Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

The following sermon was given by Bishop Larry Benfield at Christ Episcopal Church.

When was the last time that you got the opportunity to name a church? In my entire life I had never given it a thought until this past week. Churches simply exist; you find one by driving by it or hearing about it or looking it up on the Internet, and then you go to it. But this past week I found myself working with Episcopalians in Maumelle as we begin formally turning that group of people who gather each Sunday into a congregation. That group now needs a name, and names are important. Whom do we honor in a name? What are we trying to say about who we are? What are we trying to say about who we want to be in the community in which we find ourselves?

I will not burden you with the discussions that we are having in Maumelle, but in reading today’s gospel about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, it struck me that St. Matthew’s might be a great name for a church that is able to admit that sometimes we get it wrong in our absolute reliance on fact and thus miss something larger that we cannot understand. Matthew wants every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. In other words, he is one of us; he can miss the larger good news because he so desperately wants to get it “just right.” In so doing, Matthew on occasion can make Jesus look, well, ridiculous. Before you get mad at me for saying that, remember that all of us sinful Christians have that tendency as well. The health is in acknowledging it.

You may have missed what I am talking about when you heard the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry. After all, we tend to hear what we want to hear. When Matthew writes his gospel, he is sitting at his desk trying to make sense of the Jewish prophets and how their writings relate to this Jesus of Nazareth. He turns to Zechariah, who talks poetically of a the king coming in “on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” But Matthew cannot deal with poetry; he cannot deal with what he cannot understand. He gets stuck in the trap of literalism, in this case stuck with two animals that he needs to use. So what does he do? He says that Jesus rides both of them into Jerusalem. Those words change the image of Jesus, so long envisioned in art as humbly riding on a donkey, into a Jesus who is perhaps more like a circus act, the guy who straddles two horses as he comes into the center ring. It is no wonder that people were excited. Matthew, as dedicated as he is, momentarily turns Jesus into an entertainer, good news eclipsed by spectacle. Matthew is like one of us, for we all love religious entertainment.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adventures in Mommyland

I have to keep this short because we are about 30 minutes away from John's next feeding, but I wanted to give everyone an update on my crazy new life. So let's see, where to begin...

First of all, John is doing really well. His jaundice has completely cleared up and he's finally starting to gain weight. We took him back to the doctor about a week ago to have him weighed, just to make sure he wasn't continuing to shrink. He was seven pounds, three ounces at birth and dropped down to about six pounds right after we got home. But after another week, he had gained an entire pound back. Although I haven't weighed him this week, I can tell by looking at him that he's starting to chunk up nicely. His appetite has nearly doubled and he isn't having any digestive problems anymore. He sleeps through most of the night without too much trouble. I put him in the nursery between 9:00 and 10:00 and we get up with him between midnight and 1:00, between 3:00 and 4:00, and then between 5:00 and 6:00... all depending on how much formula he drinks each time. Luckily, once his tummy is full and his little bottom is clean/dry, he goes right back to sleep without having to be rocked endlessly. The whole process only takes 30-45 minutes most nights.

We're currently transitioning him from Enfamil, which is what the hospital started him on at birth, to Nature's One Baby's Only, a brand of organic dairy formula. Although there are many brands of organic formula out there, I decided that this one would be the best because of the types of ingredients the formula includes. Of primary concern was the use of corn syrup and hexane processed DHA in other brands of organic and regular formula. The only downside is that I haven't found it in any local stores yet. Supposedly the Whole Foods store downtown carries this brand, but I haven't been there to check it out for myself yet. I got free shipping on my last order from, so I took that opportunity to order several cans of formula at the same time. Right now we're giving him a 50/50 mix of the Enfamil and Baby's Only. When we get closer to the bottom of the Enfamil can, we'll switch to 25/75 and then exclusively Baby's Only. I wanted to transition gradually to avoid making his tummy too upset.

About a week after we came home, we switched from using regular paper diapers to using gDiapers. I've been wanting to use cloth diapers for a long time now, not only because it reduces the incidence of diaper rash but also because of all the chemicals found in paper diapers and how bad they are for the environment. I want to say I read somewhere that paper/plastic diapers take 500 years to biodegrade. Think about how many diapers one baby uses, and then how many babies are born each year. That's a LOT of diapers just sitting in landfills not going anywhere. With the gDiapers, you can either use 100% biodegradable inserts that break down in about 30 days, or you can use cloth inserts that you wash and reuse over and over again. I'm planning to do a combination of the two: disposable inserts when we're out of the house and cloth inserts when we're at home.

Originally I wanted to use a different type of cloth diaper, the Bum Genius 4.0 diaper. But I already know that the child care center on base won't use the cloth diapers. We don't have anything set in stone yet, but I'm hoping we'll be able to find a family child care provider to watch John starting in August. And I'm hoping that they will either be completely on board with cloth diapering, or they'll at least be willing to use the gDiapers with the disposable inserts. Until we nail down a solid plan for his care in the fall, we won't really know for sure.

