27 February 2007

Baby boy breast boycott

So. Little Daniel Robert is heading into week three of the Great Breast Boycott of 07.
He still won't latch on and nurse, preferring instead to have a silicone bottle nipple forced into his mouth while he reclines and lets engineered and artificial ingredient-laden formula drip into this mouth.
As a processed-food aficionado, I can sympathize. It is, however, quite frustrating for this mother who nursed Annalivia for 15 months after a tumultuous start and just assumed that baby #2, who was, gestationally, a whole two weeks older, would be able to nurse like a little champ. Not so, not so. And it ticks me off.

When Annalivia was born and I found myself tethered to her side 24/7 and at her beckon call, I developed a whole theology based on breastfeeding. It basically went something like this -- God is the Big Boob in the Sky* who offers everything that God's children need in terms of nourishment, nurture, etc., is constantly in demand, constantly offers Godself again and again even unto the point of giving God's entire being to us....
(And now, adding to the theology based on my experiences with Daniel)
...which we still don't find satisfactory and thus seek artificial substitutes that fill us with lesser nutrients for our lives, but somehow fulfill enough in us to keep us placated for a little while at which point we will start crying out to God for the nourishment which is offered all along, but which we will not accept. And then we'll seek out the fake stuff again and be placated again. For two or three hours, at least.
That sounds about right, eh?
It's a wonder God is so patient with us. I'd be really, really ticked off.

*And lest you think this is just as blasphemous as can be, please note that the term El Shaddai in the Bible, which is translated, "God almighty," is derived from the Hebrew word "shad" meaning in all its translations in the scriptures, "breast," and thus, perhaps El Shaddai would be better translated, "God the great breast-like" or less literally, "God all-sufficient". "Boob" may be, perhaps, a little coarse...

25 February 2007

Well, it figures...

... that the first time that First Christian Church has cancelled church in the five and one-half years that I've been pastor is on a Sunday when I'm "off" and don't have to preach anyway. Hmph.

How a Love-Bug grows

Little Annalivia Adaline is 2 years old today!

Two years ago as I watched her emerge into this world, I had this vague and surreal notion that my life was about to be forever, blessedly changed. What I did not understand was just how amazing I would feel looking in her eyes, receiving her smiles, hearing her sweet little voice, even being subjected to her fits and fights. Or how wonderful I would feel just thinking about her.
I look at this little creature in front of me and I am reminded again that, for me, there has been no greater tangible evidence of God's grace and love than my babies. Throughout my life, I prayed for her without knowing it was little Annalivia for whom I was praying. She arrived and for the last two years, I have been so astonished that God would answer my prayer so completely as to gift us with her. What a privilege this is to be her mother!
Happy birthday, little love. Your momma loves you.
"I have just dropped into the very place I have been seeking, but in everything it exceeds all my dreams." Isabella Bird (but seconded heartily by me!)

24 February 2007

Oh, please, say it isn't so

We just saw our first campaign ad -- Mitt Romney running for President -- but that election is IN FREAKIN' 2008!!!
I know we live close to Iowa, but this is just ridiculous...

23 February 2007

Lenten prayer possibility with thanks to Amalee

Hurrah for Amalee who sent this wonderful link to Sacred Space!! It's a great Lenten prayer spot -- time to pray, think, read scripture, offer requests -- all in a great format presented lovingly by the Irish Jesuits.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Amalee! I never get to tell you that I read your blog all the time and highly recommend it to anyone else who needs a little vacation to Derbyshire now and then. Right now you've got some gorgeous hyacinth pictures that are helping me curse the "Winter Storm" warning pressing down on northern Illinois this afternoon!

Parenting lessons

Annalivia is fussy today. So is Daniel. Well, for that matter, so am I. But of all of us, Annalivia is definitely the most fussy. She just seems to have no resilience today. Every thing that is off or wrong or inconvenient or delayed seems to shatter her little world.
Before baby #2, I'd think she had an ear infection. Now, I don't know. She is fever-less and has endured a lot of change in the last two weeks. And she's turning two in two days. My instinct is that she's just fussy. Which I understand, because, as I said, I'm fussy, too.
But that doesn't make it any easier to figure out. I'm trying to give her lots of love and plenty of advance warning and lenience on the things that don't matter in the grand scheme of things.
And for this moment, it seems to be working. Right now, she's taking care of her baby doll, lying on the couch with it and kissing it and patting its back. And "shhh"ing very lovingly when she pretends that it is crying.
It's a good thing that she knows how to take care of her doll's fussiness. I should probably take notes.

