9 months in!

Owen 9 month

Big guy is 9-months-old! I feel like I say this every month, but I really cannot believe how fast this time is going. I have officially put his first birthday on my calendar so that family can keep it blocked off. Each month, he learns more things and interacts in different ways and it is a complete joy to watch him make more discoveries. He has so much personality and is constantly surprising me and making me laugh.

He had his 9-month check-up and is a healthy guy! He was 19 pounds 8 ounces and is 28 inches long, both of which makes him fall close to the 50th percentile. So it’s looking like he may be built like his daddy! It’s crazy to think that the next time he is at the doctor for a check-up (unless he’s sick at some point) is for his 1-year check-up! The crazy thing is that even with his weight and length, he still comfortably fits in 6 month sized onesies! We haven’t even started the 9 month size because I want to stretch out the use of the clothes we already have! Ha!

I had to fill out a questionnaire before the visit about Owen’s growth and whatnot and one of the questions said something like “Does your child place toys down on the ground without dropping it?” When I read this to Greg, we laughed and commented that no, he doesn’t gently place things on the ground – he throws them across the room.

Owen went to his first Easter egg hunt with our church this year! He did a great job and seemed to enjoy himself! There was an egg hunt specifically for kids under 2 years old so we went and sat on a corner of that section of grass and let him play with an egg! Then he went on his first hay ride and loved it! This kid loves being outside more than anything. Also, he’s the cutest kid with sunglasses ever.

Sleeping through the night and napping for his normal time has gotten inconsistent. Some nights he goes 12 hours – from 8pm to 8am. Some nights he goes from 8pm to around 5am. The good(ish) thing about when he wakes up at 5am or 6am is that I can feed him and put him back down to sleep and he’ll sleep till around 8:30-9am. Naps can also be unpredictable. Most times they’re right at 2 hours each, but sometimes he makes it just at an hour long. But when he sleeps, he sleeps hard! He often wakes up with some CRAZY hair!

One of his favorite things about the doctor’s office is the paper on the benches. He grabs it, tears it up, tries to eat it, everything. When we leave, it’s a disaster. He’s also been putting his feet in his mouth more and more and he’ll even suck on his toes. Weirdo.

He still only has his bottom two front teeth. Teething is killer. I swear he feels teething pain for months before teeth finally come through. The doctor did say he can tell that he’s about to get some teeth on the top! So maybe that means the poor guy will get some relief. We have learned that he likes to munch on pickle spears and use his teeth to tear off pieces. We’ve also discovered that he likes to bite and suck on Daddy’s popsicles! So they have their popsicle time whenever he’s in teething pain.

Our new morning tradition is for me to make a few scrambled eggs and put some of them on one of Owen’s plates and we eat our scrambled eggs together! He LOVES it!

Spending time with this guy is my absolute favorite. There are times that I wonder if I’m doing the right thing for him developmentally by staying at home with him instead of him being with other kids in a child care. I personally would never trade a moment of my day with him, but I just wonder sometimes if he would be learning to do things quicker if he had more interaction than just me. He still refuses to crawl – when we put him on his stomach, he just flips himself over and laughs.:) There’s certainly nothing to be concerned with in terms of his development – the doctor even said he wouldn’t be surprised if Owen just skipped crawling because it seems like more and more babies do that. And I will say that Owen likes standing up and the walking motion. I just can’t help but wonder sometimes if he’d be doing more himself. But then he reaches for me and “talks” to me and I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.

He’s even started giving “kisses” to me in a way and it makes my heart melt. He also insists on holding my finger while I feed him his baby food. Separation anxiety has geared back up for real. Even if Greg is holding him and I walked by, Owen loses his mind until I come back and get him. It’s insane. I have to admit that a part of me beams at it.

It was our first Easter with our little man! He was as cute as can be and I’m glad we got to celebrate Easter with him. Our church family is so amazing and we are so thankful for the love that they show to us and to Owen. They put up with the separation anxiety in the nursery and love him even in those hard moments.

