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Waiting for Baby Jesus December 24, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Spiritual Formation, Thoughts.
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This is a post I wrote last year about advent, about waiting.  My waiting for Henry culminated in his wonderful birth, his wonderful, happy, silly life.  But I also know that there are others whose wait did not turn out as expected or whose waiting came to an abrupt end.  My heart goes out to all those tonight who are still waiting, waiting for hope, for goodness, for life.  Merry Christmas and enjoy.

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This time of advent is a time for waiting, waiting for wonderful miracles, waiting for the Son of God to be born.  Being pregnant during advent really brings this idea of waiting into an interesting light.  I am eagerly awaiting Christmas, the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but I’m also eagerly awaiting the birth of another life — that of my son.

I find it curious that Christmas is more celebrated than Easter (though the cynic in me feels that it is probably because we have attached Christmas to materialism and things).  Easter is the holiday where we celebrate the fact that Jesus finished the work he came to do, the work that changed the world.  But I also think there is good reason for Christmas to be the “bigger” holiday.  It is the holiday of mystery and wonder.  The holiday where we celebrate not what Jesus has done, but the holiday where we celebrate hope for what he could do.  The baby Jesus is not a symbol of accomplishment, but a symbol of potential, and potential holds a great mystery.

I very much identify with this mystery because I find myself wondering what Henry will look like, whose personality quirks he’ll get, and what kind of man he will grow up to be.  I have high hopes for him, and am honored that I will get to watch this little person grow, this mystery unfold before me.

But at this time of wonder, I also feel a tinge of sadness for all those whose mystery has ended.  The little girl Ted and I sponsor at the Village of Hope died on Sunday night.  Her name was Elizabeth, and she was seven.  I met her when she was about five and wanted to be held and carried constantly.  I wonder if she still always wanted to be held, but I know for certain that she is being held now.

Jesus’s life was cut short so that he could do his greatest work.  I know Elizabeth was not taken away to accomplish some divine purpose.  Her death is beyond sadness and sense, but I know God can work miracles through tiny babies, through men laying down their lives, and through seven-year-old Ghanaian girls dying.  I don’t know what will come of her death, but I hope, I hope for light to shine in this darkness, just as baby Jesus shined light on the hope to come.

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A Day in the Life of a Stay-at-Home Mom (at least this one) October 11, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Parenting.
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I always want to know what other stay-at-home moms are up to, so here’s what I did yesterday.

6am – Alarm goes off.  Realize that the baby did not cry out in the night at all, and I had a full night’s sleep.  But this does not stop me from promptly changing the alarm to 6:15…and then 6:30

6:30am – Pump 4 ounces of milk and stick in refrigerator.  Baby also wakes up, but he likes to chill out in bed for a while before we get him up for the day.

7am – Up for the day.  Nurse and read a morning book.

7:30 – Breakfast.  Banana and toast for the boy.  Sausage and toast for the mommy.

8am – Clean kitchen while baby plays drums with wooden spoon on the floor, the dog, and then mommy herself.

8:30am – Baby is fussy, so we decide to put him down for a nap.  Mommy finishes getting ready for the day.

8:45am – Baby is asleep

9:00am – Baby is awake.  Like for real awake and not going back down.  Works out anyway cause we need to leave for 9 month check-up appointment.  Change diaper, dress baby, and head out the door.  If it were a Monday or a Thursday, we’d be heading out to the gym for a workout.  And other days we might be out for a walk or off to the library.  Today, the destination is the doctor.

10:15am – Leave doctor’s office with half-silly, half-upset baby (shots ya know).

10:30am – Nurse and watch Upstairs, Downstairs (upstairs, actually.  It may not be Sesame Street, but he’s too busy with other things).  Baby plays with his upstairs toys, which he thinks includes the swivel chair, the stepping ladder, and a measuring tape.

11:30am – Lunch!  We both successfully eat lunch at the same time!  First time that has happened in a while. I usually eat an appetizer (something to eat with one hand), then wait to put him down for a nap so I can eat.

