Thursday, August 30, 2012


My ordination service was absolutely wonderful.  My brother and sister-in-law and their daughter Zoey, and my Uncle Bob came into town to celebrate with us, and I had planned it so that it would be on a weekend when my former pastor and one of my most important mentors, Martha, was in town.  I wanted to have a relatively short (for an ordination) service so that Evelyn and Zoey (and, to be honest, many of my friends who aren't used to church) could be there to celebrate and not be too bored.  I think the service was just over an hour.  

Martha delivered a beautiful sermon about self-care, among other things, and even though I totally botched my "Response," which I had written down but then ended up too teary-eyed to read, I think it was heart-felt and people appreciated it.  

My family in the front pew-- Mom and Dad, Gramma and Aunt Norma,
Allen, Charis, and Zoey, and Uncle Bob.  My In-Laws were there to celebrate too. 

Every time I see these two I love them more.  

Evelyn was a little angel, as always.
Except that she pulled my hair during the Laying on of Hands. 

There were several WRA clergy and lay-leader representatives 

Maic played his Ukulele for many of the songs,
and Adam sung a beautiful solo of "Take, Lord, Receive."

This was at the beginning of the Laying on of Hands

So many beautiful people!

My parents presented me with my stole.

I've already got quite a collection.  The first stole was purchased by my
Grandma Smyres for my graduation, the second one was woven by my Grandpa's sister,
and the third one was purchased for this occasion by Berea UCC.
It is one of my favorite Bible stories-- the woman at the well.  The first Chalice is a gift from
Rev. Tom Dipko upon his retirement, and the second one is from Allen and Charis. 

And at the end of it all, all I wanted to do was hold my sweet baby and take a nap.
But alas, the next morning was moving day!  

Well everyone, as several people have reminded me, I've Become Pastor Mom... So, what should I change my blog title to?  I'm up for suggestions.  

The Reverend Joanna D'Agostino

Saturday, August 18, 2012

That's a Year, Folks.

Today we are having a little get-together for Evelyn's first birthday with family and a few close friends.  Calling it a "party" is stretching it, but there will be cupcakes and presents.  Every day people tell me to soak up every moment and not take it for granted, so I am taking a break from packing today to celebrate her first year.  I'll post some photos later of her kitty cupcakes. :) Well, it's still actually a couple days short of Evelyn's first birthday, but I'm afraid the boxes and the moving van will overshadow my opportunity to write a sappy, cliche entry about what my first year as a mother was like.  So I decided to write the entry now, and I decided that this is my blog, so you can put up with my sappy cliches.

Let's start with the obvious.  I can't believe Evelyn has been alive for a whole year.  In so many ways, this year has seemed like eternity for us.  We've moved [almost] twice, I got my Master's degree, I lost my Grampa and my good friend Ryan, and I got called to my first pastorate.  It's not every year that all of that stuff happens.  But when I look at Evelyn, watch her trying to figure out how to walk on her own, and listen to her laugh and see her personality develop and grow, I feel like it's impossible that in 366 days (it was a leap year!) she went from the little baby that came out of my body to the practically-toddler she is today.

I was born to take care of people, and therefore fell into the role of mother pretty easily.  It feels as natural to me as breathing.  There are moments when I feel like my only option is to love her so deeply and so purely that she's the only thing in the whole world that ever mattered, and there are moments when I need to get away from her; when she annoys the pants off of me.  But the magical feeling of being someone's mother far outweighs any bad moment.

There is an empowerment that comes with being a mother.  For me, a lot of it is about this realization that she was created inside of me, I grew so that I could carry her in there, I gave birth to her, and I nourished her through breastfeeding.  That is all so important to me, but when it comes down to it, none of that makes a mother (which is exactly why you are no less a mother when you adopt or have medical problems in birth or can't/don't breastfeed).  What makes a mother is this superpower that comes when you have a child-- this love that defies all rationality, that makes you do crazy stuff, that makes you constantly reevaluate your life.  Keeping another human being alive through nurture is perhaps the most empowering task we are entrusted with.

I'm not a morning person, and I hate waking up early with an intense passion, but every single morning when I see her little face at 7:30 a.m. I can feel myself glowing with excitement that I get to be her mom for another day (then I pull the laptop out from under the bed and pull up Sesame Street on Netflix and pretend to watch it with her in bed, but really I always fall back to sleep).  I'm also not someone who is generally content with the way I look, and I am always able to find flaws in myself.  But being a mother (especially to a girl) is helping me to realize how important it is to love myself.  I don't want her to be down on herself, so I need to have the confidence that I want her to have.

