Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cuter than a kitten?

Things are looking up since the last post, and I finally got a little bit of knitting time in this evening.  Just had to share!  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Finding the Blessings in the Obstacles

I'm probably overreacting.  I usually do.  However, I just feel like the past couple weeks I have had more setbacks than I'm used to.  This whole ordination process and parenting thing has gone so smoothly for me so far that sometimes I forget that it can't always be that way.  

The past few weeks have included Evelyn's ear infection-turned-bronchial infection, our laptop breaking, and plane tickets home that cost us a whole lot more than expected.  Additionally, since Christmas Evelyn has given up on sleeping through the night, so I'm up at 3:00, 6:00 and 8:00.  

Last night, my gums surrounding the tooth that has been hurting me for the past year or so swelled up.  I'm nearly certain that it's abscessed, which stinks because I don't have insurance.  Then, I woke up this morning to an e-mail that says that I'm a credit and a half short for graduation, which  means I need to take an additional class this semester. 

All of this is so small when I look at the big picture.  But, readers, I'd be lying if I said it's no big deal.  I'm.  So.  Tired.  

Being a mom is hard.  When I list the things I did all day, I think, "Why am I so tired? I hardly did anything." But it's amazing how much energy a baby takes.  Then, while I was taking my J-Term class, I only had her by myself from 1:30 to 4:30 each day, so I kept thinking, "Why am I so tired?"  But it's amazing how much energy a four-hour a day class takes.  When you put them both together, and never really get a break (by the way, how do single moms do it and how on earth did my Mother-in-Law do laundry for eight?), it leads to an overreaction or two.  It makes me cry when I hear that I have to take another class. 

I want to be an optimistic person.  I always try to be positive, but what I'm discovering about myself is that what I really am is an honest person.  I can see the blessings in my obstacles. Evelyn is healthy and happy; our laptop was old anyway; we get to fly home instead of driving and I am delighted to see my family; I get the chance to learn more by taking another class; I'm delighted to get this &#*% tooth out of my mouth.  But I'm also willing to admit and accept that what I'm doing is hard.  Right?  Is that okay?  

Thank you for hearing my little vent.  I always struggle a little bit to figure out what is appropriate to put on this blog.  But, ultimately, I want the people who have a say in the success of my career to know that I'm human.  

Gosh, if I don't post pictures of Evelyn, that would make two posts in a row.  We can't have that.  Here are some photos from Evelyn's play-date today at church.  A few of us decided to get together in the nursery for an hour or two.  We had a blast! 

Lydia takes very good care of Evelyn.  Sweet Henry likes to practice
his Godzilla skills around her, though.  

She dressed Super-Chic

And stopped by the office to hang out with one of
her favorite adoptive Grandmas, Dianne.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Becoming an Ecologically Conscious Shopper

The course that I took this semester, "Greening the Bible: An Ecological Reading of Scripture" has made me very aware that I want to have an Earth-Friendly lifestyle.*  I've always been fairly conscious of the impact I have on the environment, but the main thing that I never paid attention to before is the way that I shop. 

I have always been a clearance-queen.  30% off??? That's nothin'.  I'm a 75-90% off kinda person.  Well, since taking this class, I haven't been able to avoid thinking about what the profit margin looks like on something that is 75% off.  And if the profit margin is low, then the person making the product (yes, in fact, a real live human being made your clothes) is receiving very low wages, right?  Is it worth it to me to have a $5 pair of shoes if it means that somebody in China is making far less than $5 to make that pair of shoes?  I mean, let's be real-- they're probably making cents on that $5, even before it went on clearance in the first place.  

I could elaborate, and also talk about the pollution involved in the production of many of the products that I own, but for now, I'll leave it as a social justice issue about fair wages.  

We may not be rich, but our money is power.  The way we spend our money says something about what kind of world we want to have.  From now on, I'm going to be much more intentional about what I spend my money on.  I'm not gonna lie-- there will probably be an adorable skirt on sale at Target that I won't be able to pass up, and at our current income level, we're going to have to pick and choose a little, but as much as I can help it I'm switching to a second-hand, fair-trade, local-economy shopping style.  