22 February 2007

Our big boy

We took Daniel to see his doctor today for his two-week visit. Two weeks. Jeez, time flies. Pretty soon, two years will have gone speeding past.
Anyway, Little D is not so little anymore. He weighed in at 7 lbs 12 oz, which is good, especially considering the fact that he is still not nursing. And he's a couple of inches longer -- 21 1/2 now.
The doctor also heard a heart murmur, so we are going to go see a pediatric cardiologist just to be sure all is well. I'm not worried, though Dennis is. Daniel had two fetal EKG's that showed no abnormalities and Dr. Provow didn't hear the murmur when she saw him last week, nor did the pediatrician who saw him after he was born. So, as Dennis said, he may not play football. As long as it doesn't interfere with his career as a piano, guitar and fiddle virtuoso, we'll be fine... :)

21 February 2007

Space where one can find it...

So this afternoon, I rearranged the living room. It occurred to me as I was pushing the couch across the room that this is perhaps the sort of thing one's doctor would expressly forbid one from doing two weeks postpartum. On the other hand, it is the sort of thing one definitely wants to do before one runs out of Tylenol 3 with codeine. I'm just sayin'...
ANYWAY, with Daniel's birth I find myself back at that place wherein baby stuff takes over one's life and one's home. The swing and the bassinet and the baby bathtub and bottles and the breastpump and its paraphenalia and later the baby food and baby dishes. All of it is here. And though I know we don't need all of it, it all makes life a little easier. It just all takes up a lot of space. So it needs a place to belong where it hasn't before.
With Annalivia, this phase seemed to last until...well...what day is it? I mean, MOST of her stuff is finally in her bedroom, but there's still lots of evidence of her presence in this home. And honestly, I'm ok with that. I like having children. I like that their lives are intricately intertwined and woven with mine and my husband's.
What I'm not so fond of is stubbing my toe on the baby swing at 2:30 a.m. Or watching Dennis and Annalivia try to build a train set and not bump into the bassinet. Or trying to hold my upper body a few inches closer to the pump's cord that doesn't adequately reach an outlet.
So I've rearranged. And perhaps strained my back a little. And the living room is not as pretty as it was. Which, I confess, bugs me.
But it gives us some space -- visually, physically, and most important, mentally.
And that's probably worth the sacrifice of aesthetics.
And the pills I'll probably pop tonight, too.
If there's one thing that parenting has taught me, it's to take mental space where one can find it. Even if you have to haul a couch across a room to do so.

20 February 2007

Oops (or "How an entire liturgical season managed to sneak up and surprise this pastor")

So, um, Lent starts tomorrow.

Oh, not surprised by that?

Well. How nice for you.

I, on the other hand, have almost completely and totally been taken by surprise. Lent begins tomorrow!! Ack!

To be fair, I should mention, I am on maternity leave right now. Today begins week 3 of the whopping 4 weeks I decided to take. (I'm REALLY wishing I'd planned to take 6 weeks and that I would have decided I to just deal with the attendant fussiness of the congregants instead of being ultra-accomodating. )
Before I had Daniel, I got all my bulletins together for my absence and arranged to hold cooperative services with the DOC church across the river on Wednesday evenings. Each week, the services will switch between our two congregations as to which church hosts. And my colleague at the other church is officiating the first three services and I'm officiating the last three. So tomorrow, there will be a Disciples service offered for my congregants, though it won't be at our church, and I think I'm going to pack up the kids and go. Dennis will be at class, but his mom is planning on being there and we can give it a practice run or two before she has to handle both of them at the services that I'm officiating.
I'm actually looking forward to it. I personally love Lent -- I think it's my favorite church season. It's focused and meaningful and full of imagery and possibilities for creativity.
I never manage to do very well observing it personally though, because I tend to be too focused on church stuff. This year, with this little mini-respite at the beginning, I feel like perhaps I could do a better job applying Lent to my own spiritual growth. So I'm going to be thinking about how to do that in the next two hours left in this day. And probably a little more tomorrow.
I just wish it would have occurred to me last week that Lenten possibilities were on the very near horizon. But better late than never, right? Right?