Noon – Throw a load of laundry in the washer.  Vacuum the kitchen and baby’s room while baby alternately wrestles cord and chases vacuum while yelling at it.

12:30pm – Play time in the kitchen and nursery.  I play a little with him and then get out my computer to start working on blogs while he plays quasi-independently.  So that’s what we do for a while.  He plays.  I type.  We play.  He plays. I type.  The cycle continues.

1pm – The baby seems tired (crawling over to me more frequently, the tell-tale rubbing of the eyes).  I put him down for a nap.

1:02pm – I realize that I have not turned on his sound machine and the Glass Doctor is coming to repair our windows from the hail damage in 20 minutes.

1:03pm – Sneak in room to turn on sound machine.  Baby’s eyes are droopy, but the floor boards are too and creak all over the place.  Sound machine on and baby wailing that I’ve disturbed his privacy.

1:05pm – Baby back asleep.  He was tired!  I continue to write, call the tax office to check on homestead exemption status, input receipts into budget software, exchange emails, and back to writing once again.  Keep vigilant eye on front door, so I can get to it before the Glass Doctor rings the door bell and wakes up the baby.

1:30pm – Baby coughs, and stands up in crib.  I think he’s up for good because 30 minutes is his average nap length, but he’s back down….for the count!

2:00pm – Baby wakes up for real.  Makes silly noises, so I know he can stay in there for a bit until I finish what I’m doing, and take the opportunity to pee without baby trying to move me out of the way so he can drum on the toilet lid.

2:15pm – Nurse baby and read a book.

2:30pm – Back to blogging/playing with baby.  Mostly reading books he brings me and smiling at him when he looks my way.  Just a side note: the V-tech Learning Walker is awesome.  We would probably go run an errand at this point, but Glass Doctor is still here and I need to stick around so I can pay him.

3pm – Fold laundry while baby plays with Hank-Dog and a trash-can lid.

3:10pm – Baby decides he wants to help with laundry – i.e. – he is upset about mommy doing something that does not involve him.  I put him on the bed with me where we do the laundry and he plays with plastic hangers.

3:20pm – I attempt to put the laundry away, but Henry screams when I leave.  Laundry to be continued later.  Wish Glass Doctor would finish so we could go somewhere for a change of scene.  Instead, we make our way to the nursery for more play time!  We run through the songs he likes to sing, read another book, and have some Baby crawling Mommy like a mountain time.

3:45pm – An impromptu call from the grandparents who want to come over for a quick visit.  Hooray!  Henry loves his grandparents.  They will be here soon.  Until then, more mountain climbing.

3:47pm – Wow, that was fast.  They’re here!  We play with his basketball hoop and sing songs and dance with grandparents.

4:30pm – They leave and baby seems tired (lying down on the ground), so I put him in the crib for a quick rest or nap (whichever happens) while I eat an afternoon snack.  I look at laundry pile and decide to chill out for a bit instead.

4:55pm – Baby is up and it’s time to nurse again.

5:20pm – Finish folding laundry and put away while baby plays in his room. At least that’s how it starts.  There is a reason women are multi-taskers — we have to be.  Baby “helps” me fold laundry while we sing songs, and I try to keep him from leaping off the edge of the bed.  Ultimately, we stop folding laundry because he wants to be held.  So I hold him as we dance to family folk music.

5:45pm – Dinner! Carrots and asparagus, which baby seems more interested in smashing with his hands than eating.  Ends up eating half a piece of toast and a string cheese.

6:00pm – Daddy’s home!

6:30pm – Mommy and Daddy eat while Henry plays in the kitchen.

6:45pm – Pack up the pack n’ play, the baby, and our Bibles for small group Bible Study.

7:15pm – Arrive and let Henry play for a bit with the other kids

7:55pm- Nurse and put Henry to bed in the pack n’ play in a spare bedroom

8:05pm – Henry awoken by unnamed deliriously screaming child.  I get him and try to keep him entertained for the rest of the evening.