There’s a newly renovated park near our house where we like to take Owen and Lucy and they both love it! Lucy’s always excited to get to go on adventures and explore and since Owen loves being outside, it’s good for the whole family! Greg has cut out sweets/sugar from his diet since January of last year and I’ve decided to join him. It’s been quite difficult, but I’m surviving. Ha! Here’s to another month!

Lent Reflections

My grace is sufficient for you.
2 Corinthians 12:9

The past six weeks have been fantastic in terms of self-reflection, which is the point of Lent I suppose. It has been an eye opening, convicting, and positive experience. I intentionally removed small (but important) aspects and added even more important practices. God has also been speaking to my heart about love and grace.

As silly as it sounds, I deleted the Facebook app on my phone. In college, I would eliminate all social media for the six weeks of Lent, but working on staff at a college ministry makes that nearly impossible because Facebook is the primary mode of communication with the students, both directly and with announcements. I was bummed about this because I felt like it was something I needed to do. I was expressing this during the Lent Bible study I was leading and one of my Wesley girls mentioned that there are separate apps for Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages, in addition to Facebook Messages. This was perfect! I could directly message certain individuals as well as keep up with announcements on the Wesley Group and Page.

I didn’t realize how much of a difference I would see. It was sobering, in fact. The first few days I found myself picking up my phone without even thinking about it! I have spent so much of my time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook for absolutely no reason. There was nothing edifying about it. Eventually I stopped picking up my phone for no reason and I was able to really see what was around me. I have been more aware and more positive. The only thing that stinks about not having the app on my phone is being able to upload pictures more regularly, especially pictures of Owen for his needy grandparents.ūüėČ

In addition to removing the Facebook app on my phone, I have been incredibly intentional about adding a morning and night time of devotion and study. I added the app d365 which is a fantastic app that includes meditation, Scripture, devotion, prayer, and challenge. I read it while I’m nursing Owen in the mornings, my one time of quiet in the morning.:) At night, I’ve been reading a chapter a night of Judah Smith’s¬†Life Is _____. Forty Day Experience. I’ve loved it! And I’ve realized that a book chapter a night is the perfect devotion time for me. I thought that quick, one-paragraph devotions were best for me, but it seems like that wasn’t holding my attention enough or challenging me enough. So starting tonight, I’ll be starting a new book, Judah Smith’s¬†Love Like Jesus and I’m pretty excited about it!

Besides these changes, I’ve come to realize that grace is a huge part and foundation of my theology and understanding of God. I have been a perfectionist my entire life and have strived for perfection and success in everything I do. It drives my motivation and failure has always been a strong fear of mine. I had pretty much always gotten what I worked for until I didn’t receive the major scholarship for grad school. It tore me apart, but ended up being great preparation for the not so fantastic grades I got in my three years of seminary. It has taught me to work hard, but that perfect is not always at the end of hard work. That success looks differently each time and in each situation.

Perfectionism has been controlling me my whole life, but I am growing more and more to know that God’s grace abounds much farther than that. I cannot be perfect. I just can’t. I can try as hard as I can in every task and responsibility that I have, but I won’t be perfect. I love Greg and Owen more than anything, but I will disappoint them, I will lose my temper, and I will fail. But grace covers my imperfections. Grace will ALWAYS cover my failures. Now this doesn’t mean that I can slack off or not work hard. But that if I don’t see the results that I hope for, it’s OK. And I’m finally OK with that.

Our 8-month-old!

Baby Owen is 8 months old! Someone once asked us when he will no longer be “Baby Owen” and what we would call him then and we have no idea how to answer that. Ha! When we measured him at home, we estimated that he weighs between 19-20 pounds and is about 28 inches long. We went to the doctor yesterday (we thought he may have an ear infection but he was clear! Yay!) and sure enough, he was 19 pounds 11 ounces. He doesn’t look that heavy, but let me tell you…this guy is getting heavy!

We call Owen our little hippie boy, because he LOVES trees. He’s always loved being outside, but recently he has developed an obsession with the trees in our backyard! No lie – he will talk to the trees and reach out to go see them. We’re pretty sure he may be a park ranger or something like that. Definitely a boy scout, like his Daddy.