Cruelty, thy name is public broadcasting

Poor Dennis. In addition to his regular rather grueling work schedule which involves waking at 4:30, he's working on two MBA classes and fathering an infant and a toddler. And he's doing a lot of laundry. A whole lotta laundry.
Which means the poor man doesn't get much time to relax, and whenever there is time to relax, there are lots of "shoulds" hanging over him -- he should be studying or playing with a kid or doing laundry or whatever.
Last night as he was dutifully trying to hammer out some homework, I turned on PBS. Now perhaps only those who know Dennis will sympathize, but Antiques Roadshow was on and seemed to be focusing on guns, maps, and history. Then American Experience was about the building of the New York subway. To top it off, the next show was about the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. I watched the programs on really low volume with the captions on. He managed to come into the room only about 20 times. After that, I turned it all off.
Poor guy. When PBS hits back, it can really hurt.
But, as he pointed out, if the universe were really aligned against him, tonight would have been programs on the Trans-continental railroad, the use of modern firearms in winning World Wars, and the engineering of the Erie canal. And Friday, when there is plenty of time to indulge in a little television, there would be a four-hour marathon on wildflowers in North America.
As it was, he had lots of time tonight to play with Annalivia, hold Daniel, fold laundry AND do homework. All of this, but no tv. Maybe next Monday will work out for him.

16 February 2007

Friday Five: Tourist edition

I feel a bit like I've been under house arrest since Daniel was born and it's been so bloody cold and the snow is endless, so, enough with the whining; I'm playing this Friday Five.

1. What is one place you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit?
I try to take them out-of-town, I suppose. Industrial northwestern Illinois is not exactly a tourist attraction.

2. When visiting another city or town, do you try to cram as much in as possible, or take it slow and easy?
I am definitely a try-to-cram-it-all-in type. Then I always want to go back and really explore a place.

3. When traveling, where are we most likely to find you: strolling through a museum, checking out the local shopping, or _________________?
Trying to be a hip local, if possible. One of my favorite things to do is to go to a cafe and order the local treat (i.e. beignets is New Orleans, brioche in Salzburg) and watch people. People watching and treat-eating are great ways to experience a place.

4. Do you like organized tours and/or carefully planned itineraries, or would you rather strike out and just see what happens?
I'd much rather strike out, but do like to do my research. We have many copies of well-worn Frommer's guides here, though I've not been to most of the places detailed therein.

5. After an extended trip, what do you find yourself craving most about home?

My bed, and though this sounds weird, my bathroom. I really like not having to pull everything out of a suitcase to get ready in the morning.

14 February 2007

And again and again and again...

It is Valentine's Day and since the tulips from Daniel's birth are still fresh on the table, I am not expecting any flowers today. And since we've been snowed in, I don't expect a card either. And I don't think massages or pedicures will be on the table, though I've been surprised before...
The truth is, Dennis has demonstrated his deep love for me and our children a thousand ways today already and it's only 10 a.m. This Valentine's Day -- regardless of flowers or cards or anything else, I feel more loved than ever.
I've stated it before, and could say it every moment of every day for as long as I live and still leave it underemphasized -- the fact that this man has chosen to love me is the greatest blessing I've ever received. Thank you, sweetheart, for this gift. I love you. Happy Valentine's Day.

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can in no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
~Anne Bradstreet

13 February 2007

The little princess' new table and chairs

Annalivia's Christmas present from Grandma Lorena arrived yesterday. It's a white table and chairs and Dennis put it together immediately with a little help from Annalivia (she put held the screws and then put them in the holes for him to tighten). We moved it back to her bedroom and she has been spending lots of time coloring, mostly in her coloring books, but occasionally on the table top itself (which is why this child will probably never have anything other than washable crayons -- glad to report the table top cleans up perfectly). She has also been using it for a changing table for her dolls and a staging area for plastic animal parades.
Last night, Dennis was in charge of the bedtime story. It was about a little princess who had a new table and chairs. The chairs were too small for her mommy and daddy and too big for her little brother, but just right for the little princess.
And they are.

11 February 2007

And he's home again...

Daniel (and Dennis) came home this evening. We are SO relieved to have him here with us!

AND... we're having a heat wave! It's a whopping 18 degrees out right now! For some reason it seems much easier to keep the house warm...

Brief update

After we came home, Daniel became very jaundiced. We tried to treat it with a biliblanket here, but he has ended up in the hospital. Dennis has been staying with him, since he's not nursing well yet and they don't really have a place for me to pump every two hours. We're hoping that he'll get to come home tonight or early Monday morning.
Once again, I find myself so incredibly thankful for Dennis and his overwhelming willingness to do whatever needs to be done to take care of his family. And I'm also very thankful for his mother who has, once again, stepped up to take care of Annalivia, who is just thrilled to be able to spend so much time with Baba.
At some point, I have intentions of getting on here and actually doing some processing of all that has occurred in written form. However, I'm headed up to the hospital now, so that will be a while.

Again, we want to thank everyone so much for all your thoughts and prayers! Blessings to you all!

08 February 2007

More Daniel pics

If anyone would like to see some more Daniel pics, head over to http://mcstewsnews.blogspot.com/

edited to add: We're just going to post them here, too, so no need to travel!