9:00pm – Back home and put the baby and myself to bed.

10:30pm – Baby coughs and wakes himself up.  But he goes back to sleep in 5 minutes.  Wondering if I’m in for a long night but am consoled by the fact we had a good day.

And of course, throughout the day, I’m playing alternating soundtracks of Pandora stations on my phone because a girl needs her Wheels on the Bus, Adele, and Showtunes stations providing the music to live out the day.

Mimi’s Quiet Book October 8, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Henry.
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When I was little, my grandmother made me a Quiet Book to play with at church.  It had different textures to feel and different activities for fine motor skills.  I only played with it during church and so it has survived.  My mother decided that Henry also needed a quiet book made with love.  And massive amounts of creativity.  I just want to show off what a great Mimi Henry has with pictures of his Quiet Book.

Thanks, Mimi!  – Love, Henry

Forced Stillness June 15, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Stillness.
1 comment so far

Before we started sleep training, I was spending most of my day with a sweet baby in my arms, nursing him to sleep.  Some days I was fine that this was what I was doing with my time.  Other days, this would drive me mad because the kitchen needed to be clean, the laundry needed to be done, and I just plain needed some time to myself.

Being still…for the moment

But then I am reminded that my word for the year is stillness.  Henry, in all his glorious babyness, was forcing me to slow down, to be still.

For a while, I was filling the stillness of nursing and napping with Facebook, blogs, and books (boy do I love my Kindle). Then I realized that I was filling this stillness with all the wrong things.  I decided that if I was forced to be still, I should be using that time for prayer, which is exactly what I needed.  Henry forced me to think about God, about others, and my part in the world.

Now that Henry takes his naps without me, I am not forced to be still, but I still must force myself to stillness, remembering that the day will be better if I stop, think of God, think of others, and how I can bring the two together.

Henry can stick his foot in his mouth…and so can I. June 12, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Parenting.
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When I first became a mother, I had this idea I would be very laid-back, green, and anthropologically aware (the very first baby book I read was Our Babies, Ourselves about how different cultures parent).  I did not want to go with our culture and do things the way 21st century Americans did them.  I wanted to do things the way the nomadic Ache tribe in Paraguay did them.  It seemed more natural.  Of course, I am not a part of that tribe, so I saw myself being as “natural” as I could.

I saw myself nursing and encouraging napping whenever and wherever.  I saw me carrying him in a sling everywhere.  I saw me laundering cloth diapers.  I saw me not having lots of plastic chairs for him to sit in.  I saw me never letting my child cry.  I saw me NOT having a schedule because that’s not what !Kung San tribeswomen would have done.  I saw myself hunting and gathering with my baby strapped to my chest.  Not sure why I pictured that last one, but that is the kind of fantasy mindset I had.  Turns out — I’m not that kind of mom.  And for what it’s worth, Henry is not that kind of baby.

I’m talented!

I do for the most part nurse Henry wherever and whenever, but I discovered he doesn’t eat well in public places (too distracting), and prefers the comfort of the blue recliner at home. Plus I hate wearing a cover, but people look at me scandalously when I don’t.

Henry hates the baby carrier.  I’ve tried 3 different kinds and he screams in them all.  Loves to be held, but not in a hands-free kind of way.  So doing chores while snuggling with a baby was out.

So, then came the plastic chairs, of which I have many, and I plan to get more.  A girl does have to clean the kitchen on occasion and needs to set her cute bundle of joy in a safe place.

And I hate cloth diapers.  There are people who have loving relationships with their cloth diapers, but our only relationship was frustration.  The extra laundering was not a problem, but I didn’t realize how much extra laundry I would need to be doing because of leaks.  When I had to change my clothes, my kid’s clothes and sheets about 3 times a day, I had had enough.  I did troubleshoot for a while and when that didn’t work, I was just done. Sorry environment.

