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).  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

LOOK AT THESE BOOKS! at Three Months

This mama is tired.  Tomorrow, I am preaching my senior sermon in the chapel at Eden.  It's something I've been thinking about doing since I was a first year student.  I love preaching and the chance to preach in front of so many awesome students and faculty is quite an honor.  At the same time, however, I'm nervous as can be.  I'll try to do a blog post on it, or at least post a picture or two.  

Also, Thursday, I am doing a Thanksgiving service at First Congo.  I have hardly even started working on it because I've been so busy thinking about Monday. 

I have a lot of other stuff going on too, but let's not get into it.  Let's just say I haven't knitted in over a week, at which point I knitted these!  

For myself.  I'm knitting more, or at least similar ones,
for Christmas gifts.  Shh.
Anyway, today Evelyn is three months old.  Sometimes it sounds about right, sometimes I can't believe it at all.  Time flies, but I also feel like we've been together our whole lives (not just hers).  

Did you know three months ago
this was inside me? 
I thought it would be neat, as I'm a bit of a bibliophile, to post Evelyn's top five favorite books each month.  For now, it's more about us than her.  She doesn't really care what we read as long as there's noise somewhere.  I've actually been reading her Marcus Borg's Speaking Christian, which she seems to enjoy, but we won't put that in her top five.  Maybe six? we go!  The first installment of LOOK AT THESE BOOKS! (The name comes from what Evelyn says (?) whenever she sees the first book on the list: "LOOK AT THESE PENGUINS!")

1. Don't Be Afraid Little Pip!: I posted a photo of Evelyn looking at this book a few entries back.  I'm gonna be honest; I don't even really know what the book is about.  I just know that there's one page that says, "Swimming is flying!" (a statement that I happen to disagree with) that Evelyn could stare at forever.  It is FULL of penguins.    

2. Toes, Ears, and NoseThis is a book I actually like for the content.  The wording is super simple and somewhat predictable, but she loves it because I tickle her when I read it and it gets her smiles going.  

3. On the Day You Were Born: Evelyn couldn't give two diapers-full about this book, other than that the inside cover has these amazing stars on it (also pictured a few entries back).  However, either I'm still hormonal enough, or her birthday is still recent enough, that I cry every time I read it.  Okay but seriously, you try reading the words, "We're so glad you've come" into these eyes without crying. 

You're crying just thinking about it, aren't you?
4. Matisse: Dance for Joy: We actually just got this one today, but it is exactly her cup of tea-- lots of really high contrast, bright pictures.  And my cup of tea-- real, intriguing, evocative art.  

5. The Little Prince: Okay, another book she doesn't care all that much about.  But, we've been reading it to her little by little for about a month now.  We're over halfway through.  It's a fun part of our nighttime routine (Whoa whoa whoa....routine???? I guess I use that word loosely) and someday when she's older, we'll tell her that she read her first chapter book before she was six months old.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A funny story

I've got no pictures for you here, but I have to tell this story.  First off, you have to understand that one of my biggest fears as I approach ordination is that nobody will take me seriously as a 24 year old woman, let alone a 24 year old woman who looks 15.  I know that I'm going to have trouble establishing authority in a pastoral role and that is an issue I'm working on.

What do you think of when you think of clergy?  This morning, one of my professors let me know that there is a shirt for the UCC 20's and 30's clergy network that says, "This is what clergy looks like."  I need it.

This fact was illustrated yesterday evening when I was out to eat with a seminary classmate, discussing my sermon for chapel on Monday.  I saw a member of the church I am currently serving walk in.  She just had a hip replacement two weeks ago, so I knew that it was appropriate to go greet her and ask how she was feeling.

When she sat down with her husband and another couple they were with, I went over and approached the table.  I said, "Hello!  It's so good to see you walking around.  How did the surgery go?"  She introduced me to her husband and the couple that was with her and told me a bit about her recovery.  We talked for 2-3 minutes and I said that I was looking forward to seeing her in church again.

