Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I learned at my Psych Eval.

A lot has gone on for me the past few days, so I am going to write an entry about my Psychological Evaluation in Columbus, then write another entry about Evelyn stuff.  That way, if you're not interested in the Psych Eval, you can just skip over it.  And if you're not interested in Evelyn (WHHHATTT???), then you can skip over that.  So the Psych Eval is a requirement for Ordination.  I'm glad they do it, because we all know that sex scandal and other abuse of power in churches are real issues and this is a good way to avoid them as best we can.

It was hard because I had to leave Evelyn for two days.  But, now that I am home and have her in  my arms again, I am certain that the trip was extremely beneficial.  First off, I got to spend some time with my good friend Christine.  Second, my mom, dad, and grandma came down to visit and surprised me by bringing along my sister-in-law and niece, Zoey.  What an awesome surprise!  Zoey is 19 months old now, and so cool.  She calls me "Jo" and she calls her gramma "Gmama" and I think she's pretty good at pronouncing grampa.

As for the evaluation itself, first of all, I learned that I am an "ENFP" on the Myers-Briggs scale.  I got a big print out with the four categories broken down into subcategories, and it helps me to understand how my brain functions and how to work with others who think differently.  I learned that being an extrovert doesn't just mean that I function well in groups of people, but that I am energized by being with others.  That is why I am often so tired after staying home all day and doing nothing.

I also learned that, in being Intuitive, I can picture an idea before I even see it.  For me, it is easy to say, "I have it figured out in my head" but in my ministry I will work with people who are the opposite, Sensing, and I will have to learn to deliver concrete, practical, and realistic ideas so that they won't write me off as unprepared and unplanned.

Another thing is that my disorganization and procrastination is an embedded thing that I can't really change.  I can try to adjust and develop more organized ways of doing things, but I will never change.  I will always be pressure-prompted and I will never be scheduled.

I have been very worried lately about how I will balance my family and my career, so I felt liberated by some advice that George, my counselor, gave me.  He said that because pastors are role-models, the way that my family functions will demonstrate to others how their families should function.  So, as I try to figure out how to be a pastor and a mama, I need to ask myself what I think a family should look like, and I need to model that.  So, of course I'll always be "on call" for emergencies, etc. in the ministry, but I need to learn to say, "I'm going home to be with my family now" at the end of the day.

I am also a people-pleaser.  No surprise there.  But what did come as a surprise is how detrimental that can be to my ministry.   So I am learning to say "no," learning to disagree, and learning to receive.  This will be difficult.

Ultimately he said that I seem to be a good fit for ministry and that he is excited to have people like me coming into authority positions in the church.

Now that the Psych Eval is over, I am one step closer to ordination.  What's left?  An ordination paper, review before the ordination committee, graduation, and a call to serve a congregation.   It seems like so much, but I know it will go so quickly from here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 Months; 1 Year

Okay, friends, now on to something that you will probably find more interesting.

Evelyn was four months old yesterday.  Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of when we found out we were having a baby.

(Disclaimer: The auto-focus on our camera is broken because I left it on the arm of the chair and it fell off.  You'd think I'd learn that things shouldn't go on the arm of this chair, after the amount of times I've put my waterbottle on it and spilled it all over the ground, but I haven't learned yet.  As a result, the photos are not the best quality.  I'm learning to use manual focus but it's hard.  I think our warranty will cover the repair, but not thinking about it until after Christmas.)

Four months is around the right time to start using the exersaucer, so we did!  It takes up like 90% of our apartment, but I love it and she loves it.  I love it because I can put her in it, set it outside the bathroom door, and take a shower.  It's great.

We had a playdate today with a friend from my August birth group and her baby Collin.  Collin is 3 days younger than Evelyn.  

Collin with his hand on her leg, getting fresh.  
Mama, look a friend!  
We had a great time!  I love Mama Friends! 
Then, this evening Maic took us on a Christmas date!  We each had a budget to spend on Christmas gifts for Evelyn.  I spent mine on a bunch of toys, etc. (I'll show you in a post-Christmas blog post)  He decided to spend his to take us on a horse carriage ride through a Christmas-light filled park.  It was so much fun.  He is such a sweetheart.

We went out to dinner first at a Mongolian Grill.  

Evelyn had these soft mittens on,
and she couldn't stop rubbing them on her face.  

