Wintery Well-being

Our little guy has barely had a week where he hasn’t been sick or under medical care this winter (since daycare began). We are told by our pediatrician that it is because of being in daycare and his age, but mostly when he was born. He was born so that he could hit cold and flu season as he started daycare…and only a few months old.

In January H was diagnosed with RSV and, then, one morning, we woke up to H in respiratory distress. We rushed to Children’s hospital and spent the next night at the hospital. In March H had his hypospadias repair. He was born with a hypospadias condition so we have known that he would need surgery after 6 months. The procedure went better than expected, even, and he hasn’t missed a beat.

Oh, and I almost forgot. His sickness has never kept him down and, now……..he can pull up!

Henry in Church

We have been incredibly blessed, as pastors, over the years. We have experienced loving churches…and, as a clergy couple, we’ve sometimes made that difficult, for instance, the churches seldom get to see our spouse.

Both of our amazing churches were excited for the arrival of little H and when we returned from maternity leave (and, then, paternity leave) they were excited to worship with H…and they have been understanding has been split between church with mommy and church with daddy. When H does come to worship I love to see the faces of the congregation and little H! It’s so fun to see love being shared.

My church doesn’t have a nursery program and Henry is generally the only baby…so the people of the church pass him around and take care of him. It has been lots of fun to watch and, then, tonight, we got a special treat because we got to worship together as a family on our first Christmas Eve.

Church is a wonderful place to raise a child!

(I originally published this article at CollinsvilleFirst.org on Nov. 30, 2018)

I remember a few big gifts under the Christmas tree.  I remember when Santa gave me a gift that would become one of my favorites: a Tandy Color Computer II.  I had been wanting a computer so badly and I had written the letter and just knew that it would arrive.  I had a specific computer in mind: an Apple IIe computer with floppy disk drives and a monitor.  Some people my age may remember the software that might come with such a computer:  Oregon Trail, Pac-Man, PrintShop, AppleWorks… I was just sure that on Christmas morning I would have a powerful computer that could print banners shoot buffalo & deer, and publish my first book :-).

The color computer II hooked to a tape recorder to load files and hooked to a television.  My parents were so happy for me as I opened the package, but I wonder if they saw the disappointment in my face.  They had worked very hard to get me a computer and I suspect they had invested a lot of their hopes in that package. They thought that a thing would make me happy…and so did I. We both invested our hopes in a computer.  We all thought that if the right gift was under the tree it would make Christmas Day great.

So you know, that gift gave me hours of fun and launched my interest in computer programming, but I don’t remember that Christmas because I got a computer.  I remember that Christmas because I feel shame for not having gratitude for my parents’ sacrifice.  I believe that what truly fulfills us on Christmas is the connection to one another: How we show love (or fail to, in this example).  As an adult, I have vivid memories of Christmases past, but the great memories aren’t usually about the gifts.  It is the memory of all of my extended family crowded around a large table at grandma phillips’ house.  It is the memory of cousins sitting in the floor and handing out Christmas gifts to all the adults before we started opening gifts.  It is the memory of my uncle sticking gift bows on my aunts head and, on the Carnes side, of all the adults falling asleep in the living room in the afternoon while the grandkids played with their toys.  It is the memory of my sister and parents gathering around the tree: my mother taking pictures of us as we opened each of our gifts and the excitement of going through the stockings that mom had hand-sewn.

The memories of Christmases past are not made of what we get.  They are made of the people with whom we share Christmas and how we treat them.  We can get so focused on the perfect pies or ham that we spend all day cooking and forget to look up at the memories being made around us.  We can get so focused on the perfect gift under the tree that we forget the perfect gift is our presence around the tree.  We can get so focused on making the perfect day that we make everyone miserable (oh, we all know someone who has done that, right?)  Perhaps the messiness of loving relationships and the imperfect time we spend with one another is what really makes our holiday perfect…

Daycare

Paternity Leave is nearly over so daycare must soon begin and we’ve decided to start half day daycare this week, a few of the days, just to get him acclimated.

It is overwhelming to let go of him and leave him with people that we basically don’t know (although we met and vetted the daycare, of course)! It is also really exciting to see him with the other children and receiving such great care.

We hope that he continues to do well with all-day care starting next week! Pray for us (I think it’s way harder on me than H)!

Two Weeks in Greece

We’ve had a house guest for the past two weeks. My sister-in-law and her husband went to Greece and needed somewhere for T, our nephew. Well, I’m on paternity leave with H (our little guy) and T is in school during the day…so…sure. Carrie and I have enjoyed a great, great, great time with our temporarily expanded family.

It wasn’t super-easy, by the way. We had to get up and have T at school over in Saint Louis every school day. Those were early mornings, but, of course, we were already up with a baby, anyway. 🙂 It was also just hard because Aunt Carrie and Uncle Scott do things a lot differently than at home. Aunt Carrie and Uncle Scott tried to make adjustments but T was also really flexible and did a great job.

In the picture above you can see a meal that T made with Aunt Carrie one night!

We are a little sad that T is going to go stay with his Nana & Babop (his grandma and grandpa Berry) for a few days until his mom & dad get home…so we ended with a big family dinner. My parents and Carrie’s parents all came to Collinsville to eat with H, T & Carrie and me. It was a great night and we feel blessed by this family!

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He has been 42 months in the making… On August 7 a few minutes after 2am Henry Lawrence Berry Carnes came into this world healthy and happy.  He weighed in at 7 lbs 1oz and is long… 21 & 1/4 inches.

I am overwhelmed by experience of these past few days.  One can be mostly prepared for the child birthing experience: reading books, going to classes, planning as a couple.  On the other hand there is no preparation for the emotional experience of first holding your own child.  It’s only been a few days but I think I love this little boy more everyday than the day before.

Carrie is on maternity leave right now and after her eight weeks of leave I will go on paternity leave.  We are both soaking up every minute we can with this little guy before he has to start daycare in mid-November.  We both want to say thank you to our churches for being flexible in planning our maternity/paternity leaves.  We are so blessed to have these amazing churches.

Summer Camp

It has been three years since I last volunteered at church camp (I took a three year hiatus while I worked on my doctor of ministry three weeks each summer).  It was an amazing week.  Nicole Cox said it this way:

“Another year of AIR camp behind us. And we are all richer for it. Oh I am so grateful for the ways God has changed our hearts this week. I’m grateful for the relationships that deepened. I’m grateful for moments to laugh uncontrollably and to weep without shame. I’m grateful for experiencing the fullness of being in God’s creation. I’m grateful for a place to experience healing and renewal in my heart and spirit. What an amazing week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: God lives at Little Grassy. I never feel the Spirit like I do in that place.”

June 22 facebook post by Nicole Cox
A Trip to Scotland

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Is the world ready for ANOTHER Carnes???

Carrie and I are pleased to announce that we are (okay, she is) fourteen weeks pregnant.  If all goes well, we will welcome our firstborn child into this world in July.  Like most expectant parents, I imagine, we are apprehensive as we have loved our freedom and our life together, but we are also excited for the experiences ahead.  We have been aunt Carrie and uncle Scott for several years, now, and we have been foster parents to an amazing young lady, and now we endeavor upon a new adventure, together.