy. Is there something we did to help make you happy?" I told her that, sadly, much of my mood has nothing to do with the kiddos, but the part that does is enriched when I have time to reflect on how blessed I am. Don't know if she understood, but I really am suprised that by reading a novel, I do get the room to breathe to feel grateful for all aspects of my life.

On an unrelated topic, ds #4 just lost his first tooth. That means more than half of my children have reached that point of maturity. He was quite bemused, as his tooth fell out during dinner. My dh came home and asked ds when he had lost his tooth. "Huh?" with the cartoonish double take posture. A mad search of the dinner plate, chair, and finally the floor returned the tooth to its rightful owner. Now it resides in a ziplock bag in my sock drawer. I have a drawerful of baby teeth in ziplock bags. Why? I don't know. Feels weird to throw them away.

And lastly, school started again yesterday. I was dreading it, but had quite a good day. It felt good to get back to it. The kiddos had lost some accuracy in their math facts, but I anticipate that they will be back on track by week's end. I felt a constant pull during the school day to check the computer, to check up on this new community I feel so blessed to be part of. This suprised me by making clear how this blogging community has filled a part of me already, and for that, I am thankful. I also know I will have to set a timer when I am on the computer, and limit my time to before and after school only. Maybe I'll use the computer sort of like a smoke break. I have never found a good mental replacement for a smoke break, maybe this will be it. But I'll definatley have to set a timer.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

My Reading List, 2005

I have seen a few other bloggers set goals for themselves as far as reading goes, and I think that is a terrific idea. So I just perused my bookshelves for some books I was going to read "someday". I keep getting sidetracked by such titles as, "Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum", or "Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth." The only well read books on my shelves concern pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, child-rearing, and homeschooling. So now, I reclaim my reading list, and here are the titles that called out, "CHOOSE ME" the loudest.

To Kill a Mockingbird ----- Harper Lee
Murder on the Orient Express ----- Agatha Christie
The Moviegoer ----- Walker Percy
Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass
Doctor Zhivago ----- Boris Pasternak
A Canticle for Leibowitz ----- Walter M. Miller, Jr
Saint Leibowitz and the Wild
Horse Woman ----- Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Jane Eyre ----- Charlotte Bronte

Now, I give myself permisson to deep six at least one of these, since most of them come from the recommendation of others. If I do eliminate one out of pure bordom, then I will add in the third part of Kirsten Lavansdatter, The Cross, which I started last year and my sweet-love babe was born before I finished. Now I have forgotten many of the names and will have to reinvest alot of time to get reaquainted. Another book that called out to me, but I said, "Not yet", was "Brothers Karamazov" by Tolstoy. Either that or Anna Karanina. They are next to each other on the shelf, so I couldn't tell which one was crying out to me. But I was trying to stay realistic. I have 4 children to homeschool, a pre-schooler, a toddler, an infant, a house to run, and 25 pounds of baby fat to deal with. Realistically, how much reading time am I really going to have?

Of the chosen titles, I have read "A Canticle for Liebowitz", "Jane Eyre", and "Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass. I recently found "Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman" at a thrift store, but have to read "A Canticle.." again first. I have always claimed "Jane Eyre" is my favorite book, but I only read it once, and barely remember it. So I will see if it still deserves the title. I met, dated and became engaged to my husband while I was reading, "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass", needless to say I don't remember much of it either. So there we go.

Next to decide how to work in a little exercise regularly. We'll see.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Come, Holy Spirit!

We had the all our children confirmed at the vesperal liturgy for the feast of the Theophany. We also had the youngest 4 recieve communion. I was unable to truly grasp the enormity of the event. Words are almost impossible to describe the intimate encounter with the Triune God that we had as a family. To see all seven of them, standing around the baptismal font, barefoot, and oh so serious and pensive. Yes, even the two year old. They were still, quiet, and very reverent.

Something interesting. Originally, when we decided to change rites, and had received the approval of both the Romanian and Roman Catholic Bishops, my hearts desire was to have the reception of all these sacraments an intimate, private family affair. I didn't want it to be a production, a show, or at all about the externals. I wanted to not be the hostess, but the mother. So many times when my children were baptized, I was distracted by the practical matters of hostessing, and didn't fully engage in the actual Baptism. Anyway, after reality struck me, I knew I couldn't exclude all my extended family, as they are the God-parents. And I love them, and they would revel in sharing the day with us. Not fair.