Can you see the horse?
Evelyn and Daddy in the
One Horse Open Sleigh

Now that that's out of the way, I want to tell you a little bit about what the past year has been like for us.  A year ago today, we found out we were going to have a baby.

December 22, 2010

Maic and I were going to be leaving to go home for Christmas after the 11:00 Christmas Eve service at Salem UMC (where I was working at the time.)  It would be a 10 hour drive, so we would arrive on Christmas morning.  I thought it would be cute if I made us Christmas pajama pants to wear home.  On the evening of December 22, I finished the pants for myself and went to try them on.  WAYYYY too small.  So I started yelling about how I can't do anything right, and threw the pants and the scissors across the room.  Maic came out of the kitchen and told me that it wasn't a big deal.  I began to list all of the reasons it was a big deal, ie: I can't do anything right, ever; I just want to be good at sewing and I made a stupid mistake; I don't know anyone else who has ever done something this stupid.

Maic asked me if I was about to get my period, which just made me even more mad.  Why would he think I was being hormonal???  That's just ridiculous.  I yelled, "NO I'M JUST UPSET OKAY???"  And sat down to work on the pants some more.  But his question got me thinking.  Was I about to get my period?  No, that was last week.  No, actually, it wasn't.

I decided to take a test, and there it was.  A faint little pink line.  The best Christmas present I've ever received.

New Year's Eve last year, not sipping any champagne!

Can you believe how much can happen in a year?  For a year, I have been creating life out of my own body.   All 12 pounds, 5 ounces of Evelyn (found that out yesterday) have been created out of what I have given her.  I am blessed that I have been able to exclusively breastfeed, and I plan to continue to do so for a while.    It feels so right that I have given so much of myself so that she could be.  I thought I might be sad that my body has changed so much or that my schedule and my diet is so dependent on her, but I'm not.  I am just proud.

Now, don't hear me wrong, I have a lot of friends who have had trouble breastfeeding or have needed supplements, etc. to sustain their lives and not an inch of me thinks that I am better than them.  They have each made the right decisions for the health of their babies, and that's what being a good mother is about.  I do hope, however, that they will celebrate with me that I have been so blessed.

In this year, everything about my body has changed.  My hips are wider, my ribs are broader, my skin and hair are different, and I won't touch the more personal changes.  Parts of me wish I could have myself back-- a full night without having to wake up to nurse (I thought I might get one when I was in Columubus.  Boy was I wrong. Woke up in pain each night and needed to pump), clothes that don't have to be accessible in the case of a hungry baby, pants that fit me from one day to the next.  But then part of me knows that I don't have that anymore, and instead I have 12 lbs, 5 oz. of the most beautiful human I've ever seen.

About 35 weeks pregnant
And, most importantly, when I see how beautiful she is and how much I love her, and remember that she and I are created by the very same God, I realize that if she is beautiful, I am beautiful too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's on my table?

It's finals week.  Half of me is anxious to get all these finals out of the way so I can just say, "I'M FINISHED with the semester!  and I only have ONE SEMESTER LEFT!!"  But the other half of me can't stop thinking about Christmas-- visiting family and introducing Evelyn to a few people for the first time, eating big delicious meals, watching my little girl and her big cousin Zoey play together again, meeting baby Max, a good friend's new baby who was born last weekend, etc.

So I'm stuck here at this cluttered table, with Christmas pulling on one arm and finals pulling on the other.  Oh, and Evelyn, pulling on my hair.  She does that now.

On it is:
1. UCC Book of Worship and Methodist Liturgy book, for working on my Liturgy final-- a full worship order for a wedding, a funeral, and a Sunday morning service.
2. A stack of Christmas cards and photos, which I will never send out again.  What a PAIN!!!  Okay,  next Christmas I might change my mind, but for now I'm motivated by the idea that this will never happen again.
3. A cup of tea.  Earl Grey in a giraffe mug.
4. A wobbly jingly toy.  We call him "Sassy Clown" because he has the word Sassy on his butt.  Realized later that it's a brand name.
5. The laptop hanging out at-- what?-- Facebook.  Of course.  So addicting.  It doesn't help that my August 2011 birth group moved to Facebook a couple months ago.  Now I am constantly on there seeking advice, venting, and sharing photos.  I seriously don't know what I would do without their support.  However, I'd probably have A LOT more of my finals done and my ordination paper would be more or less finished.  And my dishes would be clean.
6. Some yarn and my miscellaneous craft box.  I already mentioned that I've given up on handmade Christmas in its entirety, but there are still a few handmade things in the mix.  Two more to finish up.
7.  The rest of the stuff is always there.

