That Awkward Moment When the Substitute Pastor Doesn’t Show

My husband gets 3 Sundays off a year. While 3 Sundays off is more than some pastors get, we still have to consider carefully how to best use these Sundays. Last year we used 2 of the Sundays for vacations (because we’ve found that a vacation isn’t really a vacation when he still has to write a sermon) but saved the third Sunday for after Sweet Pea was born. That way he could take a full week off as we tried to settle into our new normal.

Unfortunately, the week Sweet Pea was born was a Sunday that my husband hadn’t lined up an “on call” substitute (it was Thanksgiving weekend and his go-to subs were either already booked or out of town). My husband suggested that he take the following Sunday off but I was anxious to get Sweet Pea baptized on that Sunday. I came up with a different solution: He get a substitute pastor to preach but he would do the rest of the service, including the baptism. My rational at the time (which was just a few days postpartum, so not thinking clearly) was that not writing a sermon would free up time in his schedule during the week and that Sunday could still seem vacation-like. It made sense in the moment. :p

At any rate, the night before the baptism we were under a winter storm advisory. Several inches of snow was predicted to fall overnight and continue until late morning. I spent that Saturday fretting about the possibly of church being cancelled and not being able to get Sweet Pea baptized. I started asking my husband if we could still do the baptism even if church was cancelled. One of the in town elders could witness it for the sake of good order and whatnot. Worry, worry, worry. Fret, fret, fret.

Sunday morning arrived and while the roads weren’t great, members who lived in town could still safely get to church. The service was still on!

We arrived at church about 20 minutes prior to the service. I rushed to get Babykins settled and Sweet Pea dressed in her baptismal gown. However, since family members were there to help, we were actually settled into the pew in time for the pre-service announcements. As my husband read through the announcements, he casually mentioned, “Well, Pastor M. hasn’t arrived yet, so let’s hope he gets here in time for the sermon. Otherwise, I’ll be preaching off the cuff!” Since I have a terrible poker face, my husband glanced at my face and stated,

sub-sunday

If you read the title of this post, you can already guess what happened: Pastor M. didn’t make the service. So my husband preached a five minute sermon without any preparation. I missed most of the sermon because I was feeding Sweet Pea but apparently the congregation liked the content. Definitely not a Sunday off for him, but it made for a memorable service!

Note: Pastor M. was fine and had a legitimate reason for missing the service (as could have been assumed since pastors don’t just forget to go to church). His car had slid off the snowy road and got stuck in a ditch. He had texted my husband to tell him this but my husband had already locked his phone in his office. 

 

 

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Teeny Tiny Baby Boots

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Babykins is extremely small for her age. She’s clung to the very bottom of the growth chart her whole life. Since the doctor determined over a year ago that Babykins is maintaining her growth curve (for those of you not in the know of baby terms, this means that she is growing at a consistent rate), I try not to worry about her small size.

One of the fun aspects of having a tiny child is shoes. Baby shoes are one of those things that make me squeal in delight. There just so small and cute! But I refrained from buying any because shoes for a non-walker are mostly impractical.

Then Babykins started walking and shoes became more of a necessity than a fashion accessory. At first I stuck her in a pair of soft-soled crib shoes, but she really started walking the week of Halloween. She needed a warmer pair of shoes to get through the winter. She needed a pair of boots to keep her feet warm when we went outside.

It’s not easy finding a pair of toddler size 3 snow boots that actually keep a child’s feet warm and dry, but I found a pair at Target thanks to their Surprize by Stride Rite line (they don’t have boots in stock now, but I bought Babykins a church sandal through this line). The boots have worked great this winter! Even better, they are just so small and cute that I just want to squeal!

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Ahhhh! Teeny tiny baby boots! 😀

 


Noisy Power Outages

We’re getting a lovely winter storm–snow, ice, and wind–so it wasn’t surprising that we lost electricity for a bit. Unfortunately, my plan to sleep in this morning (a.k.a.–sleep until Babykins woke up) was thwarted by a power outage early this morning.

I don’t think the outage itself was long enough to wake up any of us. The house was still tolerably warm and the eerie silence didn’t disturb our slumber. However, certain pieces of equipment apparently feel it’s necessary to let us know that there isn’t any electricity.

First off, we have a battery on our sump pump. Whenever the power goes out, it emits a high-pitched eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee until someone pushes the reset button.

sump pump battery

Then there’s the baby monitor. If the monitor piece in Babykins’s room looses access to electricity, the receiver starts beeping. I understand that perhaps the manufacturers thought parents would find it useful to know if the monitor wasn’t actually working. What I don’t understand is why the transmitting piece has to be manually turned on again even if it is still plugged in to an outlet. I can’t imagine that any parent wants to sneak into their child’s room to reset the monitor while the child is sleeping.

monitor

Finally, there is Babykins’s noise machine. The handy little device has several setting options, but we keep it on “White Noise” since it is close to the same noise that the space heater and the box fan makes. However, it doesn’t return to the setting I chose when it turns back on after a power outage (because unlike the baby monitor, it can figure out that it is still plugged into an outlet). It instead automatically goes to the creepiest setting: Beating Heart. It may be soothing for a newborn, but it’s jarring for a toddler who has been outside the womb for 16 months and eerie for an adult who has read The Tell-Tale Heart.

noise machine

Consequently, I was woken at 4:40 a.m. to an obtrusive Beep Beep. . . Beep Beep. . . Beep Beep as the monitor receiver told me that the transmitter wasn’t on. I tried to just turn off the receiver, only to hear the faint Thump-thump thump-thump thump-thump coming from Babykins’s room. As I started to open the nursery door, I heard the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee from the sump pump battery’s whining that it needed to be reset.