Because the weather has been so awesome, we’ve spent A LOT of time outside! One day, Greg sat Owen in the soft clover-covered grass and Owen loved it! He started pulling up the grass and throwing it (more on throwing things later). Every now and then, I’d have to pull some grass out of his little mouth because EVERYTHING goes in his mouth. I’ve also started putting him on the swing next to me instead of in my lap and he’s enjoyed it!

 

Poor kid has continued to teethe. He has his two bottom teeth already, but we’re pretty sure he’s about to get some more. He chews on our hands and fingers and pretty much anything else he can get his hands on, including his rubber ducky at bath time.

He has stayed really good about eating his baby food! He LOVES to eat. Man. He squeals if you are taking too long getting another bite to him. Definitely our child. He also enjoys eating the food off our plates. We’ve started ordering an extra chicken tender or chicken nuggets when we go to Zaxby’s or Chick-fil-A to shred to give to him! When he spends time with my parents, he eats the broccoli cheddar soup at Panera!

We enjoyed having sharing our Valentine’s Day with our littlest valentine! The night before Valentine’s Day, Owen went with me to our Wesley Women’s event where we went to Cheddar’s for dinner. I dressed him up nice and he acted like a perfect gentleman. On Valentine’s Day, the three of us went to Chili’s to celebrate and little guy wore his tuxedo bib because he’s classy.

Greg and I joke (somewhat) that Owen is never going to crawl. I’m telling you – this kid refuses. We will put him on his stomach and he will move his arms and legs, but can’t quite seem to get the hang of it and will just roll back over on his back. He loves to be on his back, but not his stomach.¬†He seems to want to get the hang of walking though. He’s definitely not quite there to walk on his own, but he loves to stand and with one of us holding his hands, he has started putting one foot in front of the other¬†to get to the other one of us.

Throwing things has become a favorite of Owen’s. I’m pretty sure he is only interested in picking things up just so he can throw them. He’s actually got a really good arm on him! He also does this strange thing where he holds his hands, raises them above his head, then “smashes” them down to his legs. We call this the “Owen SMASH!” Ha! He finds it hilarious. Owen has also started babbling more than he has before. He’s been squealing at us for a while, but now he’s started to almost say syllables. Obviously he has no idea what the sounds are, but he says little things! We can’t wait for him to start putting them together!

Owen’s crying with others has decreased dramatically! Whoohoo! Finally! He’ll still reach for Greg or me, but he’s fine in other people’s arms while we’re standing with him! He has gone 3 Sundays so far without crying in the nursery and has spent significant time with my parents and Greg’s parents. He even spent an entire weekend with my parents without us and did really well! He got spoiled even, but you can’t expect anything less with the first grandchild.:)


He’s also gotten to spend a few full days with Greg’s parents! They got to come one Saturday and spend half the days with us and it was great! We got to go out to lunch and dinner and walk around the outdoor mall. He let them hold him without Greg and I in sight which was a huge improvement! He also loved eating almost an entire pancake at IHOP!

Owen Daddy Board

Now for some parent updates. Greg went before the Board of Ordained Ministry this past week to seek approval to be a Provisional Elder in the UMC. And he passed! Praise the Lord! For real. It has been a long year since his deferral last March, but it has been a year of growth and I could not be more proud of him.

As part of my goal for this year, I want to be able to run a 5K. This sounds like no big deal to most people, but I am not an endurance runner so even 3.1 miles is a big deal to me. I registered for one that is actually this Saturday, but I cancelled the registration about a week or two ago. I simply haven’t had adequate time to prepare for it and I feel as though if I didn’t reach my goal of running the entire thing, I would be too discouraged to continue working toward a habit of running. I found that I was actually not disappointed in myself, which says a lot about my own personal growth. I will continue to work on running regularly, and once I think I’m ready, I’ll register for a race!

Lastly, my parents have given me a wonderful gift: Alaina Days. My mom told me to pick one day a month for the next few months for them to come keep Owen for the entire day while I have a completely free day. The only stipulation is that I use it completely selfishly, not running errands or doing house chores, but something for myself. My first one was a few weeks ago and I loved it: Chick-fil-A for lunch, eating a Double Doozie from Great American Cookie Company while reading at Barnes & Noble, getting a pedicure, and finishing with a dinner date with Greg! It is exactly what I’ve been needing and I am SO thankful.

