A Window into Life in the Suburbs


"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In and Out of Hospital


Dear Friend and Blog Reader

If you've been on Facebook or talking to someone in the know, you'll be aware that I've been in and out of hospital this past weekend.
Frankly I'm glad to be back home where I'll be catching up on sleep. Hospitals are noisy, brightly-lit places, not conducive to having proper rest. Aside from that, one gets poked, prodded and jabbed at regular intervals which isn't my idea of a good time. I spent the entire weekend attached to a drip pole, with which I tangoed and tangled.

Nonetheless, on hindsight, I am glad that I did present myself at the Emergency ward at the QE 2 hospital on Saturday evening. By that time I was badly anaemic and was feeling dizzy and nauseous. I had been bleeding profusely (private women's business) and had apparently lost more blood than was good for me.

At about 3 on Sunday morning, the decision was made that I should have a blood transfusion as my red blood cell count was around 54 which was considered dangerously low by the medicos.
The first lot of transfusion given took to me to a RBC of about 65 which was better than it had been but not good enough to go home with.
Last evening I was meant to have another 2 units but stopped after the first bag, as I started, oddly enough, to have an allergic, hay-fever like, reaction. Fortunately, in spite of the drama, I managed to attain a better than pass mark of 81.

To cut through all the scientific mumbo jumbo, the bottom line is that I will need surgery (hysterectomy) in a month's time. Ordinarily that kind of surgery isn't a big deal but because my red blood cell count has been so low I will need to build it up between now and the surgery.

I'm currently on iron supplements and bleeding suppressing drugs. My hysterectomy is scheduled for the 30 September which is about month's time.
I am asking for prayer because the blood count thing is crucial for this to happen.

Last Thursday, a goodly number from my church went to hear John Piper preach about the unwasted life. Ironically, the bleeding took a turn for the worst on that evening. But even more amazing was how relevant Piper's words became to my situation. I thought a lot about them as I heard the medicos speaking in low tones in triage in rhythm with the beeping of the heart monitor. Utterly weary that night, I thanked God for his mercy... that I got to hospital at just the right time.
Piper reminded us with characteristic sobriety and passion that night about how fragile life is... I was reminded of it all too poignantly in a real life situation. More importantly Piper reminded us that the unwasted life, in the good times and the bad, is the life that brings glory to God.

I am writing this to ask for prayer in the following areas:
  1. That the bleeding will stop without the need for such a high dosage of drugs
  2. I will be going in for a blood test next week and hopefully that will show a good result
  3. The red blood cell count will reach the hundred mark or more
  4. That my health will be good generally between now and the surgery.
  5. That the surgery will progress smoothly with no long term dramas.

Thanks for taking the time to read... I'm counting on you to back me up...

God bless

Lilian

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Geeking Out: Captain America

I suppose everyone takes away something from a movie that they watch and for someone like me, who has been trained to do textual analysis, it's second nature to plough around for ideology, politics or philosophy. While that's usually fun for me, at the end of the day, I, like most people, go to the movies to be entertained.
When I look at something that's conventional like Captain America, it makes me happy. It relieves me that things like friendship, loyalty, determination, service to one's country... universal values... are still celebrated in certain quarters. Especially when we consider what's been happening in places like London and Norway.
It's comforting to know that ordinary people can make a difference by the simple values that they hold. The case in point: Capt. America aka Steve Rogers becomes a superhero not because he is talented or skilled or even strong. But the values that he holds dear and true are what makes him rise to the occasion. His resilience and courage, not his newfound strength, is what drives him to acts of bravery. That line at the end, "I'm just a boy from Brooklyn" said it all.

It's fashionable among our intellectual elites to pooh pooh such notions which they've done for decades. But they are part of the fundamentals that have held societies together. Another thing that's become unfashionable to talk about in our time is the idea of evil.

Someone asked me recently why I follow the superhero genre. (On screen, at least) Well, it's pretty simple. There are good guys and there are bad guys... and justice is brought to bear. Sure, the good guys are flawed but at the end of the day, they know there's something called "right and wrong" and they do what needs to be done. No one seems more certain of it than Capt. America.

And the satisfaction of seeing baddies trammelled, blown up or getting their just desserts in a myriad of creative ways cannot be uttered in words.