Evelyn is sleeping now.  She is getting so big.  She laughs now and really loves to hear herself talk.  The days of letting her lie on her playmat while I work are over, however.  She is easily bored and wants to be read to, talked to, or carried around.  I try to read my articles for school or the papers I'm writing aloud to her as a compromise, but the second I turn to the computer, she squeals.  Smart girl.

Well, something's a bit off about blogging while complaining about my finals not being finished.  I'm going to go take advantage of the rest of this nap.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Lovely Weekend in Milwaukee

On Friday, after Evelyn and I were done visiting a lovely homebound church member, I dropped all school work and church work and ran off to Milwaukee with my awesome family.

Maic's Aunt/godmother Lori and Uncle Chris live in Milwaukee, along with two cousins and their partners and kids.  They are such an inspiration to be around.  They really pool their talents and help each other out in all sorts of ways and they are a true example for me of what family should be.  This is our second visit to Milwaukee and it has been a relaxing and refreshing trip both times.

Maic and Lori, hanging out with some cacti

We began this trip with a visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum where we saw some really creepy dancers with masks, a dinosaur exhibit, and the most butterfly-full butterfly house I've ever been in.  

I didn't join the dance.  I was too busy trying to act like I wasn't afraid
in front of the kiddos
Maic with his cousin's little boy, Makai
Maic and cousin Mona, who lured miss Evelyn to sleep
in the Butterfly House
Mara, with a butterfly.  The butterflies really loved her! 

In the afternoon, we had some coffee and did a bit of Christmas shopping.  Maic and I finally surrendered to Homemade Christmas and decided that we can't quite take on the task of making homemade gifts for everyone every year.  So we bought a few gifts, which took a huge weight off my shoulders.  I also received my first Christmas present, from Aunt Lori-- a really neat necklace with triangles and circles made of slate.

We returned home and had a delicious turkey dinner and champagne, and then hung out at cousins Matt and Janelle's house and chatted while Evelyn slept soundly back at Aunt Lori and Uncle Chris's house.  (Incidentally, Janelle has her own blog and handmade clothing line called Little Ocean.  Check it out!)

In the morning we went to church, and then headed over to the Domes, which each have a different climate filled with plants that thrive in that climate.

Miss Mara and Grandpa on their way to the Domes
The tropical/rainforest dome

The desert dome

The garden/floral dome, currently decked out with poinsettias for Christmas

Then we had coffee with cousin Mona and it was time to head home.  Evelyn was awesome on the car ride to Milwaukee, but less so on the ride home.  It gets dark so early these days and she just did not want to hang out in the dark all evening.  She was grumpy all day today, but hopefully will be back to normal tomorrow.

Now, onto finals week.  I'm writing this during an intermission from my UCC Polity essay.  I only have three finals total-- one due tomorrow and two on Friday.  I am taking them like a champ.  And then-- guess what?-- one semester left.

Well folks, here's one for the road:

Monday, December 5, 2011

1000 Pageviews!

I have officially reached 1000 pageviews here at "Become Pastor Mom."  How fun!  Thanks for your support, everyone.  I love sharing my story.  

So, guess what??  I turned in my thesis proposal!!  This is a huge deal for me.  In a minute or two, I'll create another page up there ^ next to the tabs about Maic, Evelyn, and I about my thesis so that I don't have to constantly repeat it and so that if you have absolutely no interest, you can choose not to click on the tab.  

I'll find out in a week or two whether or not it's accepted and then I can continue writing.  

This weekend, we had a visit from Nana and Aunt Clare, Maic's mom and sister.  It was a pretty laid back visit.  

Nana is working on this amazing quilt replica of the Goodnight Moon room for Evelyn.  She's using mostly recycled materials and most of it is hand-appliqued.  The paintings on the wall are hand-painted in fabric paint.  

So that made it even more exciting that when we were at the Way of Lights at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine, Nana and Evelyn discovered a Goodnight Moon tree.  

And after seeing the trees, Evelyn found herself hungry (famished, even) and that's when she made this face. We're framing this photo to bring out every Christmas. 

Also this weekend, we had our first official "First Fridays" mom's group gathering with other moms who have taken the birth class we took.  It happens the first Friday of every month.  There were about 6 or 7 other moms (and a dad!) with babies from 2 weeks to 1 year.  We had a BLAST.  I took some photos, but don't want to put photos of other people's babies on my blog without asking, so I'll just stick with, "It was stinking adorable." 