7-month baby boy!

Whew. We made it through the sixth month. It was ROUGH. Probably one of the hardest. On top of the usual baby fussiness, Owen had a double ear infection, his first two teeth come in at the same time, AND an allergic reaction to the antibiotic that was supposed to heal the ear infection [you can read more details about Owen’s allergic reaction in my last blog post¬†here]. We reverted back to survival mode for the entire sixth month. But we made it out! From the thousands of doctor’s visit over the month, our guess is that he’s a little over 17 pounds (maybe closer to 17.5 pounds) and still holding strong at 26.5 inches long! This kid is getting heavy!

On January 31, when he was 6.5 months old, Owen was baptized at our church! My dad and our pastor, Baxter, tag-teamed it because my dad is also clergy in the UMC. It was a very special time, even though that was the day that Owen woke up with the allergy. We called him “Hitch” all day because of his poor swollen ears sticking out. We are so thankful for all the family and friends who came to support us and show their love for all of us!

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Sleeping became a struggle this month, probably because of all the different physical struggles we had going on. It’s as if Owen decided that it’s not cool to sleep when you’re 6 months old, but it IS cool to sleep when you’re 7 months old. For reference, Owen began sleeping completely through the night a couple days before he turned 2 months and he never turned back. Until month 6. He woke up 1-2 times per night to eat and basically refused to nap. It. Was. Exhausting. BUT the night before he turned 7 months, he slept right through the night and has continued that for the past couple nights! In addition, he’s napping MUCH better! So maybe we’re getting back to our normal baby Owen.

Bedhead

Intense bed head.

He has tried all sorts of food now – in fact, I’m pretty sure he’s tried all of the stage 2 foods by Gerber! He LOVES LOVES LOVES sweet potatoes and bananas (separately…not mixed together…although I’m sure he’d eat it!) so any combination of food that has one of those, he’ll eat. For example: Mixed Vegetables has peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes; Garden Vegetables has peas, carrots, and spinach. He refuses to eat Garden Vegetables, but devours Mixed Vegetables – all because of sweet potatoes! Crazy boy.:)

It’s gotten decently cold down in here in good ol’ Georgia so I tried my hand at knitting a hat for Owen! He actually doesn’t seem to mind wearing it and he’s so darn cute in it!

Owen has gotten SO good at sitting up and he loves to sit and play with his toys! He’s still not crawling because he won’t stay on his stomach long enough – he always flips himself back to his back. We have a feeling he may not crawl for too long because he’s walking because he loves to stand up! My grandmother got Owen a jumper to hang from the door frame and it took him a little while to get used to it but he’s getting there! Still unsure of what exactly it is, but he stayed in it much longer the other day when I put him in! He also loves to read. We’ll sit on the floor beside the bookshelf and read book after book and he squeals!

It’s so much fun to watch him grow and explore new things. He will grab anything within reach and loves trying to figure out how things work. He’ll grab the zipper of a jacket and work to zip and unzip it. He usually wants to play with the food container and the spoon after eating and will put the spoon in his mouth!

Owen has 4 favorite things: Mama, Daddy, Lucy, and Thomas the Tank Engine. He gets so excited when he sees any of the four, which I’m not sure what that means for me to be on the same level as a train, but I’ll take it. This kid LOVES Thomas. He’ll certainly be engaged with other shows, but with Thomas, he SCREAMS and flails at the TV. I know it’s a little ways off, but I’m pretty sure his first birthday will be Thomas themed.:)

This kid is our pride and joy. Ever since Greg was home all the time over Christmas break, Owen has really taken to Greg. It used to be that the only person he would squeal at or lean toward to be picked up was me, but now he readily goes to Greg and lights up when he sees Greg! It is so sweet.:)

Here’s to month 7 and hopefully more sleep!