Henry started out taking naps wherever and whenever, and I thought, “Yes, I can hunt and gather and my child will get the sleep that he needs as I go about my business.”  He would nap in the car, the stroller, the crib and on me (sitting in a chair, not moving or talking).  But over time, it became everything but the crib, and mostly on me.  The naps were also more fitful and never more than half an hour.  The night he decided bedtime should also be on his mommy, my dream of never having my child cry for more than a few minutes flew out the window.

We did the Ferber method (progressive waiting) and it worked.  I was very torn about letting him cry before he settled himself down to sleep, but he now sleeps through the night and he sleeps better for naps.  We are now on a schedule.  That is something I didn’t want, and I’m still coming to terms with, but I actually think it is working out for both of us.

For those of my friends who have always done things this way, and who I exclaimed to that I will NOT be doing things that way, I want to apologize.  I thought I was doing things a “better,” more natural way, the way our ancestors would have done them.  And then I realized that I’m not an ancestor (or African or Asian or South American or any of the other places in the world that can raise a child without a swing and a breast pump).  I just don’t live in that culture and, being a new mom, I’m just not strong enough to fight this one. And this one isn’t all that bad.  I have access to sleep research.  I have access to grocery stores where hunting and gathering just isn’t really necessary.  I have access to disposable diapers that can CONTAIN lots of poop.  I have access to medicine for my baby if he needs it.

And I forgot that the point of Our Babies, Ourselves is not to show that there is one right way of doing things.  It’s to show that different societies have different priorities and different ways of parenting.  And that’s ok.  I’m not the mother I thought I would be, and that’s ok too.

So…how are you sleeping? April 12, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Parenting, Stillness.
1 comment so far

All wrapped up

As a new mother, this is the question I’m asked most often.  And I find it a little annoying. I know that sleep deprivation can be one of the most challenging parts of new parenthood, but this question bothers me because it implies that this is the part of parenthood we most focus on — how this little creature is wreaking havoc on our lives.  I wish I were asked, “What was your favorite thing Henry did today?” or “Where do you find the most joy in your new role of mother?”

Of course, these are not small talk questions.  They require real answers and real conversations.

But still, I wish people would quit asking me “the question,” mostly because I get angry glares from other parents.

I have a confession to make:  my child sleeps through the night (at least 6 hours) and has done since he was 5 weeks old.  He started sleeping 8 to 9 hours a night at 10 weeks old.

My sleeping boy

I am so thankful that he is a good sleeper.  I don’t do well with sleep deprivation (it is migraine-inducing for me), so I am blessed to have this sleepy boy.  And I’m going to quit feeling bad about answering that both Ted and I get a full night’s sleep.  I do have other parenting challenges, but sleep just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

Parenting is hard, so maybe “the question” is meant to stand in for commiserating with each other.  But I would rather focus on the joy.

So, here are the answers to the questions I wish people would ask me.

1. Henry stopped nursing just to smile and giggle at me before he continued to eat.

2. I find the most joy in the quiet, still moments, snuggling with my boy, imagining who he will be, but also taking in this moment, this day (even if that day is rough) because there will never be another like it.

The Story of Henry Texas Howard January 24, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Henry.
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This is the story of how Henry came to be and how he survived his first few days.  It’s kinda long, but it’s my blog and I can write a long blog post if I want to.

The cutest baby ever!

The saga of Henry Texas Howard begins on Sunday, January 8th.  Henry was a little over 41 weeks and just decided that he was comfy where he was, but my doctor decided that I needed to be induced.  Ted and I arrived at the hospital to start Cervadil that night (trying one thing before starting Pitocin the next morning).  The Pitocin began at about 8:00am and before I knew it, I was in labor.