I tried to quite everything as quickly as I could. Slipping into Babykins’s room, I pushed the “White Noise” button on the noise machine and found the power button on the monitor. Alas, Babykins still woke up despite my stealthy maneuvering. Thankfully, she went back to sleep without much fuss.

Once Babykins was back in her crib, I went downstairs to reset the sump pump battery.  I was fairly alert by the time I made it back to bed. Still, I settled under the covers again in hopes of sleeping a little bit longer.

I must have dozed off for a moment, because I was jolted awake again by that obtrusive Beep Beep. . .Beep Beep. . . Beep Beep. 

again

Yup, the electricity had flickered off again and the process of quieting everything needed to start over. It was clear that sleeping wasn’t going to be an option after this round of fiddling. The good news was that I had made it to 5:30 a.m.–the time I normally try to get up.


January Thaw

Today we’re having a January thaw. The sun is shining, the snow is melting, and the birds sing of spring.

We’re still a long way from spring since another snowstorm is predicted to hit on Tuesday. However, after a difficult week I am thankful for a little peak of springtime’s reminder of new life. It gives me hope.


The First Snowstorm

The first snowstorm of the season is bearing down on us. Judging by people’s reaction to the upcoming winter storm, you would think that Iowans have never seen snow before.

first snow

So, here’s a refresher course on how to handle a blizzard:

1. Wear the proper attire when outsideCoat, hat, mittens/gloves, boots, etc. Even if you are just driving somewhere, you should have these things because you would hate to be stranded without warm clothes.

2. Drive carefully: This means SLOW DOWN, even if you have a fancy-shmancy truck with 4-wheel drive.

3. Stock up on a few essentials: Make sure you have enough food and toilet paper to get through a day or so. Where we live in Iowa, it’s highly unlikely that we will be snowed in for weeks. There is no need to buy out the grocery store.

4. Try not to blow things out of proportion: It’s a snowstorm, not Armageddon. With a little common sense, we will get through this. And if you feel that this is the worst blizzard of all time, you should read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That should give you some perspective.

Personally, I’m looking forward to a little bit of snow. The drab November countryside can use some dazzling white.


Long Term Plans

Today I bought a toddler slide for Babykins at a thrift shop.  She obviously can’t use it at the moment, but I have a project in mind.

Our basement is spacious, but it won’t be a “living” area without some major renovations.  Consequently, I’ve decided to create an indoor toddler playground to utilize the space.  Buy a couple of used toddler playground toys (hence the toddler slide), throw down some cushy mats, and BAM!  Our own personal fun zone for the winter months without the long drive and germs.

Truth be told, while I’m excited about the playground, I’m more excited to be planning for something longer than a year from now.  A year ago, a plan like this wouldn’t have been possible.  We didn’t know where we would be living!  But now that we have no plans to move, we don’t have to cram our house projects into a year time-frame.

It makes me giddy just thinking about it.


March Comes in Like a Lion. . .

lion and lamb

There’s a saying that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”  A lion day is a cold and wintry day, a lamb day is a warm and spring-like day.  As a kid, my mom used to print off a March calendar and have us fill in each day whether it was a “lion” day or a “lamb” day.  As we grew older, we started adding our own variations to “lion” and “lamb” days.  Sometimes we would draw a lion with sunglasses or a lamb with a scarf (both meaning a sunny but cold day).  Since we lived in fickle-weather Iowa, I created my own saying of, “March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion” (which happened more often than we would have liked).

This year, March is certainly coming in like a lion.  It seems that the entire Midwest is facing snow and cold for this first week.  This leads to the question, will March go out like a lamb?  What do you think?

Personally, I’m thinking March is going to go out like a lion.  Then again, I’m a big ol’ pessimist.  🙂

P.S.–For those of you keeping track, yesterday marked 2 months until Call Night!  *cue dramatic music*


This Winter’s Games

Let’s play a game called “Will My Nanny Kids Have a Normal School Day Today?”  Since school resumed after winter break, there have been 13 school cancellations and 8 2-hour delays.  I think the weather is winning.

Let’s play another game called “Who is Going to Get Sick at Work?”  In a super-fun twist, we’ll include the dogs in this game.  So far I’m winning over my bosses because I’ve only had to clean up dog vomit once and I’ve only dealt with part of the fevers.

Either way, these games are starting to wear me out.