I want to get this book: The Better World Shopping Guide, which gives a grade to each company, taking into account their business practices, etc.  Here is an example of the way the companies are rated, but in the book they are divided up into sub-categories that have more specific qualifications for the grades.  Guys, I'm sorry, Oreos get an F.  

I'm also going to purchase more of my products from Etsy, which is a community of independent artists, and my online August birthgroup, where a lot of the women are attempting to make enough money to stay at home with their little ones.

Most of all, I'm just going to try to purchase less.  Evelyn honestly has enough clothes to wear until she's 18 months.  Because I'm allowed to love dressing my little girl, I'm not going to stop buying for her entirely, but I am going to buy less and when I do, I'll buy second-hand or from an independent or local designer. 

So, does anyone have advice?  I need some.  

* Not seeing the connection to religion or scripture?  Check out The Green Bible.  But, simply put, when we don't take care of God's creation-- the people in it, in addition to plants, animals, air, water, etc.-- we aren't taking care of God.  Can you imagine someone treating your masterpiece the way we treat God's?  

P.S.  I've been really busy, so I'm sorry that I skipped Evelyn's 5 month update.  She is growing beautifully and doing the stuff 5-month-olds do, such as sticking her hands in her dad's mac-and-cheese, sitting up on her own, and drooling a lot.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Judith, Evelyn, and I

I've had a pretty busy week with my January term class and taking my ordination exam on Friday, so I haven't had a chance to blog.  However, I wanted to share this photo that our friend Stacy took at the art museum today.  It is Evelyn and I looking at a painting by Giorgio Vasari circa 1554 of Judith and Holofernes, the subject of my thesis. 

You know, I'm having some trouble figuring out the exact direction of my thesis and it's been a little bit frustrating.  But I think there are few things in my life that have made me feel as full of passion as when I talk about Judith.  I love learning about her.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What's Left?

You may know that I took a temporary incomplete in one of my classes in the last week of December.  I had one more 10 page paper to write, it was December 21st, and I just really needed a break.  So I wrote my professor and asked him to give me an incomplete until the beginning of January.  Well, I have no completed and turned in that paper, so my semester is officially complete!  

I have to admit, I am really proud of myself.   I may not have been a perfect student, and I know there are papers and exams that I took that were less than perfect, but I learned a lot.  I feel good about what I learned and how I can apply it to my ministry.  

Now that Fall Semester is out of the way, it's time to really kick it into gear and get this Ordination show on the road. I thought I would let you all know what's left, and what the timeline looks like.  

1. I need to complete the first draft of my ordination paper and my ordination exam (a 4 hour, proctored exam using only a Bible and a word processor) by February 9th
2. On February 16th, I will have a Skype interview with my Working Group in Ohio, who will suggest revisions to my paper, which I will address and then return to the committee before my final interview.  The exam cannot be revised. 
3. On March 15th, I will meet in Ohio, at Lakewood UCC, with the entire Department of Church and Ministry for my Ordination Interview.  Friends and family are encouraged to attend (let me know if you're interested).  The interview begins with a half hour worship service, planned and executed by myself.  Then we move to a one hour Q and A about my final Ordination Paper and the exam.  
4. I will find out immediately after the interview if I have "passed."  I will then (God-willing) be "approved for ordination pending graduation from Eden Theological Seminary and a recognized call."  
5.  After that, I will send out my "profile," which is essentially a resume, to churches seeking pastors in the Western Reserve Association of Ohio and possibly a few other churches that are not far from Northeast Ohio.  I have to write the profile before I send it out, but I'm hoping to get that started in late February/early March. 
6.  Then I just wait.  I could find a job before I graduate or it could be a year or more.  Hopefully the former.  Once I agree to a position at a church, that is when I will be ordained.  