I pop my head up and take a quick look around...

The past two-three weeks have been rough... physically...  I've been lying horizontally more than I would like.
Fatigue mostly... punctuated by days where I've had the distinct impression that my body is fighting something. Like yesterday...
Frequent sleeplessness and interrupted sleep hasn't helped.
To add to that... 2 sick kids in the same weekend... contracting two different types of bugs. Odd, wouldn't you say?

It started off looking like a busy month... and yet I think, God in his providence has been slowing me down. I've focused all my energy on being well for 3 things -- the annual MOPS conference, Worship Leading and the John Piper Brisbane visit.

Thinking about this has reminded me of something I read in a chatty time management type book called Shopping for Time. It's alright as far as these things go but hasn't got a whole lot that I haven't already read elsewhere. BUT, BUT, BUT... there's a C.S. Lewis quote in there that is just gold... It has to do with what we normally think of as "interruptions" to life.

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one's "real life" is a phantom of one's own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight;;but it's hard to remember it all the same. ("The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, 20 December, 1943," in The Quotable Lewis, [Wheaton: Tyndale, 1989], 355.
 
This piece of searing insight has really changed me. It has made me rethink about what I've called my hopes and dreams and the minor disappointments of having to put them on hold. As a mum, I've needed to come to grips with interruptions as a reality of my life now.
Interruptions, I'm also beginning to see, have their purpose... and they're not as purposeless as one might imagine.

But I'd be lying if I didn't say that seeing the world with Mummy Eyes is challenging. For me, at least, it goes against the grain.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Home

I'm completely whacked. Arrived home from the MOPS conference mid afternoon feeling the effects from a bad night. Friends invited us out to dinner which was lovely. Don't think I could have got dinner together even though I had enjoyed a weekend of non-cooking.
A friend from MOPS drove us home. It was tremendous fun to be with cheery companions yakking about children, husbands, bad driving, cane toads. In short, life. What is it about men and tailgating, we wondered as we exchanged horror stories of sitting in front with our other halves in the driver's seat.
With such scintillating conversation to be had, the journey home seemed like no time at all.

Best part about coming home is seeing the kiddies run up and screaming "Mum... you're home! We missed you!"
Hugs all round.
A mummy perk only mummies get.
Really thought they would be relieved at not having me around for a weekend nagging at them.
I reckon I should go away more often on my own.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Perspective

It hit me the other day that that those of us who are parents need to stand back a bit and gain some perspective on our children from time to time. Often when one is so close to the action, there's a tendency to dwell on the negatives. Maybe that's just moi.

A couple of nights ago, the husband and I went out to the movies, which is rarer than you might think. We were blessed to have a babysitter who seemed to be amused by the children's antics. When we got home after a fine night's entertainment, I thanked our babysitter who responded that the girls were "good" and she had genuinely enjoyed her time with them.
My first thought was... well, she's probably just being polite... but when she said it again with pointed sobriety, I was more inclined to believe her.

When I thought about it later it occurred to me that while I'm not exactly raising sugar and spice and everything nice, the girls really aren't all that bad.

Often parenting feels like a war. We battle with the strong willed child, we battle with the placid child and then we battle with our own desires. If you have sleep issues like I do, half the time you feel wearied by the whole parenting shtick and somedays you're barely surviving.
It's tough to keep things in perspective. Sure, the kids do have a bent toward doing their own thing and at various times they conveniently become hearing impaired, speech challenged and sight impaired.

During such times it is so easy to take things personally. I mean, how dare they, right?

During such times, one must take a few gulpfuls of breath, take a few steps back and repeat mantra like: They're only children, they're only children, they're only children...
It's not as bad as it looks, it's not as bad as it looks, it's not as bad as it looks...

Better still quote 2 Corinthians 4:17
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Official... We're a Pet Owning Family

Speaking of keeping chimps as house pets, it sort of occurred to me that I haven't talked about this latest development in our mundane suburban life.
Yup, we have now joined the ranks of hundreds and thousands of households across the land to become pet owners.
No, we haven't adopted chimpanzees... can't imagine that's legal in any country or practical. Unless, of course you're Michael Jackson. And then you're above the law... apparently.