Augmentin: 1 Owen: 0

In case you weren’t aware, Owen had a pretty intense (at least in my book) allergic reaction at the beginning of this week. Nothing life threatening or anything, but it was definitely scary for me! I wanted to write a detailed account of it for two reasons: 1) I know many of you have been following my updates on Facebook and have been praying for him, and 2) by having a written account of the experience, accompanied by pictures, maybe it will help in the future in case this kind of thing happens again with Owen or any other possible future kids.

It all started two Saturdays ago (Jan. 23) when Owen began crying and screaming in a very pain-filled way. They say that parents will learn the different cries of their children and this is definitely true – Owen has a specific cry for being in pain. We decided to take him to his pediatrician’s After Hours doctor thinking it may be an ear infection. When the doctor looked his right ear, her first words were, “Ooh. That’s a bad one.” She wasn’t able to see in the left ear because of some wax build-up, but she said that if he has an ear infection in his left ear also, the antibiotic would fix that side too. She prescribed him with Amoxicillin, which he took for his first ear infection a few months ago. We left the doctor, picked up the medicine, and headed home.

The following Tuesday (Jan. 26), Owen was being fussy and he didn’t seem to be getting better. We were going to continue to wait it out until the screaming started once again. Greg went to Wesley worship and I took Owen to the After Hours to get it looked at again. When I got there, the doctor (a different one than the first time) was able to see in both ears and that the infections were still pretty bad. She then prescribed him Augmentin (another kind of antibiotic) that would hopefully help heal his ears quicker.

Fast forward to Saturday night (Jan. 30). My family was in town because Owen was going to be baptized the next day. That evening, when I was getting Owen ready for bed after his bath, I noticed his skin was a little broken out under his left arm. Greg and I figured it must have gotten rubbed or something at some point during the day and gotten irritated so we didn’t worry about it.

Over the past few weeks, Owen has been waking up in the middle of the night wanting to eat. So he woke up at 1:30am on Sunday morning (Jan. 31) and I fed him then put him back down for bed. He woke up again at 3:15am and when I got him out of his crib, I noticed his right ear looked funny. I thought maybe he had slept on it weird and it was just folded over but when I touched it, it was completely swollen. I turned on the light and noticed that his skin was broken out more than just under his arm at this point. I showed Greg and he said it was an allergic reaction. He stayed up with Owen to keep him occupied while I went to WalMart to get infant Benadryl. On the way, I called his pediatrician’s 24-hour nurse call center and talked to poor Wendy who was unlucky enough to be on duty. She was extremely kind and helpful, even though I can tell I woke her up. She gave me the correct dosage amount for his age, as well as told me to bring Owen in to the After Hours that day. I got the Benadryl and we gave him a dose before being put back down to sleep.

Here’s Owen on Sunday morning at 3:30am.

 

After I had woken back up and gotten ready for church, I went to feed Owen and get him ready and it seemed like the Benadryl had done nothing in terms of making the reaction die down. Owen’s ears were still as swollen as ever and at this point, the back of his neck was swollen as well. Owen, however, was acting completely normal and didn’t seem to be in any discomfort at all! He laughed and squealed just like normal! Because of his behavior and the fact that he didn’t seem to be having trouble breathing or swallowing, we continued with our plans for his baptism that morning at church and lunch with family afterwards, planning to take him to the doctor after lunch.

This is Owen Sunday morning around 8:30am before church.

Owen was a complete trooper during the baptism. Like I said, he never seemed to feel bad Рjust look kind of rough Рbut the Benadryl did make him quite tired and when he would fight the sleep, he got cranky.

Poor baby Owen and his swollen ears.

After lunch, Greg and I took him straight to the doctor. He was acting as happy as can be, loving to take pictures and squeal in the doctor’s office. He even grabbed the paper on the patient’s bench with his feet and brought it up to his face. Crazy boy. The doctor confirmed that it was an allergic reaction and instructed us to stop giving him the antibiotic for the ear infection. Greg is allergic to penicillin and because the Augmentin is a derivative of penicillin, the logical explanation is that that is what he is allergic to so she said they would put in his chart that he is allergic to penicillin. She said his ears didn’t look bad so once we figured out this allergy, we would figure out another antibiotic if he needed it. She told us to give him 3mL of Benadryl every 5 hours. She told us that we probably wouldn’t see much of a difference by the next day (Monday), but if we don’t see improvement by Tuesday, we should bring him back in.