That's the gist of it.  I am really kicking it in gear this month, making sure I get the revisions to my thesis proposal turned in by January 17th, in addition to my J-term class, my internship, and the ordination stuff.  My poor, dear husband is reaping the consequences of my work load this month.  Our interactions are pretty limited to, "Do this theological concept and this theological concept contradict one another?" and "Can you make dinner tonight?"  I'll make it up to him someday.  

Little E, however, isn't as patient as Maic.  She won't let me "kick it in gear" as long as she has a say in it.  So during the day I spend all my time with her, wiggling a stuffed orangutan over her head and making up songs about giraffes and unicorns.  Then when Maic comes home from work, I retreat to the bedroom to get some reading, highlighting, and writing done.  

When I really get my priorities in order, I realize how grateful I am that Evelyn keeps me on the real "track." If it comes down to it, Ordination can wait.  Loving my family can't.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why We Cloth Diaper: A Contest Entry

My nod to the photo here, which inspired this post. 

I just started a January term course at Eden called "Greening the Bible: An Ecological Reading of Scripture." We are talking about how the environment and our faith are so deeply intertwined that we cannot ignore the ecological crisis that we bring upon the world when we fail to realize that our resources are not endless.  We are all united in God's creation, and we are called to take care of the earth and one another.  It was a bit of a coincidence that I happened to open the daily e-mail from Cotton Babies, the store where we stocked up on all our cloth diapers, and found out that they are having a contest to win 12 free BumGenius All-in-One diapers.

I've decided to give the contest a shot.  I just have to write a blog entry about how easy and inexpensive cloth diapering is.  This is not something that I'm getting compensated for or anything, just a contest and if I don't win, at least I told some people about an aspect of parenting that I think every Mama and Daddy should try.  Here's a link to the invitation to the contest.

When we found out about Evelyn, we didn't even consider disposables.  We have a good friend at the seminary who cloth diapers both her babies and we learned from her how easy it is.  Plus, we were broke and disposable diapers are significantly more expensive in the long run.  Finally, because we see stewardship of the earth as a part of our commitment to the Christian faith, it seemed so right.

Turns out, it's a lot easier than I ever would have thought.  Maybe it's because I don't know any different, and if I had to transition from disposable diapering to cloth diapering, I might find it pretty difficult.  The single pack of newborn disposables we went through in the first week were pretty tempting in those middle of the night changes sometimes, but after the first couple of weeks it didn't seem to make any difference in terms of difficulty.

Here is a video we made about how we put Evelyn's diapers on:

Other than the actual act of diaper changing, our routine consists of washing every two days (the average baby goes through 8-10 diapers a day; newborns closer to 12).  We use an apartment washer that hooks up to the sink, and we hang dry on a basic folding drying rack.  When they are dry, we fold them all into the origami fold so that they're ready.  About every other week, we will throw them in the dryer in our apartment complex just to get some softness back into them, and when it's sunny outside we put them outside to sun-bleach any stains.  It may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn't.  And, honestly, if we were using disposables we'd be taking garbage to the dumpster twice as often.  

We got an amazing deal on our diapers.  We went around Easter and they were having a sale and we landed on a 30% entire purchase deal.  So we went ahead and bought six covers (which can be used more than once before being washed), flats, and odor removal spray for $70.  It was enough for us to diaper her for two days.  Even without the discount, though, it is still so much cheaper!! 

Most of our diaper stash from left to right--
4 Oh Katy pocket diapers, 2 out of 3 Econobum covers, about 1/3 of our flats,
4 Thirsties covers, and 3 Flips covers

Eventually my very generous Mother-in-Law, who cloth diapered all six of her kids bought a few more diapers, including some BumGenius Newborn diapers, which were amazing.  And we had an Amazon.com gift certificate with which we bought some Oh Katy! diapers which are a bit easier to explain to babysitters.  So, with the original purchase, our Mother-in-Law's purchase, and the Oh Katy's, our stash probably costs $200 total.

Evelyn, a few days old, wearing one of
the Newborn All-in-Ones her Nana bought her

Finally, I just want to add that cloth booties are stinking cute!