Snow Day

Today I have a snow day–a rare occurrence for me.  The last snow day I had was during the “Snowpocalypse” of 2011.  Unlike that snow day where it just snowed and snowed and snowed, this snow day has come with frigid temps and icy winds.

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It’s quite drafty in our old farmhouse.  The blowing winds bring in a chill that require us donning several extra layers to keep the cold from creeping into our bones.  Still, my husband and I are happy to have a snow day together and we’ve kept a pot of coffee brewed to help fight the nippy air.

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On our porch, the farm cats seem to be fairing the arctic blast reasonably well.  The house I made from Styrofoam coolers keeps them relatively warm and dry.  However, the bitter cold from the cement porch stings their paws and causes them to growl.

DSCN2517Staying indoors all day isn’t an option for us since we have to keep the furnace fire going.  As long as I bundle up in the proper attire, the -33 windchill doesn’t seem so bad.  Granted, I’m only outside for a few minutes at a time.

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The snow continues to blow across the flat farmland and piles drifts everywhere.  Seeing the bright sun and the desolate winter landscape reminds me of the story from the chapter Jingle Bells in These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder:

“[Laura and Almanzo’s] sleigh was one of the line of sleighs and cutters, swiftly going the length of Main Street, swinging in a circle on the prairie to the south, then speeding up Main Street and around in a circle to the north, and back again, and again.  Far and wide the sunshine sparkled on the snowy land; the wind blew cold against their faces.  The sleigh bells were ringing, the sleigh runners squeaking on the hard-packed snow, and Laura was so happy that she had to sing.

‘Jingle bells, jingle bells,/Jingle all the way!/Oh what fun it is to ride/In a one-horse open sleigh.’

All along the speeding line, other voices took up the tune.  Swinging out on the open prairie and back, fast up the street and out on the prairie and back again, the bells went ringing and the voices singing in the frosty air.

‘Jingle bells, jingle bells,/Jingle all the way!’

They were quite safe from blizzards because they did not go far from town.  The wind was blowing, but not too hard, and everyone was so happy and gay for it was only twenty degrees below zero and the sun shone.”

Like Laura, it’s hard for me to not feel happy when the sun shines on a winter’s day.


Winter Clothing

Ladies and gentlemen, you may not have realized this, but in the Midwest we have the winter season.  With the winter season comes freezing temperatures, blustery winds, and even snow.  Winter comes every year, so obviously it should take us by surprise.  I think we should all be flabbergasted when it snows in December.  “What, it snows?!  Since when?  It didn’t do this in June!”  Same with freezing temps.  “Since when does it dip below 20 degrees?  Just 4 months ago it was 90 degrees!”

Since we obviously can’t remember what happens in winter, it’s no surprise that many of us can’t remember what to wear when the frigid winds blow.  But have no fear, I have taken the time to illustrate how to properly dress for the cold.

1.  Coat

coatYour winter coat should be warm (which would seem obvious, but you’d be surprised what people try to pass off as winter coats).  It should close tightly and should zip or button up to your neck.  Also, it should be long enough to cover at least part of your rear–unless you like having a cold butt.

2.  Mittens or gloves

mittensMittens and gloves stop your hands from getting that tingly feeling when your hands get too cold.  Mittens are actually a better choice for warmth, but gloves make for easier mobility.  You should own at least one pair of waterproof mittens or gloves.  NEVER buy gloves for young children, especially if you send them to daycare or preschool–getting their tiny fingers into the tiny fingerholes is a nightmare.

3.  Hat

hatA hat keeps your head and ears warm.  What about earmuffs and headbands, you ask?  They don’t count.  Not only does a hat keep your head warm, it also keeps body heat from leaving.  And I know that hats give you hat hair, but deal with it.  It’s winter–you can either be fashionable or warm.

4.  Boots

bootsA good pair of snow boots keep your feet warm and dry during the coldest and snowiest days.  Snow boots should be at least water resistant, if not waterproof.  Ugg boots do not meet this standard.  Likewise, they should have a good tread so you don’t loose your footing on ice.  I learned this the hard way.

5.  Scarf 

scarfA properly worn winter scarf (none of this decorative scarf made of thin materials nonsense) will keep your neck and lower half of your face warm.  Scarves are pretty much guaranteed to make you look ridiculous, so you might as well have fun while wearing one.  For the Doctor Who fan, you can always go with the Tom Baker look-alike scarf  (a bit pricey for my taste, but some people enjoy this sort of thing).  Today at church, I saw two little boys with scarves in the shape of snakes.  Personally, I went with the ninja look in college–black coat, black hat, black scarf.  Hiii-ya!

When you combine all of these pieces together, you’ll look something like this:

full outfit

Additional accouterments include long underwear and snowpants.

 Will you look like an idiot?  Yes.  Will you actually be an idiot?  No, because you’ll be dressed warmly while those “cool” looking people will actually just be cold.

Oh, and never, under any circumstances, should you go out in winter like this:

bad idea

I don’t care if all the other college girls at the bar are dressed like this, your Ugg boots are not going to keep your entire body warm if you pass out in an alleyway.