At the doctor’s office¬†around 2pm on Sunday.

I did what the doctor told us and even created a medicine tracking chart to keep track of when to give him the Benadryl, on top of the Motrin/Tylenol circuit I was giving him for the two front bottom teeth that conveniently decided to spring up during this time. When I woke up on Monday morning (Feb. 1) and went in to feed Owen, it was clear that the swelling in his ears and the back of his neck had gone down an incredible amount, BUT now the swelling seemed to move to his face and the rash had spread! His eyes (and face in general, really) were puffy. Even his belly was swollen – his belly button was nothing more than a slit. I called the nurse and explained our whole situation and that I understood that we can’t expect for him to be better after only a day but that it seems like there is new swelling and the rash had spread. The nurse called me back and set up an appointment for us to see Owen’s normal pediatrician (as opposed to the After Hours doctors) for that afternoon.

Owen’s swollen face on Monday around 10:20am.

By the time Owen and I got to the doctor, his rash had gotten even worse and his face was even puffier. Still, Owen remained in great spirits and playful. He’s such a trooper. Dr. Smith came in and looked him over and explained that it seems like Owen is in a second stage of an allergic reaction with the rash and swelling as bad as it is. He prescribed him with an oral steroid for him to take once a day for the next 5 days that would take the place of the Benadryl. He explained that sometimes it can take up to 10 days for the visible effects of an allergic reaction to go away completely and that sometimes as the rash is going away it can look like bruising. Great. So my kid is going to look like I beat him. At least he won’t look like a leopard, right?

Playing with our toys at the doctor on Monday at 2:30pm.

I gave Owen his first dosage of the steroid on Monday afternoon as soon as we got home from the doctor/CVS. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that we could tell a difference in the swelling and rash by that evening. By the next morning (Tuesday, Feb. 2), all swelling was completely gone and the rash was only faint bruising. The bruising was not nearly as dramatic as I had prepared for in my mind so that was good.

Silly boy on Tuesday morning around 8:20am.

All of this brings me to today: Wednesday (Feb. 3). He has now taken 3 of his 5 doses of steroids and will finish up on Friday. He looks COMPLETELY back to normal now. Absolutely no swelling and no rash or bruising. It’s amazing. Obviously he’ll still take his last two doses of the steroids, but it’s great to know how well they’re working!

This entire experience has been frightening as a first-time parent, even though we never hit the life-threatening part of an allergy! Owen never had trouble breathing or swallowing and never seemed to be in any discomfort or pain. I am SO very thankful for that. But it’s been so scary. We had very little sleep between Saturday and Sunday so our whole house slept in late on Monday. I would have let Owen sleep longer than I did, but I couldn’t help but worry about him not being able to breathe so I went ahead and got him up for the day.

I am so very thankful for everyone who has offered encouragement to us over the past several days and who has checked in to see how Owen is doing. Even more though, I am SO thankful beyond words for Primary Pediatrics. First off, Owen’s pediatrician, Dr. Smith, is fantastic. He is so knowledgable and calm and takes his time to answer my questions. Second, Primary Pediatrics has an After Hours program that’s open until 11pm, staffed with doctors and nurses. I think we may have seen the After Hours doctors almost as much as we have seen his actual pediatrician and we have never been let down or felt like we were getting second-hand doctors. Third, the 24-hour children’s call center is amazing. Poor Wendy answered my call at 3:30am with so much grace and love and handled this panicked Mama so well. I am so grateful for this staff of doctors and their care and support.

Here’s to a better next few days! Praise Jesus for doctors and steroids!

Owen’s Half-Birthday!

I know I say this every month, but I cannot believe baby boy is 6 months. That’s halfway to his first birthday! Holy moly. It’s insane. He’s growing up SO fast. I never fully understood the nostalgia that parents would talk about when their kids grow up, but now I do. I definitely do.