A few rare awake moments

Daniel Robert with Grandpa Robert

Annalivia checks him out from a safe distance

Daniel's very helpful big sister reacting to his crying with, "shhhh..."

As we took these last three photos, Annalivia talked to Daniel and told him about the bed and the blanket, his pacifier, stars, Momma and Dadda and a bunch of stuff we didn't understand. It was pretty sweet to hear.

07 February 2007

He's Here!

This is Dennis posting for April.

Little Daniel Robert Stewart finally arrived today (02/07/07) at 4:48 am. He is 6lbs 12oz. 19 1/2" long. Mother and baby are doing well and Daniel is perfectly healthy. Here are photos from a phone. April will post more photos later. We want to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes.

04 February 2007

Prayer coveter

Well, tomorrow, we go to the doctor and then, hopefully, up to the hospital to have this baby induced.
I confess, I'm a little nervous. Aside from the risks that childbirth carries for everyone, this weekend has been difficult. My blood pressure has been really pretty high especially if I'm doing anything other than reclining. I can actually feel my legs and thighs and upper arms and face swelling and my heart has been pounding in my neck. It's not fun.
And the closer we get to delivery, the more the Trisomy 18 possibility is looming in my thoughts. After our accident, we decided not to do the amnio. We've been getting twice weekly ultrasounds and the baby looks good and is active, but we have no conclusive evidence that all is well. Of course, I suppose no one ever has conclusive evidence that ALL is well, but I hope y'all know what I mean...

ANYWAY, all of this to say -- I would really appreciate prayers for peace and assurance, safety and stamina for all of us here. In some ways, I feel silly asking, because I know I already have them. But I am anyway. And I thank you!!

02 February 2007

Bubba to my Forrest

My best good friend, Jimmy, is here to visit us for the night. It is a totally unexpected visit and quite a lovely surprise. Tomorrow we'll be doing our versions of shrimping -- driving about and running errands. It's so great to have a friend that you don't have to impress who can just come visit without worry.
And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday Five: Ch-ch-ch-changes

A la the RevGals

Change is a given in life, yet it's not easy for any of us. So strap on your seat belts and let's talk about it:

1. Share, if you wish, the biggest change you experienced this past year.
Well, being pregnant with our second child and first son is a big one (until Monday that is, hee, hee!!), but being pregnant and having all three of us live through our auto accident was probably bigger this past year.
2. Talk about a time you changed your mind about something important.
I changed my mind about evangelical and conservative Christians this year. My mindset was stupid and ignorant before I met some amazing women online who are intelligent, humble, passionate, inquisitive... and, oh yeah, evangelical. It's been SO, SO, SO good for me to meet Christians outside my church box.
3. Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote a controversial book called "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." Setting aside his ideas--what kind of changes would you like to see in the Church?
I'd like to see us actually DO church rather than worrying so much about BEING church. And care more about being like Jesus than Ford Motor Co. (which isn't doing so well, for the record.)
4. Have you changed your hairstyle/hair color in the last five years? If so, how many times?
Yes. Quite a few times since 2002, though not many since 2005 when my daughter was born, other than to let it grow far too long between cuts! It's been long and brown and flat; shorter brown and flat; shorter, brown, and fluffy; shorter, brown, streaked and fluffy; even shorter and blonde; even shorter and even blonder; short, dark brown; short and red and yellow and brown; and now shortish and just brown.
5. What WERE they thinking with that New Coke thing?
It was the 80's. Shoulder pads, Aquanet, Working Girl ... we could list "what were they thinking?"s all day long...

Fair warning

Just wanted to let y'all know that on July 21, I won't be home to calls, visits, or perhaps even, children and spouse. Please consider this to be fair warning.

01 February 2007

Skills which perhaps do not mix

Annalivia has been perfecting some basic skills lately.
  • She can put a tape in the video player and push play.
  • She can take her pants, shirt and diaper off.
Right now she is watching a Teletubbies tape and has absentmindedly pushed her pants and diaper down around her knees. I'd post a picture, but I'd hate to be accused of child exploitation -- suffice to say, it's an adorable little nakey butt bouncing around to Po's greatest hits.

Monday, Monday

Monday is the day! We go to the doctor's at 9 a.m., and then (please, please, please, God) we go up to the hospital so I can be induced. Hopefully we'll see our baby boy's face sometime on Monday or Tuesday!
In the meantime, tomorrow Annalivia and I are going to go meet little Lirah and Sunday we will be watching the Bears win the Superbowl. So there are some distractions for us while we wait... not enough, but some...