Fast forward, after months of planning, scheduling etc, a major snow storm is predicted for the evening of the ceremony. My husband swings into gear, calling everyone he knows to pray, asking St. Scholasica to help us with the weather. Privately, I wondered if maybe ...

I called all my relatives, who live on average 45 minutes away, mostly rural driving. They all have large families, and were not comfortable taking them out in a snow storm. Could we postpone? Meanwhile, my faithful husband is convinced there will be no snow storm, because St. Scholastica has never failed us. We will not postpne. Privately, I wondered if maybe....

A dear old friend, now a priest with the Society of St. Peter, called, and while catching up I confided the desire of my heart, to have a private ceremony for the confirmations. He said that it would work out the way it should, and quite possibly, while the kids and the husband would be disappointed if no one was there, maybe it would help them all focus on the sacrament, and then attend to the party a different day. A few hours before the Vesperal Liturgy began, the snow continued to fly, my husband was quite certain, even still, somehow St. Scholastica would come through. Finally I let him in on my certainty that indeed, she had come through, and this was as it should be.

As it turned out, my parents were able to make it (another post will cover this, and why it is significant), and the God-mother of the baby, and a few parishoners. And it was perfect. The Mystical Body of Christ was there, represented by the people able to brave the storm. It was quiet, it was focused, it was able to be soaked in by my heart. Everything I could have wanted!!

I want to add one more thing - the kids all had to take off their socks and shoes, as they were to have their feet annointed as part of the confirmation. After the blessing of the water, Father indicated it was time to approach the front. No one had yet finished getting barefoot. So they went up front, and all took off their socks and shoes. Funny thing, seeing the big pile of socks and shoes up there warmed my heart, unlike when the very same thing is in my living room. After the confirmations were complete, we all walked around the baptismal font 3 times with lit candles, singing, "To all those who are baptized in Christ, put on Christ, Alleluia". Meanwhile, with each pass I am scooting scattered socks and shoes out of the way. I see Father with a real twinkle in his eye, later I tell him, "Now we have a real spiritual home, even to the point of having to kick the sock and shoes out of the way." Now doesn't God go to great lengths to make His children feel at home? Why do I ever doubt His tender care of me? Even in these very small ways, in the uncertain private desires of a mothers heart, He answers, with love.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A Grace Explosion

I am a "cradle Catholic", and have always treasured my faith. Recently, however, my husband and I formally switched from the Roman Rite to the Romanian Rite, which is an Eastern Rite Catholic Church. We have been attending the Romanian Church for 6 years, and were simply transported straight to heaven during the beautiful Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. After delving in to the spirituality of the East, the Liturgy, the iconography, and the veritable sensory explosion we experienced, we decided to "be a citizen, not just a tourist", as my husband said. Now our seven children will be getting Chrismated (confirmed), and recieve the Mystery (sacrament) of the Eucharist all at once on the feast of the Theophany, January 6th. This is very overwhelming to me, to have so many sacraments received at once. How to comprehend such generosity?? The Theophany is the feast celebrating the Baptism of Christ in the Jordon River, and is also the time when the water is made holy for the rest of the year. Ordinarily, in the Eastern Churches, an infant is baptised, confirmed and receives the Eucharist all at once. Since our children were previously baptised, now they will be catching up. And what a day to receive this precious gift. The baptism of Christ is the first revealing of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit making a personal appearance, and the Father revealing the identity of His Son. The thought of my sweet babies receiving our Lord, in all their innocence, is gratifying. Our baby, 7 months old, will never be more innocent than she is now. Our two year old delight is also the picture of joy and innocence. Our 4 and 3/4 year old is still innocent, yet has an understanding and total suspension of disbelief of the True Presence. Now, our 6 and 1/2 year old is old enough to understand the concept of sin, and will be recieving the Mystery of Pennance as well. This is the child who at 5 years old told me he wished there wasn't so much sin in him. He is exceptionally sweet, and tender-hearted, and grieves at the very thought of causing harm to anyone. The other 3 have been receiving the sacraments of Eucharist and Pennance for some time, and are prepared to be "Confirmed' in their faith. My 10 year old daughter said, "Now I can have my baptism completed." Theologically speaking, she hit it on the head. I hadn't stated it thus to her, but she got it just the same. The Holy Spirit is already at work here. God is Good!! Please keep our family in your prayers, as we encounter Our Lord so completely.