At which point, her husband looked at me and said, "So, are you going to take our order?"

Sigh... this is what clergy looks like.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I am overjoyed to present to you our brand new Sister-in-Christ, Miss Evelyn D'Agostino.

She cried for a short second when I first handed her over to Pastor Dave.  That's when she acquired the pacifier, and all was fine thereafter.

Baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son,
and the Holy Spirit

Annointing: "Holy Spirit be upon you, Evelyn,
Child of God, disciple of Christ, member of the church. "

Immediately after the baptism.
She is still glistening from the water.
It really delighted the heart of this mom and student pastor to attend this baptism.  I think I've been thinking about this moment since she was still a twinkle in our eyes.  I am so excited to teach her about God, Jesus, and the Church.  I love thinking about her among the cloud of pitter-pats running around the dining hall during potlucks and sleeping sprawled out on the pew on Ash Wednesday.  I await with joy the moment that I am able to share Holy Communion with her, and a donut and glass of lemonade in fellowship after church. 

One of my biggest desires for her is that the church will be a place of comfort and sustenance for her.  Yesterday, I felt that desire coming to life as I heard such a great cloud of congregants promising their love, support, and care to her.  We are in a place in our lives where we have no permanent church congregation.  My home church, Berea UCC, will always love us and take care of us, but we will never be regular members there again.  The church she was baptized in yesterday will only be our home until May or June.  We have no idea where we will be next or how long.  So yesterday, when I heard the promise of the congregation, I heard  them promising on behalf of so many others-- for Berea, for Eden Seminary, for the Ohio Conference of the UCC, for our families and friends, and for every church I will serve in her life and every church that Maic and I will be a part of.  

I am so excited to watch her grow in faith and build her own unique relationship with God.    

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things to stare at: Big Shiny Glasses, Penguins, and Our New Ikea Play Gym

When I found out that I would not put my classes or internship on hold when Evelyn was born, I immediately began to think of ways to kill two birds with one stone.  How could I spend my days with my darling little baby, while still fulfilling my requirements?  Well, one of the things I came up with was that I would go visit homebound church members with baby Evelyn.  

We have been having so much fun.  It's a win-win-win situation, you see, because not only is it good time management, but the homebound members and other nursing home residents love to see her, AND Evelyn could stare at the giant shiny glasses that many of them wear for hours! 
Visiting a homebound church member
along with some other church members,
 a retired pastor and his wife.
Today was our second trip, but we've seen four people so far.  The first visit included one woman saying that she liked, "when babies used to wear baby clothes instead of dressing like teenagers."  She was referring to Evelyn's outfit, which was this shirt and some leggings:

I love the lack of edit mode that elderly often have. 

But today, one of the things that was so great about the trip was that on our way out, we passed by a group of nursing home residents and nurses sitting in a big circle telling stories.  They invited me to bring E into the circle and introduce her.  It was so great to see so many faces light up when they saw her big bulgy eyes looking into all their big glasses!  She is such a blessing.  She just brightens up the day.  

On another note, I wanted to share a couple photos of Evelyn looking at things.  Her very favorite thing to do (okay, besides eating) is staring at things. I know you're probably thinking, "umm...don't all babies stare at things?"  Well, I don't know.  I've never had another baby.  But I know that this baby loves it.  This is one of the best methods of entertainment we've found: 

And today, her Ikea play gym arrived.  As you may know, Ikea often doesn't ship their stuff and there aren't any in the area.  But they have this play gym I really like that is wooden and takes up less space than most play gyms.  Plus it was pretty inexpensive comparatively.  So, a woman from my online birth group (a group of a bunch of other women who had babies in August) picked one up and shipped it to me!  So awesome!  It arrived today.  Evelyn already loves staring at it, too. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's MAIL time!

Evelyn is spoiled.  This girl has so much awesome stuff and she gets significantly more mail than either of us ever did.  We get Shop N Save ads.  She gets clothes, blankets, toys, books, letters, etc.  I think this is partly a result of living so far away from family and friends, but also partly because she's so adorable and people love giving presents to babies.  Okay the other thing is that I am a borderline online shopping addict.  (What?? It's not real just put in the numbers and it comes in the mail!) 