So we have ourselves some chicks which we brought home from kindy. I've managed to resist the clamour for years but now that the young 'uns look like they might be able to take some responsibility in this department, the husband and I thought, well, why not? And the thought of getting fresh eggs daily is very attractive...
Well, there's no guarantee as yet that we will.
It will be a day of weeping here when one or more them turn out to be roosters. If all three turn out to be roosters, ah... chickies... it's been nice knowing you. (Yeah, it will be a tragedy quite possibly of Shakespearean proportions)

Meanwhile, we wait... and watch with baited breath.
They're becoming bigger everyday. Soon the box they're pecking around in will become too small. If it isn't all ready.

Everyday the 10 year old comes home from school and ask, "Are they still alive?"




The black one's Silky, the yellow one's Goldie and the brownish one I named Foghorn. 10 year old now wants to call the black one Midnight.
Children... sigh...
Ah well, we'll see.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

I'm back from watching the new Planet of Da Apes prequel. Before I go on I will say that I watched it with four other women from my church representing different demographic groups and... surprise, surprise... they all said they enjoyed it, despite thinking that it might turn out to be a horror flick.

Now, you might think that yours truly here is a sci-fi fan so yeah, duh... you'd like that kind of stuff... But while yes, it is a science fiction piece there's a lot of heart in this and dare I say it, there's also a little something that touches the mother in me.

Going in, I half expected the film to be a kind of Terminator meets King Kong type of film. While there is that whole "man should not play God" aspect to it, it's not preachy. The story, instead, chooses to focus on notions of family and individual freedom.

Will Rodmanis a highly driven scientist who is working on a radical cure for Alzheimer's and potentially other neurological conditions. His need to succeed lies close to home... his own father. Charles,has fallen victim to Alzheimer's and is deteriorating fast. The cure is an experimental virus. After a mishap at the laboratory, Will is forced to stop his research and the star "guinea pig", a female chimpanzee runs amok. When the star "guinea pig", female chimpanzee runs amok causing a mishap at the lab, Will is forced to stop his research. Unbeknownst to all, she had given birth to an adorable young chimp who is later named Caesar for Julius Caesar by Charles, a Shakespearean quoting piano teacher.

Will and Charles become a surrogate family to the winsome childlike chimp. Still, adorable little chimps grow up into apes... and if you know where The Planet of the Ape stories end up... you'll have an inkling of where this all goes.

While I won't call it scary, there are several jump-out-of-my-seat moments. There's a fair bit of growling, snarling (teeth showing), chest-thumping, several species of primates swinging and jumping from great heights... which boils down to apes doing ape stuff.

It's not a perfect film but what film is.  Pacing feels a bit off at times but it doesn't take away from the overall strength of the film. The apes are terrific though, so incredibly lifelike.
I hear that the ape rendering was done by the talented people at Weta Digital -- the NZ mob who did the CGI for Lord of the Rings. They've done an amazing job and the human being behind Caesar is da incredibly versatile, Andy Serkis, who was the body and voice behind the jumping and hissing Gollum in LOTR.

Credit: Newsarama

And yes, I'm pretty sure there will be a sequel.
Especially if they make pots of money.

I Sit, Drink Tea and Watch Them Play

Those indoor play centres must be one of the business world's great gifts to mothers. I won't name names... no one's paying me for endorsements or giving me freebies to say this. Therefore, I'm saying it with undeniable conviction. Very heartfelt, I assure you.
Sure it's not free... (I did say "business") but at the end of the two or three hours, I always feel that it is money well-spent. Especially with coupons.
I'm not saying that I would go to one everyday... although if I were married to a fellow pulling an income in the realm of six or seven figures I might be tempted to do so. It's gotta be cheaper than hiring a nanny.
But really, I don't need to do this everyday.

I think of it as a mummy perk.
As a stay-at-home mum, the labour I contribute as a domestic engineer to Husband and Kids Inc., according to the feminist eggheads, is unpaid.
Yeah, but they're missing the point though. What other job in the world would allow a woman to sip tea and read at a cafe in safe environment for children to run riot in?
Not too many, I would imagine. And yes, it was a rhetorical question.

Mothering is undoubtedly a labour of love but even I will admit that with some planning and thought, there are benefits to be had.

I love the free market.... while we still have it.