Last night we went to the annual Yankee Swap for First Congregational.  Evelyn was super good and enjoyed getting passed around from "Grandma to Grandma."  They take it very seriously and ask for homemade gifts to be swapped.  I crocheted some mug cozies or, as they were referred to at the swap, "Oh, it's a mug with a sweater!"  There were blueberry gooey butter cakes, fudge, and a handmade scarf.  But, what I wanted was this: 

It's a wooden monkey toy.  It flips over the stick and does a headstand.

Maic wouldn't stop making fun of me, but okay--whatever--I like it.  He got some homemade peppermint bark.  

Other than all of that, the Second Edition of Homemade Christmas is in full swing.  We're knitting, felting, drilling, supply-searching, etc.  It's going pretty okay.  Some people are impossible, however.  I can't post any pictures til after Christmas or else I will ruin the surprises!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Feeling a Bit Better, and a Happy Liturgical New Year!

This weekend I became more aware than ever about how important self-care is.  Whatever happened to me on Thursday morning continued throughout the weekend and is just starting to subside after several naps and a whole lot of relaxation.  It could have been worse.  I have no doubt that I was exhausted and overstimulated.  Also, Evelyn was going through a growth spurt and breastfeeding is much more physically exhausting than one might think.  I am already feeling better, but will call the doctor tomorrow if I have any more dizzy spells.  

Today is the first day of the Liturgical New Year!  Happy New Year!  And the first day of Advent!  Happy Advent!  If you're interested, you can follow the UCC daily devotional.  I always quite enjoy them. 

And, just because I apparently can't take enough pictures, here's a picture of Evelyn in the adorable dress she wore to church today!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nacho Ordinary Thanksgiving and a Relaxing Black Friday

Well folks, it happened.  I overdid myself.  It was bound to happen eventually, but I just kept thinking I could do it all.  

Yesterday morning, I was in charge of the Thanksgiving service at First Congregational WG.  First of all, I had kind of been putting it off all week so that I could get other stuff done that was more immediate at the time (ie: senior sermon, liturgy coursework, UCC polity coursework, diapers, feeding, etc.)  Second of all, a good friend of ours had a hard week with a difficult break-up, so Evelyn and I spent some time cheering her up (which I was glad to do, of course).  So, I ended up having to stay up late Wednesday night and wake up early Thursday morning to get stuff in order for the service.  

To make a long story short, I found myself extremely dizzy during the sermon on Thursday morning and was praying during the sermon that I wouldn't pass out.  Well, I didn't pass out, but I also led a very scatterbrained service and sermon.  And then--get this--I beat myself up about it all afternoon. 

It's not okay that I do these things to myself.  When I got home, I laid down for 10 minutes and slept for four hours.  I also realized I was dehydrated.  I only woke up because Evelyn needed to eat.   I don't want to be the kind of pastor that works so hard that I become unable to minister to those who need me.  And I certainly don't want to become the kind of pastor who doesn't have time for my family and myself.  I'm not sure why I hold myself to such high standards.  I don't know what I'm trying to prove.  And I don't know how to let go of it and just let myself relax and be human.  
At 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, I am supposed to turn in the first chapter of my thesis.  By Dec. 1, my thesis proposal is due, along with all of the materials (including several written assessments) for my psych eval later in December.  Tuesday, I am leading a service for Liturgy class.  Then, I just have some general coursework to do.  I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do yet, but I know things need to change.  I can't let myself get that exhausted again.  

Yesterday afternoon, when I woke up from my four hour nap, I decided that whatever I was going to do, I was going to take Thursday and Friday off.  I needed to spend time relaxing with my family.  I still haven't decided what to do about the thesis chapter, but I'll tell you I'm not waking up at 5 a.m. to write a half-hearted version of it and turning it in at 9:00.  My only option at this point is to turn it in late or, as might be more realistic, turn in an outline instead.  Generally, Fall semester isn't for writing anyway. 

So...let's shake out the negativity.  Here's what we did do yesterday and today!

We had NACHO THANKSGIVING!  Maic asked if I wanted turkey, but getting and preparing a turkey for one person seemed ridiculous, so we had nachos. 

Salsa con Queso, Shredded Chicken, Corn and Black Beans,
Refried Beans, and Fresh Veggies.

And homemade oatmeal cream pies!!  