Today I opened the door, we had two packages and it got me thinking about how it might be fun to have an occasional "Mail Time" post on my blog.  

I'm slightly nervous that you will all think "this baby has enough stuff so I'm going to stop sending her packages."  Okay, probably true but we LOVE packages and Evelyn does too.  We love knowing that she is so loved and people are thinking about her even from far away.  

Okay so we had a good mail day one day last week-- we got this package from our good friend Christine: 
An Ohio onesie, finger puppets, a crocheted outfit from a craft fair,
and a magnet (for me!) that says "knit happens"

Wearing her outfit to church yesterday. 
And this picture from Great-Grandma Smyres of the amazing wooden bird she just finished carving for her.  She will get it eventually, but for now Great-Grandma has to show it off in the class show.
I know, who takes a picture of a picture?   I do.  
We also got a package from my mom of all the stuff I left there when we went home a few weeks ago.  Sheesh, we forgot A LOT of stuff. 

Today, the two packages were from (okay, this is not a result of my shopping addiction, this is the result of a gift certificate from M's Godmother to be used to boost our supply of cloth diapers) and our friend Kadryn from college: 
--A Charlie Brown blanket!!  So cute.  It makes a great playmat, too!
-- Oh Katy One-Sized pocket diapers.
She's wearing one but the bear booty was too cute to  take off.
We have two more on the way.   
Now I'm starting to feel a bit guilty about how much stuff we have, in light of the Mission: 1 campaign.  Why do some people get everything and some get nothing?  This is one of those eternal questions.  There are days when I think we are totally broke and have nothing, and days that I think that I could not ask for more.  I don't think the answer is to give everything up (although Jesus does say that at least once...Luke 13:42).  I think the answer is to do good with what you have and to always be thankful.  I'm working on both.  Any advice?  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In case you were wondering...

This is how I get work done: 

Well, during the weekdays, I just don't.  I am home alone with E and she's not very generous about sharing me with my schoolwork.  But in the evenings and on weekends, I get a lot done!  Evelyn has a wonderful daddy who takes awesome care of her.  When she is crying, he carries her around, sings to her, changes her diaper, and reads to her.  Most of the time, she's pretty happy when she is with him.  I think she loves him because of his glasses, on top of the fact that he's just a pretty cool guy.  
Evelyn is learning to play the baritone ukulele
When he can't get her to stop crying, it's usually because she's hungry.  So, I practice the art of nursing and typing one handed.  We're getting pretty good at it.  

When I really can't think straight, I head up to Cafe Nura, a cafe right next to our apartment complex.  I do work there, or sometimes just drink a cup of coffee and talk things out with Maic. 

What do I work on?  Right now, I'm working on this: 
My Ordination Paper-- This is hard stuff.  Really makes my head hurt. 

and this: 
My Master's Thesis on Language of the Body and Feminist Theology
in the Book of Judith (Haven't heard of it?  Then you must not be Catholic.
 It's an Apocryphal Book.) 
In fact, I just wrote my abstract yesterday!!  Wanna read it?  Yeah, probably not.  But if you do, let me know.  I'll send it-- it's only 100 words.  

and this:
A sweater I started before she was born
and finished (except for buttons) yesterday.  Still a bit big. 

And a hat with the leftovers. 

I knit for sanity purposes.  I have a lot of people ask me, "How do you have time to knit?"  Well, truthfully, I don't have time to not knit.  The rate of sweaters completed per week is congruent with the rate of articles read and pages written per week.  When I knit, I think (or don't think, sometimes) and when I go back to work I am entirely refreshed and inspired.  And as a bonus, Evelyn has a super warm wardrobe.  

Well, E is half asleep and Maic is writing.  I'm going to go back to work on my ordination paper and try to fit my theology of Jesus, including Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection in roughly 350 words.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...