Owen’s 6-month check-up went great! He’s gaining weight (now 16 pounds – a pound and a half more than last month), making him a bit closer to the 50th percentile! His length has plateaued a bit, staying the same at 26.5 inches from last month. The doctor said that he could end up being around mine and Greg’s height, but maybe a little taller since I’m on taller than average for a female.

Spitting up has decreased significantly – ALMOST completely gone. Almost. He’s doing a great job overall with baby food. He definitely has his favorites (sweet potatoes, bananas, and mixed vegetables) and his not so favorites (peas and garden vegetables). He seems to be getting picky with certain foods – liking them one day and refusing them the next. That part can be frustrating, but I love watching him enjoy food! He loves to eat food off our plates!

We’ve recently started giving him a bath in the tub with a bath sponge rather than the baby bathtub over the kitchen sink and he LOVES it! My mom had started doing it before we did and he seemed to like sitting in the water so when he wanted to keep sitting up in the bathtub, I decided to try it myself since he can sit up pretty well!

When we put Owen on his stomach, he rolls over back on to his back, which makes learning to crawl rather difficult. Ha! He refuses to stay on his stomach and laughs when he rolls back over. Punk.:)

The week before Christmas, we went with my family to Six Flags to ride some rides and see the Christmas lights. Owen LOVED the lights! He did pretty well overall until he got SO tired that he got fussy, but bouncing and singing from CeCe (my mom) put him right to sleep!

This kid had all sorts of fun at Christmas! We spent Christmas Eve with Greg’s family, Christmas Day at home, and the day after Christmas with my family. This was very different from our typically travel-heavy holiday, but it was exactly what we needed! Owen got plenty spoiled by family on his first Christmas.

I got a jogging stroller for Christmas so we’ve gone on quite a few family runs! I push the stroller and Greg holds Lucy’s leash. It’s a personal goal of mine to run my first 5K in March. I’ve never been a runner so I’m trying to get there! I’ve always been athletic so my exercise has come from the sports I played – softball and volleyball – rather than something that is a lifestyle exercise like running. I got¬†quite a bit of athletic/running gear for Christmas (including this new stroller and a fitbit) so hopefully this will go well! Owen loves going on family runs!

Family

Family time!

Here’s to month 6!

My New Perspective on Christmas

With Christmas coming up this week, it’s been very easy¬†for me to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Buying presents, wrapping presents, figuring out family Christmas plans. We’re in the season of Advent, which means it’s the “waiting time” to prepare for the birth of Jesus. But I think too often we jump straight ahead to Christmas Day and the craziness of the holiday. We’re not good at waiting and the only preparation we do is what I mentioned earlier: buying gifts and getting our house ready for guests. Preparing for Jesus doesn’t really happen, does it? Maybe we read the Christmas story in Luke on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but does it go beyond that. Besides, what does it mean to prepare for Jesus’ birth anyways?

For me, this preparation has been a lot of reflection on the story of Jesus’ birth, particularly focusing on Mary in the story. This Christmas is unlike any other I have ever experienced because this time I’m a parent. I’m relating a lot to Mary, much more than I ever have before. So I want to spend some time focusing on Mary. Of course, Jesus is the main character in the Christmas story. But I think Mary deserves our attention as well.

1. Mary’s Pregnancy. I can’t imagine being a 13-year-old girl and being told that I was pregnant. Much less with the fact that I had nothing to do with it! She played no role in this and did not ask for it. She was engaged to be married, but the marriage had not yet begun. Can you imagine the whispering and the rumors that would have gone on and spread behind Mary’s back as an unwed pregnant teenager? For some of you, you may not have to imagine – this was your reality. And I’m sorry for the terrible people who have judged you. It hurts my heart. The same as it does for Mary. I’m sure in her mind, she was screaming at those people: “I didn’t do anything! I’m still a virgin!” That’s what I would have done.

2. Jesus’ Birth.¬†Right before Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in the census. Because Joseph’s hometown was Bethlehem, he needed to return to the city¬†so he traveled, with his pregnant wife. The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is¬†111 kilometers – almost 69 miles. I cannot even imagine having to make that trek while pregnant. Heck, forget the pregnancy – I can’t imagine making that trip not pregnant! No thank you.