Afterwards, we cuddled and watched Elf.  I will never stop laughing at that movie, no matter how many times I see it.  

Here, by the way, is Evelyn's Thanksgiving dress!  

Today we slept in and when we woke up I really wanted to do some shopping.  You see, I've gone Black Friday shopping every year of my life.  Most of the time, my mom and I have gone with my Aunt Vickie and my sister-in-law, Charis, since we've known her, but the past couple of years I've been in St. Louis, so I've gone with whoever was visiting us at the time.  It's very different now, though, as I become increasingly more disgusted with the materialism and competition of Black Friday.  

So, we decided to go to Kangaroo Kids and Once Upon a Child, a couple of used clothing stores.  Evelyn moved up a clothing size a few days ago.  We have been doing our best to only buy used clothes for Evelyn.  They're so much cheaper and I think it's more fun.  We both like Kangaroo Kids significantly more than Once Upon a Child.  The prices are about the same, but Once Upon a Child is a chain and the people are a lot less friendly.  

Evelyn's first Black Friday 

Every once in a while, Daddy wishes he had a boy,
so they could wear the same clothes.  

Here's what we did get!  

Warmth for winter and some spit-up protectors.  

Plaid dresses!  I don't know why we got five of them.
Good deals?  Super cute? 

T-Rex destroying a Candy Cane.  Okay, how could we not get it?  

Then, we went to Chili's for lunch

We are so out of the technological loop.
Did you know you can pay your bill at the table now?  This is crazy!

Look at her eyeing that burger... 

And we ended our lovely Black Friday at the World Bird Sanctuary, one of our favorite places in St. Louis.  It's the place we both feel the most "at home."  It has a very Metroparks kind of atmosphere.  Last time we went, I was 8 months pregnant and it was 95 degrees.  

July 17th, 2011

Today was much more pleasant.  It was 60 degrees in St. Louis today, so it was absolutely perfect WBS weather.  

"I think Nacho Thanksgiving is a fantastic idea!" 

Tonight, we're having leftovers and watching movies.  We might get out some Christmas decorations, too.  Tomorrow morning, I'll give a thought to getting some work done.  But, not until then.  I promise.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Senior Sermon and a New Sheep

Monday was my senior sermon at the Eden chapel.  Each third year student gets the opportunity to do a senior sermon (not all take it), but it is particularly stressful because it means preaching in front of a group of people who know something about preaching.  It's a very critical environment.  I was happy with it, although there are a few things I would do differently if I did it again.  

I preached on the book of Judith, which is apocryphal so that was new for some people.  As many of you know, my thesis is on the book of Judith.  (Incidentally, it has been narrowed to the language of the body in the book of Judith and my official proposal is due on the 1st.)  But I wanted to preach on a particular passage that I have just fallen in love with-- Judith 15:8-13.  The passage is about a victory dance, but a very peculiar one in that Judith does not allow anyone to dance for her.  Instead, she crowns them and dances along with them.  I preached about dancing-- why Judith didn't want them to dance for her, and why our God is worth dancing for.  It was fun.  You can read it here, on my other blog where I post all of my sermon manuscripts. 

Evelyn didn't actually stand in the pulpit with me.
She slept the whole time.
But I took this picture afterwards.
I got a pretty good drum circle going, too, which was just so perfectly fitting for the topic. 

They sounded great.  Thanks, drummers!
In baby news, I don't think it would be possible to have a sweeter, more patient little baby.  Lately I've been feeling a lot of guilt for how much I cart her around.  I've had a lot of things that I've had to go to Eden for in the morning this past week or two, so she comes with me.  When I go to the church office, she comes with  me.  Anything I do in the evening, other than class, she comes with me.  I worry that I am robbing her of her baby-hood, but she seems so happy.  

She has fallen in love with her new sheep.  Somehow this sheep is a girl, and her name is Cedric.  I don't know how these things happen in our family, but we often just have these bizarre conversations, one thing leads to another, and we end up with a girl sheep named Cedric.  Anyway, Cedric arrived via USPS for her baptism from her Nana and Papa.  
Here she is:

Happy Babies
This is how she likes to sleep now, smothering herself with Cedric.  
Mama, stop bothering us.  
Alright, well, a very happy and bountiful thanksgiving to you!  We'll be having Potluck Thanksgiving at the church, followed by Nacho Thanksgiving with just the three of us (with one vegetarian and one milk-etarian, turkey just didn't seem right).  
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