My intention for the birth was to “go natural,” meaning no drugs, no epidural, but things didn’t go exactly as planned.  First of all, being induced makes things trickier because Henry was constantly being monitored through this belt contraption around my belly, and every time I moved they would lose Henry’s heartbeat.  So a nurse would come in and readjust the monitor or readjust me – not the most pleasant experience when you are in some pretty serious pain.  I also was not prepared for how strong the contractions would be on Pitocin.  Every time they took me off the meds, I would have contractions on my own (and these were much more manageable), but they weren’t productive, so back on the Pitocin I went.  The third thing that I wasn’t expecting was how long my labor would be: a total of about 18 hrs –more if you count the tiny contractions I was having the night before.

Ted and I had really tried to prepare ourselves for a natural birth.  I had read lots of books, and he even read a book to prepare him as my birthing coach.  We took a Lamaze class, and decided we would be committed to going all the way.  We even hired our friend, Tiffany, as a doula to also help me through the labor.  But when my water broke at 4pm, after 12 hours of labor, that’s when the pain got real.  Ted and Tiffany were wonderful in helping me breathe through the pain, but at 7pm, exhausted and upset about needing to go back on the Pitocin to have productive contractions, I broke down and asked for the epidural.  At the time, I was really disappointed in myself, apologizing to Ted and Tiffany for giving in to the pain.  However, looking back on it, had I not gotten the epidural when I did, I’m not sure I would have had the energy to push.  I still had 6 more hours of labor to go, but with the epidural I was able to rest.

Henry, sleeping thoughtfully, in the NICU

I was all prepared for Henry to be born on January 9th, so I couldn’t believe it when the clock struck midnight and I realized (and prayed for my body’s sake) that he would be born January 10th.  Finally, the time had come for me to push.  I have to say that this was a part of labor that I truly enjoyed.  The epidural had worn off a bit, so I could somewhat feel the contractions and the need to push.  It was amazing watching Henry’s head crown (the doctor held up a mirror for me), and was very helpful for me to see what progress each push made.  Then suddenly, there he was — out of me and onto my chest.  This beautiful baby boy, all puffy and wet and reminiscent of Winston Churchill.

Henry and his Daddy

Ted and I were able to have some time just the three of us, before moving on to the post-partum unit.  We decided to have Henry room in with us, even though we were exhausted, so that we could practice being parents for our first day and night.  And I’m so glad that we got to spend that time with him because he would soon be taken away from us and into the NICU, but I’m getting to that part.

On Wednesday morning, the pediatrician found something that needed to be checked out and a specialist was called.  At noon that day, we found out Henry needed emergency surgery.  I’m not going to talk in detail about what kind of surgery he had because I want to maintain his medical privacy.  He can write his own blog post about it when he’s old enough to decide what details of his life he wants available on the Internet, but I don’t want to decide that for him.

The surgery was quick and all was well, but it was still hard for Ted and I to be separated from him and for us to go through the slight trauma of our new baby boy needing surgery on his second day of life.  I have to say that everyone at Medical City is absolutely amazing though.  The doctors, the nurses, the lactation consultants – everyone – went above and beyond to help us adjust to the news and support us through these scary moments.  The NICU nurses and doctors were amazing.  They educated us, and helped us feel more comfortable about him staying in the NICU.  Henry only had to stay one extra day, to make sure he was eating well, and then on Friday afternoon, Ted, Henry and I were able to go home.

Henry has adjusted quite well to life on this earth – it’s his parents who are having difficulty adjusting to life with him.  We love this little guy to bits, but we’re not always sure what to do with him.  Henry is healthy, eating well, pooping up a storm, and only cries when he needs a diaper change or something to munch on.  I feel ridiculously blessed to have such a mellow baby (a trait I’m sure he inherited from his daddy).  I’m still getting used to being his Mommy, but I wouldn’t want any other job right now (though I do miss my mandated 30-minute lunch break from my El Centro job).

Quality time with my son

As I write this, I gaze at him lying peacefully in his crib, one arm broken free from his swaddle, just the way he likes it, and I realize that we’re all going to be ok.