We've been using the gDiapers for a little over a week now and so far I would say they are "okay." I'm pretty sure that some degree of operator error is to blame for our lukewarm success with these diapers. I bought some Kushies flushable diaper liners to act as a barrier between the cloth insert and his soft splatter poops, and those work very well. But we've been having problems with the diapers leaking and I don't know if that's because of the fit or because of the cloth inserts (which have to be prewashed up to six times before they're ready to use). I don't know... I'm going to continue experimenting with them and hopefully I can get all the kinks worked out. In the mean time, I've added some of the Bum Genius diapers back to my baby registry in the hopes that someone will buy them for my baby shower (HINT HINT) and we can give those a try as well. I just really don't want to go back to using paper diapers again.

Before John was born, one of my girlfriends bought me a Moby wrap so I could "wear" John around the house. I was really excited about it and gave it a try when we were hanging around the hotel waiting on our ICPC clearance. Figuring out how to wrap it isn't actually that hard. But figuring out how tight or loose to wrap it so that the baby will actually fit properly is another story! Like cloth diapering, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to baby-wearing. But during the day, John really prefers for me to hold him rather than put him down in the bassinet. He'll happily snooze away in the bassinet or bouncer seat about half of the time, but all the rest of the time he really just wants to be held. Plus he LOVES being swaddled, so putting him in the Moby wrap kills two birds with one stone by keeping him wrapped up nice and snug next to his mommy.

I think that's enough for now. Time to feed and change my little man cub so I can get some lunch myself and start working on my outline notes for school... or washing bottles... or washing diapers... or doing laundry... or something else equally important that I've already forgotten about...

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

March Madness!!

Ok so it's been a while since I've written any blog posts, but it's all been with good reason. I know it's April now, but March was CRAZY for us... crazy in a good way.

As most of you know, we were matched with an expectant mom, K, several weeks ago. We went out to visit with K and her family at the beginning of the month and it went really well. I got to go with K when she had her ultrasound to check on the baby's developing anatomy and to find out the sex of the baby. I was really honored for her to pick me to go with her because the ultrasound technician said only one person was allowed. I expected K's mom to be the one, but K picked me. It was really special. AND we found out that the baby is a boy. The due date was originally April 13th, but after the ultrasound the due date was moved up to March 30th. K had a doctor's appointment a few days later and the due date was moved up again to March 24th. So we made plans to go back out a few days before the 24th so that, hopefully, we would be there for the birth.

On March 20th, K's dad called me in the middle of the night to say that K's water had broken and that they were heading to the hospital. I kinda panicked. I hadn't packed anything yet. It was two days before my flight out and I hadn't done laundry. I hadn't organized what I wanted to pack. I hadn't even cleaned the house! I got online and saw that there was a flight leaving our airport in two hours. So I frantically grabbed a couple items to cram in a carry-on bag (I think I had two shirts, a toothbrush, two blankets, two onesies, and the 4 oz. bottles) and was in the car going to the airport in less than 45 minutes.

K's dad called me back while I was in the car to tell me that she'd had the baby. Apparently it was a mad photo-finish to get K to the hospital in time. She was ten centimeters dilated when they arrived at the hospital, fighting the urge to push while still in the car, and she delivered in less than an hour after they arrived. It all happened incredibly quickly. John weighed seven pounds, three ounces and was 19.5 inches long. I got to the airport and managed to get a seat on a flight leaving in an hour. I arrived at the hospital around lunch time. James left in the car, started driving out with all our stuff, and got there the next night.

We only had to stay for a week before we were cleared by ICPC to go home, which really surprised me. I expected to be there at least two weeks. We got together with K's family twice while we waited for all the paperwork to be filed, which was really nice. K is such an amazing girl and we really love her and her family. Sometimes I really wish we lived closer together so we could have an even closer relationship with them. But we're just going to see how things develop. We're starting with a semi-open adoption, sharing lots of pictures and updates as we go. I don't know if we'll ever move to phone calls and visits, but we're not opposed to it either. We're just going to see how things go and take it one step at a time. But K will always always be part of our family and have a very special place in my heart.

So while we were waiting for the ICPC clearance to come home, my dad was puppy-sitting and house-sitting for us. While we were sitting at the pediatric clinic waiting to have John's bilirubin rechecked, I got a phone call from a girlfriend of mine. She'd just gotten her acceptance letter to the nursing program and wanted to let me know that the deadline to turn in confirmation paperwork was only a week away. So I asked my dad to sort through our mail to see if I had gotten a letter too. And as it turned out, I had! It was a little stressful trying to get all my paperwork returned on time, but it was totally worth it! I start nursing school June 1st. Woo hoo!

After we came home, I started going through all the rest of our mail and discovered that our tax refund check had arrived while we were away! Dropping dollar amounts is kind of tacky, so all I'll say is that this tax refund is HUGE! We were able to claim our adoption expenses from 2009 and we're getting about a third of them back this year. We'll get the rest back next year and the year after that. As soon as the deposit clears the bank, we'll be able to pay off both of our credit cards (which we had to use for plane tickets, hotel rooms, and lots of other travel expenses) and the personal loan we took out to finance the adoption. Phew, what a relief.

March was a crazy month for us and I couldn't be happier. I'm exhausted from adjusting to a new lifestyle and a new routine, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Check back soon as I start a new series of first-time-mommy blogs!

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.