Posted in family life

Welcome baby!

Birth stories are a love it/hate it kind of thing and I’m not that good at writing them anyway, so I’ll spare you the details and just announce the arrival of Aubade, the newest member of our family!

(As with the boys, this isn’t her real name. It is instead the name of a type of poem, in this case one which celebrates the dawn – quite fitting for this little girl who waited at 9.5cm all night long just to be born as the sun rose in the morning.)


I’m honestly not sure how to express all my thoughts about the pregnancy, the labor, the birth, or even baby Aubade herself. It was intense and overwhelming, full of unexpected twists and turns, punctuated by great pain, and only endured through much prayer and the support of people who love me. But there is something exquisitely precious in holding a newborn, sticky and screaming, to your chest and feeling her tension subside; there is something inexpressibly beautiful about watching your sons shower their sister with kisses and giggle over her tiny toes; there is even an undefinable sweetness in the sleep-deprived snuggle a new mother offers to her infant.


And so our lives unfold and deepen and begin to change in unknown and unforeseable ways, through this new life entering into ours, and we are so grateful for this gift of love in our hearts and our home.

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Posted in musings

on Mary

“And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
‘And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
‘For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden.
‘For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.'”
– Luke 1:46-48

“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother,
‘…a sword will pierce through your own soul also…'”
– Luke 2:34-35

It’s an interesting juxtaposition. In the first passage, Mary has just arrived at her cousin Elizabeth’s house, and Elizabeth has just proclaimed upon seeing her (and upon feeling the unborn John leap for joy) that Mary is blessed among women. In response, Mary enters into what is known as the Magnificat, praising God for His work in her life and in the world through the coming Messiah. She has been chosen for an incredible and unique role in God’s plan of redemption, and is realizing how blessed she is.

In the second, Mary and Joseph have taken Jesus to the temple for his ritual purification/dedication, and Simeon in the Spirit greets them with rejoicing and prophesying. And in the midst of his praise for the Messiah who is finally come, in the midst of his joy, he comments to Mary that her position as Jesus’s mother will bring her great pain and sorrow.

The two – the blessing and the sorrow – are far from mutually exclusive. They are intertwined, twin fruits of one tree. In entering into God’s redemptive plan, in taking up the role He has offered her, Mary receives both the blessings and the sorrows that come with it. She is given power, responsibility, purpose and calling, and the joy of knowing God so deeply and intimately as Jesus’s mother; she has to endure the scorn of those who think she has become pregnant illegitimately, and the greater pain of watching her people reject their Messiah and murder her son. Because the world is broken, because we are scarred and stained by sin, even the highest calling and the most blessed person will experience pain and suffering; because God is entering into that brokenness to redeem and renew all things, even the deepest pain and the greatest sorrow can be woven into the beauty and joy of His plan.

Posted in musings

waiting 

I thought we were going to meet our baby girl today. I’d had contractions all day yesterday, and they started right back up with some intensity first thing this morning, so I figured active labor couldn’t be too far away. But alas, a check at the hospital revealed that the time was not near and my body was still just slowly working through its preparation for labor.

So it’s back to waiting, indefinite waiting. I hate the waiting.

But that is part of the warp and weft of Christmas, is it not?

Mary waited, as she journeyed with Joseph to Bethlehem, for the birth of her child, not knowing the day He would come. Israel waited, as they suffered under Roman oppression, for the coming of the promised King and Messiah to rescue them, not knowing even the year of His advent, much less the day or the hour. We wait still, now, for the One who will bring  eternal hope into the brokenness and despair of our world, lasting peace into war-torn nations and disconnected communities, true joy into hearts numbed by pain and wracked with sorrow, and genuine love into a world defined by systemic oppression and individual hate and indifference. It is a long and weary wait.

Christmas is coming, the King is coming – the One is coming who will set all things right. Just as I know this wait for our baby girl will be over eventually, with all the concomitant joy of new life that a birth brings, so we know that one day our wait for Jesus’s return will be over. It just doesn’t always make the waiting easier.

Posted in family life, musings

God the Rescuer (and learning from my three-year-old)

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

We’ve been using the Advent season to read through the stories of the Old Testament, using the Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for our Advent candle devotion time as well as the Jesus Storybook Bible for our bedtime reading. One of the themes Rondel’s picked up on and really loves is that of God rescuing His people – I’ll ask him which story he wants to read (because we’ve already read through them all in order) and he’ll literally say, “The one where God rescues His people!”

So we read the stories where God parts the Red Sea, David trusts God and kills Goliath, where Esther speaks up to the king on behalf of God’s people, where God rescues Daniel from the lions and Jonah from drowning, and, interestingly to me because it’s more abstract, where God promises to send the Rescuer after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. He hangs on every word.

It’s not a theme that has often caught my attention in the past. I’ve never needed rescuing in any significant way, after all, and other themes in the Bible have seemed more relevant or more attractive. (For example, I would say yesterday’s antiphon, with its emphasis on wisdom and knowledge, is one of my favorites, and represents a characteristic of God and of the Church that means a lot to me). So I’m appreciative of Rondel’s attention to it, because it is opening my eyes to the way God works with power on behalf of both nations and individuals.