The World of Cloth Diapering January 3, 2012

Posted by mjhoward in Babies.
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I have stumbled onto a subculture, a culture of women who get really excited about cloth diapering.  I’m thankful to these women because I’m interested in cloth diapering, and they provide blog posts, videos, advice, and the warning that cloth diapering can turn into an addiction (where you buy more and more cute diapers and different kinds of diapers) rather than a money saver.  Don’t think that will happen to me, but who knows.  I never thought I’d find this little niche of mothers who are passionate — yes, passionate — about cloth diapering.

I’m primarily interested in cloth diapering for three reasons: 1) It will be more cost-effective in the long-run, 2) I have a problem with throwing away countless non-biodegradable diapers, and 3) I love doing laundry.

My Henry isn’t here yet, so I haven’t actually tried out cloth diapering, but I think I’ll like it (did I mention I love doing laundry?)  Several of my friends have gone with one diaper system – namely Grovia.  I decided not to go that route, exploring all the different kinds of cloth diapering options.

And boy was I overwhelmed.  Cloth diapering is an INDUSTRY, with several different kinds, brands, necessary accessories, and a heftier price tag than I was first anticipating.  Since I’m just waiting around for Henry to get here, I decided to do a day of massive research into cloth diapers, creating a starter pack for myself of different brands and types, seeing for myself which kind I would like best.

Here’s what I ended up ordering (my fun little bundles of diapers won’t arrive until next week):

  • 3 bumGenius 4.0 One-Size diapers.  These are pocket diapers, which means it looks very much like a disposable diaper (though I decided to go with the sturdier seeming snaps than velcro), except it has a pocket where you place the absorbent material. I chose to get a few of these because I read that these make good overnight diapers: you can add to the stuffing inside, giving your baby more to soak up the pee.  I also like the one-size option because the set of snaps allows for flexibility in size – the diaper will literally grow with your child.  The only drawback for these is the heftier price tag at about $18 a pop.  These are my splurge diapers.
  • 2 Flip One-Size diapers.  These are made by the same company as bumGenius, but they are a hybrid diaper.  What this means is that you can use their reusable inserts or you can use disposable inserts, similar to gDiapers.  The Flip diaper is basically a waterproof cover where you just lay absorbent material inside.  It has small pockets on the front and back end, to ensure that the insert stays put.  These can run you around $17 each — not much cheaper than the bumGenius, but the bonus for these is that if the cover doesn’t get dirtied in poo, you can reuse it right then, just putting in a new insert.
  • 12 Indian Prefolds (infant size).  This is just basically a really soft piece of cloth that you can stick into any diaper cover, including the Flips and others.  It’s called a prefold because it has a thicker middle section and appears to be divided into three parts.  But the prefold term is misleading because you do have to do some folding to fit this inside a diaper cover or pocket diaper, but I like folding.  This is the cheapest option for absorbent material (think $1.50 each rather than the almost $4 or more a piece for other absorbent inserts made for particular diapers).  Prefolds are not waterproof, so they require a diaper cover.
  • 2 Thirsty’s Duo Diaper Covers.  These are just covers made of material that will wipe off and clean easily.  You stick the prefolds inside.  Easy.   The thing about Thirsty’s is that it is not a one-size diaper.  They have a smaller diaper (size 1) for smaller babies through about 9 months, and then another for bigger babies and toddlers (size 2).  These will run you about $13 a piece.
  • 1 Econobum diaper and 3 prefolds.  I got these basically just to try out a cheaper option of diaper cover, and to see how these prefolds compare to the more expensive (but still relatively cheap) Indian prefolds.   I got this whole set for $12.

So, that is the stash I’m starting with.  I hope I like all of these and can use them for different times of day and different occasions.  If I don’t like them, I found a site where I can swap or sell them.

The world of cloth diapering was overwhelming and confusing at first, but now I think I’ve got a good handle on it.  I’ll let you know how it all really works once I actually start changing diapers.