Thanks for your time!  Please leave comments, ask questions, etc. and the best part is that if I win, I get to choose one of YOU to win 12 free diapers as well!  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I had all these awesome ideas for Christmas blog posts-- one for our lovely evening as a little family in a two star hotel outside of Indianapolis; one for Christmas at my parents' house which included meeting little baby Max, the baby of a close childhood friend, and a room full of presents for two beautiful little granddaughters; then one for Christmas at Maic's house on the 26th with all five of his siblings and a ham decorated like a Christmas tree; and finally one for the rest of the week, lunch with a good friend and supporter in my Ordination Process, an open house with friends in which I realized how much being a Mama has changed me, and preaching this Sunday at First Congo after getting home from the trip. 

Well friends, those entries aren't going to happen.  I am pooped, and seem to have gotten a little bit of a flu.  Evelyn has been super demanding lately as she is becoming a real baby and not just a lazy little newborn.  And, I realized, maybe you don't want to read four separate blog entries about Christmas. 

I thought Christmas would be extra special for me this year, being able to experience Mary's pain-followed-by-joy, but it turned out that I had hardly a second to really reflect on what Christmas means outside of being surrounded by family and loved ones.  We missed the Christmas Eve service, as we were travelling, and though we went to the Christmas morning service at my home church, it was overshadowed by how excited I was to see so many people I love at church and spend the afternoon with my family.  

So, in all honesty, I felt that I kind of missed the birth of Christ this year.  That certainly doesn't mean I won't find it somewhere else, hopefully soon.  

I preached on Sunday about the divinity of Christ, relating to the Song of Simeon in Luke 2:22-40.  I felt good about the sermon, even though it existed only in outline form until 12:30 a.m. that morning.  

It looks like I will be doing my Ordination interview in the middle of March.  I'm glad to have a deadline and hope it will give me a little kick to get my paper written.  When I met with Fran, an old friend and one of my biggest cheerleaders, and someone who happens to be on the ordination committee, we talked about what churches are open in the Western Reserve Association (Northeast Ohio).  I'm feeling really excited about a few options.  Of course, I won't know if they'll be interested in me until I get that interview done and my profile put together! 

So, in short form, what were those four separate Christmas entries gonna look like?

We opened presents as a family at a Super 8 Motel.  Evelyn got lots of stuff,
including this vintage Noah's Ark fabric I intend to embroider and use as
a wall hanging someday when she has a nursery. 

Pat and I holding our offspring.  Max is 3 weeks old!
I can't tell you how weird it is for Pat, myself, AND my brother to have
little babies.  We used to play street hockey with dead moles in the driveway.  

The Zo-ster, 19 months old, was less impressed with her baby cousin this time.
She eventually found a photo of Evelyn at Great-Grammas, and decided
she liked the photo better.  It didn't cry.  So she showered it with toys. 

Evelyn and two of her uncles and Daddy, watching the "Sexy Sax Man" on Youtube. 

The Christmas Tree ham.  Eddie dreamed it up.  Rosemary, peppers,
caramel corn, and pineapple.  It was actually quite delicious. 

Evelyn sleeping with Bunster, aka Darla, an invention and Christmas gift
by her Aunt Charis.  How clever is my family???
I mentioned earlier that the Open House we invited our friends to to meet Evelyn and hang out was a very bizarre experience.  I really thought I would never change and would always be able to hang out with my friends just like before.  I always figured I'd have Evelyn on my hip, but she would love my friends and they would love her.  Well, I learned this weekend that 1. Evelyn doesn't like more than 3 or 4 people in one room.  She gets really upset and overwhelmed and 2. That no matter how hard I try, I cannot calm a baby and hang out with my friends the same way as always at the same time.  It felt so weird.  I hope my friends understand.  I love them all so much.  

Finally, the trip home and a little break really recharged me to work on my ordination paper.  I am so excited to move closer to family and really start living my career.  At the same time, I am loving where I am in life-- at First Congo, in my tiny apartment with my husband and baby, and studying at Eden.  Life is good.  God is good.  

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