Then when they arrive to Bethlehem, no one¬†will make space for Joseph and Mary, even while Mary is in labor! Talk about terrible customer service. They are left with only one option – a stable, surrounded by livestock. I know many women who choose to have a natural childbirth (I am not one of those women – thank the Lord for drugs), like Mary. Many of these women also choose to have a home birth and possibly with the assistance of a doula or a midwife for support and guidance. Unfortunately, Mary didn’t have this option. She wasn’t in a familiar, comfortable environment. No bed. No pillow. Her support system – and her doctor, for that matter – was her fiance. Man. That would be tough.

Jesus was born a baby. A fragile baby who cannot fend for himself. He couldn’t hold his head up. He relied on his mother for nourishment. He needed his diaper changed. When Owen was born, I was terrified that I was going to break this delicate human and terrified that he relied on Greg and me for everything. ¬†Jesus made himself vulnerable and showed his trust in Mary to take care of him.

3. Raising Jesus. I can’t imagine the amount of stress I would put myself through in raising the Son of God, the Messiah. Talk about pressure to do things “right”! Any time he fell and scraped his knee, I would think that I had failed God in protecting his Son, even though I know that’s just what kids do. Remember that time, Mary and Joseph left the city to go back home and didn’t realize they had left Jesus at the temple?! Oh my word. Talk about feeling like a failure – I mean, how do I forget a kid and not realize it until I’m already on my way?!

The fact is that I already put an immense amount of (unnecessary) pressure on myself with Owen. I worry that I don’t to him enough or that he’s exposed to too much technology and TV for a 5-month-old. Maybe it’s my fault that he’s so attached to me. Am I even doing anything right? I sometimes feel like I’m not enough of a grown-up to take care of a child and be his guidance and caretaker.¬†Mary was roughly 13-years-old. I’m sure she had her doubts and concerns too. And she had the added pressure of knowing that this was the one who would deliver God’s people and the Savior they had been waiting for. Man. I couldn’t do it.

I also wonder if Mary knew exactly what was in store for her son. One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” Take a few minutes to read through it.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby you kissed the face of God?

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know¬†that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great I Am.

I get chills every time I hear it. Mary’s baby boy – that vulnerable, fragile baby – had so much ahead of him. He¬†would perform miracles, restore life, and bring about salvation.

“Did you know…when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?”
When I hold Owen, I wonder what kind of man he will become. What he will do, what (and who) he will love. I pray that I raise him to love Jesus and to love others. To fight for justice for everyone and to preach Jesus with his actions. But I have no idea. It brings me to tears nearly every time.

4. Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. This is hard to talk about. I know I’m getting ahead of myself with already mentioning his death and resurrection when liturgically, he hasn’t even been born yet. But in discussion of Mary, I think it needs to be brought up. Not mentioned in the song “Mary, Did You Know?” is whether Mary knew that Jesus would innocently die a criminal’s death on the cross. Essentially, Jesus was born so that he could die. For us. It wasn’t fair. I’ve looked back at the Scriptures and no where in the discussion between Mary and the angel Gabriel is it mentioned that Jesus would die. That she would see her 30-something-year-old son be murdered when she was only in her mid-40s. No parent wants to experience their child’s death. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Parents should outlive their children. She didn’t sign up for this part, especially. Even the thought of experiencing the loss of Owen breaks my heart and brings me to tears. Heck, the thought of him being upset over not making a sports team or being turned down for a date brings me to tears. I never want my boy to experience pain – although I know it’s inevitable. I can’t imagine Mary’s pain, her anger, over what happened to her firstborn. She stayed at Jesus’ feet. So would I. I would sleep at the foot of the cross to never leave Owen’s side.

Final thoughts.¬†I’m thankful for the salvation I receive through Christ and I try to live my life in service and worship to God. I hope that I can be an example of God’s love to Owen and anyone I come in contact with. But during this season, I am especially thankful for the sacrifice Mary endured as well. No part of her journey with Jesus would have been easy. But she surrendered herself as the Lord’s servant and I hope my life reflects the same.