Henry’s Room December 30, 2011

Posted by mjhoward in Babies.
3 comments

When I found out we were having a baby, I at first didn’t want a nursery.  We lived in a small space, and I thought I’d just make a corner of one room the baby’s, nothing fancy.  I’m also not that big into decorating or into cutesy things.  But then the idea came to me.  A nursery doesn’t have to be pink and frilly or full of trucks and boats.  It can be something I would like…something like the State Fair of Texas.

So, that is what Henry’s nursery turned into – an ode to the State Fair.  Knowing us, we’d probably have a room dedicated to the Fair anyway — we might as well make it the baby’s room.  The room definitely has touches of the State Fair, but also turned into a celebration of Texas (Henry’s middle name) as well as other various cowboy items.

One day to go until Henry’s due date, so I thought I’d show you how prepared I am.  This post is really more for grandparents, parents, and friends far away who are interested in such things because I’m now going to take you on a tour of Henry’s room:

View from Henry's door to the bookcase that I still need to fill up!

My friend Laura's present to us. Isn't it great!

Our diaper pail...appropriately titled

Changing station...also notice the beautiful curtains made by my mom!

My childhood dresser painted red with more theme-appropriate hardware

State Fair info for Henry to learn...made courtesy of my lovely shower hostesses

This cozy nook has the quilt my mother made Henry (isn't it just perfect?) and the good old recliner that's been in my family for about 30 years

The crib with space on the wall behind it for other artistic friends of mine to put their State Fair-themed artwork

Toy and whatever else baskets

A drawing of famous State Fair locations

Some State of Texas decorations

The view of his entry way

View of most of the room

View of dresser and the cozy corner

A Texas Star Ferris Wheel that my friend Jessica made!

A Henry frame that my friend Brianne made and a piggy bank from the in-laws so Henry can start out right with his Dave Ramsey ways.

As you can see, this room would not be as great as it is if I didn’t have all these crafty friends and family.  I have really done very little to make this a nice place for Henry to hang out.  So, here’s a big thank you to all those Martha Stewarts out there who can turn a plain room into the State Fair of Texas.

Waiting for Baby Jesus and Baby Henry December 22, 2011

Posted by mjhoward in Babies, Spiritual Formation, Thoughts.
4 comments

This time of advent is a time for waiting, waiting for wonderful miracles, waiting for the Son of God to be born.  Being pregnant during advent really brings this idea of waiting into an interesting light.  I am eagerly awaiting Christmas, the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but I’m also eagerly awaiting the birth of another life — that of my son.

I find it curious that Christmas is more celebrated than Easter (though the cynic in me feels that it is probably because we have attached Christmas to materialism and things).  Easter is the holiday where we celebrate the fact that Jesus finished the work he came to do, the work that changed the world.  But I also think there is good reason for Christmas to be the “bigger” holiday.  It is the holiday of mystery and wonder.  The holiday where we celebrate not what Jesus has done, but the holiday where we celebrate hope for what he could do.  The baby Jesus is not a symbol of accomplishment, but a symbol of potential, and potential holds a great mystery.

I very much identify with this mystery because I find myself wondering what Henry will look like, whose personality quirks he’ll get, and what kind of man he will grow up to be.  I have high hopes for him, and am honored that I will get to watch this little person grow, this mystery unfold before me.

But at this time of wonder, I also feel a tinge of sadness for all those whose mystery has ended.  The little girl Ted and I sponsor at the Village of Hope died on Sunday night.  Her name was Elizabeth, and she was seven.  I met her when she was about five and wanted to be held and carried constantly.  I wonder if she still always wanted to be held, but I know for certain that she is being held now.

Jesus’s life was cut short so that he could do his greatest work.  I know Elizabeth was not taken away to accomplish some divine purpose.  Her death is beyond sadness and sense, but I know God can work miracles through tiny babies, through men laying down their lives, and through seven-year-old Ghanaian girls dying.  I don’t know what will come of her death, but I hope, I hope for light to shine in this darkness, just as baby Jesus shined light on the hope to come.