And in a world filled with refugees, with the poor, with the unjustly imprisoned, I want my son to know that God is a Rescuer, and that he can labor in that work with God.

Posted in family life

brothers and friends

Rondel and I were playing outside during Limerick’s nap, with his dinosaur figurines. One of them had put another one down to bed, only to wake him back up a few minutes later.

“Why isn’t he just letting him sleep?” I asked. We never intentionally wake the boys up so I was wondering why his toys were modeling that.

Rondel had his dinosaur grumpily explain that he wanted to play. That gave me a suspicion.

“Do you wish Limerick would wake up to play with you?” I asked. “Do you miss him?”

“I do” Rondel answered sadly.

Even one-on-one playtime with Mommy is lacking without his little sidekick and accomplice, these days – and it makes me so happy to see their friendship deepening.

Posted in family life

park remodels and random thoughts about playgrounds

Our hometown recently updated one of the city parks in a more disability-friendly way (if you’re local, check out this article for more details!), and since it had been one of our favorite cool-weather parks last year we were excited to see how it had been transformed over the few months it was out of commission. Of course the ducks and the library were still there, so it’s hard to go very far wrong…

While none of my kids have physical disabilities right now, several of my friends have siblings or children who do, so accessibility is something I try to be aware of (although I obviously don’t have the personal experience to really evaluate whether or not something is truly accessible). It’s also something I want to encourage and seek out, so that my kids don’t grow up feeling uncomfortable and awkward around people who are physically different than them. If they grow up playing at the park with people with disabilities, it’s just going to be another permutation of normal in their minds, which is exactly how I think it should be.

(One of my favorite moments with Rondel at a park was about six months ago, at the big splash pad near our home, on a Friday morning when a group from a facility for severely disabled individuals came to enjoy the water as well. One older teenager was just sitting in the water, under the spray, splashing with his arms and laughing and laughing, a look of pure happiness on his face. Rondel watched him for a few minutes, then sat down in the water a few feet away and started doing the exact same thing. To him, there was nothing strange about seeing a “big person” acting like that – it was just another way to enjoy the park, and one he could enter into and enjoy also.)

Anyway, the new playground has a few attractions specifically geared toward children with physical issues – a zip-line that has a seat and harness instead of just a pole to hang onto, ramp accessibility on the play structure, a two-person swing, and rubber matting over a large part of the playground so wheels don’t get stuck – but it also has a lot of generally fun things for any kid to engage with: slides, ropes, ladders, a sand table/digging area, and so on. We’ve been there twice in the past couple weeks and had a great time on both occasions.

Rondel particularly appreciates the seated zip-line – he hasn’t mastered holding on to the more traditional seat, but he loves zooming back and forth:

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Seriously, the kid just can’t contain his laughter every time he soars backwards on that seat!

Limerick was a bit more apprehensive of the zip line (he liked it, but at a slower pace), but he loved the sand and the ladders:

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There is only one small sand area at the park (so it can easily be avoided if you don’t like the mess or if your child has sensory issues with the sand), and it only has one digging shovel – both times we went, we brought our buckets and shovels, and they were much appreciated by the other kids at the park. The other non-rubber areas have wood chips.

They also have a neat piece of equipment I hadn’t seen before: basically a series of rolling plastic tubes underneath a sort of tunnel of railings. The little kids were scooting and crawling over the rollers underneath the railings, and some of the bigger kids were holding onto the railings and “running” on the rollers with a sort of treadmill effect. Limerick went though that one over and over again:

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I like the random playground equipment that, unlike ladders and slides, doesn’t have an obvious “right way” to be used; I think it facilitates open-ended play and experimentation, and it cuts down on all the parental rules for play that I notice every time I go to the park (at least at parks with attentive, hovering/engaged, middle-class white parents… the parks by our home, in much poorer neighborhoods, are far less parentally supervised).

Anyway, I think the changes at this park were for the better, and we’ll be coming back to play, feed the ducks, and maybe even do story time at the library! If any of you are local, it’d be a great place to meet up and spend a morning getting to know each other.

Posted in musings

thoughts for the week of rejoicing and the candle of joy

“Our rejoicing should not be something superficial and frivolous. It is not just a giddy laughter or a silly emotion. We rejoice rather because of our profound conviction that Jesus is the Lord and in Him is our salvation. We rejoice because of the gift of His eternal love for us. We rejoice by responding with love to the love He has shown us. We rejoice in the Truth and we seek to live in holiness of life, “preserved blameless for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”” – Fr. Thomas Bennett

The two Christmas cards we received so far, just in time for Gaudete Sunday, adorning our messy piano

Every night the Advent candles are almost like a slap in the face, a reminder of all the ways I’ve failed to model Christ to the boys – convicting me of my impatience, selfishness, harsh tongue, and lack of compassion. But they somehow do this much more gently, with far less accompanying guilt, than my own inner drive for perfection, and I believe it is because of the One to whom they point. With every failure comes the opportunity for forgiveness; with every weary night the promise of another chance tomorrow; with every sorrow and broken moment the hope of healing, redemption, and joy. And amidst our struggles to love each other well as parent and child, husband and wife, or brother and sister, our days are suffused with the wonder and joy of Christmas, the anticipation of something great about to happen, and it helps us to pick up the pieces and go about building and rebuilding our love.