I now understand why every parent thinks their child is the best one (I fear I'm going to be that PTA mom).  So, because Evelyn is the best, I also want to use this entry share with you some of my favorite things about her.  She has an artistic soul.  She will stare at a piece of art for as long as her attention span lasts.  She has done that since was was opening her eyes.  She's also a caring soul.  She knows when we are upset and she tries to sooth us with kisses, and often will even offer her pacifier if we are sad or sleepy.  She likes to take care of our dog Nos by petting him and giving him her food.  One of her favorite things to do is watch Nos eat.  She loves cats like every little girl should.  She will be laying under the kitchen table pretending she's a cat like her mommy used to do in no-time.  She is full of expressions, so you always know what's going on in her mind.  She doesn't hide anything.  She lets herself be vulnerable so you'll hold her and pay attention to her and she lets you know when she'd rather just play by herself.  Maybe every baby does, but I think it's a baby virtue.  She loves books.   She knows how to turn the pages by herself.  She likes everything her daddy likes.  They share favorite foods-- blueberries, watermelon, tofu, milk, and they both love Mommy. They also have the same face.

Overall, this has been an immensely successful and amazing year.  Every day I am more crazy-in-love with my husband, I am more certain about my call to ministry, and I am more excited about our life together as a family.  Taking the day off to celebrate this year is exactly what we should be doing.  Then Maic and I are off to Ripon with the moving van while Evelyn stays back with the G-parents from Tuesday to Friday.  Looking forward to a couple of full nights' sleep, but knowing full well (another thing I learned this year) that I'll probably be up all night worrying about her.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Life has been something else lately.  I can't imagine many people get the opportunity to stay at home all day every day with their whole family for a couple months at a time.  We're having a blast, remembering that we will never get this opportunity again (God-willing; it's fun but unemployment isn't something we hope will happen again anytime soon).  We're moving to Ripon on August 27th, and my first Sunday will be September 2nd.  

I can't believe how quickly the days go by, still.  I've found myself several times almost in tears thinking about  how hard it will be for me to switch from staying home to full-time employment.  If the days go fast now, what will happen when I'm gone for most of the day?  At the same time, I am giddy-excited about starting my job.  I'm trying to come up with ideas that will make full-time employment and motherhood more balanced.  For example, I'm going to try to arrange for my workday to start later in the morning so that I can spend the mornings with Evelyn, and I want to lead a weekly afternoon Bible study in our home. 

We've been filling our days up pretty well, spending time with family and friends a lot and getting some stuff done that we might not have time for later like sorting books and repainting furniture.  We've also spent some time painting and clearing out the house we're living in so that my in-laws can rent it out when we move out.  We were clearing out the basement, and found this on one of the floor beams:  

It's a Catholic tradition-- the Blessing of the House, from the first year they lived there.  On the Feast of Epiphany each year, they use blessed chalk to write the first two numbers of the year, then the initials of each of the three kings-- Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar-- then the last two numbers of the year, then they say a prayer to bless the house for the year to come.  

We've also been preparing for Evelyn's first birthday.  We aren't having a big party-- just a few friends and family.  Below is her gift from us.  Don't tell her, but the big one is a bike seat so she can ride with us on our bikes and the top one is some cat pajamas.  She's obsessed with cats right now.  Incidentally, the last week for Evelyn has been full of milestones.  I think she is quite the talker for her age, but I don't really know what's normal.  She already says daddy (di-deeeeee), Nos (na), and mommy (which comes out, "Bob-Bob."  I kid you not), plus she meows at cats and says "Muh!" when she kisses, "Ummmmmm" when she eats, and "Oo!" when she plays peek-a-boo.  She isn't walking yet, but she will be any day now.  She just needs to realize she can let go.  

The past couple of days, the main thing that has been taking up my time is that I'm making curtains and some other things for our house in Wisconsin.  We never got the chance to set up Evelyn's nursery because at first she didn't have her own room and then when we moved to Ohio it was so uncertain, we didn't do anything special with her room.  So yesterday we went and picked out fabric for curtains, a crib sheet, and a pillow to go on the glider.  I finished it all much more quickly than I expected, so now I have to figure out which room to work on next.  

She sat on my lap while I sewed for far longer than I expected.  She's seriously the most patient baby that ever existed.  

You can kind of see in this photo that she has a little bruise under her right eye.  The story either goes that she got in a fight with a 15 month old ninja, or that she fell on a laundry basket.  You choose.  

Here is the finished crib sheet and one of the sets of cafe curtains.  We didn't have a curtain rod for this photo, so yes, they're on the Swiffer.  I'm really pleased with myself for this crib sheet.  I actually used this online tutorial.  If you are crafty at all, this is a great project.  It took me less than an hour.  

Well, just wanted to catch you all up.  Life is fun, and we're so excited for what's to come!  
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